Dear Santa, this year for Christmas I want a gun.
That's what millions of consumers are saying following last Friday’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut: semi-automatic rifles are sold out at many Walmart locations, while handgun magazines are skyrocketing in price on the online auction site Ebay.
Unlike a Red Ryder BB gun, these firearms will do more than shoot your eye out.
Both Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods pulled at least some guns from their shelves earlier this week. Walmart pulled the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle – one of which was used in the shootings – while Dick's suspended sales of several types of semi-automatic rifle. Now it appears that Walmart has made the decision to keep selling those guns, according to Bloomberg.
Reporter Matt Townsend found that "searches of five kinds of semi-automatic rifles on Wal-Mart's website showed them to be out of stock at stores in five states, including Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Arkansas." Firearms were taken off Walmart shelves in 2004, but re-added in 2011. Gun revenue at the chain increased 76% during the first half of the fiscal year. Justin Anderson, director of online sales for the Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, North Carolina, confirmed that Wednesday they had the biggest single-day rush in the company's 53-year history, with over $1 million in sales. The aforementioned AR-15 was one of the most popular models.
Ammunition prices have more than doubled on Ebay. The price for 4 Glock handgun magazines rose from $45 on the day before the shooting to nearly $120. Similarly, the price for seven magazines has risen from $71 to approximately $200.
It's not just Walmart that is raking in the cash from increased firearms purchases: as Salon noted Wednesday, Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Colorado, California and Louisiana are all experiencing a surge. Owner of the Jefferson Gun Outlet Mike Mayer said that his New Orleans location has seen a 117% rise in sales, noting that his main distributor, who sells "over 1 million guns a year" is "completely out of anything that could be considered an assault weapon."
The increased sales are likely the confluence of two factors: the aftershock of the shootings and the subsequent rush for Americans to arm themselves, and yesterday's press conference with President Obama, in which he demanded "real reforms, right now" on American gun policy. A California gun store manager said that people are buying more handguns but "they are buying rifles because they think they might not be able to get them much longer."
In Connecticut, the Hartford Courant reported that the parking lot at Hoffman's GunCenter in Newington was completely full and overflow parking was spilling onto the grass. Newington is less than an hours' drive from Newtown.