Bernstein and others attribute some of the industry's success to all but one state — Illinois — offering permits to carry a concealed weapon. In some cases, people have been buying guns because they're afraid of the day they won't be able to.
"Any gun owner might fear that," said Justin Paulson, a 22-year-old grad student in Nashville who recently purchased a handgun from Bernstein's store. Paulson said he's been collecting guns since he was 18. He's currently up to 16. He purchased his most recent handgun because he thought the one he had was too small to defend himself. And the timing of his purchase was deliberate. "Chances are things might be a little tighter in terms of control come November," he said.
Fears about new gun laws mean dollar signs for the gun industry.
Bernie Conaster, owner of Virginia Arms Co. in Manassas, Va., has doubled the size of his suburban Washington gun store, hired more employees and paid bonuses since Obama has been in office.
"I certainly don't want to stoke the fire," said Conaster, "but I'll ride the wave while it's here."