XENIA, Ohio–Gun sales at the Loan Star Pawn Shop have been down in recent months, and manager Jason Fister blames President Donald Trump.
“Now that Trump’s in office, he’s not saying anything about guns, so people aren’t scared,” said Fister, standing at a counter with a line of rifles behind him. “[Ex-President Barack] Obama was one of the best gun salesmen there ever was. Every time he opened his mouth saying he was going to take away guns, that’s when the gun prices went up.”
Trump’s election came as a relief to many gun owners in conservative Greene County, home to a number of rural towns and suburban sprawl around Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. While Trump has only been in office several months, there’s a feeling among gun-rights supporters that they have dodged a bullet.
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While pawn-shop gun sales may be down, business has remained steady at a nearby Rural King, according to store manager Joy Murphy. “As far as sales go, it’s really the same.”
The number of concealed firearms permits issued in Greene County has also remained comparatively high. According to the Ohio attorney general’s office, 484 conceal-carry permits were approved in the first three months of 2017 – the most for any quarter since the fall of 2014.
Jennifer Clauson, a 48-year-old substitute teacher from Xenia, said that with her children now out of the house, she’s considering buying a firearm and a conceal-carry permit – partly to show her support of the Second Amendment, and partly to protect herself when she goes biking.
While she knows the overall U.S. crime rate has dropped in recent years, Clauson said carrying a gun “still seems like a practical solution.”
Clauson said she’s happy with Trump’s stance on gun control.
“I think he’s doing really well,” she said. “I’m a believer that we need to let good people have guns – as many people as possible should get guns.”
Trump’s presidency hasn’t been the only win for gun-rights supporters. Ohio lawmakers have made a number of recent moves to loosen the state’s gun-control laws, and is currently looking at additional changes. Thanks to one of those changes, Cedarville University, a private Christian school in Greene County, will be the first college in Ohio to allow professors and employees to carry concealed firearms on campus, starting next month.
Patrick Oliver, a former Cleveland police chief who now directs Cedarville University’s criminal justice program, said the school approved the change both to allow employees to protect themselves and out of the belief that such a right is guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“We passed concealed-carry at Cedarville University because we felt that individuals who have a conceal-carry permit should be able to also protect themselves at their place of work,” said Oliver, who lives in Fairborn, in western Greene County. Asked if he plans to carry a concealed handgun to work, Oliver only said that as a peace officer, he’s already allowed to carry a gun on campus.
Personally, Oliver said he believes that America’s Founding Fathers intended the Second Amendment to mean that government should not have the right to pass any gun-control laws, except for when someone has been charged with or imprisoned for a crime.
Allowing government to extend its power beyond what the Constitution allows – on guns or any other issue – is dangerous, he said. Most students at Cedarville University, Oliver said, agree that government shouldn’t infringe on their Second Amendment rights.
At Spring Valley Shooting Range, a state-run facility in far southern Greene County, 21-year-old Kailen Watson of Fairborn said he likes that lawmakers have eased up on gun regulations.
“It’s getting better, I think, because they’re letting you shoulder a lot more firearms now – the regulations aren’t as stiff,” said Watson, who owns a 9-mm handgun. “You’re not going to get harassed as much with an AR-15 on your back.”
However, unlike those who bought guns in fear of Obama, Watson said he feels more of a need to have a gun because he’s worried Trump will lead other countries to invade the United States.
“He’s got a big mouth, he thinks he knows everything, but he’s just a dumb businessman,” Watson said of the president. “I mean, I like him, but at the same time, he’s going to get us all in trouble, and everyone needs to keep a firearm at this point if you’re legally allowed to have one.”