LEE COUNTY, Ala. – The topic of guns invokes a strong response from most folks. According to the ATF there are more guns than people in the US and gun sales are still in record numbers. Gun Rights or Gun Control, everyone seems to have an opinion, but it’s a fact. Gun sales are shooting up. Some stores report their sales are bigger than ever and women now make up the fastest growing demographic, so why the increase?
“I feel afraid. For the first time in my life, I feel afraid.” Says concerned citizen Carol Martin.
Carol Martin never held a gun before, but now she’s a part of this gun safety class at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. She feels President Obama has been weak with ISIS and feels the President may take away her gun rights.
“My rights have been stepped on as an American. I feel like it’s up to me to take care of myself. I don’t feel like I can trust our government any longer.” Says Martin.
Gun safety classes are filling up so much so there is a month-long waiting list and area law enforcement classes are picking up too.
“I don’t think I’ve seen quite the interest in firearms at the level we are currently seeing. We’ve seen an increase in numbers of people who want to attend our class.” Says Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones is seeing a jump in attendance at his gun safety classes as well as an increase in concealed weapons permits. It’s an easy process to get a permit you can even apply online, but you don’t need a permit to buy a gun. It’s perfectly legal in Georgia and Alabama to buy a gun from a friend and keep it at home. If you buy a gun from a gun shop. They are required to do a background check.
“We advocate responsible gun ownership and we feel the vast majority of people feel the very same way. People these days, the general population, feels that their safety is at risk.” Says Jones
President Obama made a passionate plea a few weeks ago announcing a series of executive actions calling for a national “sense of urgency” to limit gun violence. Those orders range from cracking down on unregulated internet gun sales, to increasing mental health funding. Since then, Facebook along with Instagram decided to stop all gun sales, but according to mental health advocates there is a low correlation, between 2-4% of mental illness being the cause of gun violence.
“We associate the two to the point that we stigmatize people with mental illness and that’s the opposite of what we should be doing.” Says Tom Waynick, The Pastoral Institute CEO.
Waynick suggests looking at a past history of violence as a better indicator of future violence. He says there is a correlation with men, the economy or the ability or inability to work, and with drugs and alcohol abuse.
“I think if we’re going to spend mental health dollars to address gun violence, that’s a good place to put a lot of that money.” Says Waynick.
State lawmakers are noticing the increase in gun sales. Both the Georgia and Alabama State Legislatures are considering several gun bills including the campus carry bill. That would allow students to carry a gun on certain college campuses.