The Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA has a lot of shows. Throughout the year this gigantic facility in the D.C. suburbs, is the temporary home to everything from a jewelry sale that brings in serious bucks, to flea market type of events where you can buy what a lot of us would call “junk.” Yet it is The Nation’s Gun Show that brings out the crowds. This expedition travels across the U.S., and thanks in no part to controversial policies that have fired up the “guns right base”, has made it more popular than ever. I have to admit my political leanings, and they fall right in perfect line with the 2nd amendment. There are several firearms in my house, including a number of pistols, hunting rifles, and shotguns. With ownership of firearms, comes responsibility, and everyday I live up to that. So do the folks at these shows, whom are “the friendliest crowds in existence.”
So what is The Nation’s Gun Show? It is exactly what it sounds to be, as its hundreds of licensed firearms dealers, selling everything from famous Austrian pistols, to an almost impossible to find assault rifles. There are tables after tables of dealers, that you’ll immediately notice after walking in to these events. I’ve been to several at different locations, and the one I went to yesterday was part of a “Three Day Extravaganza.” It cost $10 per day for admission, although if you paid to join certain organizations, you could get in for free. The lovely girls from the Hooters restaurant were at the door handing out coupons, and I almost completely forgot what I went to this for.
Here you can handle firearms, unloaded of course, and see what might be right for you to purchase. The best part about this is you are dealing with licensed professionals, and not some knucklehead who thinks he knows everything, but couldn’t even field strip a Glock. You can go compare prices, and if you are going to purchase a firearm, bring a pad and pencil. Get the dealers business cards too, as if you don’t buy one at the event, at least you might find someone you like or has good prices in the future. State requirements vary, but for Virginia, its two forms of ID and of course the state police do your background check. This usually is done in less than an hour, and you can take your new firearm home.
What if you just want to look at firearms? From a historical perspective, you’ll see guns that date back to the civil war. These are truly fascinating, and while they have prices that only the very wealthy can afford, its neat getting a close up glimpse at history. Here the dealers will tell you how a particular firearm from another era operates, and some of them have WWII rifles that are reasonably priced. ($100-$500) These have for the most part been refurbished, but of course, it makes sense to take them to a gunsmith for a safety check before loading them up at the range. Some of them just look brand new, and getting to hold what a American or Russian soldier carried around is fascinating.
These shows are incredibly busy. I had to park my truck about a half mile away, but everyone understands its part of the deal. This is a fine way of meeting others who share similar interests, and becoming involved in the political process of gun ownership. There are a few oddballs, but for the most part, its a diverse group of people united by their love of firearms. The only part that creeps me out, and I do understand it is part of history, is there’s always a few exhibitors that have Nazi flags and other collectibles of this regime’s time in WWII. I’m sorry, but I do not want the Nazi bird displayed in my kitchen, or the medals worn by soldiers of the SS. Nor do I find some of the extremist shirts in vogue, that show “infidel” in Arabic. That just seems a bit “over the top.”
Thankfully, there are only a few of these sales sections, and the majority of the show is all about the firearms and accessories. These include holsters, tactical flashlights, and even pepper spray and stun guns. I was able to buy one of the last ones for $20, as an early birthday gift for my wife. At over 1,800 volts it is certainly an effective way of rendering a potential attacker completely useless. Go to one of these, and see for yourself, because they are a lot of fun. Most of the dealers and folks you’ll see here, are just happy to all of the new technologies, and I’ve made a few buddies here. Its a worthwhile way of spending an afternoon, and since it travels year round, you have no excuse to miss one.