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From ‘Overheard at a Texas Gun Show’ by Matthew Diffee at Texas Monthly

By Marlon Knapp

My compadres who work with me at the Chisholm Trail Antique Gun Association check-in table have asked me to compile a short tutorial on gun show etiquette. We understand you’re excited about going to the gun show and we are excited to see you. Those of us who work gun shows (not necessarily sellers) have unique opportunities to interact with people, including some who might not normally visit a traditional gun shop, those who are regular patrons, and those who are brand new to the shooting sports. No matter their experience level, though, people sometimes make mistakes, which when firearms are involved are deadly serious . . .

Preparation for the show

If you’re going to celebrate the Second Amendment and be surrounded by like-minded people and guns and gear you might not be willing or able to purchase, please do a few things beforehand.

Plan to arrive as early as possible. Being early allows you the luxury of taking your time and enjoying yourself safely. Know the ticket price. Also, plan to take enough money for whatever you plan for the day.

Even if you aren’t planning to purchase any goodies at the show, take enough money for entry, food and drinks. Remember, the price of drinks and food at any event will be significantly higher than at your local convenience store.

Find out what the show you’re attending allows. Is it OK to take photographs there? Can you bring in outside food or drinks? This is especially important if you have health issues.

Does the show permit concealed or open carry? Either way, always remember the four universal rules of safe gun handling:

1. All firearms are loaded

2. Do not allow the muzzle to cover (point at) anything you aren’t willing to destroy

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to fire

4. Know your target and what is beyond it

Here are a few things to know about the rules at the Chisholm Trail gun show

Concealed firearms: yes

If you are planning to purchase something for your daily carry gun that will require you to unholster it, please bring it unloaded and not concealed on your person. Drawing a firearm from concealment can cause unwanted attention from the vendors or possibly law enforcement officers in attendance.

Concealed firearms are just that – concealed. Don’t pull yours out at the check-in table. If you do, we will remove the magazine, zip tie the firearm and keep any loose ammunition. No, you will not get the ammunition back; having thousands of people come through the doors each day, we don’t have the resources to catalogue your particular loose ammo to return it to you.

Open carry firearms: yes

They must be unloaded, though. And again, we will confiscate any ammunition found in the firearm. We will zip tie your openly carried firearm to render it safe. These are our rules and they aren’t up for debate or negotiation. Even event staff and vendors who open carry are required to follow this rule.

Firearms to sell, trade, find accessories for, or get values/repair estimates: yes

Make sure the firearm(s) are completely unloaded. Use a chamber flag or have the action open, please.

Loose ammunition or loaded magazines: no*

Only ammunition brought in the original box or aftermarket plastic cartridge box is allowed.

* We allow loaded magazines in properly concealed firearms and loaded spare magazines (also concealed). Expect visible firearms and ammunition to be confiscated.

How to approach the check-in table with a firearm: action open, magazine unloaded and removed (when possible)

Finally, please keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction! Do not muzzle other attendees or gun show staff! This is a major source of aggravation and incredibly dangerous. You will always say “but I know it’s unloaded.” Fine and dandy, but we on the business end of the muzzle do not know that until we actually check the firearm and render it safe. See rule number one, above.

At least once every day (sometimes more) during the show, someone at the check-in table will get a loaded firearm handed to them. This past show was no exception. As a patron passed his firearm over to me for inspection, he muzzled me directly in the chest with his finger on the trigger. When I removed the magazine, it was unloaded. When I opened the chamber a live 9mm round popped out onto the table. Had he been startled, and had a little too much pressure on that trigger, I might not be writing this. No, you don’t get that round back, it now belongs to me. The loss of a single round is a rather small price to pay for violating the first rule of safe gun handling.

 

Marlon is owner of Knapp Weaponry in Wichita, Kansas. He discovered the shooting sports and firearms at the ripe old age of four, thanks in part to his Uncle Rich, a Nebraska State Highway Patrolman, and Nebraska Game Warden. Marlon is former military, and current NRA and Kansas certified firearms instructor.

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68 Responses to Tips on Gun Show Etiquette from Someone Who Runs One

  1. I can get there an hour early, and there’s already a line before the doors open of at least fifty people. Just before the doors open it has already extended to at least 100 yds long . By the time I looked at a few things it’s packed quickly. I don’t bother getting there early anymore.

  2. I’ve never understood the ban on outside food and drinks beyond being a moneymaking venture. Is there something I’m missing?

    Realtedly, any opinions from the peanut gallery about the versions shows in Houston? Never been to one – which should I check out?

    • “Is there something I’m missing?”

      In a word: no.

      Pack a lunch in a cooler and if it’s like Colorado, where gun show background checks take hours, go have a picnic in the parking lot while waiting. Heck bring a grill and do it up right.

      • Background checks take hours? Am I missing something?

        Seriously, though, I can’t imagine a background check for a gun purchase, even if provided by the ATF, taking hours, unless you’re checking the double secret probation lists.

        • At a major show in Colorado background checks are not done by the actual seller in most cases.

          Instead, there are four people sitting at laptops. You “buy” the gun by paying for it and it’s taken to a secure area guarded by cops. Your paper 4473 is taken to the four people. They input your information into the computer and then wait. The FBI takes a minute at most but the CBI (Colorado Bureau of Investigation) can take forever. Once it’s all completed and you’re declared good to go, they will then take your gun, escort you to the door and give it to you.

          I bought a rifle from Gander Mountain in Aurora, a Ruger Gunsight Scout, back in early 2013 and the background check took four days due to the backlog at the CBI. It got so bad the NRA threatened to sue Colorado over it.

          The year before this my buddy bought a Ruger M77 at a gun show and we waited almost four hours for the background check. After an hour and a half we talked to the seller and they said they’d call when it was done, so we went down to REI for some camping equipment and got the call on the way back up to the gun show.

        • Instead, there are four people sitting at laptops. You “buy” the gun by paying for it and it’s taken to a secure area guarded by cops. Your paper 4473 is taken to the four people. …

          Sounds like it’s time to do the show in the show parking lot.

        • Under “normal” circumstances it takes maybe half an hour. If a lot are selling, like on the day before christmas, it can take a bit longer. And 2013 was (as previously noted) a multi-day nightmare, over a week in some cases.

          The good news is, you can add more guns to the purchase once you’re approved, but before you check out.

    • The venues stipulate the bans on outside food and drink in their contracts. Large venues generally break even (or even lose money) on the space rental to the gun show. Almost all of the venues’ profits come from concessions and parking.

      As to shows in Houston, please see my note below. I apparently clicked the wrong button the first time and it ended up in the wrong place.

    • The reason for no outside drinks is simple. There are a lot of people that like to drink alcohol. I have seen them try to smuggle in rum mixed with coke. Beer you name it I have seen it. I recommend you eat a big meal before you go. Hit the drinking fountains to stay hydrated then afterwards have another big meals to end the trip.

  3. MEH…I quit going to “gun ” shows. I am a long-time antique dealer and I set up at shows to sell-not charge retail(or above). Yeah don’t shove a loaded gun in my face…

  4. You forgot one Mr. Knapp. Be deadly serious about shooting anyone who informs you that they are drawing their firearm to show it to you.

  5. Personally, I am done with gun shows.
    Fini.
    No mas…

    Used to be (makes me sound and feel old) that ya went to a show to meet friends, make conecctions, get great deals.
    Since the Last Panic it seems to have changed. For the worse.
    Some vendors are asking MSRP (which is their choice) for new wares. (As though they have no idea the internet exsists.) Used weapons are tagged at new gun prices.
    Too many vendors are rude, arrogant, and in too big a hurry to just get the money. The privates dealers/FFLs are the worst.
    I understand on the used wares. Buy low, sell high. Bicker and haggle are not in vogue any more. The vendor tends to play real hard ball and can be insulting if buying your used gun or taking it on trade.
    There is the occasional vendor that is welcoming, pleasant, and very helpful.
    Punch line: I have worked at these shows. I know both sides of the coin. It turns my stomach to listen to “stupid dick” stories about “this guy wanted…” or “the blonde with the knockers that…” from venodrs on break.
    A customer is what makes the business suvive, no matter what the business.
    Treat them well, the success of the business takes care of itself.
    One final note. WTF is up with ammo prices at gun shows?!?
    Again, act as though the internet does not exsist (sometimes w/ free shippong!) and high prices are what you should be paying.
    My LGS does well getting my $$. Great service, great selection, great pricing, welcoming attitude.
    The free market system chugs along…
    Caveat emptor!

    • The issue you’re seeing with prices is hit or miss in my experience and has mainly to do with the number of inexperienced people joining the gun world and shysters who want to take advantage of them.

      The last show I went to was the Tanner show in Denver a few years back (before our new gun laws went into effect). I picked up an brand new, in box M1A for $1100 plus tax. The background check system was so backed up at the show that this guy left the show, drove back to his shop and did the background check from there. Since he had to leave to get the check done in under an hour, he tossed in a couple extra 20 round mags for free. That was pretty awesome.

      On the other hand some of the people there are there to take advantage. By which I mean they know that the past years have seen a huge increase in new shooters who have no idea about pricing but have heard that gun shows are the place to get great deals. Since they don’t know what a reasonable price is, they figure it’s a steal and pay whatever the seller is asking. This same show where I got my M1A I saw a dealer with a bunch of SKS rifles for sale. I overheard him telling some inexperienced person that the Yugo SKS grenade flute did all these magical things for the rifle and that this rifle, a true dragon slayer, could be his for the low, low price of $950!

      I called that guy out right then and there, which embarrassed the seller and my wife but I’m not going to sit there and watch this guy take advantage of a new shooter to the tune of a 200%+ markup.

      • I’ve seen some sad exchanges where a young buyer is amped on finding his first gun, the one he fell in love with because it’s the only one in existence (as far as he knows, and the vendor isn’t telling him any different), and he ends up paying way more than he should. I used to feel sorry for those guys, but then I stopped caring. If a 30sec gunbroker search saves a sucker from being a sucker, then he’s a sucker. Hopefully those folks go home and realize their mistake, and then become informed buyers in the future.

        • I don’t take issue with an uninformed buyer. I take issue with a seller that’s taking advantage of them. $50-$100 is a fair “stupid tax”, $500+ is not, especially these days when many people are hard pressed for money.

          One of these people is a person looking to buy a gun and knowing nothing about what they’re doing. That person is trusting an “expert” not to bend them over and aim for unlubed penetration. The other person is an unscrupulous jackass that’s fleecing people for a buck. If the buyer comes back and beats the living h%^& out of them, they deserve it for being an outright moneygrubbing douche right from the jump. Heck, if you inflate the price of a Yugo SKS to $950, I don’t care if you get shot in the gut with the very rifle you sold and die slowly and screaming. You pretty much deserve it at that point because you’re a huckster and a disgrace to the gun community. You’re a leach at that point, a parasite and nothing more, and what do we do with parasites? I care no more for that guy than I do for a wood tick.

          You can make a fine living as an FFL, you don’t need to rip people off, especially people new to guns who will now regard all FFL’s, and likely all gun owners as well, as a bunch of elitist jackasses just out to pick their pocket. Way to sour them on the gun culture right off the bat.

          Parasites of all stripes should get the same basic treatment that a tick does. A dab of alcohol, grabbed with tweezers and tossed in the campfire.

    • I agree about the ammo prices. I go to the Monroeville expo Mart gun show about an hour from my home. LGS charges me $10-$11 a box for new name brand 9mm fmj. Gun show price for some ammo I have never heard of is $16-$17 dollars a box. WTF?

      • My strategy was always show up about four hours before the end of the show, I would find something I like and lowball the crap out of the vendor if I didn’t feel it was fairly priced. He would say no, and I would say “ok, I have x amount of cash for it and the taxes and such. Let me know if you change your mind. Then I’d come back near the end and he would usually be a lot more likely to take me on my offer.

        But then I got in the military and then policing after that, the discount I have gotten on firearms since then has kept me from going to any gun shows.

  6. Having to disarm is one reason I don’t do shows any more.

    Your fucking rule might be non negotiable but I’ll find a way to do what I want…and you don’t get my money.

    • No shit. They clamor on about the silliness of GFZs but attempt to maintain one at an event with guns. Thought process is beyond silly.

      • To be fair, it’s because dumbasses keep ND’ing at the things when they aren’t disarmed, and threatening the whole business. Their show, their rules, and the fact is, without a stringent inspection policy, a gunshow full of inattentive rubes and noobs and idiots would likely qualify as a ‘stupid place with stupid people doing stupid things’

        Daily carry is one thing; people do it to go about their daily business, and it is rarely a cause for concern until it is needed. At a gun show, there is so much temptation for folks to manipulate the loaded weapon to test, fit, and adjust to the various products out there for it, that the odds of an ND exponentially increase. To say nothing of the effect ‘herd mentality’ of these overcrowded events has in making even the most diligent person into an absolute meat-headed idiot by way of distraction by over stimulation. Lastly, that it’s literally not possible to responsibly use a firearm for defense in a room packed shoulder to shoulder with people (sorry, it simply isn’t; full stop) and that includes the security/vendors, IMO.

        • What other anti gun business expects me to hand over my carry piece so they can clear it for me and steal all my ammo, and call it confiscation?

          I carry for my security, it’s totally safe if it stays in the holster, and there’s no way in Hell I’m taking it out of the holster so a total stranger can play with it. If my gun is not welcome, refund my money and I’ll leave.

          And if the reason for mistreating me is that their other customers are scary dangerous, that’s just a bonus reason for never going there.

        • Don’t know where you live, but it would seem to be populated by idiots. We’ve never had an ND at any of our shows here, and irresponsible gun handling is rare. The club members/vendors deal with any such by escorting the offender out of the building, usually after a warning. We are responsible for ourselves, our show and the building while we occupy it. We don’t need to disarm anyone to do that.

          By contrast, I won’t bother going to any of the “professional,” commercial gun shows put on up here anymore. They are all run like you seem to think is necessary… and they are increasingly poorly attended – at least by anyone who cares about guns or freedom.

    • Same. My last show was the Tanner show in Denver and that was in… 2012 I want to say. Could have been early 2013. It was before the mag bans went into effect.

    • Because sometimes it’s the rule of the owner of the building and not whoever’s running the show?

    • Come to NE Wyoming. Our local gun clubs put on shows like the “good old days.” Sure, there are FFL dealers there, but not many. What you carry is your own business, and as long as it stays in the holster – outside of an actual attack, of course – nobody cares. The guys (and gals) at the door make sure any guns brought in to sell are unloaded, and you can have a “tie” if you want it… but you are responsible for what you do, period. Not just with guns.

      Anyone who is discourteous to customers, or who is obviously running a scam, is tossed out – or not rented a table next time. The only “law enforcement” present are local peace officers looking at the stuff like anyone else. The FFL folks run their own “background checks” and everyone else ignores it.
      As with any trade, buyer beware, of course. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

      I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone promoting stupid stuff as in the article… just good clean fun among peers. Nobody works harder to inform newbies correctly than the local gun club members. Lots of experienced gentlemen and ladies… lots of ladies. Many bring their children… Food is good, cheap too.

      I wouldn’t go to Denver again if you paid me… especially to a “gun show.”

      • And the children are well-behaved.

        Too bad NE Wyoming is a bit of a hike from central Florida, MammaLiberty. I’d much rather attend a show like yours.

        Florida gun shows are unfortunately a lot like the nightmares depicted here by others.

        The outrageous used prices I believe are fueled by people who are unable to pass a NICS check, but aren’t thugs or gang-bangers.

        They lost the legal right to bear arms, but aren’t a danger to anyone who isn’t a danger to them. Their gun is there to protect them and theirs.

        I suspect those folks are a fair number of gun owners…

  7. Deadly serious? So are incidents with cars, planes, household chemicals, boats,. I lost a 12 yo cousin to a careless driver while the cousin was working a paper route. Lost another one to a gasoline fire when he was 13 when he was careless with a motorcycle in the garage.

    Guns are not evil or overly dangerous. They’re just tools.

  8. I will not go to gun shows in my area. The promoter who seems to have a corner on the market in my state will not allow loaded firearms at all, even concealed carry that are not for sale. I sent them a letter complaining about it and they sent me a response that made them sound like anti-gunners. Reasons they gave:
    1. There are always irresponsible gun owners at every show and if we allow loaded guns there will always be NDs. So it’s for everyone’s safety.
    2. There are plenty of cops and security there, so you don’t need a gun to protect yourself.
    3. They can’t get insurance if they allow loaded guns. (Funny, the NRA Convention, my LGS and these Texas gun shows don’t seem to have that problem.)
    4. They donate to all sorts of 2A organizations, so they really support the RTKABA, so I shouldn’t complain that they are essentially creating a (loaded) GFZ at their gunshow.

    • One show here lets me carry a loaded mag and an empty gun, zip tied. That, I could tolerate; I can get that gun loaded in a hurry if an emergency arises at the other end of the show. The other gun show won’t allow the ammo–like this clown. Screw ’em, may they go out of business.

  9. Check your prices before going. And on your phone while there. Also works for other markets (such as computer and car markets too).

    Ask before touching any items on the table.

    Take a business card from the vendor and follow up.

    One reason I stopped going to the markets was seeing the same stuff at every show, a bit rustier, and more expensive each time. And the dwindling number of vendors.

  10. The writer is one of a host host of reasons I don’t go to gunshows anymore. The attitude that it’s all about them. The slacker sales attitude, as if your the only game in town. Disrespectful it’s what I’d call most show dealers anymore. Long live http://www.gunbroker.com anymore http://www.gunsamerica.com. Transfer to my LGD, he gets an easy sell and enough money to take his wife out for a hassle free transfer. Win-win.

  11. Katy,

    You have four “different” shows in Houston.

    The Houston Gun Collectors Association runs the shows at Reliant. They are a non-profit organization that puts on three shows a year (next show is next weekend, May 14-15) and their vendors generally have the best collection of “collectible” firearms for sale. There is as good a variety of modern firearms as at the other shows, however. If you are only going to go to one of the shows in Houston, I would recommend this one as I consider it the second best gun show in Texas (and I am an HGCA member.) (The best show in Texas for variety of firearms is probably the Dallas Arms Collectors Association show but it only really beats the HGCA show in depth of antique firearms.)

    The other three shows are at the George R Brown Convention center, in Pasadena, and in Conroe. All three are put on by the gun show promotion company High Caliber who also does the Tyler, Ft. Worth, and several other gun shows in Texas. There’s nothing wrong with a High Caliber show but if you’ve been to one, you’ve pretty much been to them all as a great many of the vendors are the same. Of the three, the GRB show is the largest and, generally better, of the three. I say generally because two of the best gun deals I have ever found were at the Pasadena show.

    • I’m guessing that the HGCA will be the most fair in terms of pricing – no deals for me, but no cheats either?

      I’ve got a pretty good sense on what I’m looking for – an 03A3, Kentucky Longrifle, or maybe a Trapdoor or Sharps. Modern rifles should be a priority, what with the current political climate, but they just don’t have the same call to my heart.

  12. Yeah I quit going too. Ever since the last panic the prices just aren’t competitive. I can get cheaper at a LGS or online. I feel the era of gun shows will end in the not too distant future. Not because of any liberal bans, but simple economics. Sure, you can charge whatever price you want, but the free market is just that. Customers will always seek the better deal. Gun shows have become haughty and stuck up. I went to one awhile back and a guy with a huge set up, had a wall full of m1 garands. I asked him about one and he said they’re not for sale. So, I asked him what he was doing, if he just put them there to show off to everyone how many garands he had. He started getting mad so I just left. Also, every gun show I’ve been to is a no carry zone. Just can’t do that hypocrisy anymore.

    • ^THIS.
      Plus here in Fla it’ll cost ya anywhere from $10-20 (entrance and parking) to get in the door… TO A GFZ EVENT !!

  13. With regards to custom-mold silicone things, they refer to high quality earplug that are made by inserting a bit of cotton, then wax into your ears. The dried wax is then pulled out, and used to create an earplug that fits your specific ears.

    Musicians have used this setup for years for both earplugs and earphones. It’s nice to see tech from other industries being incorporated into the gun industry.

  14. Regarding disarming for gun shows, I follow the same protocol as when I go to Costco or some other “gun free” zone: What they don’t know won’t hurt them, and it might just save lives.

    I will continue going to gun shows when I get the opportunity, and my carry weapon will be loaded and concealed. Now, if they start doing searches and metal detectors, that’s a whole nother story. I won’t tolerate having hands laid on me at the airport or anywhere else I go voluntarily, and I won’t tolerate it at a gun show.

    • ” I won’t tolerate having hands laid on me at the airport ”

      Given TSA, how do you fly?

      Of course if you might answer “I don’t fly”, I would certainly understand. Most times it’s faster and more convenient to drive, and most of the times where that is not true I prefer not to go.

      • Own (or lease) your own, or use services like NetJets.

        There’s also a fair business in folks selling empty seats on small chartered flights, as well.

        Spend some time around the people at smaller airports and you will find ways to hop flights with no TSA hassle…

  15. Gun shows are too damned crowded now. There aren’t any deals to be had any more either. It’s a waste of my time.

  16. I used to go to gun shows so that I could purchase reloading components. Now I have managed to meet a gun show vendor who lives in my town. So I just send him an email and then I go straight to his house and purchase my stuff from him. No longer have any need to walk by tables filled with overpriced guns and worthless Chinese made ornamental knives.

  17. I stil don’t understand why anyone ever goes to a gun show. They usually just have the same glocks and AR’s as the LGS but with a 20% mark up.

    And that is if you can even find actual guns for sale. Most of what you see looks like the junk drawer from someones reloading room .

  18. Arrive early is silly advice, as DuallyDog says there’s a line, these things are always packed in my experience anyway, as are any nearby fast food places. Arriving early doesn’t work for everyone, would be worse if more tried it.

  19. // Expect visible firearms and ammunition to be confiscated.

    Ah, irony. The first to talk about gun confiscation are people to run gun show.

  20. Paying 11.00 to walk around a crowded venue with a bunch of peppers, goof balls and obnoxious people while vendors sell for more than cabellas is a waste of time. The only things gun shows are good for is finding a part or magazine you need to dig through a box for and getting rid of a gun your LGS is not interested in. And the latter can take longer at the venue.

  21. Yeah, it’s your gun show and your rules. But you can shove your arrogance where the sun don’t shine. Why the hell do I want to spend hard earned money in such an environment? This is why gun shows suck and only attract newbs and imbeciles.

  22. The shows around Miami are well-stocked with firearms and ammunition. Gun prices can vary to what you see online to outright extortion. Ammo pricing is actually pretty reasonable. Accessories aside from Magpul & NcSTAR, forget about it.

    Worth going to for ammunition and the occasional firearm.

    The vendors are getting a little irked though since the people who put on the bigger shows in the area are the same people who own the largest gun store franchise in the state, so they themselves take up most of the space, and also they put a no-compete clause in the vendor contracts, i.e. you can’t set up a table at a competing gun show.

    All shows are GFZs, unfortunately.

  23. By all means people, take your loaded carry gun in anyways. No one is going to notice unless you unholster it. No one is going to care. Also, no one is going to check, once you make it past security.

    That said, it’s basically impossible to perform a DGU at the gun show without hitting several/multiple bystanders, as they are shoulder to shoulder packed. Would be better to wrestle them to the ground in that circumstance, or knife them if it couldn’t be done.

    • Wannemacher says this is why the gun show should be unloaded:

      “A crowded gun show is no place for a loaded gun.”

      In consideration with the above, if you take your loaded CCW and unholster it have an ND or other stupid idea / stupid moment the press will have a field day with it, especially if you injure or kill someone.

      You can’t make the show idiot proof allowing loaded guns and the press loves idiots as they use them to further their agendas.

    • So why are the cops and private security armed at these events? Same hazard, and you can’t say those “professionals” are any less likely to hit innocent people than a CC’er. History does not prove that out. All history proves is that cops are more likely to get away with it.

      Also it’s not just the possibility of a DGU in the event itself. There is the very real possibility of a DGU walking from/to the parking lot. If you were a gun thief, what better opportunity could there be? Gun owners, who you know have guns on them that are not loaded? As we said in the Navy, “A target-rich environment!” The alternative is to have people drawing their carry guns and loading/unloading right outside the event. That presents more opportunities for NDs, and cops and security over-reacting than just letting people carry.

      Bottom line: You either believe that citizens have the RTKABA and can be responsible with guns, or you don’t. It makes no sense for a venue set up to sell guns to call an exception to that belief.

      • Same hazard, and you can’t say those “professionals” are any less likely to hit innocent people than a CC’er. History does not prove that out. All history proves is that cops are more likely to get away with it.

        And there, you’ve hit on something. If the COPS engage in a DGU and hit bystanders, the show promoter won’t be raked over the coals by the media. And often enough, neither will the cops.

      • So why are the cops and private security armed at these events? Same hazard, and you can’t say those “professionals” are any less likely to hit innocent people than a CC’er.

        I agree with this. In fact, if there was a mass shooter, it would be faster for a vendor to purchase some ammo from the booth next to them and load their magazine and take aim before the cops at the entrance arrive to hose the perp and 47 bystanders with bullets. Really the cops are there to disarm you – not for protection.

        Also it’s not just the possibility of a DGU in the event itself. There is the very real possibility of a DGU walking from/to the parking lot. If you were a gun thief, what better opportunity could there be? Gun owners, who you know have guns on them that are not loaded? As we said in the Navy, “A target-rich environment!” The alternative is to have people drawing their carry guns and loading/unloading right outside the event. That presents more opportunities for NDs, and cops and security over-reacting than just letting people carry.

        At the wannemacher they supposedly give you your ammo back when you leave, but I agree. Seeing people outside the show loading mags looks a bit weird. I doubt someone would target someone in the parking lot after the show – at least at the wannemacher. Probably 20 or more people would see you robbing someone.

  24. I will never go to a gun show that doesn’t allow me to carry, the same way as I won’t to a posted grocery store or a restaurant. It’s as simple as that.

  25. I went to one or two gun shows and they are an utter waste of time and money.
    GFZ for you. A bunch of FFL gun dealers with ammo and gun prices marked up higher than in a gun store. Few private sellers and most of them just had piles of junk that they thought were collectible.
    Of course you have the non gun neo Nazi and Confederate paraphernalia and associated trash.
    Maybe some stuff you do not regularly see, but that stuff is their little precious and you will pay dearly for it..

    • I actually got it from SAA who was at the show.

      It was the wannemacher show. I’ve been going to it since I was 14.

  26. I’ve been doing the gun shows lately for reloading supplies. I am dubious on doing local stores unless I have to because I’ve been getting stuff for about 25% less minimum compared to them or the chain stores. I also got 6 GI style AR mags for $50 at the last one which isn’t price gouging if you factor in shipping.

    It’s also a neat way to get to handle some interesting firearms you may not otherwise. I got to handle a pinfire revolver at the last show for instance which was cool. A lot of the shops here are not eclectic about what they carry.

    There are definitely price gougers though, and you have to be a smart consumer just like anywhere else and know a bit about the dying art of the haggle.

  27. I went to one gun show at the Atlanta Farmers’ Market with my wife before we owned guns. We paid $16 a peace to get in. I had never been to a gun show before so I expected to get something for my money. What a rip off. Why pay money to get in so you can pay high retail? Or worse. Why pay money to get in to walk around feeling like an idiot. It’s like going to a garage sale and having to pay before you can browse. “What ya selling?”. “Cost you $10 to find out.”
    There’s your gun show loophole. No thanks.

  28. My last two shows were out in VA between Nov and Dec of 2012. Prices were already spiking, but the shear gouging that took place after Sandy Hook was unconscionable. It really turned me off. Have not been back since then.

  29. Gun Shows are for ‘tards. It’s always filled with fat, smelly dudes, who are all filled with tall tales and no gun knowledge, seriously jacked up prices on firearms and ammo – that’s if a vendor is actually selling guns and ammo. Because gun shows now are just people selling jerky, shitty arts & crafts, cheap chinese lasers or optics, toys and plastic blowguns. Let’s not even bring up that creepy guy who’s working the Nazi memorabilia table or that guy who has a table who is selling absolutely nothing. It’s way too crowded and costs too much to get in. Even without mag panics, people are trying to sell Korean Glock mags for $40. Once, and once in a while, you can find “that” gun or “that” deal, but so can 20 minutes searching online or a call to your local gun store. Guns they actually have at shows are the exact same thing you’ve already seen 1000x and the same thing the other 2 big blue cloth tables are already selling. But if you want to buy a fake Coke can to hide something in, or Terrorist Hunting Permit, the gun show is for you; after you pay $16 to get in and $5 for parking. Again, the internet is cheaper, even with shipping or possible FFL fees.

  30. I used to work gun shows for many years. Had guns pointed at me (by “dealers” and customers), guns go off near me (in the same building as me, to me, is near me), had customers threaten me, had customers load their guns with our ammo to see if it fit (swear to god), had customers almost make me puke they smelled so bad (bullets before soap I always (never) say. And then there’s the gun show attendee that is just too (expletive deleted) stoopid to even be in a building with guns and ammo. Yes even dumber than the guys loading their guns with our ammo to see if it fit. The cartoon map above the article should have had a half circle for walking in the in door and immediately walking out the out door. That is the best way to navigate a gun show in this day and age.

  31. I never found much of a deal at gun shows or stores for that matter. Online shopping on websites and forums has saved me so much and I get to support a great gunsmith in our area with transfer fees. I hope they have continued success but they are becoming a bit of a circus.

  32. “And again, we will confiscate any ammunition found in the firearm. ”

    Bull fucking shit. You’ll either let me put it in my car or we’re going to have problems. What’s the name of the show you run?

  33. Sellers: 1) Put a price tag on everything that is for sale. 2) Keep alert for buyers at your table waiting to get your attention. Get your nose out of your phone. 3) Don’t act insulted if a buyer makes a low offer. Learn how to function courteously in a haggling-style market.
    Buyers: 1) Don’t stop in the middle of the aisles to chat with your friends; get out out of the crowd if you want to yack. 2) Don’t ever buy a used rifle without gauging the bore. You can’t tell jack by looking down a bore with a light. You have to either shoot the rifle or gauge it to know if it is any good. 3) Don’t tie up the vendors with your old shooting stories. They’re busy, and they really don’t care about what you think you know about guns.

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