A noted uptick in gun sales is evident since President Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term. Local gun store owners say their sales have been on the rise, and they credit the sales jump to people who fear the administration may try to limit gun ownership.
"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," so says the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But many local people feel that right may indeed be infringed upon.
David Wilson, owner of Lebanon Gun Shop, has noticed a definite sales increase in gun sales since the election, but his store's extra business dates back to the 2008 election when Obama first took office.
"I keep up with my sales," he said. "Based on background checks, there has been an increase in Tennessee. Statewide, there has been a 23 percent increase in sales and in my store sales are up 25 percent year to date. "From talking to other dealers, since 2008 there has been a steady increase in demand," he said.
When asked what people buying guns are afraid of, Wilson had a definitive answer.
"They're not afraid of anything because they have guns," he said. "Most people purchase guns for personal safety. Others buy them because they think society might go over the edge - because they worry about a breakdown in the economy or they think guns won't be available in the future."
Wilson said it isn't necessarily about Obama himself, but the idea that Democrats in general are more in favor of gun control measures.
"The National Rifle Association is in favor of existing regulations, but they don't think we need any more gun control; just enforce the laws we have."
He said the state and the Federal Bureau of Investigation forbids gun sales to anyone who has been declared by a court to have a mental illness in the past 10-15 years. Wilson said the problem with that law is that older people may have been declared mentally ill more than 15 years in the past. He also said unless there are records to the contrary, gun permit applicants could always lie.
Wilson thinks many people don't understand the Second Amendment and think only about the first part authorizing a militia. He, and several legal scholars, maintain that the amendment was put in the Bill of Rights to ensure citizens have a way to protect themselves from an overreaching government, such as the one they had just fought a revolution to escape.
"No one from the Beltway would ever agree with that," he said.
Wilson said he has a lot of customers who have moved to Tennessee from other states because they feel the need to become self-sufficient in the event of a breakdown in society. These are not people living in a cabin in Montana but "upper class, professional people."
"I had one family that had moved here from Indiana and bought a farm because they concluded they may have to take care of themselves," Wilson said.
Terry Jackson is the bookkeeper at the Armory Gun Shop in Lebanon. She gave an emphatic "yes" when asked if the store has seen more sales since the election.
"They are saying there is a potential for a ban on semi-automatic rifles," she said.
Jackson added a lot more women are buying guns these days.
"Women who are interested in self protection should come in and look at the smaller handguns," she said. "We even have pink guns."
Wilson said there are three things people will need if the economy breaks down and chaos ensues.
"You will need three things - food and water, protection, which would probably be a firearm, and friends because no one can stay awake all the time."
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 45 or firstname.lastname@example.org.