Post Newtown: Guns out of stock at Wal-Mart and magazine prices surge on ebay

 

A Rock River Arms AR-15 rifle. The weapon is similar in style to the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle that was used during a massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Firearm sales have surged recently as speculation of stricter gun laws and a re-in
A Rock River Arms AR-15 rifle. The weapon is similar in style to the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle that was used during a massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Firearm sales have surged recently as speculation of stricter gun laws and a re-in

With President Obama endorsing sweeping gun restrictions in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, prices for handgun magazines are surging on eBay and semi-automatic rifles are sold out at many Wal-Mart Stores locations.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said Tuesday that it would continue to sell guns, including rifles like the one used at Newtown, where 26 people, most of them children, were killed on Dec. 14.

By contrast, Dick's Sporting Goods suspended sales of similar guns at its more than 500 stores.

Searches of five kinds of semi-automatic rifles on Wal- Mart's website showed them to be out of stock at stores in five states, including Pennsylvania, Kansas and Alabama. Wal-Mart doesn't sell guns online, instead asking customers to input a zip code to see if their local store carries a specific weapon.

"We remain dedicated to the safe and responsible sale of firearms in areas of the country where they are sold," David Tovar, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, said Tuesday. He didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

Wal-Mart has about 10 modern sporting rifles, the gun industry's term for firearms that look like an M-16 military rifle, listed on its website. The retailer removed a description and picture of the Bushmaster AR-15, which was the model used in Newtown, after the shootings.

In 2006, Wal-Mart reduced the number and variety of guns it offered in stores, and replaced them with more upscale products such as exercise equipment. It then reintroduced firearms to many stores in April 2011 as part of strategy to add merchandise back to shelves and revive sales growth at its Wal-Mart locations in the U.S.

The move may have helped as U.S. Wal-Mart stores posted their first gain in same-store sales in more than two years in October 2011. Wal-Mart doesn't disclose how many guns it sells, though at an analysts' meeting in October it said gun revenue gained 76 percent in the first half of this fiscal year. The chain advertised a Sig Sauer M400 as one of its Black Friday doorbusters last month, offering the rifle for $50 off at $867.

Cabela's, an outdoor retailer that also sells guns, didn't return several calls seeking comment on whether it planned to change its firearm policies. Hunting equipment, which includes firearms, made up 41 percent of Cabela's sales in 2011, according to a company filing. The retailer doesn't provide sales data for just guns.

On the auction website eBay, shoppers have recently bid up gun magazines. The current bid for four Glock handgun magazines, ammunition for one of the guns used at Newtown, is $118.37 compared with $45 on the day before the shooting. The bid for seven Glock magazines hit $201 Dec. 17 from $71.01 before the massacre.

Gun buyers have flooded other firearms retailers too.

The Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, N.C., racked up more than $1 million in sales Tuesday for the best single-day performance since the store opened in 1959, according to Justin Anderson, director of online sales. Topping the list was the Bushmaster AR-15, the model used at Newtown that sells for as much as $4,000 and had almost sold out, he said.

Revenue at one of the largest U.S. gun stores surpassed even the spike just after Obama was elected president in 2008, Anderson said in a telephone interview. Sales weren't as robust when Obama was re-elected last month because the president hadn't backed major new gun laws, he said.

Wednesday, Obama said his administration would come up with "concrete proposals" by next month to curb gun violence.

Speculation over stricter gun laws will continue to boost sales, Anderson said Tuesday.

"It's kind of the perfect storm for the gun industry," he said. "When these things happen, even though it's sad, it does pick up sales."

Wal-Mart has received some pressure to curb gun sales in the past. That continued this week when Lauren Buglino, a fourth-grade teacher from the Bronx, created an online petition on Change.org exhorting the retailer to stop selling rifles like the one used at Newtown. It had more than 57,000 supporters Wednesday.

Wal-Mart entered into an agreement in 2008 with the Mayors Against Illegal Guns that included video recording of purchases and the use of databases to identify people who have bought guns recovered in crimes.

When Wal-Mart added guns to stores in 2011, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino criticized it for trying to increase the number of guns on the streets, according to the Boston Herald.

Menino and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

— With assistance from Leslie Patton in Chicago.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in