Self-protection is part of the reason. But a bigger factor, say gun dealers, is fear of something else: politicians -- specifically, their ability to enact restrictions on gun ownership and acquisition of ammunition.
When a high-profile shooting takes place, invariably the airwaves are full of talk about gun control.
“Once people start hearing about that, they say, ‘Wow I was planning on doing this. I better do it now,’” says Mr. Hyatt.
A gun-store owner in Virginia reports the same phenomenon.
"Normally what happens - and I've been doing this for 30 years - is whenever they start talking about gun control on the news and they start pushing that, people have a tendency to think they're going to take away their right to buy the gun, and that usually spurs sale,” says Paul Decker, owner of Hunters Heaven in Hayes, Va.I support the right to keep and bear arms, but I confess that I cringe at the thought of people who no knowledge of guns rushing out to buy guns. In some cases, they have not thought through the responsibilities involved. How do I secure it against theft? How will I keep my kids from getting into it? How will I train my kids to understand the risks and responsibilities involved? Do I have the right temperament to own a gun? Perhaps being three sheets to the wind on the weekends isn't a wise combination with gun ownership?
So gun control advocates, when you keep talking about gun control, remember that when at least some of these reactionary purchasers do something stupid or tragic, it is because you panicked them into it.