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Buyers, sellers at Oklahoma City gun show are wary of gun reform proposals

Background checks, weapons bans will do little to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, said gun dealers at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City on Saturday. Both are among the list of reforms proposed by President Barack Obama last week in response to last month's school shooting in Connecticut.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Modified: January 20, 2013 at 12:32 am •  Published: January 20, 2013

Shotgun lying across his lap, two pistols and ammo stacked in boxes next to him, Mark Close soaked up some rare January sun Saturday at State Fair Park before heading home from a weekend gun show.

He traded in his old semi-automatic carbine for the pistols and paid $1,200 for the shotgun, but Close never told anyone at the show his name, he never showed his identification card, and he likes it that way.

“It starts out with registration and then when they know what you got they come in and start taking your guns,” he said. “And then when they take your guns, they start taking away your freedom.”

Unregulated gun transactions, including no background check and no formal paperwork, would come to an end under new gun reforms proposed by President Barack Obama last week.

While politicians in Washington debate ways to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unsound, gun owners in Oklahoma City flocked to the park to buy and swap weapons at the two-day show.

Close, who bought the shotgun from a dealer on the lawn of the exhibit center, said he collects weapons for fun but also for self-defense.

He said relaxed gun laws like those in Oklahoma don't contribute to increased violence but instead secure the peace. He has never had to use his weapons for self-defense.

“And I hope I never have to,” he said. “But I want the option there if somebody tried to jack my family or if the power goes off for several weeks. You try to pull something in Oklahoma you got a pretty good chance to get shot.”

Reform proposals

Obama's gun proposals would change little about the operations at shows like this one, put on by Metcalf Gun Shows of Owasso.

Most transactions here could continue under the proposals, which were developed in response to a school shooting in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults in December.

But the military-style, semi-automatic pistols and rifles displayed on many of the tables inside would be banned under the reform proposal, as would the practice of paperwork-free transactions.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reports 40 percent of gun sales in the United States are conducted at gun shows like this and by private sellers over the Internet or in classified ads.

Private sellers

At nondescript tables without business signs or business cards, private sellers at Saturday's Metcalf show displayed AR-15s, AK-47s and other weapons that would fall under the proposed ban.

Each of the private sellers defended the practice for different reasons, but none would identify themselves to The Oklahoman for this story.

“These guns look a certain way, but they all are used for the same thing,” said one man who stood behind a table on the north side of the showroom.

Displayed before him was an AK-47 ($1,250), a Ruger Mini-14 GB ($1,800) and a Colt R6000 ($2,100).

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