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Gun debate 101: Is the AR-15 as popular as the iPod?

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Who likes the AR-15?

Given the high prices and anecdotal evidence, the prime buyers of AR-15s are middle-aged to older Americans, mostly men, who have been the main targets of a savvy industry marketing campaign touting the rifle's military bona fides. But when you look at broader societal support for AR-15s, another dynamic emerges.

According to a recent Reason-Rupe poll, 70 percent of people between the age of 18 and 24 said Americans should be allowed to own AR-15s and other assault-style weapons. Meanwhile, 58 percent of older Americans told the pollsters that such weapons should be banned.

Is the AR-15 buying spree tapering off?

Yes, but not because demand has decreased, experts say. Depleted stocks and growing back-order lists result in fewer sales. The 2.78 million background checks for all makes of guns in December were a 12-month peak, the AP reports, and the 2.48 million checks in January were still higher than any month except December last year.

“You can’t do a background check if a guy doesn’t have a gun to buy," Mike Fotia, manager at Duke’s Sport Shop in New Castle, Pa., told the wire service. “There’s nothing to buy.”

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