Last week the Virginia House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted to retain a loophole allowing unlicensed firearms sales at gun shows without instant background checks of purchasers. This week a similar bill is before the Virginia Senate.
Monday may have been a holiday devoted to gunshot victim Martin Luther King, Jr., but it was business as usual for Virginia legislators, with demonstrations by the friends, families and classmates of the 32 Virginia Tech students and faculty members shot to death last year and a crowd of pistol-packing gun show exhibitors.
There is a notion that these gun shows are just a coupla Good Ol’ Boys tradin’ the odd squirrel gun and admiring Grandad’s old Remington. Nice image for a multi-million dollar industry, but this is not just an afternoon in the corner of the Feed-and-Seed:
There are dozens of these annual multi-day shows in the Old Dominion, organized by national companies. Look over a few websites like the Nation’s Gun Show, C & E Gun Shows, Showmasters, or the National Association of Arms Shows; some try to explain why it’s okay for unlicensed dealers to sell to possible felons, lunatics and wife-beaters.
If you are curious about gun show culture but don’t hanker for the smell of Hoppe’s Gun Oil, the best guide is probably Joan Burbick, author of Gun Show Nation, who also has an article and interview on line. If you live in DC, dollars to donuts you’re a lawyer, so send a paralegal down to the library for Burbick’s “Cultural Anatomy of a Gun Show,” in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, vol. 17, no. 3 (2006).
For other views on gun shows and the law, see Gun Shows: Arms Bazaars for Terrorists and Criminals by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Top image by Mike Licht. Please note that loaded firearms or magzines are not permitted at Gun Shows. What you do in the parking lot is your own business.