Joshua Cripe, of Americus, checks the sights on a Smith & Wesson MP15 .22 cal. rifle at the Albany Gun and Knife Show/Sale Saturday at the Hasan Shrine Temple at 1822 Palmyra Road. The show/sale continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
ALBANY, Ga. -- A constant crowd of gun enthusiasts filed into an Albany civic club’s hall past a sign that stated, “Absolutely no loaded guns” starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The gun show and sale held by Gunrunners Shows of Hephzibah at the Hasan Shrine Temple, 1822 Palmyra Road, continues today starting at 10 a.m.
The gun show’s owner Larry Steverson said he thought the looming federal gun-control debate and restrictions sent many more customers his way.
A couple of customers from Warner Robins agreed. They said they were stocking up against any new rules.
“The Diane Feinstein bill is opposed to my having a 10-22 Ruger long rifle because it has 10 rounds,” said Keith Hamilton. “It (the law) would make it a D felony to possess it. It would be banned and guns limited to five rounds.”
The show featured table after table of legal guns including handguns, shotguns and assault rifles offered for sale by licensed merchants.
“The gun-buy loophole at a gun show is a baldface lie,” said Leesburg’s Steven B. Drew, of Georgia Loan & Gun. “I am a federally licensed firearms dealer and I comply with all the laws. I call the FBI and they say if I can sell a gun. Ninety-six percent of all background checks are approved. No felon or criminal is going to come to a gun show to buy.”
The thought heard over and over again at the gun show from dealers and customers was that guns do not cause the problem — people do. Gun-show participants said imposing stricter controls on law-abiding citizens was not the way to deal with the problem of violence by criminals and the mentally ill.
Strict regulations are “unacceptable,” said Mike Cramer, a customer from Columbus. Guns don’t kill people, people do. You won’t stop crime by banning guns.”
The problem isn’t with guns said dealer Andrew Dearhart, of Stone Mountain; it is with a lack of common sense and strict enforcement of the laws.
“There is a lack of justice increasing crime,” Dearhart said. “Criminals know they won’t be punished. Slap on wrist and they are out again.”
As for the mentally ill, Dearhart, owner of Mainstreet Firearms, used the Aurora, CO., movie killings as an example where the swift application of punishment should be applied.
“We know he did it. Why isn’t he hanging from a tree?” Dearhart said. “He is sick. If a dog is sick, you put him down. Put that guy down.”
Judging from those spoken to, the crowd at the gun show agreed that if criminality and mental illness are the root causes of gun violence, then deal with those, not the law-abiding citizen’s rights.
“Guns are cool. People like to shoot them at targets,” said the owner of Advanced Tactical Solutions who did not want his name used. “It is like having a Corvette. Nobody needs a Corvette, but they are fun to drive.”