Long guns have busy month after Vegas shooting

A rack of AR-15 rifles stand to be individually packaged as workers move a pallet of rifles for shipment at the Stag Arms company in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (Photo: Associated Press)

Long gun sales spiked in October, the same month as the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. (Photo: Associated Press)

Long gun sales hit an annual high last month after the Las Vegas shooting sparked new debates about gun control and stoked fears about personal safety across the country.

Dealers processed more than 480,000 applications for long guns in October, eclipsing levels not seen since 2016 — the biggest on record for federal background checks, and by proxy, gun sales.

Rommel Dionisio, managing director at Aegis Capital who specializes in the gun industry, told CNN Money last month he anticipated the shooting would translate into more sales — as it has for incidents past, including Orlando, San Bernardino and Newtown.

“This event in Las Vegas could result in increased demand near-term for firearms as people are concerned about personal safety,” he said.

Some 58 people died and more than 500 were wounded Oct. 1 when a 64-year-old gunman fired into a country music festival from his hotel suite 32 stories above the Vegas strip. A month later, investigators still haven’t pinpointed the shooter’s motivation.

The lack of understanding hasn’t stopped Congress from introducing new gun regulations, however, particularly regarding bump stocks. The legal gun modification, known for increasing the rate of fire, soared from obscurity into national headlines after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed 12 of the modifiers were found in the gunman’s two-room suite at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Typically retailing for as little $99, major retailers, including Walmart and Cabela’s, pulled the devices from store shelves in the days after the shooting. SlideFire Solutions, a Texas-based bump stock manufacturer, temporarily halted new orders. Requests for comment from all three companies went unanswered, though Cabela’s released a statement to the Washington Examiner Oct. 6 confirming their decision to stop selling bump stocks.

Sturm, Ruger and Co. Chief Financial Officer Chris Killoy told investors this week, however, the Vegas shooting hasn’t impacted the gun maker’s sales very much. “Really we haven’t seen anything significant,” he said during a conference call Wednesday. “Obviously a very tragic event, but certainly nothing that we’ve seen any impact on.”

Estimated gun sales climbed over 12 percent in October after a sluggish third quarter, according to federal data.

Dealers processed just over 2 million applications through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System last month — a 13 percent decline over 2016. Guns.com removes permit applications and rechecks from the monthly total to more accurately pinpoint sales, though the measurement isn’t exact.

Estimated sales in October topped 1 million for the first time in six months, federal data shows — an 18 percent decrease from the year before. Dealers transferred just under 520,000 handguns — nearly 31 percent behind March, 2017’s busiest month so far for handgun sales.