Assault Weapons Ban Talk Sparks Run on Gun Stores

Newtown school shooting has put gun control back in the spotlight.

ByABC News
December 23, 2012, 6:11 PM

Dec. 23, 2012— -- The National Rifle Association may still get its way and defeat the lawmakers calling for a ban on the sale of assault ridles, but some gun store owners say it seems their customers aren't taking any chances.

"We have never seen anything like this," said Larry Hyatt, who owns a gun shop in Charlotte, N.C. "We have the Christmas business, the hunting season business, and now we have the political business.

"We have seen a lot of things, but we have never seen anything like this, this is probably four times bigger than the last time we saw a big rush," he said.

Some of the customers in his store said it is the talk of stricter gun control in the wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that is driving the rush.

"The way they are trying to approach it, they are just making people who have never thought about buying a gun, now they want to come in here and buy a gun," one customer said.

At NOVA Firearms in Falls Church, Va., there have been "skyrocketing" sales following the Newtown shooting, chief firearms instructor Chuck Nesby said.

"They've been off the charts. Absolutely skyrocketing," Nesby said. "If I could give an award to President Obama and Senator Feinstein would be sales persons of the year."

He was referring to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who said she will introduce an assault weapons ban in January.

Sales are up 400 percent, he said.

"We're completely out of the so-called assault weapons, semi automatic firearms that are rifles," Nesby said. "Forty percent of those sales went to women and senior citizens. We can't get them now. Everybody, nationwide is out of them the sales have just been off the charts nationwide."

The horrific shooting, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza broke in to the elementary school and killed 20 children and six adults with a semi-automatic rifle, has even some former NRA supporters saying it's time to change the rules on assault weapons.

Those guns were banned from 1994 until 2004, when the ban expired and was not renewed.

Now it's not just lawmakers who have traditionally advocated stricter gun control talking about the need to act.

Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas suggested today on CBS' "Face the Nation" that new regulation should be considered.

"We ought to be looking at where the real danger is, like those large clips, I think that does need to be looked at," Hutchison said. "It's the semi-automatics and those large magazines that can be fired off very quickly. You do have to pull the trigger each time, but it's very quick."

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat but a long-time opponent of gun control who like Hutchison has received an A rating from the NRA, has also come out in support of strengthening gun laws.

NRA chief Wayne LaPierre said Friday that more gun control is not the way to stop such shooting from happening again: the answer is more guns, in the form of armed guards in every school.

After being criticized for two days for the proposal, LaPierre today stuck by his guns.

"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"When that horrible monster tried to shoot his way into Sandy Hook school, that if a good guy with a gun had been there, he might have been able to stop [it]," LaPierre said.

LaPierre and the NRA said that the media, the entertainment culture and lack of proper mental health care are to blame, not the proliferation of guns in the United States.

Asa Hutchinson, the former congressman who will lead the effort by the NRA to place armed security guards in schools across the country, said today on "This Week" that gun control efforts would not be part of the "ultimate solution" to gun violence.