When the gods dance...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Gun stocks run low as sales surge in US


The shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last month touched off a wave of gun buying — and President Barack Obama’s gun-control speech this week appears to have done little to slow it down.

Documents obtained by NBC News from the state of Connecticut through a Freedom of Information Act request show a spike in gun sales in the hours and days after the deaths of 20 schoolchildren and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Interviews with gun store owners in four states after Obama’s speech show that passion among buyers has not decreased over the month since Newtown; if anything, Obama’s speech appeared to set off a new frenzy of buying, with some stores running low on guns.

“We were just swamped in here as soon as he got off the news,” manager Bill Loane of Pasadena Pawn & Gun in Maryland said of the reaction to Obama’s gun proposals. “People were just pouring through the door.”

As the first news was breaking in Connecticut a month ago, buyers were having the same reaction. Between 11 a.m. and noon Dec. 14, firearms retailers in the state were busy performing 105 background checks – nearly double the amount logged in the same lunchtime hour a week earlier.

A total of 725 background checks were performed that day, up from 585 a week before. The trend continued in the days ahead, resulting in a 55 percent week-over-week increase in checks.

Across the country, background checks were also surging: 900,000 more background checks were reported in December 2012 than in the same month of 2011. In total, over 3.1 million more background checks were recorded in 2012 than in 2011.

And the trend appeared to continue this week.

“My phone’s been ringing off the hook this morning,” Loane said. “I got here 9:30 and it’s been nonstop.”

He said his store used to sell five or six AR-15-style rifles a month before the shooting in Newtown. He sold 55 in December. He sold 12 to 14 handguns on Wednesday and a half-dozen rifles.

Customers have been coming into Fairground Trader in Massachusetts looking for “anything and everything” since the Newtown school shooting, said store owner Tom Downey. Most of his inventory is sold out now, but his phone keeps ringing.

“I had a lot of phone calls yesterday looking for stuff I don’t have,” Downey said. “I’d say that people are on the phone just dialing every gun shop around asking questions.”

Sellers say they’ve had to turn away people looking to buy what has become a marquee item – the AR-15-style assault rifle.

The AR-15-style rifle, which is among the most popular firearm models in America, came to wider attention after Adam Lanza used one in Newtown. Fearing a ban, Loane said, his customers are paying unprecedented prices for the few guns still available. NBC News


Even as U.S. lawmakers look for new measures to curb gun violence, the firearms business is booming and has been in recent years.

The U.S. firearms industry’s economic impact is $32 billion. To put that in perspective, that’s about the same size as the U.S. organic industry and more than the budget of Nigeria. It’s grown from a $19 billion business in 2008 and appears to be accelerating at a quick clip.

Background checks for gun buyers increased nearly 60% from December 2011 to December 2012. The FBI has already recorded 16.5 million background checks from Jan. 1, 2012 to November 2012 – the most on record.

There are 51,000 gun shops in America, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Explosives. That’s close to four times the number of Starbucks or McDonald’s stores in this country.

The largest gun makers in the U.S. have been raking in the profits over the last several years. Sturm, Ruger & Company stock has increased nearly 500% in five years. Shares of Smith & Wesson’s have soared more than 75% in one year. Yahoo Finance


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