OGDEN — Parking spilled into neighboring lots at Impact Guns during lunchtime Wednesday. Inside, the store was full of customers looking for items on their Christmas list, including those trying to get their hands on an AK-47 or an AR-15.
With renewed talk of an assault rifle ban pushing through Congress — following the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school Friday that left 20 children dead — gun buyers are stocking up on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, which are magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama promised to send Congress broad proposals next month for tightening gun laws and curbing violence after last week’s schoolhouse massacre in Connecticut.
Even before those proposals are drafted, Obama pressed lawmakers to reinstate a ban on military-style assault weapons, close loopholes that allow gun buyers to skirt background checks and restrict high-capacity ammunition clips.
“Monday, that wall was covered in ARs,” Bell said, pointing at a display in the store. “Now we’re sold out of them.”
Craig Bell, Impact Guns’ director of operations, said the store, at 2710 S. 1900 West, had stocked up with AR-15s, as it normally does following a presidential election, for the Christmas season or following a tragedy. However, since the talk about an assault weapons ban started, the demand has been more than expected.
If it had just been the election and Christmas, Bell said, the store would have been able to handle the volume.
The staff this week has seen their sales figures more than double.
A base-model AR-15 starts at $600 and can run into thousands of dollars, depending on quality and accessories.
Under the 1994 ban, the assault rifle was classified as having a detachable magazine and at least two of several features, including a collapsible stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a grenade-launcher mount or a flash suppressor.
Advantage Trading Post manager Kelly Randall said customers are taking whatever they can buy.
“We just can’t keep an AR on the shelf now,” he said.
Assault rifles are not the store’s forte, Randall said. It deals mainly with hunting and target shooting.
Throughout the year, the store usually keeps one assault rifle in stock, and Randall said that one can sit on a shelf for four to five months at a time.
However, Randall said his store had about five in stock after the election, when they knew they would see a spike in sales. Those are now all gone, and the two he has on back order have already been sold.
A few gun stores have stopped selling assault rifles altogether, and KSL announced it is temporarily suspending firearms listings in its classified section.
Dick’s Sporting Goods suspended sales of what it calls “modern sporting rifles.”
Those vendors that continue to sell assault rifles are finding the supply drying up as well, and Advantage Trading Post is even having a hard time finding high-capacity magazines.
Bell said he has not seen a run on ammunition yet but predicts it will happen in about a month.
At Impact Guns, the last AR-15 in stock went to Ogden resident Chris Campbell.
Campbell stopped by at lunch to get a new lower receiver to fix a different AR-15 that he owns, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy the last AR-15 available.
“It was to finish my buildup, and it’s probably an investment at this point,” he said. “It’s only been a couple of hours since the announcement, and people are going crazy.”
He has a few AR-15s already but may sell the latest addition to his collection at a later date.
“One good thing about guns is, they don’t lose their value too often,” Campbell said.
He said he uses the rifles for general target shooting, but also to hunt large predators and rabbits.
The rifles are light, have a high capacity of bullets, are reliable, and the bullets are relatively cheap.
The AR-15 also allows for personalization.
With a variety of scopes, sights, stocks and grips, gun owners can make each weapon different from any other.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this story.