As President Obama and top Democrats push again for widespread gun control in the wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, statistics suggest that the push will only serve to increase the number of guns being bought – with gun store owners telling FoxNews.com that business is booming.
“We are so busy right now that I don’t know if I’m coming or going,” Derrick Meyers of River City Firearms in Louisville, Ky. told FoxNews.com.
“Yes, there has most definitely been an increase in gun sales,” said David Wiley of Wiley’s Gun Shop in Wills Point, Texas. “I expect it to continue from now until the next presidential election.”
The surge in demand for guns comes not only due to the fear that arises after a mass shooting, owners say, but amid a fresh push for gun control from mainly Democratic politicians at local and national levels.
On Thursday, in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, Obama called again on legislatures to pass legislation to make it harder for violent individuals to get a hold of weapons. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that there is a way to pass gun control that doesn’t infringe on the rights of law-abiding Americans. But Second Amendment advocates and Republican politicians aren't convinced. Apparently, neither are a number of Americans, who appear to be buying up guns at record levels.
While there is no official data on gun sales, numbers on the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) can be used as an indicator of an increase or decrease in sales – although a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a background check and a sale.
The anecdotal evidence from store owners is backed up by the figures, which suggest recent mass shootings are followed by a strong push for gun control measures, the demand for guns spikes dramatically.
There have been 19.82 million checks so far through November this year, and it is on pace to break the record. Black Friday saw the most background checks -- 185,345 -- in a single day. While Black Friday frequently sees a high number of checks, this year’s Black Friday was unique in that it came in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris, and less than two months after the Oct. 1 shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, after which President Obama angrily called again for stricter restrictions on gun access.
“We do see increases after these kinds of events that cause people to be concerned about their own safety or because they fear legislation may pass either on a state or federal level that may limit their future access to firearms or ammunition,” Mike Bazinet, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told FoxNews.com.
The most significant increase in background checks came after the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults were killed. In the emotional aftermath of the shooting, the push for gun control measures was at its most aggressive and passionate.
"If the media really starts pushing gun control again, it’ll just be unreal what’s going to happen."
- Derrick Meyers, owner of River City Firearms
Four of the top 10 days for background checks were in the days post-Newtown, while the highest week for background checks on record was between December 17 and 23 2012, where 953,613 checks were conducted – the first recorded week following the massacre. That December finished with 2.78 million background checks – the most for any month on record.
Meyers told FoxNews.com that during that time his normally significant stock almost ran out in his store.
“If the media really starts pushing gun control again, it’ll just be unreal what’s going to happen,” Meyers said.
The trend has been similar around other mass shootings that occured while President Obama was in office. After 13 people were killed in the Nov. 5, 2009 Fort Hood massacre, background checks rose 14.1 percent the next month.
After the July 12, 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, checks increased 17.3 percent to 1.53 million in August, which was at the time by far the highest August on record.
Yet this was not always the case. After the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting in Blacksburg Va,, in which gunman Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people, background checks decreased 13.8% from the previous month, and would drop three consecutive months after the shooting.
After the Columbine shooting in 1999, background checks also decreased from the previous month, with the shooting apparently having no effect on background checks.
Gun store owners say the key to why recent shootings have boosted gun buying is due to the accompanying push for gun control.
“It depends on how much they’re all screaming about gun control,” Wiley said, adding that when politicians push Second Amendment restrictions, business can double or even triple.
However, Meyers said that he believes that right now, fear is the driving factor.
"Right this second, it’s the shootings themselves and people
are scared," he said, but added that a push for gun control is also a key factor.
"Everytime the media puts out gun control, gun control, gun control, all that does is drive people into these stores."
As calls for gun control increase, however, the environment may sour for the gun industry.
Democrats are increasingly vocal in their calls for stricter gun control, with President Obama staying focused on the issue and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley united on the need for more gun control measures.
Polls show that the increased anti-gun rhetoric is having at least a slight effect on public attitudes toward guns. An October Gallup poll found that 55 percent of Americans want stricter gun laws, up from 44 percent in October 2009 – the year President Obama took office. However, a September Quinnipiac poll found that only 45 percent of voters support stricter gun laws.
Other polls consistently show widespread support, as high as 93 percent, for a federal law requiring universal background checks on all potential gun owners.
While the industry may be seeing a short-term spike in sales, owners and industry advocates fear that in the long-term this could have costs for business.
Mike Flick, owner of Crosshairs USA in Torrance, Calif. told FoxNews.com that already the level of regulations can make selling guns take a lot longer, and more expensive.
“The amount of documentation we must maintain on file and have available at any time for state and federal regulators to inspect us, it’s laborious and tedious and you have to maintain it. That’s overhead and that’s cost. So when you add additional layers to that – I’m not saying all of it is a bad idea, some of it Is a good idea – but now in California it seems more punitive than about public safety,” Flick said.
Other gun store owners in less regulated states shared Flick's concern.
“Do I worry about it? Yes I do as [the government] could make it a lot harder to do business and I could go from selling 30-40 guns a day to one or two guns a day,” Meyers said. “But we knew that when we got into this business – it is dictated by the government.”