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The public conversation over gun control has been revived after a spate of mass shootings in the United States, most notably the attack in San Bernardino, California earlier this month that killed 14 people. Measures like restrictions on the people who can purchase guns and the institution of universal background checks have been proposed and debated. News of these possible regulations has been coupled with fact that gun manufacturers have reported a massive spike in sales this year and many have revised their profits and revenue projections upwards for 2016.
We talked to Frank Gerstenkorn, owner of Guns and Gear in Cheyenne, Wyoming to see how the recent incidents have affected his business and why his customers are clamoring to buy a firearm.
We called you up because we were curious as to how business is for you in this time when the national debate has once again turned to gun control. Do you see that day in and day out?
Yes we do, the pick-up came right after the most recent incident, there in your neck of the woods and it’s rolling pretty good. There’s another thing at play here in the shop, I’m retiring so at the end of the year I won’t be here anymore, but we do see a marked difference.
We’ll get to you and what you’re doing when you’re not working anymore in a second, but how significant of spike do you see when something like San Bernardino happened?
Very frankly, the so-called assault weapon, the black rifles, the tactical looking rifles were pretty staid here they were not moving at all, they’re going out the door now again.
And what are people saying when they come in the door?
Most of them believe that they are goin’ to be put in a position where they’re going to have to defend themselves and their families because there won’t be resources to do that for them, when the time comes. Whether or not they’re knee-jerking I can’t tell you, but there’s definite real-world concern.
Are you seeing the overall spike in sales that, for example, Smith & Wesson just reported a great quarter, are you seeing that in your business?
It’s not as huge here, but here in Cheyenne, Wyoming where we’re located there are a number of gun stores, so if you take us all together there’s probably a good spike here too.
Do you find, just in terms of paperwork and background checks and all that stuff that licensed weapons dealers have to do, do you find that to be onerous, is it a problem for your business?
Well it’s not a problem until we make a call to the FBI to get a NICS check done and —
Sorry, a what check?
It’s a national background check that we do and if a person doesn’t have a Wyoming concealed carry permit, we have to do that. If you have a permit, you’ve already had your background checked. So we call the FBI and we might be on hold for a half-hour. A while back we were on hold for an hour and six minutes before we got the check finished.
Wow, and that’s what you have to do to sell a weapon to a person who requires a check, yeah?
That’s exactly correct.
Seems like a long time, seems like the FBI isn’t ready to deal with the demand.
Well, you have to plan for what you think is the norm, plus a spike and right now they’re really working. And we have a wonderful relationship with the people we talk to on the telephone and they’re incredibly busy.
What are you gonna do after you retire, are you gonna sell the store? Do you have kids coming in or a partner?
Yes, the store is for sale. And no, I don’t have a partner, I’ve always been a bit of a lone wolf here as far as that’s concerned, but I own airplanes and by golly I’m gonna fly them.
Good for you. Frank Gerstenkorn at Guns and Gear in Cheyenne, Wyoming, thanks so much for your time.
Thank you Kai, bye bye.
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