TAYLORSVILLE — Gun stores throughout the state are experiencing a surge in sales as Utahns react to President Barack Obama's promise to institute tighter restrictions on gun purchases.
Largely in response to the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., last month, Obama proposed several sweeping changes to gun purchasing laws Wednesday. The measures include 23 executive orders, ranging from a national gun safety campaign to a review of safety standards for gun safes.
The president also proposed that Congress pass an assault weapons ban and a statute requiring universal background checks.
The announcement caps a month of fierce debate about gun control throughout the United States, and gun owners have responded to the uncertainty by flocking to local gun stores and making purchases while they're still legal.
"People are panic buying," Tom, a Taylorsville resident who declined to be identified by his full name, said Wednesday. "The markets are being flooded. It's a great day for gun manufacturers, at least until Congress decides its next step."
Tom stopped by Doug's Shoot'n Sports, 4926 S. Redwood Road, hoping to grab some bullets from a visibly picked-over ammunition shelf. He said he wanted to come in before there was no more left in stock.
"I'm not sure that these market conditions are what the president's policies intended," he said.
Tonya Christoffersen also visited Doug's Shoot'n Sports and said she wasn't surprised to see the place so busy.
"I listened to the press conference (Wednesday) morning," Christoffersen said. "I was definitely concerned about some of the president's suggestions."
Christoffersen and her husband use the shooting range for target practice. She said she agrees with Obama about the assault weapons ban, but she's skeptical about his call for more background checks.
"I don't know why everyday citizens would need assault weapons," said Christoffersen, adding that she and her husband typically use pistols. "(But) more background checks are only going to affect honest citizens. Criminals aren't going to pay any attention. … Ultimately, you can't legislate common sense, no matter how hard you try."
She does, however, support the idea of armed teachers in schools.
"They need more protection in schools," Christofferson said. "They need someone willing to shoot back and kill whoever it is that's on a shooting spree. … But it has to be anonymous or there will be too many accidents. Students shouldn’t know that 'Mr. Smith' is packing heat."
In response to the deadly school shooting in Connecticut, the National Rifle Association has called for armed guards in every school. Obama countered Wednesday with the suggestion that financial incentives be established for schools that decide additional armed resource officers are needed.