RALEIGH, N.C. – Barack Obama said he would improve the economy. Turns out he already has, at least in one retail niche: gun sales.
Starting in the days before the election, gun shops have been mobbed by buyers who fear that Obama and a larger Democratic majority in Congress will restrict firearm sales.
Many were stocking up on things such as assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and handguns that they think would be the most likely targets of new laws, though practically everything related to shooting has been selling more quickly.
“It’s been an absolute madhouse,” said Trey Pugh, a manager at Jim’s Pawn Shop in Fayetteville, N.C., which is selling 15 to 20 AR-15 assault rifles a day.
Distributors are running out of assault rifles, he said, and prices are rising.
On the stump, Obama didn’t discuss sweeping changes to gun laws. But his stance that local authorities should be able to make “sensible” laws has worried some, as has the fact that many Democrats in Congress favor additional restrictions. The National Rifle Association, among others, stoked these fears during the election.
Many purchases appear to be panic buying, Pugh said, because the government could not pass new gun laws before next year. Between the election, fears that the sour economy will spur more crime, hunting season and Christmas sales, the next couple of months will likely be wild for firearms dealers, he said.
“Everybody, and I mean everybody, is buying guns right now,” Pugh said.
It’s hard to gauge the likelihood of new laws. Obama has said that local jurisdictions should be able to impose regulations on guns to reduce crime on city streets. At the same time, he said owning guns, including handguns, is an American tradition and should remain legal.