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Albuquerque Shop Owners Say Recent Slaying Of Couple Motivates Gun Buyers

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Recent violence has brought out gun buyers in strength this season, according to two area gun retailers. Shop owners say handguns and pump-action shotguns are the most frequently requested weapons for home protection. "There are two sounds out there that everybody knows: the rattle of a rattlesnake and the pump of a 12-gauge shotgun," said Jerry Ellenberger, owner of Los Ranchos Gun Shop. "Things get quiet real fast." Business at Ellenberger's shop is up at least 12 percent this month over last year, he estimated. Many customers cite the Dec. 4 beating deaths of Tak Yi, 79, and his wife Pung, 69, and other violent crimes as their reason for buying guns, he said. Two travelling magazine salesmen -- Michael Joseph Lee, 21, and Travis R. Rowley, 23 -- were indicted this week on first-degree murder, kidnapping, rape and other charges in connection with the killings. "We'll have a 15- or 20-minute conversation before they even buy a gun," Ellenberger said of his customers, who frequently cite news reports of violent crimes. "I've seen a pretty good increase in those conversations lately." Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said anyone who buys a gun should seek training. "Buying a gun is a personal decision, and it's one I fully support. ... But if you're going to do that, you should get training on how to use it and store the gun." White said gun shops have a list of places that offer training. As for whether to keep a loaded gun at home, "it won't do you any good if it's not loaded," White said. "Then it's nothing more than a paperweight. But training will show you how to properly store a weapon safely." Some retailers, including Charlie Domenici, owner of Charlie's Sporting Goods, say they have seen no increase in gun sales other than the usual holiday gift buying. But Bob Rohlfs, a salesman at Calibers Shooters Sports Center, said the Yi couple's killings have brought many new gun buyers to his store. Rohlfs said the shop has experienced similar spikes following other high-profile killings, such as the March 2006 shooting death of Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy James McGrane Jr. Rohlfs also said handguns and pump-action shotguns, especially those that hold multiple rounds, are popular with buyers seeking homedefense weapons. "You just hear the rack of a shotgun and people just know what it is," he said. Caption: GREG SORBER/JOURNAL Adam Golson of Albuquerque sells a gift card Friday to Becky Burnham of Albuquerque at Calibers Shooters Sports Center

Read Original at: http://www.abqjournal.com/

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