The year-end surge in sales comes at the end of what gun retailers describe as a very strong year. Fears the re-election of President Obama would result in stricter gun laws drove those numbers for the first eleven months of 2011. Now the December surge could be halted by a lack of supply. Parro said he is low on inventory but cannot get through to his distributors, and Freedom Firearm's Freeland said the seven or eight distributors she deals with around the country, are all out of inventory.
For the last month Jerry McCall has hung a sign outside his store, Texas Guns, in San Antonio, Texas reading "Get Your AKs and ARs before the ban." The sign referrs to the assault rifle the AK-47, and the AR-15, and his belief that a re-elected Obama would prevent future purchases of them. McCall said he has sold everything on his wall, along with all his ARs and AKs in stock. He said the twelve distributors who supply him with these guns are out of stock too.
"Just remember one thing, " he said, referring to his clients, "These are good honest American citizens."
He said they are worried about being able to defend themselves and their homes. He said the government's talk of a new gun controls has created a kind of hysteria among buyers. (Read More: After School Shootings, NRA All but Disappears From Facebook )
It is not only an end to the current era of gun rights causing people to buy firearms. Mike Wastler, a manager at Barts Sports in Glen Burnie, MD told CNBC there is another segment of recent buyers who fear the world is coming to an end.
"Two ladies told me ten days ago, 'God told them we do not have until the end of the year,'" he said. "These are soccer moms driving minivans!"
He said in the gun business you have to assess people quickly because "you do not want a fruitcake buying a gun." He said people who are concerned the world is coming to an end are part of the 20 percent to 25 percent of his clientele buying to guns for defense if the economy crashes — and if their homes and families are targeted by robbers. (Read More: Why Gun Sales Often Rise After Mass Shootings)
"These are educated people," he said, and these days they are a growing segment of his customer base.
—By CNBC's Mary Thompson; Follow her on Twitter: @MThompsonCNBC
Disclosure: Mike Wastler is the brother of Allen Wastler, Managing Editor of CNBC.com.