On a cold, drizzly Saturday afternoon, I walked into my second gun show. Having been introduced to the world of gun shows by my husband last year, I knew a little about what to expect, but I found that I still basically know…zilch. Strolling up and down those aisles, looking at vendors’ wares, and listening to a lot of conversations made me realize how full of surprises these events are, and how quickly any preconceived notions evaporate into thin air.
Before learning otherwise, I personally had more than a few misconceptions about gun shows, which I will freely admit to. Here’s a sampling:
- Gun shows are about guns and nothing else. Nope. While there are plenty of firearms to be bought, sold, and ogled, there’s no shortage of other ways to spend your money. There’s food, of course (think festival-style food vendors), but also art, jewelry, purses, clothing, housewares (there was a Pampered Chef booth!), wind chimes, toys, books, and more. It’s almost more like a flea market.
- Gun shows are a boy’s club. True, men do make up the majority, but women most definitely have had a strong presence at the shows I’ve attended, and not just as bored wives/girlfriends. At this last show, we stopped at a booth run by a woman who teaches gun safety classes and sells stylish, practical concealed carry vests. We walked away with her card and a brochure. Talk about shattering a steel ceiling!
- Gun shows are free-for-alls. Actually they’re very well-controlled. Anyone who brings any firearm into the show must get it tagged, or “checked in,” before entering, and then have it “checked out” upon exiting. No shooting of guns is allowed. Folks tend to be pretty laid back about the business at hand; there’s a little haggling, a lot of moseying and a lot of (ahem) shooting the breeze. Again, more like a flea market.
- Gun show attendees are nothing but a bunch of fervent gun rights activists who talk about nothing else. Nope. Most of the people I encountered seemed perfectly amiable, and chatted about a variety of topics. I heard conversations about cooking, about football, about music, about outdoor adventures…and hey, look at yours truly. My fervency tends to dwell more in running. And homemade desserts.
- Gun shows do not make you a better person. I’ve learned from both of the shows I’ve attended. I’ve learned, obviously, about guns and their accessories. I’ve learned how to do a classy haggle. I’ve learned how to listen to what a vendor has to say, and then graciously say no and move on (ok, I’m still working on that). I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the craftsmanship and, yes, elegance that a gun or knife can show. I’ve been humbled at the confirmation of just how little I know about guns. Do these lessons make me a better person? I’d say so.
We didn’t buy any guns on Saturday. But we did buy this:
Home décor at a gun show. Yep, it happens.
Here’s to surprises.