Gun Sales Spike Across Bay Area as New State Laws Loom

Gun store owners across the Bay Area say sales are spiking before the start of 2017. Next year, stores can’t sell certain types of semiautomatic rifles.

Wednesday is the last day to buy assault rifles in California because a background check takes 10 days. Fifteen stores contacted Tuesday were sold out of highly coveted assault rifle models.

“Every time the state passes laws, we go a little crazy, a little bonkers,” said Jeana Rolsky-Feige, owner of Imbert & Smithers Sporting Goods in San Carlos.

Rolsky-Feige says her store has sold five times the number of semiautomatic rifles that it usually does this time of year.

In July, Gov. Jerry Brown signed sweeping gun control legislation spurred by mass shootings like the one in San Bernardino.

“When Governor Brown signed it, we went crazy,” Rolsky-Feige said. “Then [sales] slowed down a little bit, but then it spiked, and now I'm getting calls left and right."

FBI statistics show since the legislation was signed in July, background checks for people trying to buy a gun are up 21 percent compared to last year.

The sales ban includes semiautomatic rifles with features like the “bullet button,” which allows users to quickly detach magazines using a pen or bullet.

Ron Watkins bought two guns before the deadline. He'll have to register them as assault weapons with the state by January 2018.

“Because it's my right to own them, and California is really going after our rights,” he said.

According to the California Attorney General's Office, 257,895 semiautomatic rifles have been registered since the legislation was signed on July 1. That's more than all of the registrations in 2015, when the total was 153,931.

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