Part of the gun-buying surge in the U.S. is fueled by people buying weapons the way others invest in a hot stock, reports the Wall Street Journal. All the buying is pumping up prices. Many popular models of guns are back-ordered for a year or more. Some manufacturers are operating plants 24 hours a day. The 2009 edition of the Blue Book of Gun Values, the average price of European-made AK-47s — the Soviet-era military weapon now made in several countries — doubled from $350 last September to more than $700 by the end of 2008.
Nearly four million background checks — a key measure of sales because they are required at purchase from a federally licensed seller — were performed in the first three months of 2009. That is a 27 percent increase over last year. Some buyers say they are stocking up in anticipation of new gun-control laws; others say they’re worried about deteriorating public safety as the economy worsens.