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Gun enthusiasts flock to shows to buy new arms

By Reuters
December 23, 2012

People look over a table of handguns for sale at a gun show in Kansas City, Missouri December 22, 2012. (REUTERS/Dave Kaup)

People look over a table of handguns for sale at a gun show in Kansas City, Missouri December 22, 2012. (REUTERS/Dave Kaup)

Gun enthusiasts thronged to shows around the country on Saturday to buy assault weapons they fear will soon be outlawed after a massacre of school children in Connecticut prompted calls for tighter controls on firearms.

Reuters reporters went to gun shows in Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas, and found long lines to get in the door, crowds around the dealer booths, a rush to buy assault weapons even at higher prices and some dealers selling out.

The busiest table at the R.K. Gun & Knife show at an exposition center near the Kansas City, Missouri airport was offering assault weapons near the entrance.

West Plains, Missouri dealer Keith’s Guns sold out of about 20 AR-15 style assault rifles in a little over an hour, owner Keith Gray said.

An AR-15 type assault weapon was among the guns authorities believe suspect Adam Lanza stole from his mother to use in the massacre of 20 school children and six adults at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school on December 14.

The killing of innocent children at the school shocked the nation and prompted a number of politicians including President Barack Obama to call for a ban on assault weapons and ammunition clips that allow the rapid firing of multiple bullets.

Rather than tighten gun ownership restrictions, the powerful lobby for gun rights, the National Rifle Association, on Friday called for armed guards at every school.

D.R. Woody was one of those able to purchase an assault weapon at the Kansas City show on Saturday. He bought the gun for target practice because he is concerned they soon will be banned. “I didn’t expect to find one. No gun stores have them,” said Woody of the AR-15 type of gun.

RUSH TO BUY

The story was the same in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Shirley Donley, a gun shop owner from nearby Quakertown, had an endless stream of customers. “Everybody wants assault weapons,” she said, adding that she had sold more than 100 of that type of gun since the Connecticut tragedy. “I’m sold out.”

Assault weapon is a broad term commonly used to refer to semi-automatic or automatic weapons that can fire multiple bullets rapidly. From 1994 to 2004 certain assault weapons and ammunition clips of more than 10 bullets were illegal.

The ban was allowed to expire when Republican George W. Bush was in the White House.

Prices for assault weapons have surged since the Connecticut shooting. At the Kansas City show, Jerome Ratliff bought an AR-15 on Saturday for target practice, paying $925. The same model would have cost only about $400 a year ago, he said. Most models were selling for $1,500 or more.

Bob Hofmeister, whose wife owns Xtreme Sports, a gun dealer with a table at the Kansas city show, said the business sold 15 to 20 AR-15s in the past week.

“Some of these people just want to show their rights to own guns,” Hofmeister said.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, and most gun enthusiasts at the shows on Saturday said more restrictions on guns would not stop mass killings such as Connecticut.

Adam Ouart of Mansfield, Texas stood in a line with about another dozen people at the Lone Star show in Forth Worth, Texas, in hopes of buying a gun.

“The answer is not to limit people having guns. If someone wants to hurt somebody they are going to find a way to do it,” Ouart said.

Several dealers and buyers interviewed at the shows supported the NRA proposal to put armed guards in schools.

More than 200 people lined up at each of three entrances on Saturday morning to pay the $8 entrance fee to the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, which has an exhibit hall spanning 25 acres. They crowded the aisles of the show and stood two-deep at booths for assault weapons and ammunition clips.

At all three shows the attendees were overwhelmingly white men, with some women and very few ethnic minorities.

GUN SHOW ‘LOOPHOLE’

Thousands of guns shows are held in the United States every year. Under federal law, licensed dealers must conduct a background check before selling to a buyer at a gun show.

But in what critics call a “loophole,” which some gun control advocates hope to close, unlicensed collectors and other private sales do not require a background check.

A 2009 undercover investigation at seven gun shows by the city of New York found that 63 percent of sellers failed an “integrity” test by selling a weapon to a buyer who admitted he probably could not pass a background check.

Pennsylvania dealer Donley said on Saturday that since the Connecticut shooting the telephone wait for dealers to get through to the State Police unit that provides background checks has increased from 15 minutes up to 45 minutes.

While most people interviewed at the shows were not in favor of gun controls, not everyone opposed some regulation.

Bruce Abernathy walked away with an assault rifle after sitting through a 30-minute background check at the Texas show.

“There should be more strict background checks,” said Abernathy, a Dallas resident. He said there should be a 30-day waiting period to buy weapons and a thorough background check that includes five references.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters

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One Response to Gun enthusiasts flock to shows to buy new arms

  1. Keith

    December 23, 2012 at 10:36 am

    “There should be more strict background checks,” said Abernathy, a Dallas resident. He said there should be a 30-day waiting period to buy weapons and a thorough background check that includes five references.”

    This is all well and good.

    But the weapons used in the latest school massacre in Connecticut were all obtained legally by the murderer’s mother. No doubt, she would have passed all these “new” requirements for a weapon.

    All of which begs the question…is what’s being described here REALLY what our founding fathers intended when they set up a country where its citizens were free to pursue “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

    Did they REALLY intend that we would someday all be required to maintain our own private arsenals of ever-more powerful firearms, live behind gates and walls and put bars on our windows and multiple padlocks on our doors (along with installing all manner of alarm systems) just to keep our homes and our families “safe”?

    Or, more appropriately, they REALLY intend that our young children would have to be armed to the teeth just to go to school?

    I find it absolutely fascinating that many of the otherwise strict constitutionalists now calling for everyone to be armed are STILL attempting (in vain) to square their own “I’ll keep my guns” attitude with the REAL intent of the 2nd Amendment…an intent that had absolutely NOTHING to do with “protection” and everything to do with avoiding the need for a standing army.

    What’s more, our founding fathers set up our Constitution so that what’s contained therein could be CHANGED as time and circumstances warranted. To date, our country has spent TRILLIONS on maintaining a standing army. Yet this 2nd Amendment nonsense still remains on the books LONG after it has outlived any sense of Constitutional usefulness.

    Clearly, what the “everyone should be armed” crowd have been describing is simply yet one more indication (as if we needed any) of the absolute, total breakdown of civil society in the United States of America.

    Our country has now (quite literally) become an “armed camp”, where more and more of our basic Constitutional freedoms…those that deal with “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness”…are being taken from us day by day, all in the name of some fleeting sense of both private and governmental “security”.

    Indeed, as Benjamin Franklin once opined, “Those who would trade in their freedom for some small measure of protection deserve neither.”

    And while those who insist on toting all their guns around may FEEL like are “more secure” by doing so, I contend they have ALSO given up a HUGE amount of their other “freedoms” in the process, the least of which is the freedom to feel absolutely safe and secure in their person and in their homes, schools and places of work.

    For example, I can’t begin to tell you what a wonderful feeling it is, while visiting with my family in Canada, to know that when I meet and greet another person walking down the street, that there is also a 99.9999 percent chance they AREN’T carrying a concealed weapon under their coat.

    That’s because there’s no need for them (or me) to do so in Canada.

    And even though Canada probably has the same per-capita share of “nut cases” as the United States does, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that, in Canada, the chances of such persons ALSO obtaining a lethal firearm to blow people away are slim to none.

    And while our friends to the north DO have their share of gun crimes, the rate of such crimes PALES in comparison to that same rate south of the border.

    What’s more, the vast majority of the weaponry used to commit those crimes was obtained (either legally or illegally) in the United States of America and smuggled across the US/Canadian border. That fact, too, is a sad, sad commentary about the rapidly deteriorating quality of life in the United States of America.

    I’ve always found it ironic that we in the USA keep saying that we are a peace-loving nation and that we want freedom and democracy for all.

    Yet, lately, more and more of that so-called “democracy” is being forced down the throats of others (and other nations) at the point of a gun.

    Sadly, we have now become a nation that forces others to embrace everything that it is not, while at the same time, condemning everything that it has become.