More Packing Heat in Bad Economy

Fear over economy lead to more gun permits

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Gun owners are rushing in record numbers to get concealed weapons permits.

    Gun owners worried that a bad economy could lead to increased violence and suspicious that new stricter gun laws are on the horizon are rushing in record numbers to get concealed weapons permits.

    The Texas Department of Public Safety said it is hiring temporary workers to help process a surge in applications.

    And the Lone Star State isn't alone -- state officials from Washington state to Florida are seeing a sharp increase in permit requests.

    The firearms industry has seen a big jump in sales and interest following last fall's elections, driven by a fear that Democrats could dig up old gun control policies.

    However, Obama and Democrats have not moved to restrict guns in any way. The president even signed a bill in May that permits licensed gun owners to bring firearms into national parks -- undoing rules that came from the Reagan administration.

    But the economy is also on the mind of many getting new permits to carry a hidden gun. Some worry the recession will get worse, leaving people to resort to theft and violence.

    "The fall in the economy does make people feel insecure and want to defend their home," said Edward Avilla, who runs a gun Web site called AR-15.com. "I do know that it is motivation for a lot of people."

    Avilla runs a forum popular with assault rifle fans. But he also says he practices with his handguns very frequently -- and self-defense is on his mind.

    Longtime holders of concealed weapon permits are not surprised by the big surge in interest.

    "The reason is simple: People are afraid of what's going to happen," said Bart Bonney, a retiree living in Anaconda, Mont., who recently renewed his permit.

    But critics say concealed-carry laws are a result of senseless paranoia.

    "The notion that there is some great threat looming on the horizon is horse manure," said Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

    He said he is mystified by people getting concealed weapons permits and buying new handguns over economic fears.

    "I know in a tight economy, I think of things not to spend money on rather than on things I need to spend money on right away," he said. "If your response to anxiety is to buy a firearm, you should probably take a deep breath."