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Some dealers now gun-shy over assault rifles

NEW YORK In the wake of last Friday's mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and the outpouring of grief for the victims, some gun dealers have stopped promoting the sale of assault rifles online, or are even pulling them from store shelves.

What CBS News senior correspondent John Miller referred to as "a backlash" on the sale of assault rifles has been detected among some of the nation's biggest gun dealers.

This, as sales of guns have reportedly spiked since last Friday, attributed to "panic buyers" fearful of new legislation restricting the sale of semi-automatic rifles or ammunition in response to the tragedy.

Walmart, the nation's largest retailer of firearms, on Monday pulled the Bushmaster assault rifle - the same model used by Adam Lanza to kill 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School - from its website (although there are a few other model assault rifles advertised, including the Colt LE6920 Carbine).

The chain Dick's Sporting Goods has blocked access to its online pages advertising semi-automatic weapons. The site's "modern sporting rifles" page now comes up blank, and searches for items such as "Smith & Wesson," "Sig Sauer" or "assault rifle" will not show semi-automatic rifles.

The website for Dick's Sporting Goods is no longer promoting semi-automatic rifles; pages advertising AR-15-style weapons are now blank. CBS News

The company, which operates 511 stores in 44 states, also said it has pulled semi-automatic rifles from store shelves at all of its locations.

The company's store nearest to Newtown, Conn. -- in Danbury -- has also stopped displaying and selling all guns.

In a statement the chain said, "We are extremely saddened by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, CT, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and to the entire community."

Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management also said it is planning to sell its stake in Freedom Group, maker of the Bushmaster rifle.

A new CBS News poll released Monday shows support for stricter gun control laws is now the highest it's been in a decade, and has surged 18 points since last spring.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans now say gun control laws should be made more strict, according to the poll conducted Dec. 14 - 16.

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