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Le Monde, France

Familial Atmosphere and
Buying Frenzy at Gun Show


By Corine Lesnes

Translated By Michelle Boone

10 January 2013

Edited by Rachel Smith


France - Le Monde - Original Article (French)

What? A two-week waiting period to buy a semi-automatic AR-45? Which amendment are we mocking? On December 30, 2012 in Denver, customers jostled in front of the entries at the last gun show of the year. The show took place 20 kilometers from the Century cinema in Aurora where one of the deadliest shootings in 2012 took place (12 dead, on the premier of the Batman movie). Yet, you would think you were light years away.

Rifles on tables, rifles in the parking lot, pistols, revolvers — every color, every shape — there are firearms everywhere. Admittedly, after the first moment of terror, you get used to it. In this part of America, nothing is more common than the gun show. On the night before New Year’s Eve, the atmosphere is familial. The youngest children are perched on the shoulders of their fathers. Teens have a table, just for them, that holds a blazing pink “My First Rifle” for girls.

The Tanner Gun Show is one of the biggest gun shows in the area: 700 stalls packed with firearms, knives (on sale, hurry, it’s Sunday), bullet proof vests and jackets with pockets where you can slide a hidden firearm that state law gives you the right to carry everywhere — except in schools and public places (a mistake, as everyone knows. The proof: Killers particularly target schools, knowing that no one there is legally armed). The saloon manager, excuse me, stall manager tries to sell a cattle prod to a Latino family. “11,000 volts!” she boasts, “and only 70 dollars.” Her partner, a bull dressed in leather, insists, “She tried it on me. I cried like a four-year-old kid!” The customers defy stereotypes, like this 27 year-old woman with piercings and baggy pants; black and set on buying a pistol. Does she feel threatened? Not in the least. But she’s determined to “defend her family” just in case.

In mid-December, Barack Obama announced the creation of a national commission on gun violence headed by Vice President Joe Biden. It must present its conclusions by the end of January, but Republicans can always be counted on to put on the brakes. The legislative priority, they say, is the reduction of the budget deficit and austerity measures.

After shootings, people go overboard at gun shows. In December, 53,450 requests for purchase authorization were presented to the FBI in Colorado. That is an increase of 50 percent since October. It is the same on the national level: 2.8 million requests in December as opposed to 1.6 million in October. Before, the background check (verification that the buyer has no criminal or psychological history) took a half hour in Denver. Now, it’s necessary to wait two weeks.

In front of the FAST booth — an association that proposes accelerated training (half a day) to carry a weapon — an instructor makes a detailed list of his training courses. No need to buy a pistol; you can rent one. There are even “ladies only” days. “We really have fun. After Halloween we have a shooting competition on pumpkins,” he says. The man offers T-shirts bearing a quote from Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This unquestionable logic is universally shared at gun shows. According to one sign, banning arms after a shooting is like saying “Get rid of spoons. They made me fat.”



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