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A Trip to the Gun Show

Real America.

12:55 PM, Apr 26, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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There is one sector of the economy that seems to be thriving in these hard times -- the gun industry. At least, that's the impression I got from a Sunday morning ride down to the Nation's Gun Show in Chantilly, Virginia. 

A Trip to the Gun Show

With T-shirts emblazoned with provocative logos -- "I'm still clinging to my guns" -- it's pretty clear that the industry's success rides on the coattails of the president, who is largely seen as being against guns and for greater government control. But other than those few T-shirts, and stickers claiming, "Guns Save Lives," it was a surprisingly apolitical affair.

A gun show is made up of rows of tables, or booths, lined with guns, knives, swords, ammo, clothes, and other paraphernalia. According to its website, this particular show had over 1,000 tables, which if arrayed end to end would make 1.5 miles of merchandise. If you're in the market for guns at good prices, this show is not to be missed. (Be forewarned: You must disarm before entering the convention center -- no loaded guns allowed.) 

But not just anyone can pick up a gun at a show. Each customer must undergo a background check before the purchase can be finalized. The seller must run the customer's name through an FBI database.

There was, though, one disturbing aspect of this convention: Some distributors, it seems, are peddling Nazi gear -- swastikas, silver crosses, etc. From empirical observations, I concluded that these are decidedly the least popular booths -- considering there were hardly any customers looking to purchase the gear -- and they constitute a minuscule number of the merchants. The popular booths: Those were the ones that carried guns, of course. Shotguns, pistols, rifles, and more. 

The day's buy -- not for me, but for the person I went with -- a pump-action, single barrel shotgun. A perfect acquisition for deer hunting and home protection.

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