‘It scares me’: As gun sales continue to surge in Wisconsin, fewer new buyers are going through training

OREGON, Wis. — As demand for firearms in Wisconsin continues its year-long surge, fewer new buyers are going through any sort of formal training process, according to Max Creek Outdoors Owner Steve D’Orazio.

If we had ten new people walking in, we’d have one person signing up for some type of training,” D’Orazio said. “It scares me. It scares me because again, people are coming in thinking they need a gun in their home for their own protection, but they’re not so much interested in training like they were in the past. I have a problem with that.”

On Sunday, a half-dozen customers went through a day of training at Max Creek. Wisconsin is one of 48 states with no formal training required for gun owners (California and Washington are the only states to require this). Despite buyers needing to pass background checks and get federal and state approval, D’Orazio says the process could take only minutes.

“We have noticed when there’s been a mass shooting, handgun approval is taking longer,” D’Orazio said. 

However it’s after mass shooting events he says the store tends to be busiest.

It’s awful, and it’s awful for me to say, but when there’s a shooting, whether it’s locally or in other parts of our country, more customers are walking through our door,” D’Orazio said. “It’s bringing more fear into their home. I think they’re replacing that with putting a gun in their home.”

With first-time gun owners purchasing out of fear, D’Orazio says some quickly realize they regret their purchase.

What we’ve seen here at the shop over the last several weeks is customers coming back asking for them to buy the gun back or putting it on a consignment program where we’ll sell the gun for them,” he said. “That tells me they woke up one morning and said ‘I need a gun in my home’, and two or three weeks later, they’re thinking ‘I don’t need a gun in my home’.”

By definition, there have been nearly 40 mass shootings in the United States in the month of April. Two in Wisconsin have resulted in five fatalities.

D’Orazio says he’s hopeful more will focus on training, with fear-based sales decreasing over time.

I guess on a personal level, I just need people to calm down,” D’Orazio said. “We’re getting back into the summer. Get outside. Get some fresh air. Don’t overthink this stuff.”