A renewed national discussion about guns and gun ownership has emerged in the wake of the July 20 massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.
During the past decade, June and July have consistently been the slowest months for gun sales, according to FBI data.
But across the country, gun shop owners are saying that firearms sales are surging as buyers express fears about both personal safety and lawmakers who are using the shooting to seek new weapons restrictions.
In Colorado, gun sales jumped in the three days that followed the theater shooting.
The impact locally is less certain.
“There’s definitely more interest, but I wouldn’t say an overwhelming rush of paranoia,” said Rebecca Pass, who owns Pass Guns of Georgia at 4251 Winder Highway in South Hall County with her husband, Chris.
“I think people in my community are still more interested in having guns for hunting and home protection, and that’s why people come to the gun stores.”
Authorities have said that the suspected Colorado shooter, James Holmes, methodically stockpiled weapons and explosives at work and home in recent months. He bought thousands of rounds of ammunition and a shotgun, a semi-automatic rifle and two Glock pistols, authorities said.
On July 20, clad in head-to-toe combat gear, he burst into a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” tossed gas canisters into the crowd and opened fire. The shooting killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others.
Since the tragedy, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has renewed his call for a ban on assault weapons.
He says it’s time to go from “mourning to marching” to address gun violence.
Jimmy Putman of Gainesville walked out of an Eastman Gun Show at the Georgia Mountains Center on Sunday with an AK-47 assault rifle strapped over his shoulder.
“Just like Mitt Romney said, we’ve got enough laws to control everything now,” he said. “No more laws are going to help.”
Putman wasn’t surprised by the national spike in gun sales.
“They always do,” after a tragedy involving guns, he said. “People get scared that their rights are going to be taken away.”
Joe Moore of Gainesville said he believes “it’s hard to put a law on something like (the movie massacre) when you’re dealing people who are ... not all there.”
Moore, leaving the gun show with some ammunition, added: “I don’t think everybody should suffer because of (one person’s) actions. People don’t usually buy guns to hurt other people. They buy guns for their own protection.”
David Murray, a Gainesville resident who didn’t attend the conference but was nearby in the downtown square, said he doesn’t own a gun but has no problem with guns.
“They’ve defended our country for years,” he said.
Murray said he has spoken to friends since the tragedy and believes that the blame for it shouldn’t be placed on the wrong thing.
“People kill people,” he said. “... Guns are not the problem. If we outlaw them, they still are going to be around.”
The Associated Press and Times’ staff writer Lee Johnson contributed to this report.