DARKE COUNTY — In the aftermath of the June 12 shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida — resulting in more than 100 dead and wounded — debate quickly turned to firearms.
The perpetrator, Omar Mateen, is reported to have used high-capacity, quick-reload weapons during the rampage. As such, some politicians are renewing calls to restrict or ban guns.
Soon after the shootings, President Barack Obama said, “Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
Presumptive presidential nominees Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump also added their thoughts on the topic.
Clinton, who has gone on record arguing for reinstatement of the lapsed federal “Assault Weapons Ban” of 1994-2004, criticized the state of Florida’s gun regulations.
“Florida doesn’t regulate assault weapons or .50 caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines,” She told CNN. “It doesn’t require a permit to purchase a gun. It doesn’t require any registration, whatsoever.”
Trump, also speaking to CNN, took a different tack, saying, “If you had some guns in that club the night that this took place, if you had guns on the other side, you wouldn’t have had the tragedy that you had. If people in that room had guns with the bullets flying in the opposite direction right at him… right at his head, you wouldn’t have had the same tragedy that you ended up having,”
In light of the tragedy, one large retailer has pulled AR-15s from its shelves — at least temporarily.
On June 13, Academy Sports, a sporting goods retailer with locations primarily in the southern United States, informed its associates in an email “Until further notice, Academy is removing all Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) from store display until further notice.”
However, talk of a potential ban or further regulations on AR-15 rifles, or any guns for that matter, often causes a spike in sales.
The December 2, 2015 shootings in San Bernardino, California, was followed by a large increase in gun sales, with 3.3 million background checks performed by the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) in that month alone — an all-time high.
Similar spikes also occurred following the Sandy Hook Elementary School and Aurora, Colorado, theater shootings in 2012. An AR-15 rifle was used in all three mass shooting incidents.
While a “run” on guns hasn’t materialized locally, Roger Cope, owner of Cope’s Distributing in Greenville, said his shop has certainly seen an “uptick” in AR-15 sales.
“It’s nothing major, but it’s pretty good for summertime,” he said, noting that usually the gun industry is “notoriously slow” in the summer.
Cope said his business sold 12 AR-15 rifles on Wednesday alone, which he calls “higher than usual for this time of year.”
He said shoppers are not only buying the rifles, but also magazines and ammunition to go with them.
“We’ve had very high ammo sales,” said Cope, “particularly .223/5.56 [calibers].”
He attributes the uptick in sales to talk in Washington D.C., about potential bans or restrictions on AR-15-type rifles and high-capacity magazines.
“I’m expecting a higher increase in sales with all the gun control talk,” he said.
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