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LA Gun Show remains popular with locals

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By Tris DeRoma

The Los Alamos Gun Show went off without a hitch this weekend as gun sellers, gun buyers, gun traders and a few political candidates stopped by the event. 

The gun show has been a steadfast county tradition that has successfully withstood the tides of politics in the 10-plus years of its existence. 

The show’s founders speculated that the reason it is so popular is that there aren’t a lot of places nearby where people can purchase a firearm.

“This is a great family event, and we have a lot of active sportsmen in here,” said one of the founders of the event. “There’s not a lot of options to buy guns, so we enjoy being able to bring this to the enthusiasts in the area. It’s very popular event.”

The organizer also had an opinion about the recent attempts to add more regulation to gun shows and protests against the gun show in general that have cropped up through the years. 

“My opinion is, if they don’t like it, they should not attend,” he said. “For those of us that do like it we should be able to have our event. They have their events; we don’t bother them. I believe in ‘live and live let live.’”

In recent years, The New Mexico State Legislature has introduced legislation, with the help of national pro gun control organizations, that would require a federally licensed dealer to oversee the sale and run a background check for private sales through gun shows and internet sale.

The most recent attempts were from a bill sponsored by State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) and State Rep. Miguel P. Garcia (D-14). The bill did not make it out of committee.

“It was an overreach on our rights and I’m glad it failed,” the show’s organizer said.

Roy Johnson, a seller for federally licensed Bernalillo dealer Plinkers, didn’t see anything wrong with a law like that. While private sellers and buyers would’ve been responsible for a fee for the background check, that really isn’t the issue. 

“It’s like $35 for background check.  I don’t see it as a bad thing,” Johnson said. “I think there should be a background check. The guns don’t do any harm to anybody, it’s about the operators.”  

Part of his reasoning is that background checks through a federally licensed dealer has built in protections for everyone involved that are heavily enforced.

“It’s a terrifying deal when the ATF (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) comes in they go through your books, and there are heavy fines if you mess up. I think private sellers should have a background check. It doesn’t hurt anybody. I think it’s a good thing.”

Local political candidates were also glad the Los Alamos Gun show stayed clear of more regulation this year. 

“If firearms were the problem, then prisons would be the safest places in the world,” Los Alamos County Sheriff candidate James Whitehead said. “I think it was an excessively onerous violation of private rights.” 

Whitehead was there checking in firearms for attendees that brought them. His job was to tie and tag firearms while attendees were at the show. He was also talking to residents about his campaign.

Donna MacDonald, who attended in part to help Republican Lisa Shin’s campaign for District 43 State Representative, thought the legislation was too excessive.

“There was nothing positive in that bill in my opinion, except riling everybody up for emotional purposes,” MacDonald said. “To me, gun control is when you want three and you can only afford two.”

Another private seller, Robert “Bud” Light of “We Sell Guns and Sh-t” (actual name has been modified for publication), was busy talking with familiar faces and customers, also familiar with the gun control debate, said there already is gun control for private sellers like him. 

“My opinion is, I know what I can and cannot do, and I abide by the law,” Light said. He also said that as a seller for many years, he’s learned to look for signs that maybe a buyer isn’t on the up and up, and applies common sense to the situation. 

He was also giving out advice to first-time gun buyers.

When asked about what type a gun a first-time buyer should get, he said a gun they feel comfortable with. 

“Depends on the individual,” he said. “Whether it’s a revolver, or an automatic, it has to fit your hands, it has to be comfortable. You’re waking up in at 2 O’clock in the morning because someone’s breaking into your house, you have to be comfortable picking up that gun.”

The reason comfort matters, is simple, he said. The ability to hold the gun properly while defending yourself is important. 

“I’m not advocating for anybody killing another person. Nobody wants to do that, but there may come a point in your life where you may have to kill somebody,” Light said.