Fears Of Democrat Crackdown Lead To Gun Sales Boom

When 10-year-old Austin Smith heard Barack Obama had been elected president, he had one question: Does this mean I won't get a new gun for Christmas?

That brought his mother, the camouflage-clad Rachel Smith, to Bob Moates Sports Shop on Thursday, where she was picking out that special 20-gauge shotgun — one of at least five weapons she plans to buy before Obama takes office in January.

Like Smith, gun enthusiasts nationwide are stocking up on firearms out of fears that the combination of an Obama administration and a Democrat-dominated Congress will result in tough new gun laws.

"I think they're going to really try to crack down on guns and make it harder for people to try to purchase them," said Smith, 32, who taught all five of her children — ages 4 to 10 — to shoot because the family relies on game for food.

Last month, as an Obama win looked increasingly inevitable, there were more than 108,000 more background checks for gun purchases than in October 2007, a 15 percent increase. And they were up about 8 percent for the year as of Oct. 26, according to the FBI.

No data was available for gun purchases this week, but gun shops from suburban Virginia to the Rockies report record sales since Tuesday's election.

"They're scared to death of losing their rights," said David Hancock, manager of Bob Moates, where sales have nearly doubled in the past week and are up 15 percent for the year. On Election Day, salespeople were called in on their day off because of the crowd.

Obama has said he respects Americans' Second Amendment right to bear arms, but that he favors "common sense" gun laws. Gun rights advocates interpret that as meaning he'll at least enact curbs on ownership of assault and concealed weapons.

As a U.S. Senator, Obama voted to leave gun-makers and dealers open to lawsuits; and as an Illinois state legislator, he supported a ban on semiautomatic weapons and tighter restrictions on all firearms.

During an October appearance in Ohio, Obama sought to reassure gun owners. "I will not take your shotgun away," he said. "I will not take your rifle away. I won't take your handgun away."

Gun advocates take some solace in the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 this summer to strike down the District of Columbia's 32-year ban on handguns. For now, gun rights supporters hold a narrow edge on the court, but Obama could appoint justices who would swing it the other way.

Franklin Gun Shop outside Nashville, Tenn., sold more than 70 guns on Tuesday, making it the biggest sales day since the shop opened eight years ago. Guns & Gear in Cheyenne, Wyo., also set a one-day sales record on Tuesday, only to break that mark on Wednesday.

Stewart Wallin, owner of Get Some Guns in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray, Utah, said he sold nine assault weapons the day after Obama was elected. That same day, the gun store Cheaper Than Dirt! in Fort Worth, Texas, sold $101,000 worth of merchandise, shattering its single-day sales record, store owner DeWayne Irwin said.

One Georgia gun shop advertised an "Obama sale" on an outdoor sign, but the owner took it down after people complained that the shop appeared to be issuing a call to violence against the country's first black leader.

The president of a Montana gun manufacturer stepped down last month after word that he supported Obama led to calls for a boycott of the company.

While Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, attributes some of the sales boom to the tanking economy, he thinks the Democratic sweep is the top reason why guns are suddenly a hot commodity.

"I don't think he'll be able to stand up to that anti-Second Amendment wing of the Democratic party that's just been spoiling for chance to ban America's guns," LaPierre said of Obama.

During the campaign, the NRA warned that Obama would be the "most antigun president in American history." And while Vice President-elect Joe Biden owns shotguns, he has supported a ban on assault weapons and has said private sellers at gun shows should be required to perform background checks.

But Mark Tushnet, a Harvard Law School professor who has written a book about the gun debate, said new firearms regulations will be a low priority for an Obama administration and Democratic Congress facing a global economic crisis and two wars.

"Maybe the gun-show loophole will be closed, but not much else," he said in an e-mail. "I'd be surprised, for example, if Congress enacted a new assault gun ban."

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said his organization will continue to press for what he calls "sensible" restrictions — background checks at gun shows, a ban on military-style assault weapons and cracking down on illegal gun trade. He believes he has the backing of the new administration on those issues, but any fears of a broader crackdown are unfounded.

"The one thing that they agree strongly with us on is that it's too easy for dangerous people to get guns in this country," Helmke said. "I guess if you're a dangerous person you might want to run out there and buy some more, but otherwise you should be OK."


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  • by C on Nov 18, 2008 at 02:22 AM
    To Rob: Forgive me for belaboring the point, but I agree. I think we're all guilty of getting a bit too testy with one another on this page, at one time or another. I enjoy these discussions a lot more when those of us who disagree can do so with respect and manners. I think you and I have just set an example. Highest Regards, C
  • by Rob Location: NC on Nov 17, 2008 at 08:32 PM
    One final comment. I think it really doesn't matter what you do, C. Let's face it- crime is everywhere. Do what you can and feel is necessary to protect your family and your property. That's the bottom line. Anyway, C and Get Over It, very good and thought provoking discussion. First one I've had on this page in months. Looking for Ace to respond, but we'll see. Nice to toss the usual cynacism and sometimes billigerant comments to the side for a change. Take care.
  • by C on Nov 17, 2008 at 04:58 PM
    TO Get Over It: Thanks for joining in the discussion [and to both you and Rob for joining me in keeping it polite]. A low crime rate area never means a NO crime rate. I see what you mean about the alarm system, and those TV commercials would have us think that the alarm will always drive the invaders away. But then, some burglars are smart enough to disable the alarm prior to making entry. Granted, most alarm companies are automatically notified if this is done, but A LOT can transpire in the few minutes it'll take for the police to arrive. Then there's other often violent crimes [muggings, rapes, carjackings] in which helpless unarmed victims cooperate with the offenders but STILL get murdered. Resorting to deadly force is,and should be,the last resort for the good guys. No decent person wants to have to resort to it, but often it's the only way to protect innocent lives. Anyhow, I've enjoyed the discussion, y'all. Ace, care to join in ?
  • by Get Over It on Nov 17, 2008 at 03:54 PM
    I agree with Rob. First of all, look to live in an area that has a very low, if any, crime rate at all. Second, home security systems do indeed work. A home security system is far better and less legally binding than someone whipping out as .44 Magnum and playing Dirty Harry to a home invader. It may sound silly, but, to me, it's far better than the risk of a firearm inside a home.
  • by C on Nov 16, 2008 at 06:10 AM
    Rob: Again, with all due respect for a fellow poster, that's what a lot of crime victims said...before it happened to them. Unless you live in what passes for Fort Knox [and have an 8 foot electric barbed-wire fence and a gator-filled moat], you can't possibly just assume "it'll never happen to me". Home invasions are a fact of modern-day life, and pretending it can't happen to you is to live in a dangerous dream world. Those who commit such crimes do not give their victims the option of "not allowing themselves to get into that situation"...UNLESS the intended victims have the will [and the wherewithal] to fight back. So you're just going to side-step my original question and leave it at that ? Fine. Ace ? Get Over It ? What say you ?
  • by Rob Location: NC on Nov 15, 2008 at 09:06 PM
    C, I would never allow myself to get into that situation.
  • by C on Nov 15, 2008 at 07:20 AM
    Rob ? Ace ? Get Over It ? Still waiting. Your silence is deafening.....
  • by C on Nov 11, 2008 at 09:51 PM
    This is for Rob, Ace, and also for Get Over It: I'm wondering...if ever, God forbid, you should find yourselves backed into a corner by a home invader at 3:00 AM, with no time to have called the police [a very possible scenario in today's world]..exactly what would you use to defend yourselves ? Some people would choose something like a baseball bat, but if the invader [or invaders] has a gun, that really gives them a heavy advantage. Or,given the fact that you all seem to be pacifists, would you defend yourselves at all, or just cringe in the corner and throw yourselves at the highly questionable mercy of a burglar? A gun in the homeowner's hands is no guarantee of winning the confrontation. Yes, it could end up being taken from you by the bad guy. BUT, it's a fighting chance..which is always better than NO chance at all. So, I ask you, with all due respect to the three of you, and in no way trying to start an ugly war of words between us...WHAT would you do ? Regards, C
  • by Get Over It on Nov 11, 2008 at 12:37 PM
    You know, every day it becomes more clear that the neocons and gun nuts just don't get it. All of you need to calm down. Paranoia has run rampant in this country since the 9/11 coup. Don't worry. As long as there are printed posters of Palin in her bikini toting a rifle (which is enough to make anyone sick at their stomachs), things will be fine. Billy Bob and Cletus can keep their guns. Oh, and Rob, thanks for the comment. I love your idea!
  • by D.W. Location: Goldsboro,N.C. on Nov 11, 2008 at 04:57 AM
    K.E. ---- Stupidness did not lose the election it won!!!!! Wait and see!!!!! If you are a Christian and Love your Country you are terrified of the Obama nation!!!!! The ones who voted Obama only care about one person ... themselves!!! hope the next 4 years hurry up and get over with!!!!! God Bless America and pray our country is not completely ruined!!!
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