Gun sales increase nationally and locally


Diamond resident Adam Nowak browses at Sporting Defense LLC on Saturday, Jan. 12. Larry John opened the gun shop in Brimfield, just outside of Kent, in August of 2012. Lately, John says sales have been higher than ever, especially since the gun control debate resulting from the recent school shootings in Connecticut. Photo by Jenna Watson.

Kelly Tunney

In the wake of multiple mass shootings throughout the nation in 2012, people have flocked in hordes to what they believe is one solution to protect themselves against future attacks: purchasing guns. In December, gun sales in the United States soared — the FBI performed a record amount of 2.78 million background checks* on potential gun buyers, a national high.

This number rose 39 percent from the previous record in November of 2.01 million checks.

This inflation of gun buying is no different in Kent. Local gun shops have seen an extreme increase in sales of both guns and ammunition in the past several months.

Larry John, owner of Sporting Defense LLC, which opened on state Route 43 in August, has witnessed customers’ recent rush to buy firearms. He said in November, the store’s sales rose 200 percent. In December, when people began buying guns for Christmas as gifts, the trend stayed.

According to the Ohio Revised Code a “deadly weapon” is defined as an instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.

A complete definition of weapon control can be found under the Ohio Revised Code section 2923.11.

—Celia Fernandez, safety reporter for the Daily Kent Stater

“When the shootings took place in Connecticut, gun control talk started immediately,” John said. “People were worried that they wouldn’t be able to buy guns.”

John thinks the flock of customers is mostly due to the threat of not being able to purchase guns in the future.

“It seems to be mostly panic buying, some hoarding,” he said. “Some have never owned a gun or are worried about defense.”

Top Shot Firearms LLC in Ravenna has also seen a spike in sales in November and December.

“Sales in December were up about 80 percent, and 50 percent in November,” said Brittany Kecek, daughter of owner Mark Rollin and employee at the store.

“They are scared that Obama is going to take away guns, or they like to shoot or they never owned a gun before and want to get into it,” she said.

Kecek also attributed sales in November and early December to customers who were concerned about the world ending on Dec. 21.

John also said some gun owners have been buying more guns in order to resell them at a later time at gun shows or provide them for students in conceal carry classes.

On Wednesday, some gun owners’ fears came true when President Obama proposed a plan to reduce gun violence in the United States. The four main purposes of the plan are to enforce stricter background checks on those who purchase guns, to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to make schools safer and to increase access to mental health services.

Ted Moisio, 38, of Kent, owns more than 20 guns. He said he added another to his collection Wednesday.

“I just bought an AR-15 pistol. Why? Because I can,” he said. “I’ve been stocking up because they are becoming hard to find.”

Moisio noticed the prices of both guns and ammunition have skyrocketed in the past several months. He said before the election in November, he could get 1,000 rounds of ammunition for $250, but now can get only 500 at a price of $500.”

In order to purchase a firearm, customers must complete an 1140-002 form on site. The form asks for basic information such as name, address and social security number, but also includes criminal history. Once the potential purchaser fills out the form, John calls into the FBI to perform a background check, which typically takes about five minutes. Once approved, the transaction is complete, and the customer is allowed to purchase the firearm.

“If you’ve been a good person, you can usually buy a firearm,” John said.

John’s son, Michael, 30, of Rootstown, bought his first firearm — a Springfield XD 9mm, a handgun typically used for self defense — at the beginning of January.

“I’m OK if the AK and AR are banned. There’s no reason for them. You can’t hunt, can’t do anything with them,” he said. “It’s not OK if they take away handguns or shotguns.”

The most popular guns John has sold have been the assault-style AR, AK and SK types. John described these guns as having the appearance of military weapons, but that they do not hold the same power or ammunition.

“The similarity ends at the appearance,” he said.

The administrative policy on campus regarding deadly weapons applies to all faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors that are on any university property that fall under state-owned, leased, grounds, parking lots and vehicles.

According to the Kent State University code of student conduct, it is prohibited to have an unauthorized possession, storage or use of firearms, explosives, other weapons or dangerous chemicals.

Violating the policy will result in immediate corrective processes and can include criminal prosecution.

—Celia Fernandez, safety reporter for the Daily Kent Stater

These assault-style weapons are the guns Obama has proposed to ban.

Despite the guns being his most popular, John predicted that the proposed ban probably wouldn’t have much of an effect on the sales in his store.

“If they’re not buying that, they’ll buy something else,” he said. “Lots of other guns do the exact same thing that don’t have the assault-type label attached.”

In addition to gun sales skyrocketing, John has also noticed customers buying larger quantities of ammunition.

“What I’m seeing right now is that there is getting to be a scarcity of availability for almost all weapons,” John said. “It’s all that consumer-driven shortage. They’re creating this shortage, then they’re getting frantic about it in both guns and ammunition.”

Considering the recent spike in sales paired with a looming ban on assault-style weapons, John said the rush to purchase guns will not likely slow down any time soon.

“I suspect if the folks stay in a panicked mode, it will stay kind of that way for a little bit until they calm down,” he said. “It’s not like the manufacturers or suppliers have stopped making or shipping that stuff, it’s just way more people are asking for it than they can supply at one time.”

*The FBI does not keep track of individual gun sales. For each purchase, however, they perform a background check on the customer. Therefore, this number does not reflect total gun sales, only background checks.

Contact Kelly Tunney at [email protected].