Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gibraltar Trade Center Gun Show

Yesterday I cast aside a vow I made years ago and attended "The Gun and Knife Show" at the Gibraltar Trade Center in Taylor, Michigan. In the past, I had been disappointed by my prior visits and had pledged to never return. However, a friend recently asked me for my opinion about guns shows in general and about the show conducted in Taylor. I told my friend that it was a waste of time. Undaunted, my friend pressed me to attend to serve as a guide. I relented - in part - because I reasoned that I could use the freshly experienced activity as a blog post to share my thoughts with others.

Not A Place For A Great Deal
Perhaps the biggest reason why first-time gun buyers want to attend a gun show is to find a good deal. Hopefully, these people will have done their homework by actually checking prices on various firearms before attending. It has been my experience that there are no great deals to be had at the gun show.

The web site to the Gibraltar Gun Show implies that there will be a lot of dealers there selling guns. One might reasonably conclude that if a lot of dealers are present, competition to make a sale will translate into lower prices. In fact, the online promo states, "Up to 500 Tables!" However, in actual practice the amount of tables specified is more like a theoretical maximum. I didn't actually count the tables in use, but it was considerably less than 500.

Furthermore, most handguns that caught my eye were tagged at full suggested retail price. I will concede that if I was seriously in the market for yet another handgun an ensuing negotiation could have resulted in a discount. I was not in the mood for wasting a dealer's time with price haggling when I knew that I was not buying anything. However, if I had gotten a hint that a great deal was to be had, I would have snapped it up in a heart-beart.

Not A Great Place For An Uneducated Shopper
A person who does not have any familiarity with handguns should not make the gun show his first shopping excursion. A person without basic knowledge may make a purchasing decision he will regret later. As an example, the very first dealer booth we passed yesterday had a considerable number of new High-Points and Kel-Tecs 9mm handguns available for sale for under $200.

An uneducated consumer may think he is getting a great deal on a firearm. Those handguns are priced for under $200 for a reason; they are not well regarded for quality. If you are going to place the safety of yourself and your family on a handgun, you should buy a quality handgun, which will probably retail at a price of $500 or higher. If you don't know which brands to consider, either do your homework, take a gun safety class from a reputable firearms instructor, or consult with a knowledgable user.

Other Observations:
A huge pet peeve I have about this show is that they apparently have a policy of asking folks entering the show if they have a firearm on their person. Persons who reply that they are armed are then asked to produce and unload their handguns so that they can be banded with a tie and be rendered unoperable.

I disagree with this policy from both a safety standpoint and from a position of general principle. First, the handling of a loaded handgun should be kept to a minimum. There are too many potential variables that could result in a careless and negligent discharge at a gun show. Obviously, this is something that all gun owners would not want to happen at a gun show.

In addition, I am opposed to disarming at a gun show for philosophical reasons. A law-abiding gun owner with a Concealed Pistol License should not be disarmed at a gun show. If a person can't be trusted with a firearm at a gun show, he can't be trusted anywhere. This policy is decidedly anti-gun. As such, I can't condone the practice of making the show area a Pistol-Free Zone. I just hope that a mental case doesn't show up one day and decides to "make a statement" at this gun show.

Bottom Line:
Attending a gun show can be a major waste of time if you are looking for a good deal on a handgun. Advertised references to a theoretically high number of participating dealers will probably not pan out. Consequently, you will probably be better off going to a local gun shop with a large inventory. Further, you will not burn up gas driving all the way to and back from Taylor, will not pay a $2 fee to park, and will not pay a $5 per person admission fee to the show.
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