Gun control talk fuels firearm sales
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent January 16, 2013 10:10PM
Owners Mike Lanich, left, and Jon Glackin at Down Range Dynamics in Portage Thursday Jan. 10, 2013. The gun shop has been open for a year. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
January 2008 17,255
December 2008 28,526
January 2012 31,328
December 2012 71,348
January 2008 942,556
December 2008 1,523,426
January 2012 1,377,301
December 2012 2,783,765
Source: National Instant Check System website, www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:25PM
As President Obama called on Congress to require background checks for every gun buyer, to ban assault-style weapons and to limit high-capacity ammunition magazines, guns shop owners are finding business is brisk.
But that really isn’t a change; gun sales have been climbing since Obama was elected in 2008.
“There hasn’t been a slow point through the entire year,” said Mike Lanovich, who, with Jon Glackin, owns DownRange Dynamics in Portage, which opened a year ago. “Really, it’s because of the political atmosphere that we’re seeing a spike in sales. Any time there’s talk of gun control, people figure they better do it now before they can’t.”
National and statewide statistics, as well as a representative from the National Association of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers, support Lanovich’s observation. According to figures from the National Instant Check System, which tallies background checks for those applying for firearms permits and is sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the number of permit applicants went from more than 1.5 million in 2008 to almost 2.8 million at the end of last year.
In Indiana, there were 219,900 applicants in 2008, and 475,607 last year.
About 90 percent of permit applications lead to sales, said Andrew Molchan, director of day-to-day operations for the association, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Sales have been going up for close to six years now, he said, adding a number of things factor into the increase, including talk about gun bans; a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that voided local ordinances, many in large cities, that banned residents from having guns at home; and interest by those under age 30 in owning guns.
The Supreme Court ruling allowed 35 million people, mostly in large urban areas, to purchase firearms, Molchan said.
And while baby boomers were mixed about gun ownership, Molchan said younger people are “very pro-firearms.”
“It could be the change in the movies, increased violence and increased use of firearms,” he said.
Gun sales at Westforth Sports in Gary spiked the end of December, as, in wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., lawmakers strengthened their resolve to prohibit the sale of assault weapons.
“It was a little after that shooting, and they started talking about new gun control laws,” said Dan Westforth, manager of the shop, which is owned by his father, Earl.
“We sell pretty much everything but mostly people are looking for AR15s,” similar to military rifles but not fully automatic, Westforth said, “and they’re looking for any type of high capacity magazine.”
What talk of banning assault weapons means for gun shops in the long term is unclear.
“It improves our business in the short term,” Lanovich said, adding he doesn’t know about the future.
He noted similar cycles in the past, which have driven up demand and prices and pushed supplies down, but legislators didn’t put new bans in place.
A ban “would really hurt us,” Lanovich said, but he has faith in the country’s leaders that one won’t happen.
Westforth is less certain. “Any time there’s word of it, it’s similar (in terms of sales increases), but this time it’s bigger than usual,” he said. “Maybe they think they’re going to put through some sort of ban this time.”