Gun show raises questions about background checks

Concerns about gun violence may be up across the country, but so is attendance at gun shows. The Elkhart 500 Gun, Knife and Outdoorsmen show started Friday afternoon and will run through Sunday.

Private dealers as well as vendors are expecting a huge turnout, particularly from those looking to purchase military-style assault weapons that may be banned if stricter gun control legislation is passed. Rifles such as the AR-15 and the 223 caliber ammunition that goes with it, are popular items right now.

There has been a greater focus on the issue of background checks in recent weeks, because of the recent gun violence across the country and President Barack Obama's statements that he feels more comprehensive background checks are necessary.

Private dealers, however, are not required to run background checks on customers, and many do not have the ability to do so. The dealers do, however, take down information about who they sell the gun to, and what time it was sold.

Both vendors and private dealers say that talking with customers can tell them a lot about what a customer's needs are and whether or not the customer should even be buying a gun.

"By asking them questions, you draw out what they're looking for. We have a lot of first-time gun owners. They don't even know what to look for, so you spend time, you ask 'em questions before you even show them a gun," said David Kollar, owner of Casper's Coin & Jewelry in Goshen. Kollar is required to run a background check on all customers, but has the discretion to refuse to sell a gun to any customer.

Private dealers, who are not required to run a background check on customers say they have ways of determining whether or not a customer should be buying a gun even without a background check.

"[You look at] body language, you kind of talk to them, ask them questions, see what they say," said Pat Kryscio of Pat's Technical Books and Crossbows. "You can turn down anybody."

For privacy reasons, the organizer of the event, Rudy Rodriguez of Gunslinger Promotions, would not say how many of those signed up are vendors and how many are private dealers. He did, however, say there will be more than 100 vendors and 300 tables at the event being held at the Elkhart RV Hall of Fame.

The gun show will be open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26 and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27.

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