Charlotte-area gun shops report a spike in sales amid fears over personal protection and possible new firearm restrictions following Fridays Colorado theater shooting.
Bob Dickie, owner of High Caliber Firearms in Gastonia, said he has seen at least a 30 percent increase in sales since the shooting and the heated gun control debate that has followed.
The general thing Im hearing is vulnerability, Dickie said. So wherever you would have a high traffic public forum shopping mall, a theater people are pretty apprehensive.
He said many of his customers were looking to buy handguns, some for the first time.
Id say the greater majority are first-time buyers people who may have considered it in the past, but this event in Colorado made them go and at least consider it, he said. I fielded a lot of questions concerning what handgun should I buy, what caliber should I buy.
Larry Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, said he has heard different concerns.
When the public hears a lot of talk of gun control, we see a pretty big spike in business, he said, adding that some are worried that high-capacity firearms could be outlawed.
Some Democratic lawmakers in Congress cited the shooting as evidence of the need for tougher gun control laws particularly a ban on high-capacity magazines that carry more ammunition. Others have argued that the shooting, which left 12 dead and dozens injured, could have been less severe if others in the theater were armed.
Early Friday, suspected Colorado shooter James Holmes burst into a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, tossed gas canisters into the crowd and opened fire.
Authorities have said that Holmes stockpiled weapons and explosives in recent months. He purchased thousands of rounds of ammunition and a shotgun, a semi-automatic rifle and two Glock pistols, authorities said. Holmes is now in solitary confinement in a Colorado jail.
Several other states also report surges in people looking to purchase guns.
Colorado approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm 25 percent more than the average Friday to Sunday period in 2012, the Associated Press reported.
Elsewhere, Seattles home county, King, saw nearly twice as many requests for concealed pistol licenses than the same period a year ago. Connecticut processed 38 percent more gun-related records over the past several days compared with the same period two months prior. Florida recorded 2,386 background checks on Friday, up 14 percent from the week before.
Charlotte gun dealer Hyatt said July is usually slow for firearms sales, making this national spike even more unusual for gun sellers.
This past Saturday we had to bring in every part-timer, he said. We had to have 25 people on the counter.
In addition to an increase in gun and ammunition sales, Hyatt said he also saw a lot of people signing up for the stores concealed carry class. Registration for the 40-person class filled up by Monday, he said.
In order to purchase a handgun in North Carolina, a person must either have a concealed carry permit or a purchase permit from the sheriffs department. To purchase a long gun, a person must pass a background check. The Associated Press contributed.