Gun Retailers Report a Run on Firearms After Passage of New California Restrictions

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) -

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval of wide-ranging gun control legislation in July has triggered a run on firearms in the state, with some stores reporting sales have doubled since then.

Starting Jan. 1, the general public in California can no longer buy semiautomatic rifles equipped with bullet-buttons that allow for the quick removal and replacement of ammunition magazines.

Guns purchased before Jan. 1 can be kept as long as the owners register them with the state as assault weapons.

As a result, sales of the long guns have at least doubled at many California gun stores, owners report.

“When Gov. Brown signed that bill, the first 30 days in July were just insane,” said Joshua Deaser, the owner of Just Guns, a store in Sacramento. “It died down for a while but now we are back with everyone trying to get what they can before the end of the year.”

Terry McGuire, owner of the Get Loaded gun store in Grand Terrace, said people are clamoring to buy semiautomatic rifles this month, because the state background check process takes about 10 days.

“We have people lined up out the door and around the block,” McGuire said.

State officials confirm there has been a surge in gun sales.

The number of semiautomatic rifles registered this year with the state has more than doubled over the past year, according to the state Department of Justice.

In the less than six months since the July 1 signing of the rifle ban, 257,895 semiautomatic rifles have been purchased, eclipsing the 153,931 rifle purchases reported to the state in all of 2015, the state agency said.

Purchases of all firearms, including handguns, have jumped 40 percent over last year, to nearly 1 million this year, according to the state agency.

“We expected this,” said Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California. “Any time the government comes up with a ban on guns, the public rushes to buy them to make sure they have at least one.”

The state legislature approved the new gun control measures this year in response to mass shootings around the nation.

The new law was also in response to a terrorist shooting in San Bernardino last year in which weapons, including AR-15 rifles, were used to kill 14 people at a party.

Customers who are buying the guns are as upset as store owners, according to Pete Brown, the retail sales manager at American Gun Works in Glendale, where he said sales are “way up.”

“People are angry,” Brown said. “They are angry with the legislature because (the law) doesn’t address crime. Nothing in the law addresses criminals. It’s another way of cutting back on what’s available to law-abiding citizens, and that’s why they are angry.”

Alex Lopez, the owner of Western Firearms in Bell, confirmed that gun buyers don’t like the direction the new laws are taking the state.

“They can’t figure out how this is going to affect criminals from getting access to firearms,” Lopez said.