National News

Gun sales stay high before inauguration

Posted January 12, 2009 12:53 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Gun and ammunition sales continue to skyrocket amid fears that a Democratic president and Congress will revive old, stricter gun laws.

"Many people are very fearful that as soon as Obama gets in, he's going to start changing the gun regulations to where they can't own certain firearms and regulate the capacity of those firearms," said Clay Ausley, owner of Fuquay-Varina Gun and Gold.

Gun retailers across North Carolina saw sales triple or even quadruple immediately after President-elect Barack Obama's victory, over two months ago. Sales at Fuquay-Varina Gun and Gold jumped 60 percent and have stayed at that high since, Ausley said.

"Suppliers have vamped up, and they're running as hard as they can to build the firearms, but they still can't turn them out fast enough," Ausley said.

High demand has also hit ammunition, amid concerns that higher taxes like those in the 1990s will be levied on it.

"One of the big rumors going around right now is there is going to be an 800 percent tax on ammo," Ausley said. "If that was to happen, that would price most people out of the market to even be able to shoot."

"We've had several occasions where people have actually needed hand carts to roll their ammunition out," the gun-store owner described.

Customers said that worries about tighter gun controls under an Obama presidency prompted them to stock up.

"The Democrats have got control up there now, so who knows what's going to happen," gun owner R.L. Vaughn said. "It's all rumor, but I think everyone should have the right to have a gun if they want one."

Political insiders say it is unlikely that Obama would focus on passing any new gun restrictions during his first term – when the economic downturn will be his top priority. Even with a Democratic-controlled Congress, stiffening gun laws would be controversial.

Still, gun buyers say that Obama's statements on record that he wants "common sense" laws give ammunition for their fears. Gun-rights advocates interpret that as meaning that 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, supported a ban on certain weapons and tighter restrictions on all firearms.

"Everyone's trying to get their firearms, basically, before they're changed around to be politically correct," Ausley said. "During the Clinton administration we had the same situation, and we're all expecting at the very least that to come back again."

Ausley said he did not expect sales to drop down any time before Obama's inauguration next Tuesday, Jan. 20.

"Monday and Tuesday (next week), I'm expecting it to be absolutely wide open," he said.