Reports say that guns sales have soared following the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, with many people buying guns for personal protection and gun enthusiasts saying they are buying because of fear of a ban on assault weapons.
The news comes as lawmakers consider new gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. Friday's gruesome massacre that left 26 dead has revived debate over ban on assault weapons. But while gun enthusiasts are rushing to purchase new weapons, the shares of several gun manufactures have plunged in circumstances of an uncertain future for the industry in the event that assault weapons are banned.
According to Fox News, Sen. Diane Feinstein said Monday that she will introduce a new assault weapons bill in January:
"On the first day of the new Congress, I intend to introduce a bill stopping the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of assault weapons as well as large ammunition magazines, strips and drums that hold more than 10 rounds. I am in the process of gathering support for the bill in the Senate and House."
Fox News notes that a previous assault weapons ban that lasted from 1994 through 2004 defined an assault weapon as any gun that was:
semi automatic, meaning one round is fired per each pull of the trigger
used a detachable magazine
And featured any two of the following attributes:
- a folding or telescopic stock
- a pistol grip
- a bayonet mount
- a flash suppressor
- a grenade launcherIndependent arms dealers report spike in gun salesThe Huffington Post reports that independent arms dealers across the US confirm that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., has sparked a surge in gun sales. Policymic reports that sales of assault weapons like AR-15 rifles have increased sharply. The website notes the irony that AR-15 was the type of rifle used by the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza. The AR-15 was also used by the Aurora shooter James Holmes, in the recent shooting incident in which 12 died and 58 wounded.
According to The Huffington Post, Larry Hyatt, owner of North Carolina-based Hyatt Gun Shop, said gun sales have hit the roof. He said: “We already have tons of customers because of Christmas, hunting season is peaking right now, and not to mention, the election. But this tragedy is pushing sales through the roof. It’s like putting gasoline on a fire.”
The Huffington Post also reports that at Ade's Gun Shop in Orange, Calif., shop manager Lisa Atkinson said Saturday's sales volume was the biggest the shop has ever had in one day, with about $13,000 in sales.
He said: "It was the first time we had to call a nearby gun shop to see if they could sell us a gun because we had run out. It's been crazy."
Fox News reports that Joe Eaton of the Buckeye Firearms Association in southwest Ohio, said: "Sales were through the roof on Saturday. People were buying everything they could out of fear the president would try to ban certain guns and high-capacity magazines."
The Huffington Post reports that the surge has also burdened officials who work on background checks. An official said that background checks that normally took 15 minutes in California took more than four hours. Similarly, Colorado's Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokeswoman Susan Medina, said that in Colorado, background checks that normally took a few minutes lasted more than 12 hours.
CNBC reports that an official for Colorado's Bureau of Investigation (CBI) InstaCheck Unit said that firearms background check requests have risen to a "record setting volume." The official said that on the day after the Sandy Hook shooting, the CBI received a total of 4,154 requests. The official described it as a "new historical peak."
Susan Medina said that surge in submitted background checks has created a massive backlog. She said that the CBI "is working extremely hard to clear the previous day's queue to then launching to the current day's checks."
According to CNBC, in states such as Colorado, Texas, Ohio and Oregon, there has been a surge in gun sales immediately after Sandy Hook. A Texan gun shop owner told CNBC that the Sandy shooting has "created a national shortage" of firearms and ammo. He said: "All of our suppliers are almost sold out of items across the board."
The surge in gun sales in the US began after Obama's reelection as gun enthusiasts feared that Obama and Democrats, flushed with election victory, may push for gun control measures. The Huffington Post notes the longstanding pattern after high-profile shootings for a spike in guns sales across the country out of fear that the incident may lead to stricter gun laws. However, industry observers say that the recent spike is unprecedented.
Policymic notes other factors that may have contributed to the spike, including the holiday as well as the hunting season.
Many analysts say that the fact that more Americans would rush to stock up on assault weapons following the tragic result of ownership of such weapons by Lanza family is baffling. The increase in guns, analysts argue, only make more guns available for a second Sandy Hook Shooting.
Policymic comments that it is alarming that people resort to buying more weapons for “self-protection,” when the danger of keeping such weapons appear to have been demonstrated in the Sandy Hook shooting. The website comments further:
"Buying firearms is not a solution to prevent such tragedies, and if anything will provide more opportunities for guns to get into the wrong hands... The increase in gun sales brings attention to a deeper issue. Why do Americans feel unsafe?
"The spike in national gun sales is indicative of the naivete of many Americans... and gun advocates need to be reminded that keeping a gun in their homes will not necessarily protect them from harm.
"Adam Lanza used weapons that were purchased legally by his mother, Nancy Lanza... However, the Newtown tragedy is a valid example of guns getting into the wrong hands. Adam Lanza did not have a criminal record, and he faced no legal obstacles to procuring the weapons he used in the Sandy Hook shooting.
"More guns wouldn't make us safer, but instead only increase their availability to future Adam Lanzas."
However, The Huffington Post reports an explanation by gun shop owner that offers an insight into the psyche of gun enthusiasts and "doomsday preppers" in the US. Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Gun Shop, said government's failure to provide protection explains why gun sales are rising. He said that the economic downturn is generating the conviction in a large section of the American civil populace that US cannot protect its citizens or safeguard their economic fortunes. He said: “You can’t get enough police to protect us, the jails are full, the mental health system is failing us. That’s why more people are buying weapons, to protect themselves and their families.”
In short, a growing section of the American populace is preparing for return to Wild Wild West.
But as gun sales soar, the implications to public safety are plain, and as The Huffington Post reports, Hyatt said: “Every gun you sell, you have to worry whether that customer is competent, and whose hands that gun may end up in.”
Gun maker stocks take a fall
But meanwhile, gun maker stocks have taken a fall since Sandy Hook. Analysts say that investors are reacting to uncertainty about the industry's future as the threat of stricter gun laws loom. Without the ability to sell more AR-15s to Americans, gun makers' profitability will be hard hit.
CNBC reports that Smith & Wesson's stock dropped by eight percent between Friday and Monday, and on Tuesday, the stock dropped an additional 10 percent. Sturm Ruger & Company's shares have also taken the plunge by an additional eight percent after an initial drop of nine percent since the shooting.
CNBC also reports that the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, has announced it will sell its stake in gun maker Freedom Group, after the Newtwon tragedy. The Washington Times reports that Cerberus Capital Management said in five-paragraph statement that it would sell the Freedom Group, which makes the Bushmaster AR-15, a semi-automatic assault rifle that the Newtown shooter used.
According to The Washington Times, the firm said in a statement: “It is not our role to take positions or attempt to shape or influence the gun control policy debate. There are, however, actions we as a firm can take. Accordingly, we have determined to immediately engage in a formal process to sell our interests in Freedom Group.”
NRA speaks at last
The National Rifle Association (NRA) finally issued a statement on Tuesday in which it said it is "prepared to offer meaningful contributions" to help prevent future mass shootings. The organization, according to CNBC, said in a statement: "The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters — and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown."