Voters have made clear that gun control isn't a priority. A recent AP-National Constitution Center poll found that 49 percent of adults felt laws limiting gun ownership infringe on the public's right to bear arms, while 43 percent said such laws do not infringe on those rights. After the recent mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, 52 members of Congress sponsored a bill to track bulk sales of ammunition, but the legislation went nowhere.
Bernstein and others attribute some of the industry's success to all but one state — Illinois — offering permits to carry a concealed weapon. In some cases, people have been buying guns because they're afraid of the day they won't be able to.
"Any gun owner might fear that," said Justin Paulson, a 22-year-old grad student in Nashville who recently purchased a handgun from Bernstein's store. Paulson said he's been collecting guns since he was 18. He's currently up to 16. He purchased his most recent handgun because he thought the one he had was too small to defend himself. And the timing of his purchase was deliberate. "Chances are things might be a little tighter in terms of control come November," he said.
Fears about new gun laws mean dollar signs for the gun industry.
Bernie Conaster, owner of Virginia Arms Co. in Manassas, Va., has doubled the size of his suburban Washington gun store, hired more employees and paid bonuses since Obama has been in office.
"I certainly don't want to stoke the fire," Conaster said, "but I'll ride the wave while it's here."
Associated Press writers Matt Apuzzo and Pete Yost, researcher Rhonda Shafner and AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report. Follow Eileen Sullivan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/esullivanap