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Monday 22 September 2014

Gun shops report huge sales as Newtown buries its dead

David Usborne Washington

Published 21/12/2012 | 05:00

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As Newtown continued to mourn its dead and a presidential task force convened to consider how to tackle America's firearms addiction, much of the rest of the country was busy stripping gun-shop shelves bare of any items that might be prohibited by a new federal ban.

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Independent gun-shop owners like Austin Cook of Hoover Tactical Firearms in Alabama reported a stampede of customers anxious to buy assault rifles like the one used by Adam Lanza to kill 26 people, including 20 young children, at a Newtown primary school. Lanza also killed his mother and himself. "I can't keep them in the store," Mr Cook said of the weapons.

It is a sad tradition in America that each mass shooting is followed by a surge in gun sales, in part because people calculate they need more firepower to protect themselves. The US has also seen a surge in sales of special backpacks for schoolchildren lined with bulletproof material. Their manufacturers allege they work well as shields in classroom firefights.

Now, however, there is the added fear among gun enthusiasts that new restrictions are around the corner and they had better get the weapons they covet before it's too late.

President Barack Obama endorsed the reintroduction of an assault weapons ban on Wednesday that expired nine years ago and created a task force to look at other ways to make sure massacres like last Friday's don't happen again. Since then, sales have soared further.

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In Charlotte, North Carolina, the director of online sales at the Hyatt Gun Shop said the store had already surpassed $1m (€770,00) in sales on Tuesday – the best single-day performance since the store opened in 1959 – as customers anticipated Mr Obama's announcement.

With funeral services and wakes being held each day this week for the victims of the massacre, some Newtown residents have formed a group dedicated to making sure this time something actually happens in Washington to make gun laws tighter.

"The most important thing is to build a movement here, to build a network," Chris Murphy, who is soon to become Connecticut's junior US Senator, told the group.

Attorney General Eric Holder, was to travel to Newtown to meet lead investigators of the shooting, while in Washington, Vice President Joe Biden opened the first meeting of the task force.

The plan is to nail down a set of measures, likely to include a new assault weapons ban, for Mr Obama to unveil in his State of the Union address in January.

All eyes, meanwhile, will be on a press conference by the powerful National Rifle Association, which issued a brief statement saying it would contribute to the debate on how to ensure massacres like last Friday's don't happen again. (© Independent News Service)

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