Pittsburgh Gun Show attendees not keen on new gun laws, favor Saturday start to buck season
As the Pennsylvania Game Commission took the use of semiautomatic rifles for big game hunting off the table Friday, patrons at the Pittsburgh Gun Show were not spooked by the controversy surrounding the firearm, whether for hunting or a ban proposed by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.
Local gun owners weren’t shy at the Monroeville Convention Center when it came to talking about what they consider gun rights, whether in hunting or the city of Pittsburgh.
First, the show was about guns, with 140 vendors selling all varieties of firearms, all sorts of collectibles from guns to coins, self-defense items such as pepper spray and other outdoor-related items like homemade jerky and even hand-crocheted, camouflage-colored baby clothing.
Crowds of 5,000 to 8,000 were expected Saturday and Sunday.
Mayor Bill Peduto’s proposal to ban assault rifles in Pittsburgh didn’t go down well with gun buyers.
Once assault weapons are banned, then other weapons will be, too — it will be death by 1,000 cuts, according to Annette Elliot, president of Showmasters, which puts on five gun shows annually in Pittsburgh, in addition to other gun shows throughout the state and West Virginia. Elliot is a second generation owner of the business, which has been organizing gun shows for 47 years.
“I don’t think the proposed gun ban in Pittsburgh will change the equation of some mentally ill person doing something monstrous,” she said.
While Elliot and other gun owners were sympathetic to the carnage of mass shootings with semiautomatic assault rifles, they believe the answer lies with a better support system for identifying and helping mentally unstable people.
“As a society, we are not dealing with or taking care of the most needy,” she said.
Gun show patrons weren’t terribly surprised that the game commission Friday decided to take the use of semiautomatic rifles for hunting large game off the table.
The game commission released a statement by Commissioner Brian Hoover on Friday: “While many states allow the use of semiautomatic rifles for hunting big game, and evidence suggests these firearms actually can be safer than their manually operated counterparts, it’s clear we haven’t yet arrived at the time when the majority of Pennsylvania hunters favor they be approved for big-game use.
“As opinions change, we will consider future changes to provide for the needs of our hunters.”
Dale Fogg, 48, of Franklin Park doesn’t think continuing to prohibit semiautomatic rifles for big game “will make a big difference.” Many people are traditionalists who want to use a regular rifle.
Vic Alfieri of Peters, who was selling a number of collector rifles, was in favor of using semiautomatic rifles, especially for coyotes.
“They don’t stand still, and the AK-15 has a flat trajectory and the bullet doesn’t drop fast.”
Alfieri believes that older hunters, “old school,” will always favor traditional rifles for deer. It’s the younger hunters, which the game commission wants to attract, that wouldn’t mind using semiautomatic guns to kill deer, he said.
“It’s like the older man will drive a Buick and the younger will drive a fast Mazda,” Alfieri said.
“It’s just a matter of time before PGC puts that through,” he added.
However, the game commission’s tentative decision last week to open buck season the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of the following Monday was a popular move.
“I will be looking for an early start to hunting on Saturday,” Fogg said.
“It will change the dynamic,” he said. It will be like two opening days, Saturday, then off on Sunday, then back in the woods on Monday.”
It’s an idea that other states are enjoying. Frank Jones, 52 of Princeton, W.Va., said, “Holding it on a Saturday gives the working man a chance to go there on opening day.”
Jones knows because he lives close to the Virginia border, where he takes advantage of the opening of its buck season on a Saturday.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .