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Tucson guns sales surge after Newtown

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Gun sales in Tucson have increased dramatically at some gun shops since last week's mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

Most customers are buying firearms in response to recent calls from President Obama and congressional leaders for gun policy changes after the shootings, which killed 20 children and six adults at the school.

According to gun shop owners, the majority of the firearms in high demand are semiautomatic rifles and handguns, including the AR-15, which is the rifle the gunman used in the attack Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Customers are also buying high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, store owners said.

Despite the reported surge in gun sales from shopowners, an Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman said it hasn't seen a huge spike in concealed weapons permit applications, although it's too early to tell.

"Those requesting a permit receive a packet of applications, which they must turn in," said DPS spokesman Bart Graves, noting the lengthy process for completing an application.

DPS only keeps track of concealed weapons permits, although state law does not require a permit for people who want to carry a concealed firearm.

The agency doesn't keep track of gun sales, Graves said.

However, some local gun store owners have said business has tripled since the shootings and the subsequent political backlash against assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons.

Many of the customers are experienced gun owners who already have firearms, they said.

"I think people have had enough of the government. All they want to do is protect themselves," said Tom Rompel, co-owner of Black Weapons Armory, 5645 E. Broadway. "They don't trust the government."

Rompel said his gun sales have likely increased between 100 to 200 percent in the last week, with the AR-15 becoming the popular gun for customers.

Other factors, such as the Christmas shopping season, have also contributed to the increase, although the majority of sales have been because customers fear a possible ban on the weapons, he said.

"I don't think it's going to happen just because of how politicians like to posture," Rompel said, referring to a possible ban on military-styled firearms.

Doug MacKinlay, owner of Diamondback Police Supply, 170 S. Kolb Road, also reported a substantial increase in business since last week's shootings.

MacKinlay attributed a few factors to the increase, including the mass shooting, last month's election and the Christmas season.

"We saw a rather dramatic increase after the election and a very dramatic increase after the Connecticut shootings," he said.

Unlike Rompel, MacKinlay said he believes there will be changes to existing gun laws.

"I consider it absolute that we will see some kind of legislation come down the pike," he said. "I was concerned as soon as the elections were over."

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at or 573-4115. On Twitter: @JamarYounger

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