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Fearful of ban, frenzied buyers swarm gun stores

Published: Fri, December 28, 2012 @ 6:03 p.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — The phones at Red's Trading Post wouldn't stop ringing. Would-be customers from as far away as New York wanted to know if the Twin Falls, Idaho, gun shop had firearms in stock. Others clamored to find out if their orders had been shipped.

Overwhelmed, gun store manager Ryan Horsley had to do what no employee would ever think of doing just days before Christmas: He disconnected the phone lines for three whole days.

"We had to shut everything off," says Horsley, whose family has owned Red's Trading Post, the state's oldest gun shop, since 1936. "We were swamped in the store and online."

The phones at gun shops across the country are ringing off the hook. Demand for firearms, ammunition and bulletproof gear has surged since the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 schoolchildren and six teachers and administrators.

The shooting sparked calls for tighter gun control measures, especially for military-style assault weapons like the ones used in Newtown and in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting earlier this year. The prospect of a possible weapons ban has sent gun enthusiasts into a panic and sparked a frenzy of buying at stores and gun dealers nationwide.

Assault rifles are sold out across the country. Rounds of .223 bullets, like those used in the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifle used in Newtown, are scarce. Stores are struggling to restock their shelves. Gun and ammunition makers are telling retailers they will have to wait months to get more.

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