Steve Zacher

Glockmeister operations manager Steve Zacher holds a Glock 19 at the store in Mesa. After the tragic events in Tucson there has been an increase in gun sales.

By Tim Hacker, Tribune

As soon as firearms dealer Greg Wolff heard news of the mass shooting in Tucson, he knew what was about to unfold: Gun sales would skyrocket.

Sales of high-capacity magazines rose 500 percent at Wolff's two Valley stores and on a website that he says makes him one of the nation's largest Glock distributors.

"The high-capacity magazine, the ones like the guy had in Tucson, we sold out of those within about 24 hours on our website," Wolff said.

The next shipment sold out quickly and another order was due in, but Wolff figured his Glockmeister shops and online store will continue to be overwhelmed.

"It's been ridiculous," he said. "We can't keep up."

He said there's high interest in 33-round clips and the Glock 19, which Wolff said is the best-selling Glock and is a good choice for a first-time firearms owner. That handgun and clip were used in the assassination attempt against U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that left six dead and 13 injured.

FBI statistics indicate a surge in Arizona gun sales, with the agency reporting 263 background check requests for gun purchases in the state, up from 164 for the same day a year ago. An FBI spokesman on Friday said the agency was too overwhelmed with media requests to provide updated numbers for the week.

The FBI numbers don't tell the whole story, Wolff said, because the backgrounds of customers aren't checked once they have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. About half of Wolff's customers this week hold that permit and wouldn't show up in the FBI statistics, he said.

"Whatever numbers you see from the FBI is not indicative of sales," he said.

Gun sales often soar after shooting sprees, which lead to calls for new weapons restrictions - and a rise in public fears that firearms will be harder to buy.

Sales also tend to rise when elections usher in politicians who call for gun control, like Barack Obama's 2008 presidential victory.

"We saw a big increase after the 2008 election lasting about six or seven months," said Scott Wesch, owner of the Mesa Gun Shop.

Wesch has been in the firearms business for 30 years and said he figured sales could rise after the Tucson shooting, though they didn't at his store.

Wolff said clip sales were especially strong, as nearly every online order included at least one magazine. Usually, only about one-third of purchases involve a clip.

"You have people with an irrational fear that something is going to be banned," Wolff said.

He doesn't see a need to stock up on weapons, saying political support for gun rights is strong enough to prevent any proposed restrictions from becoming law.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.