Costa Mesa gun show expected to attract large crowds


More than 1,400 sellers of firearms and ammunition will set up shop for the Crossroads of the West Gun Show at the Orange County Fair and Event Center. Crossroads of the West is the country's largest promoter of gun shows.

Organizers are beefing up security in anticipation of huge crowds, and as a result of scrutiny from local government following a mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn. A recent show in Ontario received nearly twice the usual traffic. The increased interest is being attributed to the possibility of new federal regulations that could make it more difficult to buy guns and ammo.

"Typically at this time of the year we'd have a crowd between say 12- and 15,000. I think we're going to exceed 20,000 this weekend," said Bob Templeton, owner of the Crossroads of the West Gun Show.

Templeton met with Vice President Joe Biden earlier in the month during Biden's round robin of gun discussions. The vice president is speaking with both sides on the issue, trying to look at what kind of new rules could be put in place.

"Why can't we enforce existing laws before we try to put more on the books?" said Templeton. "Our question, and the NRA's question to them was, If we can't enforce existing laws, how will we be able to enforce more laws?"

One item being considered is limiting the number of bullets in magazines to 10 rounds. More comprehensive background checks are also being considered, including closing the so-called "gun show loophole," where people can attend a show and buy a gun without a background check.

Biden said it's not only about protecting the public, it's also about protecting the police.

"One of the reasons why the assault weapons ban makes sense, even though it accounts for a small percentage of the murders or those who die as a consequence of a weapon every year, is because police organizations overwhelmingly support it because they get out-gunned. They are out-gunned on the street," Biden said.

Critics of the ban say limiting the number of rounds can have negative consequences.

"I want a gun that can hold a lot of ammo because if I'm faced with an intruder or multiple intruders that come into my home, I want to make sure I have enough ammo to get the job done, especially if they're armed," said Celia Bigelow, the director of campus actions for American Majority Action.

Some legislation is already making its way through Congress. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is pushing an assault weapons ban, though she admits it will be an uphill battle getting the measure through a divided Congress.

Feinstein's legislation is written comprehensively to cover rifles, pistols and handguns with one of any military-style features like collapsible stocks, pistol grips or grenade launchers. It also bans 157 specific firearms, while excluding 2,258 hunting and sporting rifles and shotguns. And it bans magazines that accept more than 10 bullets.

Feinstein aimed to improve upon the previous assault weapons ban she authored, which expired in 2004 when Congress failed to renew it under pressure from the well-organized National Rifle Association and its congressional allies.

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