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  1. #1
    Senior Member American-ized's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Monroe County, New York

    TX-More carry guns in El Paso

    More carry guns in El Paso

    By Brandi Grissom
    El Paso Times - Austin Bureau
    Posted: 08/02/2009


    More people are seeking a permit to carry concealed guns. Do you think this is smart?

    Total Votes = 1122

    Yes, you have to be able to defend yourself. 41.17 %

    Yes, we have a right to have weapons. 28.25 %

    No, more weapons means more violence. 18.62 %

    No, sounds like paranoia. 11.94 %

    AUSTIN -- Tony and Ricki Combs decided it was time to take self-protection more seriously this summer, so, like a growing number of other El Pasoans, they are getting licensed to pack heat.

    "You just never can tell when you may need a little bit more protection than your hands may offer," Tony Combs said.

    El Paso saw a larger increase in concealed-handgun license applications than any other metro area of the state during the past year, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

    Gun shop owners and shooting instructors in El Paso said they have seen interest in handguns for personal protection balloon in recent months.

    And, they said, most of their clients have worries about firearms politics in the United States and the ongoing turmoil in Mexico.

    "There's quite a feeling of insecurity," said Jimmy Porter, owner of El Paso Gun Exchange.

    The El Paso Times examined data showing the number of applications for gun permits in counties across the state. Then it compared the number of applications the DPS received from September 2007 to September 2008, with the number of applications submitted from last September until this July.

    Applications started to swell in December last year, just after the election of President Barack Obama. Obama has called for stricter enforcement of gun laws, more thorough background checks for gun purchases and a ban on assault weapons.

    Applications in Texas have surged nearly 17 percent. The unprecedented increase caused a processing backlog at the DPS, said spokeswoman Lisa Block. The department has hired 50 temporary workers to help move through the paperwork.

    "Renewal applications are currently a bit behind, but the bureau should be current on those by next week," she said.

    El Paso had the largest increase of all the major urban areas statewide -- a nearly 30 percent jump in applications.

    From September 2007 to September 2008, about 800 El Pasoans submitted applications for concealed-handgun licenses. The number grew to more than 1,100 from September 2008 to June 2009.

    By comparison, applications from Harris County grew about 14 percent, and Dallas County submissions increased 7 percent.

    Porter said he had seen a steady increase in the number of people coming into his store looking for handguns and asking for information about getting a permit to carry one. His business is just five minutes from the border that separates El Paso from the besieged metropolis of Juárez.

    "They want to feel secure, and reading (about the violence in Juárez) every day is not instilling any kind of secure feeling," Porter said.

    He turns away Juárez residents because civilians cannot own guns in Mexico.

    Tony Combs, who lives in the Lower Valley, said he and his wife grew increasingly nervous about their safety reading daily news accounts about the killings and kidnappings in Juárez. They also worried that the new presidential administration might enact tighter gun controls.

    "My wife and I both decided it was time we did something to be able to protect ourselves," he said.

    They took shooting lessons at JAG Personal Defense and signed up with some friends to take the gun-safety course that is required to obtain a concealed-handgun license. Now they are waiting to get their licenses from the DPS, he said.

    Jaime Guillen, owner of JAG Personal Defense, said demand for the concealed-handgun license courses he teaches has gotten crazy in the past year.

    A year ago, he said, he offered a couple of the classes each month and spent most of his time teaching self-defense courses.

    Now, he said, he is teaching several classes each month and has had to get a bigger classroom space.

    "It just went insane all of the sudden," Guillen said.

    His clients report worries about lawlessness in Juárez and about a possible crackdown on guns under the Obama administration.

    "Everybody figures if I get a license now, they can't turn around later and take it away," he said.

    Will "Butch" Sears, a former Drug Enforcement Administration firearms trainer and retired El Paso County sheriff's deputy, has been a firearms instructor since 1962.

    Since January, he said, attendance at his monthly classes has grown from about 20 to 30 people. His clients come from all walks of life, including housewives and business people.

    Most, he said, are worried about changes to gun laws. Some are also worried about spillover drug violence.

    Clients are also concerned, he said, that the downturn in the economy could mean a spike in crime.

    "Most of my students say, 'I have a right not to be a victim,' " Sears said.

    El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles said crime in the area remains low. El Paso has for years ranked among the safest cities in the nation.

    Violence from Juárez, which has been raging since early 2008, has seeped north only in isolated cases directly related to drug trafficking, he said.

    "I certainly don't think those reasons are justified at this point because there's no indication those things are happening," Wiles said.

    Still, Wiles said, he was not opposed to more El Pasoans arming themselves with concealed weapons if it makes them feel safer.

    Fears about tighter gun controls have been widespread since Obama took office. But there has been little federal action on that front, and Congress even voted to allow guns in national parks.

    "I haven't seen any indication that the big, bad Obama administration is coming to take their guns," said Josiah Heyman, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at El Paso.

    He said research has shown that often people's perceived fears do not reflect the actual environment.

    As in the case of El Paso, Heyman said, crime rates can be low, but people at the same time report increased feelings of anxiety about crime.

    Brandi Grissom may be reached at; 512-479-6606. ... ost_viewed

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ratbstard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    New Alien City-(formerly New York City)
    More people are seeking a permit to carry guns concealed. Do you think this is smart?

    Total Votes = 1146

    Yes, you have to be able to defend yourself.
    41.44 %

    Yes, we have a right to have weapons.
    28.44 %

    No, more weapons means more violence.
    18.32 %

    No, sounds like paranoia.
    11.78 %

    It's a damn shame that the American Public has been forced to disarm in most of America.
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