Gun Show Fever! (It all began in Ohio)
by Chad D. Baus
The latest issue of the NRA's American Hunter magazine features an interesting article by Philip Schreier, senior curator at the National Firearms Museum in suburban Washington D.C.
Entitled "Gun Show Fever!," the article celebrates the sights, sounds and smells, the excitement and celebration of freedom that are today's gun show.
From the article:
The great thing about gun shows is that no two are ever the same. You never know what you might find - some hidden gem, a rare bauble, possibly something totally unrelated to your interest in firearms but yet something so unique, so cool you never knew you couldn't live without it until you actually saw it on some dealer's table.
At a gun show you can shop for deals that beat buying something on line, hands down. Here you can pick up a gun, hold it, feel it, run your hands along its side, smell the Cosmoline, look down the sights. All of your senses are rewarded, and you don't have to pay shipping charges. You can accessorize as well: Within six feet of the guy from which you purchased a six-digit M1 Garand is another dealer selling locking bar rear sights, web slings and bayonets. A few aisles over is a guy selling original World War II HBT Pacific theater uniforms and M1-C helmets. Before you know it you have completed another museum exhibit for your growing collection of cool stuff your spouse doesn't understand.
Schreier also notes that gun shows "are a great place to renew old acquaintances and to make new ones in the gun collecting/shooting/ hunting worlds," saying that at his favorite show in Oklahoma, "everyone is there, from Hank Williams Jr. to the college pal of yours you had no idea was into shooting sports."
The article also informs readers on something which I suspect many are not aware - it all began in the Buckeye State.
Gun shows rapidly became an important part of American culture following their humble beginnings in Ohio in 1937. Until the founding of the Ohio Gun Collector's Association, most people purchased firearms at hardware stores or through the Sears catalog, or wrote directly to manufacturers.
Seventy-five years ago, less than three dozen collectors showed up at Miller Bedford's first gun show, but today his Ohio Gun Collector's Association boasts nearly 20,000 active members, the largest of the NRA's affiliated gun collector clubs. The NRA has 120 affiliated gun collector clubs and most of them host between one and five gun shows per year. It is estimated that there are close to 5,000 gun shows held annually in the United States. That's about two gun shows per state, every weekend.
Finally, Schreier hits upon the reason why gun ban extremists work so hard to shut them down. It isn't just Second Amendment rights that are being exercised - it's First Amendment rights as well.
Gun shows offer us a chance to not only collect, shop, evaluate and compare firearms and related accessories, but a chance for people of like interests - people like us - to gather and exchange ideas and information on subjects near and dear to us all. Not only to we get to exercise our Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms but we also get to exercise protected free speech and our right to peacably gather. Attending a gun show is a civic a patriotic duty, and it's so much fun.
Amen to that!
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.
The Ohio Gun Collectors Association