By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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And, while quieter Sunday morning, the show was still seeing more visitors than usual, its organizers said.
The gun and knife show comes to Port Angeles twice a year and averages 500 people attending on Saturday, with sparser attendance on Sundays, said show owner Victoria Gilbert of Mount Vernon.
This year, however, she said there were an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 visitors Saturday and an additional 500 on Sunday.
“I didn't do a count last night — I was too tired,” Gilbert said of the extremely busy day she had on Saturday.
Attesting to the increased head count, business parking lots around the Masonic Lodge seemed full Sunday, and a half-dozen gun enthusiasts sat on the front steps of the building, talking animatedly among themselves.
“This is our normal Saturday crowd. It's really surprising, especially because it is Super Bowl Sunday,” said Keith Barton, head of security for the show.
There were similar lines in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected, based on the assumption that the Democratic president would either ban or make firearms more difficult to buy, Barton said.
Barton said that he believes the increase in attendance and sales is a direct result of the aftermath of the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., and a new gun control bill introduced into the U.S. Senate.
As a result, a lot of people are looking to buy assault rifles. “I think people are afraid their guns will be taken from them or taxed out of existence,” Barton said.
Port Angeles gun dealer Nicholas De Scala displayed two nearly identical rifles: an AR-15 assault-style weapon called an A-15 and a stripped-down version called the PCR-99.
The A-15 has a collapsible stock, flash suppressor and other features classifying it as an “assault rifle” under proposed law, he said.
The A-15 sold for $1,900 before the end of Sunday, while the PCR-99 was still available for $1,700, he said.
Barton said that the proposed laws on assault rifles, similar to the ones that were enacted during the Clinton administration, address features of a rifle that make it semi-automatic.
Elsewhere at the show, vendors offered new and used rifles, knives, holsters, rifle cases ammunition, and other supplies.
A Forks custom rifle manufacturer, Beyer Barrels, offered lightweight, plain and decorative custom barrels, some with weight-reducing cutouts that gave the barrels a glinting, jewel-like appearance, and custom stocks.
Barton said that the licensed gun show vendors are required to conduct a background check of firearms purchasers but that private sellers — people selling their personal weapons to individual buyers — do not have such a requirement.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.