▶️ Gun sales skyrocketing across nation, Central Oregon

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Gun sales and accompanying FBI background checks spiked last month as the nation weathered the coronavirus and riots broke out in major cities over the death of George Floyd.

Already this year, the FBI has recorded 15 million background checks, putting the country on pace to break all previous records of new gun purchases.

More than three million firearms background checks were conducted in May, the third-highest numbers since the federal firearms background system was established 22 years ago.

In the month of March, more than 3.7 million people had background investigations conducted. Many believe those gun sales are connected to current events.

“Everybody is getting scared and they want to protect themselves. A lot of first time gun buyers,” said Scott Wyke, owner of Hammer Down Firearms on northeast Butler Market Road in Bend.

Wyke says sales at his gun store have increased nearly 300% in the past two months.

He says all types of firearms are selling: handguns, long guns, shotguns.

“We did run really low at one time. We had about one hundred fifty 9mm handguns at one point. We got down to 12.”

“What are you going to do next? I think training is always the right answer,” said local outdoor expert Gary Lewis.

Lewis encourages people who purchase their first firearm to get formal training on how to safely handle and use the gun.

“I think everybody that uses a gun should commit to training at least once a year.”

An interesting subset of the current national trend of increasing gun sales are the number of applications for concealed handgun licenses: those numbers plummeted here in Deschutes County primarily due to closure of the sheriff’s office to walk-in traffic.

However, the number of people who are renewing their existing concealed handgun licenses has remained steady or crept slightly up.

Prineville Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Brokering Machine Gun Sale

A Prineville man was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in federal prison and three years suspended release for brokering the sale of a machine gun.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eugene, between May and June 2018, Michael James Friesen, 33, agreed to broker the sale of a Guide Lamp, Model M3A1, .45 ACP caliber machine gun for co-defendant John Widener Jordan, 38, also of Prineville.

Between May 30 and June 5, Friesen discussed the sale price of the firearm with an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) posing as a potential purchaser. Friesen confirmed for the agent that he had seen the firearm function as a machine gun.

On June 6, Friesen met the undercover agent in a motel room in Prineville. Shortly thereafter, Jordan brought the firearm to the motel room and completed the transaction in exchange for $3,000 in cash. Jordan in turn paid Friesen for arranging the sale.

On April 24, 2019, Friesen pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to transfer and unlawful possession of a machine gun.

Jordan is awaiting a jury trial scheduled to begin on October 16, 2019.

This case was investigated by the ATF and is being prosecuted by Nathan J. Lichvarcik, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Wayne L. Morse Federal Courthouse photo courtesy M.O. Stevens