Over the past week, business has been quite literally booming at Bill's Gun Shop & Range.
Amid the muffled bangs and snaps of the indoor shooting range behind bulletproof glass, customers lined up three deep at cash registers Wednesday afternoon and busily browsed the sales floor of the new shop. Staff members had their hands full answering customer questions, completing transactions and trying to keep inventory on their walls.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, on Dec. 21, and the subsequent calls for firearm bans, has prompted gun and shooting sport enthusiasts to buy now while the products are still legal.
"There is a buying/collecting frenzy taking place in the last five days," store owner John Monson said on Wednesday.
Monson owns two other Bill's Gun Shop & Range locations in the Twin Cities metro area, and he opened the store in Hudson just three weeks ago, and he says the buying frenzy is nationwide.
"My backstock is gone, and I can't get more through distribution right now," Monson said. "Ammo is getting to that point too."
And the buying surge appears to be almost entirely fear-based. Not fear of bad guys with guns, but fear of new legislation turning their hobbies into crimes.
Monson said he has had several conversations with customers in the last week who said they had always wanted a certain kind of weapon and came in to buy it before any anti-gun legislation was enacted. Monson has his own ideas of what sort of dialogue should occur before any legislation is enacted.
"Instead of putting in some stupid assault weapons ban that — over the 10 years it was in before had no value in reducing violent crime — why don't we actually take the opportunity to through the emotional knee-jerk reaction away, sit down with both sides of the fence — both extremes with an educated common sense person in the middle take all their feedback — and make legislation that would add value," Monson said.
In press conference Friday morning in Washington DC, the National Rifle Association broke its weeklong silence following Newtown school shooting and offered its solution in the form of a surge of gun-carrying "good guys" around American schools.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for a new kind of American domestic security revolving around armed civilians, arguing that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
That sort of future would undoubtedly be even better for long-term business at Bill's Gun Shop & Range.
Michael Dinan and Davis Dunavin contributed to this report.
Where do you stand? What's the best way to protect school children from gun violence? What sort of action, if any, would you like the government to take? Tell us in the comments.