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August 04. 2012 9:46PM

Gun sales see surge in southern New Hampshire

HUDSON — Gun sales in Colorado skyrocketed immediately after the shooting deaths of 12 people at a movie theater early Friday, July 20.

Background checks for firearm buyers in Colorado were reportedly 25 percent higher than the average Friday-to-Sunday period in 2012 and 43 percent higher than they were during the week before the shooting. In New Hampshire, an increase in gun sales was also seen, but it was mostly along the southern tier of the state.

Mike Goyette, owner of Pete's Guns and Tackle in Hudson, said gun sales were up 30 percent in the wake of the massacre. Talk of a U.N. Small Arms Treaty has also caused some customers to purchase new firearms, he said.

Two members of the U.S. armed forces who are about to be deployed to Afghanistan came in to buy ARs-15s, concerned the rifles would not be available when they return. Both cited the Colorado massacre and the legislation it could prompt.

Some gun enthusiasts believe something similar to the assault weapons ban that was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 — and left to expire under President George W. Bush 10 years later — could resurface with Democrats' support.

The treaty, an attempt to restrict the global $60 billion illegal gun market, would have to be signed by the President and ratified by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. In spite of the fact that more than half of the Senate has already come out in opposition, firearms continue to fly off the shelves.

On July 26, Goyette sold five $800 AR assault rifles and four handguns, he said. One customer cited Colorado, and two referred to the U.N. treaty.

“You just have one person say one little blip on CNN, and it spreads like wildfire,” he said.

A lot of the fears result from misinformation, Goyette said, such as in the case of a customer who said Sen. Chris Dodd in Connecticut is already pursuing anti-gun legislation. (In fact, Dodd left the Senate in 2011.)

An employee at Lee's Gun Shop in Hudson, who identified himself only as Tim, said sales went up 30 percent in the aftermath of the shooting. He called concerns about the U.N. treaty “rumor-mill” nonsense.

The treaty is “really not aimed at individuals, it's aimed at manufacturers and tracking regulations, tracing where arms go so you're not gun-running to conflict regions,” he said.

Veteran gunsmith Ed Briand, owner of Briand's Guns in south Nashua, also said there was a surge in sales.

With AKs, ARs, shotguns and rifles lining the walls of his basement shop, he's been in business for nearly 50 years. Asked what event caused the biggest uptick in gun sales during his career, Briand went back to November 1963.

“I think when (President John F.) Kennedy got shot, to me it was the biggest one.”

Briand shrugs at the endless rumors that the government will come and take away people's firearms. Guns will always be available, he said. Always.

And then there's the business side. “Well, it's good for the sales,” said Briand, 88. “If it's good, there's nothing wrong with that I suppose. It makes good sales.”

Briand said his customers are also talking about the U.N. treaty, and sales have increased by as much as 30 percent.

According to detective Sgt. Jason Lucontoni of the Hudson Police Department, applications and renewal requests for concealed carry permits are on the rise. Fourteen applications came in during the week after the shooting. The previous week, just three. And during the same period in 2011, from July 20 to 27, there were no applications submitted.

“For 2012, there is an increase,” Lucontoni said. “The rise in crime could be a contributing factor.”

NRA member and gun instructor Ray West said he stocks up on ammunition that could face scarcity, but that's about it.

“When those rumors start, certain types of ammunition become scarce because people are buying it up, storing it, so that when I come in here and want to get a couple of boxes to go to the range with my son, I can't get it.”

Litchfield resident Scott Rand, a director at the Londonderry Fish and Game Club, said since three years ago club membership is at an all-time high, particularly because of increased interest among women.

Rand isn't one to run out and buy a new gun after the latest rumor.

“No. I go make more ammo in my cellar,” he said, adding that he keeps 3,000 pounds of lead in his basement.

Outside of Hillsborough County, several gun dealers contacted last week said they have seen less of an increase, if any at all.

Gene Rochette, owner of Stateline Guns Ammo and Archery in Plaistow, said sales have increased, but not as much as at the shops in Hudson and Nashua.

Over the “past couple weeks I've seen (an increase of) 15 or 20 percent,” Rochette said.

John Edgar of Renaissance Firearms in Rochester said not much has changed. “We haven't really seen anything since that hit the news. It's really been kind of business as usual. There's a lot of gab about the political situation, but things have really been pretty steady for some time.”

And an employee of Welch's Gun Shop in Lebanon said, “I haven't seen an increase, personally.”

Gene Rochette, owner of Stateline Guns Ammo and Archery in Plaistow, said sales have increased, but not as much as at the shops in Hudson and Nashua.

Over the “past couple weeks I've seen (an increase of) 15 or 20 percent,” Rochette said.

John Edgar of Renaissance Firearms in Rochester said not much has changed. “We haven't really seen anything since that hit the news. It's really been kind of business as usual. There's a lot of gab about the political situation, but things have really been pretty steady for some time.”

And an employee of Welch's Gun Shop in Lebanon said, “I haven't seen an increase, personally.”
srios@newstote.com.


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