Social media users around the country this weekend remarked on long lines and big crowds at gun stores, and wondered what connection those sales could have to Friday's horrific shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a young man used his mother's semi-automatic rifle to murder 20 children and 6 adults.
Gun sales have at times spiked at times when talk of gun regulation turns serious — for instance, after President Barack Obama's first election — and gun owners believe they might soon be unable to obtain some heavy duty weaponry. The murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School prompted calls to revive the Clinton-era Assault Weapons Ban, though it's unclear whether any Republicans would support such a measure.
And two leading gun retailers contacted by BuzzFeed said that strong sales are unconnected to the shootings.
"We're very busy, but we always are this time of year," said Gina Boone, the owner of 5280 Armory, one of the largest firearm retailers in Denver, Colorado, chalking the surge up to Christmas shopping, not panic.
"This is normal for December. It's our biggest time of the year," said Kevin Keer of Lotus Gunworks in Louisville, Kentucky.
Several gun dealers in Connecticut and elsewhere in the Northeast declined to comment for a story connected to the shootings, echoing the silence of the industry's main lobbying group, the National Rifle Association.