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At Palm Beach County gun show, vendors and visitors don’t apologize for their passion

Updated: Aug 11, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH - If you’re looking for people who are ambivalent on the gun control debate, a gun show won’t be the place to find them.

At Saturday’s West Palm Beach Gun & Knife Show at the South Florida Fairgrounds, west of West Palm Beach, a vendors and visitors had no shortage of opinions.

At the West Palm Beach show, the NRA set up outside the exposition hall, offering free admission to the show for people who signed up. People staffing the table said they were having a good day but declined to elaborate.

Inside, the Second Amendment Coalition of Florida was signing people up for the NRA.

“With what’s going in with the shootings,” Treasurer David Wood said, “gun owners are concerned. These incidents will be taken advantage of by politicians who are intent on taking away our guns. They’re looking for an excuse.”

Signs over tables touted holsters, ammo and magazines. Of the people walking between tables, some carried handguns or had rifles slung over shoulders. Some wore T-Shirts touting gun rights. And there were plenty of “Make America Great Again” caps, and signs, posters and stickers supporting President Donald Trump. One table was staffed by “Women for Trump” who were signing people up to vote, next to it, a cardboard cutout of the president.

A man who identified himself as a South Florida doctor said he didn’t want to give his name. He said he didn’t need grief from his corporation.

“I’m just a gun collector and shooter,” he said. “I shoot because I enjoy it.”

He said he doesn’t like laws he says punish only people like him, and repeated the refrain that controls already in place need to be better enforced. And he said he’s not giving up his assault rifle.

“It’s my right to have it,” he said.

By Eliot Kleinberg

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