ONTARIO — Ammunition was the hot item Saturday as gun enthusiasts from around Southern California converged on the Ontario Convention Center for the first day of the two-day Crossroads of the West Gun Show.
The Ontario Convention Center was busy with some people arriving and others leaving with such purchases as walking sticks to firearms cases. But of all the items available, ammo was at the top of many shopping lists.
At one point, a line to purchase ammunition was snaking around the exhibit hall, said Bob Templeton, the owner of the gun show. It was taking about three hours for shoppers to make their way to the head of the line, he said.
Art Sheppard of San Jacinto bought magazines for an AR-15 rifle and some other items. He wanted to buy ammunition but the line was about two hours long at that point and Sheppard wasn’t interested in investing that much time.
Dennis Mahan of Hesperia purchased ammunition of three different calibers.
“I’m just stocking up,” he said. “It’s in such short supply at my local store.”
Mahan is concerned new legislation will require people to register before they can purchase ammunition, and yet “more laws are not going to make anything safer,” he said.
Customers were stocking up on ammunition because the demand is so high, said Templeton, who estimated the first day’s attendance at around 9,000. “The supply is now starting to catch up with the demand.”
Among the gun dealers at the show was Lou Preciado, co-owner of the High Impact Tactical Fire Arms in Upland, who said his customers are uneasy about potential gun-control legislation affecting firearms and ammunition purchases, setting off brisk sales.
Customers are buying both ammunition and firearms, he said.
I can’t keep guns on the wall,” he said. “I’m down to two handguns. Normally my shelves are filled with handguns. ”
Some gun owners said they thought the demand for ammunition was the result of concern about possible gun-control legislation.
This weekend’s show was added to the Crossroads of the West Gun Shows calendar after the record-breaking attendance at its January show, Templeton said.
The January show attracted about 16,000 people over two days, he said. This show was attracting smaller but still healthy crowds, he said.
Templeton estimated 12,000 to 14,000 people would turn out over the two days.
Outside the Ontario gun show, Trudy and Chuck Freidel of San Bernardino, who described themselves as Quakers, sat quietly along a walkway leading to the doors of the Convention Center. Chuck Freidel held a sign that said arms should be used to “hug children. ”
The Freidels said they plan to return with other pacifists to the gun show scheduled for May 4 and 5.
January’s show was the first in the area after the December massacre in Newtown, Conn. Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said Friday that firearms owners are concerned about state and federal lawmakers introducing gun-control legislation.
In California, more than 40 pieces of legislation have been introduced, and lawmakers who introduced those “are looking for their 15 minutes of glory in the sun,” Paredes said.
But some lawmakers say legislation is needed to address gun-related violence, among them Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.
“Having lost two leaders of my city to gun violence – my friend Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone – I understand the grave potential for the misuse of firearms,” he said in a statement. “The Public Safety Committee I chair will continue to consider proposals to control the misuse of firearms because the majority of Californians want us to do that. As long as there are tragedies like Newtown, my colleagues will be motivated to do what they can, within the confines of the Second Amendment, to prevent the repetition of senseless killings with guns.”