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More South Dakotans may be packing

The number of concealed pistol permits in the state has jumped almost 17 percent since 2006, and one gun shop owner said the election of President-elect Barack Obama has a lot to do with it.

"The day that Obama was elected, gun sales from distributors to gun shops shot up," said Robert Brown, owner of 2nd Amendment Guns in Mitchell. "The gun world is really scared."

In 2008, sheriffs in South Dakota issued 15,029 pistol permits, a 16.9 percent increase from the previous record of 12,855 issued in 2006, according to Secretary of State Chris Nelson.

Of those, 356 were in Davison County in 2008, up from 335 in 2007, 343 in 2006, and 270 in 2005.

It's hard for Brown to estimate how much his business has increased since the election, because his doors opened Sept. 1. He does know that he has completed more than 100 pistol transfers, including sales to private residents as well as transfers to other dealers. He also says interest in pistols has dramatically increased since the November election.

Brown estimates 30 percent of his sales are pistols.

He also said that in addition to concerns over the upcoming administration, many gun owners believe tough economic conditions could lead to crime, and many are concerned about protecting themselves, their family and their property.

"I've had police officers coming in here buying handguns," Brown said. "They're concerned about this coming year, because you've got a bad economy."

While he's hoping the concerns surrounding Obama's election do not come true, he's frightened by what might happen if fear becomes fact.

"It scares me that I might be seeing a time when guns might be taken out of the people's hands," Brown said. "It's sad."

Secretary of State Nelson said several factors can be attributed to the steady increase in pistol permits in the state.

"One is a general recognition of increasing violence in the country and a desire to defend oneself," he said. "Second is the recognition by spouses of current permit holders that they might also need a permit if they drive a vehicle containing a concealed weapon.

"Third is a concern about the political environment in Washington following the November election and fear that there may be attempts to restrict second amendment rights."