Gun advocates clamor for firearms, ammo
By RACHEL BRANT
Central Kitsap Reporter Staff writer
May 15, 2009 · Updated 9:56 AM
Pro-gun groups fear a restriction on rights is in the works.
That’s how long Marcus Carter was told he’d have to wait to get a particular gun he wanted.
Firearms and ammunition sales as well as the number of people applying for concealed pistol licenses, or CPLs, have jumped dramatically since the presidential election.
Pro-gun groups loudly state the Obama administration wants to restrict gun rights. The National Rifle Association even called Obama the “Firearms Salesman of the Year.”
“This administration is very well known for an anti-gun agenda,” Carter, the executive officer of the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club, said.
Obama has yet to make any major moves toward restricting gun rights and Kristen Comer, executive director of Washington CeaseFire, a gun control advocacy group, said she doubts the current president will make any big changes regarding gun rights.
“I don’t think there’s any chance that Obama is going to ban all firearms. He can’t do that,” Comer said, citing the Second Amendment.
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) has seen an increase in the number of people applying for CPLs this year. Deputy Scott Wilson, KCSO spokesman, said 3,296 licenses were issued last year and from Jan. 1 to April 20 of this year, 1,231 CPLs have already been issued.
“I expect that we may exceed 4,000 CPLs issued by Dec. 31, 2009,” he said.
On the hunt
Firearms have become increasingly hard to find in recent months. A Sportsman’s Warehouse employee said he first noticed the increase in sales around the presidential election and the Silverdale store’s stock of firearms is running low.
“We haven’t had the firearms to provide,” he said. “The manufacturers are so backed up, there’s not a lot coming out right now.”
Carter said firearms sales tend to spike right before elections because people are uncertain what a new administration will do when it comes to gun rights.
“We did see an increase in the Clinton administration, but nothing like we’re seeing now,” Carter said. “I’ve never seen anything like this and I’ve been a firearms professional for 25 years.”
Bill Boerner, owner of Boerner Firearms in Gorst, said his firearms sales are up 30-35 percent. He said he’s been a firearms dealer since 1983 and has never seen anything like the current surge in gun sales.
“I’ve probably got like 40 (Kimber) guns on order and I don’t know when I’ll see any of them,” Boerner said.
Carter said some firearms are now very hard to find, but if someone does manage to track down a desired gun, it may be much more expensive than it used to be.
“When you can find it, generally it’s very expensive,” he said. “It’s very hard to find anything and when you do find something, the price is just ridiculous.”
Ammunition is just as difficult to get a hold of as firearms these days.
Manufacturers are having difficulty keeping up with demand and some people are buying cases of ammunition at a time and hoarding it, according to Boerner.
“That’s why most shops are doing ammunition limits,” he said.
Boerner Firearms now has an ammunition limit. One person is only allowed to buy two boxes of ammunition every other day because of the scarcity of the product.
“We started doing that about a month-and-a-half ago,” Boerner said.
Carter said ammunition prices have gone up more than firearms.
“The biggest price increase we’ve seen has been in ammunition and components,” he said.
Carter said Wal-Mart did not raise its ammunition prices, so it flies off store shelves in a matter of hours.
Wilson said ammunition is much harder for civilians to purchase because the manufacturers are filling orders for the Department of Defense on a priority basis and orders for civilian retailers take second place.
With more and more people becoming first-time gun owners, Carter said the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club firearms training and safety classes are completely booked through the end of June.
“We’re seeing an increase in all areas,” he said, citing everything from the personal protection classes to hunter education classes.
Carter said with police agencies being forced to cut staff and resources, more and more people think they should be prepared to defend themselves if necessary.
“(Law enforcement) is spread so thin it’s just impossible to call on them,” he said. “People want to know how to legally protect themselves.”
What does the future hold?
Carter said he keeps “waiting for things to settle” in the firearms industry and if the president doesn’t enact any major gun laws soon, firearms sales may slow down.
“If probably given another four, five, six months or so and he hasn’t done anything, it might slow up,” he said.
However, Carter said he’s heard the administration is discussing closing the “gun show loophole,” which could spark an even more dramatic increase in gun sales.
Carter said closing the “gun show loophole” will stop people from buying and selling firearms privately. People then will have to go through licensed firearms dealers to buy and sell guns, ammunition and accessories.
“It will keep someone like me from giving a gun to my son or my brother as a gift. It’s just simply about the end of private sale,” Carter said. “They’ve tried this in past years and past administrations. It has started to raise its ugly head in the past 30 days or so.”
He said if the “gun show loophole” discussions continue, firearms and ammunition sales will skyrocket.
“If that continues, then I do believe we’ll see maybe a much more marked increase in sales and prices,” he said.