There were at least 800 visitors by noon Saturday, the first day of the Clovis Evening Lions Club spring gun, knife and coin show, according to Lions Club President Joe Whitehurst.
Whitehurst attributed the large crowd and a recent increase in gun sales nationwide to proposed state and federal legislation that could complicate firearm arm sales in the area.
Whitehurst, as a vendor at the show of guns, knives and ammunition, said this was the show's largest turnout before noon of the first day ever.
About 1,200-1,500 citizens attended the club's show in October, according to Whitehurst.
Whitehurst said many visitors stocked up on ammunition. He attributed the increase in ammunition sales to concerns many gun owners have that proposed legislation could reduce the availability of firearms and ammunition.
Men, women and children from strolled slowly around the Clovis Civic Center marveling at handguns, rifles, knives, ammunition and other firearm accessories.
There were 102 tables at the show, a total sellout, according to Whitehurst. He said he spoke to visitors from Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, Lubbock, Amarillo and Hobbs as well as other places.
"It really has been a fantastic show," Whitehurst said.
"Everyone seems to be in a good mood. There's been a lot of visiting among customers."
Ken James, 68, a retired owner of a used car dealership in Clovis, sold pistols, rifles, shotguns and firearm accessories at his booth. Saturday was his third year vending at the show.
James' sale table included a .50 caliber (his highest caliber gun) and a Colt .380 semi-automatic made in 1904.
"What I enjoy as much as selling guns is seeing all the people out," James said.
"You get to see people you hadn't seen since the last show. It's kind of a community deal."
Hubert Holland, 63, a retired carpenter, traveled from Plainview with his wife Virginia to sell his homemade knives at the show. Holland said he made $700 in sales by about 1:45 p.m. Saturday. He said he usually averages $1,200 in sales at the show.
"This is my therapy to keep me busy," said Holland, who was diagnosed with stage-four terminal cancer in 2004. Holland said doctors told him he had six to seven months to live at that time.
"I started building knives in 2007. After going to all those chemotherapy appointments I didn't feel good for four or five days (after each appointment). This is something to keep me going."
Charlie Gibson, 53, a truck driver from Floyd, visited the show with his wife Monica to shop for ammunition for hunting and target shooting.
Gibson said Saturday was his first visit to a gun show ever.
"It's more than what I expected," Gibson said.
"Eastern New Mexico has a lot of gun enthusiasts and sport shooters. To have something this big here, even if it's once a year, I think it's well worth it."
Adam Spaulding, 29, a semi truck driver and target shooter, stopped by to meet vendors and discuss future handgun purchases.
"The show is important because it is part of the rural identity of the area," said Spaulding, who moved to Clovis eight months ago.
"A lot of the private vendors have a larger more varied selection. You see things here that you don't see anywhere else. "
The first day of the gun show was also the last day for House Bill 77, which died on the Senate floor Saturday, the last day of the Legislature. The proposed legislation called for establishing a procedure to align the state's mental health and criminal conviction records with the federal instant background check system.
"At this time unless the federal government does something, we will have another show in October," Whitehurst said.
Show proceeds go to charities such as the Salvation Army, Lighthouse Mission and Pregnancy Resource Center. Whitehurst said about $3,000 of proceeds from the October gun show went toward helping Clovis Apartments residents displaced by fires in late August.
What: The spring gun, knife and coin show
When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Today
Where: Clovis Civic Center
Cost: $5 for adults, $4 for active duty military and spouse, children under 12 free
Info: Joe Whitehurst 760-1379