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WV gun dealers: We can't get weapons fast enough

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For the State Journal

Gun dealers from the Eastern Panhandle and the Potomac Highlands are selling out and won't be getting additional inventory until middle to late spring.

Dealers say sales began to escalate when President Barack Obama was re-elected.

Charles "Buck" Rinker owns South Branch Guns and Pawn in Romney. He's been in the business for the past 40 years.

"We cannot get guns. He had a large inventory that is about 75 percent depleted," said Rinker. "We went to a show last week and ordered 500 guns. I don't know how many we'll get, and I don't figure we'll get anything until May."

Rinker said December 2012 was the best month he's had in 40 years.

"Obama and (Vice President Joe) Biden are the greatest salesmen for guns ever," he said.

"When you tell the American people to stop anything they are going to do it. It's a sad scenario. People, mostly seniors, are taking money out of their savings to buy a gun."

Rinker said senior citizens have purchasing 65 percent of guns sold at his business. Many say it's the first time they are buying a gun.

"They figure they have to get one before the government says they can't," said Rinker.

The cost of guns and gun paraphernalia has escalated since the election, according to Rinker. For example, he said, an AR-15 sold for between $600 to $900 a month ago. Now they are going for between $1,500 and $2,500. A few weeks ago, clips for firearms sold for $15. Now, he said, clips are going for $125 to $140 on the Internet.

Raymond Mallow, the owner and operator of Mallows Gun Shop in Mineral County, said guns have been going off the shelves, and he can't get more any time soon.

"We are selling handguns mostly. We can't get more guns from the suppliers, and the manufacturers are having trouble making guns. They can't keep up with the demand," he said, explaining that the "gun rush" started when Obama ran for re-election and progressed rapidly after the election.

"We can't get AR-15s at all. The manufacturers are trying to make more, but they probably won't be available until April or May," said Mallow.

Mallow said in the 30 years he's been in business, "it's never been like this."

"In the last year, more and more people want small concealed weapons permits to arm themselves. We live in a scary time," he said.  "The other day I called dealers in Pennsylvania trying to place an order, and they told me they wished they had guns to sell me."

Bill Hoffman, who runs the gun section of Frazer's Pawn Shop in Martinsburg, said he has seen gun sales pick up ever since Obama was elected in 2008.

"Obama is one of the best salesmen. Since he was elected sales have gone off the shelves," said Hoffman.

Frazer's has been in business since 1980. The business resells guns and accepted pawned firearms. Even with those sources for guns, Hoffman said the business is running out of inventory.

"We have a lot of regular sporting guns. They are selling good," he said. "What I can't get are magazine-fed high capacity hand guns."

Hoffman said the last high capacity gun he had was sold the first of the year. That gun was something that had been pawned, and it sold for $1,500.

Hoffman said many people are afraid Obama is going to take away the ability to legally own guns because of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

"People are buying everything they can," said Hoffman.