Business booming at western Colorado gun shop |

Business booming at western Colorado gun shop

John Gardner
Rifle, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado ” Business is booming for Edward Wilks, owner of The Tradesman in Rifle, Colorado.

Wilks said that most mornings, when he shows up to work, a line of customers is waiting at his door to get the firearms and ammunition they’ve ordered.

“We can’t keep up with demand,” Wilks said. “I’ve got no time because of gun sales.”

An increase in gun sales across the nation since Obama was elected and taken office, has not lessened in the two months since he took the oath. And the increase in sales also means an increase in background checks, which must be run through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The checks are taking upwards of three hours to complete, sometimes longer, while they used to take much less time.

According to spokesman Lance Clem, the agency is running about 1,000 requests for gun purchases per day. That is up from a typical day just one year ago where they were running about 300 checks per day.

Reasons for the extended wait time, Clem said, is because the CBI Insta-Check office has a zero-tolerance-for-errors policy and must be very careful when running background checks.

“Anyone working in the Insta-Check office has to check five different databases,” Clem said. “They are very careful with what they do, and most people understand.”

Clem indicated that in January and February alone, the Insta-Check office ran close to 40,000 requests for firearm sales in the state of Colorado.

“That is huge,” Clem said. “If it continues, it will set records again this year.”

Last year, gun sales surged and remained high as the presidential election came and went. According to the statistics from CBI, they had 196,980 approvals for gun sales in Colorado; 2007 had only 155,904. The first two months of 2009 saw approved gun sales requests of 38,305, compared to 24,744 for the same period in 2008.

And Clem doesn’t expect things to slow down very soon.

“Even in the slow periods of the year we are seeing a lot more than we used to,” Clem said. “It’s overwhelming, and they are having trouble keeping up.”

Clem could only speculate on why gun sales were so high; however, strong gun sales are only one aspect of an increase in business for Wilks’ business. Wilks said that he’s incredibly busy with training classes and concealed weapon permit courses, even more so than in previous years.

He said that his concealed weapons courses are so booked right now that people who have recently signed up can’t get into a class until November. He’s also seen an increase in women and children signing up for firearm safety classes, as well. According to Wilks, these may be signs that people are fearful that the Obama administration is going to reinstate what he called “Clinton-era” gun laws.

“People want information, training and education,” Wilks said.

But, he said that upward of 95 percent of people he asks why they are purchasing a firearm cite “personal protection,” and not the threat of stricter gun laws.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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