Guns, parts and ammunition are selling fast in the Seattle area, with local gun shops seeing a crush of customers ever since President Obama mentioned an assault weapons ban last month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut.
"They think there's going to be changes, and they want stuff before they can't get it," said Ralph Tuttle, owner of Tuttle's Gun Store in Enumclaw. "I don't think anybody knows what's going to happen."
Business volume at Tuttle's has been noticeably higher since the Newtown shooting and through the holidays, he said. Store personnel couldn't complete background checks because of the high volume from around the country; some days, they waited until after most stores closed on the east coast - at about 3:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time - to complete the paperwork necessary for gun purchases.
"This week, it's been busy too," he said Thursday.
On Wednesday, the president announced he would ask Congress to pass legislation requiring universal background checks for anyone attempting to buy a gun, restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and limit magazines to seven bullets. He also said he would sign 23 executive orders to enhance background checks, give mental health professionals more options for reporting threats of violence, and providing additional funds to schools to hire resource officers.
Indeed, national supplier Brownells, which bills itself as the world’s largest supplier of firearms accessories, parts and gunsmithing tools, has this disclaimer at the top of its website: “Please note: Due to extreme order volumes, shipments may be delayed.”
In Enumclaw, Tuttle said some recent customers have told them they were thinking about purchasing a weapon anyway before the December shooting, but the political rhetoric since then has prompted others to react, just as they did four years ago. Shortly after Obama was first elected president, concerns grew about proposals to monitor ammunition through a coding system. The 'Ammunition Accountability Act' didn't go far, but Tuttle recalled a similar uptick in business.
"The politicians are trying to make themselves look good," he said, but regardless of timing, "there are a lot of people that think that the way our system is, you've got to protect yourself. And they want something to keep someone from coming in their door."