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.