Gun shops are typically busy around the holidays, but this year, semiautomatic rifles have flown off store shelves locally and nationwide as fear looms over the possibility of stricter gun control following the mass school shooting in Connecticut.
Roland Presley with BDC Gun Room in Shawnee said customers have flocked to buy the AR-15 rifles and related high capacity magazines.
"There's been an influx in blind sales — they look at it and in five seconds they spend $1,000," Presley said.
BDC, which is currently sold out of the weapons, typically sells one or two a week but sold 90 of them in just a few days, Presley said.
"I don't have one in the building," he said, adding the weapons were sold to both repeat and new customers.
The deaths of 20 children and six adults in the Newtown, Conn., tragedy Dec. 14 prompted President Barack Obama to push for a study on tighter gun laws. Before the shooting, BDC had inventory that had been building up since March and was expected to last for most of 2013.
"Then we completely sold out in three days," Presley said.
Bill Santos, owner of B&M Firearms in Shawnee, said the family-owned business there specializes in military-type weapons and they've already sold more than 90 percent of their overall stock at the business.
"Sales have quadrupled as far as volume," Santos said, estimating he's sold about 300 to 400 of the military-style weapons in the past couple weeks.
"That's double a typical December," Santos said.
Because of the demand and similar scenarios at gun shops nationwide, Presley said it's difficult to order them from suppliers and there are already increased prices because demand is so high.
"Big shipments are a thing of the past," said BDC owner Jack Barrett, adding weapons wholesalers will be rationing out rifles to all dealers.
While some have been raising prices, Presley said BDC offered the rifles for the same price they've always been there, although they did set limits on the number people could purchase in order to service as many customers as possible.
Barrett said the rifles in stock went fast, and they also sold 90 additional receivers and about 250 magazines.
"We've quadrupled 2011 sales at this point," Barrett said. From Dec. 15 to Friday, Barrett said they had more than $250,000 in sales, estimating about 10 percent of that was from normal Christmas sales.
For Santos, it will be a challenge to find stock for his business, so there is some worry involved. Santos said he won't know until next month what options he'll have to replenish his inventory.
"Normally, we kept a pretty good stock…all the sudden it's gone in a couple weeks," Santos said. "If we can't get anything to put on the counter, we might as well close down."
Page 2 of 2 - Of the weapons that B&M has sold in the past two weeks, Santos said most were to first time buyers, although some customers were trading in their older, traditional weapons for the rifles.
Santos, who said these types of weapons were already popular, said many shoot them as a hobby or use them for hunting.
"They're fun to shoot," Santos said, adding it's a type of entertainment.