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Gun sales surge at Wal- Mart and other retailers


When Adam Lanza fired his assault rifle into the classrooms and hallways at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, he likely had no idea that his atrocious act would lead to increases in sales of weapons and ammunition.

That Lanza was able to get his hands on assault weapons and use them against innocent victims should have turned the public against guns, but reports from Walmart and other retailers paint a different picture. Sales of semi- automatic rifles, handguns, and handgun magazines have gone through the roof and the prices of these items are increasing rapidly on Ebay and elsewhere.

The reason for the sudden interest in guns and ammunition is due in large part to fear- fear that a similar attack could happen anywhere, anytime, and fear that the U.S. government will crackdown on guns, making them more difficult to obtain. President Obama has already endorsed additional restrictions on both guns and gun sales and several members of Congress- including a few Republicans- are calling for bans on assault weapons.

Some retailers are having second thoughts about selling guns, particularly the specific type of gun Adam Lanza used in his assault. But Wal- Mart and others have no plans to end sales of rifles and in light of the increases in sales and solid profit margins on weapons, the argument to continuing selling makes sense from a purely financial perspective. After all, guns are still legal and if a legal product is profitable to sell, then one has to expect retailers to keep it well stocked and even promote its use.

On the opposing side, retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods have temporarily suspended sales of certain guns. Profit motives aside, Dick’s Sporting Goods management is limiting weapons sales while the folks in Newtown, Connecticut and the rest of the nation mourn the loss and search for answers and solutions.

Many Wal-Mart stores report that all semi- automatic rifles have sold out. According to a December 20, 2012 article published at Bloomberg, online searches for semi- automatic rifles through show they are completely sold out in several states, including Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Kansas.

Wal- Mart originally reduced the number of guns available for sale at its stores back in 2006. But the push for profits convinced the retail giant to return many of these same weapons to the store shelves in 2011. Guns of all types often sell for prices well above their cost, making them a highly lucrative product.

Efforts to control gun violence could lead to further restrictions on gun manufacturing and gun sales and more restrictions or at least the perception of additional restrictions is bound to lead to increases in sales. But as long as the weapons can be made and sold legally and continue to present such large profit margins, citizens can expect Wal- Mart and other stores to continue selling them.

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