JACKI LYDEN, host:
When Barack Obama's people dreamed up his signature slogan, "Change we can believe in," they probably never imagined what that change might mean for gun sales. So far, it's been a windfall for stores that sell pistols and rifles and assault weapons, and the sellers say their customers are worried that a Democratic president and Congress will toughen gun laws. NPR's Allison Keyes took a visit to the Blue Ridge Arsenal in Northern Virginia. Here's her report.
(Soundbite of gunshots)
ALLISON KEYES: The pistol range here is busy today. So is the sales staff. And owner Earl Curtis is smiling.
Mr. EARL CURTIS (Proprietor, Blue Ridge Arsenal): It's been great, especially within the last three weeks.
KEYES: Curtis says sales have doubled, and it's not about hunting season. He says it's because of the election.
Mr. CURTIS: People are afraid their rights will be taken away. And all of a sudden, they want to get large guns with high-cap magazines, assault weapons. So people think that we're going to go back to the Clinton ages.
KEYES: Curtis says that could mean no guns with high-capacity magazines able to shoot 30 or more rounds and no firearms with collapsible stocks so the gun can be adjusted. So people are thinking...
Mr. CURTIS: Better buy now before - you know, I want to be grandfathered in before it happens.
KEYES: Blue Ridge Arsenal has been so busy that it sold out of Glocks. And yesterday alone, the store sold seven of the ten M&P15 semiautomatic rifles that were in stock.
Mr. STEVE EISERMAN: We saw the same thing when Bill Clinton, I think, was elected, that there was a huge rush then.
KEYES: Steve Eiserman target shoots here, usually with .22 or .45 caliber pistols. He says when Clinton was president, there was a change in what gun owners could buy, but not a huge impact. He says there's more fear this time with President-elect Obama, but he doesn't think it's warranted.
Mr. EISERMAN: I think the country has got a lot more bigger problems than whether or not we can buy this gun or that gun that need to be handled first.
KEYES: But that isn't stopping an apparent nationwide run. Curtis at Blue Ridge says other gun shops he knows are reporting huge sales. The same is true at Bud's Gun Shop & Range in Paris, Kentucky. The store's Web site carries a note to customers asking for patience due to an overwhelming increase in inquiries. The FBI says there was a 15 percent increase in background checks for gun purchases in October, compared to the same month last year. Back at Blue Ridge Arsenal, Fairfax, Virginia, schoolteacher Anne Marie(ph) comes for target shooting. She's getting ready to purchase her first .22 caliber revolver.
ANNE MARIE (Teacher): I'm a big Obama supporter, and we have a lot of really pro-gun Democrats in the Senate now. So I'm not really concerned about any kind of restrictions.
Mr. DAVE CHAGNON: I don't know that they're going to be banning the things that most people use.
KEYES: Dave Chagnon came to buy a Glock, but the store sold out. Instead, he's getting a .40-caliber Sig 226 for home protection.
Mr. CHAGNON: They're not going to be banning anything I would be looking to purchase, so I really don't have a concern.
KEYES: During the election campaign, Senator Barack Obama told voters he won't take their shotguns, rifles, and handguns away. He said that he respects people's Second Amendment right to bear arms, but he prefers commonsense gun laws. Vice President-elect Joe Biden has supported banning assault weapons. Yesterday in his radio address, President-elect Obama said his first priority in office would be dealing with the nation's economic crisis. Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.
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