MUSCLE SHOALS — A T-shirt declaring “Don’t tread on my II Amendment” hung near David Santos as he talked with customers Sunday at the VPI Gun & Knife Show.
Also nearby was a small booklet containing the amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Santos, a vendor at the show, said patriotism is a major reason he supports gun rights.
“That’s what that book’s for,” Santos said. “It’s the amendments, and this is one of the amendments.”
Gun enthusiasts filled a building at the North Alabama State Fairgrounds this weekend, trading, purchasing and admiring a large assortment of firearms ranging from small handguns to AK-47s.
Gun control is a hot-button issue in Washington and throughout the nation these days, and discussions of tighter restrictions have escalated on the heels of the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Vendor Corey Speegle, who wore a T-shirt bearing a picture of an AK-47 and the words “From my cold dead hands,” said he doesn’t believe Congress would approve bans on weapons.
“I think they may do universal background checks, but I don’t think there will be an assault rifle ban,” Speegle said. “They don’t have enough votes in Congress to do it.”
Speegle said Second Amendment rights, like any constitutional right, mean a great deal to Americans. “It’s personal to a lot of people.”
He said there also is a lot of misinformation about assault rifles and other weapons.
For example, most people assume an AK-47 is an assault rifle, but it’s not, Speegle said. He said they are semi-automatics because you have to press the trigger each time to fire a bullet. True assault rifles spray bullets as long as the trigger remains pressed.
Vendor Jim Roberts said he has noticed some panic buying from enthusiasts who believe bans may be enacted.
“It’s the fear of the unknown,” Roberts said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, as far as gun laws.”
He remembers a similar panic in the 1990s when laws were put in place that restricted assault rifles, but those laws grandfathered in weapons that already were produced.
“This time there might be a ban,” Roberts said. “Some people are selling everything they own, thinking they need to before they get banned.”
Wayne Gibour wore a National Rifle Association cap as he walked from booth to booth checking out merchandise and talking with vendors and other customers.
Gibour believes registration requirements could go so far that they logistically wouldn’t be realistic. He also said proposed weapons bans won’t stop massacres like the one in Newtown, and he worries about a national backlash if gun-control laws become severe.
“If you tamper too much with it, there may be a revolution,” Gibour said. “If they tighten it up a bit, that might be OK, but don’t go overboard, and the Democrats are going overboard.”