Six Keys to Running a Good Gun Show

Anyone who has been to and enjoyed a good time at gun shows may think it is an easy way for a promoter to make a buck. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ease comes from experience, but more importantly, hours of pre-planning and relentless attention to detail.

There are lots of gun shows, but few good ones and even fewer great ones. Whether you are an attendee, dealer or promoter, understanding the six keys to what makes for a well-oiled gun show provides insight for all segments of gun industry, ownership, safety and the business world at large.

Zip-Tied Guns.

The simple zip-tie changed the world. Electricians use zip ties to run electrical wires. And for make-shift repairs, it ranks with Duck Tape in the top ten (10) items ever invented.

For gun safety at gun shows, zip-ties changed everything. Firearms that have been cleared cannot be accidentally discharged. These immobilize the action, trigger, hammer, cylinder or other key functions. The various sizes and colors of zip ties allow maximum flexibility and utility in a large show with a variety of firearms. Even a mini-gun can be zip-tied.

At a glance across a crowded room, everyone can see a gun made safe(r) in the gun show environment. This minimizes human nature to “assume” and forget the cardinal rule that all guns are always assumed to be loaded. Every safe gun show starts with cleared, zip-tied weapons.

Controlled Entry & Exit Points.

Transitions points are danger zones for gun shows. For example, a patron clearing a firearm to bring into a gun show often (not a good practice) unloads (or loads on exit) it at the point of entry. This introduces a live round and firearm at the same place in time. Inattention to a finger on the trigger and . . . well another statistic and black eye on gun shows and gun owners.

Thus, to minimize this, it is critical that the points of entry and exit be fully staffed by safety or security personnel, with keen attention to the environment. Portable bullet traps and safe clearing zones minimize the harm of a negligent discharge.

More importantly, this prevents or minimizes a loaded gun making its way into the “sterile” area of the show. Each gun is cleared, checked, and zip-tied. In other words, people do not go to and from unsecured doors into the venue. In large venues, the place of entry or exit may be distant, so this must be considered by patrons carrying packages.

Further, it may violate fire code to block off certain points of entry or departure. With exhibitors who are smokers, or where there is inadequate ventilation, it is common practice to prop-doors open. This may allow a firearm, loaded magazine, or other variable into an otherwise safe(r) environment and lead to an accident.

Controlled points of entry and exit are hallmark of good gun show. Do not think it is just to build hype or unreasonable regulation. It is for safety, security and promotion of gun rights. This also mitigates the risk of outsiders grabbing a gun and running through loosely controlled entries.

On-Site Security.

Wonder why a table costs more than it used to (for dealers). Does the ticket price seem too high? If you think about the operations of a good gun show and you will see the value. To get the quality exhibitor and patron, advertising dollars must be spent. Without this, that great gun show would be mediocre or may not be there next time you want to attend it.

However, the magic of a good show happens during the hours it is closed. The venue that may have had a reptile show a week before is now a high value target to criminals. Guns and ammunition have ready street value.

For this reason, successful gun shows have on-site security; generally sworn law enforcement officers on premises at all times. In other words, a good gun show is really just a big effective gun safe. This is reflected in the ticket price and is the lynchpin of every good gun show.

Emergency Action Plans.

Despite being on-task, nothing in life is effective, 100% of the time. For this reason, the unexpected is expected, but not wanted. Every good gun show has a plan for “what if”. A slip and fall or natural disaster may be as serious, or more serious, than a negligent discharge of a firearm. The key to minimizing what happens if “what if” occurs is by thinking about it ahead of time. All good gun show promoters relentlessly consider and prepare for what might happen. The satisfaction really comes from not remembering the gun show because nothing occurred to remember.

All aspects of a successful life consider “what if’, including successful gun shows.

Rules & Regulations.

All good gun shows follow a few simple rules, but rigidly follow them. No loaded guns. All local, state, and federal laws and rules and regulations are followed. No exception. Never. This view is not the rant and rave of a guest, vendor or promoter. Instead, it is key to any and every safe gun show.

Dealer Safety Awareness.

Almost without exception, and startling, gun shootings have one common denominator; they occur at the hand of vendors, exhibitors, or their guests. Rarely do patrons discharge guns they bring in with them on their own. Presumably, this is because the routineness of firearms and their power loses focuses with dealers who handle them every day.

If you are a dealer, always adhere to the basic safety rules in every case: (1) all guns are always presumed to be loaded; (2) do not let the muzzle cover anything that you would not want to shoot; (3) and do not put your finger on the trigger until you are aware of where a round might land if the firearm is fired.

Adherence to these six simple rules makes a gun show a professional event that is unique to the United States. It will remain so only as long as these keys are followed in a gun show. Remove one and a gun show will be the news of the day and the law suit of tomorrow.

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