AR-15 sales spike due to fear of ban

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - It is a controversial weapon and it is selling out all over the country, including right here in Houston.

The AR-15 is a magazine-fed, semiautomatic rifle that has been around in varying forms for more than 50 years.

Recently, the guns have been in the news, connected to the Connecticut and Colorado tragedies.

Some lawmakers have since renewed calls to ban sales of AR-15s and, according to one expert marksman and west Houston gun range employee, that movement has created a buying frenzy.

"What's causing the rush right now is that people in Washington are talking about a ban," said Justin Franks of Memorial Shooting Center.

Memorial Shooting Center's newsletter recently alerted customers to a new policy that states the company will no longer take deposits on the AR-15 or other guns.

"Because of extremely high demand ... all firearms will be sold on a first-come first-served basis," the newsletter reads.

Three AR-15s that arrived at Memorial Shooting Center Friday afternoon were sold within minutes.

"As soon as people know we have them, they're sold," Franks said.

In Texas, the AR-15 is legal to possess with no limitation on magazine capacity. Prices typically start near $1,000.

The AR-15 has been classified previously by the federal government as an assault weapon. It was banned from sale and manufacture in the U.S. from 1994 to 2004. President Barack Obama has said he supports a move to again ban certain weapon sales and manufacturing in the U.S..

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