'08 election sparks spike in gun sales

Thursday, November 13, 2008

There's a run on guns among some Barry County residents who fear stricter gun control laws under President-Elect Barack Obama and a Democrat-controlled House and Senate.

Allen Sparks, owner of A & J Sporting Goods in Cassville, said business is booming and has been on the rise ever since Obama began leading McCain in the national polls several months ago. In particular, Sparks is selling a lot more handguns and semi-automatic rifles than normal.

"I usually sell about one black (semi-automatic) gun a month, and since Obama's been running, I can't even order one, everyone's sold out," said Sparks. "I used to keep about eight to nine black guns in stock. Now I keep about 40 to 50 and sell out."

Prices on guns and ammunition are also increasing.

"Ammunition has gone up 40 percent this year," said Sparks. "Part of that is due to the price of precious metals, but I think we'll see a continued increase because of supply and demand."

And in a time when citizens are cutting back on retail purchases, guns appear to be an item many are making room in their budgets to buy.

"I talk to friends in other businesses and their sales are down," said Sparks. "My business is actually up by about 30 percent this year, and more people are using credit cards to buy their guns."

Sparks said he saw a similar increase in gun sales back in 1992 when Bill Clinton was elected president.

"People are always afraid that the Democrats will take away their Second Amendment rights," said Sparks. "People are also afraid of what would happen if Obama were assassinated. People are talking about that too."

Fear-fueled firearms sales is not a local phenomenon. Nationwide, there has been a spike in the sale of handguns, rifles and semi-automatic weapons.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), there were 1.18 million firearms purchased in the U.S. during the months of October, which reflects a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

Not all local gun dealers report an out-of-the-ordinary increase in firearms sales.

Wayne Hendrix, owner of Sportsman's Corner in Cassville, said his business has been steady. Hendrix attributes any recent increases in the number of guns sold to the fact that the week following the election happens to coincide with the opening of fall firearms deer season.

"Most of my customers are buying guns for hunting," said Hendrix.

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