President Obama’s proposed gun ban has not yet become law, but it has already made some guns almost impossible to buy. The fear that “assault rifles” may soon be banned once again has led many gun owners to snap up guns that may be on the government’s list. In particular, AR-15s, the model of rifle used in the Sandy Hook and Aurora, Co. mass murders, have been flying off gun store shelves.
It is extremely difficult to find a gun store that has AR-15s in stock. Wal-Mart’s website lists several different models of AR-15, but notes that the guns are only available in its stores. A search of stores in the Atlanta area and elsewhere reveals that the guns are out of stock everywhere. Even models of the gun that are chambered in .22 Long Rifle, a smaller and less powerful cartridge than the normal .223, are sold out.
The Bass Pro Shop in Atlanta and the Barnes Store in Carrollton, Ga. report that they cannot keep AR-15s in stock. Both stores say that they have the guns on order, but have no idea when or if they will be received.
Elsewhere the story is the same. At the Gander Mountain store in Wichita, Ks., clerks say that AR-15s sell out as soon as they are received. The store recently received a shipment of the guns, which retail for about $750 depending on the model, and sold them all in about 10 minutes. “The first 10 people that came in and looked at them bought them,” said one clerk who requested his name be withheld.
One store that did have AR-15s in stock was the Elite Pawn shop in Cartersville, Ga. The store had three of the guns to sell, but was charging a premium. The guns, all different models, ranged in price from $1,700 to $1,900, a thousand dollars higher than retail. Unlike the local stores, employees at chains like Bass Pro and Gander Mountain say that they have not increased prices as demand for the guns has increased.
Assault weapons were banned during the Clinton Administration in 1994. The ban lasted through 2004. As John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime,” wrote in the Los Angeles Times, the ban was a failure. According to Lott, “there is not a single published academic study showing that these bans have reduced any type of violent crime.” He also noted that despite warnings that crime would increase after the ban expired, the crime rate actually declined. According to the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey detailed in USA Today, the decline in crime continued until 2011.
According to FBI Violent Crime statistics for 2011, there were a total of 12,664 murders in the U.S. Rifles of all types were used in only 206 of these murders, about 1.6 percent of the total. Because “assault weapon” is a political term, there are no separate statistics for these weapons.
Reports from around the country indicate that gun sales are booming, a trend that began even before the Sandy Hook massacre according to MSN. Reuters reports that the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System has had nine of its top 10 days for firearms checks since the Sandy Hook murders on Dec. 14. The trend is likely to continue either until a ban is in place or the Obama Administration relents in its efforts to impose one.