RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gun dealers in Virginia say sales soared in December due to growing fears of increased firearms restrictions backed by Democrats who control the state government.
Estimated firearm sales totaled 73,849 last month, a 47% increase over December 2018,the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, citing mandatory criminal background checks on Virginia gun buyers. A review of data that goes back to 1990 shows that tally is second only to December 2012, when when 75,120 transactions were recorded.
“Everyone down here is upset,” said Robert Marcus, the principal owner of Bob’s Gun Shop in Norfolk, one of the state’s largest commercial gun dealers. “I’ve never seen more customers antagonized by a situation.”
Several gun dealers told the newspaper many of the customers are first-time buyers. Others said customers are purchasing guns and accessories they believe will be banned.
Gun control became a leading issue in the 2019 Virginia legislative elections after a city employee in Virginia Beach opened fire on his co-workers in May, killing 12 and injuring four others.
Democrats retook full control of the statehouse for the first time in a generation in November and are have pledged to pass a number of gun-control restrictions, including limiting handgun purchases to once a month and universal background checks on gun purchases.