Americans have cut back on buying cars, furniture, and clothes, but there’s one consumer item that’s still enjoying healthy sales: guns. The Washington Post says purchases of firearms and ammunition have risen 8 to 10 percent this year, according to state and federal data. Dealers, buyers, and experts attribute the increase in part to concerns about the economy and fears that if Sen. Barack Obama wins the presidency, he will join with fellow Democrats in Congress to enact new gun controls. Obama says he believes in an individual right to bear arms but that he also supports “common-sense safety measures.” Obama is “not very pro-gun,” said Paul Pluff, a spokesman for Massachusetts-based Smith & Wesson, which has reported higher sales. Gun enthusiasts are “going to go out and get [firearms] while they still can.”
Gun purchases have also been climbing because of the worsening economy, which fuels fears of crime and civil disorder. “Generally, we know that hard economic times always result in firearm sales,” said James Purtilo, who publishes the Tripwire Newsletter. Criminologist Gary Kleck of Florida State University said that although there are no scientific studies linking gun sales and economic conditions, people often buy firearms during periods of uncertainty, because of concerns about personal safety or government actions to limit access to firearms, causing spikes in sales.