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Retailers saw record firearm sales last week in the wake of the Newtown tragedy
Guns are displayed at a store in San Francisco. Locally, gun-shop owners say their sales have gone through the roof since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.
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BY CATHY JETT
A Culpeper gun shop sold so many guns last week that the owner had to hit the road on Thursday, his day off, to restock at a Pittston, Pa., warehouse.
"Tuesday was my busiest day by far," said Nathan Richardson, who opened Cedar Mountain Armory six months ago. "People bought anything and everything."
According to several Fredericksburg-area firearms dealers, customers--including many first-time purchasers--have been buying guns in record numbers since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 left 20 children and six adults dead and prompted President Obama to raise the possibility of reinstating a ban on assault weapons.
"People are feeling that there's no reason not to carry a gun anymore," Richardson said. "After the Colorado shooting [at a movie theater in July that left 12 dead and 58 wounded], there was a mentality that if someone else in the theater had had a gun, things would have ended differently."
SSG Tactical, which is tucked away in Westwood Office Park in Fredericksburg, had its busiest day ever on Tuesday, and its stock of AR-15s, the type of semi-automatic rifle Adam Lanza used to kill 27 people, was nearly sold out by the end of the day. AR-15 prices start at $1,000 to $1,200.
"It's fear and terror of the government taking away their right to own this stuff," said manager Curt Sebastian. "It's basically fear, fear of government intervention."
Clark Brothers gun shop near Warrenton sold out of AR-15s on Tuesday, but that hasn't stopped customers from asking for them.
"The demand is running right now at probably 50 times the inventory," said manager Scott Carter. "Essentially right this minute, there's no inventory anywhere. It's gone. Until the manufacturer makes more to send to dealers, people are going to have to wait."
'police can't be
The numbers back up the gun dealers' statements. Virginia State Police said the agency processed 4,166 back ground checks to purchase guns the day after the shooting--the highest volume of transactions in one day since the program began in 1989. It was a 42 percent increase over the number of checks on the same Saturday (Dec. 17) in 2011.