Demand for firearms and concealed weapons permits has exploded in El Paso County since Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut and ensuing calls for stricter gun regulations.
“We’re pretty well sold out,” said John Hotchkiss, owner of Red Bear Gun Brokers in Colorado Springs. “It started Friday. Absolutely everything sold over the weekend.”
Hotchkiss wasn’t the only gun dealer in the city experiencing a spike in business. Paradise Firearms was so busy Wednesday morning that a clerk didn’t have time to talk.
“We’re extremely busy, so much so that I’ve got to run,” he said, hanging up the phone.
Rich Voelker, a licensed firearms dealer who runs The Gun Outlet, said his business got a boost Saturday and peaked Monday and Tuesday.
“There’s been a surprisingly large surge in activity, big numbers compared to what we’re accustomed to,” Voelker said.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office also has been slammed — with people hoping to get a concealed handgun permit.
Sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Jeff Kramer attributes the jump directly to the shootings in Newtown, Conn., on Friday that claimed the lives of 20 children and eight adults.
“Historically, there are certain events that will result in a spike in interest,” he said.
According to Kramer, interest in firearm and handgun permits also rose following the July 20 mass shooting in an Aurora movie theater.
By the end of normal business hours Tuesday, the county’s concealed permit office had a record 106 messages that needed to be addressed, Kramer said. Staff members stayed late to try to answer callers’ questions.
“Ever since the events out of Connecticut, our phones have been going crazy in our CHP office,” he said. “We’re asking the community to be patient with us.”
Hotchkiss said Red Bear Gun Brokers uses about 15 to 20 firearms distributors and they are “all sold out.”
“Three of my distributors’ websites even went down,” Hotchkiss said.
Voelker, who deals only in guns, said he’s heard that ammunition has been a hot commodity since Friday, and since President Barack Obama announced over the weekend a need to revisit the country’s gun laws.
“We hear that people are buying large quantities because they’re concerned it won’t be available if stiffer firearms regulations are put in place,” Voelker said.
Obama held a press conference Wednesday vowing to send Congress proposals for “reducing gun violence,” an Associated Press report said.