Business is booming for local ammunition retailers, as consumers continue to purchase guns and stock up on bullets in the weeks following two recent shootings with multiple fatalities.
The sale of ammunition has more than doubled in the past few weeks at Black Bird Shopping Center in Medford, according to store manager Mike McMullen.
McMullen said the recent shootings have driven people to the store, both out of desire to protect themselves and because of talk that future legislation may restrict sales of guns or ammunition.
A shooting that took place outside of Portland at the Clackamas Town Center shopping mall on Dec. 11 killed two people and seriously injured a third after a 22-year-old gunman fired dozens of rounds from an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
Three days later, a 20-year-old man in Newtown, Conn., opened fire inside an elementary school, killing six adults and 20 children with an XM-15 rifle.
"It's been a crazy couple of weeks," McMullen said. "People are saying they've bought a gun for defense purposes. There's a lot of people saying it's their first time."
McMullen said people likely are wary that legislation could impact their ability to purchase a gun or ammunition.
"There's uncertainty of what's going on," he said. "The government always takes a while."
Browsing through the shelves of ammunition Monday, Dave Jahn said he was looking to replenish his supply in case he needed it in the future.
"It's peace of mind, just in case," said the Medford resident while shopping with his 21-month-old son, Zachary.
Jahn said it's understandable people are worried about whether Congress will pass stricter gun-control laws, but he didn't believe that restricting ammunition purchases would prevent widespread violence.
"This isn't what hurts people," said Jahn, holding a box of ammunition. "It's the idiots that hurt people. And idiots will find another way if they take this away."
Black Bird was sold out of several kinds of ammunition Monday, including 9 mm, .223, .556 and .22-caliber bullets, according to sporting goods employee Brian Wadley.
Most stores in the Rogue Valley were also sold out of the popular ammunition, he said.
Wadley said lots of men have come into the store in the last few weeks looking to buy handguns for their wives.
"There's definitely been a lot more people," said Wadley, who has worked at the store for five months. "I like it because people who never shared an interest before are learning everything they can about firearms."
It could take months before the shelves are refilled with some of the most in-demand handgun bullets, as manufacturers struggle to keep up with the sudden demand, Wadley said.
Stopping by the gun counter, customers Bill Shine and his son Chuck said they were pleased to hear that ammunition sales have risen in the last month.
"I think we should all be armed," Chuck Shine said, peeking into a glass case full of handguns.
"I'm all for it," said Bill Shine, adding that he'd seen more than a dozen people purchasing handguns at Medford's Sportsman's Warehouse this week. "We need more protection."
Sales also have shot up at Jackson County Armory gun store in Medford, which stocks guns and ammunition from nearly 100 manufacturers, according to owner Harry Ferguson.
"There's been a tremendous jump in sales," said Ferguson, who added the election and holidays also have contributed to a more than doubling in business.
Wadley said he doesn't believe that any major changes to gun laws are coming yet, but that stocking up on ammo isn't a bad idea for gun owners.
"I stock up on ammo," said Wadley. "But right now it's just a lot of big talk."
Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.