This year, apparently it’s not only just Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” who has asked Santa for a gun.
Shop owners across the U.S. have reported a marked increase in interest over the holiday season, and gun background checks hit a new record on Black Friday.
Experts say there are multiple reasons for the increased demand: a desire for self-protection as mass public shooting have become common and the fear that President Barack Obama will crack down even harder on the rights of gun owners.
To be sure, Breitbart News
and Roll Call
report that “senior congressional aides and sources in the gun-control community” indicate Obama will issue his executive actions after returning from Christmas vacation.
Roll Call quoted White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitting that Obama’s team of lawyers have been “scrubbing through the law” to find those viable avenues for gun control expansion.
An anonymous source with insight into deliberations behind the scenes told Roll Call that they expect Obama “to better define what it means to be ‘in the business’ of selling firearms.”
By so doing, Obama will be able to subtly expand background checks to cover a larger chunk of private gun sales.
Meanwhile, in November, the FBI ran more than 2.2 million gun background checks, a 24% increase from last year. Gun background checks hit a new record on Black Friday, when 185,345 were processed by the FBI. That’s two per second.
FBI background checks, which are processed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, are not the most accurate indicator of actual gun sales, the U.K. Guardian
“The checks are conducted for federally licensed gun purchases and for permits to carry guns. A background check does not mean that a gun was purchased. Shoppers can also purchase multiple guns with one sale, which requires just one background check," the Guardian explained. "However, manufacturers rely on the background check statistics to measure how the industry is doing.”
And from an informal survey of shops across the nation, business is quite brisk. And many of the purchases are intended to be gifts, shop owners told local media.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, many shoppers recently looked to purchase a gun in the holiday rush. Belinda Gallegos, who is a co-owner of ABQ Guns, told KOAT Action 7 News
that most of those people were shopping for guns as Christmas gifts.
“They’ll come in, then they’ll be looking and they’ll leave, then I’ll get a call: ‘Hey, remember that gun we were looking at? Well, she really liked it so I am going to come get it. Don’t tell her.’ Five minutes later, ‘Hey, remember that gun he really liked?’” said Gallegos.
Kelly Womack, who is a co-owner of Fort Chaffee Outfitters in Arkansas, said her store sold 40 guns on Black Friday and “a lot of those were gifts.” “What we didn’t sell in guns, we sold in accessories, which were gifts,” Womack told KFSM, a local TV station.
Womack said in her state, purchasing guns as Christmas presents is legal as long as it is for someone in the same state and all of the appropriate paperwork is filled out. It is illegal to purchase a gun for someone who is not legally allowed to have one, she said. Those receiving the gun also should not be paying for the gun that’s intended as a gift, she said.
“If Mr. Smith asked Mr. Jones to purchase a firearm for Mr. Smith, and Mr. Smith gives Mr. Jones the money for the firearm, that’s clearly not a gift,” explained Womack.
In North Carolina, the New Hanover County sheriff is urging those planning to give someone a gun for Christmas to do their research.
“Know that they can possess that gun,” Lieutenant Jerry Brewer told local TV station WECT.
“If there’s any outlying issues in terms of being a felon, there’s some other issues there, some other laws. Make sure they can possess that gun, if they can’t, there’s no point in buying it,” he said.
The sheriff’s office also encouraged everyone giving and receiving guns for Christmas to learn how to take caution with their newly purchased firearm. “It’s not something you want to purchase, stick in a closet and never use,” explained Brewer. “You need to know how to break it down, you need to know how to clean it, you need to know how to use it.”
Louis Cole was browsing the shelves at Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna, Georgia, when he was approached by Gabe Gutierrez, a reporter with NBC's "Today"
show. Cole already owns a gun. He was there, shopping for his wife. “Like any good husband, I asked for the list of Christmas items that you’d like to have and one of the items was a firearm,’’ Cole said. “Above jewelry was a firearm.”
The recent spike in gun interest and sales is seen as a reaction to fears that gun-control legislation may be in the offing. But many other buyers are seeking self-defense.
“I’ve seen a lot of people coming in, purchasing guns for the first time,” Tim Tomich of Tim’s Shooting Academy in Westfield, Indiana, told local TV station Fox59.
Tomich said he has seen a wide range of customers, but notes an increased number of elderly people, young professionals and women. “People you never though would own a gun,” he said.
“I bought my gun on the Wednesday after Black Friday,” said Fran Kurtz who says she picked up the idea of owning a gun two months ago from her sister. “I just love it and I want to shoot for fun, but I also want protection,” she said. “I think because some of the things that are going on in the United States and around the world, people are scared,” said Kurtz, who owns a Luger 22.
Matt Geiser, of Geiser Guns, Sunbury, Pa., told the Sunbury, Pa., The Daily Item
that he has also seen a spike in sales intended for self-protection.
“What’s interesting is that we are seeing a significant jump in sales of handguns and revolvers,” Geiser said, noting that those weapons are among the most popular for self-protection. He also said that more women are also purchasing weapons, Geiser said. Weapons such as Glocks or Rugers can fit snugly in a handbag or coat pocket. “They are quite popular,” Geiser said.
For its part, gunmaker Smith & Wesson’s stock (SWHC)
has soared by 151% so far in 2015, making it the 15th-best-performing large-cap company as of mid-December and adding some $790 million to its market value, Fortune
reported. Meanwhile, competitor Sturm Ruger & Co. shares (RGR)
have posted a gain of about 70% for the year.
Elsewhere, “calls for stricter controls lead firearm enthusiasts to stock up — most gun owners have more than one type (the average gun owner has eight),” Fortune reported.
Brian Ruttenbur at BB&T Capital Markets likens it to shoe shopping: “If you have a pair of pumps, you still want a pair of running shoes.”
Others see dire headlines and buy guns for self-defense, leading to an uptick in first-time purchases too. “The No. 1 driver of these spikes is fear,” Ruttenbur told Fortune.
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