Gun sales increase after the tragedy in Connecticut

Thursday, December 20, 2012 | 2:40 p.m. CST; updated 4:09 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 20, 2012
Linda Kahler processes a gun order for a customer at Kahler's Gun Shop in Helfenstein, Pa., on Wednesday. The store owner, Bob Kahler, said his business was crowded the past few days and credited the rush of sales to hunting season, Christmas and the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The reaction to the Connecticut school shooting can be seen in gun stores and self-defense retailers across the nation: Anxious parents are fueling sales of armored backpacks for children while firearms enthusiasts are stocking up on assault rifles in anticipation of tighter gun control measures.

A spike in gun sales is common after a mass shooting, but the Connecticut tragedy has generated record sales in many states. Colorado set a single-day record for gun background check requests the day after the Connecticut mass shootings, and some online retailers are removing assault rifles from websites in part because of diminishing supplies.


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At Powder Horn Guns and Archery on Paris Road in Columbia, sales assistant Kelsey Brandkamp said gun sales have picked up since last week's school shootings.

Some of that demand has been for AR-15 semiautomatic rifles similar to the one used in the Connecticut school shootings.

“We just sold 13 handguns and two ARs,” Brandkamp said on Tuesday. “Some customers just bought ammunition and reloading supplies for AR-15" and other guns "because they wanted to buy them when they can.”

Stephen Weise, manager at Family Pawn in Columbia, said there has been more interest in "semi-AR types" since Barack Obama was re-elected.

“Obama is actually helping put more guns on the streets,” Weise said. “People expected that Obama would restrict gun sales even before the tragedy in Connecticut, but the event gave him more reasons to crack down on it.”

Nevada saw more requests for background checks in the days after the shooting than any other weekend this year. Some gun shop owners are even holding back on sales, anticipating only more interest and value after President  Obama on Wednesday directed his administration to create concrete proposals to reduce gun violence.

In Missouri, background checks on gun sales go through the FBI. An agency spokesman said the most recent data the FBI could provide was through November.

The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System website shows there were 55,571 background check requests in November for gun sales in Missouri compared to 39,621 requests in November 2011.

Robert Akers, a Rapid City, S.D., gun seller specializing in assault-style rifles, said he has about 50 of the weapons in stock but he's not actively trying to sell them and has even turned off his phone.

"It's a madhouse," said Akers, owner of Rapid Fire Firearms. "Any time they have one of these shootings or an election, it gets that way. I don't even want to sell them right now because I won't be able to replace them for probably six months. ... The price is only going to go up higher."

At least three companies that make armored backpacks designed to shield children caught in a shootings also are reporting a large spike in sales and interest.

The body armor inserts fit into the back panel of a child's backpack, and they sell for about $150 to $300, depending on the company.

The armor is designed to stop bullets from handguns, not assault rifles like the one used by the Connecticut shooter. The manufacturers and some parents say that while they don't guarantee children won't be killed, they could still be used as shields.

"Just like a seatbelt increases your odds of surviving in a car crash, these increase your odds of surviving being shot," said Kerry Clark, president of

Ken Larson, 41, of Denver, already had an armored backpack for himself and convinced his wife to buy one for their 1-year-old after the Connecticut shooting on Friday, when a gunman stormed Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown and massacred 20 first-graders and six adults.

"It's a no-brainer. My son's life is invaluable," Larson said. "If I can get him a backpack for $200 that makes him safer, I don't even have to think about that. Where is my credit card?"

At Amendment II in Salt Lake City, sales of children's backpacks and armored inserts were up 300 percent.

"The incident last week highlights the need to protect our children," co-owner Derek Williams said. "We didn't get in this business to do this. But the fact that is that our armor can help children just as it can help soldiers."

Amendment II was founded about two years ago using a new lightweight nanotechnology to make body armor products for soldiers and law enforcement less cumbersome. They began making the backpack inserts about six months ago and also sell child-sized bulletproof vests. While the backpack sales still represent a minor part of the business, they now sell two varieties online — one featuring Disney princesses and the other a scene from the movie "The Avengers."

Uno Yi of the Missourian's staff contributed to this report.





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Tracy Greever-Rice December 20, 2012 | 3:20 p.m.

'I think I'll buy my kid a super-expensive, untested, magical-thinking car seat, so I can drink more before I get behind the wheel.'

- Walter 'All Ann Coulter Really Meant Was Moron' Mitty, III

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice December 20, 2012 | 5:42 p.m.

Kahler... hhhmmm, Kahler... when I think of gun violence that's one of the first names to come to mind.

(Report Comment)

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