Prices up, supplies down for firearms at W.Pa. retailers
By Adam Smeltz
Published: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Some rapid-fire rifles that could face renewed federal restrictions have roughly doubled in price in the past few weeks, and Western Pennsylvania retailers said they're hard-pressed to meet the swelling demand.
“Yes, business is good. But at the same time, you can't get any product,” said Nathan Carey, owner of Bullseye Firearms Gun Vault in New Alexandria, Westmoreland County. “Once you run out, you're waiting weeks to be able to get any product. It's never good for this to go on.”
The trend has driven up prices, particularly for military-style rifles, which are now selling for between $1,500 and $2,500 — up from a low of $900 a few weeks ago, said Sportsman's Supply Co. President Grant Williams. His Butler company expected to run out of some AR-15 semi-automatic models on Wednesday, just as President Obama introduced a 23-point plan he said should prevent gun violence.
“I hate to tell you, but it's the truth that we are raising prices because we can't get very much of the product,” Williams said.
Sales of AR-15 models, which could be phased out under federal proposals, began outrunning supplies in late December, forcing stocks to dramatic lows, he said. Prices on guns most likely to get new regulation have gone up 50 percent or more, he said.
Prices showed no signs of reversing as Obama outlined ideas that include universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines in civilian hands.
Carey said buyers are eager for any firearms that hold more than 10 rounds — a threshold that would become a capacity limit under the Obama plan.
Gun retailers said demand had been rising when Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children, on Dec. 14 in a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. He also shot and killed his mother at her house.
The shootings stoked new fears and uncertainty surrounding gun control, pushing buyer interest into overdrive, they said.
Braverman Arms in Wilkinsburg has raised prices by $15 to $20 on some models “because of the difference I'm paying” to suppliers, said manager Keith Savage.
“We are making a little extra money, which I say openly,” Savage said. “What I am not doing is doubling my money, which, unfortunately, is some of what you see going on out there.”
Prices for AR-15 semi-automatic rifles have climbed 50 to 200 percent in the past month, varying by model and geographic region, said Andrew Molchan, director of the National Association of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers in Florida. He called the supplies at gun stores “extremely limited.”
“This is a standard pattern that goes back half a century,” Molchan said. “When the government starts talking about banning this or banning that and it's in the news, sales go up.”
The duration of the shortage — and the higher prices — will depend on how long lawmakers chew over the issue, he said. It could be another three to five months before the tension eases, Molchan said.
Retired police Officer Rick Hamilton, 65, said he's heard a lot of fear in the Washington County gun store where he works.
“People fear they're not going to be able to buy things they've been putting off, saving money for,” said Hamilton of Morris. “Now they're deciding to buy whether they can afford it or not.”
Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Peduto takes down Pittsburgh’s Redd Up crew
- Upper St. Clair woman’s death at Drexel probed as possible meningitis
- At next turn, pothole repair
- Job cuts at AGH part of ‘strategic’ process
- Washington County judge: Evidence against him illegally obtained
- Newsmaker: Christine Jordanoff
- Photo gallery: Swing for a Cure
- Allegheny County Democrats endorse several incumbents in primary
- Redistricting spurs faceoff for Democratic state Reps. Molchany, Readshaw
- Fox Chapel Area superintendent seeks rapport with students
- Assessment appeals draw Mt. Lebanon residents’ ire