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West County Weapons Sales Go Up After Call for Tighter Gun Control

Legislation being prepared to ban assault-style weapons; President to make the issue "central" to his second term

With the national conversation centering on gun control legislation following the tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT, and the National Rifle Association scheduling a press conference Friday to weigh in on the issue, weapons of all sorts are flying off the shelves in gun stores in West County.

"People are trying to get as many guns as they can," said Carter Finnell, general manager at Marco Polo Outfitters in Chesterfield Valley. "They think the opportunity to have certain firearms might disappear."

In fact, Finnell was so busy that he didn't have time to comment beyond that, explaining that people were calling and coming into the store "like crazy." Several attempted calls to Adventure Shooting Sports, also in Chesterfield Valley, resulted only in busy signals. 

The fears are being driven the revival of a law being proposed by U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) to ban so-called assault weapons and high volume ammunition magazines, as she explained on PBS Newshour Monday.

Down further south in Ballwin at Butterfield Gun Works, owner Bob Lemon said he has never seen anything like the recent surge in demand since he opened his shop in 1969. 

"For three days, I haven't been able to get a hold of my wholesaler," he said. "I have never had this experience before."

Lemon observed that the talk from Democrats like Feinstein is having an impact counter to the one they are seeking by driving up gun sales. The Wildwood resident specializes in custom and high-end rifles for huntsmen, but said that's not what people are asking for. 

"They are asking for AR-15s and shotgus with drum clips, it's the damnedest thing I ever saw," he said.  

The AR-15 was the model of rifle used by the gunman at Sandy Hook to kill 26 people in four minutes. So-called "assault rifles" are being blamed by many for the tragedy in Netwon, and a rising chorus of legislators are taking direct aim at banning assault-type weapons.

President Obama, who spoke eloquently at a memorial service for the Newtown schoolchildren on Sunday, has pledged to make gun control a "central issue" in his second term as President and will submit proposals to Congress in January, as reported in the New York Times.

The NRA has not responded to moves to restrict gun ownership, citing in a press release: "Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting."

The NRA, in the release, also stated it is "prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again." It has a press conference scheduled for Friday.

What happens next is anyone's guess, as those with strongly-held beliefs on both sides of the gun control issue will have their say while legislators debate what changes, if any, should occur.

Are guns the problem? Or just the tool of choice in this tragic incident? Use the Comments button below to weigh in on the topic.

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