In Orlando last weekend, "record crowds" lined up for the Florida Gun and Knife Show, with thousands attending the two-day event.
On Saturday one of South Florida's first gun shows of the year may see its own wave of gun buyers. The Suncoast Gun Show, which runs Saturday and Sunday, is being held at the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale. While event organizers did not return for calls for comment, gun dealers and gun shows in Florida and across the nation have reported brisk sales of firearms since the Newtown tragedy.
Gun shows like the one this weekend in Fort Lauderdale are held several times a year in South Florida and throughout the state.
The debate on gun control has focused on attention on all aspects of purchasing firearms, including a background checks. All licensed dealers, including those at gun shows, are required to run background checks. But those rules don't apply to sales between private gun owners.
On Friday, a national gun violence prevention organization said it was pushing for "universal background checks" for anyone seeking to buy firearms, including gun shows attendees and Internet shoppers.
"The recommendations we are presenting to the White House reflect what we believe are the changes that can have the biggest impact right away," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign, in a statement. "We cannot wait any longer. The American public wants this conversation to be taking place, but more importantly, they want action."
"The problem is not gun shows. The problem is you have the ability in place for people to sell a bunch of firearms without background checks," said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence.
He said 40 percent of gun sales nationwide go without background checks, including those made at gun shows by unlicensed sellers and other private sales elsewhere. In some states, gun shows allow private citizens to sell their firearms without running the background checks licensed dealers are required to conduct, he said.
In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 students and six adults, gun owners nationwide are preparing for possible restrictions on certain weapons and ammunition.
In Florida, there are more than 1,800 licensed gun dealers, according to data from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Nationwide, there are more than 51,000 licensed gun dealers. The number of guns they sell annually doesn't exist.
"There's no real way to find that out," said Marc Willis, ATF spokesman. "The law doesn't require ATF to keep track of gun sales in the U.S."
Palm Beach County is in the middle of a lawsuit against state officials challenging Florida laws which would impose fines of up to $5,000 and remove from office local commissioners who pass gun control ordinances that are stricter than state laws.
"The state has gone too far in threatening local government," said Amy Petrick, an attorney for Palm Beach County.
Material from the Orlando Sentinel was used in this report.
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