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March 14, 2007
Albany -- Five people have been shot in Albany in the last six days. That's frightening to the people who live here.
So much so, that many of them are buying guns and getting permits to carry them. Albany police insist, though, that violent crime is down.
Handgun sales have increased dramatically at Backwoods Outdoors. Gun salesman Frank Herndon told us, "People want to protect themselves. We have a lot of people who come in and buy the handguns from us and the holster, so they carry them concealed."
Frank Herndon is a former Albany Cop, and he says people are arming themselves. "The way crime has increased so much here lately, and there is more violent crime, you know robberies and shootings."
The proof can be found at the probate court office where there's a stack of applications for gun permits. Clerk Supervisor Gloria Newberry said, "Some of them come in make the comments about the crime that is going on. We've actually had, this lady said someone broke into her house, and that's why she came down."
More people have applied for concealed weapon permits in the first two weeks of March than the normal monthly average.
Since last Thursday five people have been shot in Albany, one fatally. But Police Chief James Younger says there's no cause for alarm. "I can understand why some people are concerned. But the fact is violent crime is down."
Younger says there were 54 violent crimes in January and February of this year, down from 94 in the same two months in 2006. "There are some crimes we can just not prevent. If people develop criminal intent, it's very difficult to deal with that in terms of developing a strategy to address people who have that mindset."
City Manager Alfred Lott says people in Albany are mistaken if they think violent crime is worse. "To tell people that things are just not as bad as they think in Albany, if they had that perception. Because the evidence says otherwise. We are working hard to do better.
But numbers and stats mean little to the people who hear news about shootings almost daily. Backwoods Outdoors is building a shooting range and will soon begin offering shooting lessons, because so many customers are requesting help in arming themselves.