Matthew Bieniek; Elaine Blaisdell
CUMBERLAND — Handguns, rifles and bullets may be temporarily in short supply while stores and manufacturers catch up with the high demand because of concerns over new gun control measures by the state and federal government.
Finding guns and ammunition are “almost impossible” said Jim Wiegand, owner of The Bassin’ Box on National Highway in LaVale. Wiegand sells rifles and shotguns, but does not stock handguns or assault-type firearms. Wiegand does sell all types of ammunition and he said sales of guns, powder and bullets have been lively.
“You can’t buy .22 shells. ... People can’t get stuff anywhere; they travel from store to store,” Wiegand said.
At one local shop, they’ve had to limit sales of ammunition. It’s three boxes of ammunition per customer each day at Kerr Brothers Guns Inc. on Virginia Avenue, said Hillary Kerr.
“Sales have gone through the roof,” Kerr said. While selling one handgun a day is common, her father, Jeff, sold seven last Saturday alone.
Hillary Kerr said the shop has 35 to 40 applications for handgun sales that are awaiting a response from state police. The state police do a background check before purchases during a waiting period. A more extensive process is required for a concealed carry permit.
The Maryland State Police licensing division is swamped with regulated firearm applications. The influx started around November.
“In December of 2011, there were 4,600 applications for regulated firearms. In December 2012, there were over 11,000 applications. It’s quite an increase,” said state police spokeswoman Elena Russo. “They are working hard,” she said.
In 2011, there were 46,339 applications for regulated firearms. In 2012, the number climbed to 69,606 applications, Russo said.
The same phenomenon of strong gun sales is occurring across the Potomac in West Virginia.
Gun and ammunition sales at Eagle Eye on Mineral Street in Keyser, W.Va., and Mulligan’s Gun Shop on Potomac Street in Ridgeley have increased.
The sale of military tactical guns has increased at Eagle Eye since the November presidential election, said Robert Hartman, who, with “the bank,” owns Eagle Eye. At Mulligan’s, there has been an increase in the number of .30 caliber and .566 caliber guns as well as pistols in all calibers, according to Terry Mulligan, the owner.
“We have seen a 400 percent increase. Sales have been going strong the last four years and have really picked up in the past month,” said Mulligan.
Things have been “pretty normal” at Walmart in LaVale, said sporting goods manager Adam Liller.
Liller thinks that because the store only sells hunting rifles and shotguns, it hasn’t seen the spike in sales that some places have seen. The store does sell many types of ammunition, though, he said.
When asked what she’d like people to know about the gun market, Hillary Kerr said that in her experience there were two primary reasons people buy handguns.
“Most people buy them for fun — fun and home protection,” Hillary Kerr said. Many local clubs and shooting ranges hold a variety of contests to raise money for charities, she said.
Contact Matthew Bieniek at firstname.lastname@example.org and Elaine Blaisdell at email@example.com.