FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – While watching Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s concession speech, gun owner AJ Sullivan had a sinking feeling.

“Liberals like to ban guns. That’s what it comes down to,” said Sullivan, 25, a Texas Christian University student.

Sullivan was among hundreds scrambling to buy a weapon Thursday at the gun store Cheaper Than Dirt! – which sold $101,000 in merchandise the day after the election, shattering its single-day sales record, said store owner DeWayne Irwin.

Stories were similar across Texas, where residents are fiercely protective of their Second Amendment rights and now fear stricter gun-control laws under Democratic President-elect Barack Obama.

“There’s a mindset here of freedom, and you’ve bitten off more than you can chew if you think you can come after Texans’ guns,” said Charlissa Stokes, co-owner of Panhandle Gunslingers, an Amarillo shooting range and gun store where sales have doubled the last few days.

At Houston’s Memorial Shooting Center, gun sales are up 70 percent and “the whole wall of assault rifles is gone,” said manager Richard Poulis.

Fort Worth’s Cheaper Than Dirt! reported about $480,000 in sales in October 2007 but $890,000 last month, jumping to $1 million including the first four days of November, Irwin said. About half of the sales are guns, mostly assault rifles and other weapons that would be subject to the assault-weapxons ban if it is reinstated, he said.

President Bush and Congress allowed it to expire in 2004, 10 years after President Clinton signed the ban into law.

“A few weeks before the election most customers were younger and weren’t old enough to buy guns in ’94 when the assault-weapons ban took effect, but they’d heard stories from their parents,” Irwin said. “On Wednesday, the older folks woke up and said, ‘Oh, crap. McCain didn’t win, and Obama’s going to ban guns,’ and they came in here. There’s also a Democratic Congress, so they’re saying it’s going to happen.”

Obama has said he supports an individual’s rights to own guns with reasonable restrictions, so it seems that a “narrow subsection” of gun owners are afraid of being denied access to assault weapons, said Doug Pennington, spokesman for the Brady Campaign, which supported the weapons ban.

National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said it does not track U.S. gun sales, but anecdotal evidence at stores in recent weeks indicates many residents “didn’t buy Obama’s spin.” The 4 million-member NRA had distributed literature claiming Obama would be “the most anti-gun president in American history” and said anti-gun groups endorsed him.

Mark Mendiaz, 35, said he voted for Obama because he felt the country was headed in the wrong direction and never heard the candidates discuss gun control. But Mendiaz, a Navy veteran who owns a handgun and rifle, said he started thinking about it after receiving NRA postcards.

On Thursday Mendiaz bought an AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle similar to what soldiers use, for target practice or to sell later, he said.

“If there’s going to be a ban, it just creates a market,” Mendiaz said. “The bad people probably have them, and the honest people will probably get left out.”


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