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 zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: January 20, 2013 at 12:32 am •  Published: January 20, 2013
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The man said he was a real estate broker in Oklahoma City, and the weapons were owned by his recently deceased father-in-law. He would not share his name because he is skeptical about the media and government.

“I know about political retaliation because I've lived through several regimes, and I don't use the word ‘regime' lightly,” he said. “In the 65 years I've been actually involved, I have never seen anybody, any administration, bend the laws so greatly as this one.”

State law prohibits the sale of firearms to felons, but no state law requires individual firearms sellers to conduct background checks on purchasers. Federal law requires it for licensed dealers.

The real estate broker said background checks are a “hassle” and a waste of time. Criminals are not buying guns at gun shows anyway, he said, and he does a character analysis before each transaction.

“If you come up to me with a very strong accent I would ask to see your license,” he said. “We don't want to sell to any cartels.”

‘Judge of character'

Another unlicensed dealer at Saturday's show, who also refused give his name, strolled the aisles looking to sell his Glock pistol for $700.

The man said he was concerned his gun could end up in the wrong hands, but does not believe background checks would prevent that.

“I guess you do a quick judge of character when you do a transaction like that, and you may or may not be right on that,” he said. “But in my opinion it is not going to keep someone from shooting up a school. Whether they buy it from me or steal it from Mom and Dad, if they're intent on doing it by any means necessary, they will get it.”

Support for checks

Mark Holland, one of the many licensed dealers at the show, said he supports background checks but he also believes people should be able to sell or trade their guns among family and friends without regulation.

He opposes a ban on semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15s stacked on his table display.

These guns may look scary to the inexperienced, Holland said, but they are excellent tools for hunting, target practice and shooting competitions.

“They're very versatile guns, and that's why people like them,” he said. “If a criminal wants a gun, they're not going to come to a gun show — they're going to come to your home and steal it.”

‘Wrong hands'

Close said submitting his customers' names to the federal database is about going through the motions, but that he and all the other dealers at Saturday's show — licensed or private — do their own checks before even initiating a transaction.

A heavy law enforcement presence inside and outside the building, plus a printout of felons for whom sellers might be on alert, makes the gun show much more controlled than is perceived, Close said.

“If I don't like the way you look, if I don't like the way you act, I don't have to sell to you,” he said.

“We don't want them to get in the wrong hands, we really don't.”

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