Unlike the activity swarming around Washington Road in anticipation of the Masters Tournament, traffic was light and turnout low for a gun and knife show at the Augusta Exchange Club Fairgrounds.
Billed as Augusta’s “first ever gun, knife, prepper and bike expo,” the event promoted by Gunrunners Shows boasted vendors selling everything from pistols to pickles and included live bands, classic cars and children’s activities.
Most of the action, however, involved the trade of guns and ammunition, and even that seemed light.
Beth Guiffre, of Shadowsmith Ammo, said she was disappointed in the turnout but understood that residents might be distracted by the other big event about to kick off across town.
“It has been slow, more like 300, not 3,000,” she said, referring to the number of patrons coming by her booth Saturday.
She and her husband own an ammunition store in Cartersville, Ga., and have been working at gun shows almost every weekend since August.
Though ammunition sales are still going strong, it has died down a lot from the frenzy that occurred after the Newtown, Conn., massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 28 children and adults dead.
Guiffre said gun owners feared a “knee-jerk” reaction by lawmakers that would restrict gun and ammunition purchases, so they hurried to stock up. Just a month ago, gun shows were swamped with customers, she said.
“There were people three deep just handing us money,” she said. “It was crazy.”
Andy Carty, of On the Square Guns, agreed that some of the fears over potential legislation had diminished. A master gunsmith and firearms trainer, Carty said ammunition, especially 9 mm and .22-caliber, remains the merchandise in more demand.
“Everything is hard to get right now,” he said. Smaller retailers can’t compete with the larger chains in supply or prices, and demand isn’t letting up, he said.
Carty brought only two 500-round “bricks” of .22-caliber ammo with him for the gun show – all he had on hand. He sold both for $100 each first thing Saturday morning.
“People are afraid that they are going to pass a law that violates their rights,” said Carty, who sports a tattoo of the Second Amendment on his forearms.
Aaron Jordan, of Aiken, isn’t in a panic to acquire more guns. He said he owns more than 70 different firearms, including an O.F. Mossberg and Sons .22-caliber pump-action rifle more than a century old.
Like many others, he and his 18-year-old son Travis had come to the show in search of .22-caliber ammo. They walked out with a bag-full – 3,300 rounds that had cost him $300, which he said was still too high.
Jordan, an Army veteran, said he wasn’t worried about Congress passing new gun laws that would affect his rights.
“They won’t be able to do it,” he said, chuckling. “There are way too many rednecks left around here.”
The gun and knife show continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds, 301 Hale St.