A Florida gun show in Tampa exploded in popularity following the recent school shooting in Parkland.
Nikolas Cruz allegedly shot students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, leaving 17 dead and 16 wounded.
Less than two weeks later, the Florida Gun Show at the Florida State Fairgrounds saw a record number of attendees.
Almost 7,000 people were recorded on Saturday and more were expected on Sunday.
The manager for the Florida Gun Show, George Fernandez, told WTSP that they’ve never seen such a big crowd.
He said discussion over making background checks stricter and banning certain guns were on the minds of many gun owners and prospective gun owners, perhaps leading to the record attendance.
Another possible reason is the company canceling the scheduled Fort Lauderdale gun show, which was slated for March, after the mayor there asked them to, following the school shooting.
One possible restriction being discussed is closing the so-called gun-show loophole, which allows private citizens to sell guns without a background check required of the buyer.
Privative citizens can sell to anybody without a background check required of the buyer, but being allowed to do so at gun shows has come under purview, with some legislators wanting to change that.
More than 95 percent of the vendors at the gun show do run background checks on buyers as required by law since the vendors are licensed dealers.
“I see it as something that should be looked at, yes,” Bruce Kitzis of Shooter’s World told WFTS about the loophole. He said all private sales should be checked. “You can close that, all transactions must be done through a licensed background check.”
“We’ve got to stop this private selling, these guns are getting into the wrong hands this way,” added Eric Gibbs, a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer, to the WFLA.
Fernandez, the gun show manager, said that stricter background checks wouldn’t have stopped Cruz from obtaining his gun, though.
Cruz passed a federal background check before purchasing a semiautomatic AR-15-style rifle.
“This was a mental health issue. This is someone who should have been identified from the beginning by law enforcement,” Fernandez told WTSP.
Sellers noted they were on track for record sales in large part due to the talk of potential bans of some guns.
— Angie Angers (@angie_angers) February 25, 2018
“It’s sad to say, but whenever there’s a shooting, business only goes up because people are afraid of losing their right to own a certain weapon,” Quaidman Woody, 18, who was running a booth with his father, a sales representative for CrossHeirs, told The New York Times. “So even if they don’t need another AR, they’ll buy another AR or pieces of it.”
Woody said that determined criminals would just find another gun if their original target was banned.
“There’s a big stigma around the AR-15,” Woody said. “But say they ban it—if the person knows what they’re doing, they’re just going to buy a different gun that shoots the same caliber and does the same thing but doesn’t get included in the ban because it doesn’t look tactical.”
The next Florida Gun Show is scheduled for Lakeland on March 3 and 4.