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Gun sales strong locally, statewide

Thursday, December 5, 2013

From Bulletin and AP reports

Local gun retailers are busy this holiday season as Virginia is set to break its annual gun sales record following record transactions on Black Friday.

As of Monday, gun transactions statewide totaled 431,693 so far this year. The record is 432,387 set in 2012, Virginia State Police statistics show.

Although they were unable to immediately recall sales figures, managers at two Collinsville retailers, Southern Gun Inc. and Town Gun Shop, said firearms have been selling well at their stores.

Ty Moffitt, manager of Southern Gun, said the store typically sees a small increase in sales around Christmas due to gift-giving.

Compared with sales at this time last year, though, recent sales have “not been above average, but they’ve not been below average,” either, she said.

Kary Manion, retail manager at Town Gun, said his store’s sales are up. He said he thinks that is because people are concerned about crime and are “trying to protect themselves better.”

Moffitt and Manion both reported high sales at their stores on Black Friday.

Virginia State Police statistics show 3,902 gun transactions in the state on Black Friday. That broke the previous record of 3,856 transactions on the same day in 2012, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

“Seeing a slight increase in gun sales over the Black Friday weekend from 2012 to 2013 is not surprising given the pattern of increasing gun sales we’ve seen over the past six or seven years,” Thomas R. Baker, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government Affairs who specializes in research methods and criminology theory, told the newspaper.

Baker said the pace of the increase appears to be slowing. But he said there could be another surge if Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe proposes any gun legislation.

Sales of firearms at Colonial Shooting Academy in Henrico County on Black Friday were equal to, if not better, than the same day in 2012, general manager Ed Coleman said.

Coleman said gun sales at Colonial have leveled off since January and February, “but there’s still more people buying firearms than ever have before.”

Virginia gun sales set records in nine of the past 11 months, including January and February, records show.

Gun dealers have cited President Barack Obama’s re-election last year and the fears of increased gun restrictions after last December’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut as the driving forces behind the leap in gun sales from December 2012 through March 2013.

“The end of the election, the inauguration and Sandy Hook contributed to a real panic-buy situation that went on for several months,” Coleman said.

The state police statistics come from gun buyers’ mandatory criminal background checks. Not all checks represent the sale of a gun. Some customers buy multiple firearms. Other checks involve people reclaiming firearms that had been pawned.

About 1 percent of the background checks in Virginia typically result in people being denied permission to buy a weapon.

The background check figures also do not reflect activity between private parties, such as family members or collectors at gun shows. Federal and Virginia laws require background checks only for sales from commercial dealers with a federal firearms license.


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