President Barack Obama’s recent actions on gun control were a topic of discussion among attendees at gun show in Lexington on Saturday, where several show regulars said attendance was up.
“It’s obviously on everybody’s minds,” said Miles Owens of Lexington, who sells scopes and other optical equipment. “I think it definitely has generated some buzz.”
R.K. Shows, which organized this weekend’s show at Heritage Hall, hosts gun and knife shows in eight states.
Manager Billy Abner said attendance figures were not available for Saturday, but that ticket sales had been brisk.
“It’s been busier,” he said.
Some sellers said they think that is because people are concerned about the security of their Second Amendment rights.
“People are scared,” said John Lang, a vendor from Lexington who offered T-shirts and bumper stickers supporting gun rights, as well as Donald Trump for president. “It’s up to the American people. I’m telling people to speak up.”
Ronnie Lloyd, a federally licensed dealer from Somerset, said most of his customers buy guns for sporting or hunting, as well as for protection. He had sold two guns on Saturday, one to someone he didn’t know and another to a man he did know who was buying it as a birthday gift for his grandson.
Because he is already required to perform background checks, Lloyd said he did not expect Obama’s plans to affect him.
If we want to stop gun violence, we need to stop violence.
Charles Williams, Marion County gun dealer
“There’s so many guns in this country right now,” he said. “I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know if anyone knows.”
On Tuesday, Obama announced a 10-point plan that included an effort to subject more gun sales to background checks. Licensed dealers already are required to run background checks, but private sellers aren’t. Obama seeks to clarify who is in the business of gun sales and require them to get a license from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
On Thursday, Obama participated a televised town hall-style meeting on the topic.
Charles Williams, a dealer from Marion County, pointed to a man at his booth filling out paperwork for a background check.
“The gun show loophole as it is talked about by politicians simply does not exist,” he said.
Williams said unlicensed dealers looking to profit from gun sales go elsewhere, such as to flea markets and the Internet, to offer guns for sale, while licensed dealers sell only at gun shows and at their places of business.
“It’s just stupid,” he said, “to think that passing a law is going to stop someone from doing evil. If we want to stop gun violence, we need to stop violence.”
David Crews of Georgetown came to the show hoping to trade a gun he brought with him.
“I’m not outraged by what Obama is trying to do,” he said. “I’m troubled by the way that he’s circumventing the process.”
Others, however, have lauded the president’s efforts.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the background checks required by the Brady Bill have blocked more than 2.4 million gun purchases so far, and more will now be blocked.
“Because of the president’s historic action, fewer guns will end up in the dangerous hands of convicted felons, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill, and terrorists. Without question, lives will be saved,” organization President Dan Gross said in a news release.
Guns, knives and ammunition weren’t the only items on sale Saturday.
There was a bathroom remodeling company with a booth, as well as vendors offering books, flashlights and assorted other goods.
Mary Broyles sells Scentsy home fragrances at gun shows.
“I’m here for the ladies, and I’m here to keep the guys out of trouble,” she said. “They can go home and say, ‘Honey, I thought about you at the gun show.’”
She said Saturday’s crowd had been good, but politics can’t take all the credit for that.
“Part of it is due to the weather,” she said. “At gun shows, we always pray for the rain (and) the cold.”
When the weather is nice, she said, shoppers will be out doing other things.
The gun show continues Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Heritage Hall. Tickets are $10 for adults and $4 for children.