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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans metro area is seeing a surge in gun sales in the wake of last week's tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT.

Gun dealers say customers are buying more guns as the gun control debate heats up.

Clay Cascio grew up with guns introduced to the sport at 6 years old.

That family tradition continued Tuesday: Cascio stopped by Jefferson Gun Outlet looking for a Christmas gift on Tuesday afternoon.

'My wife is interested in purchasing a handgun,' said Cascio.

The store on Airline Drive is seeing a spike in gun sales. Owner Mike Mayer said it started after the presidential election.

'Once you see holes in our stock up on the wall. That means we're selling a lot,' said Mayer pointing to merchandise that has flown off the shelves.

In November, the Jefferson Parish store saw a 117 percent jump in sales. Mayer said last Friday's tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has phones ringing off the hook.

'There are a lot of stock checks going on because the stores around this area are running out. So people are frantically trying to find something, somewhere that they can go purchase,' said Mayer.

From handguns to AR-15 rifles, which was one of the weapon's used by gunman Adam Lanza, Mayer says customers are buying up firearms worried about a government crackdown on gun sales.

'Our main distributor is here in Louisiana, in Shreveport. They sell over 1 million guns a year at their distributor base and they're completely out of anything that would be considered an assault weapon,' said Mayer.

The FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System is so overwhelmed the gun outlet store says it use to take up to 10 minutes per customer to run a background check.

Now it can take up to an hour waiting to be connected by phone because of high call volume.

'Saying guns cause violence is like saying flies cause trash,' said Cascio about the gun control debate that is heating up once again across the country.

The gun owner hopes that in the wake of the Newtown massacre individual rights won't be compromised.

'It's a terrible tragedy. I think the answer more to me is to have police officer at every school,' Cascio said. 'You have police officers at banks. Why not have them with our children?'

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