CARROLLWOOD, Fla.- The same type of pops that terrified students and teachers Friday morning in Connecticut rang through the gun range inside the Shooting Sports gun store on North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa Monday.
Just three days after the worst elementary school shooting in U.S. history, this gun store is where Jennifer Cook and otherscame to feel safe.
"I haven't stopped crying," said Cook, a mother of four. She said Friday's mass shooting is affecting her so deeply, in part because she too is a teacher. Many of her students are right around the same age of those killed in Connecticut.
"We were on a modified lockdown today. My first thought today was if we could keep our doors locked all the time that would be a little bit of a barrier," said Cook, who admitted being on edge returning to class Monday morning.
Cook already owns one gun and said what happened Friday convinced her it was time to purchase a second.
"It was like, 'Okay, Jennifer time to do it, you need to do this,'" Cook recalled. "I'm probably going to be doing that in the next couple of weeks."
She's not alone. Gun stores across Tampa Bay are reporting a noticeable spike in sales. According to the manager at Shooting Sports, an estimated 2,300 firearms have already sold across Florida on Monday as of 5:00 p.m.
"We've seen an increase of people coming in saying, 'I'd like a handgun, something to keep in the house.'A lot of people just don't feel safe anymore," said manager Jason Collazo.
Firearm enthusiasts are also buying up guns, concerned some may soon be outlawed. There's an increased demand for high capacity magazines, which hold up to 30 bullets, and guns like the AR-15.
"Mainly people just want to have one now because you won't be able to get one in the future," Collazo said.
As for Jennifer Cook, her only interest is in staying safe. While guns are currently prohibited on school property, and she has no plans on taking a firearm to school, if rules ever did change, she'd feel much safer carrying protection.
"I'd want to protect my kids," said an emotional Cook contemplating an armed intruder entering her classroom. "They are as if they're my own kids. For eight hours a day they're mine."
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