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Area gun dealers say no single reason for spike in sales

By Richard Yeakley
Dec. 7, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Toys, electronics and clothing weren't the only items flying off retailers' shelves on Black Friday.

Gun sales also shot into record territory on the day after Thanksgiving, with the number of firearm background checks by the FBI up nearly 20 percent from the same day a year ago, to an all-time record.

For the Nov. 23-25 period, this year's 283,423 background checks represent an increase of more than 30 percent from a year ago.

The reasons, East Texas gun dealers said, range from politics to economics.

Jacob Palmer, president of J&J Firearms in Longview, credited his company's big November to President Barack Obama's re-election.

"Obama's probably the number one gun salesman in America," Palmer said, adding there was a notable jump in gun sales the day after the election.

Firearm sales typically increase after a presidential election, as gun lobby groups suggest the possibility of gun control legislation.

"I am having a hard time getting guns from my wholesalers because they are sold out, too," he said. "People are paranoid because they don't know what is going to happen."

At the Gun Doctor and More store in Longview, owner Bob Godell said November business was booming, but he wasn't putting it all on politics. It's also a strong month for Christmas sales and people buying guns for hunting season, he said.

Across Texas, the FBI reported a big increase in firearm background checks so far this year.

Through November, nearly 1.2 million checks had been done, easily eclipsing the full year 2011 tally of 1.15 million applications.

December is always the busiest month of the year for gun sales, FBI data shows, with from 20 percent to 30 percent more sales than any other month. This November, though, nearly matched the December 2011 total of 154,482 background checks.

In November, 149,821 background checks were done in Texas, up from 112,058 a year ago.

Since Obama's election in 2008, some have expressed fears he would work to limit the availability of handguns and semi-automatic weapons, and a similar boost in gun sales was seen after his first election.

Godell said he had heard customers mention they were buying weapons "while they had the chance."

"We are selling ammo in bulk and sealed cases with 900 rounds in a box. We are selling them as fast as I can get them in stock," he said. "Our sales have doubled across the board since July and August ... we are also selling an awful lot of reloading equipment."

Reloading equipment allows the owner to reload cartridges and, if properly stocked with supplies, to maintain a stockpile of ammunition without dependence on a gun store.

But while Godell and Palmer said they saw an increase in sales, at least one East Texas gun shop owner said the election hasn't brought him more business.

"I am going to be honest - our sales are only up because it's the Christmas season," said Frank Baggett, owner of Pro-Tek Guns in Kilgore.

Baggett said guns are a luxury, and he has seen decreased gun sales throughout the year.

"Every year at Christmas, my sales double. Quite a bit of increase, but it's almost Christmas. As a whole, it hasn't been like it was in 2008," he said.



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