Some area gun retailers are seeing a boon in sales — even after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Dale Raby said that since President Barack Obama’s re-election in November and the president’s recent speech about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, his store has been “crazy.”
Raby manages Gus’s Guns, 1600 East Mason St., where handgun sales are 20 percent higher than last year partly because of fears of future restrictions on gun purchases. The upward trend started when the state’s concealed carry law was implemented, spiked with Obama’s re-election and continue to rise after the Newtown school massacre.
Before the incident, Raby said Obama was responsible for a surge in sales.
“People have been buying and selling,” he said. “It’s just been very busy, just crazy. Whatever I said before, applies now, but double … right after Obama’s speech, he didn’t say gun control, but he implied it.”
Earlier in December, Raby said: “President Obama is the very best gun salesman this country has ever elected. Every time he talks about gun control … it seems he would very much like to get rid of every obstacle and confiscate them all. People look at that and think he’s trying to get their guns, so they’re trying to get them while they can. Customers comment … and this discussion goes on in gun shops all across the country all day every day.”
Although gun sales are seeing a boost, Dicks Sporting Goods, a sporting good retail chain with more than 500 stores in 44 states, announced last week it had suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles nationwide.
Obama announced a plan to create a task force on gun control, led by Vice President Joe Biden, in an attempt to curb gun violence. It will announce its findings in January. The president suggested banning military-style weapons, high-capacity ammunition clips, and requiring background checks before all gun purchases during his speech.
In the past, Obama has “consistently voiced his support for individual Second Amendment gun rights,” said Alison Staudinger, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
“Those who sell or make guns, just as any other industry, have an incentive to promote a narrative of Democrats as hostile to gun owners and link this narrative to broader concerns about the power and intrusiveness of the federal government.”
Some lawmakers are considering changes to Wisconsin’s gun laws.
After the school rampage, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, suggested forming a bipartisan commission to examine gun violence to detect and block the mentally ill from obtaining weapons.
Barca did not suggest a ban on assault weapons, noting that he wants the federal government to lead the charge and to see what a state commission would recommend.
Wisconsin’s concealed carry law was enacted in November 2011.
Since then, more than 156,000 people applied for concealed carry licenses since the law took effect in November 2011. Of that total, 143,000 have been approved. In order to obtain such a license, individuals must go through training and pass a background check.
In Wisconsin, handgun purchasers must call the state’s Handgun Hotline for a background check so they can buy a firearm. If approved, a gun dealer needs to wait an additional 48 hours to ensure there are no red flags with the application before the sale is complete.
The state hotline saw a 63 percent increase from last year, receiving more than 117,000 calls this year through November and about 72,000 last year.
Over the past decade, 44,378 calls were made on average to the hotline, with a steady annual increase.
Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, a gun control advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., said many people fear “conspiracy theories” about the president banningguns.
“There’s a percentage of the population that really believes that,” Rand said. “It’s been spread through the gun lobby and right-leaning media outlets.”
As a result, gun sales are on the rise, especially for accessories and specialized weapons, she said.
Gun sales and the stocks of gun companies went up after Obama won re-election in November, a trend that was also seen after the 2008 election, Staudinger said. That’s because guns are a symbol of the “deep distrust many,” particularly Republicans, have of government and Obama.
Guns by the numbers
156,231 — number of people who have applied for concealed carry licenses since the law took effect in November 2011.
143,081 — number of concealed carry permits approved since the law took effect.
72,073 — calls to the Handgun Hotline in 2011
117,379 — calls to Handgun Hotline so far this year.
—published in Green Bay Press-Gazette, December, 2012