Women boost Conn. gun sales - NewsTimes.com

WATERBURY, Conn.—Connecticut residents are arming themselves at quite a clip, with women, in particular, packing heat in growing numbers.

The state issued 7,741 pistol permits from January through May, a 90 percent increase over the same time period in 2008. Nearly 12,000 new permits have been issued so far this year in a state that recently posted one of the lowest gun ownership rates in the country, according a study of 2006 data by the Violence Policy Center, a national gun control advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

Connecticut gun retailers and educators who run the safety classes required for pistol permit applicants report a surge in first-time gun purchases, particularly by women, who account for up to half of the students taught in Torrington.

"I think that the percentage that you'd see of women coming for the first time has quadrupled," said John Petricone, a staffer at Tactical Arms in Torrington. Pistol safety classes that once drew about nine men for every woman are now evenly split, Petricone said.

Herb Furhman, a retired state trooper who now trains correction officers and operates HF LeanSafety LLC in New Milford, said his private classes are running at capacity, and about a third of his students are female.

"There's more single women now," Furhman said.

"They want to be protected in their home."

Furhman said high-profile crimes, including the Aug. 6 home invasion and rape of a New Milford woman and the notorious 2007 home invasion rape and murder of Dr. William Petit's wife and two daughters in Cheshire, fuel much of the interest in firearms. He recently secured certification to teach an advanced course on personal protection in the home, with a first class coming in October.

Ray Sausanavitch, owner of Wolf's Indoor Range and Shooting Center in Bristol, said his began to jump during the 2008 presidential campaign.

"It's all due to Mr. Obama, our biggest salesman," Susanav*itch said, noting that Obama as a senator and a presidential candidate supported tighter gun control. President Obama has not made any movements so far toward stricter gun con*trol laws.

Still, Susanavitch has no doubt that the administration will make a push to tighten gun laws eventually.

"Whenever you get a threat that something might be taken away, it doesn't matter what it is ... sales of that particular item are going to go up," Susanavitch said. "It's just that simple."

Gun control advocates, who failed to secure legislation this year that would require gun makers to imprint serial numbers on the firing pins of pistols sold in Connecticut, worry the surge in gun ownership will eventually bring tragic consequences.

"We're always concerned that more guns lead to more gun deaths," said Ron Pinciaro, co-director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, an advocacy group based on Southport.

"From our perspective, if people want to have guns for self-defense or hunting, we're not opposed to that," Pinciaro said. "But we do advise people that a gun in a household is 47 times more likely to be used against another member of the household than it is against an intruder."

That statistic, drawn from an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is one Furhman views with skepticism.

"I teach safe, responsible gun ownership, safety being the operative word," Furhman said. The three basic rules: "Aim in safe direction, never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and always keep firearms unloaded."

Ammunition is also flying off the shelves. Susanavitch and other gun retailers said supplies of everything but shotgun ammunition remain short, and pistol ammunition is in particularly short supply.

"We don't get every caliber every week," Susanavitch said. "Everything's back-ordered."

John Napierski, co-owner Jojo's Gun Works, a Southington shop that specializes in high-end custom guns, said strong sales have been fueled by a new customer base.

"It's a lot of women," Napierski said. "Not the usual gun guys."

Tactical Arms staffer Samantha Cavallo, 21, said the store's policy that staff should be armed while on duty is not the only reason she secured her own pistol permit.

"I just want it for my own protection," Cavallo said, citing concern sparked by recent burglaries in Torrington, her hometown. "A lot of my girlfriends and family members they definitely think it's a good thing to have. You've got to be ready, and be prepared."
What I felt are good points are in bold, what I felt were bad are underlined.

I definitely disagree with retired State Trooper Fuhrman in that you should "alway keep firearms unloaded." That does you absolutely no good in a dynamic situation such as a home invasion.