HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Numbers released by the Department of the Attorney General show a record number of permits were issued for firearms and a record number of firearms were registered in Hawaii in 2011.
Last year 14,460 permits were issued statewide compared to 12,214 in 2010. And 36,804 firearms were registered in Hawaii in 2011 compared to 31,390 the year before.
"Most of the folks we get are acquiring firearms for the purposes of protection," said Bill Richter, President of Lessons in Firearms Education (LIFE).
LIFE is an organization of 35 instructors that provides classes on hand gun safety. Anyone wanting to own a hand gun in Hawaii must first take safety lessons.
"The number one reason that we hear is that people want to protect themselves," Richter said.
Richter and other firearm enthusiasts believe the second big reason for the increase in gun ownership is concern the Obama administration will tighten gun laws if he is elected to a second term.
"Obama and his crew have definitely made it clear that they don't like guns. They don't want guns in our hands and people are concerned about that," said Harvey Gerwig, President of the Hawaii Rifle Association.
"The sale of firearms is up across the country. It's up across the country more so than here, and you see the percentages we're seeing here. That tells you we have a nervous populous about what's going on in our federal government," Gerwig added.
Both Gerwig and Richter said they are seeing more women taking gun classes than ever before, but that the increased interest in firearms includes people of both sexes and all ages.