Requests for gun permits in Newtown, Connecticut are set to double this year, as residents fear for a loss of their Second Amendment rights in wake of the massacre there last December that killed 28 people, mostly children.
Local police have already received more than 200 gun permit requests in 2013, and applications aren’t expected to stop anytime soon even as last year’s tragedy at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School remains fresh in the minds of many.
Authorities in Newtown have reported a spike in gun permit requests, and announced that at the current rate these requests will far surpass last year’s. Newtown police have already received 211 gun permit requests this year, and there are more than four months left for this number to increase. Last year, police received 171 requests from January through December. In 2011, they only received 99.
“People think [officials] are trying to take their guns away from them,” Mike DeLuca, co-owner at a gun shop called MD Shooting Sports, told the New York Daily News, sharing the fears expressed by customers seeking gun permit applications. “They want to have a right to own a gun and protect themselves.”
Ever since a gunman killed 26 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, Democratic lawmakers and White House officials have emphasized the importance of stricter gun control laws, and even tried to ban military-grade assault weapons. But gun activists have long expressed fear that their Second Amendment rights will be violated, and the response to the Newtown massacre prompted many of them to stock up on weapons.
Nancy Ellis, a grandmother and resident of Newtown, said she is about to make her first gun purchase at age 66.
“Our rights are being slowly infringed upon. In other words, there may be a time when I may never be able to get a firearm,” she told CNN. The grandmother said she is responsible and has taken shooting lessons. She said she wants to purchase a gun so she has the option to protect herself.
“The fact that they were reeling in and squeezing more laws made me think, ‘You know what? I want my gun permit.’ I want to exercise my right,” Ellis told the Daily News. “…What am I going to [when faced with an intruder]? What am I going to do? Throw water at him? Get a knife? Go get a pair of scissors? When he has a gun potentially?”
A spike in gun permit requests is not unique to Newtown. Across the nation, gun and ammunition sales have surged and background check applications have increased after the Dec. 14 massacre. But the spike in gun sales is particularly surprising in a town like Newtown, where the tragedy is still fresh in the minds of residents – particularly those whose children were killed last year.
A 55-year-old customer identified only as “Russ” told the Daily News that the Newtown massacre was tragic, but that he does not believe stronger gun laws would have prevented it. Michael Capozzielo, who teachers a basic pistol permit course in Newtown, described the mentality of permit applicants.
“People started thinking, you know what, some crazy person can do that, at the supermarket, anywhere and I won’t have anything to defend myself,” he said. “They were also afraid they were going to enact stricter laws and thought they had a small window of opportunity.”