A run on guns

Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fear of the Obama administration passing tighter gun control laws continues to fuel the sales of guns nationwide and locally has led to shortages of ammunition and reloading supplies at retail.

David J. Sheakley / Juneau Empire
David J. Sheakley / Juneau Empire

"They're scared. He actually, before he was elected, stated some of his intentions about gun control and eliminating the number of guns," said Ray Coxe, owner of Rayco Sales.

However, President Obama's most notable gun-related act thus far was signing a bill in May that expanded gun rights. The bill dealt mainly with credit card debt, but contained an amendment allowing concealed and loaded guns in national parks and refuges.

Nevertheless, Coxe estimates his sales are up 15 to 25 percent since President Obama took office in January.

"He's the best salesman we've ever had," Rayco employees Ray Calver and Lee Bickham both said.

Calver predicted that in Obama's second term, when he no longer has to worry about re-election, "that's when he'll starting taking our guns."

The fear has even caused hoarding.

"It's created a shortage ... with more people buying reloading supplies, they're hoarding up more than they need," Coxe said.

"Then when a guy comes in and wants to buy some for normal use and you don't have any, he goes to five stores and can't find it, then when he finds a store that got what he wants, is he going to buy one box? No, he's going to buy three, four. He's going to buy as many as he can afford so that he knows, not only does he have ammunition for the next month, he's got it for the next six months. And if he's affluent, he'll buy it so he has enough for the next three or four years."

While Western Auto-Marine hasn't seen a significant increase in gun sales, the store has a similar problem with shortages on ammunition and reloading supplies, general manager John Weedman said.

Coxe believes that while business is good now, hoarding is going to hurt the gun retail business down the road.

"Those people aren't going to buy any powder or primer for the next five years, so we going pay for it on the other end in sales. But right now, sales are up, we're rationing our primer to 200 per customer and we're short-supplied."

The FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System reported 6.1 million background checks for guns from January to May, up 25 percent from last year. The agency has conducted more than a million background checks a month since last October.

A Rasmussen poll released June 30 shows that 63 percent of men and 51 percent of women believe the sale increases are a result of fear that the Obama administration will pass tighter gun control laws.

In the same poll, 71 percent said that it was somewhat likely the Obama administration would pass tighter laws and 43 percent said it was very likely.

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the National Rifle Association recently expressed concerns about Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court due to her lack of support for Second Amendment cases.

And there are fears that the administration's emphasis on stopping the drug war in Mexico also will lead to tighter gun controls. In Houston, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are going house-to-house tracing guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico.

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