Woman killed, women go buy guns
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Gun sales up after Touma killing
By Paul Woolverton
Staff photo by Cindy Burnham
Ruth Ann Drewitt carries her pistol at home.
The salespeople at Jim’s Gun Jobbery in Fayetteville were puzzled at first by the number of women buying handguns one Saturday morning in late June.
“We sold four guns the first hour after we opened,” said store manager Trey Pugh, which was highly unusual.
Then the shopkeepers saw the news: Someone claiming to be a serial killer was taking credit for killing Fort Bragg soldier Megan Touma, a woman seven months pregnant whose body was found June 21 in her motel room in Fayetteville.
Fearful women, some on their own, some at the urging of soldier-husbands preparing to deploy, have been buying guns, pepper spray and Tasers, Cumberland County gun dealers said last week.
“Which is really nice because it’s kind of saving our summer,” said Christopher Hatley, owner of Guns Plus in Spring Lake. Summer is normally a slow period for gun sales, he said.
Gun permit statistics from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office show that gun sales to women have spiked since Touma’s body was found. In the nine years from 1999 to June 20, 149 women got handgun permits, an average of about 17 per year.
From June 21 to July 9 — two-and-a-half weeks — 52 women received permits to buy guns.
The Touma murder wasn’t the only reason they bought guns, some of the women said, but it was a factor.
The recent buyers include Stephanie Charles of Fayetteville.
Charles said several years ago she and her husband twice had burglars in Fayetteville. Someone sneaked in one night and robbed their house while they slept, she said. The second time, she said, the burglar ran off after her husband caught him trying to break in a window.
The family transferred to Japan with the Army, then returned to Fayetteville this summer to the news of the Touma case.
“When I heard a bunch of people talking about it, it just kind of scared me,” Charles said. “I’ve got kids to look after.”
So now she has a Glock 9mm handgun.
Ruth Ann Drewitt, a soldier living alone, is also the victim of a break-in, she said.
Someone kicked in Drewitt’s door while she was on vacation in June, she said, and when she got home, Touma’s murder was in the news. Scared, she bought a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun.
“As a woman, being alone, a single woman, I don’t feel safe,” she said.
Drewitt, said she enjoyed shooting her new gun at a target of a man’s silhouette at the Guns Plus practice range.
“It was very easy to use, a very good suggestion by the salesperson. ... I was aiming for the head and that’s what I hit,” she said.
She kept the target.
“I was going to hang it on my front door as a deterrent,” she said. “I kind of said it as a joke, but I think I might do it.”
Staff writer Paul Woolverton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3512.