WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) - The 21st annual Weller Auto Huntin' Time Expo returns to the DeltaPlex in Walker with an expanded four-day format.
Michigan's largest all-hunting exhibition runs Thursday through Sunday. The show features more than 350 booths, guides and outfitters from around the world, taxidermy displays, demonstrations, Amish furniture, wildlife art, hunting puppies, educational seminars, and special show pricing on a wide array of hunting gear. On Friday at 6:30 p.m., Huntin' Time Expo convenes a town hall meeting with Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Chief Russ Mason moderating a discussion of the devastating EHD disease that has wiped out tens of thousands of southern Michigan deer.
The expanded expo comes at the same time the country is focused on the gun control debate.
Recently, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa. announced it would ban the sale and display of assault weapons and high capacity magazine clips.
It posted this comment on its website --
"As a hunting-focused event, we welcome exhibitors who wish to showcase products and firearms that serve the traditional needs of the sport. Clearly, we strongly support the 2nd Amendment. However, this year we have made the decision not to include certain products that in the current climate may attract negative attention that would distract from the strong focus on hunting and fishing at this family-oriented event and possibly disrupt the broader positive experience of our guests."
Huntin' Time Expo posted this response on its Facebook page --
"We will not follow in Harrisburgs footsteps. We love the 2nd ammendment [sic], we respect the 2nd ammendment [sic] and we preach the 2nd ammendment [sic]....black guns and all. Harrisburg is dropping the ball and we are running with it. Come on down to the show and join the NRA and get a free pass into the show. Buy some guns at the used gun auction for hunting or personal protection....That is how we roll in Grand Rapids, MI!!!"
Gun control has heated up in the United States following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in December 2012.
Part of the controversy has focused on whether people should be allowed to buy guns at expos and gun shows.
"I'm against any sort of a ban on weapons," said Beth Antor, owner of The Huntin' Time Expo. "In my opinion, I would like to have an equally as big of a weapon as the person attacking me."
People all over the country, and in West Michigan, have been flocking to gun shows and expos to buy guns out of fear of new tighter gun laws.
This week's show in Walker comes just nine days after the State of New York passed the toughest gun laws in the country.
A day later, on Jan. 16, President Barack Obama released his plan to reduce gun violence. He proposed banning assault weapons, limiting the size of gun magazines and requiring universal background checks for anyone trying to buy a gun.
But to many, including Beth Antor, any new bans or laws will do little to protect when violence strikes.
"You can't legislate morality. You'll never be able to stop somebody from randomly walking into a place. You can prevent how many people they shot just by having somebody there armed to protect them."
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