A number of media stories have reported that gun shops have been doing booming business in recent weeks. Even before the election, the folks at my local gun shop commented that their sales level seemed directly proportional to Barack Obama's standing in the polls over the course of 2008; there is genuine concern that, if elected, he would move swiftly to outlaw certain semiautomatic rifles in the same way Bill Clinton did.
In recent weeks, I've had occasion to handle and shoot a semiautomatic (civilian) version of the famed AK-47. That experience helped me understand why the AK-47 has become the most popular military rifle in history: it's amazingly light, well-balanced, with a short and easily-maneuverable barrel, and fires round after powerful round from a high-capacity magazine without missing a beat. Anyhow, I happened to be at our local gun shop this afternoon, and made a comment to the owner about the AK-47, and asked, "I imagine you've sold quite a few of them since the election?"
He stopped what he was doing, looked me in the eye, and replied: "We've sold piles of them. Been all I can do to get them in."
Piles. And it's not just our local shop. An online retailer that I've browsed (but never purchased from) posted the following notice on its site about a month ago:
TODAY IS MONDAY 11/17/2008
THERE ARE SOME IMPORTANT THINGS GOING ON IN THE INDUSTRY. I KNOW THE FOLLOWING IS WORDY BUT READING IT MAY HELP YOU DECIDE WHETHER TO BUY NOW.
OKAY - HERE IS THE DEAL. LAST WEEK WE SOLD OUT VIRTUALLY TO THE BARE WALLS. WE HAD A TON OF INVENTORY LAID IN AND STOCKPILED IN ANTICIPATION OF THE PANIC BUYING THAT WOULD BE CREATED BY THE ELECTION. IT SIMPLY WAS NOT ENOUGH. IF IT SHOOTS OR HOLDS ROUNDS OF AMMO IT PRETTY MUCH LEFT HERE LAST WEEK. I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT.
AROUND WEDNESDAY OF LAST WEEK WE CHANGED OUR FOCUS FROM SELLING, TO TRYING TO BEG, BUY AND SCROUNGE ANYTHING WE COULD PURCHASE. IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT. MOST OF THE INDUSTRY IS EITHER OUT OF SEMI-AUTO FIREARMS, MAGS, AND AMMO, OR THEY HAVE PUSHED THE PRICE WAY UP IN ORDER TO SLOW SALES AND KEEP FROM BEING WHERE WE BASICALLY ARE NOW. SOLD OUT TO THE BARE WALLS. THE LARGEST IMPORTER IN THE COUNTRY AS OF LAST MONDAY HAS SUSPENDED SALES OF ALL OF THEIR HI-CAPACITY MAGAZINES AND RAISED PRICES ON ENTIRE CLASSES OF FIREARMS BY 25% TO 40% ACROSS
THE BOARD. THE PRICE INCREASE IS REALLY IRREVALENT HOWEVER AS THEY HAVE NO AVAILABLE QUANTITIES ON ANY OF THESE FIREARMS.
LET ME GIVE YOU SOME PERSPECTIVE.IN THE THIRD QUARTER OF THIS YEAR, ( JULY THRU OCTOBER )WE SOLD THE FOLLOWING
7.62X39 AMMO................361 CASES
AK 30 RD MAGS.....................................783
AK RIFLES (ALL TYPES ) .........................243
BY COMPARISON, IN THE 10 DAYS SINCE THE ELECTION WE HAVE SOLD
7.62X39 AMMO................1218 CASES
AK 30 RD MAGS.....................................3855
AK RIFLES (ALL TYPES ) .........................572
THAT IS IN ADDITION TO THE AR RIFLES, GOLANI RIFLES, TANTALS, AND OTHER FIREARMS THAT HAVE ALSO SOLD LIKE WILDFIRE.SOME OF OUR LARGER DEALER CUSTOMERS HAVE BEEN ATTEMPTING TO PLACE ORDERS FOR HUNDREDS OF FIREARMS WITH US WHEN WE ONLY HAD DOZENS IN STOCK.
WE ARE VERY SMALL AND THESE ARE HUGE NUMBERS FOR US. WE WOULD HAVE SOLD MORE TOO EXCEPT WE SIMPLY COULD NOT ANSWER ALL THE CALLS, AND THEN WE SOLD OUT.
THE GOOD NEWS IS WE HAVE HAD SOME SUCCESS IN BUYING. WE PURCHASED PRODUCT ANYWHERE WE COULD FIND IT WITHOUT MUCH REGARD FOR THE PRICE. IT WAS ALL WE KNEW TO DO. IT WAS EITHER THAT OR BE SOLD OUT AND CLOSE THE DOORS.