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Newtown tragedy sparks gun sales

December 26th, 2012

The heinous acts of a gunman at an elementary school in Connecticut have gripped the nation, leaving people to deal with a tumultuous bundle of emotions from anger to loss and disbelief that someone could do something so inherently evil. When the gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he cut short over two dozen lives and set in motion tidal waves of reaction.

Politicians at the federal and state levels are arguing over stricter gun control laws as families are left to grieve and worry that it will happen again. Security at schools around the nation has been increased even as children ask their parents tough questions: “Daddy, is someone going to shoot me too?”

Meanwhile, sporting goods stores are seeing a more immediate result—a significant increase in gun sales.

Bill Monell, owner of Monell Sporting Goods in Pine Bush, said he does not sell the type of gun used in the tragedy—a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle—adding that he focuses on deer hunting and target practice. He did note however, that his gun sales in general have increased under President Barack Obama’s administration and more recently surged following the tragedy in Connecticut in anticipation of stricter gun control laws.

“Everybody and his cousin are looking for them, Monell said of the guns. “I could sell them if I had anything to sell them.”

The rifle in question is the civilian version of the M-16 rifle used by the U.S. military and is a semiautomatic, firing one bullet each time the trigger is pulled. The company states the rifle is used for hunting, competition, recreation and home defense.

In Walden, just an hour’s drive from Newtown, the Thruway Sporting Goods store did carry a few of the assault-type rifles. The weekend following the school shooting, the store promptly sold out.

“We sold out and have no plans to bring in any more,” said the store’s manager, Brett Concors, who emphasized that the store’s primary business is hunting. “We’re not getting any more in the foreseeable future.”

The national chain Dick’s Sporting Goods, which has a store in the town of Wallkill, has also cleared their shelves, suspending the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of their stores and completely removing all guns from their store closest to Newtown (Danbury, CT).

“We are extremely saddened by the unspeakable tragedy,” the company stated in a press release. “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families and to the entire community.”

Other media outlets are reporting record gun sales and background checks around the country while both the president and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo work on separate proposals to strengthen gun control, measures that reportedly include a ban for firearms with a clip holding more than seven bullets, renewal of an expired 2004 ban on assault rifles, microstamping and tougher penalties on gun crimes.

Whether stores will continue their voluntary ban on the subject rifle remains to be seen, as does the passage of proposed gun control legislation.

By Rachel Coleman
rcoleman@tcnewspapers.com

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