Industry executives said the popularity of military-style assault weapons, called modern sporting rifles by manufacturers, stems partly from the wars of the past 20 years. Demand surged among veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Bushmaster, the weapon used in the Newtown school shooting, is the civilian version of the M-16, first used in Vietnam. While military weapons are automatic, those for sale are semiautomatic.
One U.S. official cautioned that the industry’s rhetoric about gun sales can be self-serving. “If people think Twinkies are going out of business, they’re going to buy Twinkies,” said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
The National Rifle Association described Obama’s proposals to reduce gun violence as an effort to ban tens of millions of rifles, shotguns and handguns.
“The main goal of the gun banners in Congress is not to make schools safer, but to ban your guns and abolish every last sacred right you have under the Second Amendment . . . until they reduce your freedom to ashes,” said the NRA in its latest alert.