Who's the top gun salesman at The Shooters Depot in Chattanooga?
President Barack Obama, to hear the co-owner of the gun store on Shallowford Road tell it.
"He's the salesman of the year," Amiee Smith said. "It's true. Every time he opens his mouth, he drives up sales — which is probably the exact opposite of what he wants."
Obama announced Monday he plans to issue executive orders soon to tighten the nation's gun-control restrictions without going through Congress.
"This is not going to solve every violent crime in this country," Obama said. "It's not going to prevent every mass shooting; it's not going to keep every gun out of the hands of a criminal. It will potentially save lives and spare families the pain of these extraordinary losses."
Obama today will announce a series of steps the White House says are aimed at curbing gun violence. Those include expanding background checks on gun sales and forcing more sellers to register as federally licensed gun dealers, such as those who sell online or at gun shows, the Associated Press reported.
But the president isn't getting to the root of the problem, said Rex Kehrli, the owner of RK Shows, which puts on about 100 gun shows annually in eight states, including a gun show with about 400 dealers' tables at the Camp Jordan Arena in East Ridge.
Mental illness was to blame for recent high-profile shootings, Kehrli said, including James Eagan Holmes' 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured 70 and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut that year when Adam Lanza killed 20 students and six school staff members.
"There isn't one of these guys that is normal," Kehrli said. "If folks are crazy, they're going to figure out a way to do bad things."
Smith said sales at Shooters Depot are 40 percent higher than they were the first week of last year, because of Obama's pending executive orders. Demand also has soared for the $65, eight-hour-long concealed carry permit course that Shooters Depot offers.
Corker on guns
"It's not hard to understand why so many Tennesseans fear that the president will abuse his authority and act in a way that infringes upon their Second Amendment rights," U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said in a statement Monday. "Like most Americans, I want to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and dangerous mentally ill people, but the president is expected unilateral actions would be divisive and detrimental to real solutions. After reviewing the details, I will work with my colleagues to respond appropriately to ensure the Constitution is respected."
We're offering a class every day of the week now, and they're all full," she said. "We're booking right now into March."
Gun-control fears had weapons and bullets flying off shelves in the Chattanooga area after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Elementary School in Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children and six educators. Some gun stores here ran out of guns and ammunition.
"We haven't run out of guns or ammo, but we had to restock, and we're restocking faster than our distributors are resupplying," Smith said.
Sales also are brisk at Carter Shooting Supply and Range on Highway 58 — but that's been the case for the entire seven years Obama has been president, said sales clerk Mickey Jones. He's been in the gun business for about 20 years.
"We're always busy," Jones said. "[Obama's] been the best gun salesman we've ever had."
With all major stock markets in a severe sell-off Monday, shares of companies that make guns surged as new data pointed to strong sales at the close of 2015, a year marked by mass shootings in Paris and California, and new political pressure to tighten regulations.
Shares of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. rose almost 6 percent Monday, one of the biggest percentage gains over the past year for the gunmaker. Its shares hit a record high two weeks ago. Shares of Sturm, Ruger & Co. rose almost 3 percent. Stock in the Southport, Conn., gunmaker hit a 52-week high last month.
Already, the gun control issue has become a hot topic in the presidential campaign, ensuring that whatever steps Obama takes will be heavily politicized by both sides.
Even before being announced, Obama's steps were provoking a major confrontation with Congress, with Republicans and gun rights advocates pledging and preparing to derail them before they're implemented by challenging Obama's authority to create impediments on gun ownership on his own.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or twitter.com/meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.