'Sandy Hook effect' spurs gun sales

Spike in sales a response to gov't plan to explore firearm restrictions

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The crowds in Jacksonville gun shops aren't part of the holiday rush. Long lines and empty shelves have to do with the potential for firearm reform and the possibility what's available for purchase now might not be soon.

"It's really busy," gun owner David Quick said while at Shooters of Jacksonville on Wednesday. "You walk in there, everybody's got high-capacity clips, the line is like 30 people long."

It has been called the "Sandy Hook effect" in the wake of last week's tragic elementary school shooting in Connecticut, and it's a trend that's surfaced in recent days -- a spike in gun sales in response to the federal government's plan to explore firearms restrictions.

Vice President Joe Biden has been tasked with that, but as far as state regulations are concerned, Florida Gov. Rick Scott says that is not on his list of priorities right now.

"What I want to focus on right now is the families, make sure our schools are safe," Scott said. "In our state, we're at a 41-year low in our crime rate."

But the possibility of changes is what those frequenting gun stores are talking about, and that is what spurred gun owner Damon Shumard into Shooters on Wednesday.

It's also what has caused retailers like Shooters, Shumard says, to up their prices. Shumard walked out empty-handed because he said prices are so high, nearly double what they were last week.

While the so-called Sandy Hook effect has spurred him to shop, Shumard said he still draws the line somewhere.

"The way I feel is if they are going to jack up the price, the money that they are making off of these prices should go to those families. That's what I'm thinking," Shumard said.

There are plenty who are on the other side of the fence. In response to those, Walmart removed its holiday gun ads and Dick's Sporting Goods isn't selling the type of high-powered rifle used in the school shooting.

Safety classes recommended for responsible gun owners

When it comes to buying a gun, it's as simple as picking one out and passing a background check. But to be a responsible gun owner, Shumard says it takes more than that.

"So they are aware of what that jag is going to do and to be safe on your side and protect your weapons when stolen," Shumard said.

All those things are why he has gone to multiple gun classes, including the one required to carry a concealed weapon. That is the only one required by law, but as Armando Patane will tell you -- and many gun stores offer -- there are plenty of other safety classes available for a new gun owner.

Even for those who don't plan to carry their gun, Patane suggests they take a safety class just to fully understand the laws and the implications of using a gun. It might, as in Patane's case, change the way gun owners look at firearms.

"In my opinion, I just use them for the gun range 'cause it's more trouble carrying them on you and if you are looking for trouble," Patane said.

Beyond training, experts say gun owners should store their firearms in a safe place. Guns should be unloaded and stored apart from the magazine. Owners should also keep their guns' serial numbers in a safe, separate place so they can report it if their guns are stolen.

As gun sales and prices spike in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, Patane said it's a good precaution to take, just in case criminals are looking to turn that high demand to their profit.

"Everyone is just in there trying to get their weapons while they can," Patane said of shoppers at one gun store. "You never know what's going to happen."