In the crosshairs: looking at gun sales in Crenshaw County

Published 8:28 am Thursday, January 10, 2013

Following last month’s shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn., national news outlets report that gun sales are up across the country as lawmakers look at more restrictive gun legislation.

It looks as though some of that impact has trickled down to Crenshaw County, according to David Noble, manager at Big Daddy’s Outdoors in Rutledge.

“What we’ve seen is along the same line as the national level,” he said.

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Much of the attention nationally has been focused on “assault weapons,” which is a semi-automatic rifle that cosmetically looks like a fully automatic rifle.

The AR-15, which is modeled after the military’s M-16, is a common example.

“We’ve never sold many ARs,” Noble said. “We keep one or two, and they sell from time to time.”

Noble said most of the market for personal protection comes from handguns.

It may also be tougher to examine trends in gun sales because of a number of other factors, such as the time of year and who the president is.

“This time of year, ammunition is in short supply because we’re in the midst of hunting season,” said John Wise, Jr. of Hicks, Inc. in Luverne. “A shortage is fairly typical because people are running down their inventory.”

Wise said production usually picks up once the new year starts.

Hicks, Inc. is a wholesale distributor of outdoor products and does not sell items on the retail market.

Whether the president is a Republican or a Democrat can also have an effect on sales.

“When you have a Republican president, everything seems to be fine, but a Democratic president always increases firearms sales,” Noble said.

Traditionally, Democrats have been more favorable to tighter gun control laws.

One area where Noble said he has seen a change is in the process of conducting background checks. Gun retailers are required by law to conduct a background check through the FBI on anyone wishing to purchase a firearm.

“We’ve seen a backlog when trying to do background checks,” said Noble, who added that it takes longer to get the required information to the FBI.

While lawmakers are left to work out legislation, most people have their own opinion on the hot-button issue.

“There are more people killed by drunk drivers than by assault rifles,” said Noble, who added that no one is looking to outlaw cars. “A gun is just a tool.”