This past weekend I attended a gun show in my area. I did not expect to go, but I happened to be out on the road taking care of errands when I saw that it was taking place. Since I had not been to one in a while in the area, and because these things are always interesting to go to, I decided I would make a quick deviation from my scheduled route and see what was going on.
This gun show I went to was smaller by comparison, yet still had quite a significant attendance. I spent a while making observations, talking to people, and getting a sense of, as I have done before, the state of the “gun culture” in the US, which is something often discussed by politicians and is objectively in danger of disappearing due to changes in the laws.
Now I have been to more than a few gun shows, and most of them have a similar feel- weapons for sale, various military surplus from World War I through the current conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East, various types of other memorabilia or regalia for sale, a few food vendors, and a local organization or two doing a membership drive or advocating for a cause. This was the same as before, so nothing here had fundamentally changed between the past and the present.
What did change, as I notice with each year, seems to be the age of the participants. Each time I go, regardless of the state, the general age of participants seems to increase. Indeed there are many “younger” people, including couples, men with their sons (and sometimes daughters), and maybe a family or two. However, the general trend seems to be an aging population with not enough of a significant amount of young blood coming in to replace those who are dying off. I do not have statistical evidence to support my claims, only my own patterns of observation over many years.
In its current form, the gun show seems to be in decline as well as “gun culture”. This is directly related to the changes in culture, demographics, and political affiliations as well as religion. Those inclined to support “gun culture” overwhelmingly are Euro-American, “right” leaning with an emphasis on personal “freedom” and a disdain of authority, and either a Christian of some kind or irreligious but without a significant open disdain for Christianity. The refusal of the children of European immigrants to America to have children in combination with the demographic changes and the natural, subsequent mixing along side the chosen rejection of Christianity and the open lean of the nation towards socialism, be it of the “left” or “right” wing variety, and a veneration of a maternalistic type of approach to authority is reshaping the face of America at all levels.
All nation’s laws are a reflection of the people who make up a society, for good or for bad. American society is being changed by these forces, and as a part of this there is simply not the same emphasis on firearms ownership anymore save among the governmental authorities or criminal groups who do not care about law or order. The cultural ideas that brought about such independent firearms ownership and the laws to support it are disappearing because the people who instituted them have left their support of them.
This problem is exacerbated by the lack of innovation at gun shows. While there are some “creative” people, most of the commerce at gun shows is a bazaar meant to buy and sell guns with little emphasis on the future of what the gun represents to the US. It is selling weapons at the best price possible that people will pay, grab the money, and run, without little thought to preserving the future of the show itself in many cases.
In this sense, the gun show will still persist for a while, but it is not impossible to suggest that it will continue to decline and may eventually be outlawed not as an act of what “that evil political party did,” but that the support for the shows will simply not be there any more among the majority of people. It is similar to the persecution of the Church at the hands of the LGBT, for it is a fruit of the acceptance of homosexuality by the masses bearing its natural yield.
If the gun show is going to continue to survive, it will need to evolve, most likely from a model of “sell-and-go” to a do-it-yourself show that does not actually trade in weapons, but simply the potential to have weapons in a socially inviting atmosphere.
For example, say I want to buy a gun at a gun show. I go up, I look at the guns, I say “I want this one,” and then I go through the process to purchase it.
It is possible this may not be allowed in the future, especially if firearms ownership is banned. As such, one cannot just buy a gun anymore under said conditions.
However, nobody can say that one cannot buy gun parts, or the parts which make up larger parts, especially if they are individually sold or sold in small “groups”.
What is to say that gun parts also, if not manufactured by an outside source, cannot be manufactured on the spot using existing technologies (such as CNC mills or lathes), or with emerging technologies (such as 3D printing, which continues to improve with each year)?
What is to say that the technology to manufacture such things in an easy way for a man with no knowledge- such as selling plans for a 3D printer or a CNC mill- would not be traded at such a show?
Likewise, consider the bullet, the most important part of a gun. It is a known fact that most “homemade bullets” are just new bullets either pre-purchased or made by an individual which are loaded into an already drawn brass case that has been supplied with a new pre-manufactured primer and power.
What is to say that somebody would not look into case or primer design, especially with the emergence of polymer casings that Popular Mechanics is calling the “future of small arms“, as something that could be manufactured at a show or the potential to easily and effectively manufacture at home sold at the show?
Such changes necessarily involve a change in the approach of what the gun show is and who attends.
Most of the people attending gun shows right now are older men- Boomers -who are spending their remaining dollars or credit lines on toys to use personally or revel in as something connected to their life or past. There is very little “do-it-yourself” mentality that seems to be found among them.
The Millennials, Zoomers (“Gen Z”), and those that follow- what some are calling “Generation Alpha”- who want to be a part of “gun culture” will likely not partake of the gun culture of their parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents did. These generations (save the lattermost) are comparatively poorer than their parents, yet they also have more resources available. What they lack with finances will have to be made up with creativity, which also reflects the possible transformation of the gun show itself.
It is far more likely that the ascending generations will by necessity use innovation and creativity pared down in a way that makes it easy enough for a common man to do as a weekend project in order to build their own weapons and ammunition. The money to be made in the gun show, therefore, will not be in the “sell-and-go” model with weapons, but in selling individual parts or part kits, plans, and accessories that come together to form the complete whole in an environment that is socially engaging as an antidote to a world where the people in it are increasingly isolated from each other by the same technology meant to bring them together.
It is likely that the gun show of the present day will disappear in its current form, and with that much of what is called “gun culture.” However, the gun itself or even the basic principle of the show- a venue to bring gun lovers together -does not have to disappear, but it can survive and be re-made by those with an eye towards creativity, innovation, and doing projects or making puzzles in their basements and workshops. It is the revival of taking personal responsibility for one’s own life and actions by solving problems through making tools, and to that the same philosophy which brought about the original formation of the gun culture as it exists today.