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Worried buyers flock to Texas gun show

Published: Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 8:28 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — FORT WORTH, Texas — A long line of firearm buyers pushed its way into the Lone Star Gun Show when it opened at 9 a.m. Saturday for a two-day run, prompting comparisons to eager “Black Friday shoppers.”

Vendors and customers alike said the crowds were motivated by fears that the White House will work to restrict assault weapons and curb gun show sales after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Demand was so high that prices soared, dealers and shoppers said.

Rod Balderman, who drove more than 250 miles from Houston to attend as a buyer, reported a 25 percent to 50 percent rise in cost for many weapons since the Dec. 14 mass killing.

Like many — but not all — at the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall, Balderman called it unfortunate that the Newtown tragedy might lead to tighter gun laws.

“The more gun-free zones there are, the more people left unprotected,” he said.

He also bemoaned the fact that the Newtown shootings have led to higher prices for everyone.

In the middle of a show that attracted a number of non-dealers selling guns without background checks, Devonne Hart of Arlington, Texas, said legislators should ban such unregulated private sales.

Out of earshot was a man trying to make just such a private sale.

Mike Morgan of Mineral Wells, Texas, sat in a chair holding a “For Sale by Owner” sign.

A double-barreled shotgun rested upright on a shoulder.

Morgan said he was selling because he had given up hunting for fishing. He came to the gun show now, he said, out of concern that if tighter controls are enacted, he might have a hard time selling the shotgun later — or someone might break into his home to steal it.

Initially thinking that it would fetch $2,000, Morgan lowered his price after a dealer gave him an instant appraisal for far less.

He ended up exchanging the shotgun for $600.

“I didn’t get what I wanted,” Morgan said. “But I found out my gun wasn’t worth what I had thought.”

Hart, a former military police officer, said he came to the show because he was curious about how the Connecticut shootings would affect sales and prices.

“They are taking advantage of the situation,” he said. “Prices are up. The NRA and the right wing are scaring people into buying guns.”

Hart said he believes in the right to bear arms but doesn’t think assault weapons based on combat designs should be in the hands of recreational gun owners.

Gun violence has no easy solutions, he said, although banning assault rifles and private sales at gun shows would be a start.

“Right now they are doing absolutely nothing,” he said.

As for the National Rifle Association suggesting that each school should have an armed guard, Hart said: “That is just too much. I don’t want kids having access to guns or being caught in the crossfire between teachers.”

Sanger, Texas, resident Larry Davis is a gun owner who stopped by the exhibits hall on his way home from hunting.

Like Hart, he disagrees with the NRA’s proposal to post armed guards at all schools, but only slightly.

“I think it needs to be someone within the school, maybe a principal or vice principal,” he said. “But the gun would have to be on their immediate person, not left in a desk or a purse where it doesn’t do any good.”

Davis is sorry that the Newtown tragedy is becoming a political issue.

“It’s sad that the president has an agenda,” Davis said of President Barack Obama’s new push for gun control.

“But do away with guns completely? He’s got a fight on his hands.”

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