Gun Makers Shift Marketing Strategy04:58
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General manager Steve Alcairo holds a Winchester 1200 shotgun while being interviewed at High Bridge Arms Inc. in San Francisco on Wednesday. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
General manager Steve Alcairo holds a Winchester 1200 shotgun while being interviewed at High Bridge Arms Inc. in San Francisco on Wednesday. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Gun stores all over the country are reporting a spike in sales of guns, especially semi automatic rifles, similar to the one used in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last week.

Colorado set a single-day record for gun background check requests on the day after the shooting.

Tennessee, California, Virginia and Nevada have also set records this week, for numbers of background checks. These instant background checks don't directly respond to sales, but they are a pretty good proxy.

At the same time, makers of armored backpacks for kids are seeing a spike in sales. officials at backpackshield.com said they sold 15 on Wednesday. Before the mass shooting, they sold as few as one per month.

Gun sales usually spike after a highly publicized shooting - and when the political climate indicates that stricter gun regulations could be on the the horizon.

The interest in semi automatic weapons over other types of guns is part of a growing trend.

James Hagerty of the Wall Street Journal told Here & Now's Robin Young that over the past few years, sales of lightweight handguns and semiautomatic rifles have been up, in comparison to hunting rifles and heavier guns.

Manufacturers are also changing their marketing techniques.

The CEO of Smith & Wesson, P. James Debney, told investors in September, "What we get excited about is that expanded user base and the level of social acceptance that we see now out there. It is socially acceptable to carry a firearm, more so than before—to carry a firearm for protection, have one at home for protection, go to the range to shoot as a pastime, as a hobby."

In addition to the move to market guns as a hobby, manufacturers have also been marketing them specifically to women, including pink guns and bra holsters.

Guest:

  • James Hagerty, covers manufacturing for The Wall Street Journal.

This segment aired on December 20, 2012.

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