Obama's record on firearms triggers run on sales in state


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PILMAN
November 6, 2008, 05:23 PM
http://www.denverpost.com/commented/ci_10910395?source=commented-news

Obama's record on firearms triggers run on sales in state
By Jason Blevins and Nancy Lofholm
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 11/06/2008 09:30:07 AM MST

Chris Walker, left, an employee at Jerry's Outdoor Sports in Grand Junction, shows an AR-15 assault rifle to Chuck Porter of Fruita. Porter and other gun enthusiasts have concerns about President-elect Barack Obama's record on firearms. (Photos by Barton Glasser, Special to The Denver Post )

GRAND JUNCTION John Faulkner and his wife, Brenda, thought Wednesday was a good day to buy a handgun.

"I'm 37 years old, and this is the first time in my life that I am really scared for our future," said Faulkner, an oil field worker, as he perused the collection of weaponry in A Pawn Shop here.

At Aurora's Firing Line gun shop, Steve Wickham was also purchasing. "Anything I can get my hands on," he said as he cradled a $699 9mm handgun.

Same thing in Lakewood: "I was selling guns before I even opened the door," said George Horne, owner of The Gun Room. "It's gone completely mad. Everyone is buying everything I've got on the shelves. Sales have been crazy."

By midday Wednesday, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's
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"Insta- Check" background check required for the sale of a firearm and typically about 8 minutes long was jammed with waits lasting more than two hours.

Gun-shop owners and buyers said the urgency was fueled by Barack Obama's presidential win and Democrats' increasing their majority in Congress.

"I'm here because of Obama," Wickham said. "I think he's misinterpreted the Second Amendment. It's not about the right to hunt. It's about the right to defend yourself."

The Grand Junction pawnshop is decorated with bumper stickers: "Obama 08" with hammers and sickles on each end, "Obama for President of Afghanistan" and "Don't Be a Victim. Buy a Gun."

Potential threats outlined

Buyers, who were mostly going for assault rifles and handguns, were sighting them on the bumper stickers.

Behind the cash register, a list issued by the National Rifle Association outlines the potential threats a President Obama would have on Second Amendment gun rights: prohibitive excise taxes on guns and ammunition, bans on sales and transfers of all semiautomatic weapons, bans on right-to-carry permits and more.

One customer left with two new assault rifles and said he had already bought 30 weapons since
A variety of assault rifles and other guns sit on display at Jerry's Outdoor Sports in Grand Junction, Colo., Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008. (The Denver Post | Barton Glasser)
Obama began his campaign for president.

"And look at this," he said, unwrapping a black rifle from a plastic cover. "I'm not talking BB guns."

Across Colorado, gun shops reported brisk business Wednesday as hunters and gun enthusiasts began to stockpile in anticipation of a Democratic president and Congress whittling away Second Amendment gun rights. The FBI is reporting that gun sales have increased 10 percent over purchases at this point last year.

Jerry Stehman told an endless wave of customers at his Jerry's Outdoor Sports store in Grand Junction to come back in two hours to pick up their firearm purchases. For the past 10 days, Stehman said, customers have been gathering cases of ammunition and multiple guns.

"We don't
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know where this character is coming from or what he's gonna do to us," Stehman said of Obama. "But I can tell you it's been good for business."

The crush of business shows no signs of subsiding.

"It will be extremely busy until Obama decides to do anything," said Richard Taylor, manager of Firing Line, which bills itself as Colorado's largest gun shop and has seen its stock of assault rifles dwindle from several dozen to a mere few in recent weeks. "And that's the real problem, the uncertainty of what he is going to do."

Obama, who reportedly has never fired a gun, has followed Democratic Party lines in his Senate and Illinois statehouse votes regarding gun control. He supported the controversial handgun ban in Washington, D.C.,
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which the Supreme Court shot down earlier this year.

He has voted in favor of several gun-control measures and increasing taxes on ammunition and firearms.

"A deep-rooted hatred"

The 4 million-member NRA dedicated $15 million of its $40 million campaign this year to painting Obama as a threat to the Second Amendment. In a mass fundraising letter sent to members this summer, NRA president Wayne LaPierre wrote, "Never in NRA's history have we faced a presidential candidate and hundreds of candidates running for other offices with such a deep-rooted hatred of firearm freedoms."

Obama's campaign, in a statement labeled "Supporting the rights and traditions of sportsmen," said he "will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns."

Gun owners worry that a Democratic administration and Congress would support a return to President Clinton's gun ban, which lasted 10 years before sunsetting in 2004. That ban prohibited magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds and certain semiautomatic assault rifles with cosmetic features such as lugs for attaching a bayonet.

"Not only are they likely to revisit the Clinton ban, they will possibly make it more restrictive by banning more types of firearms altogether," said Tony Fabian, a Castle Rock attorney and president of the Colorado State Shooting Association, which is the state's division of the NRA.

Several gun-shop owners contacted by The Denver Post on Wednesday said sales had been exceptionally brisk in the past two months.

"The avid gun owners are picking up items that were part of earlier bans or things the Democrats typically talk about when they talk about gun control. Anything semiautomatic. Magazines for more than 30 (rounds). Assault-type guns," said Tim Brough, owner of Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply in Fort Collins. "I think it's a legitimate concern. Democrats typically want to pass more gun legislation, and now you've got a House, Senate and Democratic president, so it seems likely we will see more gun regulation."

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374 or jblevins@denverpost.com

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