As California lawmakers advance gun control legislation that would help monitor and regulate sales, people throughout the state are flooding shops and buying guns at record rates.
San Joaquin County residents, like those in many counties in California, are stockpiling on the belief that guns and ammunition might soon be hard to acquire.
California lawmakers recently advanced a dozen gun-control measures, including background checks for ammunition buyers.
But California Assemblyman Roger Dickinson believes sales numbers indicate a statewide overreaction to a recent push for new gun control legislation at the state and national levels. Dickinson, who has helped develop several pieces of gun control legislation, said he’s only interested in creating a safer community.
“The legislation at the state level is not going to make guns that are currently available any less available to any significant degree,” Dickinson said. “People who are qualified, competent and eligible to buy guns today are still going to be able to buy them should any of the legislation become law.”
Gun sales have risen in San Joaquin County for several years, and in 2013 those numbers are expected to reach record highs.
In 2011, the county sold 3,393 more handguns, rifles and shotguns than in 2010, according to the California Department of Justice. Shops sold 6,831 more guns in 2012 than in 2011, while Sacramento County experienced a 48 percent increase in 2012 from 2011. In addition, several counties, including Calaveras and Placer counties, saw significant increases.
The Lodi Police Department doesn’t monitor gun sales and declined to comment on the rise.
And it’s expected that gun sales will continue to increase this year, according to California DOJ Spokeswoman Michelle Gregory.
“We’ve seen a steady increase over the last few years, and we’ll see another one this year,” Gregory said.
Gregory said that the DOJ typically sees spikes in sales following mass shootings, in election years and any time the government talks about restrictive gun laws.
“As long as it’s staying in the media and we see legislation about gun laws, we’re going to see people trying to purchase weapons,” she said.
In Lodi, some stores are unable to meet the demand of people looking for ammunition.
Lines form before 7 a.m. at Walmart in Lodi on days they receive ammunition supplies, and within two hours it’s gone.
Kevin Bicker, Walmart’s assistant manager and an avid hunter, said people frequently buy ammunition because they fear it might soon be hard to acquire.
“No one knows how long it’s going to be available, and available without having to go through a background check,” he said.
But many people have a misconception about some of the proposed gun control legislation, Dickinson said.
“There are those people who promote the idea that somehow there’s going to be a law that limits the ability of law-abiding people to buy guns,” he said.
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.