In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. massacre, the fear of a
new ban on assault weapons has led to a run on guns at Mahoning Valley stores.
Retailers Dick's Sporting Goods suspended gun sales at all of its stores after last week's elementary school shooting that left 26 dead include 20 children.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, just two days after the shooting, Gander Mountain's advertising insert in newspapers across the country featured a semiautomatic rifle with a 30-round magazine similar to the one used by Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter.
Wal-Mart, which sells guns from the Bushmaster line at about 1,700 stores nationwide, pulled the information page for the brand's Patrolman's Carbine M4A3 rifle from its website Monday, according to published reports.
In a statement, the company said it remains "dedicated to the safe and responsible sale of firearms in areas of the country where they are sold."
The shooting has spurred a nationwide -- and local -- debate that Mike Miller, representative of Miller Rod & Gun Inc. in Struthers, said boils down to whether a person believes the gun was responsible for the horrible act or if the person was responsible.
Violent video games have helped desensitize children to violence, he added.
"We used to carry guns into Struthers High School, put it in a locker, take it out after school, then leave school and go shoot squirrels," Miller said. "Nobody every thought about anyone shooting anyone."
Now, children play video games that provide extra lives for killing people and teach them how to use an AR-15 rifle by the time they're 11, he said.
Local gun dealers were dealing with significant crowds Tuesday throughout the Valley.
"We have other dealers sending people to us for guns because they're sold out," Miller said. "Specifically, we just had a guy come in while on his cellphone talking to a gun dealer in Florida, he told them we had five [guns] and asked [the dealer] if he wanted to buy them all."
Price at this point is not an issue; it's about availability, he said.
Byron Mastriana, owner of B&B Armory in Poland, said Tuesday was his first day open since the incident and he was busy all day.
Most of the customers were looking for assault weapons, he said.
Mastriana said he can't sell any type of assault weapons that aren't in stock because the manufacturers do not have them available.
The companies are simply not producing them, Miller said.
Since the shooting, there have been calls for stricter gun-control measures.
The White House said President Barack Obama is "actively supportive" of efforts on Capitol Hill to reinstate an assault- weapons ban.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says Obama would also support legislation to close the gun show "loophole," which allows people to buy guns from private dealers without background checks.
The president has pledged to address gun violence in the coming weeks.
Gun dealers have a reason to be concerned. Assault rifles at the B&B Armory shop make up 50 percent of sales, Mastriana said. Assault rifles start at about $500 while handgun prices start around $200, according to Cabela's website, one of the nation's largest outdoors stores.
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