12/23/12 — Gun sales are spiking

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Gun sales are spiking

By John Joyce
Published in News on December 23, 2012 1:50 AM

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Ben Sauls, right, goes over the specifics of a pump-action shotgun with customer Jonathan Haas in Four Seasons Sports. Gun stores across the country have experienced a large jump in sales, although the staff at Four Seasons says it is always busy at this time of year.

Prompted by a perceived threat to the right to own a gun, weapons sales have soared nationwide and most Wayne County gun retailers say sales here reflect the trend.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have come renewed calls for gun control and gun advocates fear restrictions on the sale of some weapons.

Gun dealers, pawn shops and sporting goods stores across the nation are reporting record-setting sales. Wayne County weapons dealers, too, have seen marked increases.

Gun sales started to climb after President Barack Obama was re-elected as citizens worried about changes in gun policy and continued to elevate into the holiday season. But the rush to buy arms escalated a week ago after news of the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office had issued 4,218 gun permits so far this year. The most in a single day came Monday, when 36 people applied. The previous high for a single day in 2012 was 20 requests.

Wayne County's oldest gun and pawn, the Swop Shop on South George Street, is among the locations experiencing a higher than expected volume of sales.

"(We) certainly have. I can tell you that without even having to check," said Frances Mandeville, manager of the Swop Shop's jewelry department.

Ms. Mandeville said firearms sales went up immediately following the election. Fears that the president might take on Congress and the National Rifle Association over automatic weapons and extended magazines that hold 30 or more rounds of ammunition have again escalated in public forums since the recent mall shooting in Oregon and after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

The president offered no gun control legislation during his first term in office, but his statement at Sunday's vigil at Sandy Hook has sparked some concern over what he will do during his second term to restrict gun ownership.

Meanwhile, the gun business continues to boom -- so much so that calls to some local business were unsuccessful because clerks and salespeople were too busy with customers to answer the telephone.

"Just tell them sales are up. We've been really busy all morning," said W.T. Wilburn, owner of WT's Guns in Rosewood. The message had to be relayed through the sales assistant who answered the phone call, who was busy with customers of her own.

Not every gun seller has seen a spike in sales, at least not based on politics.

At Four Seasons Sports on Ash Street, it has been business as usual.

"We are experiencing normal Christmas traffic," Mike Hyland said.