Yesterday, I accompanied my dad to the 3rd Annual Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, PA. It was his company’s first time participating in the show and the boss, being a bit too optimistic, brought way too much merchandise that wasn’t selling and my dad wanted to bring some back before the show ends on Sunday. I don’t think my dad actually needed my help and considering I know almost nothing about guns, I didn’t do much helping, but hey, I got to go to my first gun show.
I had never been to a gun show before and wasn’t sure what to expect. Everything that I had heard about gun shows up until that point were in college where I hung out with liberals because, well, I am one myself. And most of us didn’t look at these events favorably, as you can imagine. I don’t know about the others, but I had always envisioned a ton of rural white folks in a wide meadow, firing rifles into the air while whooping and drinking Budweiser, the finest cat piss of all beer (pay me like you did Peyton Manning please), all while shady deals were being made to sell firearms to violent psychopaths.
Of course, this is wildly inaccurate, and probably quite offensive to a lot of people. But hey, I’d never been to a gun show so how would I know? Exactly, I wouldn’t and I’m willing to bet most of my liberal friends had never been to a gun show either. Except for maybe Sean because he’s from Indiana.
Anyways, now that I have been to a gun show, I can describe it a lot more realistically.
First of all, I was right about one thing. There’s just a whole lot of white people. I literally counted how many people of color I saw throughout the entire day. There were 2 other Asians besides myself and my dad, 4 Hispanics, and 10 black people, 6 of whom were either security guards or fast food workers. Everybody else was white.
It’s not like they were mean or anything. In fact, everyone who came up to me or my dad at our station was very nice and polite. It’s just that the sheer lack of diversity kind of caught me off guard for some reason. I was simply aware of the fact that I was not white, more than I have been in a long time.
I got over it after a while since nobody was calling me racial slurs or anything. I helped my dad set up the displays and then decided to go explore a little bit. And holy crap, were there a lot of guns.
I didn’t take enough pictures to convey exactly how huge this show was and how many guns there were. Shotguns, hunting rifles, revolvers, pistols, you name it, it was there. Not to mention all the gun related products such as bullets, clay shooters, scopes, holsters, cases, sights, and even furniture that had concealed gun compartments. It was fascinating to be honest.
I walked around and people would let me hold their guns. Even the big ones. Now, I still think that some of these guns are unnecessary for a common citizen to have when a simple handgun would suffice. But I’d be lying if I said holding a giant gun didn’t make me feel like a badass.
Now, it’s illegal to sell firearms at a gun show. Instead, it’s more of a place for people to see the various selections and then go to a distributor with a specific gun in mind. I believe there are some loopholes, which is what all the fuss about gun control is about, but from what I saw, it’s too shady and too much of a hassle for the gun companies to exploit them too much. At least, in this particular gun show. Which is why there were so many other things that were actually for sale, in addition to all the gun paraphernalia I mentioned before. There were knives, duffel bags, tents, SUVs, and even handcrafted tables and benches.
And then I discovered that there was a smaller archery section as well. After all, it is an outdoor show, not just a gun show. I believe you could legally buy one of the bows or crossbows at these shows too.
They also had a pretty big fishing section which was really popular, with bait, weights, poles, nets, anything you can imagine.
All in all, I had a good time. I saw a woman wearing a t-shirt that said “I Don’t Wear Bows, I Shoot Them,” which I thought was pretty funny. Saw another t-shirt with a picture of Obama on it with the caption, “#1 Leader in Gun Sales,” which I also thought was funny. It seemed like most of the people there simply loved the outdoors or hunting or fishing and wanted to know more. And the ones I met were nice and helpful in spite of my ignorance of anything outdoorsy.
Of course, there were some who were only interested in the violence of these shows.
But I’d say they were the minority. Even the people who watched the video with me seemed disgusted. One old man turned to me and said dryly, “that’s how you end up in jail for the rest of your miserable life.”
True that, sir. True that.
Anyways, I’ll be heading back to the outdoor show on Saturday and Sunday to help out again. Perhaps I’ll find myself a date for Valentine’s Day. After all, I do look pretty badass.