Local dealers are seeing record-setting sales since talk began about tightening federal gun laws.
Sales have tripled in the last two months at Woody’s Pawn and Jewelry Shop, owner Chan Holman said.
“I have never quite seen it this crazy before,” he said. “Ever since the (Newtown) shooting, the gun market has just been crazy. Everyone is looking for assault rifles and high-capacity handguns.”
December’s slaying of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. renewed talk about tightening national gun laws. The shooter, Adam Lanza, also killed himself and his mother.
Measures proposed by President Barack Obama include: universal background checks for gun sales; the reinstatement and strengthening of the assault weapons ban; capping ammunition magazines to a 10-round limit; banning armor-piercing ammunition; providing schools with resource officers and counselors; putting more police officers on the streets; strengthening punishments for gun trafficking and ensuring that health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.
Holman’s biggest sellers since the gun-control discussions began have been the AR-15 rifle and high-capacity, 30-round magazines.
“These are the guns they are talking about outlawing,” he said.
Also, “Ammo has been very hard to get,” he said. “People are panicking and buying all the ammo they can get their hands on. We have not had enough to supply the demand.”
Chief’s Gun owner Frank Wise said he has seen about a 50 percent increase in gun sales at his St. Matthews shop.
“People want to buy guns,” he said, noting all types of guns have sold well over the last month.
When asked if gun-control proposals led to the increase, Wise said, “I don’t have an opinion on that.”
Paul’s Gun & Reel Shop owner Paul Inabinet said his Orangeburg store has run out of guns, at least for the short term.
“I have to wait for guns to get in the shop before I can sell,” he said.
Sales have tripled recently, he said. “The assault rifles were the first things to go. I can hardly find anything to buy or to sell.”
Also, .22-caliber ammunition is probably the most difficult to find, but supplies are coming back, Inabinet said. “That is something everybody uses.”
“Since Obama has threatened to do some type of gun control, it drove the general public into a panic, an unnecessary panic,” he said.
The panic is similar to a smaller panic that occurred upon Obama’s election in 2008, when he also talked about gun control. Inabinet said the situation slowed down within a three-month period. He expects the same to happen this time.
“I don’t really see the government banning a weapon,” he said. “That is our right to carry and bear arms. As Americans we live by that and we believe in it.
“I don’t think the government is brave enough to take that right away.”
But Inabinet did say that if there is a ban, high-capacity magazines may be the most affected.
But he does not see how a ban and other gun-control initiatives are going to be very effective.
“Why ban it now?” he said. Public discussion has actually helped arm those who otherwise might not have purchased such guns.
“Everybody has pretty much got what they wanted,” he said.
Other proposals such as criminal background checks or mental health checks will also probably not work, Inabinet said.
“Criminals don’t go through background checks,” he said. “Why penalize the working, law-abiding American?”
He said what really needs to happen is to get the weapons out of the hands of criminals.
“We are already doing universal background checks and there is a questionnaire about being mentally ill and having been in a mental institution,” he said. “The one thing I see that needs to be changed are the gun shows where people can walk freely into a gun show and buy handguns or assault rifles from each other with no background check being done.”
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