Several firearms retailers in North Dakota have experienced a rise in sales on the heels of the presidential election held earlier this month.
According to several retailers, customers fearing a possible change in the nation's gun laws are purchasing firearms now rather than waiting until President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.
"It's been a huge change. Most people right now are scared. There's a lot of apprehension due to our last election," said Bryan Clendenen of Bullseye Sporting Goods in Bowman. "I think they may be right. There could be some major taxes imposed on firearms and, worse probably, on ammunition. Customers are afraid the Brady bill will go back into effect and will not sunset."
AP Photo •
A poster showing Barack Obama is seen in the background as customers line up to look at firearms at a gun shop in Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday.
The Brady bill, which was enacted after the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, included a ban on many types of semi-automatic weapons. Today, many semi-automatics are extremely popular in the shooting sports industry. Semi-automatics range from pistols and rifles to shotguns that are carried in the field by many hunters in North Dakota.
One rifle that has grown in popularity throughout the country is the various models of AR-15's, sometimes referred to as "black" rifles and often mischaracterized as fully automatic weapons.
"Oh yes, it's been highly unusual since the election," said Steve Burton of the Sportsman's Loft in Minot. "Sales are through the roof.
I think people are nervous. We've sold through pretty much everything. Every lower receiver sold."
Lower receivers are trigger housings that can be used to build custom-made rifles. Ammunition and magazines for rifles are also leaving store shelves at a much more rapid pace than prior to the presidential election, another sign that gun owners are uncertain what to expect in the future.
A spokesmen for Scheel's All-Sports in Bismarck refused to comment on recent firearms sales. However, another described sales as being having "gone out of sight." The election also had an immediate effect on gun sales at Andrus Outdoors in Dickinson.
"The day after the election the AR sales took off. They are pretty much non-existent now. Everybody wanted one before they get banned," said Greg Knutson, Andrus Outdoors.
Another indicator that some of the state's residents are apprehensive about possible changes in gun laws is the number of concealed weapons permits being issued in the state. In January of this year the number of concealed weapons permits totaled 8,561. According to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation the number of permits issued as of Nov. 18 was 10,059, an increase of nearly 18 percent.
"Since the election, I guess permits have increased, probably over the past six months," said Chuck Skager, Minot, an administrator for concealed weapons testing. "From what I gather, Obama's kind of anti-gun. People are just looking at their constitutional right to own and bear arms."