Gun sales are up in the wake of Barack Obama’s re-election on Tuesday, driven by fears of tighter regulations under a Democratic president, especially for firearms that might be classified as assault weapons.
“Sales are up,” said John Kielbasa, owner of Fernwood Firearms in Hankins, N.Y. “I had a guy waiting here first thing in the morning [after the election.] He came in, bought two AK-47s.”
Kielbasa said that he sells semiautomatic versions of the fully automatic Kalashnikov rifles, as is permitted by law. He said the demand for semiautomatic rifles is being stoked by memories of the assault weapon ban pioneered by another Democrat, former President Bill Clinton.
That ban, which expired in 2004, didn’t eliminate the weapons entirely, but restricted their features, limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds and regulating pistol grips, bayonet attachments and flash suppressors.
Lawrence Keane, vice president of gun industry group National Shooting Sports Foundation, says that modern sporting rifles — a term that he prefers to assault weapons — are “the most popular type of rifles being bought today by Americans.” He says they’re used by hunters, target shooters, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and citizens who want to protect their property from looters in the wake of recent storms.
Fears that a ban on the weapons might come back under Democratic leadership drove gun enthusiasts to buy firearms when Obama was first elected in 2008. The most reliable way to track the number of gun sales is via background checks, and they spiked after the last election.