“Normally I have about 300 tables (at the show). Now I'm looking at 225. I lost three dealers last week because they don't have enough stock to sell,” said Bob Parker of CPI Inc.
But although December is normally a busy month for gun sales because of Christmas, Parker doesn't credit Santa Claus for the spike in activity. It's all about the perceived need for personal protection, he said – and the bureaucrats who think controlling guns will also control the kooks and miscreants who misuse them.
“Their agenda is to remove guns from everybody,” he said. “People know what happened in places like Australia. I'm hoping we don't stand for it, but people get brainwashed.”
For now, though, they're simply buying weapons at a dramatically at a dramatically faster pace and often at dramatically higher prices, thereby enriching the very industry gun-control advocates say they want to curb. Demand for the type of assault weapon possessed by Connecticut shooter Adam Lanza is so great that the price has risen from less than $1,000 to as much as $3,000 in the past year.
In fact, the FBI says it processed a record 2.78 million background checks on would-be gun owners in December – a 39 percent increase over November and up 49 percent from the then-record 1.86 million checks in December 2011.
Those tempted to dismiss Parker as a man who profits from the sale of potential mayhem and death should reconsider. Many of the 5,000 or so people at his shows are there to buy or sell collectible weapons. Others are interested in hunting or sport shooting. And the ever-increasing number of women simply wants to feel safe in a world that appears to traded chivalry for madness.
Even so-called assault weapons such as the AR-15 — which according to media reports may or may not have been used in the Newtown massacre – are often used by hunters, Parker added.
No serious person would argue that there should be no restrictions at all on gun sales. Parker, for example, questions the need for automatic weapons (which fire continuously with a single pull of the trigger). And while his flyers state that “all local and federal laws must be observed” at his show, I suspect Parker would not object to closing the loophole that exempts sales between private parties at gun shows and elsewhere from background check requirements commercial vendors must follow.
But will more laws really deter the morally indifferent or the mentally ill?
Gun-control advocates often point to Australia's decision to crack down on firearms after a man killed 35 people in Port Arthur in 1996. The murder rate dropped by 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, but Australia did more than prohibit the sale of semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns; it implemented a mandatory buy-back program. Nobody is seriously proposing that in the United States – as if the Constitution would allow it, in any case.
But as Parker points out, the president's hometown of Chicago has some of the toughest gun-control laws and just ended the year with more than 500 murders. But not until Newtown did the president and other gun-control advocates discover their outrage.
The National Rifle Association's call for armed guards in every school has been mocked by the intelligentsia and nobody should welcome a return to the Wild West. Conversely, no one should believe that violence will be eliminated by making scapegoats of morally neutral inanimate objects. Words and pictures are not morally neutral and do influence behavior, making the degree to which gun-control advocates in entertainment and the media have focused on Second Amendment while absolving the First all the more cynical.
Most Americans seem to agree, recently giving the NRA an approval rating of 54 percent – a better rating than the president, who recently joked that one of the reasons he sought re-election was to “have men with guns around at all times” to protect his children.
Most of us don't have that luxury, which is why guns become more popular the more they are vilified.
“If anybody wants to know what happens at a gun show, come out and take a look,” Parker said. “In some countries, you get murder by government. Self-protection is a right, and if you can't be armed you're a subject – not a citizen.”
If you goWhat: Gun and Knife Show
Where: Memorial Coliseum
When: Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $6 for adults, $2 ages 6-12 and free under 6