Sales of guns rise sharply in America

Click to follow

Sales of guns have risen suddenly and steeply in the United States in recent weeks, as Americans have reacted with fear to the 11 September terrorist attacks.

Preliminary figures from the FBI suggest that the numbers of Americans buying guns – from assault rifles to pistols small enough to fit in a handbag – may have risen by as much as 22 per cent. More than a million guns were sold in America during October.

The surge seems to confirm that the old Wild West instinct of many Americans remains strong – when danger lurks, they exercise a constitutional right to defend themselves and take up arms to defend their own thresholds.

Some gun manufacturers have taken advantage of the new situation, pumping up deliveries to retailers and appealing to consumers. None has tried harder, perhaps, than Beretta, which rushed out a new 9mm pistol called the "United We Stand". An Old Glory flag is etched on the side.

Gun control advocates are alarmed, saying that even those guns bought by responsible owners risk ending up in the hands of criminals later. They also note that many of those rushing to arm themselves appear to be first-time buyers.

The sharpest rise in sales seem to have been in regions closest to the attacks – Washington and New York.