Fearing `Big Brother,' some people are rushing to buy handguns before the Brady bill takes effect. Lawrence gun shops have seen no blitz, however.
For Alan H. Marcotte, there are only 90 shopping days left until Brady.
As President Clinton signed into law the Brady bill, with its restrictions on weapons purchases, Marcotte, his son and gun enthusiasts nationwide went shopping Tuesday.
Effective Feb. 28, the new law will require a five-day waiting period and background check for gun purchasers.
``I wouldn't be here today if the bill had not passed,'' the 60-year-old Marcotte, who has owned guns since he was 12, said as he and his son checked the goods at Riley's Sport Shop, in Concord, N.H.
``It's the principle of the thing,'' Marcotte said as he picked out a handgun. ``We want to enjoy the freedom and right before the government takes them away from us.''
The Brady bill and the crime bill moving through Congress have convinced weapons enthusiasts that they'd better get their guns while they can.
Because Lawrence has had a three-day waiting period for years, local gun shop owners say they have not seen a jump in business.
"We've had a lot of inquiries but we haven't found a lot of difference in sales," said Shirley Patterson, an owner of Lunker Bait, Tackle & Hunting Supplies, 947 E. 23rd St.
Jeff Lummis, manager of Jayhawk Pawn & Jewelry, 1804 W. Sixth, said the Brady bill would make handgun retailing fair for Lawrence dealers, who say they have lost customers to Topeka and Kansas City.
"I don't think it's going to hurt us a bit," he said.
Bill Perkins, manager of Davis Center Shooting Sports in Louisville, Ky., said the bill has been great for business.
``People are afraid. They don't want their name on papers that go to the government,'' he said. ``Big Brother already knows too much. They don't want these guns traced to them because they're afraid the government will eventually use this to take the guns away.''
The Brady bill's effect on gun buyers isn't as great in states that already have waiting periods, such as California, New York and New Jersey.
``State laws here make the Brady bill look like nothing,'' said Frank Caso, owner of Caso's Gun-A-Rama Inc. in Jersey City, N.J. ``It won't mean anything here.''
But the pending crime bill, which would ban certain assault weapons and ammunition, is increasing gun sales even in states with waiting periods.
Don Davis, owner of several Indiana gun stores, said there hasn't been much increase in handgun sales because of the state's seven-day waiting period. But gun distributors have gone on a buying spree for AK-47s and other assault weapons because they expect Congress to ban the weapons next year, he said.
``Those guns, the ammunition that feeds those guns, have all been swallowed up because of the Brady bill,'' Davis said. ``People are gambling that the crowd in Congress are going to come to their senses and ban them.''
John Marker, owner of the Black Hills Trading Post in Rapid City, S.D., said he has sold about 35 assault weapons a week since the Senate voted to ban them as part of the crime bill. That's about a tenfold increase in sales from a year ago, he said.
``They're buying them while they can,'' Marker said. ``It's an investor item. They're better than CDs (bank certificates of deposit).''
He sold one for $2,500 and several for $1,500. Most sales are in the $700 range.