“We’ve sold everything that even resembles an AR-15,” Tammy Casciato said Wednesday night. “They’re becoming like unicorns.”
She and her husband, Jeff Massengill, were waiting on a full shop of customers at their Americana Arms business on Cagle Lane.
But Casciato was not calling the guns she and Massengill had sold “assault rifles.”
“We only sell semi-automatic rifles, not fully automatic ones,” she said.
The usual definition of an assault rifle is one that can either shoot semi-auto or full auto. Gun owners who wish to buy a fully automatic rifle must purchase a special stamp from the federal government to legally possess the gun.
“We’re sold out of AR-15s,” said Monica Moreno, manager of Bee County Pawn on North St. Mary’s Street.
She said the store sold its last AR-15s Wednesday.
“We had Bushmasters, Windhams, DPMS and Smith and Wesson,” Moreno said. But customers have purchased every last one of the rifles.
“We’re sold out,” Moreno said when asked about their high capacity magazines for AR-15s and AK-47s.
“Ammunition is sold out too. Even the AKs,” Moreno said.
Massengill had the same message concerning high capacity (30) round magazines for AR rifles. And early Wednesday evening the business sold all but two boxes of Americana’s .223-caliber and 5.56mm ammunition.
“We’ve been blessed,” Casciato said of the business she and Massengill own. Their shop has remained busy since they opened it a couple of months ago.
But since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and President Barack Obama administration’s stated intention to ban the sale of so-called “assault rifles,” the demand for semi-auto ARs and AKs has been unbelievable.
Massengill said it is now impossible to restock. All of their suppliers have said they cannot fill their orders.
Moreno said Bee County Pawn is having the same problem.
Local gun dealer Ernest Hurst said part of the problem is “Sandy, the storm, not the school.”
Hurst said the hurricane that struck the northern East Coast of the United States recently shut down many of the nation’s firearms manufacturers.
Although most of the companies had restarted production, they were still trying to catch up with orders when the school shooting happened last week. That caused an unexpected spike in the demand for semi-automatic rifles.
Moreno said her store had one Ruger Mini 14 left. Americana Arms had two AR-15s in stock Wednesday night. But a local man purchased a Bushmaster AR-15 that night, leaving only one rifle left in the store.
The shop did have a couple of AK-type rifles in 5.56mm and 7.62x39mm. But those were not expected to remain on the shelf for long.
One local man, upon hearing that there was still an AR left in Beeville, picked up his cellular phone Thursday and said he intended to buy that rifle for himself if it was still on the shelf.
“This has been uncomfortable,” Casciato said of the increased demand. “Just the volume. Everybody has left with information on a gun or ammunition.”
Casciato and Moreno said pistol sales remain steady. There has been no rush on them. And resupplying their stocks does not seem to be a problem yet.
Other pawn shops in Beeville have not experienced the rush to buy semi-automatic rifles.
“We don’t take assault-type rifles,” said Robert Alvarado of EZ Pawn on East Houston Street.
There are no ARs, AKs or Mini 14s in their store. “We don’t even sell pistols and we don’t sell ammunition,” the manager said.
Patsy Gomez of Cash Pawn on West Corpus Christi Street said the same thing.
Although her shop does have the so-called assault-type rifles, “we don’t have any out for sale.”
“People don’t want the government to interfere with their ability to defend themselves,” Massengill said. Beeville area residents simply want to be able to buy the pistol or rifle they want, within the law as it is written now.
“Gun owners are supposed to be responsible for their guns,” Massengill said. That is not something they think the government should be dictating to them.
“If that principal (at the Sandy Hook Elementary School) had walked up to the shooter with a gun in her hand instead of harsh words, 20 kids would still be alive,” Massengill said.
The shop owner works as a full-time teacher.
“I respect people’s right to have an opinion,” Massengill said. “That’s in the First Amendment”
“Everybody is blaming everything but the shooter,” one of Massengill’s customers said.
Casciato mentioned that 115 applicants for concealed handgun licenses had gone through their school in just the past few months.
Hurst said no law that the government can pass will stop killings like the one on Connecticut. “Society and the government should be responsible for the killing.”
“When you advertise that there are no guns at a location, that’s inviting crazy killers to show up,” Hurst said.
“We have to change what kids and some adults see in the movies,” Hurst said. Movies and video games should bear much of the blame for much of the violent behavior.
“Kids are making those games part of their lives,” Hurst said. He said every licensed firearms dealer in the country is responsible. They conduct background checks on their customers before selling them weapons. And if a customer displays questionable behavior when they are checked, the dealer notes that on the request.
The Sandy Hook killer’s mother also bears much of the responsibility for the tragedy at that school, Hurst said. She knew her son was unstable but she failed to secure her guns.
“Society has failed itself,” Hurst said.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.