Arizona gun shops are making a killing in sales following President Obama's new plan to curb the use of some firearms.
This week, Obama announced executive actions to limit gun violence, which includes expanding background checks for buyers and requiring small sellers at gun shows and online to keep records.
“We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence,” Obama said during his 35-minute address.
The measure, coupled with recent mass shootings and terrorist attacks, prompted a rush of sales this week and during the holiday season.
"There are people running scared. They fear they aren’t going to be able to purchase certain handguns in the future,” says Ron Sega, owner of Guns Etc. in Mesa. “I don’t know what the [gun industry] is going to be like going forward. It could just be crazy.”
New Times contacted 10 local gun stores. All but one, a small specialty shop, reported increased sales during the holiday season. While much of the business was related to gift-giving, the political climate also was a factor, gun store owners say.
Many shops also reported a swell of people signing up for firearms classes, including one that is required to obtain a conceal-and-carry permit in Arizona.
“We have seen a big uptake in sign-ups for our classes,” says Travis Leibold, manager at Shooters World in Phoenix. “The classes have been very popular these past couple months.”
Meanwhile, as the president spoke about the importance of gun control, gun stocks like Smith & Wesson and Sturm rose to new highs.
And although the president's order is controversial, gun experts say it ultimately won't hinder business.
“We have a ton of legislation on gun control already," says Alan Korwin, a well-known Scottsdale gun advocate, author, and the United States' largest distributor of gun-law literature. "What Obama is really doing is controlling the public, not the criminals."
For Sega, the current climate is remincent of the time following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
“It’s a pretty volatile time,” he says. “People are scared. What are you going to do about being scared? They are trying to figure out what they need to do to feel safe."
During Tuesday’s speech, Obama was introduced by a father whose son was killed during the Sandy Hook shooting.
Also in attendance was former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who suffered a life-changing brain injury when she was shot in the head during a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson. Giffords was greeted with a standing ovation from the White House audience.
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