Sporting goods retailer feels demand for guns

Ennis sporting goods retailer Shedhorn Sports saw a significant increase in their firearm sales this holiday season, following a national trend in gun sales in the wake of the Dec. 14 school shooting tragedy in Connecticut.

Shedhorn owner Rob Gallentine said business has always been good around Christmas time, but this year the gun department was four to five times busier than usual, all stemming from the sale of semi automatic rifles and pistols. The Monday following the Connecticut shooting, where an assailant killed 20 elementary school children and six adults using an AR-15 style assault rifle, Gallentine said the store was flooded with shoppers concerned about the headline news and future legislation that could affect the availability of these types of weapons. The retailer sold out of more than 150 AR-style firearms they had in stock in a matter of four days, a scenario that Gallentine described as “insanity.”

“Customer service wasn’t as good as I would like to see it, but we were just slammed,” he said.

The rush to purchase AR-style weapons while they are available comes from the belief that gun control will be a priority issue this legislative session. This includes the potential for a ban on assault-style weapons, similar to legislation passed in 1994, as well as support for more strict gun control laws from President Barack Obama. While the selection of ARs may have disappeared from the racks at Shedhorn Sports, Gallentine is busier than ever placing special orders and estimates that changes in gun laws will play out slower than people think.

“All the manufactures – Colt, Bushmaster, DPMS, Armalite – are working overtime and they’re building as many magazines and assault rifles as they can,” said Gallentine. “So they’re probably shipping as many as they did three months ago and the wholesalers are getting as many as they did three months ago. That means that I’ll get as many as I did three months ago. It’s just that the rush sucked them off the shelf, created a demand and there is a lot of scalping going on out there.”

Last week Shedhorn received four Colt ARs that wholesale for $1,050 apiece. Gallentine said the negotiated price with the wholesaler was $1,220 per gun, but when the shipment arrived the invoice was for $1,395 each. Having quoted the customer a price of $1,450 for the weapon, Gallentine barely made a profit on the sale.

“I think there are enough people calling daily who want one, that the only way I’ll get restocked on assault rifles is if they put legislation out that really doesn’t affect much, and people relax,” said Gallentine.

“If they are pushing legislation that bans the whole box magazine type semi automatic rifle, which they could, then I never will see one hit the shelf because as long as they’re legal to sell and legal to ship in here, none will hit the shelf,” he continued. “They’ll all go to people.”

One area of gun control that Gallentine predicts will soon change is the availability of assault weapons at regional gun shows, where some vendors may not have the federal firearms license that enables them to legally engage in the manufacture and sale of guns and ammunition.

“You come in here and you go through the background check. Everything’s legal, I know that you’re stable or you were when you came in today,” he explained. “Well, you go to a gun show and you can buy it from an individual that doesn’t have a FFL, and you can walk out the door and he doesn’t even care what your name is.”

Shedhorn has also seen a spike in ammunition sales, and AR magazines are limited to a half dozen sitting in a plastic bin on the counter. The store sold out of their back stock of surplus metal AR magazines, an inferior product when compared with the preferred polymer mags that the store sold for roughly $18 each and now sell online for $100.

“Availability is nasty,” said Gallentine. “There won’t be an assault rifle hitting my shelf for a long time.”

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