Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Support for KPCC comes from:

Southland firing ranges get busier after Sandy Hook shooting

Business is booming at the LAX Firing Range in Inglewood.

More customers than before are visiting the small store to fire weapons and ordering ammo online after theshooting in Newtown, Conn. last week that took the lives of 27 people.

Manager Nolan Avery said the business’ website,, processed more than 500 ammunition orders on Thursday. The website used to handle 100 to 150 orders a day, he said.

“I believe it’s mostly fear that the current administration as well as (government leaders) on a local level, are looking at proposed legislation to make getting ammunition of guns a little more difficult,” Avery said.

RELATED: Comparing California and federal gun laws

After mass shootings, it is common to see an increase in gun sales, analysts said. Avery’s shop  bustled with customers on Thursday. Several complained about the rising prices of ammunition at other stores because of higher demand. A sign at the store noted the limitations of Kung Fu, and added, “Try to karate chop a bullet.”

Avery said he doesn’t think gun control is the answer to such shootings.

“At that point, there’s only two people that will have guns—the police and the bad guys,” Avery said. “You disarm a person’s ability to defend themselves.”

He showed me a classroom where he teaches newcomers about gun safety and how to fire the weapons before they go into the shooting range. He said parents have brought children here to teach them how to properly handle firearms.

“Every time we’ve had a tragedy, people come out of fear,” Avery said. Those tragedies include the lawlessness that took place after Hurricane Katrina, the 1992 L.A.  riots and natural disasters, he added.

Some stores like Big 5 Sporting Goods continue to advertise rifles and shotguns. Representatives of the El Segundo-based retailer didn’t return calls for comment.

UCLA professor Adam Winkler said it’s common to see gun owners rush to buy ammunition and more weapons when gun control is in the news. He’s the author of “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”

“Gun enthusiasts figure that if there’s going to be regulations on guns, they better go today and buy those guns before they’re outlawed,” Winkler said.

This year, the state attorney general's office predicts that California dealers will sell 750,000 guns, said spokeswoman Michelle Gregory. That would put gun sales up 25 percent compared to 2011.

But whether any changes to gun control laws will happen remains to be seen. The National Rifle Association advocated on Friday for the nation’s schools to be guarded by police officers. Winkler doesn’t think that will solve the nation’s gun violence epidemic.

“The more guns less crime philosophy has never worked in America,” Winkler said. “What are we going to have next? Now, we have to have movie theaters have armed guards? Restaurants have armed guards? Is there no place where we don’t have to have an armed guard?”

At the LAX Firing Range, customers continued to stock up on ammo.

Adrian Andrade bought more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. He’s a UCLA student in geography and environmental studies.

“I just learned it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it,” Andrade said.