Guns, ammo fly off shelves in Los Banos area

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comFebruary 1, 2013 

Filling out paperwork for his latest gun purchase Tuesday, Mark Galaviz said the national debate on gun control played a part in his decision to add a new rifle and handgun to his collection.

"I don't know if they're going to try to take out all guns," the 23-year-old said.

Area gun sellers, already experiencing brisk business since the November election, are having trouble keeping up with demand since the senseless killing in Connecticut of 27, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

"After the Newtown shooting, it threw everybody into a panic," said Cannon Michael, owner of Central Valley Arms in Los Banos, "you know, once the president and legislators started talking about new measures."

After the Dec. 14 massacre in Connecticut, legislators have introduced new gun control measures. California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced a measure last week that would ban the sale, manufacture, transfer and import of about 150 assault-style weapons. President Barack Obama called for legislation on high-capacity magazines and universal

background checks.

Michael said he's had to turn buyers away because he's low on stock.

"Not only do the suppliers not have product, but they're actually shipping product that we ordered back in December," Michael said, adding that that includes guns, ammunition and other accessories.

Jen Hogan, manager of Big 5 in Los Banos, said gun sales are up at her store. However, it's ammunition she can't keep on her shelves.

"People are afraid they won't be able to get the caliber they want," Hogan said.

Big 5 has seen purchases from both new gun owners and others looking to add to their collection, she said.

Michael said Central Valley Arms has also seen a combination of first-time and longtime gun owners. Assault weapons, which are semi-automatic firearms similar in appearance to military weapons, were the first to start selling before polymer handguns and ammo, he said.

California Democrats announced a number of gun control bills this week that if signed into law would require the reporting of ammunition sales, place a tax on ammunition to pay for crime prevention in high crime areas and close existing loopholes, among other restrictions.

Concealed weapons

The Sandy Hook shootings have also had an affect on the number of requests for concealed carry permits in Merced County.

"It has doubled the applications that we're receiving," said Deputy Tom MacKenzie, Merced County Sheriff's Department spokesman.

There are a total of 664 issued in the county by the Merced County sheriff, MacKenzie said. After the school massacre, he said, the sheriff's office has seen between 20 and 30 requests per month.

Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin has jurisdiction to issue permits throughout the county. Los Banos Police Chief Gary Brizzee has the same jurisdiction within Los Banos.

Brizzee said there are three concealed carry permits issued in the city limits. He said he has not seen any new permits in the last two months, and any applicant would have to show cause before approval.

"I have a fairly high standard," he said.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

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