SANDY — The Crossroads of the West Gun Show is coming to the South Towne Expo center Saturday and Sunday, and huge crowds are expected because of recent talks about gun legislation changes.
Bob Templeton, owner and president of Crossroads of the West Gun Shows, has been organizing these events since 1975. More than 407,000 people attended last year's gun shows across four western states — Utah, Arizona, California and Nevada — according to their website.
With recent events and President Obama's pledge to focus on gun violence, Templeton expects more attendees than usual.
"People are concerned their rights are being attacked," he said. "The Second Amendment means a lot of things to a lot of people, but fundamentally it means the right to keep and bear arms for whatever purpose."
Templeton met with Vice President Biden on Jan. 10 to discuss gun legislation. He described the meeting as cordial, but with little agreement on gun legislation, especially on proposed restrictions on certain types of weapons and high capacity magazines. However, they did agree on restricting access to firearms by the mentally ill.
"We need to make sure that people who are mentally unstable don't have access to firearms," he said. "And I think there is universal agreement on that, but beyond that there was not much agreement between the two sides."
Last week, Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank went to a meeting with President Obama to discuss the same issue. While he agrees with Templeton that there's a need for more oversight of the mentally ill, Burbank believes the gun debate needs to address a wide range of issues.
"What I am really advocating for is a reasoned approach to this, somewhere in the middle," Burbank said. "We need to look and address everything because that is the thing, it is not just guns, but access to firearms certainly plays a role in this."
As for background checks at gun shows and private sales, Templeton said he doesn't see a need. Instead, he believes the government needs to enforce laws already on the book.
"Our position is let's enforce existing laws, let's make sure that we do all we can with the mental health issues," Templeton said.