US gun sales soar in the wake of Oregon college shooting

Gun sales this year could exceed record sales reached in 2013

Alexandra Sims
Sunday 04 October 2015 18:21
Guns are on display at Roseburg Gun Shop in Roseburg, Oregon
Guns are on display at Roseburg Gun Shop in Roseburg, Oregon

US gun sales have soared following the mass-shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, which killed 10 people and injured seven others.

Larry Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Guns in North Carolina, told the Financial Times that business had picked up radically since the shooting, adding “the store is crowded”.

The spike in sales follows long-set trends in the US, which has experienced rocketing gun sales after many major mass-shootings.

A sharp upturn in sales was reported in the wake of 2012’s Aurora cinema shootings, the Tucson gun massacre in 2011 and the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, according to The Wire.

Gun sales this year could exceed record sales reached in 2013, after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which left 27 people dead including 20 children.

In the first nine months of this year 15.6 million background checks to buy guns from federally licensed sellers have been undertaken, compared to 15.5 million in the same period in 2013, according to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The increase echoes figures following the theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado, after which background checks rose by more than 41 per cent, according to The Denver Post.

Strong sales this year have also boosted the earnings for the two of the largest gun manufacturers in the US. Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co have seen their stocks rise this year by over 73 per cent and 63 per cent respectively, according to the Financial Times.

After the Sandy Hook shootings President Barack Obama called for stricter gun laws, a sentiment he has echoed following the Oregon shooting.

On Friday Mr Obama said in a statement: “There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?”

“We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don't work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.”

It is the push for tighter gun controls, however, that is believed to be stimulating the upsurge in sales.

Mr Hyatt told the Financial Times: “Once the public hears the President on the news say we need more gun controls, it tends to drive sales.”

“People think, if I don’t get a gun now, it might be difficult to get one in the future.”

Following the Tucson shootings in 2011, Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told Politico: "Some Americans fear tougher gun control laws in the aftermath of Saturday’s attack so they want to stock up now.”

People feeling the need for self-protection following mass-shootings has also been cited as a cause for the upsurge in sales.

Jake Meyers of Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo told The Post: "A lot of it is people saying, 'I didn't think I needed a gun, but now I do. When it happens in your backyard, people start reassessing.”

The Pew Research Center has recorded an overall increase in support for gun “rights”, rather than controls, over the past 20 years.

People supporting the right to bear arms were found to be dominantly white men, more likely to be politically conservative, Republican and who have not graduated from university.

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