Published: Oct 28, 2011 1:08 AM EDT
Updated: Oct 28, 2011 12:36 PM EDT

CHAFRLOTTE COUNTY Fla.- Marlene Walters is a new gun owner. "In the last six months I wanted to be active learning how to shoot to protect myself," said Walters She is not alone. According to a Gallup poll released this week almost 50 percent of Americans own or have access to a gun. That's the highest it's been in 18 years.


John Mahshie works at A&H Guns in Port Charlotte.  The numbers do not surprise him. "We get new gun buyers on a daily basis," said Mahshie. He says gun sales are booming. In part because residents are afraid of the poltical and economic climate. "Most folks come in here because they want guns for self protection. They are just afraid in todays economy.  They are afraid of home invasion, they are afraid of being robbed," said Mahshie.

It's not just gun ownership that's up. That same poll shows that a record number of citizens, 73% are opposed to any bans on handguns. Former N.R.A.  President Marion Hammer says support for the Second Amendment  has been growing because people are becoming more informed about the Constitution and the Government. "They know that law abiding people aren't going to commit crimes and so just stop these silly gun control laws. I think that's what it's really about," said Hammer.

But for Walters its about personal protection. "Just since my incident of someone breaking into my house while I was there all my friends are going out and getting them," said Walters.  The poll reflects recent trends in Florida where record numbers of citizens are applying for Concealed Carry permits from the state.