Shop owners said gun owners are worried the federal government is close to passing a ban on assault rifles.
"We've seen an exponential increase in business," said Lynn Howard, of Raleigh's Personal Defense and Handgun Safety Center.
Call it curiosity or fear of a ban, but Howard said sales have surged.
"When the banning -- possible banning -- of anything is discussed or rumored, I think it's human nature," said Lynn.
A variation of the military's M-16, The AR-15 is the same weapon police said Adam Lanza used in Connecticut. It was also the same rifle used to kill 12 people in a Colorado movie theater this summer.
Dealers said it's the most popular rifle in America.
"It has some history with military," said Lynn. "The hardware and technology, and it's easily worked on and modified."
"I don't have it as a defensive weapon," said gun enthusiast Jim Pearce. "I'm not waiting for the zombie apocalypse."
Pearce, a Shakespeare college professor, has owned an AR-15 for 25 years. He uses it to shoot competitively and teach safety.
"That was a good weapon to demonstrate to them how to take apart, put back together, how to clean it, how to take care of it," said Pearce.
The common opinion here on tougher restrictions is simple.
"Guns don't kill people," said gun enthusiast Sarah Thorne. "People kill people."
The solution, some say, is much more complicated.
"It involves mental health. It involves parenting," said Howard. "It involves proper supervision, training, education."
Howard's gun shop sold out of a new shipment of AR-15s that just arrived Tuesday.