DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Even the discussion of potential changes to federal gun laws is translating into a business boom for some Palm Beach County firearms dealers. Managers at Delray Shooting Center say their facility has been very busy with new patrons taking aim with brand new handguns.
It was the very first time at the range for many of these local people. A preemptive strike, they say, to become trained, licensed gun owners as soon as they can.
"This is my first gun," said Curtis Miller of Delray Beach. "I've been around them, but I haven't owned them." Miller made his first ever gun purchase on Monday night. He chose an AK-47. "Home defense, keep it by the bed," he said.
Miller's decision to buy now was not influenced by the horrific scenes that unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut, he said. It was influenced by reactions that some federal lawmakers have had in the wake of the shooting tragedy.
"I figured I was going to get it later so I figured I'd get it now when it's cheaper instead of waiting for it to be more expensive in the future," said Miller.
On Monday, fifteen people had signed up for the beginner's concealed weapons class at Delray Shooting Center. Usually, there are no more than five people in the class. Owner Mike Caruso said two things are driving up gun sales here. One is the possibility of it becoming more difficult and more expensive to own a gun. The other is the probability that a danger - like at Sandy Hook Elementary School - could arrive on a doorstep closer to home.
"It makes people aware of what an insane society we live in and everybody feels as though they need to be the first line of defense," said Caruso.
Boynton Beach's Jeffrey Cloutier was browsing the merchandise but was not ready to buy anything new. Cloutier, 21, said he already owns five guns. "I only need one - the one I carry," said Cloutier. "I like to have multiple because they are all different." Like many of the people visiting this facility, he believes that drastic times call for drastic measures - before it is too late.
The owner of the shooting center said his firearms and ammunition inventory is virtually non-existent at this point. He said his suppliers do not have the enough supply to keep up with the current demand. Business, he believes, will be booming at least through New Year's Eve.