A monthly Illinois gun show may have become the first in the nation to ban sales of AR-15 rifles following complaints in the wake of the deadly Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
Vendors were told they could not sell the AR-15 or any other assault-style rifles, or the bump stocks that boost the firepower of such weapons, CBS2-TV in Chicago reported. Organizers of the gun show also halted a raffle offering an AR-15 as a prize.
Dozens of demonstrators at the DuPage County Fairgrounds, where the sales are held, traded barbs with counter-protesters at the show Sunday.
The decision by the Pioneer Valley Sportsman’s Association was in response to complaints following the Feb. 14 shooting in which a gunman with an AR-15 killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“We did the ban to try to calm the situation down and show them we are willing to work with” the protesters, Frank Cesare of the sportsman’s group told The Washington Post. He said the ban will remain in effect for the April show, and the organization will decide later on future shows depending on the “mood,” the Post reported.
Cesare told the Post that he has “no problem” with the protesters. “They’re very frustrated with what’s going on; it’s awful; they’re doing what they think is right. I’m frustrated, too,” he said.
In a statement on its website, the organization said it “strongly condemns the actions of the individual in Florida and other tragedies across the nation.” The statement also noted that its members support “commonsense laws to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and those that may harm our citizens.” The website, however, also urges visitors to join the National Rifle Association, which has taken a hard line on any change in gun laws.
Gun shows from South Carolina to New Mexico have become targets of protesters since the Parkland massacre. Unlicensed private sellers at such events can take advantage of the “gun show loophole” in which they can skirt federal laws that must be followed by licensed dealers and stores. Federal law does not require unlicensed private sellers at gun shows to check a buyer’s identification, perform any background checks or even record sales.
Several retailers are now reining in gun sales. Dick’s Sporting Goods stores will no longer sell AR-15s. Kroger-owned Fred Meyer superstores and Walmart will no longer sell guns or ammunition to anyone younger than 21.
Several corporate entites, including airlines and rental car chains, have ended partnerships with the National Rifle Association.
President Donald Trump suggested raising the age for AR-15 buyers from 18 to 21, banning bump stocks, strengthening background checks — and arming teachers. But he seems to have lost interest in the issue since he had what he called a “great meeting” last week with leaders of the NRA. The NRA contributed $11 million to Trump’s presidential campaign and spent $20 million attacking his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.