Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON – A Marshall County firearms dealer said demand has begun to exceed supply of military-style weapons.
Jamie French, owner of Personal Security Firearms, said customers have purchased his entire supply of AR-15 rifles. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic, civilian model of the military’s M16 and M4 assault rifles.
“To be honest, I haven’t been able to get any more in stock this entire week,” French said on Thursday. “Because of high demand, everyone is out.”
French said he had only been in gun sales full time for about a week, though had sold firearms as a sideline for several years.
He attributed an increase in sales over the past two or three years to a Democratic administration and the possibility of new gun control legislation.
Recent mass shootings have increased talk of additional gun control legislation and caused a rush on high-capacity and military-style weapons.
“Because of the President’s comments at his press conference Sunday about the gun-control debate, there is more demand for firearms than ever before,” French said.
He added that his sales have tripled his expectations when he opened his shop. Handguns have also sold well, though he said customers have sought handguns that fit their hands, and not focused specifically on high-capacity weapons that could be restricted by future legislation.
“We’re probably seeing as many women calling about guns as men,” French said. “For some, these could be gifts, but some women are buying for themselves.”
French added some sales may be investments. Items like high-capacity ammunition magazines tripled in value during the 1990’s when they were banned under the now-expired Brady Bill. He has seen brisk sales in other weapons like hunting rifles, shotguns and revolvers. Semi-automatic rifles similar to the AR-15 have not seen as much demand as the AR-15.
Sheriff Kevin Byars said his office has seen an increase in concealed carry permit requests in the last few years, but has not seen a spike in the past weeks because of the high profile shootings.
“We get bunches every day,” Byars said. “On a slow day, we might see five requests. On a busy day, we could see as many as 20.”
Byars attributed brisk gun sales and an increase in permit requests to a number of factors.
“The fact is, we had a lot of home invasions in Marshall County two or three years ago, and people want to protect themselves,” Byars said. “Any time the gun control debate comes up, we see more sales and permits. In light of the shootings in Connecticut, it spurs that debate and the possibility of new laws.”
Byars said if residents purchase weapons, they should train extensively with the firearm to use it safely. He recommended a good quality weapon produced by a reputable manufacturer.
Trooper Jay Thomas, public information officer for the Kentucky State Police Post 1, said the KSP noticed an increase in weapon sales after the election both nationally and in the state.
“We’re definitely noticing more sales of assault weapons because of a potential ban,” Thomas said. “A lot of these people own guns legally. What we’re looking for are people who aren’t allowed to own guns, like convicted felons. We take that very seriously, and if there is firearm in illegal hands, we will do what we need to do to enforce the law.”
Thomas encouraged residents wanting to own or carry firearms to make sure they purchase the weapon from legal owners and suppliers and obtain proper permits for concealed carry.
“Make sure you have your weapons secured at home,” Thomas said. “Use gun locks or gun safes to make sure they cannot be fired accidentally.”