COAST CITIES — After a devastating mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month, state and federal politicians have introduced an array of legislation to restrict the manufacturing and sales of guns.
As a result, gun sales have exploded for local firearms stores as people rush to buy guns in case greater restrictions are passed into law.
“I’ve got customers coming in droves,” said Shawn Stahl, the sales manager of Direct Action Solutions, a firearms store in Solana Beach. “They’re buying it now in case they are not able to do so in a year.
“The shooting itself has nothing to do with people buying the guns,” Stahl explained. “The shooting forced our administration to look into restricting guns. The restrictions that they intend on imposing now are what’s forcing the gun buying spree.”
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama put forth four legislative proposals and 23 executive actions banning and limiting the manufacturing and purchasing of firearms in response to the public outcry after the Connecticut school shooting. Obama’s proposals include a ban on assault weapons, limits on high-capacity magazines, expanded background checks for gun purchases, and stricter gun trafficking laws.
California currently has some of the strictest firearm sales and purchasing regulations in the country, and some politicians are pushing for more.
Firearms dealers in the state must have a federal and state license, as well as a local permit to sell guns.
The state prohibits those who have been convicted of a felony or specific violent or drug-related crimes or those who have a history of mental illness from buying guns. All gun purchases require a background check and a 10-day waiting period. California only allows buyers to purchase one handgun every 30 days.
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranked California as having the strongest laws against gun violence in the nation last year.
Yet several politicians have seized recent public opinion to introduce even tougher gun laws in the state.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein announced her plan to introduce a bill before Congress this month that will ban assault weapons and large ammunition magazines.
California Senator Leland Yee also introduced a bill after the shooting that prohibits semi-automatic weapons from having bullet buttons, which he claims allow the easy reloading of multiple rounds of ammunition. He furthermore announced his plan to introduce legislation that would require annual registration and background checks for gun owners and another bill would strengthen firearm safety laws.
“I’ve always planned on filling out some of my gun collection,” said Larry Yoo, a customer at Direct Action Solutions. He explained that he made his most recent purchase, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, out of concern that he may not be able to purchase it while it is in high demand, or if the gun becomes banned under new legislation. “Fortunately I bought it just in time before the big panic, but I’m still having trouble getting ammunition for it.”
Another hindrance for buyers and sellers is that firearm manufacturers are slowing down their production for fear that their products may be banned and illegal to sell, according to Stahl. As a result, he said it is increasingly difficult to maintain the store’s stock and meet the high demand.
For Duncan’s Gunworks in San Marcos, customers have been concerned about potential firearm restrictions since Obama was elected in 2008.
“It’s been very, very busy since the election,” said Cathy Duncan, the store’s owner. “We’ve had difficulty replacing our usual stock.”
The increase in demand is evident on many local firearms stores’ websites.
Direct Action Solutions has stopped taking orders online due to the high demand and its limited stock. While the store’s website normally receives 30,000 hits per month, the site was blasted with 60,000 hits within a week after the Connecticut school shooting, Stahl said.
“EVERYTHING is STILL out of stock. That is right… EVERYTHING,” announced Ares Armor, an Oceanside store, in a blog post on Jan. 9.
The store has hired extra people to help with customer service and shipping to handle the influx of sales, according to the post. In spite of this, the post noted that the store has been unable to handle all of the incoming calls into the store and no longer returns voice messages, only emails.
Ares Armor’s post advised customers, “Please only place your order if you are willing to wait for your products.”
Creedmore Sports, another Oceanside store, posted a large message in red on the top of its website’s homepage stating, “Due to overwhelming orders, our website inventory may not be accurate. Please call to check inventory.”
But while business may be booming now for firearms stores, bans on firearms and ammunition will undoubtedly cut sales in the future.
The owner of Direct Action Solutions, Colby Schrader, said that after Obama’s proposed bans the only thing he can hope for now is, “a new job.”