Louis B. Ruediger, Tribune-Review
Louis B. Ruediger, Tribune-Review

Although gun control advocates are quick to say Americans who own guns hoard firearms, Pennsylvania is proving that theory wrong. According to a new Trib Live report, the majority of handgun purchases in Western Pennsylvania are by first-time gun owners.

“A lot of people have never owned one, but they feel they need to get one,” said Ed Negley, owner of Shooters Bench gun store, West Deer.

More people are owning handguns for self-defense purposes, according to a 2015 New York Times poll. The need for self-protection is what’s fueling people’s habits, the poll reports.

The number of concealed carry permit holders in the area is soaring, as well – the reason: a feared Hillary Clinton presidency that would result in strict gun control laws.

So far this year, the Allegheny, Armstrong and Westmoreland counties have seen a 39 percent increase in CCW permits.

“People are not scared they won’t be able to get guns. They are scared about where the country has gone. They want to protect themselves,” said Nathan Cary of Bullseye Firearms in New Alexandria.

The largest segment of people who want to protect themselves are women, a growing phenomenon.

“We have been seeing this for 10 years or more,” said Dennis Giever, a professor of criminology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The women who are purchasing guns are more worried about crime than they are about who is elected. Their firearms-related spending will continue to climb, regardless of who is in office. Spikes in gun purchases tend to soar when terrorist attacks take place.

“Anytime there’s a shooting, the number goes through the roof,” agreed Armstrong County Chief Deputy Sheriff Terry Bish.

On a regular day in Pennsylvania, 50 to 75 people apply for background checks. When a terrorist attack takes place, that number spikes to around 200 per day.