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Big business expected at Ontario weekend gun show

January 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
As the debate over gun control heats up nationwide, a major gun show rolls into the Inland Empire. For the first time since the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, gun enthusiasts here at home will have access to one of the biggest shows around at the Ontario Convention Center this weekend.

Private gun vendors like Apple Valley resident Ron Mantel are anticipating a busy two days at this weekend's gun show.

"There are just having record, record numbers of people come, and so it's going to be pretty packed in here, it really is," said Mantel.

Gun shows like the Crossroads of the West Gun Show have been packed with eager customers. Owner Tracy Olcott says she's seen a surge in gun sales since the election in November.

"The political environment makes it so that people are really excited about guns and going out and getting the stuff they need to shoot and to hunt, and just to have their guns and stuff they want to have," said Olcott.

The gun show comes less than a month after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"In light of what happened in Connecticut, I think it's an especially sensitive time to do something like that and I don't think it's appropriate," said Riverside resident Kate Bleyer.

The recent shooting is also not far from the thoughts of many people participating in this weekend's event. Even so, the tragedy has many gun enthusiasts fearing tougher gun control laws may be on the horizon.

"I've seen this before. It's not rifles that sell that much, it's ammunition. People start to buy bullets like crazy," said Mantel.

The state of California has one of the toughest gun restrictions in the nation, so much so that the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has called the state a model for federal gun control legislation.

In a statement, Coalition spokesman Ladd Everit said: "There might be individuals who are upset at this moment in time with a gun show happening so soon after the shooting in Newtown. However, Californians can have a measure of confidence that gun shows in their state are not a free for all."

One of the things buyers will not be able to find at this weekend's gun show will be assault rifles. They are banned in California.

Buyers will have to go through a universal background check before guns can be purchased, then must wait 10 days, among some state restrictions.