FAYETTEVILLE -- Gun ownership is on the rise in Cumberland County. The sheriff's office has issued over 7,000 gun permits so far this year, a big increase over the same period last year.
Frank Frazier has been a gun owner for nearly 20 years, and on Sunday he bought himself a new Beretta. He says for him, shooting is just a hobby.
"I just find shooting really relaxing, it's something I do. Some people play golf, I go to the range and shoot," said Frazier.
Danelle Poston grew up with a dad who taught her how to shoot a gun. That experience has made her more comfortable with them overall.
"He taught me how to shoot guns, so I do know how to shoot them," he said. "And I just recently became comfortable with shooting a 9 mm, so that's why I wanted to purchase one. "
Whatever the reason, gun ownership in Cumberland County is growing. From 2009 to 2011, the number of permits issued by the sheriff's office went up by no more than 5 percent each year. But so far this year, permits are on pace for a massive 34 percent increase over 2011.
Some say that's because it's an election year. A Washington Post article from 2008 cited state and federal data that gun sales were up eight to 10 percent that year before the election.
But Bernard Barr of Guns Plus says locally and in his travels around the country, most gun purchasers this year are not concerned with politics.
"The last election year, there were gun sales up all throughout the country. It was the hey day for gun ownership at that time. [But] I don't think because of the election year, we're selling more guns," said Barr.
Cumberland County's sheriff supports the right to purchase guns legally, but says his main concern is that people are responsible once they become gun owners.
"I think that's a right in this country," said Sheriff Early "Moose" Butler. "I certainly am not opposed to people owning guns. But I think it's important those who own guns know how to use guns."
Gun owners like Frazier seem to agree.
"You hate to compel anyone to do anything, but I do wish people would be better trained for safety's sake," he said. "If you're gonna buy a gun or own a gun, they should know how to use it. That's the main thing that concerns me. I think people have a right to bear arms, but I think they also have an obligation to do it responsibly."