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Dec 25, 2012 10:26 PM by CBS News

AR-15 gun sales continue to spike after shootings

(CBS News) The Newtown shootings and Monday's ambush in Webster, N.Y., have fueled the debate over gun control.

While that debate intensifies, something else is spiking: Gun sales.

At gun shows across the nation this past weekend people stood in line hoping to get their hands on an AR-15, the military-style rifle used in the Newtown Connecticut school shooting.

There's been a run on AR-15s at gun stores, too.

"I normally sell about 15-20 a month. I've sold about 30 in the last three days," said Rick Friedman, who owns RTSP in Randolph, N.J.

The reason, he says, is clear: "Because people want to make sure they can own them legally before they get the right taken away."

The White House said after the Newtown shooting that President Barack Obama supports a ban on assault weapons proposed by California Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein. Getting it through Congress quickly is highly unlikely, but the mere mention of a ban is enough to send sales soaring. And it's not just guns.

Brownells, the world's largest firearms supplier, says it recently sold more than three-and-a-half years worth of AR-15 magazines in three days.

Even before Newtown, sales of guns and ammunition this year were surging.

FBI background checks of potential gun buyers were up 31 percent in November 2012 over 2011.

In a report issued prior to Newtown, the market research firm IbisWorld, which tracks the gun industry, found "Gun enthusiasts are working themselves into a frenzy over what another four years under the Obama administration may hold for gun laws."

Chuck Nesby is an instructor at Nova Firearms in Falls Church, Va., where they nearly sold out of AR-15s and high-capacity magazines after the Newtown shooting.

"If I could, I would give Sen. Feinstein and the president 'Salesmen of the Year' awards," he said.

Sen. Feinstein plans to introduce her bill to ban the sale or manufacturer of assault weapons on the first day of the new Congress in January. That's expected to trigger yet another boost in gun sales.

© 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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