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National gun discussions spark sales in Wadena

Wadena Hardware owner Tom Weber assists a customer at the gun counter Wednesday. Weber said gun sales have gone up about 50 percent in the past month due to fears of possible gun control legislation. Photo by Zach Kayser

The looming topic of gun control in Washington, D.C. has already had dramatic effects in Wadena County. Area stores that carry firearms have indicated extreme surges in weapon sales leading up to proposed gun legislation.

Tom Weber of Weber's Wadena Hardware said his store has seen a 50 percent increase in gun sales in the past month.

"People are buying anything and everything - ammunition related, gun related, reloading material related - just because they're afraid that it's going to be tough to get or they may ban some of those things," Weber said.

Weber added that it was difficult getting more stock from manufacturers because the gun makers were so busy. He recalled a gun dealer show he attended recently in the Twin Cities, where it was hard to find something as simple as .22 caliber ammunition.

"People are stockpiling it, or they're hoarding it, some people are turning around, buying extra and then reselling it at a higher profit just because they're feeding off this fear of what might come down the pike," Weber said.

Kris Taylor, manager of Like-Nu Gun & Pawn in Staples, said his sales have also gone up.

"We've had decent gun sales, but it's not been astronomical considering I don't have a lot of the guns that most people are looking for right now," Taylor said, "but the ones that I did have flew off the shelves pretty quick."

Taylor said the guns most people have been looking for include "presumed assault weapons, the ones that have been making the news right now." He estimated that total gun sales increased about 30 percent at Like-Nu.

Tom Frazier is a gunsmith and owner of the Weeping Heart Gunn Shoppe in New York Mills. Although he isn't a stocking dealer and therefore doesn't have a regular inventory, he said he experienced difficulty special-ordering black rifles for his clients.

"Every three, four years they go through this. Everybody thinks they're going to be banned, so it makes the sales on them go through the roof." Frazier said.