Gun sales brisk in south Puget Sound

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gun sales in the South Sound area have been brisk, but dealers say the sales spike is more a reaction to last month's election than this month's deadly school shooting in Connecticut.

The number of concealed-weapons permits is up locally, with Olympia police issuing 315 this year, compared to 219 last year, The Olympian newspaper reported.

Gun store owners say they often see an uptick in business in the first months of the year, when customers receive tax refunds. But business is booming early because of the recent election, they told the newspaper.

Mary Davies, co-owner of Mary's Pistols in Tacoma, said business has steadily increased since November. Thursday alone was four times as busy as her previous best day on record, she said.

Davies' AK-47 assault rifles and AR-15 semi-automatic rifles were the first to sell out, followed by semi-automatic pistols and other handguns. None of Davies' seven distributors nationwide will have any of the assault or semi-automatic rifles in stock until next year, the newspaper reported.

"Every four years and re-election years, that uptick in buying continues through the remainder of the year," Davies said.

Dealers and gun shop owners are also seeing a demand on any firearms that could potentially be affected by pending legislation, as politicians and organizations discuss the nation's gun laws.

Tom Spithaler, sales director for Olympic Arms in Thurston County, which specializes in gun manufacturing, said there's a huge demand for semi-automatics and high-capacity magazines.

The store has sold out of semi-automatics and assault rifles. People who place an order now won't get their hands on the gun for five or six months, he said.

Customers have been lining up outside the shop before it opens at 8 a.m., Spithaler said.

At the Cascade Arms Co. in Olympia, owner Jeff Hursh said the store has been "slammed" with customers and orders. Several people were lined up outside when the shop opened at 11 a.m. Friday. Walls that usually have an assortment of guns on display only had a few left.

But Davies of Mary's Pistols said she's uncertain whether she would order semi-automatic or assault rifles next year.

"It's shaky ground as to whether I want to order one of those products in until I know what the proposed legislation is going to read," she told The Olympian.