FEEDING HILLS, Mass. (WWLP) – The debate over guns is heating up once again, following this weekend’s massacre in Orlando. In the past year, Americans have been buying guns in record numbers, as people look to protect themselves, or fear further regulations.

According to the FBI, nearly 12 million firearm background checks have been conducted so far this year. That is about four million more compared to last year at this time.

Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen used a military-style semi-automatic rifle in Sunday’s shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history. This type of firearm has been used in several mass shootings, and has become the center of the debate over gun laws in the United States.

Mass shooting incidents are often followed by increased calls for gun control, but historically, gun sales typically spike following mass shootings.

Sandra Gagnon of Chicopee told 22News that she sees no reason why civilians should purchase high-powered rifles.

“Why would people want those, you know what I mean? The AK-47s and whatever, there’s just no need for these. To be able to shoot people like that, it’s just horrible,” Gagnon said.

Opponents worry that such weapons make it too easy to kill many people in a short period of time, but AR-15 proponents argue that law-abiding citizens use them for target shooting, self defense, and hunting.

“Semi-automatic weapons are used for hunting, for one thing. I can tell you that my granddaughter and I took a defensive rifle class about three weeks ago, and we used them for that,” said Walter Lamon, owner of Culverine Firearms in Feeding Hills.

Assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines were banned in the United States between 1994 and 2004, when the ban expired.