Congress has been in session for just two days and already supporters of tighter federal gun restrictions are hard at work introducing bills they hope will prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. With the threat of tougher gun controls looming, gun sales are skyrocketing.
Congress hasn't passed any significant gun-related regulations since 2007, but that may change in this next session with up to four bills that could be proposed. The most recent bill would reintroduce a ban on assault weapons, otherwise known as automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles. But licensed dealers really don't see a need since they're already taking all possible precautions.
"To legally obtain a fully automatic gun you have to apply for what's called a NFA class tax stamp and that takes up to six or eight months. You have to be fingerprinted. You have to go through an FBI background check. It takes a long time and a huge amount of money," Jeremy Andree, owner of Heavy Metal Fire Arms in Stevens Point, told NewsChannel 7.
Andree added that fully automatic assault rifles start at around $16,000.
Another bill would ban high capacity magazines for these automatic guns. That's any magazine containing 10 rounds or more of ammunition. In addition, some legislators also want to ban online ammunition sales.
The "Fix Gun Checks Act" will also be introduced in the Senate. The act would close the so called "gun show loop." That loop currently allows private sellers to sell guns to people without running a background check like licensed dealers.
All four of these proposals have gun enthusiasts, for lack of a better term, up in arms, which is good news for local dealers like Andree.
"Our sales have really doubled basically throughout the last three weeks, almost tripled...Anything with a high capacity magazine has been flying off the shelves. Pistols, all sorts of pistols, revolvers, handguns with high capacity, anything that was deemed an assault rifle by Congress has been just flying off the shelf," Andree said.
The reason, he claims, is that people know if they buy their guns now the government can't take them away. But there is no gaurantee companies will continue making them.
"High capacity mags were banned back in the 90's and they're fearing that will happen again," Andree explained.
That same fear has a record number of people applying for concealed carry permits.
"Classes are just going crazy right now....We have them every other Wednesday and now we're having to do them every Wednesday,"Andree shared.
Although this boom may be good for business, Andree said the demand is so high that even his suppliers are running out of guns.
Luckily, Andree said he's prepared for whatever Congress decides.
"We're taking our own steps to get around it. We're actually starting our own custom rifle builds. We're going to become a full service shop where we're going to build custom rifles for people to get away from selling so many of the black rifles because this is a larger portion of our sales," Andree said outlining his plan for the future.
Despite the fact that guns are flying off store shelves, local law enforcement isn't too concerned.
Portage County Sheriff John Charewicz says as long as distributors run background checks on buyers he doesn't see an increase in gun sales as a threat. In fact, he told NewsChannel 7 that he believed this is just an overreaction by both distributors and the public and he doesn't believe gun rights are in danger.
"When you get right down to this issue after the terrible shooting out East and the theatre in Colorado and all the other ones that have gone on, these aren't gun control issues these are mental health issues," Sheriff Charewicz said.