FORT WORTH — Gun sales are booming.
Enthusiasts are stocking up on guns and ammunition, and some in the industry are wondering whether sales are spiking as they did after Democrat Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008.
That rush created a nationwide shortage.
"We're at the top of the roller coaster and we're about to plummet down the side," said DeWayne Irwin, owner of the Cheaper Than Dirt gun store in north Fort Worth, which set a sales record for the month of February. "It's fixing to happen again. I don't know if it will be to the same extent it was before, but I see it coming.
"Look who the Republicans are trying to put against Obama," he said. "It's the Keystone Kops and people are getting scared. People are terrified he's going to get re-elected and then he won't care about getting votes next time. He'll just pass whatever legislation he wants."
Some say the uptick in sales at gun stores could also be linked to anything from the arrival of tax refunds to a spending spree by fans of the National Geographic Channel's Doomsday Preppers show, which chronicles people preparing for the end of the world.
Nationwide, more people than ever are buying firearms.
Last year, the FBI received more than 16.3 million inquiries from people running criminal background checks on potential gun buyers. That's up from 12.7 million in 2008 and 11.4 million in 2007, FBI records show.
Texas had around 1 million such requests in each of the past four years, the second most, behind Kentucky, which had nearly double that. Officials say Kentucky's numbers are high because fresh background checks are run every month there on gun owners with concealed-weapons permits.
"I'm constantly getting questions from people in the gun community about this [issue]," said Alan Korwin, author of nine gun law books, including Gun Laws of America, and operator of gunlaws.com. "People are concerned that if Obama wins, as a lame duck, he will go after firearms in a way we have never seen before.
"We saw a fire sale when he was elected last time," he said. "But the speculation is that now ... with his need to get re-elected gone, the sky is the limit on attacking the Second Amendment."
Before taking office, Obama said he respected the constitutional right to bear arms. In 2007, after more than three dozen Chicago children had been killed, he also said he wanted to restore the ban on assault weapons.
In the days and weeks after the 2008 election, people began stocking up on firearms and ammunition, eventually creating a shortage. It took nearly a year for supplies to become more plentiful and for prices, which spiked because of the demand, to come down.
President Bill Clinton signed the last so-called assault weapons ban on Sept. 13, 1994, and it expired 10 years later. Just months after he signed the ban, voters went to the polls and the House and Senate flipped from Democratic to Republican control.
When the assault weapons ban came up in Congress for reauthorization in 2004, the measure failed.
"It's bad politics to be on the wrong side of the Second Amendment at election time," Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, has said.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Obama administration "has consistently favored the reinstitution of the assault weapons ban. It is something that we think was useful in the past with regard to the reduction that we've seen in crime and certainly would have a positive impact on our relationship and the crime situation in Mexico."