On a cold Tuesday night, Bryan Kish loaded thousands of dollars in gun supplies into his sedan near the entrance of Sportsman’s Warehouse in Colorado Springs.
He had so much equipment that two store employees helped out. After a few minutes of lifting, he was ready to go home with his newest possessions.
“I thought I better get this done,” he said. “I might not be able to later.”
Kish was one of many Americans across the country who reacted to President Barack Obama’s move to tighten gun control laws by shopping for firearms. The 12-year Army veteran and recent transplant from Fort Hood, Texas, said he was disgusted after he heard the news. He called the president’s actions a “travesty” toward military veterans who he said served and died for the right to bear arms.
Besides a gun safe, Kish bought two rifles, a shotgun and a handgun. He had planned to make the big purchase months ago, but he said Obama’s push for more gun checks ended his procrastination.
Several gun stores across Colorado Springs saw an increase in gun sales Tuesday. At Paradise Sales on the city’s west side, owner Paul Paradis said his business sold a half-dozen guns. That’s about double his daily average.
“Prior to this,” Paradis said, referring to the latest gun control news, “two or three was a good day.”
Still, his conversations with customers weren’t different from ones he has had during the four decades he has owned the store. He asked them why they decided to make the purchase. On this day, the answers were more than just about safety concerns and protection.
“It does bother me that people rush to buy guns and kind of panic,” he said. “You really want to give serious thoughts about owning a gun. With the right comes some responsibilities. People are rushing to see if they have the right, but what I hope they also do is look at the responsibility.”
An 84-year-old Colorado Springs woman who only provided her first name as Francise purchased a pistol at Paradise Sales in reaction to Obama’s Tuesday announcement that he would tighten background checks and take other steps in a bid to cut gun violence.
“I don’t think he has the right to tell us what we can do and can’t do,” she said before she got in her car and left.
The throng of gun store shoppers Tuesday largely did not want to answer questions.
Whistling Pines Gun Club West on the city’s northwest side was closed Tuesday, but owners Bob and Joyce Holmes came in for the afternoon to prepare for an event. And to talk about gun sales.
They said the last time their business saw an influx of customers followed the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012.
At one point, all the guns in stock were sold out.
“Because Obama started talking gun control and people freaked out,” Bob Holmes said. “We’re still at it again. You mention gun control and people buy guns.”
Obama’s audience for the gun control announcement included former Democratic Colorado state Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron, who both lost in the 2013 recall elections after their support of gun control measures. Morse represented District 11, which encompasses Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs.
He said he was inspired by the possibility of change.
“There has been more attention paid to the fact that Sen. Angela Giron and I were invited to the White House today than I would have anticipated,” Morse said on his Facebook page. “I do think the tide is finally turning and the right remains largely oblivious.”
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