I should have known that the gun show would be packed when my wife, out of the blue, suggested that we attend as a family. Since we met, she's transitioned from a woman with a gun control poster on her wall to a fair shot with a .38 revolver who has proclaimed rifles "boring" because it's too easy to hit the target. Still, the words "let's all go to the gun show" have never before passed her lips. Clearly, she's in tune with a cultural moment, because much of Arizona's Verde Valley had the same idea. And, by all reports, ammunition and reloading supplies were the hot items at the event.
Before heading over after lunch on Saturday, I called my buddy, Dave, who met us there with his son. His kid seemed as enamored of the whole thing as mine, who busied himself peppering vendors with questions. I also ran into two other friends in the packed aisles. I suspect other familiar faces had been there, too, or would be soon. There had been, I was told, lines out the door Saturday morning, as people waited their turn to get into the venue without too obviously violating the structure's capacity limits.
Dave was considering reloading supplies, but he wasn't the only one. By the time we arrived, half-way through the first day, almost all of the brass in common calibers had been snapped up. A vendor offering used reloading presses (That's an RCBS Rockchucker Supreme depicted above) seemed to be doing a brisk business. I hope the buyers have their primers and powder at home, because a quick search through a few big online vendors of reloading supplies finds variations on the phrases "out of stock" and "temporarily unavailable" to be the most common results.
Pretty soon, people might have to consider expedient work-arounds so they can load their own.
Why the frenzy? The buzz at the show wasn't just the proposals for restricting firearms floating around among the solons of D.C., but the possibility of restrictions on ammunition. The official Gun Violence Prevention Task Force somehow managed to avoid the ammunition issue in its long wish list of intrusive violations of self-defense rights, but some elected officials have called for background checks on ammunition purchases. The result? Around the country, there's a run on ammunition so severe that many stores limit what you can buy when you do find it.
Brass and commercial ammunition were in short supply by the time we arrived at the gun show, but handloads were still available, though at prices that would have been eye-popping a few years ago. While I purchased some .45 ACP, the fellow next to me told me that he was only buying loaded .357 Magnum cartridges because he couldn't find cases.
How much has the Obama administration spent on fruitless efforts to "stimulate" the economy back to health? And all along, politicians could have got the business of manufacturing, buying and selling hopping again, simply by announcing an intention to ban everything.