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Shooting Hangs Over Tucson Gun Show

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

NPR's Ted Robbins reports.

TED ROBBINS: Rick Krieger(ph) got to the Pima County Fairgrounds at 7 A.M. to be first in line for tickets to the Crossroads of the West Gun Show. He said he rarely misses one of these shows.

RICK KRIEGER: You know, I like to come out here and look just like other people like to go shopping at Wal-Mart. I like coming here. They have more things that I like to look at.

ROBBINS: Krieger works at a Veteran's Administration Hospital pharmacy. He said he believes the old saying that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Instead of blaming the availability of guns for last weekend's massacre, Krieger blames the mental health system for failing to flag the accused gunman.

KRIEGER: Mentally ill individual, very troubled individual that unfortunately slipped through the cracks somehow. And I think that's what we need to look at, is how did this fellow get missed.

ROBBINS: As he waited to go in, Rick Birch(ph) echoed a common worry here - that the violent act will result in strict gun control laws.

RICK BIRCH: when they ban the guns or if they ban the guns, only the criminals will have them. At least this way, we know that the law-abiding citizens that are armed will be able to protect themselves and that's what our Constitution allows us to do.

ROBBINS: As people entered the hall they passed a box for donations to the Tragedy in Tucson Victims Fund. Next to the box, a sign for the NRA, above, a flag at half staff.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE "PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE")

ROBBINS: Gun show promoter Bob Templeton said sales of firearms and ammo in general have been brisk. Templeton agreed that people are buying firearms because they fear politicians will use the shooting to push gun control.

BOB TEMPLETON: Attempt to capitalize on that tragedy and push forward their personal and political agendas to limit or restrict or eliminate private ownership of firearms in America.

ROBBINS: Unidentified Man #2: No.

ROBBINS: Ted Robbins, NPR News, Tucson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As supervising editor for Arts and Culture at NPR based at NPR West in Culver City, Ted Robbins plans coverage across NPR shows and online, focusing on TV at a time when there's never been so much content. He thinks "arts and culture" encompasses a lot of human creativity — from traditional museum offerings to popular culture, and out-of-the-way people and events.