When asked if any paperwork was required, John said no. He said I only needed to be an Ohio resident and be allowed to buy a weapon. I told John that I wasn’t a felon.
There would have been nothing illegal, or even uncommon, about the purchase. Guns constantly change hands among private parties in Ohio with no background check required as long as the seller isn’t a licensed dealer. It’s often called the “gun show loophole,” but it also applies to guns sold at flea markets, garage sales and among friends.
Back inside the gun show, semi-automatic rifles of the type some are calling to ban as “assault weapons” were plentiful, along with semi-automatic pistols, shotguns and uzis, bullet-making kits and myriad survivalist gear.
I asked a couple dealers about background checks, and was told they were absolutely mandatory and could take minutes or days.
AR-15s sold for about $1,450. Some collectors said not long ago they could be found for less than $800.
Demand was high, dealers said, with people buying up semi-automatic rifles for fear they would be banned. Some were skeptical that any gun control legislation would be passed, and felt it best to let the buying spree pass and buy when prices drop.
Frenetic sales have led to an ammo shortage, driving the .223 ammo used in most AR-15s to about $1 a round. Many stores – including Dick’s Sporting Goods locally – couldn’t even estimate when they would have it in stock.
So for anyone who did acquire an AR-15 and a 30-round magazine, the trick, some dealers said, would be finding ammo to fill it.