Gun owners, sellers sound off on firearm control debate

Dealers say selling, buying rush is response to recent tragedies

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As the nation debates the future of gun control, firearm buyers and sellers are sounding off about why they choose to arm themselves.

Channel 4's Vic Micolucci spoke with people at a local gun show Sunday about whether guns should be harder to get, and how the nation-wide discussion has affected sales.

"In light of people going up to schools, going to shopping centers, going anywhere they want to with guns, then I should be able to protect myself and my family and that's the way I feel," said gun owner Becky Smith.

Smith said she is a proud gun owner, and strongly believes in the constitutional right to own one.

"I believe that in the time when everybody else has got guns, a woman that does not carry a gun is irresponsible not only to herself, but also to her family and other people that she is responsible for," said Smith.

Smith was one of hundreds at a gun show in Macclenny over the weekend. Organizers said the event was very well-attended and sales were good.

Kimbal Hutchinson with First Coast Pawn & More is one of the dealers at the show. Hutchinson said she's seen a 60 percent increase in gun sales over the past few months.

According to Hutchinson, certain weapons have expensive and hard to find.

"Yes, prices have increased. The manufactures have increased prices, too. And we as dealers have increased prices cause we don't know when will be able to replace the guns that we are selling," said Hutchinson.

Ammunition has also been in high-demand, Hutchinson said.

"Well, all the rounds and bullets are harder to find. People, a lot of people, are buying…a lot of them," said bullet seller Pedro Montro. "And websites are flooded with orders and I think part of it is that and the second part is some of the manufacturers are holding back. They are not selling."

Some dealers said the rush to sell firearms is in response to the mass shootings in schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. Others said the government is looking to crack down on rules, and they want the weapons before that happens.

On Tuesday, the White House is expected to release new plans for stricter gun rules.

"The fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence, and prevent the very worst violence," President Obama said in his White House response to a gun control petition. "Ultimately if this effort is to succeed it's going to require the help of the American people. It's going to require all of you. If we're going to change things, it's going to take a wave of Americans -- mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals -- and, yes, gun owners -- standing up and saying 'enough' on behalf of our kids."

Those who want stricter rules on guns say firearms are the number one choice by suicide victims. In total, about 9,000 suicide deaths in the U.S. each year involve guns.   

Proponents of stricter gun control also point out that, according to recent numbers, almost 300 children are killed across the country each year by guns.

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