AM - Monday, 22 September , 2008 08:26:00
Reporter: Kim LandersTONY EASTLEY: The US state of Ohio has predicted the outcome of nearly every presidential election in the last century.
And with just 44 days until the election, Ohio remains the ultimate bellwether when it comes to American politics.
Opinion polls show the race in Ohio is very close. Some have Senator John McCain a nose in front, others have Senator Barack Obama winning.
The economy is the number one issue with voters in the state, but as our North America correspondent Kim Landers discovered in the town of Lancaster, some businesses are still doing a roaring trade, despite the financial concerns.
(sound of gunshots)
KIM LANDERS: At this gun store and indoor shooting range in the town of Lancaster, in central Ohio, business is brisk.
GUN STORE EMPLOYEE: Weekends, it pretty well smokes; we have 21 lanes to shoot on so we can accommodate a large number of shooters.
KIM LANDERS: It's $10 for unlimited time here.
You've got to buy your own ammunition and if you don't have your own gun, you can rent one.
Sharon Waller has been trying out her new Ruger pistol.
It's tiny, just ten centimetres long.
SHARON WALLER: I just wanted something small that I could carry in my purse, that I could conceal very easily and pull out quickly.
KIM LANDERS: Have you ever had to pull it out of your bag quickly?
SHARON WALLER: No. No.
KIM LANDERS: How much did this Ruger cost you?
SHARON WALLER: I believe it was $299.
KIM LANDERS: Is that a good deal?
SHARON WALLER: I think it's terribly expensive, but I guess that's what they cost.
KIM LANDERS: Sharon Waller's fiancé is buying this pistol for her.
She's already got her concealed carry permit and as we chat the gun store runs a background check with the FBI.
SHARON WALLER: I don't have a criminal record, so we're hoping it goes through.
KIM LANDERS: How long is this going to take?
SHARON WALLER: How long does this take? 15 minutes? 15 minutes.
KIM LANDERS: At another counter, salesman Tim White is showing customer Chris Krannitz a weapon that's much bigger and much more expensive.
TIM WHITE: PS-90 is the semi automatic version of the P90; the P90 is the gun that guards the president, secret service uses the P90 and that's the semi automatic version of it.
KIM LANDERS: Chris Krannitz decides to buy it.
CHRIS KRANNITZ: It was either this or an MP5, so this is a cheaper version.
KIM LANDERS: And how much is this going to cost you?
CHRIS KRANNITZ: About $1900.
KIM LANDERS: That's a pretty good deal?
CHRIS KRANNITZ: Yep, yeah, I've been saving for a while.
KIM LANDERS: Wes Disney has been working at this gun store and shooting range for five years.
WES DISNEY: Freedom loving people, typically is what you'll find when you come to a gun store or an indoor shooting range, we vigorously resist anyone who would choose to not allow us to exercise our constitutional rights. So you'll find good people here, middle America, salt of the earth if you will.
KIM LANDERS: It doesn't take long to realise he's not a fan of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
WES DISNEY: Mr Obama is a threat to the second amendment and he's a threat to a lot of different things in terms of how we run our lives.
KIM LANDERS: People like Wes Disney haven't forgotten that Barack Obama once said that when times are hard people cling to guns and religion.
(sound of gunshots)
So it's probably no surprise that nobody either on the shooting range or in the gun store is an Obama supporter.
There's one man I don't ask. He's wearing a t-shirt with a photo of both Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden on it.
This is Kim Landers in Lancaster, Ohio for AM.