Armed For The Millennium

Sharon Shand had never owned or fired a gun - until today.

"I just wanted to be prepared in case anything happens for Y2K," she says, "just to have an ounce of prevention, you know. "

So this mother of a baby boy asked her father for an old family shotgun and brought it to a Virginia gun shop for a lesson, reports CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick.

"We want it for protection," says Shand, "so that's really all that we need it for."

She's not alone. FBI statistics show gun background checks this month are up 20 percent from last December. And last Thursday claimed the record: 67,000 checks in one day.

Gun dealer Hayward Long has sold out most of the guns he recommends for home use.

"It's been an inordinate amount of sales and the home defense shotguns have been very, very busy," he says. "It may have been the terrorist threats that people are getting concerned about, that they're taking it serious."

Y2K gun buyers say they're afraid of everything from terrorism to 911 failures, and those fears may not be all of their own making. It seems some dealers and manufacturers are adding fuel to the fire.

"The bottom line is that fear sells guns," says Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center, "and for the gun industry, what could be better than the end of civilization as we know it?"

And what could be safer than your own Y2K limited-edition assault rifle? Survival, it seems, is selling, But at what price?

"We're not being invaded. You know who your neighbors are," says Arlington Country Police Chief Edward Flynn.

"You really have to have a sensible thought of where does your threat reside? And in point of fact, there is more of a threat to you in your house with a gun that you don't know much about than there is from marauding bands of looters who are responding to the year 2000."

Still, Sharon Shand isn't taking any chances. She'd rather be armed than scared.

At the gun shop, she asks: "What are the laws as far as carrying this gun in the evening?"
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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