Obama win spurs gun purchases
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Sunday, November 09, 2008
11/09/08 at 3:34 AM
Carl Geist was taking a break on Saturday at the Wanenmacher's Tulsa Arms Show by reading David McCullough's "1776," which tells the story of the beginning of the American Revolution.
Sitting in the food court at Expo Square's QuikTrip Center, Geist said the colonists broke with Great Britain primarily because the British overtaxed and attempted to disarm them.
Some 232 years have passed since then, but many attending the biannual gun show, which concludes with a session from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, seemed to have similar worries.
While no one was comparing President-elect Barack Obama to King George III, there was a feeling that firearms may be harder to come by during the upcoming administration.
Joe Wanenmacher, manager of the show, said the event usually draws about 30,000 people, but he expects closer to 35,000 at this weekend's edition — print advertisements for which say "Buy Before New Laws."
"It's a little larger this year," Wanenmacher said. "People are concerned about the results of the election."
One would have thought Saturday that the Tulsa State Fair was back in town. The parking lots at Expo Square were packed with vehicles brandishing license plates not only from Oklahoma and contiguous states, but also from places such as Nevada, Minnesota and Alabama.
As one man made his way toward the gate, he told someone on his cell phone, "He asked me, 'You think they're going to ban this stuff?' I said they might."
The phenomenon is not unique to this area.
The Associated Press reported late last week that in October, as an Obama win looked increasingly likely, there were more than 108,000 additional background checks for gun purchases than in October 2007, a 15 percent increase. Those checks were up about 8 percent for the year as of Oct. 26, according to the FBI.
The AP reported that no hard data were available for gun purchases in the days since Tuesday's election, but said gun shops across the country were reporting record sales.
Obama has said he respects Americans' Second Amendment right to bear arms, but that he favors "common sense" gun laws.
Gun rights advocates interpret that as meaning he'll at least enact curbs on ownership of assault and concealed weapons.
As a U.S. senator, Obama voted to leave gun-makers and dealers open to lawsuits; as an Illinois state legislator, he supported a ban on semiautomatic weapons and tighter restrictions on all firearms.
Geist, who traveled from Abilene, Texas, for the Tulsa show, said that "gun-control nuts have an agenda," and he has heard plenty of people voice concerns that it's about to get harder for people to buy firearms.
"I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be," Geist said.
Scott Olinske, 42, of Jenks said he wouldn't be surprised if there is an effort under the new administration to tighten gun laws.
His father, 66-year-old Jim Olinske of Glenpool, said "all of those liberals want to take away our guns." However, the Indiana native also expressed confidence that "the boys from the South" will never let that happen.
Steve Fideline, 46, of Coweta was at Saturday's show looking to trade a military rifle. He said he used to be a firearms dealer and that he wouldn't sell to people he didn't know.
Fideline said he has no problem with background checks on the "front-end" of a firearm transaction, but he said he does not favor restricting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
Some experts say that any changes to the gun laws will be minor.
However, during the presidential campaign, the National Rifle Association warned that Obama would be the "most antigun president in American history"
Kent Stull, 54, of Tulsa said Obama will have more pressing issues — such as the struggling economy — to deal with before he has time to turn his attention to firearms. "They'll give us plenty of time to hoard up," he said with a smile.
Jim Britton Jr., 37, of Springfield, Mo., who bought a gun, said he doesn't know what to expect in the way of gun control in the future. He did purchase a new firearm on Saturday, but he didn't want to say how much it cost.
The Olinskes were on hand Saturday to get parts for Scott Olinske's rifle. His father wryly noted that the price of a new firearm is so steep these days that gun control advocates needn't bother with changing the laws.
"Most of us can't afford one anyway," Jim Olinske said.
David Harper 581-8359
Gun enthusiasts attend Wanenmacher's Tulsa Arms Show on Saturday at the QuikTrip Center at Expo Square. The show continues Sunday.