POSTED: Sunday, January 6, 2013 - 4:03pm
UPDATED: Monday, January 7, 2013 - 10:51am
Despite soaring prices and dwindling stock, gun and knife enthusiasts descended Saturday on a Longview gun show in force, pressing shoulder-to-shoulder in the hope of finding a rare deal.
Some shoppers waited more than 30 minutes to enter the exhibit building at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Complex when the Classic Arms Productions Gun & Knife Show began at 9 a.m.
Phil Luchau of White Oak said he had attended gun and knife shows at Maude Cobb for years, and had never seen anywhere near the crowd he encountered Saturday.
“This is probably one of the biggest events we have ever had in Longview,” said Sondra Hewett, a show promoter.
But for faithful show attendees, the large crowds proved more of a burden than a blessing.
“It’s actually obnoxious,” said Luchau, a veteran who collects guns. “You can’t move. There are so many people in there slammed together.”
Twice in recent months, news events have caused gun sales to skyrocket. First was the re-election of President Barack Obama. Second was a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school and the increased gun control rhetoric that followed.
From Nov. 23 to 25, an FBI database shows 283,423 background checks were performed nationally, an increase of more than 30 percent from the same period in 2011.
Before doors opened Saturday at the gun show in Longview, a queue hundreds of buyers long had formed, Luchau said.
Some shoppers, like Steve Williams, said they waited almost 45 minutes just to get in.
“Since all the stuff has happened recently, I think people are concerned they won’t be able to purchase the weapons,” Williams said.
But vendors, many of whom travel from gun show to gun show, were not overwhelmed with the traffic and said that for the past month, guns and ammunition have been sold faster than they can be replaced.
Andrew Petty of Stone Chimney Creek Trading Co., which sells custom AR-15 and AR-10 rifles, said he usually travels with about 20 AR-15s to gun shows. He only had five to bring to Longview after booming sales last weekend at a Fort Worth gun show.
“It’s Connecticut,” he said. “But not just the shooting. It is all the rhetoric that came after it with Obama calling for stricter gun controls.”
But Petty said he didn’t necessarily love the run on the guns.
Because they are being snatched up faster than manufacturers can produce them, he has little stock and has increased the prices on his products.
“It’s supply and demand. It’s not just a product anymore, now it’s a commodity. We can’t charge what we paid for the gun; we have to charge what we will have to pay for the next gun,” Petty said.
Luchau said he saw guns that used to sell for about $1,000 selling for nearly $3,000.
“The prices have doubled or even more,” Luchau said. “They are taking advantage of the fact that people really want the items.”
Ammunition also was in high demand at Saturday’s show.
Large pallets of ammunition dwindled quickly as the day progressed, dropping from stacks of seven or eight boxes per stack to one or two.