Gun enthusiasts pack shows to buy assault weapons
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 reported.
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.
Thousands of guns shows are held in the United States every year. Gun shows are temporary exhibitions where firearms and related accessories are sold, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Under federal law, licensed dealers must conduct a background check before selling to a buyer at a gun show, but loopholes allow purchases of semi-automatic handguns and extended magazines without a criminal background check. The Washington Post
In 2000, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) published the "Following the Gun" report. The ATF analyzed more than 1,530 trafficking investigations over a two-and-a-half-year period and found gun shows to be the second leading source of illegally diverted guns in the nation.
Those seeking to close the "Gun Show Loophole" argue that it provides convicted felons and other prohibited purchasers with opportunities to evade background checks, as they can easily buy firearms from private sellers with no accountability or oversight. The Washington Post
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. AP