LAKE WORTH, Fla. - On the heels of recent shootings across the nation and on the President's remarks on Wednesday, sales for ammunition and firearms are reaching unprecedented levels in parts of the country, including in south Florida.
First-time shooters, busy beginners' concealed weapons classes and staggering sales are the 'new normal' at the Palm Beach Shooting Center in Lake Worth over the last several weeks.
"You could even say more than strong and steady," said manager Chuck Papp. "It's been, at some points, insane."
The big number of purchases means that big money is being made. The thousands of bullet casings on the floor of the shooting range tell the story. Interest in 'packing heat' is picking up, vendors said.
"The price has gone up considerably, too," said 'Jim' of Boynton Beach, who declined to give his last name.
Jim purchased an A-K 47 just hours after President Barack Obama's remarks, paying more than a thousand dollars to do it. "With everything going on in the world today, we thought that it would be beneficial to have a weapon in the house that could protect us," he said.
Sales at this Palm Beach County shop have tripled over the last few months, managers said. There is a similar trend all across south Florida.
At Lotus Gunworks in Martin County, sales are four times higher since the time of the presidential elections. At St. Lucie Shooting Center in St. Lucie County and at Right To Bear Arms in Indian River County, the sales have quadrupled compared to pre-election times, according to managers at the shops.
"When you talk about banning things, when you talk about banning magazines, people hear that and they say 'Okay, I want one now'," said Papp.
Shoppers like Jim say the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado and elsewhere plus the anticipation that gun laws are about to become tighter, are bringing them in to buy now. "The right time for some of us good guys to have the opportunity protect what's ours," said Jim.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement does not report gun sales figures but does keep records of background checks statewide. In December, FDLE reported more than 131,000 background checks, a figure that is up more than 77% from the same month in 2011.