By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Some Havre gun dealers think Monday's lifting of a 10-year ban on assault weapons will have little impact on their business.
"I don't think it will make a lot of difference," said Bill Evans, owner of Bing N Bob's Sport Shop. "We haven't had one person ask."
A gun dealer since 1977, Bill Szudera said that prior to 1994, people weren't asking for the weapons that ended up on the list. He expects to see no change now that it's gone.
The ban had outlawed 19 types of military-style assault weapons, banned certain features on firearms such as bayonet mounts, and limited ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
Some of the 19 weapons - foreign-made guns like the Russian- or Chinese-made AK-47 and the Israeli-manufactured Uzi - are still banned under a 1989 law prohibiting imports of specific automatic weapons.
Kmart assistant manager Lee Richter said Kmart doesn't carry that kind of weapon.
"It wouldn't impact us at all," Richter said.
Howard Stromberg, owner of Stromberg's Sinclair E-Fish-Hunt Sports, said people in this area are looking for hunting weapons, not assault weapons.
"Until they banned them, nobody wanted them," he said.
Stromberg said he doesn't expect any demand now that the ban is lifted.
"There isn't going to be much in Havre," he said. "(The ban) was one of those government feel-goods."
Evans said people might ask for the higher-capacity magazines, although they could find them illegally before the ban was lifted.
Stromberg said if people want the bigger magazines, they will probably want them for small-caliber rifles. He doubts there will be much demand for high-capacity pistol magazines.
There were subtle changes at some Montana gun dealerships Monday, but most dealers echoed the comments in Havre.
Boxes of the high-capacity clips not available last week sat on the floor at Missoula Mercantile & Pawn, and a Bushmaster rifle long illegal to manufacture in the United States hung on a gun rack behind the counter.
But business remained about the same as usual.
''I've had maybe a dozen phone calls, but I had more inquiries last week,'' said co-owner Rich Ochsner, a retired Missoula police detective.
In Billings, traffic was light at Western Pawnbrokers and First National Pawn. Owners said customers were more interested in hunting rifles and target pistols than assault weapons.
Bob Fears, a Billings gunsmith and weapons dealer, called ''assault weapon'' a meaningless catch-phrase used to pass ineffective legislation and lauded its end.
''They aren't assault weapons until I go and shoot you with one,'' he said. ''Assault is an action word. That's what you're going to do to somebody. Are we going to take all the assault ball bats off the streets?''
Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.