When you walk into Banana’s Sporting Good on the outskirts of Alpine looking for firearms, you may have to change your expectations. Uncertainty regarding what is widely considered a national discussion on gun control became even more intense in the wake of the mass shootings at an elementary school in Connecticut over the weekend. It resulted in a familiar sight for store employees. People waiting for them to open their door.
Ron Neil says that demand was already high following the re-election of Barack Obama as customers stood outside the doors waiting to purchase a variety of firearms and ammunition based in part on the idea that access to guns may be impacted in a second term of office.
“We’ve definitely had an increase,” Neil said. “When we call the FBI we get put on hold instead of going right on through. Thursday through Saturdays is nuts. Right after the election we had people waiting for us to buy ammunition, semi-auto handguns, semi-auto rifles like the AR-15 style and things like that.”
The FBI has reported that in the calendar month after the re-election, more than 150,000 requests for background checks on handguns were made, breaking the previous mark by more than 30,000.
The people were waiting in line again this past Monday as talk about re-examining who should and who shouldn’t have firearms has hit a fever pitch.
According to Neil, concerns from customers center on regulation and has seemingly pushed store patrons to change their outlook on purchases.
“They were buying cases of ammo instead of boxes,” he added.
Those coming in from out of state have been steady as well, looking to take advantage of Wyoming’s comparatively softer stance on purchases. Neil says everyone still has to fill out a federal form and handguns can only be sold to residents of Wyoming, but rifles, shotguns and other accessories such as high capacity magazines have been hot items. It has put a rush on firearms manufacturers, some of which were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy and are limping along anyway.
Distributors are sending out guns as fast as people are calling for them. In the case of Banana’s, their calls are going directly to voice mail because in many cases, warehouses have no more guns to ship.
It is a pattern that has repeated itself this past summer, after the election and again this week. One man seemingly has the ability to kick off the arms race with every speech.
“Everyone seems to be waiting to see what happens next,” Neil said. “But when the President says something, that starts things all over again.”