National gun fervor shows local effects
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 02:01
Ripples from the shootings that occurred across the nation, from Newtown, Conn., to the Clackamas Town Center in Portland are being felt in Benton County as yet another shooting took place in Houston yesterday.
“Since [Jan. 1], applications have doubled for concealed handgun permits,” said Benton County Sheriff Diana Simpson in a phone interview.
In the state of Oregon, anyone who wants to carry a concealed firearm is required to get a permit after meeting a number of qualifications. Applicants must, for example, be over 21 and “demonstrate competence” with a handgun as defined by Oregon statutes.
Before that, Simpson said there were typically only eight to 12 applicants per day. Concealed handgun permit applications are handled on a county-by-county basis.
Nick Russell, 62, local business owner of Albany Guns, Coins and Jewelry, has been in the business for over 30 years and has owned the shop in Albany since 2005.
“Anybody in the firearms business has seen a giant spike in gun sales, nationwide, created by the uncertainty of the administration,” Russell said in a phone interview. “The uncertainty of what they’re going to do is driving everybody nutty.”
Russell returned home at 4 a.m. on July 4, 2010, after the Oregon American Legion building beside his business burned down. Upon arrival to his home five miles out of Albany, he found two people who had broken into his home and held them there at gunpoint until the police arrived.
Firearms and ammunition of any kind are prohibited on the Oregon State University campus, with exceptions for on-duty law enforcement, the Pistol and Rifle clubs, military programs like ROTC and family housing residents, but not residence hall tenants, according to a document provided by Jack Rogers, director of the department of public safety at OSU. Concealed weapons are included in the ban and are not allowed on campus.
“The university position is to keep the campus as safe as possible,” Rogers said. “Now, more than ever before, people are sensitive to crimes involving firearms.”
Rogers said the policy has been working well and has remained unchallenged.
Both the pistol and rifle clubs at OSU stress safety for those with and without a background in firearms.
“We provide a really good, safe learning environment,” said Jordan Jones, head coach of Pistol Club. “We have a perfect safety record and we like to keep it that way.”
According to Nicolle Miller, president of the Rifle Club, many people come to learn about firearms at the club. Everyone who wants to shoot at Rifle Club must go through a 20- to 30-minute training program.
“We teach you as if you know nothing, so that we know we’ve equipped you with the knowledge to handle firearms safely,” Miller said.
The pistol club also has a mandatory training session that lasts about an hour.
“[People who attend Pistol Club] get overall a greater understanding of the perspective of firearms in general,” Jones said. “I would hope that they [understand] the safety aspect of it is the number one thing that we stress and that we want them to learn.”
McKinley Smith, news reporter