Mass shootings, talk of gun control may trigger rise in gun sales
August 12, 1999
From Correspondent Gene Randall
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House and gun control advocates see Tuesday's shooting at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles as fresh evidence that new gun control laws are needed.
But does all this talk of gun control, ironically, trigger even more gun demand?
Some critics of the gun industry say yes. Tom Diaz, author of the book "Making a Killing," says gun sellers make the pitch that "you better get your gun now (because) next week, next month, next year may be too late."
For example, in 1994, when Congress approved a ban on a number of assault weapons, there was a boom in sales. Jeffrey Roth of the Urban Institute said that during the period when the ban was being debated, there was essentially an extra year's production of the soon-to-be outlawed weapons.
In 1994, average annual sales of the AR-15 -- which officials say was part of the arsenal of Los Angeles shootings suspect Buford Furrow -- jumped from 38,000 to 66,000.
There is another possible factor in the uptick in sales. After seeing saturation coverage of mass shootings, some people buy firearms out of fear for their own safety and the safety of their families.
"We need to send a message to the criminal element that we're fed up, this is not going to be tolerated anymore, we're not going to be disarmed victims waiting for their predatory activity," says Lawrence Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners of America.
But gun control advocates say the gun industry exploits the public unease triggered by mass shootings.
"After an incident, the gun industry deliberately markets firearms that they, in many cases, call 'fear guns,'" Diaz said.
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