By Sari Horwitz and Peter Finn
The Washington Post
LAS VEGAS — The United States appears to be experiencing a record run on military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and some kinds of ammunition as buyers deluge stores in search of guns and bullets they fear will be banned by the Obama administration, according to firearms industry executives and market analysts.
Even allowing for spikes in gun sales that follow every mass killing in the United States and attendant political debates about gun control, industry executives said the surge seems unprecedented.
And it has emptied shelves of the kind of semiautomatic rifle that was used to kill 20 children and six educators in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month, the deaths that sparked President Barack Obama’s sweeping proposal for tougher gun laws.
In some areas, a buyer walking into a gun store now will have to wait up to a year to buy a military-style assault weapon. The prices of available semiautomatics have doubled as buyers bid up the dwindling supply, and stocks of Glock handguns are also low.
“I think there has been a pretty dramatic uptick in demand within one month,” said Nima Samadi, who follows the gun industry for IBISWorld, a market research firm. “Certain locations are even running out of certain guns, and suppliers can’t fulfill demand.”
Samadi noted that 2012 was already a banner year for the gun industry, with projected 8.2 percent growth over 2011 — just as 2008, another presidential election year, saw a significant increase in gun sales.
The health and financial muscle of the gun industry was dramatically evident at the massive SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) show here, where an estimated 60,000 people gathered see, handle and buy firearms and accessories displayed by more than 1,600 exhibitors over more than 12 miles of convention space.