TERRE HAUTE —
With public and political support for stricter gun laws growing, sales of guns, especially semi-automatic rifles, are exploding across the nation and in the Wabash Valley.
Sales have “spiked dramatically” since last weekend, said Jason Horutz, owner of Alpha Arms on Lafayette Avenue in Terre Haute. “Especially tactical rifles.” Gun sales in general have been strong in 2012, but since the Newtown, Conn., mass shootings and President Obama’s pledge to take “meaningful action” to curb future shootings, gun sales have increased greatly, according to media reports from across Indiana and the country.
Wabash Valley gun shops are seeing the same effect, as buyers worry about possible new laws or want to ensure they can defend themselves in the event of a “civil uprising” triggered by a government attempt to take away Americans’ guns, Horutz said.
“I’m slammed right now,” said Ian Carson, owner of Carson Arms Gun Bunker on Davis Drive in Terre Haute. “I think all of the gun shops are the same.”
This is typical of gun sales after a mass shooting incident. For example, after the July 20 killing of 12 people in a Aurora, Colo., movie theater, gun sales across the U.S. also spiked, according to a July edition of The Christian Science Monitor. After any such shooting, talk of possible new gun laws fills the airwaves and prompts people to “buy now,” one gun seller told the newspaper.
This comes on top of strong gun sales in general in the Wabash Valley and in the U.S. The business has been especially strong for several months, area gun shop owners said. That may account for the opening of several new shops in the area this year, they said.
guns are there?
It’s not easy to track gun sales, but federally licensed gun dealers are required to run National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) checks on anyone purchasing a firearm. By the end of November – even before the Newtown shootings – the number of background checks in 2012 – more than 16.8 million – had already surpassed all previous years in which records are available dating back to 1998, according to FBI figures.
Through November of this year, Indiana gun dealers have ordered a total of more than 404,000 NICS checks. That’s up nearly 50,000 from 2011’s 12-month total, according to FBI data. Estimates of the number of civilian-owned guns in the United States range from about 270 million to more than 350 million, according to various sources.
The state of Indiana does not require residents to register their guns, so it’s difficult to know how many guns are in the state. However, Indiana does require a license for anyone wishing to carry a handgun outside of his or her home, property or place of business. Through October of this year, there were more than 478,000 such permits issued in Indiana, according to the ISP. In Vigo County, there were 7,068 active carry permits.
Indiana law also recognizes permits to carry guns issued by other states or foreign countries, according to the website, gunlawsbystate.com. However, a license to carry a gun in Indiana does not permit pointing a gun at another person, carrying a gun aboard a commercial or charter aircraft, on school property, in restricted sections of airports or property used by a school or a school function, according to the website.
Meanwhile, gun sales continue to be brisk in the Wabash Valley. Rockie Cox, owner of Midland Guns and Ammo in Greene County, said he mostly deals in hunting guns, not the semi-automatic weapons flying off other store shelves right now.
But since last weekend, Cox said he’s had a large volume of phone calls and visits from people interested in purchasing semi-automatic weapons.
“I’ve had several calls,” Cox said. “People are looking for them.”
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Active permits to carry a handgun in the Wabash Valley:
Source: Indiana State Police