The Tampa Gun Show Shocked Me


I paid $9 to enter into the Tampa Bay Gun Show and there was a $6 parking fee for the Florida State Fairgrounds. After that, you were free to explore, unless you brought your own gun. If so, you had to undergo an inspection to make sure the gun was safe and unloaded. It was all very informal though. A lady just asked if you had a gun and if you said no, you were waved in. I suppose they figured the abundance of weapons at the show would prevent people from feeling froggy. But in light of the Boston Marathon tragedy, I think it’s safe to say one is never truly safe. But moving on…

Aside from movies and video games, I can honestly say I’d never seen many weapons. Over the years I’ve encountered a person or two with a gun and I even went to a gun range once (when I was thinking about getting a security license) but that was the extent of my exposure. As such, I spent most of my time walking around in pure amazement as I came upon weapon after weapon that I couldn’t even imagine existed. The variety was stunning! And incredibly frightening if you allowed yourself to think too hard about it, which I didn’t.


There were at least 8 rows of tables, stretching from one end of the Expo Hall to the next. And on those tables were a varied assortment of guns, knives, stun guns and other weapons. By other weapons, I mean nunchucks, brass knuckles and pretty much anything else you can think of. Basically, it was a soldiers’ playground. Or a Gladiator’s, depending on the booth you stopped at.


Most surprising of all: How HEAVY everything was. Movies really do give you a skewed sense of weaponry. People just run around all willy nilly, flinging machine guns like they’re weightless, but the real deal feels more like a small bag of ice. I think it’s safe to say that half of the rifles I picked up, I couldn’t lift level unless I used both hands. Now, I’m more than willing to blame this on my lack of muscle tone. (I don’t lify shit but computer mouses, cocktails and forks.) but still, the weight was a bit excessive. Midway down the second aisle, I found myself asking about the “girl guns”.


Another thing that surprised me was the cost of everything. Most of the weapons were actually inexpensive. You could really clean up in that place for less than $100. However, the guns were an entirely different story. I saw guns that easily cost $2,000 or more. One gun caught my eye and I just had to pick it up. I was yelling out excitedly to my homeboy that it “only cost $119” when the tag caught my eye again. I’d read too fast. The gun cost $1,119. I damn near dropped it trying to place it back on its box. Aint nobody got time for that!


Overall, I had a fantastic time, which surprised me, because guns aren’t my thing. When my homeboy suggested we go, I only tagged along out of a mild sense of curiosity. Instead, I ended up leaving with a different thought process about guns than I entered with. I found myself thinking about the gun debate from a more realistic perspective, instead of the idealistic one I’d become comfortable in. My main thoughts:

  • If you attack someone in this state, you are playing Russian Roulette…
    …and there’s a damn fine chance that you’ll be on the losing end. You never know what kind of weapons people have on them. I walked out of the gun show with two stun guns, a mini tomahawk and brass knuckles. I could fit everything in my pockets. LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE!
  • Guns still scare me and I wish they didn’t exist, but they do, so I plan to begin the process of purchasing one.
    Given how many guns are out there already, and the ease at which you can purchase them, it seems like a smart investment to have one of my own. You don’t want to be the person with a pen at a gunfight. Do I plan to ever use it, though? Maybe at a gun range, but that’s it! And I hope I never have too. However, there’s no denying that I’m more vulnerable as a woman and given that I date women, perhaps it’s just smart to think defensively.


  • We are never getting rid of guns in America.
    There were enough guns in that Expo Hall to arm Tampa. And this was just one gun show, in one city. Imagine a show in every major city in America and suddenly you understand how many firearms are already available. They’re not going away without a huge fight, so why not just figure out how to manage them? Gun Control, not Gun Patrol.
  • Private Sellers make me nervous.
    Most of the gun tables had weapons you could pick up and touch. Private sellers do things a little differently though. They have their weapons on display, with big signs warning people not to touch them. They’re not as quick to give you information or talk about their merchandise. Some of them whispered. You couldn’t pay me to buy a damn thing from them. That’s entirely too damn shady and I don’t trust it. To add insult to injury: Upon exiting the show, we saw some random hispanic guy selling big guns out of his trunk in the parking lot! It just screams, “purchase from me and one day you’ll find out your gun was used to kill CIA operatives in Tijuana.” Thanks, but no thanks. And he needs his ass whipped for embarrassing Hispanics like that!
  • Guns aren’t just for protection, they’re a hobby.
    Some people really just love collecting and talking about them. There were guys, and a few girls, in there exchanging information and talking about guns like they were toys. You saw all kinds of different pieces for building custom guns. It was like Comic Con, except the subject was weaponry.

    Now, Is it possible one of these people were looking to be the next George Zimmerman? Sure. But more than likely, most of them are just enthusiasts. Kinda like how people go crazy over cars or motorcycles. So do we penalize them for their interest, just because there are a few crazies who make it bad for everyone else? Seems unfair to me. My dislike of guns doesn’t make someone wrong for liking them.


  • The “Gun Show” loophole needs to be closed, ASAP!
    It wasn’t until days after I attended the show that I learned that every weapon I purchased couldn’t be carried in public without a concealed weapons license. That’s right. The stun gun I casually purchased is considered a real weapon, just like a gun. Technically, I broke the law by walking with it the next morning. As I was talking to my boss’ husband about the law, I frustratedly said, “Well, why could I just buy this if I need a license to carry it?!” And he responded, “Yeah, that’s the problem with the gun show loophole.” Imagine that. At gun shows, you can just casually purchase stuff that you can’t casually purchase at a grocery store. Now who came up with that shit?!

Final Thoughts: While I won’t be joining the NRA or attending pro gun rally’s, I do find myself feeling more open minded about guns. It’s not that I’m embracing guns, it’s just that I accept their presence. I mean, since purchasing my stun gun, I’ve felt safer doing my morning walk. And I suppose that’s why guns are here to stay. Peace of mind is a hell of a selling point.

9 thoughts on “The Tampa Gun Show Shocked Me

  1. I agree with everything except throwing in the George Zimmerman comment seems premature. Let the trial finish. Don’t let the media hype and lies might i add change your view on what happened. Only George and Trayvon know and one is dead unfortunately. You should be scared of guns that’s normal, but using them and learning to use them and owning them for strictly self defense OR to protect against a tyrannical government is the purpose of the 2nd amendment. If you were to study history about other countries which disarmed populations it was rarely a good outcome. disarming would be the law-abiding citizens and then the criminals would be like “whooopeee” easier and safer robberies. The problem is the people who use it as a hobby but use the 2nd amendment just to keep their hobby but don’t use it for what the 2nd amendment was written for. MIlitary and x-military at least have an understanding of the true power of a firearm more than the hobbiest from my experience at the shooting range. My friend whose not a military soldier was hip shooting a shorty shotgun and laughing and smiling. A vietnam vet came up and advised him sternly to not shoot it that way. He made a smartass comment towards him. There is people who will use ANYTHING to the wrong purposes and those who will follow the rules responsibly but when any gun laws are passed most of the time it increases gun crimes and makes for law abiding citizens a more hazardous environment without being able to defend themself if needed. Mainly it’s misinformed americans who are cluesless as to the real facts. Look at australia after they turned in guns. Crime exploded.. criminals of course don’t turn in their guns! then they know they can invade houses because people who follow the law won’t be able to defend themselves anymore. Our constitution is what keeps the government from throwing us in jail without due process or lining us up and hosing us down with bullets. Obama the man you elected has passed the NDAA and killed americans without that due process which is a direct violation of the constitution. I applause you for at least taking the time to experience a gun show and see what it’s like to better understand some of the things i’ve been trying to pound into your heads for years =P

    • I dig your passion Sean. Thanks for commenting! And since we’ve already spoken on Facebook, I won’t get long winded here. I will repeat a few things though:

      Screw George Zimmerman. Nobody killing kids gets a pass from me.

      I agree completely: People are stupid about guns. We need gun training classes to be mandatory for everybody. Not to punish them, but to educate them. You don’t just give out car licenses. You shouldn’t just give out guns.

  2. We don’t need any new gun laws. We just need to enforce the current gun laws currently set and stop being so lenient on gun related crimes. Illinois has the harshest gun laws and yet they still have the highest gun related crime rates and murders in all 50 states. People don’t realize gun control only puts harsher restrictions on law abiding citizens because at the end of the day criminals don’t wake up and read on gun laws and abide by them. As to assault weapon, assault weapons were restricted in 1994 and the only firearms available to civilians now with out a huge price tag and a extensive back ground check and a ATF tax stamp is semi-auto firearms. Hitler enacted gun control and nearly 6 million Jews were killed. Joseph Stalin did the same and in the Soviet Union and caused the deaths and suffering of tens of millions. Mao is another and killed millions of his own as well. The 2nd amendment was put in place by our founding fathera for the people to have a fighting chance to ensure our government will not try to illegally use there authority to do what ever they please and that they uphold our constitution. Alot of people say they didnt have these firearms when it was wrote in, this is true but they also didnt have the technology they have today when the 1 amendment either and today’s technology has a huge impact on alot of suicides and bullying but yet we are not trying to change any 1 amendment rights. That’s just my 2 cents.

    • You know Scott… This is what stands out to me the most:

      “People don’t realize gun control only puts harsher restrictions on law abiding citizens because at the end of the day criminals don’t wake up and read on gun laws and abide by them”

      See, that’s the real problem. Like me buying my stun gun and realizing how much paperwork I needed in order to use it. Now, a true criminal will never even think about that paperwork! We have a disconnect.

      Like you, I wonder if more gun laws will mean anything. Seems to me like we need to tighten up what we have and make it harder for people to get the guns and then punish the crap out of people who don’t follow the law. But most importantly, we need to make sure we’re punishing the right people. Now, I do think we need to pass that universal background check law, but then we gotta get serious about enforcement. Otherwise, we got a ton of laws that just block law abiding citizens from protecting themselves while the criminals attack.

      I just don’t know how to fix this. And that is why guns freak me out!

  3. There’s something you’re not clear on in your post.
    Your last comment about the supposed “gun show loophole” is entirely wrong.
    Yes,you can buy a gun at a show,without a license.That’s not the “loophole” that has so many panties bunched.because you can also go into any gun store in the state and buy exactly the same things you got at the show,whether you have a Carry Permit or not.You show your Driver’s Lic,fill out the ATF form,have a phone background check done by the NICS,pay,and walk out the door.(Rifle or shotgun right then,3 day wait to take home a handgun)
    The “loophole” is that at a show,if you had bought from one of those private dealers,there’s no background check.But ALL licensed dealers are required to run the check.In a store,or at a show.
    This is a list of Fl requirements for different purchases:
    Rifles & shotguns
    Permit to purchase rifles & shotguns? No
    Registration of rifles & shotguns? No
    Licensing of owners of rifles & shotguns? No
    Permit to carry rifles & shotguns? No
    Permit to purchase handgun? No
    Registration of handguns? No
    Licensing of owners of handguns? No
    Permit to carry handgun? No

    It’s entirely legal to buy a rifle,shotgun or handgun without a license,to keep in your home.No license require for any of them,store or show.
    I hope that clears that up for you.People are so misinformed about this,and that’s the way the Control people want it.They want you to believe that you can buy a rocket launcher at a guns how with no trouble or repercussions.
    And that’s just plain false.

    • Interesting! Okay, good to know. See, this was my first experience with gun shows, so I had no clue about anything. All that I was able to do was share what I picked up on.

      And so I can buy a stun gun anywhere if they’re selling it? I’ve never seen one anywhere but at that show. I think that’s why the people freak out about the gun shows and the loophole. Because most stores just don’t have a plethora of weapons. You try a pawn shop or a gun show. At least, that’s how I’ve thought of it working. Can’t say I’m knowledgeable about places that sell weapons.

      • And that’s entirely the problem.The members of Congress who blanch at “the loophole’ have exactly zero knowledge of what’s involved.They think that I can go to a show and buy an M1 Abrahms tank without showing any ID.They think that I can buy an MP5 with a library card.
        I’ve had an ATF Cat 34 license for years.Know what I’ve bought?One CZ82.No “machine guns”,no mortars,no tanks,no C4 plastic,no ” assault rifles”.One handgun that the Czech military decided was too feeble to use as an issue weapon.But is that what Kelly from Colorado tries to stuff down your throat?
        He wants you to believe that I,and people like me,are planning the overthrow of the free world.While he’s committed more fed. offenses by using straw man purchases to bolster his arguments while that would be a fed. offense for any of the rest of us.Fair?
        You can buy a stun gun at any gun store in America,except for those states that believe that you have less rights than your attacker.You can get 1 on Amazon, EBay,or a million other sites.But you can’t carry it unless you have a license.

  4. Congratulations on being open minded enough to go the show and see for yourself! In the past year, I hope you have gotten your concealed carry license for your stun gun. I also hope you have received some training on firearms. The NRA Basic Pistol class was tailor made for you. If not, I personally know of two instructors, a married couple, in the Land o Lakes area who teach it.

    BTW–in case you have not learned in the past year: driving is a Privilege. Keeping and bearing arms is a Right, under the 2nd Amendment. The two cannot be compared.

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