As the debate rages in Washington and Lansing as to whether guns laws are strict enough, in Alpena a local business is being inundated with requests for the weapons that being discussed.
Bob's Gun Shop has been a busy place since the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown, Conn. Bob Skuse, who owns the store, said besides people coming in the store to purchase guns and supplies, he has been fielding a great number of calls from out of state about particular weapons, such as the Bushmaster assault rifle and a Glock handgun. Skuse said he also has been contacted many time from people wanting to purchase magazines that hold many bullets. He said rarely does the store carry the assault rifle in the store.
"In the last week it seems like I have gotten a 1,000 calls. It has just been crazy, you wouldn't believe it," Skuse said. "The have been asking for the Bushmaster and high-capacity cartridges. I'm not very fond of the assault rifles or the newer guns. I like vintage guns, but we do get them from time to time if someone trades them in."
Skuse said there has been a large increase in the amount of walk-in traffic in his store. He said he is sure some of the people are buying guns as Christmas gifts, but most of them are buying them because of what could transpire in terms of new laws and bans.
"Business has really picked up since the shooting and it is not because they are scared about some sort of shooting taking place. What they are scared of are laws being passed and then they won't be able to get them," he said.
In Michigan it is fairly easy for most people to get either a handgun or a long-barreled gun. Alpena County Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski explained the process of how each can be legally acquired and who is eligible to buy them.
"With a long gun a person can just go into a dealership with a driver's license and they will be run through the computer and if there is no felony in the criminal history the dealer gets the go-ahead to sell the gun," Kieliszewski said. "For a pistol if you live in the county you stop in my department or if you live in the city go to the city police station and we will give the person a test which directs 15 questions and if you pass that and a background check and if there are not any mental health issues on record we will give the permit to purchase."
Kieliszewski said during his time as a police officer in Alpena there have not been a lot of crimes committed with the guns in question, or with firearms in general. He said he believes the laws and measures taken now are good enough.
"I think the system that is set up now works well," Kieliskowski said. "In Alpena it is far and few in between crimes that are committed with a gun or a shooting."
Skuse said when a person comes in to purchase a rifle, the person's information is forwarded to the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms database for final approval. He said he thinks people who buy guns are checked carefully, but said he anticipates changes coming.
"I think they are screened pretty well, but with this massacre everything is in turmoil," Skuse said. "I know they are going to try to make the laws tougher, so I don't really know what is going to happen next."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.