February 27, 2013 —
Sheriff Philip Bueki said that the reaction to the massacre of children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT is the opposite of what might be expected. He said, “Instead of people talking about controlling high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, the sales have gone through the roof, and people that normally didn’t think about buying high-capacity magazines or assault weapons are now going out and buying them by the droves.”
Bueki spoke at the Pike County Commissioners meeting on February 20, and said gun and ammunition's sales in the county, as well as applications for concealed weapon carry permits, are up 400 to 500%. He said, “I think the fear of people coming into your homes and taking your guns away and taking your rights away are unfounded. And I’ve said it publicly for a couple of weeks, people need to calm down.”
He said the residents in many counties in New York State are seeking concealed carry permits in Pike County, and there is “no way Pike County can issue permits to the whole state of New York,” which he said is prompted by the fear of losing weapons or permits in New York. He said there were 10 permit applications from New York for every one from Pike County.
Pennsylvania has reciprocity agreements with 25 other states for concealed weapon permits, and if a New York State resident has a concealed weapon permit there, he or she may obtain one in Pennsylvania. However, if the New York permit is revoked, it is also automatically revoked in Pennsylvania.
Bueki said Pennsylvania has a robust background check program for people who apply for concealed carry permits, which includes national and international checks. Further, he said if a person is committed to a hospital or institution for a mental health issue or is named in a “protection from abuse order” his office is informed, and if the person has a concealed carry permit it is revoked.
Bueki said several times that he is a “pro-gun sheriff” and said “responsible gun owners need to do the right thing.” He said he was hearing increasing reports of people openly carrying guns when they go shopping. He also mentioned the case of a Lebanon County woman who wore a holstered pistol to her daughter’s soccer game in 2009, which became a national story. A Pennsylvania court ruled that the woman, Meleanie Hain, had a right to carry the weapon under state law.
Bueki said, “Some people like to push the envelope, but I think the more envelope you’re going to push, the more restrictions you’re going to see, and I don’t think that’s fair to the gun people like us who are responsible.”
Hain, incidentally, was shot to death in 2010 by her husband in what officials called a murder-suicide.