With news of possible changing firearm laws, guns and accessories have been “flying off the shelves” of a local dealer and an increase in permitting class attendance reported.
Sheriff Jim Ruth has taught firearm safety and education since 1991. He estimated more than 6,000 area residents have taken the classes at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.
In 1996, Tennessee Department of Safety took over the administration of gun permits and collecting data.
“Prior to that, it was up to the local sheriff’s offices in the state to issue carry permits,” Ruth said.
According to Ruth, he and members of the sheriff’s office hold scheduled classes throughout the year.
“About every month-and-a-half we will have a class,” he said.
Sixty-three people have signed up for the next class in February.
“Some will not be able to make it due to their jobs or other schedule changes,” said Ruth.
Typically, about 40 residents will attend the class each time it is held. The attendees have to be placed on the list and will be notified of eligibility and date of the classes.
Four hours of classroom instruction on gun safety and laws, including surrounding or reciprocal state laws are discussed.
The safety and education class is held on Fridays, and on Saturday participants will travel to the firing range to qualify and score with their handgun, according to Ruth.
“Permitting is working here and in the state. We educate those who apply and there has been no sign of misuse locally from those who have completed the safety and education course,” Ruth said.
Coincidentally, the Tennessee Department of Safety revoked a handgun carry permit this past week after a man allegedly made a threatening video which was posted on YouTube and went viral this week, according to TDOS information.
The man was identified as James Yeager, 42, of Camden.
Local auctioneer and gun shop owner Terry Posey said since news of possible changes in gun ownership laws have been in the news recently, his business has been hopping with firearm sales, ammunition and accessory sales.
Posey has been auctioning guns and property for 10 years.
He recently sold more than 600 guns at an auction.
Posey opened his store two years ago and has seen a significant increase in traffic since mid-November for the Christmas season, but most recently when President Barack Obama made a statement regarding gun laws after the Newtown, Conn. shooting.
“After the president made his statement, sales for AR-style guns have increased dramatically,” Posey said.
ARs are considered “assault rifles,” according to Posey’s description.
The guns are typically a high caliber and lightweight.
“Assault rifle or weapon, is a name which has been stereotyped to a particular style of gun,” Posey said.
“A true assault rifle is military grade and fully automatic,” he added.
“Anything can be termed ‘assault weapon,’” Posey said, “A rock, a stick, a ball bat, an ink pen … just depends on what it is used for.”
Posey sells handguns, shotguns, rifles, knives, ammo, cases and holsters.
“We have a hard time keeping inventory of virtually every caliber of ammo and ARs,” Posey said.
On Saturday, Posey’s store was out of the rifles, but patrons still milled about looking at handguns and other firearms.
Vernon West, a Posey customer, said he visited a local retailer today and found out they had received a shipment of ammo, only to be sold out by Saturday morning.
“It’s been hard to keep ammunition of any caliber,” Posey said.
“It feels like the fear of a shortage in ammo and certain arms has been what has created the shortage,” he explained.
Posey said manufacturers and distributors had worked to diminish stock prior to the new year and that has attributed to some of the shortfalls.
When asked about certain gun controls, Posey said he agrees with some.
He said background checks are critical to make sure felons or others who are disqualified from owning firearms, are enforced and detailed. He also said private transfers from one registered qualified gun owner to another is a good move.
“If that were to happen, gun dealers would have to file the changes for the transfer. It would make our store and other shop owners busier to perform this service,” Posey explained.