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NILES Attacks likely drew big crowd to gun show, promoter says



Published: Tue, September 25, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Some vendors sold out of some types of ammunition at the show.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

NILES -- High attendance at a weekend hunting and military relic show at the Eastwood Expo Center may be attributed to fears surrounding this month's terrorist attacks.

Dick Walters, promoter of the show, estimated about 4,000 people attended the Saturday through Sunday event.

"That's slightly up from the normal numbers," he said, adding that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and near Washington, D.C., may have contributed to higher attendance.

Thom Sharp, Eastwood Expo Center director, said attendance typically hits about 3,500 for a weekend event.

Sales doubled: Shortly after the attacks, Mahoning Valley gun retailers reported sales of guns and ammunition nearly doubled.

"We had an unbelievable crowd Saturday and Sunday," Sharp said. "There were a lot of people in small groups talking about the situation in New York and a lot of flags."

Some vendors sold out of some kinds of ammunition. That's fairly unusual as vendors generally bring ample stock of ammo for shows, Walters said.

"Vendors that brought gas masks sold all of those and guns were selling fairly well," Walters said.

The licensed gun dealers at the show ran the 30- to 90-second background checks required before a buyer can purchase a gun.

"A lot of people were buying shotguns for home defense," the promoter said.

He attributed the ammunition sales to concerns the government will impose restrictions on certain kinds of ammunition used by the military if troops are called to combat.

"I don't know that anyone thinks there's going to be shooting in the streets," Walters said. "A lot of these people are target shooters" who wanted to ensure they have ample supplies if restrictions are imposed.

Hunters and collectors also are regular gun show attendees.

"I assume there were probably some people there who attended a show for the first time," Walters said.

But no one stood out as an obvious novice, he said.

"One of the reasons people like these shows is because of the variety of guns available," Walters said.

Variety: A person who wants to buy a gun at a store has about 20 to 30 types from which to choose. At a show that attracts eight to 10 dealers there are hundreds of varieties, he said.

"We have a show this weekend at the Summit County Fairgrounds, and there's been more interest in that, especially with ammunition dealers," Walters said. "They want to take advantage of the demand."




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