Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' News

December 19, 2012

5 to 10 million semi-automatic assault rifles owned by Americans

(Continued)

He said gun owners consider it a popular "modern sporting rifle. We don't consider it an assault weapon."

That statement was borne out by the surge in sales of the AR-15 and similar semi-automatic rifles in the immediate aftermath of the Connecticut massacre because of fears the weapons may soon be banned by federal law.

Nick D'Augustine, owner of Milford Firearms in Milford, N.H., said he's setting sales records daily since the tragedy in Newtown.

"I've never seen anything like this," he said. "The phones been ringing nonstop, the cash register has been going nonstop."

Many of the nation's gun outlets said they could not keep up with the demand. Law enforcement agencies said they were deluged with orders for background checks on assault rifle buyers.

"We had to call in extra staff," Susan Medina, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, told the Denver Post.

There's no certainty about how many Americans own guns. But a 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service estimated there are 310 million firearms in the U.S., excluding weapons on military bases. That's only 4 million short of the country's latest population estimate.

Past attempts to strengthen gun control laws have met with stiff resistance from the nation's gun lobby, contending banning weapons is a violation of the Second Amendment's right for citizens to bear arms. A 1994 federal ban on the sale of assault rifles was allowed to lapse in 2004 by President George W. Bush, and the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a strict gun control law in Washington, D. C., in 2008, citing the Second Amendment.

But this time even the National Rifle Association, the loudest voice in the pro-gun camp, says it is "prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

Text Only
Sister Newspapers' News
Sister Newspaper Columns
AP Editor's Picks Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
National and World