Saturday, January 16, 2010
Touring the 2010 Lakeland Gun Show
I attended the Original Lakeland Gun Show hosted by the Lakeland Rifle and Pistol Club this past Saturday. I hit a gun show maybe once a year. I’d go more, but unfortunately suffer from a moderate to heavy case of social anxiety and bumping into the general public flares it up. On top of that, I rarely have any money to spend and have more guns than I know what to do with now.
Still, I like to go from time to time to keep up-to-date with new products and trends. Like to see what the market is for older guns and ammunition. And, I like being out of the house.
So here we go - your tour of the 2010 Lakeland Gun Show.
The Greatest Gun Show on Earth – I couldn’t make this up if I tried, but on the same weekend the gun show was scheduled, the Lakeland Center also played host to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I want you to picture the faces of the young families trying to wade through the horde of gun-toting white people standing in line at the ticket counter.
Here they thought they were going to be treated to acrobats and elephants, and, from all appearances, they stumbled into an armed Tea Party rally. If any of the animals broke free and ran amok, this situation would be pacified in a jiffy. That’s something the kids would remember.
Watch Your Mouth, Son - As such, I sought to avoid using any combination of the words “health” and “care”. Obama may not be the most popular kid on this block.
I’m a Conservative, but this is a stretch – Reagan to Palin is an organization that, evidently, really, really supports Sarah Palin. They had a booth at the show (don’t believe me? look here!).
I get what some people – heck, I’ll call them what they are, Puppet Masters – are trying to do, but if Palin stands to be a politically viable alternative in the next election, or even an asset to the Republican party, she needs to be allowed to build her own identity and live or die by it. What a lot of anti-Obamas refuse understand is, elections are no longer being won by one end of the spectrum or the other. They are won by moderates. The two main parties are trapped in a misguided notion that a successful election of one of their candidates is a mandate for a conservative or liberal agenda. Case in point, Obama is in deep trouble now because of his health care plan and the fact more than half the country opposes it, or at least wants him to focus on other issues.
Her attraction is of an independent personality – connecting too many dots to the past or to the far right will tank her if she plans on holding the highest office. In a strict, “let’s-get-her-elected” standpoint, I am leery of her getting paint-brushed by organizations that want to portray her as another Reagan or strict conservative. Again, this only matters if she runs for office. If her destiny is as a fundraiser or pundit, this will be fine, I suppose. A lot of “if’s” with this lady already; she should pay heed to who she is yoked to.
(Having said that, she is an invaluable member to the hunting/2nd Amendment ranks and I’m glad she’s here.)
Political Opportunism – On hand at the show were several local politicians courting constituents. It’s smart strategy. Polk County is a Republican stronghold in the state. Gun shows are excellent opportunities to get your message out. Whispers around the booths said U.S. Senate hopeful Marco Rubio would be attending later in the afternoon. He is running against Governor Charlie Crist and has gained serious momentum in this race. If you live in Florida, I strongly urge you to check out Mr. Rubio. He has my support.
And not a Single Cavity Search – At every show there is a line for those who bring firearms to sell or trade to have their guns inspected. A guy makes sure it’s unloaded then fastens an orange tie strap through the action. In all my years of attending shows, I can’t remember a single incident where there was a firearm related security problem. No mass shootings, no accidental discharges, or parking lot robberies. Why can’t they get this right at the airports? Here we have respectable cross-section of gun enthusiasts – some of whom I’m not sure how they made it here in the daylight without bursting into flames – and nothing ever goes wrong. Just shows you that the average gun owner is not a criminal.
I Looked, but couldn’t Find any Loopholes.
I Suppose I Should Talk about Guns Now – Perhaps the neatest new gun of the day was the Remington VTR in .308 Winchester. I’d seen advertisements, but the rifle in person is eight hundred times the awesome. I’m not one to typically fall for marketing gimmicks and whatnot – after all, it’s just another bolt action – but the triangular barrel and cool synthetic stock grabbed my attention. And it was reasonably priced. In a place literally littered with AR-15 variants, this bad boy by far stood out to me as the best in show.
And the Winner for the “I’m Not Sure what the Fuss is about” Award Goes to – The Taurus Judge. I like Taurus – I have a .40 S&W that won’t be going anywhere for a long time – but for the life of me I can’t figure out the popularity of this pistol. If you don’t know, it’s one of those concept guns that shoot both .410 shotshells and .45 Long Colt, neither one real practical for a whole lot. It’s not concealable, heck, there are a plethora of .357’s, .38’s, and .44’s housed in smaller frames. Then there’s the price. Just don’t get it. It’s cool, but there are better alternatives no matter your purpose.
It was a Nice Thought, though – One booth had a Savage Scout Rifle, a concept long gun concocted and pushed by the late, great Col. Jeff Cooper. His rationale was sound – devising a rifle for any hunting or tactical purpose. The main feature is a forward mounted scope that the traditional American public rejected like the metric system.
What Col. Cooper attempted, unfortunately, was fight the tide. These were released back when the super-sexy Ultra-Mags and Short Mags were hitting the market and mundane cartridges like the .308 or .358 just weren’t lighting any fires. Hunters want to believe in unlimited possibilities that made these magnum rounds – and huge objective scopes – so popular, though the average deer slayer probably doesn’t need to shoot more than 100 yards. Practical rarely sells nowadays.
If I can save my pennies, I’ll buy one some day, just to have it.
Speaking of “Just to Have it” – I can’t believe how expensive WWII/Korean War era surplus military rifles have become. When I was young I mowed lawns and sweated out other yard work to purchase an Enfield No. 4 Mk I .303 British, a Mauser 98 in 8mm, a M-1 Carbine, and a Mosin-Nagant in 7.62x54R. I was on a big WWII kick at the time and I don’t think I paid more than $100 for any of them. Now, try to find one under $250 that you wouldn’t be scared of shooting.
At about the same time my dad, terrified like every other gun owner when the Assault Weapon Ban was a threat, procured a Maadi AK-47 and a new-in-the-cosmoline Russian SKS, not one of the cheap Chinese models. The SKS was $80 and the Maadi ran around $300. Today, just go ahead and triple the price of the SKS and double the Maadi.
Never shoot them, rarely pull them out of the safe, but not bad investments.
The show was packed, a great sign for gun owners and like-minded politicos. It’s encouraging to see the 2nd amendment thrive in your community especially with all the garbage and rhetoric on TV and Internet these days.