National News

Gun sales up in N.C. after Obama win

Posted November 7, 2008 2:35 p.m. EST
Updated November 7, 2008 5:56 p.m. EST

— North Carolinians are among gun enthusiasts nationwide stocking up on firearms out of worries that President-elect Obama and a Democrat-majority Congress will create tough, new gun laws.

"Virtually every customer coming in right now is in fear of that," said Clay Ausley, owner of Fuquay-Varina Gun and Gold. "'I gotta get it before Obama gets in,' we hear all day."

Over the past two days, sales have jumped roughly 60 percent, primarily for high-capacity firearms, Ausley said. Customers have come from Virginia, South Carolina and across North Carolina and signed up for waiting lists as demand exceeded manufacturers' supplies.

Monty Edge snapped up the last semi-automatic rifle, an AR15, just 30 minutes after a shipment of two arrived at Gun and Gold.

"Getting the guns restocked is a real issue right this minute," Ausley said.

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

"The restrictions for buying certain types of firearms might get a little tighter in the future, so we're out buying while we can," Edge said.

"We know the Democrats have a different stance on them than we do," customer Carter Day said.

Obama has said that while he respects the Second Amendment right to bear arms, he wants "common sense" gun laws. Gun-rights advocates interpret that as meaning he will, at least, enact curbs on ownership of assault and concealed weapons.

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

Gun buyers said they fear that Democrats will make stricter gun laws, such as the 1990s higher taxes on ammunition; the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004 under Bush; and the Brady Act that established a waiting period for handgun purchases and required background checks for firearm sales. As a result, firearms and ammunition have flown off shelves these days.

"Bill Clinton had banned the high-capacity magazines, the bayonet lugs, the flash suppressors, the six-position stocks," Ausley said.

Since dealers could not order new guns with those features, the existing ones, along with their more heavily-taxed ammunition, skyrocketed in price.

"Instead of being 1,600 bucks, it literally went to $3,000; your $500 (gun) literally went to $1,000 overnight," Ausley said. "If you tax the ammo high enough, it'll slow down the sale of firearms. If you can't afford the bullets, you can't afford to shoot the gun."

Gun advocates take some solace in the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 this summer to strike down the District of Columbia's 32-year handgun restriction. While gun-rights supporters hold a narrow edge on the court, Obama could appoint justices who would swing it the other way.

"All of us are hoping that nothing comes of it," Ausley said, but he added that he doesn't see demand falling anytime soon. "We're predicting it to hold on until he gets into office and does have a chance to sit down and change some laws."

Despite their differences with the president-elect, gun buyers said they would respect Obama's authority and obey whatever new laws are made.

"I may not have voted for him, but I'm still going to support him," Day said. "And hopefully, he won't do the same things that our last Democratic president did."