A man shows a Ruger Mini 14 rifle in .223 caliber that he purchased at a gun show in Kansas City, Missouri© REUTERS/ Dave Kaup
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WASHINGTON, January 7 (By Maria Young for RIA Novosti) - Gun sales across the United States have jumped dramatically in the aftermath of the nation’s most recent mass shooting and a fervent, renewed call for gun control measures that could make it harder to get both weapons and ammunition.
“In the United States, the response to mass shootings tends to be in some cases, buying guns – more guns, bigger guns, stronger guns,” said John Hudak, an expert in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research organization, in an interview with RIA Novosti.
It is a uniquely American response, Hudak said, rooted in a deeply-engrained, emotional attachment many people in this country have to the right of gun ownership that is spelled out in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.
“It boils down to a true belief at your core that gun ownership makes you safer,” and that is a very real belief for many Americans, Hudak added.
Nationwide, the number of background checks on people applying to buy or carry a gun nearly doubled to 2.8 million in December 2012, up from 1.5 million in August, according to figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The data shows there is typically a spike in applications for gun sales nationwide in the month of December. But last month the figure was unusually high, up from 1.8 million in December 2011 and 1.5 million in December 2010.
“The most common ammo is .22 (caliber). Not only do I not have any, I can’t get any” said Don Reimer, general manager of Shooters Edge, a gun training facility in Tennessee, the state that saw the biggest jump in gun sales nationwide, from 60,000 in November to 92,000 in December.
“The manufacturers are not able to keep up,” Reimer added in an interview with the Bristol Herald Courier. “They’re not able to get stuff out into the stores fast enough.”
The December shooting massacre that left 20 young children and six adults dead at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut was arguably the most egregious mass shooting in recent US history.
It thrust the nation into mourning and brought a normally stoic President Barack Obama to tears.
It also fueled an emotionally-charged, post-election gun control debate, something that didn’t happen on a large scale in the weeks after a mass shooting that left 12 people dead at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in July – at the height of the presidential campaign season.
“Gun control legislation, particularly at the federal level, often has grandfather clauses, which means if you already own a gun the government isn’t going to take it away from you,” Hudak said. “Whenever gun owners – people who are avid supporters of the Second Amendment – feel threatened, as they might after a mass shooting, they tend to go out and buy more guns.”
Already, several lawmakers have authored legislation to address gun violence, and US Sen. Dianne Feinstein is expected to introduce a bill this month to ban semiautomatic rifles, military-style handguns and large ammunition clips.
A task force led by Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to submit gun control recommendations to Obama this month including changes and restrictions that don’t need congressional approval, as well as plans for circumventing the National Rifle Association (NRA), according to the Washington Post.
“Gun owners are scared,” said Dudley Brown, executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a gun rights advocacy group, in an interview with The Associated Press.
“We saw this after Aurora, after Newtown and other mass shootings. The response to threats to gun ownership is to go out and buy more guns by essentially stockpiling guns,” Hudak said.
The recent spike in sales is most likely attributable primarily to people who already have one or more guns, Hudak added.
The same is not true in many other developed nations, he said, in large part because after mass shootings in Australia, Great Britain and elsewhere, the government has responded immediately.
“In other countries the difference in response is that typically government action is swift and severe, the government steps in and enacts fairly strong gun control legislation,” Hudak said. “That’s not the case in the US.”
Legislation in the US – particularly on an issue as controversial as gun control, with an active, well-funded opponent like the powerful NRA – can take years to wind its way through the system, if ever, he said.
That allows plenty of time, after such events, for avid gun supporters to head to their nearest weapons supply site and begin stockpiling both guns and ammunition.
This time around, they are reacting to a triple whammy in the form of a brutal mass shooting, a second-term president who supports gun control, and a rare, congressional willingness to tackle the thorny issue.
The result is a significant increase in weapon sales that is likely to continue until gun control legislation or other government ban is either enacted or fails to pass.
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