Requests for firearms background checks, a good barometer of gun purchases in Wisconsin, are on pace to best 193,000, according to FBI data. Federal authorities handled 96,917 background checks in the first six months of 2009, about 16 percent ahead of the same period last year.
Dan Gussart, owner of Gus's Guns on E. Mason Street, said handguns are the strongest sellers — when he can get them in stock. Inventory of handguns and some rifles is scarce across the country, he said.
Most buyers say the election of a Democrat to the White House in President Barack Obama and fears of possible restrictions of firearm sales are behind their purchases, Gussart said.
“We're getting a lot of people who never had a gun who come in and say, ‘I'm going to get one in case they say I can't have one anymore,'” Gussart said. “And with the economy being crappy, they think, ‘If things get rough, I want to be able to protect myself.' That mentality is out there.”
Calls to Wisconsin's background check hot line — a requirement for all handgun purchases — are up 40 percent for the first six months of 2009 compared with the same period last year. The boon started in November, but the high point came in March with 7,606 requests. Read more