Dick's Sporting Goods, a national chain, has -- at least temporarily -- suspended the sale of sporting rifles from all of its stores. And the private equity group Cerberus, which owns the maker of Bushmaster rifles, is getting out of that business.
But since the school shootings on Friday morning in Connecticut, many people are buying guns. At NOVA Firearms in Falls Church, Va., salesman Chuck Nesby estimates sales are up 150 percent, compared with normal.
"Because ... people are afraid of the renewal of the assault weapons ban," explained Nesby. "And they're afraid they won't be able to get them [or] use them."
The nation's big city mayors have sent a letter to the President calling for a ban on assault weapons and on high-capacity magazines, and a strengthening of the current law on background checks.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D) told WTVR in Richmond he is rethinking his previous pro-NRA position on gun control: "When my daughters asked me Friday night, 'Dad, you're in the Senate. Why can't we put reasonable restrictions on assault weapons on these rapid-fire ammunition clips?' I didn't have a good enough answer for them."
Firearms instructor Nesby, a retired Navy captain, thinks restrictions on gun sales and possession are exactly the wrong approach.
"Let's try something different," said Nesby. "Let's harden our targets. Let's do what the Israeli's do. [Arm the] school staff."
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) believes that idea is worth considering. McDonnell, in an interview at WTOP radio, said, "You know, I know there's been a knee-jerk reaction against [allowing some school employees to be armed.] I think there should at least be a discussion of that. If people were armed, not just a police officer, but school officials that were trained (and chose to have a weapon), certainly there [would] have been an opportunity to stop aggressors from coming into the school. So, I think that's a reasonable [item for] discussion."
McDonnell has ordered a safety audit for schools in Virginia.
Late Tuesday, the National Rifle Association released a statement promising to make "meaningful contributions to make sure [the massacre in Connecticut] never happens again."
The NRA has scheduled a news conference for Friday.