Knoxville gun show draws thousands as demand and prices rise

Knoxville gun show draws thousands as demand and prices rise

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By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The first large gun show in Knoxville since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre is being held this weekend.

A gunman killed 20 children and six adults at the Connecticut school on December 14th. Since the shooting, gun control has been the topic of debate for some local lawmakers and community members. The uncertain future of gun laws had many people at Saturday's event making a gun purchase.

Cindy Hartsell said it was her first time attending a gun show.

"It was a bit overwhelming because I've never really shot guns a lot myself," said Hartsell. "I've been to the range once with my husband and my boys."

She's searching for a pistol and this will be her first time owning a gun.

"We are concerned about the gun laws that are going to be coming down the pipe through congress and all that and we don't have a pistol at home so we wanted to get some protection," added Hartsell.

She's not alone. The building was packed with the crowd shoulder to shoulder. The R.K. Show organizer said this weekend should be record breaking with more people at the Knoxville Gun Show than ever before.

Weekend attendance is anticipated to be up 20 percent from last year with more than 5,000 people coming through the doors.

Warren Duncan with Volunteer Ordnance Works is a vendor at the show. He said guns sales are expected to be up 25 percent this year from last. He believes the up-tick is connected to the shootings in Connecticut.

"From Sandy Hook there has been an increase. We've had a lot of people come in who are worried about that they are going to lose some of their rights," explained Duncan.

He said the demand for AR-15 guns is up 500 percent. In the last two weeks, the price has doubled from $1,200 to $2,400.

"Folks are worried that they won't be able to own one because of potential gun control laws that may come into effect in the future," added Duncan.

He said there is a spike in demand for almost all guns with high capacity ammunition magazines, which is causing some gun prices to have doubled or tripled since mid-December.

To purchase a gun from a show vendor, a potential buyer must fill out some paperwork for a background check.

"There's no registration in Tennessee. All that's doing is making sure the person is ok to buy the firearm and making sure that the gun is not stolen," said Duncan.

After spending the afternoon at the show, Cindy Hartsell found the protection she was looking for. She passed the background check and was able to buy a gun.

"We got a 9mm pistol," said Hartsell.

The show will be open again Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's at the Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center.

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