We don't have any of the really big gun shows in my home city, ones like the Indy 1500 about which Tam and Roberta have written. Ours tend to be medium-sized affairs by comparison. I've been to many of them. There's usually not much of a queue to get in - the most I've previously encountered is a few dozen people - and a few hundred folks inside, browsing the tables.
The queue ran from the ticket stall, back between the first exhibition buildings, down the road past the parking lot, then did a ninety-degree turn around the base of the hill on which the County Fairgrounds have been built, and snaked back for at least another couple of hundred yards. I've no idea what its straight-line length was, but I guarantee it was somewhere between a quarter of a mile and half a mile. I heard some people complaining that it had taken them well over an hour to get from the back to the front of the line. (Since I'm partly disabled, the nice gentleman at the parking entry booth waived my parking fee, and told me to walk to the head of the line and wave my walking stick at the people there. I did, and they very kindly let me in - after asking to see what guns I had for sale!)
I'd decided to try to take advantage of the insanely high prices on evil black rifles (EBR's), caused by panic over whether or not President Obama will try to outlaw them and/or private gun sales and/or standard-capacity magazines and/or anything else on a long list of desirables in the firearms community. I brought along a couple of my EBR's that were surplus to requirements, to see whether I could cash in on them (chiefly because I've been offered a very good price on an Even More Evil Black Rifle, and I'm trying to raise the money to buy it!) I'd tentatively decided, based on Internet research over the past week, to set my prices at double what I paid for my weapons in years past, and be prepared to negotiate downwards from there. Imagine my astonishment when, at the very first dealer table I encountered after entering the hall, there was a rifle of the same make as one of mine, in much worse condition, selling for four times what I'd paid! It even had visible rust spots on it!
I wandered the hall, getting more and more sticker-shocked. It seemed that anything worthwhile in the semi-auto-AK-47-clone or AR15 market was marked anywhere from $1,750 up to about $2,500, with some high-end models priced north of $3K. I couldn't believe my eyes! I wouldn't (well, I couldn't!) pay those prices even if I had the money in my pocket! Needless to say, the dealers weren't selling many of them at all. Even worse, real clunkers, the sort of thing I might buy for a hundred bucks, then strip down for use as parts (because it was too junky to shoot safely), were on sale for half to three-quarters of a grand - and people were buying them!
I had little joy trying to sell my guns. Most private individuals who asked to examine them really liked them, and appreciated I was asking only half what most dealers wanted for the same models. They wanted them very much . . . but they didn't have cash. Many were trying to sell old hunting rifles, some of them visibly uncleaned for years (if not decades!), to raise enough cash to buy an EBR and a few magazines. (One
I don't regret taking in my guns in on the off-chance of making a fast buck; but equally, I don't regret bringing them home with me. They've given me good service in the past, and they'll continue to do so. In fact, if the President does do something stupid next week (which, given his track record, is something I should probably bet on!), I daresay their value is only going to get higher, along with that of their standard-capacity magazines (of which I fortunately have more than sufficient to be getting along with). They might turn out to be a significant element in my pension plan!
Ammo prices were ridiculous. I stopped at one dealer table with a big sign advertising a 'case' of Remington-UMC .223 ammo for $199. That would have been a good price for plinking/practice/training ammo (which is what Remington-UMC makes) even late last year. In fact, it was so low I became suspicious. I made inquiries, only to discover that the dealer's definition of a 'case' was a cardboard box containing only 200 rounds! Given that most everyone else defines a 'case' of .223 as 1,000 rounds, you'll understand that I didn't bother to buy any . . . but to my astonishment, he was selling a steady trickle of those cardboard boxes. It seems quite a few showgoers hadn't built up their ammo stash over the years, and in their desperation to 'beat the Obamaban', were prepared to pay even extortionate prices like that. All I can say is, I got mine . . .
I did make one deal. An older gentleman was shopping for something for his wife. Turns out she can't shoot handguns very well, and wanted a long gun. He carries a Smith & Wesson Model 59 pistol, and has plenty of standard-capacity magazines for it. As good fortune would have it, I had with me a Kel-Tec Sub-2000 chambered in 9mm. and using S&W Model 59 magazines . . . and he had a 'not-quite-EBR' in a gleaming wood stock, complete with folding bayonet, that was in excellent condition - one of the best of its breed that I've seen recently. She handled my little Kel-Tec and liked it. He was short of ready cash, particularly because he hadn't been able to sell his 'not-quite-EBR'. Everyone wanted a proper EBR, you see - more fools they, considering the myriad casualties inflicted by 'less-than-EBR's' over the decades! Since I've been shot on two occasions in the course of my life by the cartridge used in this particular 'not-quite-EBR' and its later EBR cousins, and have distinctly unhappy memories of those experiences, I have considerable respect for it! I was rather taken with his rifle, particularly because I already had one of them - not as nice as his - sitting in my gunsafe, and wouldn't mind a second example at all. (Hey, 'two is one and one is none', right?) A little good-humored horse-trading ensued, and we each walked away with the other's gun. I'm looking forward to shooting my new toy soon!
Vehement sentiments were being freely (and vocally) bandied about by show-goers. Almost universally, they were vitriolic about President Obama's announced intentions to implement new gun control measures, and profoundly distrustful of his motives, honesty and integrity. There were frequent and loudly announced intentions to 'deal with' (euphemism!) any law enforcement agents or agencies trying to register, round up or confiscate weapons. Even more interesting, many law enforcement personnel were there, some in uniform, others in plain clothes. Every one I spoke to stated flatly that they would refuse to obey any order to register or confiscate firearms. Many said words to the effect that "I want to go home to my wife and kids at the end of my shift - and trying to confiscate citizens' firearms is a pretty good way to make sure that's not going to happen!" I couldn't agree more . . .
I'd like to ask the pro-Second-Amendment and firearms enthusiast community to remember that point. Many seem to regard all law enforcement officers with suspicion and distrust. I agree that some agencies deserve it (most particularly 'F Troop'), as do those working for them. (How any agent with any values worth mentioning can, in good conscience, continue to work for that agency after the exposure of Operation Fast And Furious - most particularly, the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry - is utterly beyond me. Do they have no ethics or moral standards at all??? Most law enforcement officers of my acquaintance have very pronounced views about them. I suspect their agents will get short shrift from the officers of many other agencies if 'push comes to shove'.)
However, many other law enforcement officers, Federal, state and local, have rather different attitudes. Suffice it to say that they take their oath of office as seriously as I did, and still do. We have always, and will continue to, 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic' - including the entire Bill of Rights, which in turn includes the Second Amendment. We simply won't implement or obey authoritarian edicts from on high that contradict the Constitution. (It's amazing what a Nelsonian blind eye can accomplish sometimes!) Yes, there are officers and agents who seem to regard their oaths only as material with which to wipe their joint and several backsides . . . but most law enforcement officers of my acquaintance aren't like that. Active law enforcement bloggers on my blogroll aren't like that either (if they were, they wouldn't be on my blogroll, or I on theirs!). Please keep that in mind, and don't tar all of us with the same brush.
All in all, a good day. Now to work the pain and stiffness out of my back and legs . . .