Sam Bishop stood Tuesday at the counter of Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop. He was looking at a gun for home security while he felt he still could, he said.
“I want to be just one step ahead of everybody else,” said Bishop, who was checking out the Spokane gun store’s selection of pistols. “I don’t want to come in here to get something left over that nobody wants.”
Bishop isn’t the only buyer rushing to a nearby firearms dealer. Spokane gun stores are reporting increased sales since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre Friday, which has sparked talk in Congress of potential gun control legislation.
Sales already appeared to be up in 2012 before the latest tragedy. The FBI, which operates the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, reports record gun background checks for the year. The FBI ran checks on more than 16.8 million people through November nationwide. Even without December’s numbers, that’s a 2 percent increase from last year. About 444,000 of those were in Washington state.
Several Democratic lawmakers, including Washington’s U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, are promising gun reform in the wake of last week’s school shooting, as well as the Clackamas Town Center shooting in Portland.
The lawmakers say that at the very least they will push to reinstate the Clinton-era ban on certain types of semi-automatic rifles often called assault weapons. The ban expired in 2004.
“My biggest fear is what our lawmakers are going to do,” Bishop said. “I just think the future for recreational and self-defense is potentially being jeopardized with the way our lawmakers look at gun ownership.”
Sharp Shooting owner Robin Ball said sales set a store record on Saturday. The most popular seller is the AR-15 style of semi-automatic rifle that was used in the Connecticut and Aurora, Colo., shootings. Ball said it’s a sporting rifle, usually used for hunting or competition.