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Local stores confirm a rush to buy semiautomatic guns

By Megan Moser

Firearm sales are way up, local gun store owners said Wednesday, following the shooting last Friday at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children, six adults and the shooter dead. They said some people are concerned that in response to the shooting, laws involving gun ownership could be changed, and they want to get weapons while they can.

“People are scared,” said Johnaka Mike, one of the owners of the family-run Ole Mike’s Shooters Supply, 1111 N. Third St. “With Obama’s big push to ban guns, people think it’s the safest bet to get them now than to wait.”

She said that in particular, sales of both automatic and semiautomatic rifles — both called “ARs” for short — have increased.

“Yesterday alone I sold five ARs. That’s way more than I would sell in a typical day.”

Barry Arp, owner of Ogden’s Best Gun and Gun Range, said gun sales this week have been “substantial.”

“There’s been quite an increase in tactical weapon sales,” he said. “Actually, it’s gotten to the point that even with my suppliers, they’re out of them. They’re dry. They’re so inundated with inquiries that the dealer websites have crashed.”

Arp said that he’s fortunate because he built up his supply following President Obama’s re-election.

“I have a pretty good stockpile,” he said.

The manager at Quantico Tactical in Junction City wasn’t available for comment because he was with customers, an employee said.

And she wasn’t sure he would have time to call back later, either.

“It’s been crazy around here,” said the employee, who did not identify herself.

Two large retail chains this week responded to the Sandy Hook shooting with changes to their firearm offerings. Dick’s Sporting Goods announced Tuesday it has suspended the sale of certain semiautomatic rifles in all its 511 stores “out of respect for the victims and their families.” In a press release announcing the decision, the retailer did not say how long the suspension will last.

Wal-Mart, meanwhile, removed a listing on its website for the Bushmaster AR-15, a gun similar to the one Adam Lanza used in the Newtown shooting. Though the company is not currently selling the gun online, it is still available in stores where guns are sold.

Manhattan Wal-Mart manager Roy Hulett said he could not comment on any increases in the store’s gun sales, but he said sales are generally strong.

“We sell guns on a year-round basis in our store,” he said. “It’s a pretty strong category in our sporting goods department.”

Hulett said Wal-Mart doesn’t sell handguns — mostly just shotguns and rifles for hunting. The store keeps a few models in stock, and more are available to order.

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