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Gun retailers continue to report record-high sales since the re-election of President Obama, but Second Amendment advocates say any moves by the White House to restrict access to weapons ultimately is in the hands of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Larry Pratt, executive director of the firearms lobbying group Gun Owners of America, told WND that because the House holds the purse strings, Republican members have the power to rein in any executive orders by Obama to control guns by blocking funding.
“We lost the presidential election, but if the Congress, in fact, has its own mind, then we can do some things with that,” said Pratt, who has directed the 300,000-member GOA for more than 30 years.
Meanwhile, gun-store owners across the nation, such as Jim and Joy Pruett of Jim Pruett’s Guns and Ammo in Houston, Texas, say sales have gone “through the roof” since Election Day.
“We haven’t been able to keep up with it,” Jim Pruett told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s beyond our wildest imagination.”
Pratt quipped that “nobody is taking down the picture of the president from their gun-store walls – the one with the caption ‘Salesman of the Year.'”
“It’s the one government stimulus that has worked,” Pratt told WND.
On Black Friday last week, a record-high 154,873 background check requests were made, a 20 percent increase over last year’s record of 129,166.
The Pruetts said that in October 2008, their sales were $230,000, far above the monthly average of $150,000. But in November 2008, sales skyrocketed to $550,000.
The couple doesn’t have a count yet for October and November of this year, but Jim Pruett predicts that the ratio is a 20-to-1 increase since Election Day, the Houston paper reported.
Like other gun owners nationwide, Pruett attributes the sales spike, in part, to Obama’s reference in October to reintroduction of an assault weapons ban.
Responding to a question from reporters after remaining mostly silent on the issue during his first term, Obama insisted weapons “that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets.”
He noted, however, that in his hometown of Chicago “there’s an awful lot of violence, and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap hand guns.”
Obama campaigned in 2008 on permanent reinstatement of the expired assault weapons ban but never followed through.
Gun owners also are worried because just hours after Obama’s re-election, the U.S. signaled its support for a U.N. committee’s call to renew debate over a draft international treaty to regulate the $70 billion global conventional arms trade.
U.N. delegates and gun control activists believe treaty talks broke down in July because Obama thought Republican opponent Mitt Romney might exploit the issue if the White House appeared to be in support of the pact.
Another gun retailer, Debbie Schultz of Schultz’s Sportsmen’s Stop in Kiski Township, Pa., said her customers are concerned not only that Obama’s re-election will bring stricter gun laws but that civil order in general will begin to deteriorate.
Schultz, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported, said they’re “worried about the direction of the country and want to be able to protect themselves if something would happen.”
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jacqueline Otto told WND that her organization is not surprised by the spike in sales, as gun owners “are very informed voters and they have known that President Obama has opposed our Second Amendment rights his entire political career.”
“Gun sales are undoubtedly going up because gun owners know that at best President Obama wants to make guns and ammunition more expensive through increased taxes and regulation, and at worst he wants to make them totally illegal,” she said.
“Election Day may be over, but gun owners are continuing to make their voices heard by turning out to their local gun shops.”
European-style gun control
Pratt told WND he doesn’t think the U.N. treaty will get anywhere with the Senate, which would need to ratify it.
“But what I do see is more below the radar, perhaps through executive order, telling gun stores not to sell guns that are perfectly legal to sell,” he said.
He foresees the possibility of executive orders by Obama that would bar the sale of any handgun over the caliber of .380 and any long gun that can accept a high capacity magazine.
“That would be a kind of European-style gun control,” he said, adding, “We’ve got a kind of European-style guy in the office of president.”
Pratt said his group has begun conversations with members of Congress to defund any initiatives Obama might put forward to curtail weapons.
An assault weapon ban, he said, also would not get by Congress.
“We’ve seen that he doesn’t mind ruling by executive orders,” Pratt said, “so it will fall heavily on the House whether they have the determination to simply say none of these funds may be used to carry out whatever it is that the president is trying to do.”
He said House Speaker John Boehner likely will need pressure from members of his Republican caucus, telling him, “We’re going to do it this way, and if you’re too afraid, just sit in the back of the bus for a while.”
Pratt commended Reps. Michele Bachman, R-Minn., and Steve King, R-Iowa, as “very tough” defenders of the Second Amendment “through a difficult period when there wasn’t anybody in leadership” other than Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who has pursued the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious gun-tracing scandal as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Pratt is placing some hope in members of the incoming Republican freshman class, including Stephen Stockman of Texas and Jackie Walorski of Indiana.
“We know personally they have a demonstrated history of confronting their party leadership when the leadership was off the reservation and successfully getting the leadership and the caucus back on the reservation,” Pratt said.
Stockman, who will represent Texas’s 36th District, confronted the GOP leadership on gun rights when he represented the state’s 9th Congressional District between 1995 and 1997, Pratt noted. Walorski, as a Republican member of the Indiana House of Representatives, confronted her governor on raising taxes.
“They both publicly opposed the leadership and got the leadership to back down,” Pratt said.
“We hope we have enough of the Stockman and Walorski types in the House that perhaps the caucus can no longer ignore their own platform, because there will be a public conscience there,” he said.