President Barack Obama's proposals to reduce gun violence in response to last month's deadly attack on a Connecticut elementary school are turning out to be a shot in the arm for firearms sales.
The promoter of a Carter Lake gun show this weekend said the president's plans — which include Congress reinstating a ban on assault weapons and targeting high-capacity ammunition magazines — has sparked weapons sales across the country.
About 3,000 people showed up Saturday for a show in Carter Lake, said Marvin Kraus of Strawberry Point, Iowa.
Two parking lots outside the Chez Paree at 13th and Locust Streets were packed, and a steady stream of visitors made their way into the facility. The show featured 225 tables of guns and supplies from mostly Iowa vendors.
Some attendees bought, sold and traded pistols, shotguns and semi-automatic weapons.
They waded through an assortment of knives, ammunition, camouflage gear, stun guns and Tasers, metal detectors, military surplus equipment and other collectibles on display. Classes on Iowa's concealed weapons law were held.
“It's been a zoo in here,'' Kraus said at the door as he checked weapons for ammunition that were being brought in for sale or trade.
Kraus said he has been promoting gun shows for 23 years and is a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association.
He said he disagreed with the president's proposed crackdown on some weapons, such as the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle used by the gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and a reduction in the size of ammo clips to 10 rounds.
“If you give him an edge,'' Kraus said of Obama, “who knows what he'll take next.
“Our hearts go out to the victims in Connecticut,'' he added, “but Obama is trying to pass legislation on people's emotions.”
Semi-automatic weapons are needed for safety purposes, Kraus said.
“The AR-15 is for protection for my family ... all these anti-U.S. people out there, like al-Qaida, I want protection against them.
“I'm a firm believer in our Constitution,” he added, “in our right to bear arms.”
Instead of targeting weapons, Kraus said, teachers, principals and coaches should be encouraged to attend classes on carrying concealed weapons.
“If a violent person, a crazy person comes into a classroom, the teacher is the last line of defense,” he said. “It's more of a psychiatric problem than a gun problem. And a teacher can recognize who needs help.''
Just inside the Chez Paree's doors was Ed Feldhacker, 70, of Oakland, Iowa, who was hoping to sell an assortment of rifles.
Included among his weapons were a $3,500 Rock River Arms AR-15 with a 30-round clip, a laser pointer and a Nikon scope with red-and-green crosshairs, and a $3,500 short-barreled rifle with a 42-round magazine. He said the latter is popular with Israeli security personnel.
“I disagree'' with the president's plan, Feldhacker said. “Let him try'' to get it passed. “It's not a threat to me at all.''
Among the vendors who said business has been good since the Sandy Hook massacre was Jenelle Neppl of Salida, Colo., a representative of TopBrass, which buys spent shells from the military and others and repackages them for reloading.
“It's been unreal,'' she said of sales. “It's been crazy.''
Sales have also improved on gun safes, said Pella Security's Ron Lorenzen of Hinton, Iowa. He said a top-of-the-line gun safe sells for about $4,000.
“I've got to sleep at night, too,'' he said, “and it's comforting to know your weapons are locked securely and can't be stolen.'
“Most everyone who owns a firearm is safe,'' Lorenzen added, “and takes the steps to keep firearms safe.''
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