From The American Rifleman: http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2016/1/5/the-truth-about-gun-shows/
by Mark Keefe
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Originally published in American Rifleman, October 2009
Recently, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen since my high school days—I’ll call him “Danny.” We talked about mutual friends, families, careers and personal interests and when he learned of my occupation, it became apparent that he belongs to what I call the “I own guns, BUT …” group of Americans. The “BUT…” in our conversation was the fact that he really didn’t understand—and had never attended—gun shows. Still, he told me, he knew all about them from the media. And he knew for a “fact” that they should have additional government control.
Our conversation was upsetting and all too short. Danny was amazingly uninformed on something that most NRA members understand and treasure as part of American freedom. So I knew what I had to do: I had to tell the true story in the form of a heart-felt primer about gun shows.
I write this not just for Danny, but for all such ill-informed “I own guns, BUT…” folks everywhere. As for those of you who know the facts, remember, whether writing or speaking, we only convince people one person at a time.
So, What Are Gun Shows?
Gun shows offer a variety of firearms and accessories that you can’t find under one roof in even the largest gun shops. Stores don’t have room for 2,000 to 10,000 tables devoted to firearms and accessories. And then there are the gun shows that offer a variety of both old and new, used or currently manufactured merchandise. They are no different than book fairs, car shows or counted cross-stitch shows—all of which share free speech, the right to assemble and the right to peaceable commerce between individuals. All of these assemblies represent the same thing: a gathering of Americans with a common passion—for freedom.
The 21st century American gun show has its roots in the market fairs and swap meets of our forefathers. The trading of firearms between private individuals goes back to even before the founding of our country. A modern-day example is well-illustrated by one of my favorite gun shows. When it was last held in July at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Va., the Nation’s Gun Show exhibited more than 1,700 vendor tables in two buildings. More than 10,000 people from all over the country attended and participated. No, they assembled.
As usual, I was looking for military M1911s, which have always been an interest. My grandfather carried one in World War II and I have several rebuilt guns I’ve been slowly restoring. One parts seller in particular I’ve been buying from for years has one of the best tables of bins brimming with M1911 parts I’ve seen anywhere.
And then there’s my good friend Phil Schreier. He goes to the Nation’s Gun Show for the same reason he attends countless other shows. “To enhance my collection,” he explained. “I’m always looking for better, higher-condition examples or for items not represented in my collection.” Phil is senior curator of the National Firearms Museum and manager of NRA Gun Collector Programs. We’ve walked the aisles of many a show together and to us, gun shows define the pursuit of happiness.
Of course, some collecting organizations, such as the prestigious Ohio Gun Collectors Ass’n, don’t allow the public to attend: members and guests only.
The NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits feature an entire aisle of nothing but such educational displays competing for medals and awards from the NRA Gun Collectors Committee. Think of it as the Stanley Cup for gun collectors. The NRA Gun Collecting Department puts on a National Gun Collecting Leadership Seminar every year. The department also works with one of the NRA’s many affiliated gun collecting clubs to put on the annual NRA National Gun Collectors Show. The plastic ties you see on guns at most shows today are thanks to the efforts of NRA-affiliated collecting organizations wanting a simple, visible means to ensure every firearm for sale or on display is safe and unloaded.
Continue reading at: http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2016/1/5/the-truth-about-gun-shows/