Firearm sales on the rise amid gun control chatter
By Julia Nagy
The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — The firearm counter of Sports Center was lined with customers Friday afternoon as salesmen ran back and forth to grab merchandise.
In addition to traditional Christmas sales, retailers are enjoying a boon in firearm sales thanks to President Obama’s pledge to introduce legislation to restrict access to assault weapons and make gun control a priority in his second term.
Many customers at the store were concerned about possible restrictions.
Odell Halford, who said he owns a range of 40 pistols, shotguns and rifles, said he agrees with limiting automatic weapons, but worries legislation might go further.
“Stopping me from having my gun, that’s what concerns me,” Halford said. “They aren’t getting mine.”
Sports Center and Bowie Outfitters have seen increases in their firearm sales since the Connecticut school shooting and the president’s announcement, store employees confirmed.
Vernon Smith, a Sports Center salesman, said the store has nearly quadrupled their sales, with semi-automatic weapons almost out of stock.
“(Customers) are concerned, and that’s why they are buying guns now,” Smith said. “It’s a concern about getting certain guns. People want to buy a gun when they want to buy a gun.”
Ethan Rymer, a salesman at Bowie Outfitters, said he went from selling six or seven guns a day to around 16 a day in the past four days.
“Our gun sales have gone through the roof,” Rymer said.
To purchase a gun in Mississippi, customers must present a valid driver’s license and fill out a 4473 form. The form asks for information about a customer’s criminal background and what type of gun they’re purchasing.
Once the form is filled out, the FBI is called for a background check. Sometimes customers are delayed or denied, but both Rymer and Smith said most of their customers are cleared right away.
Most of the time, the call takes a few minutes. Within the past few days, calls have been around an hour long.
Mike Sanders, a Sports Center customer, said he believes some of the laws could be stricter and should limit guns within city limits.
“I’m all for guns as far as hunting goes,” Sanders said. “It’s the people that kill, not the guns. They shouldn’t punish folks like this.”
Sanders owns three firearms, which he uses to hunt. He said he believes semi-automatic weapons should not be sold.
“It’s disturbing with all these kids getting killed in school,” Sanders said. “It’s a shame weapons get in the wrong hands.”