Local politicians and activists expressed concern Tuesday about reports that handgun sales and permit applications have increased in recent months.
Officials and gun sellers offer a variety of reasons, but police and state figures show that so far this year, pistol applications on Long Island are up 50 percent over last year.
One reason cited is the fear that a Democratic president and Congress could legislatively snatch away access to guns, local gun shop owners said. Another is that a poor economy is driving some fearful people to arm themselves for protection.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) called the latter reason mainly a product of hysteria, fomented by pro-gun groups.
"It's kind of scary," she said. "And I think we're seeing more and more of that because of the Internet. It's unfortunate that people out there believe that stuff."
Anti-gang violence activist Sergio Argueta, executive director of STRONG Youth in Hempstead, said the drive to get more guns for protection may lead to more violence.
"I think people are playing into hysteria and stereotypes," he said. "The fact of the matter is that guns don't make us safe. More guns in the hands of people, plus people that are afraid due to headlines saying that there's going to be waves of violence, equals disaster."