Fear of tighter gun laws motivates gun show crowd

Hundreds lined up as gun show opens at Jacksonville Fairgrounds

JACKSONVLLE, Fla. – The parking lots were packed and the aisles were full at Saturday's gun show inside the Jacksonville Fairgrounds as hundreds shopped for weapons that some fear will soon be banned.

"I think it has to do with Obama wanting to ban guns and cut down on shows and all these different laws," gun enthusiast John Maguhn said. "Eventually, I think he is going to confiscate our guns."

While none of the gun safety proposals and executive orders President Barack Obama announced this week included confiscation of weapons, the discussion of additional gun control measures has drawn record crowds to recent gun shows.

"It's pretty obvious that the gun enthusiast is concerned with what is going to happen to their weapons, so that has generated a lot of interest," vendor Roger Huggins said.

Customers says the increased demand for guns has also brought higher prices.


"A lot of people don't like it, because a month or so ago you got the same gun for $200 or $300 less," Maguhn said. "So we're not too happy about it."

"Some places are raising their prices a little exorbitantly," Huggins said. "Customers are not really happy about that. We have to try to keep our prices competitive."

One one of the much-discussed proposals that was among the president's recommendations would  close the "gun-show loophole," but in Florida, all federally-licensed vendors already do background checks on buyers before selling them a firearm, even at gun shows.  Gun sales between private owners are currently exempt from background checks.

Most customers on Saturday told Channel 4's Chris Parenteau they don't mind the background checks, but are leery of any additional restrictions on their Second Amendment rights.

This show was scheduled long before dozens of gun-rights organizations declared Saturday as Gun Appreciation Day.  Crowds at gun shops and shows have been higher than usual even since the mass shooting at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School and there was no visible indication that the national event had any impact on the crowd at the fairgrounds.

The Jacksonville gun show is open again from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.  Admission is $8, but parking is free.