Fear driving gun, ammo purchasesSome at local show worried about Obama others say fear is unfounded.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
Thousands of Colts, Rugers and Henrys filled the Davison County 4-H Fairgrounds as the Dakota Territory Gun Collectors held an annual weekend gun show in Mitchell, but it was another name that weighed on some gun owners’ minds: President Barack Obama.
As rumors of tighter gun regulations continue to circulate, show organizers said an increasing interest in handguns and so called “black guns” (semi-automatic rifles) has been evident in the past few years.
The show started as a historic gun collection show but, as it grew, more and more modern guns began to fill booths.
Paul Herman, of Pierre, was one of the exhibitors at the gun show Saturday. He has been in the firearms business for 43 years and said his handgun sales have been extremely good as of late.
“The last year four years have definitely created a significant increase in personal defense firearms,” Herman said.
He said a fear of regulation on certain types of guns by the government has driven an increase in interest and sales in his handguns.
“I had people like a husband and wife or two elderly ladies come and say, ‘We’ve never owned a firearm, but we think that maybe we should have one before we can’t anymore.’ ” Herman said.
While some at the show Saturday agreed there is a fear of more gun regulation, others The Daily Republic spoke to believe the fear is misplaced or unwarranted.
Wendel Grangaard was one of those exhibitors with that opinion Saturday.
“I’ve been a Republican all my life and I really feel that Obama is not going to come after our guns, even though many people think he is.” Grangaard said. “I really think we are safe to a point. The bad thing is when we start to have automatic weapons creating some problems like we have had recently.”
He said a key in the protection of gun rights is educating young people that guns are more than just weapons used for violence.
Keith Swenson attended the gun show Saturday and admitted he thinks tighter gun regulations might be coming.
“I think that is a huge fear, especially with our current president,” Swenson said.
He bought a new gun last year because he fears that guns may be more tightly regulated after the election.
“I bought my first automatic handgun here at last year’s show and a lot of ammo.” Swenson said.
When asked if he will continue to stock up on ammo, he said, “You bet.”
“And actually I’m going to do it before this year’s election.”
James Aplan was one of the founders of the Dakota Territory Gun Collectors in 1961. He has seen a shift from historic guns to more modern guns in the time he has been doing the gun shows.
Aplan said people are now buying massive amounts of ammo because of fear of regulation, and he called that kind of purchasing a “misplaced fear.”
“I do a lot of big shows and I watch them wheel the ammo out by the crateload all day long,” Aplan said. “I don’t know why the fear is there and I don’t have it myself.”
Despite some gun owners thinking that the current administration might crack down on guns, the last four years have showed little sign of that.
In 2009, Obama signed a bill allowing people to carry guns in National Parks. In 2011, following the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Obama largely avoided the topic of gun regulation, much to the dismay of activists calling for more gun regulation. Obama also received a failing grade from the nation’s preeminent gun control group, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
During the Oct. 16 debate this year, Obama was asked what his administration has done or plans to do about the availability of assault weapons. He responded with the following: “My belief is that we have to enforce the laws we’ve already got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to enforcement.”
“But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence.”
A 10-year assault weapons ban was passed by Congress and signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1994. The ban expired in 2004 and has not been reinstituted.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has consistently said Obama wants to take guns out of the hands of Americans and has endorsed Mitt Romney for this year’s election.