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July 30, 2015

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Organizer expects record turnout this weekend at Las Vegas gun show

Surge in gun sales accompanies calls for gun control in wake of Sandy Hook massacre

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Steve Marcus

People look over semiautomatic handguns at the Sig Sauer booth during the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s 33rd annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show at the Sands Expo & Convention Center on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011.

Map of Cashman Convention Center

Cashman Convention Center

850 Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas

Organizers of a gun show in town this weekend expect bigger crowds as more first-time buyers, buoyed by safety fears and any looming federal crackdown on gun sales, flock to Cashman Center.

“This is the largest gun show we’ve ever had or anyone has ever had in Las Vegas,” said Bob Templeton, president of Crossroads of the West Gun Shows.

The show typically draws 6,000 to 7,000 customers during its two-day stay in Las Vegas, but based on presale ticket numbers, organizers think attendance could surge as high as 12,000, Templeton said.

The show, marking its 10th year at Cashman Center, comes two weeks after the massacre in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman armed with two semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle killed 20 elementary school students, six staff members and his mother before committing suicide. The Dec. 14 tragedy triggered both cries for stricter gun-control laws in the United States and a spike in gun sales.

“These kind of things, unfortunately, tend to energize people in regard to their gun rights and their personal safety,” Templeton said.

The trickle-down effect will be felt this weekend in Las Vegas.

A thousand vendors — several hundred more than in previous years — will attend the show, but two or three already have pulled out, Templeton said. The reason for not attending: Some vendors ran out of inventory after the tragedy-inspired race to gun stores.

“Attendance at gun shows has doubled in some cases,” said Templeton, who also serves as president of an association for arms shows. “Stores have lines of people waiting to buy guns.”

Women constitute a large chunk of the first-time buyers who are purchasing handguns and signing up for classes to earn concealed-carry permits, Templeton said. He attributed the increase to a feeling among some that their Second Amendment rights are in jeopardy.

Attendees of the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Las Vegas must be residents of Nevada to buy a gun, Templeton said. The show will feature a variety of weapons and ammunition, such as handguns, hunting weapons, collector firearms and the Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, he said.

Referring to semi-automatic rifles, Templeton said, “Those are still legal, although many people feel they may be outlawed under proposed legislation.”

The annual gun show at Cashman Center has not elicited any protests in the past, but given recent events, Templeton said he could not rule out the possibility this year. Show organizers, however, are not making any plans to deal with protesters.

“They would be exercising their First Amendment rights, just as we’re exercising our Second Amendment rights,” he said.

Regular-admission tickets to attend the show are available online and at the door for $14. A dollar-off coupon also is available online and in some local gun stores.

The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Attendees must be 18 years old to enter unless accompanied by an adult.

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