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Yuma gun show draws big crowd
A large crowd of area residents and winter visitors flocked to Murphy's Gun Show Saturday at the Yuma County Fairgrounds to stock up on guns and ammunition in advance of possible gun control laws.
“When I came in here, the line was almost out to the fence,” said Dominic Antonelli, a Yuma-area resident who brought his Bushmaster XM15 semiautomatic sporting rifle to sell at the show. “It was hard to come in.”
Leo Loyd, a collector of Smith and Wesson revolvers, noted the crowd was much “bigger than what it usually is. It is a very busy crowd.”
Bernard Murphy, who has organized Murphy's gun show for the past 25 years, also noticed a large increase in attendees over previous years.
“We've had probably a 30 percent increase today” compared to past shows, he said. “I think they want to stock up a little bit.”
Proposals banning semiautomatic sporting rifles and limiting the size of magazine clips are currently being considered by some members of Congress and the White House. Officials are contemplating the ban in response to the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that left 20 children and six adult staff members dead.
The possible legislation has created a huge demand in the Yuma area for sporting rifles such as the AR-15, the .223 ammunition used in such rifles, and large capacity magazines.
That demand has in turn dramatically driven up prices, Antonelli added.
“Most definitely. I mean there are some (dealers) that are keeping their heads about them, keeping a good price, but those people are the ones who are selling out the quickest.”
Some of the items at Saturday's gun show were “a lot more expensive than the last one I went to, that is for sure,” said Jose Torres, a Yuma-area resident who was trying to sell two custom built AR-15 rifles so he could make enough money to buy an AR-10.
“.223 ammo used to go for about 42 or 43 cents per round. The guy in the corner is selling a bag of 20 for $20 – so a dollar a round –and he sold out.”
Ted Underhill, an employee with Jones and Jones Firearms Sales in Somerton, watched as handguns, rifles and shotguns flew off the shelf at his company's booth.
“We are slammed,” he said. “Everybody wants AR-15s, AR-10s and any kind of” Kalashnikov-style rifles.
Ever since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, “it has been going nuts,” he continued. “You can't stock anything. We have these odds and ends out here, but the regular guns – gone. Not around anymore.”
Underhill has attended Murphy's Gun Show in Yuma for the past three years, and noted the crowd at his booth was “probably double,” what it had been at the previous event.
While gun and ammunition sales soared, items such as knives did not fare as well.
People are going straight for the “guns, ammo and magazines,” said Lee Beene, a knife dealer who has been participating in Murphy's Gun Show for the past decade.
Beene thinks the large turnout was due in part to a fear that gun shows may be banned in the future.
“I think they will try and eliminate gun shows,” he said. “They can't eliminate guns, but they can eliminate gun shows, and I think they are going to try.”
Gun buyers are also worried about the possible loss of their gun rights, Underhill said.
“That is exactly it. You can thank your friends in Washington for that.” Citizens “are very concerned about what is going on right now, and the possibility of an executive order of some sort coming down” to restrict gun ownership.
Antonelli is hopeful the federal government “won't impose any bans,” he said, noting “the main concern right now is mandatory registration... even for magazines.”
He fears mandatory registration may lead to privacy issues. He cited the recent controversial publication by The Journal News of the names and addresses of all of the individuals in Westchester and Rockland counties of New York who possess handgun or pistol permits.
Law abiding citizens should not be punished for the actions of a small minority of people who carry out heinous crimes such as the Sandy Hook shooting, Antonelli added.
“Absolutely not. A bad person is always going to find something to do something bad with, whether it is a gun, a knife or a hammer. It is not the gun, or the object that is killing these people. It's the person. It is the mental health of the person that we need to be concerned with.”
Murphy's Gun Show continues from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday inside the Theatre Building at the Yuma County Fairgrounds. Admission is $5 for those 17 and older. Children 16 and younger can attend for free when accompanied by a parent.