Obama re-election triggers surge in gun sales
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It came as no surprise when exit polls Nov. 6 found a majority of American voters had the economy on their minds when they voted in the presidential election.
But a different kind of exit poll was taken the next morning in the parking lot of Ace Sporting Goods in Washington, Pa., where owner George Romanoff noticed three times as many cars waiting for the doors to open at 10 a.m.
"There was a run on ammunition and semi-automatic rifles, and handguns for self-protection," he said.
Bullets used in Colt AR15's and other semi-automatic rifles have been tough to keep in stock, and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.
Gun retailers large and small anticipated an uptick in business if President Barack Obama won a second term, and -- breaking news -- he did. Election uncertainty can always fuel gun sales, but the prospect of a second Democratic term had some enthusiasts worried about -- and Republicans running against -- stricter gun control laws.
The number of background check conducted in Pennsylvania has increased every month so far this year when compared to last year's figures, and the presidential election is only one factor expected to keep the trend continuing through the end of the year. The start of deer hunting season Monday will have hundreds of thousands of hunters taking to the tree stand -- just in time to take advantage of the door-buster Black Friday sales in the gun market.
In the first 10 months of the year, the state saw more than 735,000 background examinations, or the fifth-highest amount of any state in the country.
The increase in sales has been seen both at privately owned retailers and at larger, publicly traded firms.
On an earnings conference call with investors just one week after the election, executives at Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. said the ballot box results had them expecting more foot traffic in stores.
"We expect now that the election has concluded ... that the gun and ammunition business will move to be a slightly bigger part of our business going forward," said Edward Stack, chairman and CEO of the Findlay retailer.
The Obama administration has said it has no plans to change current gun laws, though Mr. Stack said his company had anticipated the increased interest in guns and ammunition with a second Obama administration.
Dick's and other gun sellers can expect a busy month in November even without the electoral college tension that sends some to the cash register.
The start of the hunting season always falls right as holiday shopping kicks off in earnest. And Monday, some 750,000 individuals are expected to head outdoors for the start of deer hunting season -- or what the state game commission calls "Pennsylvania's only unofficial holiday."
Some retailers couldn't resist getting in on the Black Friday excitement, whether it was Anthony Arms in West Mifflin encouraging shooters to "leave the wife and kids at the mall" and come to the shooting range for free or Cabela's locations offering a Browning A-Bolt Medallion 300 WSM Rifle as one of six free gifts given to the first several hundred customers.
Despite the holiday rush for a bargain, some federal laws force hunters to plan well ahead of the hunting season kickoff.
Ammunition can only be sent via ground order, with no rush shipping, said Dan Tobin, owner of Dan's Sporting Goods in Apollo, a mail-order business catering mostly to wholesalers.
"People ask, but if you didn't order it, it can't be shipped," Mr. Tobin said.
And when it comes to guns that need to be sighted and prepped for a day of scouting deer, last-minute shopping isn't going to cut it, Mr. Romanoff said.
"The true hunter is not going to rush in and buy a rifle the day before the season," he said.
First Published November 25, 2012 12:00 am