Special Report: Gun Fight -- Who Is Buying Guns and Why?

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Gun sales have exploded and people who were once on the fence are now making a decision and jumping off.

"We are here so we can learn how to use it and be safe," said Katherine Dankert, who recently bought a hand gun.

Like most hand gun owners in Ingham County, after getting a pistol she also plans on getting her concealed pistol license.

"It's not recreation for me. It's serious; you have to be responsible. There's so much to learn. There's so much involved. It's strictly for self-defense," said Dankert.

But when it comes to CPLs, Dankert is in the minority.

In 2012, even though women reached a five year high, they only account for 24 percent of CPLs. It's an area men dominate.

"Caucasian males between the ages of 30 and 60 are generally who is coming in and applying for a Concealed Pistol License." said Barb Byrum, the Ingham County Clerk.

However, sales associates are seeing an uptick in the number of women buying guns.

"30 percent are probably women. It could be a little bit more," said Cary Morin, who works at Williams Gun Sight Co. "I think it's more for protection reasons. They just want to have something in house with them."

In Ingham county over the last two years about 3,700 people paid $105 to carry concealed. The average applicant was 46 years old, but ranged from 21 to 91.

"I sold a 94 year-old lady one not to long ago and she was fully capable of handling it and it wasn't her first gun," said Morin.

Statewide the number of concealed pistol licenses has dramatically increased, from 28,565 five years ago to more than 88,000 in 2012.

They are overwhelmingly held by Caucasians who account for more than 81 percent of CPLs.

"After Sandy Hook and after some of the political talk you had a lot of people out there that had been sitting on the fence for years--decades--who finally decided 'OK, that's it. It's time. We are going to go buy something." said Ed Strange, the owner of Wicked Grips.

Those people purchased a record number of guns leaving many store shelves empty.

"Americans tend to get really up in arms when they are told they are not allowed to do something and they do the exact opposite," said Strange.

While guns are about security for Dankert, for her husband, Marc, guns are fun.

"Hunting, I have guns for personal protection and sporting, target practice," said Marc Dankert.

Each buyer has his or her own reason, whether it be safety, sport or what they see on tv.

"The top shot and red jacket, all these different reality TV shows that deal with guns and they have kind of normalized the gun and it's just created a lot of interest for what I call them the 20 somethings," said Dan Compeau, who works at Williams Gun Sight co.

The national gun debate is fueling sales like never before and has people jumping off the fence.

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