TUALATIN, Ore. – Authorities say gun sales are up in Oregon following the Clackamas Town Center shooting and the Connecticut school massacre.
The number of background checks on potential gun owners from Dec. 14 through Jan. 3 more than doubled from the same period a year ago, to more than 32,000, KATU-TV reported, citing data from Oregon State Police.
Many are signing up for safety classes. Ryan Tuttle, owner of Threat Dynamics in Tualatin, told the station that so many people called after the mass shootings that he doubled the number of safety classes at his business. His shop is almost sold out of weapons, he said, and all January classes are full.
“That’s definitely unheard of,” Tuttle said. “It’s certainly the first time we’ve had that influx.”
Kelly Holdiman used Facebook to get some of his friends together to take a gun safety class at Threat Dynamics on Saturday.
“A lot of people were saying we want to get a gun to help protect my family and my friends,” Holdiman said. “Well, do it responsibly. This is a way to do it responsibly.”
Applications for concealed handgun licenses have soared across the Portland metro area, including a jump of more than 300 percent in Washington County, the Oregonian reported.
Private firearm-safety classes needed to apply for concealed weapons licenses are also filling up fast, according to company owners, who say new enrollees are coming from all backgrounds and professions.
“We had a 70-year-old teacher who showed up here with $3,000 worth of ammunition and shotguns,” said David Kent Frazier, co-owner of Beaver Creek Armory and Indoor Range in Hillsboro. “She wanted us to show her how to use them and use them safely.”
Area law enforcement officials say interest in access to and use of firearms spiked about two weeks ago after the lone-gunman attacks at Clackamas and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Some said they saw similar jumps in concealed handgun applications at about the time of President Barack Obama’s first election in November 2008 and again after a theater shooting last summer in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead and dozens injured.
In Clackamas County, where the Dec. 12 mall shooting left two dead and one injured, the sheriff’s office typically gets about 5,400 applications for concealed handgun licenses annually, Sgt. Adam Phillips said.
In December alone, 942 poured in – about 18 percent of the county’s annual average. Of those, 614 applications arrived during the last two weeks of the month, far outpacing the 328 during the first two weeks.
Multnomah County saw a similar spike, Lt. Steve Alexander said. He described the 238 applications received for the third week of December as a single-week record.
“The folks I talked with said the last time they saw a spike like that was during the 2008 presidential election cycle,” Alexander said. “There could be a lot of different factors going into all of this.”
In Washington County, the sheriff’s office usually receives about 12 new applications a week. After mid-December, that jumped to about 42 a week.
Frazier’s Hillsboro business is now offering free classes to teachers.
“The surge of interest out there,” Frazier said, “has been huge.”