Despite Reports of Spike, Gun Stores Fail To See Increase in Sales

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Some Ohioans recently read in the paper or heard on the news that requests for gun background checks in the state had jumped 65 percent. The report compared requests from Monday, January 10th with those from the same day in 2010. The dramatic increase, the report suggested, came about because of the shootings in Arizona. But confirming those numbers has been difficult.

At Black Wing Shooting Center near Delaware, gun owners target-practice at the store’s indoor firing range. The floor is littered with empty shell casings as men fire round after round at paper targets.

Black Wing Shooting Center has a huge inventory of guns. But according to the store’s retail sales manager, Ron Messick, there has not been a spike in sales.

“We haven’t seen any increases in sales at all, I mean regular sales are going, we sell guns every day but we haven’t seen any crazy increase,” Messick says. “But it could happen anytime soon, the way the media throws out all the terror out there that always breeds sales.”

Several other central Ohio gun dealers said they had not experienced increased sales either. So what accounts for the reported 65 percent increase? Toby Hoover heads the group Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.

“We immediately tried to track it down,” Hoover says. “From what we can tell there may have been a small inquiry done through the FBI by maybe one media outlet. Looks like it was maybe focused on Arizona. We can’t really tell.”

Hoover says that, so far, her group has been unsuccessful in finding the source of the statistic.

“We don’t know where this information came from,” Hoover says. “We were equally alarmed at this 65 percent supposedly in Ohio but we think that maybe it’s just something that people have exaggerated; we don’t know. Nobody can seem to find where the source is.”

The news article says the FBI is the source of the information. But Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman in Washington says the Bureau does not release such date-specific numbers. Rather the figures it releases are year-by-year comparisons. Still an officer in the Buckeye Firearms Association believes that stockpiling does occur when people become fearful that their guns will be taken away. Linda Walker is the group’s Central Ohio Chair.

“With the devastating massacre in Arizona, especially with the political climate that we’ve got right now people get real concerned about their 2nd Amendment rights,” Walker says. “So generally that’s when you see people going out and quickly purchasing whatever they feel could be potentially legislated against.”

Even though the reported spike in gun sales has not been corroborated, Linda Walker says it is feasible that gun purchases have actually increased. Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence has a different take.

“It always concerns us when people are reacting in fear and running out to buy more guns because we don’t believe that guns are the answer to any of this,” Hoover says.

The availability of large capacity magazines – those are the clips that hold extra rounds of ammunition – are now a concern. That’s because the Arizona shooter had a clip that held more than 30 bullets for his nine millimeter handgun. Toby Hoover says such high capacity magazines should not be allowed.

“Nobody should be going around with the capability of shooting 20 people in a half a minute,” Hoover says. “To have a magazine that has that many rounds in it is totally uncalled for and I think the far majority of people in America agree with that.”

Ron Messick at Black Wing Shooting Center says there has been a slight increase in interest for the high capacity magazines.

“We’ve sold a couple of extra ones; you know we’ve had people calling. As far as magazines flying out of here and us not being able to get a hold of them, I don’t see that happening,” Messick says.

FBI statistics for the week after the Arizona shootings won’t be available until 2012.

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