By Gary Rosenberger

     NEW YORK (MktNews) - U.S. gun manufacturers and dealers report very strong sales closely linked to precautionary measures being taken by old and new customers who anticipate a Y2K threat.

     They add that people are also stocking up on weapons in advance of tighter restrictions on gun ownership propelled in part by the Columbine High School shooting last spring.

     One manufacturer says the demand for guns is so strong at present that production simply can't keep pace with orders.

     The manufacturer cites a link between those strong orders and the public's concern about Y2K.

     "Without a doubt, we've had a big increase in sales in recent months, and we feel it is related to Y2K," said Linda Powell, a spokeswoman for Remington Arms Company in Madison, North Carolina.

     "We've presold all of our production by mid-year and we have a very short supply of firearms," she added. "We see that trend carrying into the first part of next year."

     Powell said the main evidence of recent Y2K-related sales is in the product mix of weaponry that dealers are demanding -- most notably an emphasis on "home-defense type products," she said.

     Powell said that the company does not make public financial figures, but it is on course to having "a very significant and good year."

     She said the publicity surrounding the shootings at Columbine and other high schools did not deter the public from buying guns -- and may, in fact, have spurred sales.

     "I don't think it hurt sales," she said, noting that the prospect of more gun control legislation may have sent people scurrying to buy arms in advance new restrictions.

     The owner of Colorado's biggest gun store said this year is likely to be his best ever, and Y2K is playing a big hand in that.

     "Sales are extremely strong," said Dave Anver, owner of Dave's Guns in Denver. "There are a number of factors behind it, and one of them is Y2K."

     Anver said that in a normal year, he might sell between $4 million and $4.5 million in merchandise, but "this year we'll be above $6 million."

     Some of the folks who are worried about Y2K and go to his shop "don't even own guns," he said.

     "They're here to buy gun safes -- they're about the size of a refrigerator, and they're buying them because they don't have trust in the banking system," he said.

     "They're deluding themselves -- the banks and credit card companies have taken care of the Y2K problem -- but they think that come January 1st, their money isn't going to be in there," Anvers said.

     The safes, which cost about $1,500 to $2,000, used to sell at the rate of one a week. "Now we're selling 10 to 15 a week easily -- we can't keep them in stock," he said.

     "I tried buying more from Browning (the manufacturer), but they say they're completely out of safes until next year," he said.

     "Something's definitely different now -- there's an urgency, no haggling about price or style or the color of the safe," he said. "They just say, 'I'll take it,' which strikes me as odd."

     Anvers said a basic distrust of the political winds is also driving up gun sales.

     "The Columbine High School thing happened just a few miles from here -- then Clinton came here and five pro-gun bills that the Colorado legislature was ready to pass were withdrawn," he said. "That created a big backlash."

     Anvers said that actually fueled gun sales in anticipation of tighter restrictions, a phenomenon he observed five years ago as the Brady Law was about to be enacted.

     Gun shows are also making hay over the impending Y2K scare.

     For instance, Georgia Mountain Productions, Georgia's biggest gun show, advertises itself as a "gun and Y2K" show on its web site.

     Anvers also noticed a focus on Y2K at the gun shows he attends.

     "They're making a cottage industry of wind-up radios, water filters and MREs, which are 'meals ready to eat' from the military," he said.

     Anvers said that one policeman, who is a customer, told him that when he tried to purchase a generator that his asthmatic mother needed for her medical equipment, he found that "everybody was sold out."

     One Pennsylvania gun dealer said he, too, has seen a definite spike in Y2K-related weaponry and gear.

     "I've definitely seen an increase in survival-type weapons, assault weapons and handguns -- handguns are our biggest seller," said Jason Aronowitz, owner of Bigboys Toys in New Milford.

     "Ammunition sales have been up a lot," he added. "Customers who used to buy a box or two are buying a case."

     Aronowitz also noted that survivalist items that he stocked when the store opened and couldn't sell, are flying through the window.

     "Knives, survival manuals, clothers, MREs -- you can't get MREs quick enough -- they're buying stuff that wouldn't normally move," he said. "It's not just fanatics either, I got ladies coming into my store."

     But not all gun dealers are seeing a dramatic change in the public's attitude toward Y2K, or reaping big sales as a result.

     A Southern California gunstore and target range manager said sales are steady, primarily a function of a good economy, with no signs of Y2K paranoia.

     "It's been normal here," said Charles Ports, manager of Magnum Range in the Los Angeles suburb of Cucamonga. "There are absolutely no indications that everybody is Y2K crazy."

     Ports noted that "business is good" because "the economy is fairly decent."

     "Our business is fine, our gun sales are fine, and accessory sales are fine," Ports said.

     Tom Case, owner of Totally Ballistic in the Atlanta suburb of Lake City, said he's just barely breaking even and has seen no benefits in his business from Y2K.

     "I haven't had any increase in sales -- the sort of people who buy Y2K stuff don't want traceable weapons, so they go to gun shows," Case said. "I can barely pay my rent."

     But he also scoffs at the survivalist hoopla surrounding the New Millennium computer bug.

     "Two days after Y2K, when nothing happens, you'll be able to buy all those guns dirt cheap," Case said.

Editor's Note: Reality Check stories survey sentiment among business people and their trade associations. They are intended to complement and anticipate economic data and to provide a sounding into specific sectors of the U.S. economy.

-- Dog Gone (, November 23, 1999


just as long as all the looters take each other out the first two weeks

-- boom boom (bang@bang.bang), November 23, 1999.

Maybe, just maybe, that idiot's scoffing is precisely why his sales are so dismal.

-- duh (connect@the.dots), November 23, 1999.

Thanks DG,

Got ammo everyone?

-- nothere nothere (, November 23, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ