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Fear prompting rise in Auburn gun sales?

Safety courses good idea, residents, lieutenant say
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Fear of home invasion and personal safety are leading more Auburnites to buy guns, but residents have mixed feelings about gun ownership. Billy Prior, of Auburn Outdoor Sports on High Street, said he has definitely seen an increase in gun purchases. “It’s been happening for the last two years,” Prior said. “Sales have probably doubled. There has not been a recession in the guns and ammunition industry at all. Most of it is personal defense guns.” Prior said he is also seeing a trend in specifically who is buying the guns. “It seems like they are all new gun owners, too,” he said. “They are new people in their 40s and 50s who have never owned a gun. I’m going to say eight out of 10 handgun purchases are new gun owners, and out of those eight, six are women.” Prior said he thinks people are trying to take care of themselves during tough economic times when law enforcement staffs might be small and stretched thin. “The police can’t be everywhere at all times,” he said. “Desperate people do desperate things. I just think it’s being proactive. There is not a lot of money out there, but people still want their guns.” The owner of Sierra Gun Supply on Grass Valley Highway said gun sales at his store were standard, but he declined to comment further. Auburn resident Nancy DiMugno, whose family hunts, said she doesn’t have a problem with people buying guns for protection, but worries they might fall into inexperienced hands. “In some ways it’s scary to me, because I don’t think people know how to handle guns,” DiMugno said. “That scares me, because there are a lot of people in this area who are a little whacked.” Since the end of October there have been three high-profile burglary arrests for incidents taking place in the city limits of Auburn as well as the Auburn area of Placer County. Those arrested include Lonnie Michael Flashman and Amy Kathleen Hoffman-Draper, who were allegedly breaking into cars in the Auburn State Recreation Area. Flashman and Hoffman-Draper were booked into Sacramento County Jail. The Placer County Sheriff’s Office arrested Joseph William Einspahr, Stephanie Jean Cooke-Perez, Karissa Dawn Yeager, Jayme Lynn Salcedo and Amanda Marie Jojo in November and December for allegedly breaking into cars at Auburn State Recreation Area trailheads as well as North Auburn residences. Eric Dasher and Harrison Harden were arrested in El Dorado County Nov. 23 after allegedly breaking into several homes and stealing vehicles on three streets within the Auburn city limits. There was also a recent rash of burglaries at Rock Creek Mobile Home Park. DiMugno said she understands why people might want a little extra protection in their homes, but thinks gun owners need to take safety classes. “Just like when the kids learn how to hunt, they go through safety courses,” she said. “Even if it’s in the wrong hands, at least they have learned something, maybe it will sink in. I understand where people are coming from, because there have been a lot of burglaries.” DiMugno said she thinks people coming to the foothills from the Bay Area carry the bigger-city mentality with them. “We were robbed a couple times down there,” she said. “It’s scary down there. I personally wouldn’t run out to buy a gun if there were burglaries in my neighborhood. I might carry a golf club or something.” San Francisco resident Jason Scogna, who was visiting his mother in Auburn Tuesday, said he would buy a gun for protection if he needed to. But he doesn’t think just anyone should be allowed to buy a gun without experience. “Definitely training courses should be very good,” Jason Scogna said. “Not every Joe Schmoe should be able to own a gun.” Auburn resident Kathy Scogna said she owns guns from years ago when she lived in Pennsylvania, but she wouldn’t buy a new gun because of criminal activity. “I’m not fear-oriented that way,” Kathy Scogna said. “(In Pennsylvania) I lived on a farm, and I was a single woman. I think it’s a good idea (for people to buy guns for protection) if they want to.” Lt. Mark Reed, spokesman for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, said Tuesday while people have a right to own guns, keeping them securely locked away is important, because they do get stolen during burglaries and children can hurt themselves if left unsupervised. “There are accidents (involving children and guns) every year throughout the state,” Reed said. Reed said he also encourages residents to learn how to be safe around guns. “I would recommend before anyone purchased (a gun) that they take a gun safety class, but like I say, it is people’s right to (own a gun),” he said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Requirements to buy a gun Handguns: According to Billy Prior of Auburn Outdoor Sports, it is state law for people to meet certain requirements when buying handguns. The future owner must have a state identification card with a residential address on it and a second proof of residency, such as a vehicle registration or utility bill. If the ID card has a P.O. Box address, the person must provide two proofs of residency. Then the buyer must pass a 30-question multiple-choice handgun safety test, which results in a certificate that is good for five years, and perform a safe handling demonstration. For a $35 fee the gun store will run a 10-day background check with the Department of Justice. If the potential owner passes the check, he or she can pick up the gun. Rifles, shotguns: For someone to buy a rifle or shotgun he or she needs a state identification card. The person will also have to pass a 10-day background check, but there is no safety certification required.