Columbia County residents are arming themselves.
"I think a lot of people are afraid their Second Amendment rights will be trounced on," said Eddie Hulsey, of Evans, a gun expert and recently published author. "So they are going ahead and getting (guns)."
Hulsey hopes to educate this wave of new gun owners with his book, Defensive Handgun for the Armed Citizen.
"I'm a firm believer in the Second Amendment and being able to protect yourself," Hulsey said. "But with that, you need some basic knowledge of how to safely operate that handgun, how to store that handgun, and how to teach your family about that handgun."
Hulsey has 35 years of law enforcement experience, including 25 devoted to training officers and SWAT teams. Now, through the Department of Homeland Security, he instructs SWAT members on responding to acts of terrorism.
While conducting research for another project, Hulsey discovered that gun and ammunition sales, concealed weapons permit applications and memberships in pro-gun organizations have drastically risen. He's also concerned that violent crime will follow the population's flight from inner cities to suburban areas.
In Columbia County, 689 people applied for the gun permits from January through April, nearly twice as many as during the same time frame in 2008, according to the Columbia County Probate Court.
The office saw a spike starting in November, when the average number of applications rose from 111 to more than 200 per month.
With the possibility of more restrictive gun laws, residents are purchasing weapons now and stockpiling ammunition.
Mike Benoit, the gun sales manager at American Sportsman in Martinez, said they are selling guns, including handguns, defensive shotguns and military-style weapons and ammunition, as fast they are placed on the shelves.
"Everybody is (buying guns) right now," he said. "Everything is since the election in November."
Benoit said his customers are afraid that should the government repeal the Second Amendment, then only criminals will have access to guns.
Hulsey said he published the book to help residents arming themselves for defensive purposes do it safely and effectively. In addition to safe gun operation, storage and cleaning, the book addresses the need for personal defense and when deadly force is legally allowed.
"It covers what a confrontation will look like," said Hulsey, who also is a National Rifle Association instructor. "There's a chapter on mentally preparing, which talks on how to live through that encounter before you ever get to that encounter, on how to prepare your mind so that you don't go into brain freeze; you don't lock down."
Hulsey highly recommends training for any new gun owner, whether it is from private instruction or through a gun club or organization like the NRA.
Many recent gun purchasers are first-time gun owners, Benoit said.
Benoit added that he and his staff provide recommendations for buyers looking for training to go with their new gun.
Hulsey also wrote about how to survive the post-shooting investigation if an armed resident uses deadly force as a defense.
"I'm proud of the book," he said. "I think it is useful information in there for the citizen who wants to protect themselves or their families."
The book is available at American Sportsman, 4088 Washington Road, or online at www.amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, target.com, www.booksamillion.com and other online stores.
For information, visit Hulsey's Web site at pistoldefense.com.
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