As Greater Lansing stores sold out of assault weapons in the aftermath of the December elementary school massacre, President Barack Obama announced his plans to intensify gun regulations Wednesday.
Local business owners said gun sales were driven to new highs following legislators’ speculations that gun control could prevent another tragedy like the December attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School where a shooter killed 27 people, including himself and 20 children.
“We pretty much got cleaned out,” Todd Maxwell, a clerk at Moose Creek Archery Gun-Tackle, 506 Isbell St., in Lansing, said of the guns that might fit the definition of assault weapons and their ammunition. “People are purchasing on the anticipation that these things won’t be available.”
He said smaller stores, such as Moose Creek, are having trouble ordering more of the sold-out items because larger stores quickly bought them in bulk — a problem Yvonne Evanoff-Joseph has experienced as well.
“I am down to the lowest stock I have ever (had) since I took over when my dad died in ‘93,” said Evanoff-Joseph, owner of Classic Arms Co., 1600 Lake Lansing Road, in Lansing. “I have stock this low and the inability to get more.”
She said she has seen a countless number of new gun buyers coming through her doors.
Maxwell said if legislation is passed limiting the sale of guns, Moose Creek could see as much as a 25-50 percent fall in sales.
Obama signed 23 executive orders Wednesday to strengthen the background check systems for gun purchasers, to have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research ways to reduce gun violence and help mental health professionals understand options for reporting violent threats, among others.
Obama also urged Congress to restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and instill a 10-round limit for magazines.
“In the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality,” Obama said.
Assistant professor of criminal justice April Zeoli said she was not surprised by the increase in gun sales.
Although Obama’s announcement might cause an increased of an uptick in the sales, she said this likely is a short-term impact.
“The (plans) have a lot of promise to increase the public safety, and to do research we can evaluate and look at and try to figure out whether or not they do increase the public safety,” she said.
Zeoli spent Monday and Tuesday at a summit on gun control along with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
She was one of more than 20 experts who participated, and information gathered in the event was sent to Obama for review.
Zeoli said the increase in guns and gun owners in the Lansing area could pose a risk because areas with guns typically have more gun-related deaths, either by murder or suicide.
East Lansing police Capt. Jeff Murphy said he is not aware of a large increase in gun crimes in the last month.
The increase in gun sales worried kinesiology freshman Amanda Chappel, who said she doesn’t like hearing there are more purchased guns in the area.
But Chappel didn’t necessarily believe it’s an issue as long as the buyers are law-abiding citizens.
“It’s more all of the talk — it’s creating uneasiness,” Chappel said.
Evanoff-Joseph said she performs background checks on everyone who purchases a gun at Classic Arms and doesn’t understand the worry when the purchases are coming from law-abiding businesses by law-abiding citizens.
“The gun industry is probably one of the most regulated industries in the country,” she said.
“We don’t need more gun laws and regulations — we need to enforce what we already have.”