By Kevin Johnson
(USA TODAY) - Although national firearms sales and data on FBI background checks are not immediately available for the days before and after the second-largest school shooting in U.S. history, there is evidence that firearms sales are moving at a brisk pace.
Some gun dealers in Oregon, Virginia and Texas said Monday that stocks of handguns and shotguns were selling quickly.
"Our sales are astronomical,'' said Karl Durkheimer, owner of Northwest Armory in Portland, Ore. "We have customers coming in who are very worried for their personal safety. There is no question that sales are related'' to Friday's shooting, which left 28 dead including the 20-year-old shooter and his mother, and last week's deadly shooting at a Portland-area shopping mall.
Durkheimer said President Obama's emotional response to the incident and his pledge to deal with the issue also has likely prompted increased traffic.
"It makes me sick to my stomach to think that some of this business is being caused at another's expense,'' he said.
Jim Jarrett, owner of Patriot Services in Richmond, Va., reported a surge in calls for guns of all kinds Monday. Some of the calls, he said, were related to the Christmas rush and others were more than likely a response to the Connecticut shooting and concerns about the future availability of assault rifles.
Since the shooting, some federal lawmakers, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have called for the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.
For the past five years, Jarrett estimated that business has increased by more than 70%, a reaction in part to what he described as "a perceived gun grab'' by the Obama administration that never materialized.
Obama did not push gun-control legislation in his first term and guns were not a major part of the recently completed election.
"There's plenty of money out there (for guns),'' Jarrett said. "You would never know we were coming off of a couple down years in the economy. February is usually our best time of year. That's when the (tax) refund checks come back.''
In Lubbock, Texas, Mike Blackwell, a salesman at Sharp Shooters, said the store was packed Monday evening. "We're busy as all get-out,'' he said, attributing the rush to Christmas sales and "some of it probably due to this recent (shooting) incident.''
Well before Friday's school massacre in Connecticut, there were signs that gun sales were rising.
On Black Friday, firearms dealers swamped the FBI with a record number of required buyer background checks for a single day. The 154,873 calls represented a 20% increase from last year's previous one-day record, according to bureau records.
Though FBI background checks do not track actual gun sales -- in part because multiple firearms can be included in one transaction by a single buyer -- the checks have been an indicator of trends in gun sales.