As some lawmakers take aim at gun control, some local citizens are stocking up on firearms and ammunition.
|Bill Ferguson inside his store, Bill's Gun Shop. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
In fact, local firearms and ammunition dealers cannot keep up with the demands.
The Sandy Hook school shootings in December sent citizens scurrying to sweep up new firearms and ammunition, according to local guns and ammo dealers.
"I'm getting four to five calls a day for people looking for a handgun," said Ray Parsons, of Parsons Sport Shop in Bowling Green. Parsons, however, doesn't sell guns anymore since, at age 80, he's trying to slow down his work demands.
Parsons does still sell ammunition to gun owners trying to stock up.
"You can't find ammunition hardly anyplace now," Parsons said.
And buyers are willing to pay exorbitant prices to arm themselves, he said. A year ago, a box of 50 rounds for a .22-caliber rifle sold for $1.75 to $2.50. Now it goes for as much as $7.50, Parsons said.
Many dealers who are able to get their hands on guns and ammo are taking advantage of the surge in sales, he said.
"They are getting a fortune for them," Parsons said. "People think the government is going to take our guns away."
Bill Ferguson, owner of Bill's Gun Shop in Waterville, said firearms and ammunition are going for "hideous prices" right now - with some guns being sold for triple their value. He attributed the "nationwide famine of firearms" to panic, greed and liberal politicians.
"There's an underlying sense of panic due to new gun owners who have never owned a gun before and think they are never going to get one," he said.
Ferguson called the Internet the "great instiller of panic," with all types of conspiracy theories popping up. But he is confident "good sense will prevail."
S&S Firearms in Fostoria has experienced the same type of rush for guns and ammo.
"Our suppliers are totally out," an employee said.
The demands really jumped about 30 days after the Sandy Hook shootings, especially for smaller guns that can be concealed when carrying, the S&S Firearms employee said. But requests have also increased for rifles and shotguns, he said. "Most firearms are hard to come by," he said. "I don't question people about their motives."
|A limited amount of ammunition is seen at Ray Parsons shop in BG.
Ferguson said most of his customers are interested in firearms for protection.
"That was the trigger this time," he said of Sandy Hook. But a similar jump in demands came when President Barack Obama was elected to his first term. "Four years ago this happened."
But Ferguson cautioned that new gun owners should get training. "Just owning a gun is not enough," he said.
Parsons said he cut the gun sales from his business once the demand for firearms became year-round. The vast majority of his sales used to be in the fall, for hunting purposes. "That has changed," he said, and it required the aging dealer to spend more time in the shop than he wanted.
All three of these gun dealers have been conducting background checks of firearms buyers for years as required by law.
"We do them on everything we sell," said the S&S Firearms employee. And he does not believe more gun laws or more background checks will reduce violence.
"Any laws they make aren't going to make a difference," he said. "The criminal is going to get his gun."
Ferguson said extending the background checks to gun shows would slow down the sales process.
"It's going to cause some grief on the part of private sales," he said. However, he added that the checks "may weed out a few bad people."
But Ferguson doesn't blame guns for problems with violence in the U.S. Instead, he pointed the finger at violent movies and games, lack of parental control, violent criminals being released back into society, and the mentally ill not getting the treatment they need.
|Ray Parsons inside his shop, Parsons Sport Shop, in Bowling Green.
"Firearms are not the real cause of the problems we have in this country," Ferguson said.
Parsons agreed that guns are being falsely blamed for violence. He point out the Boston Marathon bombings and noted, "all of those explosives, you can buy at your grocery store and hardware store."
"Look how many people got hurt," he said.
In the mass shootings, such as at Sandy Hook school, Parsons put the blame on "mental people." He went on to list the mass shootings in Colorado and Virginia Tech. "That was mental. The law protects them."
The S&S Firearms employee also blamed holes in the nation's mental health system. People with serious problems should have their names released so they are not sold guns, he said.
"We can't stop them from getting them," he said. "We've got a mental health problem in the country."
Parsons also believes enough gun laws already exist. "The laws are not being enforced," he said. When pressed for further detail on the ignored laws, Parsons added, "Well, I can't say which ones."
But he also pointed out, "Criminals don't abide by laws."
Ferguson agreed more gun laws are unnecessary.
"We have a lot of reasonable gun laws right now." However, if background checks are extended, it won't be unmanageable for gun dealers. "We'll live with it. We'll work with it," he said.