By noon, three hours after the doors opened for the latest Eastman’s Gun and Knife Show, the line to get into the building still snaked around the trade center. Dozens of people, many carrying weapons — unloaded — that they hope to sell or trade stood patiently as they waited to get into the packed arena.
“I’ve been to these before. There’s always a crowd. But I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Ringgold resident Jess Orton. “I think President Obama is going to get a lot of guns sold.”
Several people standing in line or emerging from the show said they had come to the show Saturday specifically because they were concerned that the federal government is going to try to severely restrict their right to own, purchase or sell guns.
“They are talking about bringing back the assault weapon ban and making it even broader, including some very popular rifles that were exempt under the old law. I’ve read that (California’s Democratic U.S. senator) Dianne Feinstein want to add any sort of grip, not just a pistol grip, to the list of things that would be banned on rifles and shotguns,” said Calhoun resident Dan Boland. “A lot of Americans own weapons that would be covered by that law. They would make criminals out of a lot of law-abiding people.”
Some people said they didn’t think such sweeping legislation would make it through Congress, but they worried President Barack Obama would sidestep lawmakers and enact such regulations by executive order.
“This is the first gun show (locally) since (Vice President) Joe Biden started talking about the president using executive orders,” said Dan Tomlinson, of Hixson, Tenn.
Tomlinson and others said they were concerned about a proposal Biden floated last week to require background checks for any private gun sales. Federal laws currently requires licensed gun dealers to do background checks, but not people privately selling or giving firearms to others.
Some said that would effectively ban private gun sales.
“I owned one pistol, but I’ve been thinking about getting some more guns. I thought I should do it before they make it more difficult,” Tomlinson said.
Whitfield County Republican Party Chairwoman Dianne Putnam was among those standing in line to get in. She said she wasn’t too concerned about new restrictions on firearms.
“But we need to take every opportunity we can to exercise our rights,” she said.
Some of those attending the show said they were keeping a close eye on local gun laws, too, such as proposals in Tennessee and Georgia to allow some school employees to carry firearms on campus.
“I have children, and I am concerned about them. I know that schools in general are safe places, and I’m sure that the schools my kids attend are safe. But if we can do something to make them even safer, I’d be for it,” said Linda Power of Cartersville.
Eastman’s Gun and Knife Show continues today at the trade center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8. Children under 12 will be admitted free.