Gun sales in Florida have skyrocketed since last month’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, according to gun sellers and state statistics. In December, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement received 137,941 applications for pre-sale background checks, shattering the December 2012 record of 131,103.
The number of first-time Florida gun buyers has also soared in the past month, according to the owner of a gun show that travels throughout the state.
“The people feel now terrorism is home. It’s here. And … they want to be able to defend themselves,” said Khaled Akkawi, owner of the company Florida Gun Shows, which hosts weekend sales throughout the state. Akkawi estimated that 30 to 35 percent of sales in the past month have been to first-time gun buyers.
“They’re coming out, they’re buying a gun for the car, a gun for the house, a gun for the office,” he said. “Being cautious.”
Sales are also increasing because buyers anticipate more restrictions on gun-buying, according to Akkawi and other Florida Gun Shows employees. Last Tuesday, President Obama announced executive actions to extend background check requirements and clarify licensing requirements for gun sellers. Some gun sellers and buyers fear the president’s measures could make selling and buying guns more difficult.
One of those gun buyers is Omar Villar, who was browsing at the show on Saturday. Villar said he’s planning to buy a gun -- his first -- because he wants to make a statement about gun control.
“It’s mainly just to have [the gun], to say, ‘Hey, you know, everybody’s united and we’re -- you know, we want to have guns,’ ” Villar said. “To show the country we want to have guns. That’s it.”