The Nation's Gun Show: Buyers, protesters in showdown at gun show in Chantilly

Crowds wait in line to get into The Nation's Gun Show in Chantilly on Friday. (Photo: Jeff Goldberg/WJLA)

The showdown over guns in America takes center stage in Northern Virginia as one of the nation's largest gun shows has opened for business, with hundreds waiting in line for hours to get in.

The Nation's Gun Show at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly comes just two weeks after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, which re-ignited the debate on gun control.

Protesters organized by CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, and MoveOn held signs with messages such as "Ban Assault Weapons," "Close Gun Show Loophole," and "Arms are for hugging."

Many of those attending the gun show tell ABC7 that the crowd is bigger than ever because of one word: fear.

Fear, they say, of Congress reviving the assault weapons ban in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

This is considered the biggest gun show on the East Coast. Nearly 300 vendors are there while 600 were turned away.

While antiques and collectibles are popular, gun dealers like Jerry Cochran say sales of assault rifles and ammunition have never been better.

Gun owners, he says, are stocking up before politicians can even put a new bill on the table.

Protesters, including CODEPINK which interrupted the NRA press conference last week, are pressing for an assault weapons ban. But they were a few loud voices surrounded by many who simply don't want them here.

"Right now, thanks to what is known as the 'gun show loophole,' 40% of guns sold in the US are sold without background checks and this has to stop," says Tighe Barry of CODEPINK, which bills itself as "a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement."

But this show is as popular as it's ever been. And dealers don't expect things to change, whether Congress makes change or not.