Raleigh, N.C. — New rules for gun shows at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds were tested for the first time Saturday, a month after three people were injured in an accidental shooting.
People with guns attending the Capital City Gun Show had to park in a designated area, use a separate entrance, remove guns from their cases and remove all magazines, bullets or shells from weapons before entering the Jim Graham Building. The show opened at 9 a.m. Saturday and will run through Sunday afternoon.
The rule changes designed to enhance safety were announced Tuesday by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
"There are going to be accidents with everything, but if we can make it safer, let's go for it," Randy Murray, of Randy's Guns, said. "Let's make it as safe as we can."
Investigators said Gary Lynn Wilson, 36, of Wilmington, brought a 12-gauge shotgun to sell at the Dixie Gun and Knife Show on Jan. 19, but the weapon went off when Wilson removed it from its case at a security checkpoint.
Three people who were hit by shotgun pellets were treated and released from a local hospital the same day. No charges were filed against Wilson in the case.
Gun owner William Purdy said Saturday the rule changes are a good thing.
"There was an obvious mishandling of weapons at the last gun show," he said. "It gives a lot us gun owners a bad name, so they go to tighten up security."
Despite January's shooting, business at the Capital City Gun Show was booming, with some vendors saying sales are up 30 to 50 percent since President Barack Obama announced his plans to curb gun violence.
Annette Elliott, a promoter for the gun show, said the events are getting a bad rap.
"If we would focus on the criminals and the mentally ill, that would eliminate (the problem)," she said. "Those folks are going to get them and abuse them no matter what."
Aside from the new regulations, security officers will continue to examine firearms at the entrance and secure them with straps and work to prevent sales in parking lots.