The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 24, 2013

Mankato gun show attendance goosed by fear of new restrictions

MANKATO — You’d have been hard-pressed to find a busier place Saturday and Sunday than the Mankato Gun and Knife Show.

Gun show coordinator Jim Wright wouldn’t disclose how many people came through the doors, but there were easily more than 1,000 people Sunday. And on Saturday …

“You should have been here yesterday,” one dealer said. “You could barely move in here.”

“In here” was the Mankato National Guard Armory. And it was the sight of a gun show that has been hitting Mankato for several years.

This gun show was different, though.

“I think people are really worried,” said Tony Cornish, local gun lover and, as a state representative, one of the most-often quoted pro-gun advocates.

Gun shows around the nation like this one, hosted by Crocodile Productions out of the Twin Cities, are seeing big attendance numbers since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December, in which Adam Lanza shot 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life.

In the aftermath, many have called for tighter restrictions on gun sales, including President Obama, who has made it a priority of his second term to tighten gun laws.

That’s what has prompted big gun show attendance. People are worried about new gun laws that will make it hard to purchase certain guns, such as the kind of weaponry used by Lanza. In Minnesota, it is unlikely this session that bans on assault-style weapons or large-capacity magazines will be passed. And it’s too soon to tell where any federal legislation might go.

That kind of uncertainty, though, was enough to get people out for the gun show, including Bruce Francis of Owatonna.

“I’m scared too,” he said.

He sees the potential for a couple of new restrictions to turn into something else.

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