WASHINGTON — Due to the ongoing debate about gun control, local gun owners and stores are doing big business ahead of upcoming legislation.
Locally, gun sales since both the Newtown school shooting and President Barack Obama’s executive actions to strengthen existing gun laws have boomed at two local gun stores.
“I’ve been in the business for 33 years and I haven’t seen anything like it,” said Gene Underhill, owner of Underhill’s Guns. “I can’t get any stock.”
Many of the customers are asking for assault-type rifles, according to Underhill. The assault rifle, namely the AR-15 and AK-47 types, have come under scrutiny since shooter Adam Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.
But since the shooting, there are no assault rifles to be found.
Keith Loughmiller, owner of Black Oak Armaments, had a couple AK-style assault rifles in his Montgomery-based shop and those are in short supply. He said people are coming in and asking for the assault rifles. All he can obtain are handguns and hunting rifles.
“I can’t hardly keep up with it,” Loughmiller said. “Recently, since what has been going on, it has been astronomical.”
And those that are for sale are fetching a high price, Underhill said.
“A rifle that used to sell for $1,000 is now going for $2,500 or more,” Underhill said.
“You couldn’t buy an AR-15 if you wanted to, unless you paid about three times what you should,” Loughmiller said.
Gun collectors are buying in preparation for an eventual showdown on assault weapons on the federal level, as Congress will soon debate an assault weapons ban similar to one introduced in 1994. Both gun store owners feel, like many, it is not the gun itself but the person behind it that needs addressing.