The Newtown school massacre and America's gun obsession: By the numbers

Harold Maass
The Week
Guns are displayed in Camden, N.J., on Dec. 18, after state officials initiated a gun buyback event, which brought in more than 1,100 weapons.

The tragedy set off a surge in support for new gun control laws... and a buying frenzy in gun stores

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, in which 20 children and six adults were killed, President Obama is vowing to make gun control a priority in his second term. He promised to set up a task force and send Congress proposals on new restrictions in January, setting in motion what could be a bitter debate with Republicans, who oppose new restrictions on sales of guns and ammunition. The prospect of new gun laws (in a country with 270 million privately owned firearms) delighted some, and sent others rushing to sporting goods stores to buy weapons in case future restrictions make them harder to get. Here, a look at how the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., has affected America's obsession with guns:

States in which Walmart stores have sold out of five types of semi-automatic rifles like the one police say Adam Lanza used in the Sandy Hook killings, according to a Bloomberg News search on the company's website. The states where the weapons are out of stock include Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Alabama.

SEE MORE: Ronald Reagan would demand more gun control

Sales at Pullman Arms in Worcester, Mass., on the Monday after the Newtown killings, up from $2,000 on a typical Monday. Most of the guns people bought were assault rifles, or ARs, like the Bushmaster rifle police say Lanza, who killed himself at the school as police arrived, used. "People want ARs because people are afraid there will be a ban on assault weapons," says Pullman Arms co-owner Alicia Merritt.

Record number of background checks submitted for gun purchases in Colorado on Saturday, the day after the Newtown massacre. The previous one-day record in the state, 4,028, was set on Black Friday of this year.

SEE MORE: Why states should take the lead in reforming gun laws

Background check requests made in Nevada from Friday through Sunday, another record, according to the Nevada Department of Public Safety. The previous weekend record in the state (2,315) was set over Black Friday weekend, which is typically the annual peak.

Background checks requested in Nevada this year, as of Dec. 16

SEE MORE: Is the Second Amendment obsolete?

Background checks requested in Nevada as of the same date last year

Applications for would-be gun buyers submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on Black Friday this year, the most in a single day since the system's inception in 1998 and a 20 percent increase over the number submitted on Black Friday 2011

SEE MORE: What 'meaningful contributions' will the NRA offer after Sandy Hook?

Number of times the NICS shut down on Black Friday this year due to system overload. One shutdown lasted 18 minutes, the other 14 minutes.

16.4 million
Background checks run nationwide in 2011, according to the FBI

SEE MORE: The Connecticut school massacre: Read the NRA's first public comments

Signatures on a petition at (as of early morning on Dec. 20) demanding the introduction of new gun-control legislation

New members the National Rifle Association, the nation's leading gun-rights advocacy group, says it has signed up daily since the Connecticut shootings

SEE MORE: The media should be ashamed of its Connecticut coverage

Percentage increase in prices on the eBay auction website for ammunition for Glock handguns (another type of weapon Lanza reportedly carried). The running bid for four Glock magazines rose to $118.37, compared to $45 on the day before the shooting. The bid in an auction for seven Glock magazines hit $201 on Dec. 17, up from $71.01 before the massacre.

Percentage increase in reported sales of armored backpacks for children since the Newtown shooting rampage. The backpacks, with bulletproof-plate inserts, cost up to $400. Kerry Clark, president of Texas-based, sold 15 of the backpacks on Wednesday. He first started making them following the Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007, and in a typical month, he sometimes sells just one. "It's the busiest I've seen it in my life," he said.

SEE MORE: Time for Congress to ban assault weapons?

Sources: The Associated Press, Bloomberg, The Denver Post, Fox News, The Hartford Courant, The Las Vegas Sun, The New York Times,

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