The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 5, 2013

Gun background checks drop 10 percent in January

(Continued)

The number of background checks does not necessarily represent the number of firearms purchased, but gun manufacturers use these statistics to measure the health of the gun industry in the U.S.

Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi saw the largest declines in background checks from December to January, by nearly one-third. Those states also saw some of the highest increases in background checks between November and December last year.

Even before the Newtown shooting massacre and pledges from the White House to curb gun violence with new laws, the gun industry was experiencing a boom in sales. Manufacturers couldn't keep up with demand. After Newtown, gun sales went up even more. People in the gun business called the rush to buy guns after the Newtown shooting a "banic," meaning people are panicked President Barack Obama would ban guns, said Bill Bernstein, owner of the East Side Gun Shop in Nashville, Tenn.

The FBI conducted more background checks for firearm sales and permits to carry guns the week following the Newtown shooting than it has in any other one-week period since 1998. The second-highest week for background checks came mid-January as Obama announced sweeping plans to curb gun violence.

Bernstein said that rush changed for him about two weeks ago, when business started to slow. Background checks decreased by 24 percent between December and January in Tennessee, while checks went up by 53 percent there between November and December. Bernstein said sales in his store went down 23 percent between December and January.

"It felt like somebody just flipped a switch," Bernstein said. "One day I had the shop filled with people, the phone ringing off the hook. The next day, hardly anything."

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