HOUSTON (AP) — Recent acts of gun violence and talk of stricter laws have translated into increased purchases by gun enthusiasts and people worried about safety — but also investors stockpiling weapons and counting on supply and demand to drive up prices even higher.
As weapons stores report shortages and high demand, several people told the Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/UuPUVS) they bought assault rifles and ammunition clips with the hope that their value will go up.
Allen Blakemore, a Houston-based political consultant, said he borrowed from his children's college fund to buy 200 high-capacity ammunition magazines.
"At this point, it is economics," he said. "I certainly don't need that many. It becomes an opportunity to buy something at one price and sell it at a higher price."
Blakemore said he doesn't know when he'll sell the magazines, which some politicians want to outlaw. In three months, the magazines had gone from $15 apiece to about $75.
"You ever play the stock market?" Blakemore said. "You ride the stock up and at some point you say, 'I don't know what is going to happen, I am going to go ahead and sell.'"
Corpus Christi engineer Lee Brandon said he sold a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle last year to fund a trip to the state Republican Party convention. He's now trying to buy another AR-15 rifle, but they are delayed for several months.
"As it turns out, that was a big mistake," Brandon said.
Calls for stricter gun control measures became more forceful after the December massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that left 20 children dead. President Barack Obama has talked about tighter background checks and reinstituting the expired assault weapons ban.
Gun shops and gun shows have seen long lines of prospective buyers, creating a demand that has driven up prices and caused shortages even for some small law enforcement agencies.
Houston attorney Al Van Huff said he bought several M4 carbine rifles at what he called "market price" at the time.
"I bought several because they are not going to go down in value," he said. "They are in my gun safe and so, if an assault-weapons ban were passed, they would at least double in value right away."
But gun investment carries risk, particularly if new laws restrict or ban certain weapons.
"Literally, all it takes is one signature in Washington and all these (investments) could be worth nada," said Keith Norman of Houston-based NFA Investments, which specializes in controlled weapons. "People buy because it is a commodity, a collectible. Suddenly, it is a $15 or $20,000 paperweight."
Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com