Gun show held at Fort Lauderdale’s War Memorial Auditorium — possibly for last time

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The largest firearms promoter in Florida is holding a gun show in South Florida this weekend, but this might be the last year the event is taking place at its current Fort Lauderdale venue.

More than 165 vendors packed the War Memorial Auditorium for the event that is put together by Florida Gun Shows. The crowds who gathered beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday came to look at and purchase everything from knives and guns to bulletproof vests and ammo.

“They have some awesome stuff here,” said a woman.

The War Memorial Auditorium has hosted the event for years, but 2018 might be its last time at this venue.

“We’ve been informed and we’ve been assured, not only by the elected officials here, but also the city’s administration and the administration at the War Memorial Auditorium, that it has nothing to do with firearms or the gun show,” said Jorge Fernandez, the manager of Florida Gun Shows.

Fernandez said the city has told them it wants to use the space in other ways.

“So I understand that, not only the gun show is affected, but the orchid show, the art show, coin show, whatever other shows are scheduled are also affected after the sunset of their contracts,” he said.

Guns — and gun control — remain at the center of contentious debate, especially after recent tragedies like the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Mike Wilcox with the Florida-based store chain Shoot Straight said stricter gun laws would only make things harder for people who want to protect themselves.

“The majority of the people that protest gun control and gun shows, they never really take the time to even learn what they’re protesting,” he said.

Norman Carolino, president of Defense Products USA, sells bulletproof plates that, he said, can protect people even if they’re shot by a rifle.

Many parents, Carolino said, are purchasing these plates for their children’s backpacks after the Parkland massacre.

“Since the shooting, we’re moving almost 300 plates a month,” he said.

Attendees at the War Memorial Auditorium collectively agreed that the show should go on.

“These gun shows are needed so they can come and purchase stuff they need for their home defense,” said Carolino

“We have gun control laws into place. There is absolutely no law that can ever be enacted that will ever prevent gun violence,” said Fernandez.

The gun show runs through Sunday at 5 p.m.

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