Demand for Assault Weapons Soars at Gun Shows

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 23 2012 6:54 AM

Gun Shows Packed With Customers Eager To Buy Assault Weapons

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Jason Zielinski shows a customer a selection of AR-15 style rifles being offered for sale at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store in Tinley Park, Illinois

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

It’s a good weekend to be a seller at a gun show. Particularly for those hawking assault weapons. As the last child killed in the Dec. 14 school massacre in Newtown, Conn. was laid to rest Saturday, gun enthusiasts across the country waited in long lines and thronged gun show booths in what many openly described as a rush to buy assault weapons out of fear that they could soon be outlawed. Reuters reporters went to gun shows in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Texas to confirm the trend that is also backed up by local news reports. There was such a rush to get inside a Texas gun show Saturday morning that the Fort Worth Star Telegram says it prompted “comparisons to eager ‘Black Friday shoppers.’”  

The price of assault weapons has soared since the Newtown massacre but that hasn't dented demand in the slightest. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, a gun shop owner said she has sold more than 100 assault weapons since Dec. 14.  “I’m sold out,” she told Reuters. In a gun show outside San Antonio, Texas, the most popular item was ammunition for the AR-15, the very model used by the Newtown shooter, reports the San Antonio Express-News. That was hardly an isolated instance.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that hundreds waited in line to enter a gun show in Marietta, Georgia, where AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and its respective ammo were particularly popular purchases. “Early attendees left the show wheeling cases of ammunition,” reports the paper. A local CBS affiliate notes that the AK-47 and AR-15 are in particularly high demand at a York County, Penn. gun show this year “because many gun collectors say they’re afraid they’ll soon be outlawed.”

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Reuters reports that one buyer at a Kansas City gun show paid $925 for an AR-15, when that same model would have cost around $400 a year ago. Still, it seems the buyer got a relative bargain since most of the models “were selling for $1,500 or more.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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