In the wake of last week's appalling massacre of young children and teachers in Connecticut, one of America's most heated debates swirls: Gun control.
President Obama strongly hinted about it Sunday during a speech to the people of Newton, Conn., where the gunman killed 26 on Friday in one of the country's deadliest shootings.
Some senators defined that path more clearly, with one from California saying she would propose an assault-weapons ban next year.
During the weekend, Colorado residents set a record for the number of submitted background checks -- paperwork needed for potential gun owners, according to the Denver Post.
It has sparked some conversation, Las Cruces gun shop owners said Monday, but hasn't raised significantly the number of firearm sales in town.
Only one of the gun store owners reached by the Sun-News on Monday said he has witnessed an increase in sales.
"People are worried that the firearms they wanted, or have always wanted to purchase, are going to be illegal," said Ray Gonzales, owner of Custom Cartridge Company, who saw an increase in business.
He added that the repercussions of stricter gun control were being discussed by customers Monday, even those who didn't make any purchases. During a phone interview with the Sun-News, Gonzales said he received another call inquiring about the sales of AR-15 rifles.
Gonzales has owned the shop for eight years. He compared the recent reaction of his customers and the
surge of gun inquiries and purchases to Obama's election in 2008. He has yet to introduce any gun-control laws.
Other local gun store owners reported having similar conversations, but didn't notice any change in sales Monday.
Paul McClarin, owner of The D.A.M. Ammo Company, said his shop is too small to be affected by any such change.
A manager at the Dick's Sporting Goods said his store, a national chain, saw no changes in sales.
Harry Stryker, who owns Strykers Shooting World, said there's always an increase in firearm sales at his store during the holiday shopping season, so it was difficult to say if the recent gun-control talks had any impact. He noted that sales were down slightly from last year.
Some of the customers may have been in Stryker's store because Monday was the first day it offered memberships to an under-construction indoor shooting range that is planned to open early next year.
Stryker said he understands the reaction to the tragedy and the subsequent efforts by some to prevent further shootings, but he hopes that any gun-control discussion would be reasonable.
He said some gun laws were enacted so that gun owners would not be "prone to knee-jerk reactions that you will see legislators do in the coming weeks."
Stryker said the gunman in Connecticut and the "failure of the system" are to blame for the shooting, not the semi-automatic rifle the gunman used, which reportedly belonged to his mother.
"There have been school bus crashes that have killed more kids than this," Stryker said. "Do people want to ban school busses?
"It's never about the gun. It's about the people."
James Staley may be reached at 575-541-5476. Follow him on Twitter @auguststaley
(c)2012 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Visit the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.) at www.lcsun-news.com
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