“Everybody is swamped since the day after the election,” said Hughes, who has been with the gun shop for 26 years. “It's the whole industry across the United States.”
Certain styles of rifles are being sold quicker than the distributors can produce, particularly the assault rifle (AR). The possibility of stricter regulations or confiscations has people investing in the versatile hunting and protection weapon, Hughes said.
“The AR-style sporting rifles have almost taken the place of shotguns as home defense,” said Hughes.
Before the election the Gun Trader was operating in low gear. The national election caused sales to spike in November. The recent wave of gun purchases followed the president's announcement for a gun control task force. The majority of gun enthusiasts are grey-haired older professionals, leading Hughes to believe many of these purchases are politically motivated.
“The number one buyers are retired people looking for hunting rifles and home defense, not young people,” said Hughes.
The high cost of sporting rifles means most purchases are made by experienced gun owners prepared to make an investment. Hughes compared these popular guns to gold or silver, saying assault rifles may rise in value as they become harder to find. The Gun Traders’ entire stock of AR sold out before Christmas. Even the common .22-caliber ammunition was out of stock at most retailers.
“I have been to every gun store and can't get into the door,” customer Jan Brown said. A Ruger 10-22 brought Brown to the shop on Thursday, Dec. 20, but those too were sold out due to popularity as a easy operating game gun.
On Dec. 14, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, 26 people were killed, including 20 small children. The event has shaken the nation and caused many lawmakers to consider stricter gun control legislation.
“To categorize this incident with responsible gun owners is inaccurate,” said Brent Severs, a customer at the Gun Trader.
Severs, a border patrol agent for nine years, believes experienced gun owners are the safest people out there.
“Law enforcement wants good people to have guns,” said Severs. “Most people making legislative decisions are not gun owners. A rock is an assault weapon if you assault someone with it.”