Just a few months ago, Oklahoma gun-buyers still were purchasing firearms in typical fashion.
Handguns, particularly those made by Glock, were the hottest sellers.
But then a mentally unstable 20-year-old man walked into an elementary school in Connecticut and gunned down 20 children and several adults, sparking a national conversation about gun control.
Adam Lanza, who also killed his mother before the Dec. 14 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School, reportedly used an AR-15 rifle during the shooting rampage.
Since the Connecticut shootings, weapons commonly referred to as assault rifles have been flying off the shelves in Oklahoma gun stores.
Shelves are bare
At H&H Shooting Sports Complex, shelves that once held weapons like the AR-15 were bare in the days after the attack in Newtown, Conn.
Miles Hall, owner of H&H, said he sold 2,000 rifles in just two days and called the current sales environment the most lucrative in history.
Other gun store owners saw the same thing happen to their inventories. Semi-automatic rifles, which had always been popular, were now the “it” thing for gun enthusiasts.
Prices have skyrocketed, as well, as demand has grown. Weapons like the AR-15, which once cost between $500 and $700, are now selling for more than $2,000.
Rob Rich, who attended a handgun safety class Wednesday night at H&H Shooting Sports Complex, said he bought his AR-15 rifle three years ago.
“It reminded me of what we used to use in the service,” Rich said. “It cost me about $600.”
Rich said he isn't surprised the weapon, which is highly customizable, has become such a hot item.
“I thought about selling it, a little, but I'm not going to,” Rich said. “I shoot it at the range … it's fun because it kind of reminds me of being in the military.”
Darren Burger, co-owner of the gun shop Locked and Loaded in Choctaw, said he believes a “fear of legislation” is driving the current upward trends in gun sales, especially weapons like the AR-15.
“There is just a lot of uncertainty, especially around elections,” Burger said. “People don't know what's coming, so it's that fear of the unknown.
“People are in a rush to get something people are telling them they can't have … even if they haven't told them anything yet.”
Burger said the massacre at Sandy Hook, more than anything else, drove up the popularity of weapons like the AR-15 rifle.
Other items, like high-capacity magazines and certain kinds of ammunition, are growing in popularity because some gun enthusiasts fear they will no longer be available if proposed law changes take effect some point down the road.
“After Sandy Hook, things turned into a madhouse around here,” he said.
“Like I said, people just want to do something if they think there's a chance they won't be able to anymore. And that comes back to a fear of legislation.”