Boom days for gun, ammo sales in wake of Obama win

Election win touches off run on ammunition and firearms that Auburn Democrat says is unwarranted
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - President Barack Obama’s election win Nov. 6 set off an explosion in gun and ammunition sales.

Gun store owners around the nation have been reporting a spike in post-election gun demand that was continuing through the Black Friday, Thanksgiving weekend.

And, just as it was four years ago when Obama first was voted into office, the Democratic Party president and fears of tighter gun control were being credited by some with spurring a buying blitz. Others say the sales jump is an irrational reaction based on false assumptions.

Ron Solomon, owner of Auburn Jewelry and Loan, said Tuesday that there’s a certain sense of irony with gun-shop owners – known for their conservatism and support of Republican Party-backed gun rights stances  – are experiencing a boom in business because a Democrat has come to power.

“For businesses, it’s been the Liberal Democrat push that has boosted business,” he said.

But Solomon adds that gun owners and sellers are expressing concern about what could happen in coming years to further tighten current gun and ammunition ownership laws both at the state and federal level.

“Down the road, it could put you out of business,” Solomon said.

 One potential concern has increased ammunition sales, with fears that legislation will be passed requiring serial numbers on ammunition cases as well as guns, he said.

“That would raise the cost and who’s going to pay for that?” Solomon asked. “They’re not getting around the Second Amendment so they’re trying to regulate that part out of reach. As a result, ammo is flying off the racks.”

In California, the threat of requiring all long rifles to be registered is a push to buy before it becomes law, Solomon said.

That sales trend emerged in 2009, the year Obama was inaugurated and is reflected in state Bureau of Firearms statistics. In 2007, 425,244 guns were sold in California. A year later that number had jumped to 483,872. The increases in sales have continued, with 601,246 sales recorded by dealers in 2011. That’s the most since 1993 – the first year of President Bill Clinton’s first term – when 642,197 sales were made.  

Billy Prior, owner of Auburn Outdoor Sports, said that national figures on the Bullet Points gun dealership Website show 154,873 background checks for guns sales around the U.S. on Friday – a 20 percent increase from Black Friday a year earlier. Black Friday is the biggest day yearly for gun sales.

“Sales have gone nuts,” Prior said.

Releases a factor

Prior said that the election played a role but California’s release of more prison inmates is also a key factor.

“New gun owners are over 45 and many are women who want personal protection,” Prior said.

Sales have been so good that Prior said it’s difficult to restock many guns.

“The prices are going up and so is the price for ammo,” he said. “The increase started four years ago and really exploded after the election.”

Paul Berger, president of the Auburn Area Democratic Club, said that he finds the sudden surge in gun sales a curious one, “considering the National Rifle Association owns the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.”

“Any gun-control legislation would be stopped in the House,” Berger said. “In his entire first term, the president hasn’t proposed one new single piece of new gun-control legislation. (The sales surge) doesn’t seem to be rational behavior.”

Buying 'irrational'

Gun sales increases are feeding off an unfortunate hatred of Obama, Berger said.

“As far as Obama coming to take away our guns, it’s in same class of myth as him being a secret Muslim, or being born in Kenya or being a secret socialist,” Berger said. “They’re just rumors and gossip and Tea Party hysteria. And that’s a very powerful tool,  especially among those more prone to think along conspiratorial lines.”

     Berger added that gun sales increases don't represent most Americans' response to the election.

“Overall, I don’t think a majority of people believe in this stuff and the myths propagated about Barack Obama,” Berger said.