Gun show turns out folks fearful of greater gun regulation

At the Land of the Sky Gun & Knife Show, people could buy everything from a 12-shot rubber band gun to a custom-built target rifle that can hit a soda can from 600 yards.

There were semi-automatic weapons for sale, too, and pistols galore, as thousands of people packed into the Florence Civic Center for the April show.

Gun shows are popular across South Carolina and throughout the year. Promoter Mike Kent expected the April show to post his second-largest turnout in six years.

And people were buying, Kent said.

Many were stockpiling ammunition, he said - buying it by the case. They feared the new Obama administration would push for higher taxes on it.

"The increase in turnout is directly related to the recent presidential election," Kent said. "People are afraid Obama is going to ban guns, make them more difficult to obtain or increase taxes on them."

Don Lipsey, owner of Rubber Band Guns, a Myrtle Beach-based vendor, was selling wooden rubber band guns for $10.95 each.

Lipsey was encouraging children to fire rubber bands at pictures of Osama bin Laden and Sadaam Hussein.

"We get 'em started right young, with rubber band guns - shoot 12 at a time without reloading," he said. "And there's no background checks on these. If (people) just get out of jail, no problem."

Background checks are big talk at gun shows. Licensed dealers are required by law to perform them. But gun collectors and other individuals are not. Law enforcement says that means anyone, including felons and young teens, can buy a gun there.

In Florence, pistols were hot.

James Cooper, 29, of Dillon County, planned to buy a pistol for the first time. then get a concealed weapons permit to carry the gun with him.

"In this day and age, it's crazy out there," he said. "Anything can happen."

Darren Edwards, 38, of Chesterfield, near the N.C. state line, moved to South Carolina four years ago from Maryland. He, too, was at the show shopping for a pistol.

Edwards enjoys how popular guns are in the state.

"I can walk out my door and shoot my gun and my neighbors don't think nothing of it," he said.

If anyone poses a threat to gun rights, it is youths who use them irresponsibly, Edwards said.

"Morals and standards have gone down," he said. "A lot of kids, parents would rather give them a time out than a hand across the butt."

While pistols were popular, Jeremy B. Davis was selling an array of components for the semi-automatic AR-15. That included a 100-round circular magazine on sale for $300.

People have been rushing to buy any AR-15 components they can get their hands on, Davis said.

Especially popular were items once banned under the Clinton administration, such as high-capacity magazines, which Davis said hold more than 10 rounds.

Davis said people are fearing a similar ban will return.

On the night Barack Obama was elected president, Davis said, he sold 38,000 magazines from his Web site - more than three times the number sold on a typical night.

Lately, he said, people have been picking up parts as small as screws at his store in Waynesville, N.C., asking if they fit AR-15s, then buying them if the answer is 'yes.'

"People are terribly afraid their rights are going to be infringed upon like they were under the Clinton administration," he said.

"People are absolutely terrified," he said. "A lot of people are in anticipation of a police state, terrorist attack, civil unrest. A lot of people are preparing to draw lines in the sand."