Since the recent tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, tension about gun control and weapon possession has dramatically increased. Discussions of proper security measures and personal defense mechanisms have surfaced, creating questions about the direction of weapon control and the effectiveness of current gun laws in the United States. The Star Journal recently sat down with Mike Hoechler, owner of Hodag Gun & Loan in Rhinelander, to discuss how local gun sales and distribution have changed since the shooting occurred.
Star Journal: How has the trend in firearm sales changed since the recent shooting?
Mike Hoechler: Certain firearms, specifically what we would consider to be “assault weapons,” have been increasingly more difficult to obtain from distributors, leading to a suspicion that such weapons will be soon be banned. These are the kind of firearms that have been widely covered in the news lately and include semiautomatic and high-capacity magnum rifles. The discussion of banning such firearms is leading to a higher demand for similar weapons that are still available on the market. One of our concerns as a firearm vendor is that some guns, specifically handguns and Glock pistols, will be banned or that the amount distributed will be limited, which may contribute to a decrease in firearms that our shop receives.
SJ: Have you noticed the process of actual gun possession and background check distribution becoming more difficult in recent weeks?
MH: The background check process has definitely become more difficult to get through and can often take between 45 minutes to an hour for the check to be processed; however people are willing to wait the allotted time to legally obtain a firearm. There has been a definite shift in people’s approach to weapon possession and citizens appear to be much more nervous since the most recent attack.
SJ: Locally, how have local gun sales been affected in the past few weeks? How has your business been affected?
MH: There has been a dramatic increase in traffic in our shop. Aside from the actual increase in gun purchases in our store, we’ve noticed that the kinds of customers that have emerged are not our usual clientele. These are people that probably would never have thought of purchasing a gun prior to the event, but attitudes have shifted so greatly that we’re now seeing a different–much larger–customer base. The widespread nervousness of the event nationally has really localized the issue even in our community.
SJ: Has there been an increased demand for certain types of firearms?
MH: We haven’t noticed any growth in demand for any particular type of firearm. People seem to be primarily concerned with owning a firearm in general, rather than a specific type or brand, as we’re used to seeing. Recent sales have made it obvious to us that the priority of obtaining a firearm for defense purposes has become increasingly more important to our local residents, despite restrictions on weapon type or amount of time and material needed to obtain a permit.
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