Local News

June 21, 2009

Gun sales spike here on smaller scope

Increase linked to politics, economy, may now ebb

PLATTSBURGH — After 40 years in business, Mary Vann is used to demand for the guns and ammunition at her shop changing with the times.

When the economy sours, people ponder their personal safety and sales tend to increase. Couple those financial worries with the possibility of tougher federal gun laws and sales action spikes even further.

"They (customers) are very much afraid of what politicians are going to do with laws and restrictions," said Vann, who owns the Plattsburgh shop with her husband.

Those anti-gun leanings, according to Vann, are the primary reason why her shop has been busier than normal this season. She first noticed the business uptick in November after President Barack Obama was elected.

All her shop's offerings, from various ammunition to handguns and hunting rifles, have been moving faster than she could have anticipated.

"We didn't realize the extent of the demand," she said while standing behind a glass counter of handguns. "There hasn't been lot of ammunition on the market recently."

The trend is indeed nationwide. FBI background checks, which are required whenever a federally licensed gun dealer makes a sale, rose 29.3 percent from November 2008 to March 2009, when compared to the same time period a year earlier.

Data from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System indicated that background checks jumped 42 percent in November alone — to more than 1.5 million.

The same trend is also reflected in large retail outlets. SportsOneSource, a research group for the sporting-goods industry, reports that firearms sales are up 39 percent this year.

The suspicion that Congress could reimpose a ban on assault weapons has some gun owners worried about their rights being restricted in other areas.

The push for tougher gun laws is apparent closer to home as well.

The Albany County Legislature is considering Local Law A, which would require people to show their gun license when purchasing ammo for handguns. If the controversial law passes, gun sellers would have to record each ammo sale in that county.

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