Special Report: Gun Fight -- Sales and the Economy

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

"This is by far crazier than anytime in the past. Sales are double some days, some days triple what they normally are,"

 Dan Compeau, the Chief Operating Officer at Williams Gun Sight Co.

"We don't normally have a spare spot on any rack," said Jack Williams, a sales associated at Total Firearms in Mason.

Williams has been using guns his entire life and has never seen anything close to the sales the store is experiencing.

"[We have] zero inventory or two or three where we normally have two thousand or four thousand guns at times in stock," said Williams.

Since the 2012 presidential election and shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary he said people's purchasing patterns have turned frantic.

"The funny thing is they come in and they are looking for a hand gun, they might leave with a shot gun, or they are looking for a shot gun for bunny hunting or sport shooting and walk away with a hand gun," said Williams. He has never experienced such purchasing patterns in 52 years of dealing with guns.

Bottom line, the people who come to buy a gun don't leave the store without a gun in hand.

"Every state I've called, shops that I've called, are very low or out," said Williams. "I mean if this keeps going the shop will be closed in a couple of weeks. I mean it's bad. It's going quick."

Stores across the state and country are having similar experiences.

"We've probably tripled production and in the last two months we have received orders that we are still waiting on to get raw material for," said Ed Strange, the owner of Wicked Grips.

Since 2009 the number of hand guns being registered in Ingham County is up 35 percent. 603 more guns were registered last year than in 2009.

In 2012 84 percent of registered hand guns owners in Ingham County also got Concealed Pistol Licenses.

The number of licenses given out each month has increased dramatically. From 55 in January two years ago to 215 this year. That's up nearly 300 percent.

Shelves that normally would be filled with guns are empty.

"When you buy a firearm, you are not just buying a firearm. You have to have the accessories to support it, the ammunition to fire it, you have to have the holsters and the belts and the safety equipment like safes and things like that. So it was just a snowball effect," said Strange.

Whether you like guns or not, all those purchases are good for the economy.

Just outside Flint--in Davison, Michigan--is 87-year-old Williams Gun Sight Company. It's as close to a firearm manufacturer as you can get in the state and is one of the largest gun sight manufacturers in the world.

"We do about 400 different items, said Dan Compeau, the Chief Operating Officer at Williams Gun Sight Co. "We fit a lot of different makes and models. We do peep sights, open sights, and lately its been the handguns sights that we've seen the most growth in."

Dan Compeau has been in the business for 30 years. He says despite new hires and more shifts, the industry simply can't keep up with the demand.

"We have about ten CNC machines that do different operations so [each product] moves from station to station to get all the different machining processes done to it," said Compeau, as he gave News Ten's Brian Johnson a tour of the sight shop.

Williams Gun Sight Co. manufactures hundreds of thousands of sights and scopes each year.

"All these jobs are made in America," said Compeau.

The national gun debate which threatens to limit guns has dramatically increased sales, and is the driving force behind the record numbers.

It took the City of Lansing six months to get 122 guns off the streets through a buyback program, but Williams Gun Sight Co. is currently selling that many guns each day and so are other stores across the state.

"This is by far crazier than anytime in the past. Sales are double some days, some days triple what they normally are," said Compeau.

The industry is all a boom. While gun advocates don't want to see more restrictions put on the books, no one can deny all the talk of guns is good for business.

"These products are made in the USA and if they stop [or restrict these], it is going to hurt us terrible," said Williams.

In January a state senate committee passed a bill that would exempt any Michigan-made guns and ammunition from federal regulations.


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