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Area Gun Stores See Spike in Sales

After talk of stricter gun laws following the shooting in Newtown, Conn., gun shops are seeing a jump in customers.

Ben Weir said the demand for assault weapons at his employer is up big time.

“We can’t order anything because the distributors are out,” said the employee of Empire Guns & Pawn on North Florida Avenue, a short drive from New Tampa. “We are not raising our prices but distributors are.”

Fueled partly by fear of safety and the potential for stricter gun laws, more customers are coming into area gun shops than ever before. Rich Smith has seen sales triple at his Busch Boulevard store, Borderline Firearms, since last week. 

"It’s been absolutely bananas," Smith said of the store located at 2501 W. Busch Blvd. "The phone has been non-stop."

The boost in sales comes after 20 children and six adults were killed at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school by a young man using a military style rifle.

Current gun laws and mental health have been topics of discussion since the incident. Dick's and Walmart have pulled assault weapons from their shelves.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama ordered a committee to begin analyzing current gun laws, including reinstating a ban that would require background checks for people purchasing firearms from private dealers and limit the number of high capacity ammunition clip guns that one person could purchase.

"They’re scared of what’s going to probably happen. They want to get their high capacity guns now before they go up or you can’t get them at all," Smith said.

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Reports of gun and pawn shops increasing prices on guns and ammunition circulated around the Tampa Bay area this week. Smith said he would likely increase the price of his guns slightly since there is a limit on restocking inventory.

A gun that is normally $775 would likely go up to about $825, Smith said.

Despite his business, Smith said he is in favor of more background checks and screening for potential gun owners. However, he said he did not feel that stricter gun laws would do much to prevent another incident like what happened in Connecticut from happening.

"If you’re going to do something heinous, you’re going to do it," Smith said.

Ted Marshall agreed. Marshall, a Vietnam veteran is also a law enforcement and fire arms instructor. He teaches firearm safety at Borderline Firearms.

"The gun owner is responsible for the security of their guns," Marshall said.

"The most important thing about owning a gun is not about duck hunting," he added. "It’s about protecting yourself from tyranny."

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