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Local gun stores busy as gun-control discussions grow louder

Updated: January 20, 2013 6:21AM

Gun sales at local gun shops are spiking. And at least one owner says his customers are going into “panic mode” and stocking up on guns and ammunition.

“We were busier,” Dave Schrank, owner of Schrank’s Smoke ‘n Gun in Waukegan said Tuesday, noting that sales were up about 25 percent from the previous holiday season.

Gun sales were up across the board, he said, including Bolt Action, hunting rifles, pistols, revolvers and rifles.

There’s no hiding why there’s a bump. Law-abiding gun owners are scared of further gun control laws on a national level in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead, Schrank said. And locally, residents are afraid of further restrictions on purchasing firearms in the future. So, they’re stocking up, he says.

“Locally in the Illinois area, we have definitely seen a little bit of an uptick in handgun sales,” Schrank said. “People are maybe spending a little bit of their Christmas money on concealed carry-type handguns.”

Schrank’s family has owned the store for 48 years. And he said he’s used to increased sales in response to potential political change. The store experienced increased sales from customers afraid of restrictions after President Obama was elected in 2008, and again in November after he was re-elected.

At Illinois Gun Works in Elmwood Park, owner Don Mastrianni said customers were going into “panic mode.”

“It seems to me that some panic sales are going on because they’re assuming legislation will happen right away and they’re buying up stuff that they know is going to cost more eventually,” Mastrianni said.

His store is also seeing more than double the amount of FOID applications and a bump in gun and ammunition sales.

“We’ve got a whole lot of people applying for FOID cards,” Mastrianni said. “We’re averaging at least 20 to 30 a day. On an average day, we’d maybe see 8 or 9.”

Elected officials around the country are voicing support for an assault weapon ban. Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Emanuel on Monday announced support for a ban.

But at Mastrianni’s shop, employees won’t sell assault weapons to anyone but law enforcement. For anyone else, “they could only get so mad but they’re not getting what they want.” Mastrianni said. “The ATF gives us that option...if we see something that looks a little funny, we can turn them down and there’s really not much they can do about it.”

Chicago’s support for an assault weapon ban came the same day New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a campaign featuring survivors and family of gun violence victims, to demand elected officials take immediate action.

One video features Annette Nance-Holt, mother of 16-year-old Blair Holt, who was killed by gang crossfire in 2007 on a CTA bus: “You try to protect your child and keep him safe but there is no way to keep your child safe when there are illegal guns out here,” Holt said in a video for the “I Demand A Plan” campaign. “...My son should not be in a cemetery.”

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