In the week after the horrific massacre of a dozen people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, background checks for gun sales in Florida surged 14 percent from the prior week. All said, the Sunshine State recorded more than 2,300 background checks in the seven-day stretch that followed.
Chris Mucha, a manager at Tropical Firearms in Davie, says there was an immediate uptick in business. "From the day after it happened... I'd say we've seen 50 percent more sales than we normally have," Mucha says. "Whenever you have something happen like what happened in Colorado, people get scared into buying guns."
But, according to Mucha and other nearby other gun shops, it's not just the Aurora shooting that's pushing people to stock up on firearms.
"There's a lot of stuff going on. It's an election year, the U.N. is working on a small arms treaty, Colorado; all that stuff comes together," Mucha says. "We have people of every shape, size, and color coming in. Some people are scared of what happened in Colorado. Some people are scared that their guns are going to be taken away from them."
Elvis Carrera, who owns a gun shop in Broward, says that although there wasn't a discernible rise in customers over the past week, there was a handful of people who came into his shop and specifically mentioned the Aurora shooting as the reason they were in the market for a gun.
Nicole Duskin of Fort Lauderdale-based Gun Tech said sales have been steady but noted that the store caters mostly to law enforcement officials. Overall, though, Duskin said the upcoming election has been good for business, as is the case every time there's a major election.
Summer months are generally slow for gun sales, according to the FBI, which makes the recent boon a bit more surprising.
Florida is currently on pace to become the first state in the union with 1 million concealed-weapon licensees on the books. But not all firearm retailers are pleased with the state's lax stance when it comes to weapon sales.
"We're a rebel state because the freedom to buy a gun anywhere at anytime exists," says Ted Galanski of Ted Galanski Firearms in West Palm Beach.
Galanski raised numerous concerns with websites such as Florida Gun Trader, which allows anyone to buy and sell guns without conducting background checks or even exchanging names. He's concerned that the website compels people to stockpile weapons, thinking that if gun laws change, they'll still have a few firearms stashed in the house that the government doesn't know about.
"There needs to be some type of test given to first-time firearm owners," he says. Galanski notes that while Form 4473, the firearm transaction form, contains a plethora of questions about the buyer's mental state, he's not a psychologist. "All I have is the 4473 that says 'John Doe purchased a handgun.'"
Although he maintains a log of every sale and the accompanying Form 4473, the ATF still needs to come to him to get those records. It's a cumbersome process that Galanski thinks should be streamlined.
"There's a lot of little things we can do to tighten the belt," he says. "We need to talk about gun purchasing. Let's look at the way we buy and sell guns."
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