Reineman’s Sporting Goods Manager Scott Rollins displays matching purple semiautomatic handguns at the Burlington store. Guns such at this appeal to women owners, he said. (Photo by Tracy Ouellette)

Protection is motivator in era of concealed carry

By Tracy Ouellette

Staff Writer

When the state’s approved concealed carry, handgun sales, predictably, went up. And not just to the firearm enthusiasts and hunters in the area.

“It made a tremendous increase in sales of firearms, especially to the female market,” said Scott Rollins, manager at the Burlington Reineman’s True Value.

Rollins said the changes in the concealed carry laws coincided with changes to Wisconsin’s mentored hunting program in 2009, which allowed anyone 11 years old or older to hunt at their parents’ discretion, with a mentor. The law also allows both the mentor and child to be in possession of a firearm, bow or crossbow.

“With those changes, guns sales over the last several years are definitely up,” Rollins said. “A lot of that is due to the concealed carry and women realizing the advantage that proper training can give them.”

Rollins said he used to teach concealed carry classes, but stopped a while ago because of time constraints, hiring someone to take over for him. (See the related story in this section.)

“But when I used to teach concealed carry, I would say 75 to 80 percent of the class attendees were female,” he said. “Not just younger women, either. They ranged in age from early 20s all the way to senior citizens in their late 60s and 70s.”

Rollins said the women he trained, and the ones he helps with handgun purchases every day, are looking to feel more secure and add a layer of protection to their lives.

“They’re leveling the playing field,” he said. “It’s the food chain. The predators out there are looking for the weakest link and older or small, petite women are food.”

Rollins said he stresses live-fire training to all the women he sells handguns to, along with concealed carry class.

“If you have no prior experience you need to get some hands-on training. Just because you have a handgun it doesn’t mean you can protect yourself,” Rollins said. “If you don’t think you can actually use that gun, having it could be more dangerous than not having it.”

To read the entire story as well as several others on handgun use and other self-defense options see the Business Section of this week’s Burlington Standard Press, Waterford Post and Westine Report.