The orders are in. Guns are packed and ready to be shipped. A 10-year federal assault weapons ban ended at midnight Monday, allowing people to buy and sell militarystyle assault rifles and pistols starting at 12:01 a.m. today.
Terry Showalter, manager of American Guns and Ammo in Mesa, said summer business is usually slow, but he has already placed about 40 orders for rifles made with modifications for the "post-ban" era.
"Right now I’m taking money and writing rec- eipts, " Showalter said.
The law, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, outlawed 19 types of militarystyle assault weapons that had certain features some policy-makers called dangerous. These included bayonet attachments, magazines that held more than 10 bullets, and flash suppressors — which reduce "muzzle flash," making it harder to see where the shooter is, especially at night.
Some of the 19 — foreignmade weapons such as the AK-47 and Uzi — are still banned under a 1989 law prohibiting imports of specific automatic weapons.
There also are rifles on the market made before the ban because they were "grandfathered" in.
While some are itching to stock their home arsenals with a "post-ban" assault rifle, not everyone is happy.
Community and gun-safety activists rallied Monday in Phoenix, pushing the Legislature for an even stricter state ban.
‘‘These guns are militarystyle weapons that belong on battlefields, not our neighborhoods,’’ said Gerry Anderson, executive director of Arizonans for Gun Safety.
Gun-rights supporters said they will oppose the proposed ban as ineffective and intrusive on their rights.
"I don’t think there’s been a whole lot of bayonet attacks recently," said Gary Christensen of Tempe.
Brian Livingston, president of the Arizona Police Association, said not many in law enforcement believe that lifting the ban will "open the floodgates for every person to buy an assault weapon."
There are still federal background check requirements for firearms purchases. The worry is that stolen assault rifles will make their way to the streets, Livingston said.
Jeff Serdy, owner of AJI Sporting Goods east of Mesa, said prices for the weapons will drop significantly. But the changes made because of the law were cosmetic in the first place.
"Compared to what’s on the market now, there’s no difference," Serdy said. "(The ban) doesn’t make the gun shoot any differently."
Bush said during the 2000 campaign that he supported the ban and he has repeatedly pledged to sign an extension if it reaches his desk. But the National Rifle Association — which backs his re-election — was eager to let the ban lapse, and Bush did nothing to push Republican leaders in Congress on the issue.
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said President Bush ‘‘chose his powerful friends in the gun lobby over police officers and families that he promised to protect.’’
Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said Kerry leveled ‘‘a false attack.’’ Asked repeatedly whether Bush had made any calls to get Congress to act, he said that the president ‘‘does not set the legislative timetable’’ and that the ‘‘administration has a strong record of vigorously and strictly enforcing our laws, and stepping up prosecutions of crimes committed with guns.’’
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard blasted Congress for letting the ban expire without debate. Goddard said he would support a state law, but questioned whether it could be enforced.
He said, though, it would be important if only for symbolic reasons.
"The ironic thing is we’re talking about extraordinarily powerful weapons that we’re in the process of taking off the streets of Iraq as we speak,’’ he said. "And yet we think it’s just dandy to have it generally available in the United States.’’