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Gun Sales Soar But Dealers Not Talking

In a curious case of human logic, public opinion is growing in favor of better gun control regulations, but gun sales are up, and the businesses that sell firearms won’t talk. Cabela’s, Bi-Mart, Walmart and S&M Gun Shop didn’t respond before press time, while Eugene shooting range and gun retail store Baron’s Den refused to comment. The reluctance to respond to repeated phone calls could be an indicator of how uncomfortable firearm distributors nationwide have become in the wake of shootings in Clackamas and Newtown, Conn., among others.

According to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a database run by the FBI, the Saturday before Christmas 2012 ranked the second-busiest day in history, as 102,222 background checks were made in that 24-hour period alone. The record was set on Black Friday 2012, the day following the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Gallup Polls conducted from Dec. 19-22, soon after the Dec. 14 Connecticut shooting, indicate that 58 percent of Americans are in favor of strengthening the laws pertaining to the sales of firearms, an increase of 15 percent from 2011. Additionally, 47 percent of Americans are in favor of passing new gun laws, a 12 percent increase from 2011. There is an increase in support of a firearms ban, but that is interestingly juxtaposed with the fact that guns sales are up. 

Statistics show that, since the December shootings, the U.S. population is collectively purchasing more firearms than previously recorded rather than steering clear. The FBI requires background checks on those who purchase firearms — except for sales at gun shows, or from private sellers in most states, including Oregon. According to its monthly figures there were 1,534,414 background checks made as of Dec. 27.

The Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation, a gun-control group committed to improving the safety of communities by reducing gun violence, has signed 17 state legislators to co-sponsor a ban on assault weapons. While sponsoring annual gun turn-ins for 17 years, Ceasefire Oregon has collected a total of 7,787 guns from throughout the state.

There are about 270 million guns in civilian ownership in the U.S., says Ceasefire Oregon Executive Director Penny Okamoto. “With a market that saturated, the gun manufacturers rely on the NRA and the gun lobby in general to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation to increase sales,” she says. “Far from protecting the Second Amendment, the NRA has turned part of our Constitution into a marketing tool. Shame on the gun industry and shame on the NRA.”

According to Willamette Week, there has been a notable increase in nationwide sales of the AR-15 style rifle, the type of gun used in the Clackamas and Newtown shootings as well as the July shooting in Aurora, Colo. Brownells, the world’s largest supplier of firearm accessories, sold three years worth of AR-15’s in a three-day period following the Dec. 14 tragedy. 

Four days after the Newtown shooting, President Obama said through his spokesman that he would support a ban on assault weapons. He would also back proposals that would keep people from being able to buy assault weapons without background checks.

The U.S. has the most guns in the world, an estimated 270 million, according to the Small Arms Survey. India ranks second at 46 million. For the U.S., that total is 88.9 per 100 people; for India, it is four per 100 people.