Devil’s Advocate

First, I’m not stating my personal position on this subject. I’m presenting some thoughts.

In my “obligatory SHOT Show post,” someone made a comment:

Gun shows that don’t let me carry my legal firearm is not a gun show I support, even the Shot Show.

OK, I do have an opinion; I strongly sympathize with that position. But…

On the one hand, if a show organizer doesn’t trust his customers, why should we trust him, or do business with him? Think boycotts of stores that post their property as gun-free target rich environments. Some show organizers get it.

On the other hand, very often — unlike stores making their own decisions to disarm customers — that choice is not made directly by the organizer. When you’re running a large show, you need a certain amount of space. That limits your choice of venues. If the venues that are large enough (or have sufficient support like power, water, sanitation, Internet access) themselves opt for gun-free target rich environment, what’s the event organizer to do? He can carry on, and maybe lose some boycotters, but serve the majority. Or if enough people boycott, he can lose money and not hold any more shows.

Boycotters might hope that would trickle up: organizer goes elsewhere (or out of business), venue loses revenue due to loss of shows, venue changes gun-free target rich environment policy.

Except, how many venues are that dependent on gun shows for their own continued existence? Especially government-run venues that don’t care because they get taxpayer support anyway. You might think those would be concerned about the loss of sales tax revenues, but you might be wrong; too often the goal is to shut down sales, PERIOD, no matter the claims about using “revenues” to fight “gun violence.”

In such cases, show loses, boycotters cheer, and the victim-disarming SOBs cheer even louder.

Thoughts of nose-cutting and spite come to mind.

On the gripping hand, I have seen show organizers who chose to make themselves gun-free target rich environments, when it was not required by the venue. I have no problem with boycotting them. There are shows I stopped attending.

Since this discussion was prompted by the 2018 SHOT Show, I’ll note one more point. SHOT is not a public gun show. It is an industry trade show, attendance by application/invitation only. You need credentials to get onto the floor (as a mere TZP writer, I can’t get in). As a private event, they can set whatever policies they want; it’s between the organizers and the invited attendees. If I were invited, I’d have to balance the benefits of seeing cool new stuff versus the chance of being disarmed, and I might decide to go inside.


Carl is an unpaid TZP volunteer. If you found this post useful, please consider dropping something in his tip jar.

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6 thoughts on “Devil’s Advocate”

  1. A “gun show” (under the normal definition of the term), cannot reasonably be a “gun-free zone” (a.k.a. victim disarmament area). They sell guns at gun shows, and making it a “gun-free zone” means you’re in violation of the law and/or policy the second your purchase clears (and the sellers were violating the law/policy by bringing them in in the first place).

    The SHOT show, as I understand it, sells nothing of consequence. The companies usually give out quite a bit of swag and might sell a few things, but not firearms. It’s a gigantic gala of demonstrations, prototypes, and market samples — and the firearms that ARE present are disabled.

    To repeat: Guns aren’t for sale at the SHOT show.

    That live firearms is prohibited doesn’t surprise me (and not for the cynical reason most things don’t surprise me). Yes, it’s mostly attended by industry insiders, but there are a few “press” passes given out each year to people who know NOTHING about guns. The LAST thing the show producers need is a “mishap” on the show floor. And so the demo/prototype firearms are disabled and no live ammunition is allowed inside (outside on “media day” and “range day” is another matter entirely!).

    On the whole, this makes infinitely more sense to me than holding a “gun show” in a venue that categorically prohibits firearms (which is a rare thing; see first paragraph). I’d skip a gun show that did that, but I’d probably attend a SHOT show if I was ever invited.

  2. I believe everyone (business, show, home owner, etc) has a right to any policy they want. I’ve always been partial to those signs that said “We can refuse service…”, it’s their business/home and they should run it as they like.

    I’ve decided not to go to gun shows, or what ever if I can’t carry a gun, not to boycott them but because I believe I need to carry a gun for self protection and I have this aversion to being a sheep.

    Not this year but I have been invited to go to the SHOT Show in the past, I didn’t go but it wasn’t because of the gun rule but because of not wanting to go to Vegas at the time due to schedule but since then I have gone to other gun shows, the last gun show I went to, they put a tie in my action of my carry gun and took my magazines, I walked around the show totally pissed off, couldn’t even see straight enough to even think about buying anything. I swore to myself, I’ll never do that again, not as a boycott but as my right to bear arms.

    I reckon we all have to draw our lines. I can’t carry on a plane and I still fly, I’m a sheep there for sure even though I carry other things not as good as a gun or blade but the best I can do for self defense. However I do have a gun in my checked bag, I try not to fly into places where that would be a problem either.

  3. I remember a merchant telling me he didn’t WANT to post a GFZ sign in his window, but to get insurance he had to. I suppose you could say it was kind of a high risk business. I told him I avoided GFZs. He told me to carry and not tell him. I needed the service he provided and did so. A month later I went back and the sign was gone. Huh. I guess he decided not to tell his insurance company..but nothing more was ever said. But he was pro 2A to start with.

    1. I have a vague recollection of something from a few years ago… I can’t find a link, and it’s so vague that I’m not sure if it was a real situation or a proposed tactic.

      What I seem to recall is a store claiming insurance required it to be “gun-free.” Customer asked for the contract clause and the insurance company’s name so he could file a “18 U.S. Code § 241 – Conspiracy against rights” lawsuit against the insurance company for interference with the lawful exercise of a constitutionally protected right. Store backed off.

      It might be real, because a lot of stores (Walmart, for example) when challenged merely say they go by whatever the local state law is; Walmart generally allows carry, open or concealed. Some places in Texas post 30-06 signs banning carry.

      If I won the lottery and had the money to throw away, and some insurance company actually did that, I’d try a 18 U.S. Code § 241 suit. I’d have to pick the federal district carefully, of course. And I’d invite the store owner to file his own tortious interference with business suit. Evidence prepared would include a — LONG — list of crimes in “gun-free” zones, and an equally long list of of people defending themselves with arms. For discovery, I’d demand insurance company documentation supporting their claim that “gun-free” zones are safer (or suppressed docs to the contrary).

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