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East Lyme — Sales of guns and ammunition spiked this week at Ron's Guns, fallout from the Newtown school shootings and the ensuing nationwide focus on gun-control laws.
"Business was up 50 percent Monday and Tuesday," Ron Rando, the Boston Post Road shop's owner, said Wednesday. "I've been selling a lot of handguns, a lot of rifles — AR-15 types," the kind of semi-automatic weapon accused killer Adam Lanza used last Friday to kill 26 people, 20 of them children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"Because that's what the news media's been pushing," Rando said.
He attributed the buying spree to calls for a reinstatement of a federal ban on civilian use of so-called "assault weapons," a term he considers a misnomer. In addition, he said, many first-time buyers are arming themselves for personal safety reasons.
"A couple who had never owned a firearm wanted a pistol for protection," Rando said. "… Look at the home invasions. I had a run on guns after the Cheshire invasion," a horrific 2007 crime in which intruders murdered a mother and her two daughters.
A Waterford man seated near the gun shop's counter chimed in.
"I just stuck a pistol in my pocket a couple of weeks ago," he said. "I heard there were a couple more home invasions lately."
The man, who said his wife was unaware that he had started carrying a pistol, declined to give his name.
Rando, the Waterford man and others in the shop rejected the notion that stricter gun-control laws should be enacted in Newtown's wake.
"You know how many gun laws there are now?" Rando asked. "Twenty-two thousand. We don't need any more."
Rando had another suggestion for foiling attacks at schools, one advanced nationally by members of the pro-gun lobby.
"What happens if you arm the teachers in these schools?" he asked. "After 9/11, they armed the pilots, didn't they?"
Another gun owner in the shop, David McCarthy of Salem, disagreed.
"There ought to be a cop in every school," said McCarthy, a former state trooper and before that a Waterford policeman. "Keep the guns in the hands of police, the people with the proper training. … A plainclothes police officer in every school is the way to go."
McCarthy said stricter penalties for the misuse of firearms are needed, not more laws.
"If you use a gun in a crime, you ought to be sentenced to 10 years, mandatory," he said. "Make it hard on the criminals who commit the crimes. Don't let them plead out."
School buildings must be made more secure, McCarthy said.
"Locking glass doors is ridiculous," he said. "I wouldn't be opposed to having everybody donate $25 to a fund for upgrading these schools to make them secure."
Lanza, the alleged Newtown gunman, blasted his way through a locked door at Sandy Hook Elementary before wreaking the mayhem that included shooting himself to death.
"If I thought nobody was ever going to be killed again with guns in this country, I'd give up mine," McCarthy said.