By the afternoon of Day 3 of the 2018 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, one thing above all others is clear.
Media attempts to frame this year’s 40th anniversary event as the gun industry gathering near the scene of the Las Vegas mass shooting have failed. Throughout the Sands Expo Center’s multi-level SHOT Show exhibition — described by Fox News in a headline as “the greatest gun show on Earth” — the mood is upbeat, business seems to be healthy (it is a trade show, after all), and the only thing worn out are the feet of the tens of thousands of industry attendees. So far, there is no sign that they have worn out their welcome.
Perhaps one reason for the negative press going into this year’s event was the fact that the mainstream media isn’t often admitted. About 2,500 professional journalists are here, but they are outdoor writers, contract or freelance gun writers, editors and staff of firearms publications, videographers and bloggers.
As for attempts to tie this event to the tragedy of last Oct. 1, perhaps writer Frank Miniter put it best in an opinion piece published by Fox News.
“Looking around Vegas, it’s obvious the blame hasn’t settled on these people who design, make and sell firearms and ammunition,” Miniter wrote.
“If you think this is the cold indifference of gun owners on display – or perhaps evidence of a public too burned out to care any longer about the issues related to guns – then you’ve swallowed a little too much of the narrative you get from CNN, network news shows and the big newspapers,” he added.
“What’s actually happening,” he observed, “is that the American people have largely come to the conclusion that freedom shouldn’t be a casualty of some madman’s wrath. They blame individuals for their decisions and want them punished accordingly. That’s how our constitutional republic was designed to function.”
Perhaps not so remarkably, a lot of people strolling the aisles of this gargantuan exhibition know quite a bit about how the country is supposed to work. They understand the Bill of Rights has ten amendments, not nine amendments and a regulated privilege.
The big name firearms exhibits are all busy. For example, Sig Sauer’s display, which shows off a swarm of handguns and modern sporting rifles, has been jammed almost elbow-to-elbow since the doors opened Tuesday.
Across the aisle, Mossberg and Smith & Wesson are both enjoying plenty of attention.
Perhaps this exhibition, which wraps up Friday afternoon, underscores the widening chasm between the dominant media and the real “mainstream Americans” who own firearms for hunting, personal protection, recreation and no small amount of tradition.
Polls taken in the urban centers, where liberal politics dominate and news agencies congregate, may not be as reflective of the culture as some would care to believe.
People like guns. They like to shoot them. They may not like admitting to their friends that they own them, until one gets outside the urban conclaves.
Contrary to what some might believe, this week’s SHOT Show demonstrates that the firearms industry remains healthy, despite a slowdown, and that it is far too early to be shoveling dirt on the Second Amendment.