Attendance up at Wisconsin gun showsAs President Obama continues his push for tighter gun controls — including a ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines — attendance at Wisconsin gun shows is exploding.
By: By Rich Kremer, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
As President Obama continues his push for tighter gun controls — including a ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines — attendance at Wisconsin gun shows is exploding. Menomonie held a gun show just this past weekend.
In his speech last week Obama laid out his plan to use executive actions and Congress to pass stricter gun control. The president included a provision that would mandate a universal background check on anyone trying to buy a gun:
“The law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks and over the last 14 years that’s kept 1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun,” he said. “But it’s hard to enforce that law when as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check. That’s not safe, that’s not smart, it’s not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers.”
That “40 percent” the President is referring to are private sales, which often get included into what is called “the gun show loophole.” It’s called that because legally, anyone with a rifle or shotgun can take it into a gun show and sell it without conducting a criminal background check and without keeping any record of the buyer. But some would argue the term is loaded with insinuations of shady dealings and visions of gun shows serving as clearing houses for assault weapons which isn’t always the case. Take, for example, the Menomonie Sportsman’s Expo and Gun Show held this weekend at the Alliance Ministry Church.
Steve Allingham is a member of the Alliance Ministry Men’s Outreach or AMMO for short, which organized the gun show.
“The idea that it’s tables and tables and tables of assault weapons is not accurate at all,” he said. “In fact if you walk around we have people who are selling Christmas tree lights made out of shotgun shells, we have people who are selling different kinds of scents.”
Allingham says it is important for people to have a healthy respect for guns but not an unhealthy fear of the people who own them.
“I have a great job. I’m just your ordinary person: I happen to own a couple of firearms, I use them for target practice, I use them for deer hunting and I have a lot of fun,” he said. “I would never go out and do something dastardly with a firearm.”
Inside the church’s gym dozens of tables are set up with rifles, shotguns, pistols and a smattering of military style rifles. Larry Marshall is a gun dealer from the La Crosse area. His tables have the most guns by far — including military rifles from WWI, WWII and more modern ones like the Russian AK-47 — but he argues they’re not assault rifles.
“A real assault rifle has a selector switch for fully automatic,” Marshall said. “None of these guns have that. In fact, actually, some of them are the same calibre as deer rifles, and in fact some of the cheaper SKS’s make real good deer hunting rifles but they look like assault rifles because some of them have a bayonet on them and you can put extended magazines on them.”
Marshall says people should be allowed to own civilian versions of military guns and is vehemently against an assault weapons ban.
“Way back when in 1776 we had muskets, the Army had muskets,” he said. “Why shouldn’t we have something that is at least as good as they have. The whole idea is to protect ourselves from a government that got out of control, and that’s what the Second Amendment is all about.”
But Marshall, Allingham and other enthusiasts at the gun show say they are all for requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases, even at gun shows. Also, they say they hope more funds and attention go into fixing America’s mental health issues, which lead to mass shootings like the ones in Aurora, Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary.