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Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, and proposed tighter restriction on guns, both gun and ammunition sales have skyrocketed nationwide.
According to Lincoln County gun and ammunition dealers, in February the sales frenzy from the previous few months, though, began to calm slightly, but it’s still busy, and there are still waiting lists for ammunition and guns.
Proprietors of Gatlin Guns and Golden Pawn Shop & Money Store seem to agree that in the aftermath of several tragedies involving guns and the national debate over gun control, many people panicked – and were worried about guns being confiscated.
In mid-December through January, Charles and Shantel Gatlin, owners of Gatlin Guns and Archery on Twin Springs Road, experienced a flood of gun and ammunition sales.
“We had all we could do to wait on customers and answer the phone the whole month of January,” Shantel said. “We first started selling AR-15s … then .22 long rifles, Ruger 10-.22 and Savage,” Shantel recalled. After the .22s flew off the shelf, then the handguns went and the ammunition to go with them.
“The media put fear into everybody … no laws have changed and nothing was banned,” she said.
People coming from out of state were cleaning ammunition off one shelf at a time. Some were reselling it for a profit, others were storing extra ammo. “We had to put a limit on it,” she said.
“Revolvers are hard to come by,” Shantel continued. “A lot of females are taking Concealed Carry Weapon classes – revolvers are popular with females,” she added.
But she also noted that manufacturers are making more handguns than they are repair parts for guns.
She noted that the run on guns and ammunition has been hard on hunters and re-loaders. Target shooters who reload shells are finding it hard to find certain gun powders and primers that they normally use.
“Primers are virtually non-existent,” she said, explaining that people have been buying primers in mass quantity, then reselling for a bigger profit. “They let the people fight over it.”
Once ballgames and other spring activities begin and things are calmed down, Shantel thinks that manufacturers may have time to catch up with the demand.
Stan Golden, of Golden’s Pawn & Money Store agreed. “We had a huge run on them. The increase was mostly to females. We still have trouble getting ammunition,” said Golden. Although Golden said he has always sold more hunting guns, people are now looking for handguns. “A lot of people are looking … not as much this month as last month.”
Golden custom orders guns for people. He said most of his sales are local but sometimes people from other counties drop in to buy ammunition. He recently placed a double order for ammunition from his wholesaler in North Carolina. He feels the reason for the volume of sales starting in late 2012 was a combination of the uncertainty of the federal elections and the Sandy Hook shootings.
The price of ammunition is becoming prohibitive, Golden explained, noting it’s cut down on the number of recreational shooters. A box of ammunition that used to cost $26 now costs between $44 and $48. The cost of handguns has also gone up, he says.
Sporting guns and ammunition sales in the sporting goods section of Walmart are estimated to have gone up tenfold. Although they don’t sell handguns, an associate noted that the Fayetteville store is having a harder time getting guns and ammunition from manufacturers to sell. The local store is receiving less than five-percent of the guns and ammunition they normally did.
Background checks in Tennessee, which normally would take two to five minutes before December, began to take up to two hours. “That has stopped, it’s maybe 10 now,” said Shantel. That’s far better than California, she said, where background checks were running 10 days behind schedule.
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security statistics as of February 2013, in Lincoln County there were 2,089 current valid Tennessee handgun carrying permit holders.
Lincoln County ranks 48th among 95 counties with permit holders. Eight percent of its county adults hold permits, according to the website legallyarmed.com
The entire state of Tennessee had a total of 390,343 valid permit holders as of February.