Gun shows across the U.S. saw record attendance over the weekend as weapons owners flocked to stock up mostly on ammunition, but also on arms likely to be targeted by restrictions possibly put in effect in the wake of December's school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
In California, one of the nation's strictest gun-control states, thousands attended one of the Left Coast's first gun shows since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, while several dozen protestors outside the Ontario Convention Center where it was being held.
"Nationally, manufacturers can't keep up demand for firearms or ammunition," Bob Templeton, of Crossroads of the West Gun Shows, told NBC Los Angeles. "There's no ammunition at stores, I'm understanding, anyway."
Many of the estimated 13,000 who attended the show had to wait in line for hours before gaining access to the arena, including gun owner Gregg Imus who waited for two and a half hours to purchase ammunition.
"It's politicians scaring people into thinking they are going to take away our rifles, our ammunition, so the people are just nervous that this ammunition we’re burying won't be available in near future and it’s our right," said Imus in an interview with NBC's local affiliate
The sentiment was shared by Templeton.
"Some politicians are using these tragic acts to generate enthusiasm for restrictive gun measures," he said, noting the record crowds at the gun show.
Similar record attendance was seen at the Rocky Mountain Gun Show in Sandy, Utah, where an estimated 20,000 individuals showed up over the weekend.
In Utah, as in California, attendees were primarily in search of ammunition and high-power assault weapons.
"We got here, maybe around noon, and they were sold out of the .223, which is the main round for the AR-15 and they were just out. We asked if they had any .223 and the guy just laughed at us," said Matt Webster
, who came to buy parts and ammunition for his AR-15.
Though ammunition was available, much of it was priced according to the demand.
"What I'm about to buy now, get some ammunition, normally would have cost me $250 six months ago, now it's probably going to cost me about $400 or $500 now," said gun owner Matthew Gomez.
Gun sellers are unable to replenish their ever-shrinking inventories due to wholesalers not having any stock.
"It doesn't matter what we sell in here, we cannot get it. Doesn't matter if it's a holster, ammo, guns, we cannot call our wholesaler and get it," said gun vendor Dan Petersen. "It's virtually impossible."
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