Local gun sales boom

Howard Godbee shows an AK-47 assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine at Mid-City Pawn in Decatur on Wednesday. Godbee said some people are buying guns now because they fear they will lose the right to buy them later.

Before President Barack Obama announced his plan for a more restrictive gun-control package, two Decatur dealers said they already were experiencing record sales of guns and ammunition.

“We’ll top 300 firearms sold this month,” said Howard Godbee, manager of Mid-City Pawn on Sixth Avenue Southeast.

“That’s more than twice our nor mal. We’re totally out of AR-15 rifles, and we’ve just got a few AK-47s. They won’t last long.”

Across the city on Beltline Road Northwest, Dennis Crowden, owner of Bama Pawn and Gun, said he sold his last AK-47 on Wednesday morning.

“We’ve had record sales every day for the past six weeks, including mostly AR-15s,” he said. “Shotguns and deer rifles remain steady sales.”

A National Public Radio report this week said more firearms have been sold in Alabama than any other state since the Newtown, Conn., massacre of Dec. 14.

A customer at Mid-City Pawn, who declined to give his name, bought two rifles Wednesday morning, including an AK-47. He said he bought the weapon hoping it will become a collector’s item.

Greg Polston of Decatur bought ammunition at Bama Pawn and Gun for his Ruger .223 Ranch Rifle.

“I’m about out of ammo and I just wanted to buy more before it went up again,” he said. “My buddy and I like to shoot targets for the fun of it.”

Godbee, a gunsmith and former Decatur police officer, said some are purchasing guns because they fear losing their right to buy one.

“A lot of women are buying guns, and they’re not all revolvers,” he said. “Last Thursday, a 78-year-old woman bought an AK-47 with a 30-round magazine. She said, ‘I’m going to see what all the fuss is about.’ ”

Customers have to provide information for background checks when they buy weapons. Crowden said he normally stocks 1,500 to 2,000 guns but is down to 200 to 400.

“All our suppliers are out of everything,” he said. ... “We’ve got a million rounds on order just for .22 long-rifle ammunition.”

Crowden said a regular customer told him Wednesday that a site on the Internet is selling one 30-round magazine for an AR-15 for $125.

“We were selling them for $14.95,” Crowden said.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions said he would favor the president’s proposed executive orders “if they focus on people likely to shoot somebody, criminals and thugs and the mentally ill, and that sort of thing.”

“What they want to focus on is restricting the ability of law-abiding citizens to get guns, and I’m not for that,” he said.

Sessions, R-Mobile, said he definitely would oppose a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

“The old Colt revolver is a semi-automatic weapon,” he said. “If you start banning semi-automatic weapons, you’ve really banned the essence of gun ownership today.”

An Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday said nearly six in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting.

In addition to favoring a nationwide ban on military-style, rapid-fire weapons, the majority of Americans want limits on gun violence depicted in video games, movies and TV shows, the poll showed.

The Associated Press and Eric Fleischauer contributed to this story.

Ronnie Thomas can be reached at 256-340-2438 or rthomas@decaturdaily.com.

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