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.