The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 7, 2013

Fewer excited gun-buyers in Colo. and Conn.

(Continued)

In Connecticut, people were having second thoughts about whether it's a good idea to have a gun in the home after the Newtown shooting, the governor's criminal justice advisor, Michael Lawlor said. The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, shot and killed his mother inside their home using weapons she had legally purchased before he drove to the school. Lanza shot his way into the building and carried out the massacre before committing suicide as police arrived.

Lawlor also said that, in Connecticut, it can take months to obtain a permit to buy a handgun.

A federal background check doesn't always indicate a new gun is purchased, but the firearms industry uses these numbers as an indicator of how well the gun business is doing.

Background checks typically spike during the holiday shopping season, and some of the increases in the most recent FBI numbers can be attributed to that. But the number of background checks also tends to increase after mass shootings, when gun enthusiasts fear restrictive measures are imminent.

After the Colorado shootings, the FBI conducted 1.5 million background checks across the country during August, compared to 1.2 million checks in June. Yet the Connecticut shootings energized gun buyers more: Background checks surged in December to nearly 2.8 million, compared to 1.6 million in October.

Even before the Colorado and Connecticut shootings, the gun industry was strong. Sales were on the rise — so much that some manufacturers couldn't make guns fast enough. Major gun company stocks were up, and the number of federally licensed retail gun dealers was increasing for the first time in 20 years. Many attributed the surge to Obama, whom the gun lobby predicted would be the most anti-gun president in American history.

After the Colorado shooting, during the final months of the presidential campaign, Obama and Congress expressed no interest in new gun laws. But just days after the Connecticut shootings, Obama said new gun laws would be a top priority.

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