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Gun enthusiasts pack shows to buy assault weapons

Gun enthusiasts thronged to shows Saturday to buy assault weapons they fear will be outlawed after a massacre of school children in Connecticut prompted calls for tighter gun controls.

By Dave Warner, Kevin MurphyReuters / December 22, 2012

A dealer displays firearms for sale at a gun show in Kansas City, Missouri on Saturday.

Dave Kaup/REUTERS

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ALLENTOWN, Penn. and KANSAS CITY, Mo.

Gun enthusiasts thronged to shows around the country on Saturday to buy assault weapons they fear will soon be outlawed after a massacre of school children in Connecticut prompted calls for tighter controls on firearms.

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Reuters reporters went to gun shows in Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas, and found long lines to get in the door, crowds around the dealer booths, a rush to buy assault weapons even at higher prices and some dealers selling out.

The busiest table at the R.K. Gun & Knife show at an exposition center near the Kansas City, Missouri airport was offering assault weapons near the entrance.

West Plains, Missouri dealer Keith's Guns sold out of about 20 AR-15 style assault rifles in a little over an hour, owner Keith Gray said.

Recommended: Second Amendment Quiz

An AR-15 type assault weapon was among the guns authorities believe suspect Adam Lanza stole from his mother to use in the massacre of 20 school children and six adults at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut Dec. 14.

The killing of innocent children at the school shocked the nation and prompted a number of politicians including President Barack Obama to call for a ban on assault weapons and ammunition clips that allow the rapid firing of multiple bullets.

Rather than tighten gun ownership restrictions, the powerful lobby for gun rights, the National Rifle Association, on Friday called for armed guards at every school.

D.R. Woody was one of those able to purchase an assault weapon at the Kansas City show on Saturday. He bought the gun for target practice because he is concerned they soon will be banned. "I didn't expect to find one. No gun stores have them," said Woody of the AR-15 type of gun.

The story was the same in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Shirley Donley, a gun shop owner from nearby Quakertown, had an endless stream of customers. "Everybody wants assault weapons," she said, adding that she had sold more than 100 of that type of gun since the Connecticut tragedy. "I'm sold out."

Assault weapon is a broad term commonly used to refer to semi-automatic or automatic weapons that can fire multiple bullets rapidly. From 1994 to 2004 certain assault weapons and ammunition clips of more than 10 bullets were illegal.

The ban was allowed to expire when Republican George W. Bush was in the White House.

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