By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star
---- — Sales of firearms and ammunition have spiked since President Barack Obama’s re-election, local gun-shop owners said Monday.
“It’s big-time gone through the roof,” said Jim Losie of Losie’s Gun Shop in Oneonta. “The biggest problem right now is just getting the stuff, because the manufacturers can’t keep up with the … demand.”
He said that gun sales have risen 20 percent to 25 percent since the election, and that he had received a letter from gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, saying that its production was 398 days behind schedule. Another gun maker, Ruger, wrote that it had a backlog of 1 million firearms, he said.
Obama said during an Oct. 16 debate with GOP candidate Mitt Romney that he would like to see a ban on such weapons reinstated.
The federal government prohibited the manufacture and sale of fully automatic and certain semi-automatic firearms from 1994 to 2004, but they’ve been legal in much of the United States since that law expired. New York has an assault-weapon law that’s essentially the same as the expired federal law. As with the federal statute, it bars automatic weapons, except for the military and law enforcement, and focuses as much on the magazines that hold ammunition for semi-automatics as it does on the guns themselves. AK-47s, for example, are legal if their magazines hold fewer than 10 rounds or if they were manufactured before 1994. There are other restrictions on semi-automatics, but magazine size and manufacture date are the primary ones.
Sales of “semiautomatics are very high — AR-15s, AK-47s, anything like that,” Losie said.
Linda Fitzpatrick, owner of Lyn’s Leisure Tyme Gun Shop in Davenport, agreed that sales have been rising, although she couldn’t say how much hers had risen.
“The thing is, they’ve been up during (Obama’s) whole administration,” she said. “But yes, since the election they’re up even more.”
She, too, said that non-hunting semi-automatics are especially hot items.
“This time of year, you’re selling deer rifles, of course, but there is a spike on the AR-15-type guns, the assault weapons, as they call them,” she said.
Mike Mayhood of Mayhood’s Sporting Goods in Norwich said his sales have been rising, too.
“Nationwide, I’m sure it’s better than that, but we’re in an area where there’s already a lot of gun ownership, so it’s harder to get bigger numbers,” he said. “It’s an area where a lot of people already have guns.”
The gun shop owners interviewed said ammunition is selling at least as fast as firearms.
“Ammo sales are highly up,” Losie said. “It’s about … 25 to 30 percent (at his shop), but nationwide, it’s about 42 to 48 percent.”
“Oh yes,” Fitzpatrick said when asked whether ammunition sales were spiking.
Hunting season, which runs through Dec. 9 in most of the state for all but muzzle-loading guns, accounts for part of that increase, she said, “but you also have people who are just stockpiling.”
Mayhood, though, said he hadn’t seen much of an increase in ammo sales.
“That’s been busy for a couple of years, but I wouldn’t say it’s an increase,” he said.
Fitzgerald said she doesn’t think stockpiling is going too far.
“It doesn’t go bad,” she said of ammunition. “I don’t think you can have too much — not that I’m a doomsday prepper or anything of that sort.”
Losie thought the overall buildup was justified.
“Why not?” he asked. “People are just preparing themselves for the worst.”
Asked if he expected the federal government to attempt to limit ownership rights, he replied, “I’m sure they’re going to.”