Thursday, December 14, 2017
Business

Shares in gun companies surge, chatter at Tampa Bay gun shops increases after week of violence

Apprehensive Americans have been buying guns in record numbers, and Thursday's deadly sniper attack on Dallas police, preceded by the release of graphic footage of officers fatally shooting suspects in two other states, appears to be fueling the trend.

Shares in U.S. gun manufacturers soared Friday, and local gun dealers said they're noticing an uptick in business.

"It's still early, but you hear a lot of talk in the store," said Bruce Kitzis, general manager at Shooters World on Fletcher Avenue in Tampa. "Whenever we have an incident like this anywhere in the country, it brings to the forefront people and their personal safety."

Police said a 25-year-old man from Mesquite, Texas, ambushed police at a Dallas protest Thursday night. Five officers died, and seven were injured.

The officers were watching over what had been a peaceful protest over the killings of two black men by police, one Tuesday in Baton Rouge, La., and a second Wednesday in St. Paul, Minn. In both shootings, witnesses took cellphone videos of the incidents.

Fred Flesche, owner of Shooting Sports of Tampa on North Dale Mabry Highway, said it's not easy to link gun sales to an individual event, but he has noticed another trend.

"Over the recent events that have happened, we've seen more people enrolling in classes to get concealed weapons permits," Flesche said. "People are worried about their safety and protecting themselves."

CNN reported this week that, according to FBI data, the nation is on pace to set the record for most firearm background checks in a year. CNN reported that about 23.1 million checks were conducted in 2015, the most ever in a year, with 8.9 million of those through May 31. This year, 11.7 million have been conducted through May 31.

In addition to safety issues, many prospective buyers act after major incidents out of concerns over tighter gun-control proposals. And it is not uncommon for the shares in gun manufacturers to react, as they did after the Orlando nightclub massacre last month.

Gunmakers' shares surged on Friday. Smith & Wesson Holdings Co. shares climbed 2.8 percent to $29.07, while shares in Sturm Ruger & Co. closed up 4.9 percent at $67.65.

"Whenever you see something like that happen, it's just a tragedy," said Kitzis, of Shooters World. "The people on the street and the video footage, it makes it a little more real for people, and people question their personal safety, the safety of their family, and it does lead to stronger sales."

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