Fear of firearm ban spurs gun sales

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Photo - Guns on display at a gun show in Chantilly, VA, Saturday, December 29th, 2012
Guns on display at a gun show in Chantilly, VA, Saturday, December 29th, 2012
Local,Virginia,Rachel Baye,Gun Control,Firearms

Just six hours into the Nation's Gun Show this weekend, many vendors had already sold out of merchandise that it normally takes three days to move.

Coming in the wake of a deadly shooting in Connecticut that has spurred calls for stricter gun controls from many corners, the three-day event at the Dulles Expo Center was packed, with sales several times what they normally would be, vendors said.

The first items to sell out were AR-15 rifles -- modern, semi-automatic rifles that derive their name from ArmaLite, the company that originally made it -- and 30-round magazines, which have gained infamy after Adam Lanza used them to kill many of his victims in Newtown, Conn., and which many believe will be outlawed in coming weeks.

The rise in sales rivals that experienced during the months immediately following the election of President Obama in 2008 and the period leading up to the federal assault weapons ban passed in 1994, according to many at the show. Like those periods, talk of new gun control legislation has inspired many to stock up on weapons they fear won't be available for long.

"What the folks are doing is getting whatever they had their eye on for a long time ... figuring it will be harder to get later or more expensive," said Aaron Sizemore, whose son owns Damascus Gun Shop in Damascus, Va.

In fact, prices have already skyrocketed, even doubled for some items, with some rifles normally selling for $1,500 now going for as much as $3,000.

The calls for gun control also attracted a lot of new people to the gun show, said Tim Hooper, who owns Tactical Ridge in Lynchburg, Va. "We see all the same faces all the time usually ... but we're seeing a lot of new faces that we don't normally see."

Sales reached a near fever pitch early Saturday.

Hooper pointed to an empty table that had been filled with AR rifles just the night before.

"I didn't vote for the man, but he's a great salesman," Gary Lewis, owner of Gary's Guns and Transfers in Richmond, said of Obama.

Outside of the gun show, local gun retailers have also seen sales spike.

"That wall used to be full over there -- the AR wall,'" said Earl Curtis, owner of Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, indicating a rack that contained only four AR rifles. Just more than 24 hours earlier, he had had roughly 30 rifles there, which it would normally take him about a month to sell.

But Curtis said he has mixed feelings about his 150 to 200 percent boost in sales.

"In this business, we try to build relationships with customers. The person who's buying an AR, I'll probably never see him again. They'll probably put the gun in the closet and never use it," he said. "They're just holding a gun, a rifle, because it can't be bought anymore."

As a result, Curtis said he has decided to put out roughly 30 AR-15 rifles every day, and he won't restock until the next day even if he runs out.

"The money's great, but ... I want you to come back and enjoy the sport," he said. "I mean, why buy a gun if you don't know how to use it?"

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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Rachel Baye

Staff Writer - Education
The Washington Examiner