Three days after 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland were killed in the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history, a Miami gun show went on as planned.
Florida Gun Show puts on gun shows throughout the year across the state.
“We got a lot of calls —people demanding that we cancel the show,” said Scott Geisler, one of the managers who helped put on Saturday's show at the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition Center. “It’s not like we put the show together last week. This show’s been scheduled for five years. This building we have to reserve five years in advance.”
Sponsors of the gun show, which typically draws more than 10,000 attendees, did not consider canceling the event after the Parkland shooting. There were no visible protestors when a WLRN reporter was at the show, but Florida Gun Show officials said they hired extra law enforcement just in case.
This was the first gun show in the state since the mass shooting Wednesday. Vendors from Florida and other states were selling ammunition, tasers and firearms and offering machine gun demonstration classes and National Rifle Association memberships.
“Some of the media is making this a gun issue and blaming it on the gun industry and blaming it on the AR-15, instead of blaming it on the actual criminal, Nikolas Cruz, or the mental issues, or whatever issues caused him to do what he did," Geisler said. "It’s not the guns."
According to the Broward County Sheriff's Office, Cruz confessed to using an AR-15 rifle in the mass shooting. A dozen people were injured by the gunfire.
Jesse Marzoa, a customer at the gun show, only found out about the show Friday. He came because he wanted to see the event in action. He would not disclose whether he was a gun owner or not.
“As a substitute and future teacher, everything shouldn’t involve politics,” he said. “Unfortunately, we think of politics before people.”
Marzoa doesn't blame the school shooting on guns. He says it's about not getting the confessed shooter, Cruz, help.
“I want to see change and intervention [that] we do for students with needs,” Marzoa said.
Jaiden Bubel, 16, a junior at a nearby Miami high school, came with her dad, stepmom and younger sister to look for a weapon for her dad to have at his small business. “I was scared, but I want to support him no matter what because I know he’s not doing it for the wrong reason," Bubel explained.
Her 7-year-old sister, Leiana Bubel, said coming to a gun show with her family made her feel safe, especially after hearing at her school about the Douglas High School shooting. “I can learn how to use guns," the second grader said. "So if I ever need it, I would know how to use it already."
The company's next gun show will be in Fort Lauderdale on March 17.