SoCal Gun Show Draws Crowds, Demand for Ammunition

After a long wait, buyers found "no deals" amid a reported ammunition shortage

By Melissa Pamer and Michelle Valles
|  Sunday, Jan 27, 2013  |  Updated 8:23 AM PDT
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Hundreds of gun owners and gun seekers lined up at a gun show in Costa Mesa. Michelle Valles reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013.

Hundreds of gun owners and gun seekers lined up at a gun show in Costa Mesa. Michelle Valles reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013.

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Long lines of firearms aficionados waited outside a gun show in Costa Mesa Saturday that was expected to draw a crowd in part because ammunition is reportedly in short supply at Southern California retail outlets.

The event, held at the OC Fair and Event Center and slated for Saturday and Sunday, was expected to draw some 25,000 attendees.

On Saturday morning, thousands waited for hours in get in, and then waited again to purchase ammunition. Some attendees said items went quickly and were overpriced.

"There are no deals," said Bob Templeton, owner of the show, who noted the price of ammunition had doubled.

"I'd be the first to confirm that we've been told there's no ammunition available in Los Angeles area," Templeton added.

The Crossroads of the West Gun Show is a regular visitor to the 150-acre site of the annual OC Fair, but it was drawing increased scrutiny from media in this iteration.

In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings that left 27 dead, many gun shows across the country have been swamped by both demand and news coverage.

The Saturday event coincided with a march on Washington -- organized by One Million Moms for Gun Control and the Washington National Cathedral -- that was attended by Newtown residents, in support of more stringent gun control measures. Because of the Newtown massacre, stricter gun control is seriously being discussed at the national level for the first time in years.

At the Costa Mesa event, there were varying reactions to the political climate.

Nate Lujan said he opposes gun control legislation.

"It would totally be a black market," Lujan said. "Look at drugs, you can still get them."

Others said they were unconcerned about possible new restrictions, with some even joking that President Obama's plans have prompted increased gun show sales, stimulating the economy.

"I think people are genuinely concerned that these guns might be taken away," gun shopper Blake Byram said. "I don't see it happening."

Templeton said Friday that he's seen near-record crowds, including at his show's recent event in Ontario.

"They're responding and coming out and buying guns and ammunition because they think their rights are about to be further curtailed," Templeton said.

The Crossroads of the West Gun Show's next Southern California stop is Feb. 9 and 10 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

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