Gun sales rise, Large-capacity magazines on the firing line.
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Jan 01, 2013 | 6110 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AR-15 models for sale at Quintard Jewelry & Pawn Shop in Anniston. (Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star)
AR-15 models for sale at Quintard Jewelry & Pawn Shop in Anniston. (Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star)
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For many, the hottest thing going this Christmas season couldn’t be found on the toy aisle. Large-capacity ammunition magazines for the AR-15 assault weapon – similar to the one used to kill six women and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., this month – are selling quicker than manufacturers can make them, dealers say.

And it’s not just the sales of those large-capacity magazines that are up. Sales of all guns and ammunition have increased in recent weeks, say local gun sellers.

At Quintard Jewelry and Pawn, sales have increased since the Newtown shooting, said J.D. Hubbard, a salesman at the pawnshop, in part because of the fear of new gun control legislation.

Hubbard said Christmas had some positive effect on gun sales. He also attributed some of the sales increase to a fear of the end of the world, which some said was predicted by the Mayan calendar that ended on Dec. 21, 2012.

“People thought the end of the world was coming, the computers would crash and they had to get their guns,” Hubbard said with a smile. “There are multiple factors, but yes. The shooting and the Mayan calendar played a big role in it.”

While they do have two AR-15-type weapons in stock, Hubbard said selling those types of weapons has become more of a nuisance for his shop than a moneymaker.

“We get a lot of people in here who want to play with them and handle them, and you’re just handing them back and forth across the counter,” Hubbard said of the assault weapons like the AR-15.

Matt Lodge at Shotgun Sports Supply in Anniston said that his store is completely sold out of those large-capacity magazines for the AR-15.

“They’ve been gone for about a week and a half," Lodge said, adding that he’s heard from customers who fear a ban on them is imminent.

"That’s the main thing. They want to be able to have them in case something happens, and they don’t want to be stuck with weapons without any magazines for them," Lodge said.

In light of the Newtown shooting, there is talk among lawmakers in Washington of reinstituting a ban on such large-capacity magazines, as well as many semiautomatic assault weapons like the AR-15. A 1994 federal assault weapons ban that kept the legal limit to 10 rounds per magazine expired in 2004, making the 30-round magazines once again legal.

Advocates for gun control say that in the wrong hands, high-capacity magazines mean more victims in mass shootings.

Fred Atkinson, owner of AAA Pawn Shop in Anniston, said a fear of new gun control legislation is driving sales.

“It’s going to be busy for a long time. It’s not going to slow down for quite a while,” Atkinson said.

Large-capacity clips will likely be banned in any new gun-control legislation, Atkinson suspects, as will many types of assault weapons like the AR-15. While they don’t have any of the AR-15 weapons, Atkinson said if they had them, they’d be selling them as fast as they could get them in the door.

And yes, fear of the apocalypse also drove sales at his shop in the days before Dec. 21.

“We had people come in and mention it, but we just assumed they were joking. We hoped they were joking anyhow,” Atkinson said.

While local shops may be out of those large-capacity magazines, it isn’t hard to find them for sale on Internet websites like Craigslist.

Fultondale resident Tony Mendoza said he’s sold nearly 400 30-round magazines for the AR-15 on Craigslist and other online message boards since the Newtown shooting, and has ordered another 800 from friends who are gun dealers.

"We are at a point now where the demand has far outgrown the supply," Mendoza wrote in an email to The Star. "Manufacturers are all on back order but they are running wide open to get the date stamp on each mag before the proposed ban goes into effect."

Prices for those magazines have more than doubled – up to $60 – for some popular brands since the recent threat of new legislation, Mendoza wrote.

Wal-Mart sells the AR-15 assault weapon with the large-capacity, 30-round magazines, but an employee at the Anniston location said Friday that the weapon would have to be ordered, and may take several days to arrive.

A visit to the store Friday showed that while they are out of stock of the real thing, the store does have for sale a BB-gun that looks identical to the AR-15 assault weapon. Adjustable stock, removable clip and all.

The feeling by some that the U.S. is steeped in a culture of violence is what Mark Lanier, professor and chair of the department of criminal justice at the University of Alabama, thinks may be more dangerous than the amount of ammunition a weapon can carry.

"I think that the media, movies, rap, (video) games contribute more to a subculture of violence than of extended clips," wrote Lanier in an email to The Star Friday.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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