Cape Region gun sales booming

Newtown shooting does not deter purchases
Steele's Gun Shop on Route 9 west of Lewes offers a variety of guns to residents. BY RYAN MAVITY
December 27, 2012

The use of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has sparked calls for a ban. But in the Cape Region, the gun business has been booming.

Charles Steele, owner of Steele’s Gun Shop on Route 9 in Lewes, said gun sales have soared since President Barack Obama was reelected. He said customers are afraid Obama will place restrictions on firearms, preventing people from purchasing guns.

“It’s been high for the last four years,” he said. “The day after the election, we were swamped.”

Steele’s sells assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, which Steele said account for three-quarters of his business.  Customers range across the spectrum of society – older men, younger men and women, he said, purchasing guns for different reasons: some for collecting, others for target shooting. Steele said high-capacity magazines enable shooters to fire at a target repeatedly without reloading. Shooters shoot at gun ranges and at private shooting clubs, he said.

After the Newtown massacre, customers were lined up out the door over the weekend, Steele said, a reaction to lower prices and new calls for increased gun legislation. He said he did not know exactly how many guns were sold this year or over the weekend.

Steele said his shop conducts background checks on prospective gun purchasers. He said even if high-capacity magazines and assault weapons are banned, gun purchasers will simply gravitate towards something else, such as shotguns.

“If someone wants to do harm, you’re not going to stop them. Society has a problem. It’s not the guns,” he said.

He said when he was younger, people hunted and carried guns all the time but never thought about killing someone.

“This is all new,” Steele said.

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