Gun-control proposal helps Utah firearms, ammo sales
Derek Seedenburg had no choice when he posted small tabs of paper above the sparsely filled shelves that limited ammunition purchases to two boxes per customer.
He pointed to a wall where four grates used to be lined with dozens of semi-automatic weapons. Those guns including the popular AR-15 sold out a month ago. He hung a few posters advertising gun and ammunition companies to keep the place from looking barren.
"It would be depressing, man," Seedenburg said Wednesday. "I had to do something."
The manager of Impact Guns in Salt Lake City said that President Barack Obama's push for Congress to renew the assault-weapons ban, limit high-capacity magazines and institute broader background checks on firearm purchases was driving customers to panic and prompting a run on arms and ammo.
When the president spoke Wednesday morning, Seedenburg said the news conference was displayed on a TV in the store so customers could watch it.
"Most people wanted us to just turn it off," Seedenburg said.
Obama's announcement had widespread effects on several gun outlets throughout Utah a state that prides itself on limited restrictions for gun purchases and a concealed-weapons permit recognized in more than 30 states.
At Cabela's in Lehi, the store sold out of .22 ammunition before noon.
The manager at Discount Guns and Ammo in Salt Lake City said he was so busy that he couldn't spare a few moments to talk as customers filled the store.
The price of ammo was also affected. Boxes of .22 bullets that normally sold for $11 were going for between $40 and $70 online.
Seedenburg said he had been on the phone several times in the morning with ammunition sellers trying to put product on his shelves. He found he was turning away a lot of customers.
"I hate to do it," he said. "But everything is on back order. I'm scrambling to get what I can when I can."
Joseph Lewis, a concealed-weapons permit instructor for the past four years in Utah, was looking for an ammunition clip in the store and asked Seedenburg if he had any in stock.
Lewis managed to walk out the door with two boxes of 380 straight shot bullets leaving only 12 boxes left on the shelf.
He said he worried about the erosion of gun rights as the push for reforms began not long after the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
"It's a sad situation," he said.
Standing in the aisle and wiping his eyes at the memory of the shooting, Lewis said most people use guns for sport shooting and hunting. He said Obama's proposals were unfairly punishing lawful gun owners for the actions of mass murderers.
Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, said he would work in the Utah Legislature to fight any of the proposed federal restrictions. He said that while gun shops might be benefiting now from Obama's actions and the panic that has ensued ("Obama is the number one gun salesman in America") he added that it could have detrimental impacts on gun-store owners and instructors down the road as they're prohibited from selling certain styles of guns and types of ammunition.
"We're under major attack," he said. "What Obama is doing won't solve anything."