Tampa Bay stores report spike in assault rifle sales as gun control debate wages on

TAMPA, Fla. - At SRT Supply in Clearwater, all the action has moved to the back of the store, where assault rifles sit on display.

In just 30 minutes Wednesday afternoon, they sold six of the high-powered weapons, when normally they sell just three in an entire day.

"There's a big fear that they're going to lose their rights to own arms," said SRT Supply, Inc. President Patrick Wood.  "So, they're trying to do what they can now to prevent that."

Sean McRory is one of them. He purchased parts for an AR-15. The ex-marine says, now that he's back home, he worries about protecting his family if talk of gun control turns into new laws.

"Because if I can't get it, then the bad guys will get it. Then I have no chance. That's why," he said. "Honestly, my opinion, I think we need more guns rather than less guns."

That concern has more than doubled assault rifle sales at some Tampa Bay shops.

Thomas Sabo, General Manager of Central Firearms, says it's even driving up his competitors' prices.

"I have seen increases upwards of 20, 30, 40%," he said.

Sabo recently posted a Facebook message for customers, warning them of what he calls a fear-based selling-spree.

"TO OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: I personally find it difficult to try and capitalize on the tragedy that unfolded last week. I have seen numerous posts from competitors and allies alike pushing people to act, and I find it in poor taste."

Sabo pledged not to join in what he calls a marketing frenzy.

"To put people into a buying frenzy for something that may or may not happen, I think, is irresponsible," he said. "It's good for business in times like these, and companies like mine, and I tend not to want to be a part of that."

SRT Supply calls its newly created bullet-resistant shield for schools , equipped with door-stops and zip-ties, the opposite of capitalizing on tragedy. They say it's acknowledging reality.

"It's a shame we have to think that way. Nowadays you're always on the defensive as to what do I have to do to stay safe," Wood said.

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