"Oh you couldn't dam that river, and maybe I don't give a damn anyway." -Alice in Chains, "Dam That River"

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The Gun Show

This past weekend Dad and I attended a gun show at the local fairgrounds. I believe someone told me it was to be “one of the last gun shows”, but gun shows are always “one of the last gun shows” like furniture and mattress stores are always “going out of business”. The mattress store I pass on the way to work had been going out of business for ten years before it permanently closed its doors. The next day a new mattress store had taken its place.

The price of guns like most anything is driven by supply and demand. In a world where boxes of Twinkies are selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay, it should be no surprise that the price of assault rifles — along with gun show admission prices — has skyrocketed. While I’ll admit it’s been many years since my last gun show, I seem to recall admission fees of around $5. This past weekend, it was $13. That didn’t stop people from coming in by the hundreds, probably thousands.

Before actually entering the show, visitors were routed through a long hallway filled with “not guns” — holsters, Scentsy, knives, axes, and t-shirts. Before we even made our way into the show proper I had counted three assault rifles slung across the backs of adult white males. Any attempts at banning assault rifles will be too late for those three.

This is the only picture I took during the show and it was a quick one, so I didn’t realize how blurry it was until I got home. You’re looking at a table full of assault rifles. I mean, full. I stopped counting at 50. The most prominently displayed were the Bushmaster AR-15s, the rifle used by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook. If nothing else, with a price tag of $2,200, if anyone ever shoots you with one of these things you’ll know they had either a steady job or decent credit.

Although I was there personally pricing handguns, I have to say I was tempted to pick up one of those assault rifles. I don’t need one — hell, nobody needs one — but I guess I got caught up in the hype a little. That constant buzzing reminder from the media that you might not be able to buy something in the future is a strong one. Lots and lots of those $100+ boxes of Twinkies on eBay sold.

Back to supply and demand for a moment. The price of assault rifles are up due to a fear of them being banned, and the price of handguns are up in Oklahoma due to our recently passed Open Carry Law. But the price of Uzis are down. For less than the price of a Glock 45 — about $100 less, in fact — I could have picked up an Uzi (with or without a suppressor) for less than $500. Or, for that matter, a MAC-10. Neither one was fully auto, meaning you now have essentially a scary looking pistol with a 30 round clip hanging out the bottom of it. And unlike a rifle (which isn’t uncommon to find in the back of a pickup truck here) or a pistol (which is legal to walk around in public with on your hip if you have a self-defense license), I suspect anyone getting pulled over who has an Uzi sitting in the front seat of their car had better had a damn good story to go with it.

The biggest problem with these shows is that prices were higher than you would find in any local gun store. Some of the handguns were $100-$150 higher than you could buy them locally. A box of bullets that would run you $22 at the store was $28 at the show. And yes, not only did all the show attendees charge sales tax, but many of them were also tacking on an additional 3% credit card fee, so it’s not like you were saving anything on the back end. Just like the shops, background checks were being performed at the show as well. Applications were filled out on paper and then trotted over to a group in the corner who, using iPads, were converting the data into electronic format and submitting them to (I presume) the OSBI.

As someone who doesn’t currently own a gun but supports people’s right to do so, I found it an interesting experience. I honestly think any legislation aimed toward banning assault rifles will just drive the prices higher. The same guys that had them for sale last weekend would have them for sale then, too. News reports made me think that the banning of certain guns and accessories, specifically assault rifles and high-capacity clips, is imminent. The gun show I attended over the weekend has convinced me otherwise.

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5 comments to The Gun Show

  • Chad

    Rob, I concur with your supply & demand assessment on the gun & ammo market as it stands now. It is sort of sad to see but understandable given some of the recent proclamations made by those in political power.

    You mention that no one “needs” an AR-15″ & that may be debatable in certain corners of the world or even Oklahoma, but no one “needs” Twinkies either & a nasty union situation has people acting like Woody Harrelson in Zombieland, who was desperate for their creamy center. A certain First Lady is fairly certain none of us “needs” Twinkies or anything else that might not pass her dietary muster & now both my kids come home hungry because they are limited in their caloric intake even though I pay a decent & inflated price for their school lunches. You’ve met my son…he doesn’t need to count calories. He’s taller now but weighs the same. So in my mind, when the government gets involved, for our own good, prices get inflated & freedoms take a back seat. Twinkies won’t be the cause of a mass tragedy as we saw in Newtown, but we are told daily that our diets are killings us in droves & the government is regulating the 7-Eleven aisle more every day…try getting a Big Gulp in NYC.

    So obviously the comparison breaks down a bit and it isn’t meant to be completely analogous, but the Twinkies you mention likely aren’t sitting in any White House pantry due to their forbidden & malicious nature & the same occupants would ban firearms in a heartbeat if they could for the same reason. The only difference is snack foods weren’t explicitly mentioned in the Constitution (unless you consider “the pursuit of happiness” & I would consider that a valid argument ) as a means of defense from enemies both foreign & domestic. “Need” is a funny word & its definition eternally elusive by every this side of the Politburo. When the government intervenes & begins deciding what is best for its citizens without first asking, problems arise.

    By the way, no one who wants to actually hit a target would buy an Uzi. They’re worthless and inaccurate but make great movie props. AR-15’s are extremely accurate but likely no more lethal than the pistol you were looking for, again more Hollywood hype. That’s a debate for another time. Forgive the long post, I usually just read & enjoy, today not so much.

  • Cody

    Rob, first I just want to say that I’m a fan of the blog and I loved Commodork (I got my copy when I ordered my copy of the BBS Documentary).

    As someone looking at your country from the outside it seems as if the entire country goes from one national crisis or scare to the next. I used to travel to the US on business occasionally and I always found the nightly news so strange, almost like they are purposely trying to scare people. Almost no coverage of foreign affairs and always a piece on what is trying to kill you in your own home. Cut to a commercial where some masked man is breaking into your house while you sleep, better go buy that security system. It just seems as though most of America lives in this culture of fear with little or no view to the outside world. It’s not hard to explain the demand for guns and pharmaceuticals.

    I’m not saying that other countries don’t have gun ownership, I happen to own a few shotguns and rifles. I just think the culture and attitude toward gun ownership in the US is a little strange. I doubt the men who wrote the second amendment were doing so to ensure the people’s right to own assault rifles. Something tells me that if Adam Lanza went into that school with a breech loading gun or musket that he wouldn’t have caused the massacre that he did.

    I wish your country the best of luck but at the same time I’m very glad I don’t live there.

  • Rob

    I am so glad to hear from you — I hope you are doing well. I really want to talk about gun rights but really all you did was make me want to go get a Twinkie. :)

  • lethargic

    Assault weapons should be banned! We should only have the nice guns that don’t hurt people! That way nothing bad would ever happen again ever!

  • Chad

    Just realized how my last line came across & apologize. I only meant I normally read & your posts make me laugh but I don’t normally comment. That’s what I meant. I always enjoy, just don’t comment. Sorry for the inarticulate phrasing on a long comment.

    If memory serves…the last Twinkies I had, you bought. They were delicious. Chocolate Pudding Pies were the best though.