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Gun retailers say sales are booming

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CEDAR FALLS — Gun dealers across the region say sales are booming, thanks in part to political cries for more gun control after a December terrorist attack in California.

On Jan. 4, President Barack Obama announced plans to issue an executive action on gun control in the wake of a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed 14 people and seriously injured 22 others.

Critics of Obama’s plan say he overstepped his Constitutional authority in issuing such orders. They also point out that California’s strict gun laws couldn’t have prevented Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, from carrying out the attack on Farook’s office Christmas/holiday party Dec. 2.

“Mr. Obama is the greatest gun salesman this country has ever seen,” said Mike Rosteck, owner of Mr. Guns, at 305 Roosevelt St. in Cedar Falls.

Rosteck said Jan. 22 that sales at his store were up by about 52 percent from a year earlier.

“Last year, they were up too,” he said. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. The insecurities we get from the federal government, people can’t take it.”

Rosteck recently moved his store from a smaller location on First Street in Cedar Falls to space more than twice as large — about 7,000 square feet. It has room for indoor archery and for conceal-carry classes the business offers.

Mr. Guns offers two classes each month, and about half of enrollees have been women, Rosteck said. Class sizes are limited, and generally attract more interest than they have capacity, he added.

The class is required for anyone applying for a conceal-carry permit with the county, Rosteck said.

“Some people just want to keep it at home,” he said.

Handguns are some of the biggest sellers, Rosteck noted.

“Anything from a carry gun to a target gun,” he said.

Scott Wilms, owner of Midwest Guns & Ammo LLC in Waterloo, also noted gun sales were trending upward.

“Gun and ammo sales have been up quite a bit,” he said.

Willms didn’t speculate on the reasons.

“I really don’t know, but we go to gun shows and the crowd at shows is good and they’re buyers,” he said. “The people you talk to, you get a variety of answers. Some don’t care about the political situation. Some are afraid they won’t be available.”

Willms’ company has manufactured ammunition for the last 4 1/2 years, he said.

“It has gone pretty well,” he said. “We decided to do that when you couldn’t buy ammo back in 2012.”

Availability of ammunition currently depends on “what you’re after,” Willlms said.

“The .22’s are hard to get, and the rimfire are still hard to get,” he said.

Availability “goes in spurts” in general, he said.

“They’ll just kinda fool you and dangle that carrot say that it’s gonna be available,” he said.

Sales have been rising at Davis Firearms Specialists in West Union, as well, said Darrin Davis, owner.

“It’s been increasing, especially in handguns and AR15-stye rifles – the one the media keeps calling the assault (rifle),” he said.

Buyers are “a variety of young to old,” he said.

Sales haven’t changed from a year ago, Davis said.

“About the same, maybe a little higher since the terrorist attack in California,” he said.

Immediately after the San Bernardino killings, there was a “small spike” in sales, Davis said.

“I had people wanting more handguns, more self-defense-type weapons,” he said.

With increased gun sales come sales upturns in gun-storage equipment, said Mark Zanotti, owner of gun-safe manufacturer Zanotti Armor in Waterloo.

“I tell you, the last three to four years have been spectacular,” he said.

Zanotti’s company has a seven-month turnaround time on its orders, he said.

“We’re on the back end,” he said. “More and more Americans are realizing that to be a responsible gun owner, you need to keep your guns locked up so bad guys can’t get to them.”

He also noted his company’s safes are sold as “personal security closets” for valuables, “but most of what we sell is for guns.”

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