Guns, parts and ammunition are selling fast these days, with local gun shops seeing a crush of customers ever since President Obama mentioned an assault weapons ban last month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut.
West Coast Armory, with locations in Issaquah and Bellevue, has posted a notice on its website warning that it can't keep up with customer calls. True to form, the Issaquah location's phone voice mailbox was too full to take new messages on Thursday afternoon.
The problem extends throughout the area.
“Out of stock,” said Joe Hungerford, owner of Joe’s Guns & Stuff in Shoreline on Thursday. “Ammo’s gone, my rifles are gone, I only have one shotgun left.”
Hungerford, who runs a small shop, said he’s seeing a lot of first-time gun buyers, as well as people worried about future supply.
“This is much worse than when (President) Bill Clinton instituted his ban,” he said, referring to the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which expired in 2004. “This is much, much, much worse.”
When customers come in now, he tells them they can be on a waiting list, or “call back in a couple months.”
On Wednesday, the president announced he would ask Congress to pass legislation requiring universal background checks for anyone attempting to buy a gun, restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and limit magazines to seven bullets. He also said he would sign 23 executive orders to enhance background checks, give mental health professionals more options for reporting threats of violence, and providing additional funds to schools to hire resource officers.
Just getting through on the phone to a gun shop can be tough. The voice mailbox was full Thursday at House of Guns in Edmonds. And at Top Guns in Shoreline, the phone rang unanswered on several tries over the course of two hours.
“We can’t even get to the phone we’re so overwhelmed,” said a man who answered the phone at Top Guns in the afternoon but didn’t want to give his name. “It’s been completely swamped.”
Indeed, national supplier Brownells, which bills itself as the world’s largest supplier of firearms accessories, parts and gunsmithing tools, has this disclaimer at the top of its website: “Please note: Due to extreme order volumes, shipments may be delayed.”
“Everybody is having trouble keeping things in stock,” said a manager at Discount Gun Sales in Seattle, who didn’t want his name used. The company operates stores in Bellevue, Bothell, Everett, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Seattle, Tukwila, Vancouver and in Oregon.
At AMS Guns in Woodinville, the answering machine simply said the shop was closing for a much-needed vacation and would reopen next week.