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The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports an increase in the number of gun purchase background checks in the days following the Dec. 14, 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Shooter Adam Lanza killed 20 pupils and six school workers, plus his mother at a location offisite before he committed suicide. It was the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
The TBI processed 9,772 background checks from Dec. 14-16, said Kristin Helm, the bureau's public information officer. The bureau normally processes an average of 30,000 checks per month, for a daily average of about 1,000 background checks.
Not every background check results in approval to buy a gun. In the 10 days from Dec. 14 to Dec. 23, the TBI processed 36,769 transactions.
"It is difficult from our standpoint to pinpoint a 'why,' Helm said in an email statement. "TBI has not seen this type of rise in transaction numbers after previous high-profile shootings."
Don's Pawn & Guns sold the only two assault rifles in its inventory the week of Christmas, said store manager Mike Cartwright.
"You can't get any more ARs what with the wholesalers being out," he said. "I have to tell them (customers) we can't get it right now."
The store has been selling lots of pistols, especially Glocks of all calibers and .380s for women, he said. Ammo, especially for assault rifles, is hard to find as well, and the price of pistol ammo is rising, Cartwright said. He said sales will return to normal in a couple of months.
Gun control opponents may be seeing their fears come true.
USA Today reported Friday that gun control bills were already filed on Thursday, the first day of the new Congress.
Democratic Reps. Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Diana DeGette of Colorado refiled a bill from earlier sessions of Congress that would ban high-capacity ammo magazines. They also refiled a bill that would prohibit the sale of ammunition online.
USA Today reports that more bills are expected to be filed soon, including a bill to strengthen the requirements for background checks at gun shows.
Local gun owner Larry Landers said he thinks guns will become more difficult to buy, although he hopes that does not happen. It's already hard to find ammo at Walmart, he said. He believes better parenting is part of the problem behind gun violence, he said.
"It's more in family raising, teaching morals to the kids," Landers said. "We need prayer back in school. Those things never happened when you had prayer in school."
Landers also blames violent video games and movies that many children watch.
John McClenney, who is a fan of the Times-Gazette on Facebook, posted his opinion on gun control on the newspaper's page.
"I am totally against any and all gun control," he said. "Most that are for gun control have no ideal (sic) of the difference from a shotgun, pistol or rifle."
Rodney Simmons, who writes blogs for the Times-Gazette, posted a recent entry about gun control. He made the case that there are many ways in which people die, such as automobile accidents, and a person could make an argument that each cause should be controlled by legislation to save lives. However, the government already is getting more and more involved in people's lives, he wrote.
"The point is how much government intrusion are we as American people willing to allow?," he wrote. "The government feels they know what is best for us. Do any of you honestly trust our government?"
Simmons told the Times-Gazette he agrees there is a problem with gun violence, but banning a specific weapon is not a solution.
"People will kill others regardless of a ban," Simmons said. "It's more of a way for the government to get its foot in the door."
Simmons' blog, and readers' responses, can be read at www.t-g.com/blogs/simmons/entry/50942/.
But some say other factors are driving some gun sales.
Bill Hornaday, owner of Pawnbrokers of Shelbyville, said he is selling a lot of guns. He said part of the reason for brisk sales is because there is not a gun store in Shelbyville. He also sells a lot of guns for hunting, estimating his customers come from a 60-mile radius around Shelbyville to buy shotguns for turkey hunting and .22-caliber weapons for hunting squirrels and rabbits.
The Christmas holiday accounts for a lot of gun sales as well, the TBI's Helm said. Black Friday in 2012 was the one-day record for gun background checks in Tennessee, with a total of 5,936 transactions. Black Friday in 2011 was the previous one-day record, with a total of 4,857 background checks.
"Also, usually the month of December is one of the busier months also due to strong holiday demand," Helm said.
Landers said he and his two sons are avid hunters. His sons, Logan and Mason, also do trap shooting in contests, and have taken gun safety classes.
"It's a way of life," he said.