Across the country, national and local media have reported on the skyrocketing rate at which gun sales have increased since the tragic shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school Dec. 14. “The sudden surge in rifle and handgun purchases has been driven by fears that the Obama administration may push for new restrictions on guns and ammunition,” The Daily Beast reported.
Last week, the news site reported on a gun shop owner in Spokane, Washington, who sold 47 firearms in one day—her top-selling day—and a record 4,154 background checks that were processed in Colorado the day after the shooting.
But Miles Hall, founder and president of H&H Shooting Sports in Oklahoma City, said that reporter and others—who write about increased sales, backlogged distributors, and rising prices in nearly ever corner of the country—“have no clue just how big this is.”
“This will go down as largest gun sale month in history of the gun business, I guarantee,” he said.
Hall said the industry always sees spikes in sales after a tragedy or disaster (real or perceived)—he pointed to 9/11 and Y2K as examples—but those rushes usually only last a few days and then business goes back to normal. This is different. “The national media have no clue how big this is, I guarantee it,” he said.
The National Instant Check System, the division of the FBI that approves (or doesn’t approve) gun sales by private individuals, won’t release its December report until January 2, but Hall received an email last week that offers a little glimpse into what that report might say.
He paraphrased it: “The largest single day for the NICS operating center ever was Black Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. On that day, 155,000 transactions came through.
“Since Black Friday, NICS has experienced the equivalent of five Black Fridays—more than 155,000 transactions per day. That’s off the charts.”
H&H is a 30-year-old, 71,250-square-foot store that also sports shooting lanes and meeting rooms—Hall estimates it’s one of the largest 10 or 12 stores in the country—and its size and large stock of inventory are what have kept it in business this month. Smaller dealers in Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and other states have sold out their stock and shuttered their stores until new shipments arrive, Hall said.
In the past two weeks, H&H has sold as many guns in a day as the store would normally sell in a month. Hall has sold out of his AR-15 rifles—the platform-style gun Adam Lanza used to murder 20 children, six school staff, and his mother before killing himself—and there’s a waiting list of folks waiting on a new shipment.
“Went through 1,600 units in three days,” he said “We sell 1,200 to 1,500 units in normal months.” Hall said his store was already busy, thanks to the Christmas shopping season, and that was a surge he enjoyed. After the shooting at Sandy Hook, the first rush of folks came in frantic for gun safes.
Hall said he and his staff had heard there was a shooting, but no one knew how horrific it was until later in the day. Then the customers started coming in. “That night—because we stay open until 9—we started getting the first people in, saying ‘I want to buy a safe now.’ The following Saturday, Sunday and Monday, we were selling more safes than we would normally sell for that particular period.”
Then, the White House posted to its website a video message from President Obama, in which he “asked gun control supporters to help pass laws banning the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips and requiring background checks for all gun purchases,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
That kicked off the rush on AR-style rifles. “We had several thousand in stock and completely sold out. You have a politician saying that style of gun is bad, and that’s all it took,” Hall said. “All you need to do is tell people ‘you can’t have something,’ and that’s what they want.” He also sold out of high-capacity magazines, he said. “We have over a thousand units of mags, and they were all gone by Wednesday, too.”
(The Huffington Post reported that the gun and ammunition were popular Christmas gifts this year.)
Once the AR rifles ran out, Hall noticed a shift to handguns, mostly from people concerned about protecting themselves and their families. “When tragedy happens, first thing people say is, ‘I need to be able to take care of myself and my family,” Hall said. Last Friday, his store saw record 5,000 customers—all of them buying handguns. But the surge in sales doesn’t please Hall.
“I’m not happy about this,” he said. “As a human being and as a business owner, there are several things gnawing at all of us.
“As a business, it’s always about controlled growth. There are people whose lives depend on this company; there are 100 people who work here. But when something like this happens, you’re no longer in control. You’re just churning and burning product.”
Typically, Hall said, he and his employees spend some time with their customers, figuring out what they’re looking for and finding the product that suits them best. During the past couple of weeks, though, that hasn’t happened. Customers come in, point to what they want, get their paperwork and get in line. The NICS system, usually all but instantaneous, has been backed up for several hours at times.
The clientele is varied—some are already gun owners and have decided to add to their supply. Others have never fired a gun before, and Hall said he usually wouldn’t sell firearms to those folks without signing them up for shooting lessons first, but, out of worry there won’t be product available for them later, he’s sold the guns—and offered the recommendation not to fire them until the new owners have learned to properly handle and shoot them.
Others are probably buying for investment purposes. “Guns are a sound investment,” he said, and that’s what he credits with the steady 40-percent growth his company has experienced this year, which was then hijacked by the tragedy in Newtown.
Though the report coming Jan. 2 will reveal how many people have purchased guns this month, we still won’t know exactly how many guns were sold. “Though FBI background checks do not track actual gun sales—in part because multiple firearms can be included in one transaction by a single buyer—the checks have been an indicator of trends in gun sales,” USA Today reported. NICS processed 307,245 background checks in Oklahoma this year, not counting December. November saw the most transactions, at 43,759. Hall speculated December’s number might be in the 60,000s.
This article was originally posted BY HOLLY WALL, to view the original article CLICK HERE