Just 10 days after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that took the lives of 17 people in Parkland, Florida, gun enthusiasts flocked by the thousands to the Florida State Fairgrounds for the Florida Gun Show. Event manager George Fernandez said it was the biggest crowd that they had ever seen for the event.
Organizers estimated that they had a record number of attendees for the show, with nearly 7,000 people walking the floor on Saturday, Feb. 24. They expected even more for the second day of the show on Sunday.
While the event at the Florida State Fairgrounds was a huge hit, the next gun show originally scheduled to take place in Fort Lauderdale in March was cancelled by event organizers at the request of the mayor.
While politicians continue to debate whether or not gun control legislation may be an option in combating America’s mass shooting problem, Fernandez expressed his concerns over any potential laws that might end up restricting gun owners’ rights.
“Some of the people attending are afraid that future legislation will impact their gun ownership rights,” he said.
The concerns of current gun owners are warranted, as many government officials are now drafting new gun control legislation.
Florida lawmakers, like Sen. Bill Nelson, have proposed stricter laws to fix a so-called “gun show loophole” that allows individuals to purchase guns at shows like the one last weekend at the Florida State Fairgrounds without getting a background check,
Along with closing the loophole, Nelson also aims to put a ban on assault riffles. He claims that murders were down in 1994 when assault rifles were banned.
“Before that law, they were high and after that law, when the NRA [National Rifle Association] killed the law in 2004, the number of deaths as a result of assault weapons has grown up like a rocket taking off,” he said.
Fernandez disagrees with some of what the senator claims.
He said that about 95 percent of gun show vendors are required by law to run background checks on individuals purchasing guns from them, since they are licensed dealers. However, the other 5 percent are private citizens who can sell guns without running backgrounds check on potential customers.
Several counties in Florida, including Pinellas and Hillsborough, have already passed ordinances that would require private citizens to run background checks.
But Fernandez claims that tightening the “loophole” would not have stopped the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.
“This was a mental health issue. This is someone who should have been identified from the beginning by law enforcement,” Fernandez said.