Gun, ammo sales boom
If anyone thinks Carbon County is not affected by what goes on in national politics, they need to look closer.
For instance, look at the lack of ammunition in the display case at the Price Wal-Mart.
Like most areas since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. and the decisions by the Obama administration to look toward restricting some kinds of weapons, accessories and ammunition, sales are way up in the area.
"We've been selling everything and anything," said Ben Heaton, the Chief Operating Officer for the Tony Basso group of businesses that owns 9-11 Pawn. "In the two or three days after the shootings in Connecticut, our last AR-15s disappeared from the shelves."
While Heaton was interviewed he stood in front of a rack that had a number of guns on it, but none were the kind of semi-auto firearm that many people want to buy right now. All were shotguns, hunting rifles and plunkers.
The trend of sales in Carbon is the same all across America. It seems gun enthusiasts are concerned about new laws governing the supply of guns and ammunition, particularly automatics of almost any kind.
"We can't get any ARs now," said Bill Gibson, who works at Bill's Home Furnishings in Price. The establishment of their Sportsman's Corner has been a good economic move for their store, but when a merchant can't get what people need, it is hard to see business pass by. "I have been surprised by the number of pistols we have sold this last month. A lot of semis, and the sales are brisk."
While there is a lot of speculation about gun and ammo sales nationally, no one knows the real numbers. The fact that all dealers in all parts of the country are turning customers away that want to buy firearms of various types demonstrates however that sales must be way up. Some manufacturers have even temporarily stopped taking orders for new guns from distributors who sell to retailers because they are so far behind in manufacturing them.
Accessories for guns such as clips and some other devices are also in very short supply, if available at all. As with guns some manufacturers are inundated with orders and have had to just tell people they will have to wait, maybe for some time.
At Wal-Mart in east Price a walk by the gun section tells the tale. There are a few empty spots in the circular cases, but the others are filled with single shot or bolt action rifles and a few shotguns. When the Sun Advocate passed through the sporting goods department a store employee was putting about a half a shopping basket of ammunition away on the shelves. Those shelves were so empty that it appeared he would have needed a dozen such baskets to fill them. Almost everything was wiped out.
And it's the same across town.
"Ammunition, particularly in some calibers, is almost impossible to come by," said Gibson. "We are out of .22 long and .223 ammo. We have also seen a lot of people wanting .40 caliber as well. And we don't know when we will be getting more for sure."
The .223 caliber is the most common caliber that so-called assault rifles use in their magazines.
At 9-11 Pawn, Heaton said the same thing.
"We are told 'you will see it when you see it,'" he said referring to what suppliers have told him and others.
The dearth of ammo reminds many of the days in 2008-09 right after the presidential election when .380 caliber ammunition was virtually unavailable for months. That type of ammunition is used in many firearms that fit the profile of weapons people who have conceal carry permits use.
As for hand guns, Bill's still had a couple of larger caliber semi-automatics their case, but the guns that are mostly for sale are revolvers.
How long will the shortage last?
No one seems to know, and a lot apparently rests on the politics of the situation and what comes out of Congress. But more importantly, it is what the gun owning public sees as a threat to their ownership of various kinds of guns that will determine supply and demand.
If the threat to owning certain arms continues, sales may stay high for some time.