By Sari Horwitz
The Washington Post
LAS VEGAS _The tens of thousands of gun enthusiasts, sellers and manufacturers gathering here for the world's largest firearms show are well aware of the political battle unfolding in Washington over tighter controls on assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines. They are neither worried nor reassured.
A gun dealer from Indiana was happy to offer his view of what's happening in Washington the day before President Barack Obama is set to outline what is expected to be an ambitious effort to tighten controls.
"It's ridiculous," Steve Drake, the owner of the Gun Den in Shelbyville, Ind., said Tuesday outside the show's well-guarded entrance. "Newtown is a tragedy, but it goes back to insane people. You can't control insane people. What we need to do is put more arms in sane people's hands so insane people won't be able to get so many shots off."
Drake's comments echoed the leaders of the National Rifle Association and other gun advocates who say that efforts should be focused on registering mentally ill people and putting armed guards in schools, not restricting access to assault weapons.
The 63-year-old father of four is one of 60,000 manufacturers, hunters, firearms dealers and gun rights advocates expected at the 35th annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference, known in the trade as "the SHOT show." They come in business suits, camouflage and blue jeans.
Sprawling across two floors of the Sands expo and convention center and spilling into the luxury Venetian hotel next door, the show offers 12.5 miles of more than 1,000 exhibits featuring the newest and most sophisticated weapons and gear, from Bushmaster semiautomatic rifles and body armor to gun-cleaning kits and hunting vests.