Middle Georgians head to Wilson center for gun show

Hunting and weapons enthusiasts flocked to the Wilson Convention Center in Macon this weekend for the Eastman Gun Show.

Eastman Gun Shows Inc. states it has been the largest in Georgia since 1981, aiming to appeal to the annual hunter, avid collector and everyone in between. Display booths were bustling in Macon on Saturday and Sunday, where the show stopped before moving to the metro Atlanta area next weekend.

On display and up for sale were handguns, rifles, shotguns, knives, holsters and other related merchandise. Matt Eastman, the owner of the show, said he wasn’t sure exactly how many people had visited this weekend, but he knew it was “a lot.”

Guns and the right to bear arms have been a particular focus for some since the election of President Obama. Supporters of the Second Amendment have expressed fear the Democrat will try to reign in gun laws and make them more restrictive. Indeed, in the weeks after Obama’s election, there was a rush on some gun shops.

Eastman said he’s seen a similar uptick at his shows. More and more people are coming in, he said, who were not previously gun owners.

“A lot more,” he said. “A lot of ammo buying, a lot of semi-automatic buying. People are scared.”

Nathan Jackson, a carpenter from Milledgeville who was helping man a friend’s booth at the show, said he, too, saw an increased interest in gun ownership after Obama’s election. But he said it is starting to level off some.

“People are realizing he’s not going to make us throw them all away,” Jackson said.

Still, he remains on the lookout for arguments against peoples’ right to keep and bear arms, saying the “narrow-mindedness” some people possess about gun ownership makes him angry. Jackson said he’s carried a gun for years, but he’s never been in a situation where he felt compelled to fire it.

And only once has a tense moment required him to reveal the weapon he was carrying, he said.

“All I had to do was move my jacket,” he said, “and the guy said ‘I’m sorry,’ and walked away.”

To contact writer Matt Barnwell, call 744-4251.