WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Annual FBI crime statistics show that more people are killed with clubs and hammers each year than by rifles or shotguns.

In 2011, there were 323 murders committed with a rifle but 496 murders committed with hammers and clubs. There were 356 murders in which a shotgun was the deadly weapon of choice.

The national debate on guns has grown more intense since Dec. 14, when Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

Gun vendors told news outlets that the hottest items were such weapons as the AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has proposed banning as part of a package of gun regulations. The AR-15 rifle is the same weapon used by Lanza during the elementary school shooting.

The law currently proposed by Sen. Feinstein would strengthen the expired 1994 “Assault Weapons” ban, outlaw certain rifles and handguns, and restrict “high capacity” magazines, in addition to compulsory gun registration under the National Firearms Act, Reuters reports.

“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here,” Feinstein told MRC-TV in a 1995 interview.

On the other hand, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called on Congress to pass a law putting armed police officers in every school in America in a December press conference.

The number of FBI background checks required for Americans buying guns set a record in December. According to Reuters, the FBI recorded 2.78 million background checks during the month, surpassing the mark set in November of 2.01 million checks – about a 39 percent rise.

The latest monthly figure was up 49 percent over December 2011, when the FBI performed a then-record 1.86 million checks.

The FBI report concedes that some of the “murder by rifle” statistics should be increased slightly because some murders don’t take non-categorized types of guns into account. However, the data still shows that the amount of people killed by hammers, clubs and other blunt instruments still continues to rise each year.

Even as gun purchases rise, the share of U.S. households with a gun has been falling for decades, from 54 percent in 1977 to 32 percent in 2010, according to the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey.