2009: One For The Books, And The Guns

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts, and wild tales from the outdoors

Jan. 20, 2010

2009: One For The Books, And The Guns
Now that 2009 is safely behind us, the final statistics for what was a
history-making year for certain sectors of the firearms and ammunitions
industry are becoming available for our examination and interpretation. We also
bring you stories about one state that’s getting serious about game-law
violators and another about a wild-plant poacher who’s heading to jail.

Gun Purchases Broke Records
All-around, 2009 was one incredible year for those of us who keep an eye on the
firearms industry.

And as spectacular as the final figures on the sales of firearms for the
calendar year appear at first glace, the corresponding number of
concealed-carry permit applications and renewals was equally mind-boggling.

J.R. Absher

One of the most accurate indicators of individual firearms purchases is
found in data acquired by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check
System (NICS). Last week, the FBI reported it logged 1,407,155 checks in
December 2009, ranking the month in the top five for most NICS checks in the
system’s 10-year history.

That number, while 7.6 percent less than the 1,523,426 checks conducted in
December 2008 — the beginning of the ongoing surge in firearms and ammunition
sales — reflected an increase of 14.4 percent over checks in December 2007.

But most impressive was the year-end calculation, with 2009’s background
checks totaling 14,033,824, an increase of 10.4 percent over 2008, which was
also a record year.

The total number of background checks reported since the beginning of NICS
in late 1998 is 110,017,832.

It’s also important to understand that the number of checks performed
reflect purchases made by an individual at a federally licensed dealer, which
could have included multiple firearms at the time.

Also indicative of the momentous year just past are the stories of
record-breaking numbers of concealed-carry permits issued by states in 2009.

Just-released data from the Michigan State Police indicated that more than
73,000 people sought to obtain or renew CCW permits in fiscal 2009 and 66,446
were approved. The Michigan
surge more than doubled the permits issued during the previous year, when
33,411 applications were received and 26,578 were approved.

Another indicator state was Florida, where the
state Division of Licensing required emergency funding from the state
legislature to hire 61 temporary workers to deal with a backlog of CCW 95,000

Yes, 2009 was one for the books!

Ginseng Poacher Gets Jail Time
A North Carolina man who admitted
selling more than $100,000 worth of ginseng in 2005 without the proper export
certificates was sentenced this week to serve one year in prison.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, which oversaw the prosecution,
Howard William Ledford, 55, was also fined $50,000.

Ledford pleaded guilty on Nov. 9, 2009, to two counts of selling and
transporting wild American ginseng in violation of the Lacey Act. Ledford
admitted that in 2004 and 2005 he sold wild ginseng for approximately $109,000
without the required export certificates and transported, or caused the
transport of wild ginseng into Georgia
from North

The conviction arose from a three-year anti-poaching investigation intended
to document the unlawful take, purchase, sale and transport of ginseng and bear
parts within and along the southern Appalachians.
The individual to whom Ledford illegally sold the ginseng, Chiu Hung Lo, aka
Sherry Lo, also pleaded guilty on Nov. 9, 2009 and will be sentenced at a later

Under the Lacey Act, it is a federal offense to illegally transport both
wild game and plants across state lines that have been taken, possessed,
transported, or sold in violation of state law or regulation.

Maryland Cracking Down On
Outdoor Violators

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced an innovative
pilot program that will focus on the prosecution of cases involving fish and
wildlife-related crime.

Under the program, launched jointly this week by the DNR, the Attorney
General’s Office and the District Court of Maryland, the court in Anne Arundel County
will set aside one day each month to hear only cases dealing with natural
resources violations.

The court, to take place on the third Friday of each month, will hear all
pending cases including fishing, hunting, boating, and tree expert violations. The
State’s Attorney’s office has also assigned a special attorney strictly to
prosecute these cases.

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