Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The gun-loving liberal runneth amok

The Second Amendment makes all the others possible.

So sayeth a bumper sticker at the gun show I went to this past weekend.

Now normally, you wouldn't find me at a gun show — despite my staunch belief that people should be allowed to have them, carry them, etc., they actually scare me — but given the heinous shooting of two of our city's peace officers, I thought I'd go in and have a look-see.

First of all, I wasn't aware that there was to be a gun show, but as I drove down The Transit on Saturday morning, there were the big yellow signs: Gun Show Today. Arrows pointed to the South Lockport Fire Hall.

I drove by.

But as I thought more about it, I wanted to know what it was like inside and how were people acting — especially given the aforementioned tragedy.

Feb. 9, of course, 26-year-old Jason Kanalley shot Lockport Detective Captain Lawrence Eggert and Officer Steven Ritchie before fatally shooting himself. Eggert and Ritchie are on the long and slow path to recovery and this community is still in search of answers it may never get.

I turned around in the Lockport Mall parking lot and headed back to the fire hall.

I had a devil of a time finding a parking space. There must have been 200 people there when I got there - if not more.

I wasn't there to trick anyone into telling me anything they wouldn't anyway (I hate gonzo "journalism") so I dug my press pass out of my briefcase and pinned it to my jacket.

Entering the gun show, there was a man at the door asking if I had firearms and a sign stating that any firearms being brought in must be checked and not loaded.

And I thought: Hmm, not in Kansas anymore, huh?

I told the gentleman at the door who I was and that I wanted to talk to somebody in charge.

Enter Dick Cavagnaro, treasurer of the Iroquois Arms Collectors Associations of Western New York.

I told Dick who I was and asked how things were going, given the recent events. I asked if they considered canning the event or if they thought turnout would be affected.

Good, no, and no were the answers to my questions in that order.

"What happened in Lockport was a rare event," Cavagnaro explained, adding that there was no reason to link the gun show and the shootings.

And I wouldn't. It still hasn't been determined how Kanalley got his gun — an AK-47 — and I (surprisingly) haven't heard any rumors that it was gotten at a gun show.

Following the brutal Columbine murders, there was much ado about gun shows and how easy it is to get guns there.

One of the dozens of tables did have AK-47s on it. I counted four of them for $349 a piece.

As Cavagnaro and numerous law enforcement officers have pointed out, the AK-47 is legal to own.

But most of the guys at the gun show weren't looking for the firepower the AK-47 offered. Most, in fact, seemed to be looking at older guns - genuinely collectors guns.

"I don't get into the modern stuff," is how Cavagnaro put it.

Aside from the guns, there was also other military equipment: knives, helmets, canteens. There were people with video's about pheasant hunting. All sorts of stuff.

All sorts of stuff that wouldn't be legal to sell in this country if it weren't for the freedoms that we have — including the Second Amendment, which as the bumper sticker explained, makes the others possible.

I'd like to think that the First Amendment is pretty important too.