PHOENIX — More than 20,000 people are expected to be at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show this weekend taking place at the State Fairgrounds in Phoenix.
Many of them will be looking for AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, which are practically impossible to find at Valley firearms dealers because of fears they could be banned.
Thanks to the banning fear, items that used to sell for around $1,000 dollars at a Crossroads show will be much higher now.
“It’s difficult to find something for $1,800 but they’re still available,” said Bob Templeton with the show.
Templeton said $2,000 for an AR-15 might seem like a bargain in just a few short months.
“People who come to the show are sticker-shocked by the prices,” he said.
Calls for tougher gun restrictions and accusations that few background checks at gun shows result in weapons getting to the wrong people have not hurt Templeton’s business.
“[Gun opponents] talked about closing the so-called gun show loophole which really isn’t a loophole, it’s a private party exclusion, meaning that people who aren’t licensed dealers can buy, trade or sell guns to individuals,” he said. “That happens in classified ads, over backyard fences between neighbors. The latest buzz phrase out of Washington, D.C. is universal background checks. They want to make sure every gun sold in America has gone through a background check.”
Templeton feels his show is a forum for people to express their views.
“It’s a First Amendment forum as much as a Second Amendment forum. People come to share their views on how they feel about their government and there’s a lot of unrest right now.”
Templeton said gun shows have been unfairly attacked following the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo. and at a Connecticut elementary school. Del Mar, Calif. wants to ban the show, but they have zero chance of doing that.
“As tragic and heartwrenching as situations like Newtown are, mass shootings are very rare but get a lot of publicity,” he said. “They grab us emotionally and get our attention but there’s no reason why 100 million-plus law-abiding Americans should pay for these acts of violence by madmen.”
Templeton said he will advocate for leaving gun laws the way they are. He was among the many people who met with Vice President Joe Biden last week.
“We believe a lot of things can be done, some of which the president addressed with his executive order with regard to mental health, updating records. We think some of these things are good things, but we will continue to oppose the legislative agenda of banning so-called assault rifles and high-capacity magazines and requiring background checks at gun shows,” he said. “None of the proposals from the president would have had any effect on the tragedy in Newtown or the shooter.”