The demand for guns has grown so much recently local stores are having a difficult time keeping them on the shelves.
In the wake of many events in 2012, including President Obama’s re-election, strings of shootings and the increasing conversations surrounding arms regulations, many are stocking up.
This is strongest in the South and West of the country. Nationally, there were almost twice as many more background checks for firearms between November and December than during the same time period one year earlier, according to the Associated Press.
Bart Kellum, owner of Patriot Pawn in McPherson and Newton, said he has seen a 50 percent increase in his firearm sales in the last month, compared to the month previous. He has observed an upward trend following Obama’s first election, his re-election, and more recently in response to the school shooting in Connecticut. The most popular items are hunting rifles, revolvers, pistols and AR-15’s.
“People started buying unfortunately out of fear,” he said, referring to possible bans and self-defense.
Some individuals who have had no previous interest with guns have come into the store because they said they feel the threat of being restricted on purchases. This, Pawn employees said, leads to many guns in the hands of the inexperienced.
Lee Swenson, owner of Smoky Valley Shooting Sports, said he has seen an increase in sales of his sporting guns since President Obama’s re-election. Many of his supplies are depleted and most manufacturers are behind in production. He is sold out of semi-automatic target guns, for example.
Mike James, owner of Inman Arms LLC, said his December sales more than doubled those of his last three months combined.
“I’ve been swamped pretty much since the day after the shooting,” he said, referring to Sandy Hook. “I can’t keep my guns on the shelf because they sell too fast.”
Some don’t even reach the shelf. There were 19 on the waiting list for rifles on Monday, for example.
His concealed carry classes are filling up faster as well, including some associated with school districts, who are wanting to educate themselves on proper handling.
“They’re a little scared about the way things are going,” he said. “Some are leery you can’t get guns anymore, so they want to buy now. I think they’re buying guns just to buy guns right now.”
As the sales go up and regulations threaten to crack down, the hands of sellers are tied. But that does not mean they are short of opinions on the issue.
James said he is not afraid of restrictions, but does not think they will change anything.
“You can’t get every gun off the street,” he said. “Criminals don’t listen to the laws anyway. There are a lot of bad people in the world. If somebody’s going to do damage, they’re going to succeed one way or another.”
Sam Gjorven, a customer at Patriot Pawn Monday, said this could be anything.
“I find a gun much less dangerous than a pickup truck,” he said, citing its threat of speed in a public area.
Toby Karnes, manager at Patriot Pawn, said this fact makes the general public more vulnerable.
“Rules are only for the law-abiding citizen,” he said.