Politics, Safety Concerns Behind More Gun Purchases, Show Operator Says
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
We've been listening to voices this week of people reacting to President Obama and his call for more gun control. Among other things, the president announced a regulatory change to force more sellers to do background checks. We hear this morning from a man who runs gun shows across the American West. Bob Templeton is founder of Crossroads of the West Gun Shows. He's been in the gun business for over four decades. We reached him at his home in Chandler, Ariz.
You know, I have been to gun shows. And they strike me as real family affairs. I mean, for people who aren't familiar, can you just describe the scene for me?
BOB TEMPLETON: Yeah. A gun show is a place where people get together, families frequently. They come to buy or sell or trade as well as to share views with others who share their political persuasions.
GREENE: So everyone says, like, at the dinner table, you don't want to bring up religion or politics. But it sounds like a gun show, it's OK to bring up politics.
TEMPLETON: (Laughter) Yeah, it's OK. It's OK at the gun show I guess.
GREENE: Well, and I understand that business has been picking up for you recently.
TEMPLETON: Well, it has. I think it's due to a couple of factors. I think people are concerned about their gun rights with efforts at the national level to restrict those rights. And I think people are genuinely concerned that as good as our law enforcement personnel are in doing their jobs, they can't be all places at all times. So ever since the terrorist incident in San Bernardino, people are starting to think about taking responsibility for their own personal safety as well as the safety of their family members. And so we're seeing a lot of first-time gun buyers, both in stores and at the gun shows.
GREENE: It's such an amazing thing to think about the range of reactions in this country, I mean, to hear you describing people who sort of want to feel more protected themselves and protect their families. And then you have people who want to reduce sort of the legal ways that people can get guns after they see an attack like that.
TEMPLETON: Yeah, there's probably no more polarizing issue where people feel as emotional. I mean, we've seen that as members of families of victims of gun violence field every strongly that we should restrict access to firearms - and valid feelings. We certainly empathize with those folks. But people who own and use guns lawfully are feeling like they're being blamed for the acts of mentally deranged people or religious fanatics. So the challenge for the president and for everyone, I guess, is to try to find a middle ground. And there isn't - it's not obvious that there is any middle ground, really.
GREENE: What about your gun shows? Will anything change for you with these expanded background checks? Or are these background checks that your sellers are already doing?
TEMPLETON: Well, the individuals, the few collectors that sell at the shows, don't have any way to access the system. So that part will not likely change.
GREENE: The way the White House was talking about it, it sounded like they were thinking this change would affect collectors. But it sounds like there might - that might not be definitive yet in the minds of some of the collectors and others.
TEMPLETON: Yeah, that's right. There is confusion. The general consensus among those who have looked at what President Obama said is that basically, there'll probably be increased surveillance to - at the shows to determine who is selling repetitively for profit and is engaged in the business. But I don't think the occasional collectors and the occasional sellers will be affected by this change.
GREENE: You know, you said something that really struck me because this issue has been polarizing for so long. But you said there are, you know, really valid arguments on both sides. And I wonder, as we think about San Bernardino, do you blame people who react to that by saying, you know, let's limit how people can get their hands on guns legally so we prevent a tragedy like that?
TEMPLETON: Well, I think that those of us in the pro-gun community feel like when folks like that, who are bent on destruction and terrorism and have those kinds of convictions and commitments to violence, they're going to figure out a way to get their hands on guns legally or illegally. And so I don't know that the guns themselves can be blamed. But I understand that - the legitimate public safety concerns that people have with regard to access to firearms. I understand that, and I'm - try to relate to that and try to achieve a balance in my mind between that and not restricting the access of law-abiding citizens to firearms. And it's a difficult dance.
GREENE: We were speaking to Bob Templeton, founder of Crossroads of the West Gun Shows. We were talking about President Obama's executive action on guns.
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