Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Washington on track to set record for number of gun purchases

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SEATTLE -- More people are buying guns in the state, according to new statistics from the FBI that shows Washington is in the top 10 for firearms background checks.

Those statistics show Washington may be on its way to setting an all-time record for gun purchases.

"We do get a lot of first-time buyers here,” said Charles Webb, who works for South Ridge Arms Inc. in Kent.

The store has only been at its current location for less than two months and it’s been seeing a steady increase in customers.

“They ask a lot of questions and we try to help them out as much as we can,” added Webb.

According to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) between January 1 and May 31, there were 346,940 people in the state of Washington that underwent a background check to buy a gun.

While that doesn’t indicate how many guns were actually sold, the state does break down how many concealed weapon permits are out there.

According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, there are 542,569 concealed weapon permits in the state.

That’s up from 478,460 in 2014, a jump of almost 15 percent in just two years.

So, what’s driving the spike in gun sales?

“They’ve seen what’s been happening on the news and a lot of people are coming in inquiring about buying a gun. It’s their first time and they want to do something to protect themselves,” added Webb.

The Department of Licensing breaks the number of concealed permits by county.

The top three counties in the state are King County with 96,988, Pierce County with 71,479 concealed weapon permits and Snohomish County has 57,061.

Each county has seen an increase over the last two years.

“Our concern, where we have our focus, is to make sure that dangerous people aren’t able to exploit the laws and we’ve been heading the right direction on that in Washington state,” said Geoff Potter, with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

“We do know that because people are going through the background check, we know we are doing a better job of keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” added Potter.

According the NICS statistics, on average, Washington state sees about 57,000 federal background checks done each month.

At that rate, experts believe, the state could see a record of 600,000 background checks done by the end of the year.