Massacre In San Bernardino Touches Off Gun Debate As Sales Of Firearms Rise Across America

ORANGE (CBSLA.com)  —  As politicians on both sides of the aisle discuss the merits, or lack thereof, of gun control, many Americans are headed to the gun store.

It’s a divided nation — clearly. As many call for controls on weapons of any kind, more Americans are also going to gun stores to purchase weapons for the first time.

CBS2’s Erica Nochlin went to a gun store in Orange County to find out why.

“My one concern would be heaviness,” said Kim Wylle.

She had never held a handgun before Thursday. “And how does this one go back”” she asked the store’s owner, Emily Atkinson.

Wylle told Nochlin she is thinking about buying a firearm.

“Yes, it’s time that I get some protection,” she said.

And why now?

For one, she’s worried if she waits, it will be even harder to get her hands on one.

“There’s going to be maybe a lot of laws passed that’s going to restrict a lot of people being able to purchase a gun, or get a gun,” she said.

And Nochlin said she wasn’t alone.

Atkinson said she had a busy holiday season this year and says she can’t be sure why.

“A lot more first-time buyers,” Atkinson said.

Gun stores around the country have been busy. The FBI reports more Americans than ever before got their backgrounds checked while buying a gun on Black Friday.

The more than 185,000 requests for background checks in the US set a record for any one day. It was a five percent increase over last year.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign — a gun control advocacy group — says arming more people will not help.

“It’s a shame, because as a country, we’re better than this. This isn’t the conversation the American public wants to have – where the best we can do to answer violence is more violence, the best we can do to answer guns is more guns,” Gross said.

Wylle said she isn’t worried about protecting herself.

“I feel it’s my right as an American citizen,” she said.

Atkinson says anyone interested in buying a gun should take a safety class.

Editor’s Note: The Brady Campaign is named for Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, who was critically wounded in the assassination attempt on Reagan’s life in 1981. Brady died in 2014 and his death was ruled a homicide even though it occurred decades later. Brady and his wife Sarah became staunch gun control advocates. She died this past April. Both died at the age of 73.

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