Fresno-area gun stores doing brisk business
- Published on 08/09/2012 - 2:04 pm
- Written by Michael Kincheloe, The Business Journal
In the wake of the July 20 movie theater shooting in Colorado and with fall elections fast approaching, many Fresno-area gun storeowners are reporting that sales are on the rise.
Gun sales generally spike after major tragedies, including the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings and the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson last year.
Eli Smedley, general manager of PRK Arms in Fresno, saw an almost immediate rise in gun sales after the Colorado killings, which happened shortly after midnight on a Friday.
“The Tuesday after that we did have a spike in sales,” said Smedley, whose store is closed Sundays and Mondays. “I can’t say that it is in response to what happened, but it appeared so.”
Fresno Firearms owner Marylyn Panek has seen an increase in customers, but not as a result of the movie theater massacre. Panek’s firearm sales have been swelling due to the fact that President Obama is campaigning for re-election.
“It’s been going up since the election is coming up — same problem as four years ago,” Panek said. “A lot of them are thinking that Obama will bring back the ban on guns that can use high-capacity magazines.”
The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994 banned some semi-automatic weapons as well as magazines designed to hold more than 10 rounds.
Sometimes called the “assault weapons” ban, the law took effect in September 1994 and expired 10 years later. There have been several attempts to restore the ban, but none have been successful.
New gun restrictions are currently being debated in the state legislature. Smedley said that his customers are concerned about SB 249, a bill proposed by Sen. Leland Yee that would ban semi-automatic rifles from having easily interchangeable magazines.
Yee says that while most gun owners are law-abiding, he is concerned about these weapons getting into the wrong hands and resulting in mass casualties of civilians or law enforcement officers.
“With the political climate in California, gun sales are going up,” Smedley said. He agrees with Panek about the upcoming elections in November.
“Any time there’s an election, there’s a spike in gun sales,” Smedley said.
Nathan Green, owner of Central Valley Gun Sales in Selma, said that many of his customers purchase firearms for home protection. He sees quite a few repeat customers, especially those buying ammunition.
“They’re pretty steady,” Green said of his ammo customers. “We sell pretty much everything we get from wholesalers.”
More people are purchasing ammo these days, especially when they can buy it in volume, Panek said. She doesn’t sell ammunition in bulk, but many gun show vendors do. A gun show is planned at the Fresno County Fairgrounds and begins Sept. 15.
“People at gun shows are spending $3,000 to $5,000 on bulk ammo because they don’t have to pay shipping like they would if they bought it online,” Panek said.
The Fresno County Jail’s current policy of releasing inmates early due to overcrowding has caused a certain amount of apprehension among many of Smedley’s customers.
“People are concerned for their safety,” he said.
Smedley said that on the Tuesday following the Colorado shooting, PRK Arms had approximately 100 customers — a typical number — but there were a higher number of purchases.
“Whenever there’s some crazy guy gunning people down, people feel the need for protection,” Smedley said.