California Gov. Jerry Brown’s successful push for strict anti-gun laws has motivated his constituents to take up arms.
Thousands of Californians have rushed to buy guns while they are still available for purchase, resulting in a massive increase in firearms sales.
More than 1 million guns reportedly have been sold in California this year, far exceeding the 700,000 sold throughout 2015.
In July, Brown signed six new anti-gun laws that are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
The gun control laws were pushed as a response to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino in December 2015, in which 14 people were killed and 21 were injured. The rifles used in that incident, however, were already illegal at the time, having been modified in violation of state law.
One of the new laws effectively outlaws magazine locking devices — commonly known as “bullet buttons” — on semiautomatic rifles, reclassifying them as “assault weapons,” which have been banned in the state since 1989.
Semiautomatic rifle sales as of Dec. 9 stood at 364,643, more than twice the 153,931 sold in 2015.
“Compared to a normal year, sales are up one thousand percent. It’s ridiculous,” Gabe Vaughn, owner of Sportsman’s Arms in Petaluma, told The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa. “Pretty much the second we got them they were gone. A lot of them were presold before they arrived to the store.”
He said he sold 60 semiautomatic rifles Dec. 21 alone.
Vaughn questioned the new laws, saying, “We have true criminals out there who could care less about this stuff. And Joe Public that does care, [who is] legitimately scared, doesn’t even know where to begin to be compliant.”
Joshua Deaser, owner of Just Guns in Sacramento, told the Los Angeles Times, “When Gov. Brown signed that bill, the first 30 days in July were just insane. It died down for a while but now we are back with everyone trying to get what they can before the end of the year.”
Another gun store owner, Terry McGuire of Get Loaded in San Bernardino, told the newspaper that at times he has had a line of customers stretching “out the door and around the block.”
Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said the response was expected.
“Any time the government comes up with a ban on guns, the public rushes to buy them to make sure they have at least one,” he said.
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