Gun dealers in Rhode Island and across much of the nation have been swamped by customers amid renewed public debate over the need for stricter gun-control laws following the massacre of 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school.
“I’d say business has quadrupled,” said Adam Dacko, who works at Foster Bear Arms gun shop, about the spike in sales since President Barack Obama’s televised push for gun control on Dec. 16. “We had customers at the door waiting for us to open up. Traffic was so heavy in the parking lot, we thought we might need a police detail.”
Many customers want a gun similar to the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle used in the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., said Dacko, who has been working at the firearms dealer in Foster for 11 years. “Some people are asking strictly for those because they know it’s going to get banned,” Dacko said. “The problem is we can’t restock. We sold what we had, and the manufacturers and distributors are sold out.”
The attack by 20-year-old Adam Lanza that took the lives of 20 6- and 7-year-olds and six Sandy Hook staff members (authorities say Lanza committed suicide at the scene) has escalated national debate over gun control to a fever pitch.
“It’s just a shame all of this came down because of one idiot who has to ruin it for the rest of us,” Dacko said.
Concerns over gun control were already on the front-burner, said Sandy Kane, who has owned Kane’s Gun Shop in North Kingstown for 34 years.
“Even before the tragedy in Connecticut, people were buying a lot of new guns of all types – hunting guns and target pistols,” Kane said. “Some of the manufacturers have been backed up. They’re producing to capacity and there’s a higher demand for firearms, especially after the election.”
President Barack Obama’s re-election in November nudged those interested in guns to go ahead and buy them, anticipating possible restrictions on firearms by Congress, Kane said.
“I haven’t been able to get the black rifles since the election,” said Kane. The “black rifles” of the style used in the Connecticut shooting are often used in gun-club competitions and for security by homeowners, he said.
“They’re not the most ideal thing for home protection. I usually recommend a shotgun,” said Kane.