MANATEE -- Vehicles quickly filled the parking lot at the Bradenton Area Convention Center on Saturday morning, overflowing into any area of bare grass along Haben Boulevard or U.S. 301 as firearm enthusiasts gathered for the Suncoast Gun Show.
"Usually I walk right in the door," said Ray Robinson as he waited in a line that wrapped around the building.
Ollie Kyte, who brought a small handgun to sell or trade, said the crowd was so large because of the recent gun control debates.
"The best thing to happen to the gun business was Obama and Biden talking about restricting gun sales," Kyte said.
Robinson, who enjoys hunting, was not sure if he would be making a purchase. "I'm just coming to look," Robinson said. "Prices have tripled. I bought an AR-15 (in Sarasota) last May for $650. Now that gun is $2,500."
"It's the same with ammunition," said Kyte, a recreational shooter. "And you can't find it. With the prices escalating, I don't think anyone will be able toafford it."
Robinson, who is reading a book about Thomas Jefferson, said the nation's founding fathers would be upset with the ongoing gun debate. "If he could see where we've gotten to now, he would be ashamed," Robinson said.
Michael Levine joined the gun control conversation.
"I had a weapon in New York for 25 years and never used it," Levine said. "There are more people without licenses that carry than with. They have so many homicides but the toughest laws. They need to go after the people who are selling illegal arms."
The cash-only gun show continues from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Admission for adults is $8 and children are free. All weapons are checked at the door and must be unloaded.
Elizabeth Johnson, Herald crime reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041.