ST. GEORGE – The Crossroads of the West Gun Show, one of the nation’s largest firearms conventions, was held this weekend at the Dixie Center St. George.
“We have high expectations for this weekend,” the show’s vice president, Jeff Templeton, said. “We have had record-setting attendance pretty much everywhere this last month, California, Nevada and Utah, we’ve set all-time records. I guess you could say we have had ‘Government Assistance,’ so we expect the people here to turn out.”
And turn out they did. People started lining up as early as 3:30 a.m. Saturday’s attendance was estimated at over 2,700 and Sunday’s expected to top 600, impressive numbers for a St. George gun show in February.
As we moved up and down the line of Saturday morning attendees – reminiscent of “Black Friday” lines – the mood was generally upbeat and optimistic. The majority of the people we spoke to there were looking mainly for ammunition. Renée Stickel and her husband were among the hopeful ammunition buyers.
“We’re from Vegas,” Stickel said, “and we came up hoping to find ammo because you can’t find it in Vegas.”
“This is my second gun show,” Stickel said when asked if she was there for herself or her husband. “I love looking at the guns. I hope to go shooting after the show.”
When the doors opened at 9 a.m., there was a mad rush for the back of the venue where the largest ammo dealer had set up. There were Dinseyland-esque lines established to maintain order and security at the ammo booth. Within moments, the lines filled with over 200 people waiting to purchase ammo. Walking up and down the aisles became a shoulder-to-shoulder adventure in navigation as the attendees filed in nonstop and the arena soon filled with potential buyers and some hopeful sellers.
“Many of the people who purchased these so-called “assault rifles” during the last 10 years are bringing their firearms and high capacity magazines in speculating, trying to sell them due to the rise in prices” Templeton said.
If any first time attendees were expecting to see a bunch of sweaty redneck types making shady deals in the corner of smoke-filled rooms they were sorely disappointed. There were vendors of all sorts selling everything from jewelry and scented candles to jerky and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation – TENS – devices. One lady was selling handmade, customized Costa Rican bracelets with your name on them. She and her husband started selling marshmallow guns and PVC pipe bow and arrows because they said “there is not much for kids at these shows”
Most of the booths were family owned and operated businesses like Deadwood Tactical, owned and operated by Jeremy and Tom Woods. Deadwood Tactical is a business started by father and son, specializing in accessories for the AR type firearms. The increase in business has been ridiculous, Jeremy Woods said, “We’ve been doing shows in Utah, Colorado and Montana. Our online business has increased about 8 percent and gun show business has increased about 50 percent! It is obviously from the talk on banning guns.”
That was the prevailing feeling at this St. George gun show, drawing law abiding citizens concerned about availability of guns and ammunition. There were no automatic weapons being sold. There were background checks and Federal Firearms paperwork being conducted on all the sales from dealers’ tables. If there was anything to be learned from this gun show it would be that Southern Utahans in general enjoy the shooting sports and have no intention of changing anytime soon.
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