One unintended side effect of President Barack Obamas effort to introduce more stringent gun laws is that it seems to have led to increased sales of guns and ammunition.
At least, thats the opinion of those who attended the Eastmans Gun & Knife Show on Sunday, held at the Wilson Convention Center.
Those who attended the show said that through their own anecdotal experiences, demand for guns have risen even as prices have gone up, mainly because of fears that the government might introduce legislation that puts limits on what types of guns and ammunition that people can buy.
Jerry Harvey, 66, of Jackson, who attended Sundays show, said he recently spoke to a pawnbroker about the issue.
The pawnbroker said Obamas the best salesperson they ever had, Harvey said.
Harvey said he doesnt attend gun shows very often, but came to Sundays event because its become increasingly more difficult for him to find ammunition to buy for his hunting rifles.
The prices of guns have tripled, and you cant buy ammo, he said. Its like you cant even get ammo for a .22 (caliber rifle).
Harvey said last months shooting of Newtown, Conn., schoolchildren has led to an overreaction by the government and some anti-gun groups in calling for tougher legislation.
I think its a bunch of crap, he said. One person messes it up for the whole country. There are sick people everywhere, and theyre always going to find a gun.
Harvey ended up not finding any ammunition at the show. He ended up buying an empty, military-style ammunition case for when he does find some.
Kevin Lord, 48, of McIntyre, said he doesnt frequent gun shows very often but also has had problems finding ammunition.
I wanted to go see what (the gun dealers) had, he said. With all this talk about banning stuff, it makes you wonder whats going on. You can kill somebody with just about anything if you want to kill them. Pistols are just as dangerous (as assault rifles). ... I think because of this legislation, everyone is buying stuff.
Though many of those who attended the show indicated they didnt want any additional legislation on gun ownership, some indicated that it would depend on what the legislation is before they would oppose it.
Sandy Metts, 51, of Macon, went to Sundays show to try to buy a handgun for self-defense purposes. She said her opposition to government policies has more to do with government infringment of peoples rights rather than specific gun issues.
(The government) wants to limit the size of the soft drink you want to buy, she said. When are the people going to be held accountable? I think licensing (for guns) should be very stringent. ... But its not my place to tell you what you can and cant do.
Metts said she thinks some of the debate stems from the idea that non-gun owners dont have the same experiences as gun owners do.
I think the people who dont have guns dont have that knowledge, which means its something theyre going to be scared of, she said. Thats true of everything. ... But if youre going to own a gun, you have to be responsible. You have to think things through.
Officials with the gun show declined to be interviewed, and didnt provide information as to how many people attended the two-day event.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.