Americans are arming themselves like never before, and Wisconsin is smack in the center of the trend, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Firearms-related businesses in the state say they are hard-pressed to meet demand, which they say is being generated by factors ranging from Wisconsin’s concealed carry law to presidential politics. “It’s incredible,” said Steve Lauer of Lauer Custom Weaponry, a manufacturer of firearms, firearm coatings, and accessories in Chippewa Falls. “We can hardly keep up.”
Precise figures on firearms sales don’t exist. Based on the number of calls made to the FBI and Wisconsin Department of Justice for background checks related to firearms purchases, more guns are being sold this year than ever. The number of calls to Wisconsin’s handgun hotline set a record in February, with nearly 16,000 calls. So far this year, the hotline has handled more than 53,000 calls. That’s on pace to far eclipse 2011, when the hotline handled just shy of 90,000 calls for the full year. Nationally, calls for firearms purchases using the FBI’s instant criminal background check system totaled nearly 1.2 million in March, says the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade group. The number is up 20 percent over a year ago and marks the 22nd straight month-over-month increase.