This story was written by David Ryan, The Daily Athenaeum
West Virginia University area gun sales have surged over concerns that a Barack Obama presidency would mean tighter gun regulations, shop owners say.
Ben Peters, manager of the International Outdoor, Inc. pawn shop on High Street, said that business has increased nearly 40 percent in the period between Election Day and now, citing his customers werent overly concerned that Obama would take away their guns but more that they wouldnt be able to purchase the guns they want.Ive been watching elections the last four or five elections, Peters said. Every time, it stirs up a paranoia in people, and that leads to increased sales.Peters said that there has been an increase in demand for handguns, semiautomatic weapons and sporting guns, commonly referred to as assault weapons. Demand for ammunition is also up, he said.In the period from Nov. 3 to Nov. 9, 374,000 background checks were conducted on persons wishing to purchase firearms across the country, said Stephen Fischer, chief media representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Criminal Justice Information Services division. This is a 49 percent increase from the same time last year.According to FBI figures, a total of 243,717 background checks were carried out during the same period after the 2000 election when Democratic Vice President Al Gore ran against current President George W. Bush.Greg Morrison, manager of Cashland Pawn on Beechurst Avenue, also noticed an increase in sales and is finding it hard to order some types of guns.Fears among gun owners include gun control and further legislation limiting their sales. This has helped increase prices of ammunition and maintaining supplies of guns difficult.Supplies for handguns and semiautomatic weapons have fallen short, Morrison said.In his time at the store, Morrison said there is a frenzy every time an election comes up. Morrison was selling guns at the store when former President Bill Clinton took office in 1992 and said his customers had concerns then too.Theyre afraid Obamas going to take guns away from people, Morrison said. We tell them theres no way he can change the Constitution or take away the Second Amendment.Morrison said that the increase could be attributed to both candidates.Both candidates said they were going to institute some form of gun control, Morrison said.Despite those assurances, many still believe that Obama will restrict gun rights.For one organization, spreading that message is pivotal.The National Rifle Association has dubbed Obama the most anti-gun candidate ever, sending out campaign pamphlets during the presidential election with the candidates supposed 10 Point Plan to Change The Second Amendment.Among them are banning the use of firearms for home defense, passing federal laws eliminating the right to carry firearms, closing down 90 percent of gun shops in the country and appointing judges to the United States Supreme Court who share his views on the Second Amendment.In response, the Obama campaign released a fact sheet on its Web site stating that an Obama presidency believes in the individual right to bear arms and that he will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns for the purposes of hunting and target shooting.The likelihood of Obama tampering with the Second Amendment is very slim, said Allan Hammock, associate professor emeritus of the West Virginia University Department of Political Science.Currently, customers wishing to purchase guns are required to fill out an application form that checks for any arrest warrants, convictions or criminal record that may prohibit a consumers legal right to a gun.Such background checks are required by the Brady Act, a legislation passed in 1993 that requires gun store owners to run background checks on every customer who wants to buy a gun.Its an instant check, Fischer said. By the time the data hs been entered, the information is being checked against millions of computer records.If nothing is found, the owner is allowed to pick up his or her firearm before the five days is over.Getting involved with the Second Amendment isnt likely to be the president-elects biggest concern, Hammock said, adding that political pressures are involved with the issue.Remember that the Congress has to pass legislation, Hammock said. Even then, legislation has to pass the constitutional test before the Supreme Court.