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Gun shows follow all local, federal laws

By Staff | Feb 11, 2008

Scott Quastad of Sharpshooters Trading Co. of Armstrong discussed the ballistics of the AR-15 with potential customers at the gun show Saturday. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

ARMSTRONG — Contrary to common misconceptions, gun shows are not places where machine guns are sold to psychotic, drug-crazed killers. To the contrary, gun shows follow all local and federal laws to the letter.

That’s the assessment of Connie Alvarez, owner of The Huntsman gun shop who was on hand to help with the Emmet County Izaac Walton League Gun Show at the Armstrong Community Center this past weekend. The show featured a wide variety of guns, ranging from .177 pellet rifles to a safari-grade .375 Ruger rifle capable of taking any game on the planet.

The ‘black rifles’ appeared to be among the more popular guns on display. They’re termed black rifles for their black, synthetic stocks and include guns like the Colt AR-15, Ruger mini-14, and the AK-47, all of which are gaining more interest from hunters, particularly for varmint hunting. And again, contrary to popular misconceptions, they are not fully automatic.

“You cannot buy a fully automatic rifle,” said Alvarez, who himself has an extensive background in the military and law enforcement. Even if a weapon is labeled as automatic by the manufacturer, it is actually semiautomatic. That means you have to pull the trigger each time you fire the weapon, unlike a military M-16 which has semiautomatic, three-shot burst, and fully automatic capability.

Regardless of what type of gun you are buying, you have to go through the same procedures at a gun show that you do at a gun shop. That means completing a questionnaire that asks whether you have ever committed a felony, been convicted for domestic violence, or been treated for mental illness.

After completing the questionnaire, the dealer calls the information in. The Federal Bureau of Investigation may put a delayed response on the sale for up to three working days. If a sale is denied, “You flat don’t get the gun,” Alvarez said. If the sale is delayed more than three days, then it’s up to the dealer whether he will sell the gun.

If someone wants to buy a handgun, that person must obtain a permit to purchase from his or her local county sheriff.

Since Iowa does not have a right to carry law, Alvarez said it is up to each individual sheriff whether a concealed weapon permit is issued. Those applying for a concealed weapon permit must complete a firearms class. Emmet County does not currently issue new concealed weapons permits.

Alvarez said in the last couple years he has seen a demand for AR-15s, mini-14s, and AK-47s. He said most customers who have purchased those rifles have bought them for coyote or fox hunting. Popular calibers include the .223, .22-250, and .204 Ruger as well as the .17 caliber high power, particularly popular with prairie dog hunters.

Except for southern Iowa where high-power rifles are allowed, deer hunters are limited to muzzleloaders, shotgun slugs, and archery. While a .357 handgun is allowed for deer hunting, Alvarez recommends a .44 for a faster, more humane kill since it has more knock-down power.

Anyone with questions about guns or hunting may contact Alvarez at 362-7443 or see him at The Huntsman at 302 S. Ninth St. in Estherville.