Monday, March 19, 2012

Fear & Reloading

Fear - and gun sales - are up.

At least that's what gun store owners in the Capital City are saying when they talk about the rising numbers of sales here and across the U.S.

Gun owners are stocking up on ammo and a variety of guns in a rush that local retailers haven't seen since President Barack Obama was elected. In the wake of the 2008 election, prices soared as the availability of weapons and ammo shrank.

“We have definitely seen an increase in sales since the first of the year,” said Ryan Allen, a salesman at Frontier Arms on East Lincolnway. “I think a lot of people are concerned that if he gets reelected he is going to limit guns and ammo purchases.”

Allen said a lot of the increase in business has come from people buying bulk ammo and multiple guns.

Last year the FBI got more than 16.3 million inquires for background checks on potential gun buyers, according to a story in the McClatchy Newspaper service. That’s up from the 12.7 million checks in 2008 and 11.4 million in 2007.

Overall, though, concealed permit requests are down in Wyoming.

Counting renewals and new requests, Wyoming issued 5,678 concealed firearms permits in 2010 compared to the 3,737 last year.

Despite that decline, there were 225 more requests last year in Laramie County than in 2010, according to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

Frank Gerstenkorn, who operates Guns and Gear on East Lincolnway, said he has seen scarcities from manufacturers of certain gun types.

“There are shortages in concealable guns and high-capacity combat guns,” he said. “Sales are very brisk for us right now and, honestly, if I could get more of those guns I could sell them quickly. There is a lot of demand right now.”

Gerstenkorn said shows like the National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers” have encouraged people to stock up as well.

“If we get a few months out from the election and it looks like the Republican Party isn’t going to be able to pull it off, you will really see sales going strong then,” he said. “It is becoming clear this president isn’t neutral on the Second Amendment.”

Gerstenkorn said he recently had to buy weapons directly from the manufacturer because supplies are so scarce.

“I wasn’t as prepared for this as I should have been,” he said. “I think the local store owners are all trying to get ahead of the game.”

Anthony Bouchard is executive director of Wyoming Gun Owners, a gun advocacy group. He said he has had heard of lines at gun stores across the country as people worry about the political climate.

He would not say how many guns he owns, but he did stress the importance of being prepared.

“I have always been someone who stocked up, not just on guns but on food and other supplies as well,” he said. “I do it out of necessity should something like a natural disaster occur.”

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