Fearing new firearms restrictions in the wake of last week’s Connecticut school shooting, customers are flocking to Triangle gun sellers this week.
Semiautomatic rifles, such as the AR-15 and its magazines, seem to be the must-have items.
“If the assault weapons ban comes into effect, they’ll be hard to find,” said Mike Humphrey, who was shopping Tuesday at Sovereign Guns in Fuquay-Varina. “The world’s getting real messy now, so I’d rather have something when I don’t need it than not have it when I do.”
Sovereign Guns was the second gun dealer Humphrey had visited Tuesday. He was buying 33-round magazines for his handgun. He also picked up about 25 30-round magazines for his grandfather’s AR-15 rifle. Though a 30-round magazine is standard for the AR-15, some fear new regulations could restrict that.
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In Friday’s shooting in Newtown, Conn., shooter Adam Lanza used a semiautomatic Bushmaster AR-15 in .223 caliber.
At Springhill Outfitters in Smithfield, more AR-15s were sold in one day Monday – about 20 – than the store usually sells in a year, said general manager Trent Lassiter.
“We are mainly a hunting store; we aren’t a tactical store,” Lassiter said.
“We keep a few of them out here,” he added, pointing to a rack that had just seven AR-15s left. “Now that’s all we have.”
Within minutes, one of those seven was spoken for.
Barry Perry, owner of Perry’s Gun Shop in Wendell, reported a similar sales spike Monday.
One shopper at Springhill bought three rifles and three handguns, Lassiter said. Another bought two AR-15s for his sons to have when they turn 18. Lassiter said the customer was afraid the guns might not still be available if he waited.
“I think this is all fear of the unknown,” Lassiter said. “They talk about outlawing high-capacity magazines, and people get scared.”
Ammunition for AR-15-type rifles has been in such short supply that Springhill Outfitters even began rationing how much some customers could buy.
“We want to have ammunition for the gun if we sell it to somebody,” Lassiter said.
A few national retailers have suspended some firearms sales.
Dick’s Sporting Goods released a statement Tuesday expressing sympathy to the Newtown community and saying that the chain was halting gun sales in its locations closest to Newtown. Dick’s also said it was suspending the sale of “modern sporting rifles” in its locations nationwide.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has pulled all of its Bushmaster rifles off the racks.
‘Beating down my door’
Clayton Guns is closed on Mondays. That meant the store was especially busy Tuesday, owner Rob Maungyoo said.
“They have been beating down my door to get the ARs,” Maungyoo said. “The phone has been non-stop. It’s crazy.”
He also said he has noticed an unexpected trend: people selling their AR-15s because they fear that the guns may be banned and they will lose money invested in them.
“They are turning them in – and people are buying them just as fast,” Maungyoo said.