US gun sales are soaring nationwide, just as President Barack Obama unveiled sweeping measures Wednesday aimed at curbing gun violence one month after the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 school students.
At gun stores nationwide, business is booming, and one particularly well-selling firearm is the AR-15, used in the Newtown killings.
"Right after the shooting, there were more people in here, more people with questions," said Donnel Dover, general manager at the gun shop Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Virginia, referring to last month's massacre.
But it was the fierce gun control debate that erupted in Washington on the heels of the shootings that sparked a rise in gun purchases, he told Xinhua.
"With a lot of customers, it was 'I was thinking of buying an assault rifle, but I wasn't in a rush for it but now I want one because I don't want to lose out on an opportunity to have one,'" he said of his customers' decisions to purchase a firearm.
Indeed, US states including Virginia, Colorado, Tennessee, Nevada and California saw background checks, required of those purchasing firearms at licensed dealers, soar after last month's shooting spree in Newtown, when a gunman sprayed classrooms full of children with bullets.
Overall, the US saw 2.2 million background checks for gun sales last month, a sharp increase of nearly 59 percent from the same month in 2011, according to gun trade-group National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne N. Geller said December requests for criminal background checks in that state saw a 79 percent increase from the same period the previous year.
Meanwhile, Obama on Wednesday unveiled a package of gun control proposals including closing background check loopholes, banning "military style" assault weapons, and limiting magazines to 10 bullets, as well as signing 23 executive orders.
Experts said a ban on assault weapons will have a tough time passing in a bitterly divided Congress, and gun proponents point out that the second amendment of the US Constitution protects their right to bear arms.