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Gun store owners: Sales up with fears of new laws

CHANDLER, Ariz. — At Guns Etc., Bryant Scatena examines an AR-15 he’s thinking about purchasing sooner rather than later because of fears that the government will curb sales of assault rifles.

“With the way things are going and the economy and our president and the bans that they’re putting on stuff, you know, we got to kind of protect ourselves too,” Scatena said.

Ron Sega, owner of Guns Etc., said his sales tripled shortly after the general election.

“We’re selling a lot of handguns, semi-automatics, and AR-15s,” he said. “Ammunition sales are up considerably.”

It was the same story from many of the 25 other Arizona gun store owners and clerks contacted by Cronkite News Service: Sales are up for reasons including President Barack Obama’s re-election, the struggling economy and havoc wreaked by Hurricane Sandy.

News organizations in many other states have reported the same.

“I think customers are pretty concerned with what’s going on with the economy, and obviously how the election went,” Sega said. “Any time you have someone in power that pretty much is anti-gun, at least the shooting community is concerned about what may happen in the next four years.”

During one of the presidential debates, Obama said he was interested in seeing an assault weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 reintroduced. That law limited firing capacity and regulated pistol-grip, suppressor and bayonet attachments.

The president also said he wants to explore ways to curb violence committed with handguns.

Don Gallardo, manager of Shooter’s World in Phoenix, said sales usually increase this time of year but are up slightly more because of the election.

“Customers are saying, ‘I better hurry and get my gun before they take them all away,'” he said.

Richard Plattner, a Phoenix attorney with 30 years experience in cases involving gun laws, defective guns, and gun-related injuries, said it’s unlikely that the assault weapons ban will come back despite mass killings such as the one in Aurora, Colo.

“The question is whether or not any of the recent shootings have created enough momentum, enough political will, to move the gauge significantly enough that a bill will get passed which really makes a difference,” Plattner said. “And there’s no evidence of that kind of change in the political landscape.”

Hildy Saizow, president of Arizonans for Gun Safety, a group that advocates for gun control, called the spike in gun sales irrational and unfortunate.

“There’s been no evidence of change, in any way, related to gun laws,” Saizow said. “It’s a response by a minority of people, who are gun owners, going out and purchasing more weapons.”

The key to curbing gun violence is finding common ground in Congress, she said.

“There are lots of loopholes in which people who should not be buying guns are buying them from gun shows, through classified ads, online, or through private sellers,” Saizow said.

At Guns Etc., Ron Sega said he’s happy to have the boost in business.

“I’ve been doing this 25 years, and I’ll have to be honest, the eight years that Bill Clinton was president and the four years that Obama has been president have been my best years. You ask why? The fear factor.”

Darrell Murray, a retired Arizona Highway Patrol officer and owner of Murray’s Firearms in Tucson, said his sales are up about 150 percent due to fears of new gun laws.

“Obama will be gun salesman of the year,” he said.

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