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Early this month, while helping some friends move one Saturday morning, I heard about a gun show that was going on in our area. Having a little free time after finishing up, I decided I wanted to
Despite being incredibly passionate about firearms and a major advocate for gun rights, I’d never actually been to a gun show before, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was pretty excited, though I wished I’d had someone who was more experienced with these sorts of events with me to point out things of interest.
After paying a small fee and getting our hands stamped, we got into the massive indoor event. Though the room was chock full of interesting stuff, the first thing that really drew my attention and distracted me from everything else was the large Gatling gun just beside the door.
Positioned alongside a table piled high with flintlock pistols, muskets, and other antique firearms, the massive Colt 1883 Gatling Gun was a sight to behold. I had heard about and seen pictures of just such a weapon before, but had never seen one in person.
Seeing my interest, one of the men selling the antiques was more than happy to come over and talk about the weapon. Describing how his friend had come across ten of them for sale years back and snapped up every last one of them only to sell all but one for exorbitant prices before he even made it back home, he walked me through what he knew about the gun’s history, and the history of Gatling guns like it.
It was quite enthralling, and I could have stayed there all day listening to the stories behind the various firearms he had, but there was other stuff I wanted to check out. Eventually, I managed to pull myself away and get a look at the rest of the stuff around the room.
The show was extremely crowded and busy, with countless families perusing the numerous items around the room. There were areas devoted to antiques, modern items, scopes and attachments, World War Two memorabilia, and all sorts of other doodads.
Despite joke signs on a lot of the tables saying things like “For an extra $4.99, we’ll give you a receipt saying you paid for what you tell your wife you paid for,” the show was clearly a family event to most people, and the fact that Utah tends to have some of the biggest families in the United States was certainly evident by the number of kids accompanying their parents.
As I waited behind a ton of people to get a chance to examine some sort of custom designed setup of two AR-15s attached to a crank, I listened to a couple of kids, a little boy
I was impressed by the discipline and care that the two kids showed while handing the firearms, even in their flagged states. They knew exactly what they were doing and what they were looking for, and when they finally decided what they wanted, their dad stepped up to work out the purchase with the seller.
There was tons of odd but interesting stuff around the room, from the hand cranked twin AR-15s to the perhaps more practical ingenious CLP system that was shown off at one table. As one of the sellers said when I inquired about all the custom stuff, “This is where the real innovation happens. Between trying to comply with all the ridiculous laws and maximizing functionality, people make some of the most creative and inventive things here.” How much of it was actually useful instead of just gimmicky is up for debate, but it certainly was cool.
It was interesting to see how a lot of the people at the show were people I knew from elsewhere. I recognized one guy who works at my school, and another dude who lived in my neighborhood. As I went around the room, my dad and I even bumped into a business associate of his at a small table in the back who was selling custom made leather wallets and a bunch of other stuff. The event was filled with just your ordinary people from all over.
The political atmosphere across the whole show was pretty much what one might have expected. Don’t Tread On Me T-Shirts everywhere, MAGA hats, laughs about the left, and eye rolls or complaints about various infringements on liberty.
I got talking with one of the larger dealers about his take on the political environment and whatnot, and he mentioned how a lot of the recent pushes for gun control have been spurring demand, and his frustration with Trump.
“For the last couple of years we’ve been in the Trump Slump. People feel comfortable that their rights were secure, and it’s been pretty hard on gun dealers and the firearms industry. With everything Trump’s been doing lately with the Bump Stock Ban, and the whole ‘Take the guns first’ thing, along with all the other gun control nonsense out there however, we’ve seen a massive increase in business. I had boxes and boxes of guns here this morning, and now I’ve sold out practically my entire stock. Same for a lot of the other guys here I think.”
I noted that I felt President Trump’s statement in that regard had been misrepresented somewhat, and he agreed, laughing about how everything people say gets twisted and taken out of context.
I asked if he personally felt that gun control was at all a positive, since for him and other people who make their living selling guns since it spurs demand. “In the short run,” He replies, “from a business standpoint it’s great for us. In the long run though, it’s just bad for everyone.”
“I just wonder what the tipping point is going to be. People will say, ‘Well, if this ever happens, they’ll have a revolution on their hands.’ And then it happens, and I’m just like okay, where’s your revolution? And they say, ‘Okay, well but if this ever happens, I won’t give in.’ Baby steps, you know?
I get friends calling me up from California and the like telling me about how they registered their gun and promptly had guys show up at their door to confiscate it for some obscure violation. And I’m just like, I can help you move to a more sane state man, but besides that there’s not much I can do.”
As the event started to close up, my dad’s business partner came over and asked us if we’d help him move some of his stuff back to his car while we were talking to the dealer. They got into a conversation about leather holsters and the difficulty of finding good ones to buy or even sell. Trying to convince my dad’s friend to consider making custom holsters to sell with him, he offered him a deal and jokingly extended an offer to me and my dad. “Give you both a hundred dollar discount each if you’ll ride your friend on the leather holster thing.” He said, flashing a smile. “I can run the background check right now while I’m doin’ his.”
In the end though, despite how much I really wanted one of the beautiful firearms he was selling, I had to decline. I hadn’t come to buy a gun, this time at least, and I only wanted to spend my money on snacks.
We stuck around pretty late, talking to different people and enjoying ourselves until the event’s organizers shooed everyone out. On the whole though, the show was very enlightening and a lot of fun. It was a bit of a new experience for me, and one that I really appreciated.
I’m definitely looking forward to attending the next one in my area.
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