By Darrell Arnold
HUERFANO- Television and newspapers have recently been full of stories about how the incoming Obama presidency has boosted sales in guns and ammunition.
In Walsenburg, Hollowpoint Gun Shop owner Erin Jerant explains what she has seen. "I’ve always enjoyed good gun sales because I keep my prices low, but I’ve never had an assault weapons run like I’m having right now. This coming January will mark my 20th year of business. My sales are up between 10 and 15 percent over what is normal."
The sudden increase in the public’s interest in firearms is primarily because of Obama’s voting record when he was an Illinois state senator. At that time, he voted to increase taxes on ammunition as much as 500 percent (Chicago Defender, 12/13/99), and he voted in favor of prosecuting a man who had used a banned firearm to defend himself in his own home.
Jerant says, "Obama has stated he will sign a bill outlawing assault weapons and high-capacity magazines similar to the one Clinton imposed from 1994 to 2004. But Obama has vowed to make the ban permanent. I think people are frightened by that.
"The conversation when people come into my shop is “I’m afraid I won’t be able to buy this after the next president is sworn in. He’s gonna sign a bill against buying these things."
Joe Kancilia, who owns the only other gun dealership in Huerfano County, The Pawn Shop, sees things differently. He says, "People are getting all excited about Obama and gun control. It’s not going to happen. These people are getting excited for nothing. Colorado makes a lot of money on hunting licenses. Colorado and the other hunting states are not going to let Obama put a stop to that."
Kancilia does not, however, deal in very many assault rifles, which seem to be the main target of gun controllers. Nor does he deal in reloading supplies. He says he is selling about three guns per day, in his shop, just like he did before the election, but he concedes his ammunition sales have gone up considerably.
"Ammo is selling good," says Kancilia. "It’s about 15 or 20 percent higher than normal in all calibers. Everybody’s buying ammo."
The items that are most in demand at Hollowpoint are AR-15 rifles, all calibers of ammunition, and reloading supplies like bullets, brass, powder, and primers.
"I’ve had phone calls from Denver and Colorado Springs," says Erin Jerant, "because there are no AR-15s up in the big cities. Most people who are buying them right now aren’t really buying them to shoot. They’re buying them to put away for the future in case they are outlawed soon.
"They’re expensive," she continues, "about $1,100 each. They’ll never go down in value, and, depending on how the laws may change, will probably continue to go up in value."
According to Jerant, there is currently a 12- to 20-week delay on orders for assault rifles.
"The manufacturers were just hammered with this massive, country-wide rush of people trying to buy AR-15s. They’re back-ordered everywhere. You just can’t get one unless you want to get on a list. I’m on a lot of lists."
Evidently, manufacturers are holding back on production slightly, in order not to get caught with an oversupply.
Jerant says, "I’ve talked to some of my wholesalers, and they tell me some of the manufacturers are cautious about making thousands of these guns and then in two months not having any business.
"The concern is that if the president signs a bill outlawing them, then they’ll be stuck with stock on hand they can’t get rid of. They’re making smaller amounts and then shipping them and watching how the wholesalers turn them over."
Besides the above-mentioned rifles, handguns, too, are being sold at a brisk pace.
Jerant says, "As far as handguns go, people are mostly interested in small revolvers, for protection. Like a little .38 or a small .357. Nothing with long barrels like for target practice. They’re all for personal protection."
Does Jerant foresee a time when the government will actually try to take people’s guns away from them?
"I don’t think so," she replies. "There are too many people who believe in the second amendment. But I do think that, sooner or later, you’re going to have to sign up for things like ammo and reloading supplies, like you do now for guns. There will be a giant record-keeping effort. That will be a sad day."