Last week, when the proposed legislation by Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) to expand gun background checks failed in the Senate, President Obama vowed the fight wasn't over and he would push on for what he called "common sense" gun reforms. Apparently, gun owners agree that the fight isn't over, because they have continued to turn out in record numbers to buy weapons and ammunition. During the month of April, gun shows from New York to California to Florida have seen record crowds. And many in those crowds don't feel the threat to curb gun rights is over, even after last week's failure of the Toomey-Manchin bill. "I think they are concerned because the President has a real strong agenda about this sort of thing," says Mike Clark, owner of Collectors Firearms in Houston.
A big part of the surge at gun shows and dealers in recent months has been a push for ammo. "Some ammunition has been in short supply, for example 9mm and 223 (rifle ammo)," says Clark. "A lot of the 9mm has apparently been bought up by the federal government." Clark is referring to recent reports that the Department of Homeland Security has purchased large amounts of ammunition. "That's certainly a theory on some people's part, not necessarily mine," he says. "But I do know that 9mm is hard to get."
As for the issue of background checks, Clark thinks the bill and its advocates were misguided by aiming at the so-called "gun show loophole," which he says doesn't exist. "You go to a gun show, most everybody there is a licensed dealer," he says. "So whatever's taking place at gun shows is miniscule compared to the overall gun sales in the United States." Clark adds that the Toomey-Manchin bill would have exempted private transfers, which would leave many transactions without background checks anyway. "If you were a friend of somebody, you didn't have to find a dealer to transfer (the gun), or if you were a family member, or if you were lending the gun to somebody to go hunting you didn't have to do that." FBI statistics show there have already been more than 70 million background checks for gun purchases since 2009.