Thursday, October 4, 2001

Art Ong of Magnum Firearms & Range pointed out the gun's sights
yesterday for Adam Monroy, a corporal in the Marine Corps.

Gun classes
booming in wake
of tragedy

Remember 9-11-01

Oahu gun shop owners are
seeing more buyers who seek
to protect themselves

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Inside the shooting facility of Magnum Firearms & Range on Queen Street, Adam Monroy gripped a 9 mm handgun with both hands. Holding his arms steady, Monroy fired several gunshots through the bottom of the target.

"People have always wanted to defend themselves somehow," said Monroy, a corporal in the Marine Corps at Kaneohe Bay.

Since the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, people have taken that responsibility a little more seriously, he said.

Some Oahu gun shop owners have seen an increase in inquiries and registration of gun safety courses since the attacks three weeks ago.

At Magnum, attendance in gun safety courses has tripled, said Art Ong, president and general manager. Its gun sales have more than doubled recently.

About 80 percent of Magnum's customers have responded to the attacks on the East Coast and would like to protect their home and family with a firearm, Ong said.

Ong, who is also a certified instructor, said he has since run out of 50 National Rifle Association study guides used in the gun safety course.

Monroy completed the course Saturday at the Magnum facility. He said he took the course to have the capability of obtaining a personal firearm if sent to Central Asia.

Art Ong, president and general manager of Magnum Firearms
& Range, helped a beginner with her shooting yesterday.

Normally, Ong instructs an average of three to four people in a gun safety class. Since the attack, Ong said, his classes have reached the maximum of eight people. Calls from those interested in handling and owning a firearm have also doubled.

"With the climate of the economic downturn, there's been a concern that people are going to get desperate," Ong said.

Property crimes may increase as a result of the economy, and people may want to protect their home and family with a firearm, he added.

Of all firearms and accessories at Magnum, handguns have been the most requested item, Ong said.

Monroy's wife, Shirley, said she has thought about taking gun safety classes to obtain a handgun for home protection if her husband is called away to Central Asia.

Hawaii's gun shop owners stated gun sales in the state have not mirrored the sales of other gun shops nationwide. Some attributed the difference to Hawaii's strict firearm laws requiring handgun purchasers to attend a mandatory safety course taught by a National Rifle Association certified instructor, making the process longer to obtain a firearm.

Ong demonstrates how to properly load a handgun.

All firearms must be registered at the Firearms Section of the Honolulu Police Department. It takes two weeks for police to investigate a person's criminal background and mental health records before a permit for a handgun is approved.

Although gun sales for most gun shops in Hawaii have not changed, Ong said sales for Magnum Firearms & Range have jumped to $4,000, $8,000 and $10,000 a day from $3,000.

"I've been blessed. We've been having record sales," he said.

About 15 to 20 law enforcement officers have purchased handguns, shotguns or rifles within the last three weeks, he added.

"The mood among law enforcement is, if a terroristic situation arises, they want to be prepared," Ong said.

Daniel Oshima, owner of the Kaneohe Gun Shop, said he has received between 15 and 20 phone calls from people interested in firearms training.

"Because of what happened, it's a little higher than usual at this time of the year," Oshima said.

Young Guns on Paa Street has experienced a 25 percent increase of inquiries on gun safety classes.

Martha Kiyabu, sales representative of Young Guns, said, "There's not enough classes for applicants."

"A lot of Americans are fearing the unknown," she said.

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