The loneliness of the one-man protest at SHOT Show

Lone gun control protester Lee Goodman flew from Chicago to picket the SHOT Show. (Dave Workman)

Wearing a cap to which a button that read “must be infringed” was pinned, gun control advocate Lee Goodman, a Chicago resident who said he flew to Las Vegas solely for the purpose of protesting the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, presented a lonely visage on a sunny morning outside the Sands Expo Center.

Goodman explained his mission in a calm voice, but with boilerplate words.

“The gun industry,” he contended in remarks to Conservative Firing Line, “has been opposing every effort that’s been made to address gun violence.”

Upstairs in the SHOT Show Press Room, which has been crowded by a rotating mass of professional outdoor media folks, the sentiment was a mixture of rolled eyes and shaking heads. Goodman, who traveled to Las Vegas “for this purpose,” was wasting his time. Inside the Expo Center, thousands of firearms industry retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and media haven’t forgotten what happened at the other end of town last Oct. 1. But Stephen Paddock, the madman who opened fire on a concert crowd, killing 58 and wounding hundreds, hardly represents the millions of gun owners whose rights Goodman and others like him want to “infringe.” They didn’t help him, didn’t pull the triggers of any of the guns he had in his suite, and certainly don’t condone the carnage he wrought.

Lee Goodman

Goodman said he would walk from the SHOT Show site to the Mandalay Bay hotel. It was clear in his eyes that he expected it to be a lonely trek.

It doesn’t matter that investigators still haven’t established any motive for the attack. Paddock certainly doesn’t fit the typical profile of a mass killer.

The irony of Goodman’s protest is overwhelming. He hails from one of the most violent cities in the country, where the body count last year was down from the more than 700 slain in 2016. But murders occur almost on a daily basis in the Windy City, and weekends can be a bloodfest. Yet Goodman traveled nearly 2,000 miles to complain about violence in a comparatively safe city, and a much safer atmosphere, outside a building loaded with firearms.

This week’s SHOT Show got off to something of a sluggish start Tuesday, but the crowd appears to have grown for Wednesday’s session. There is much interest in lots of new guns and gear; exhibits by Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Kimber and other top tier gun makers have all been jammed. Likewise, the large displays showing off new hardware from Remington, Browning, Winchester, Benelli and Beretta have been busy.

Tuesday’s announcement that the iconic Weatherby company is moving out of California and setting up shop — lock, stock and barrel — in Sheridan, Wyoming has been given a unanimous nod of approval. California, after all, is becoming known for its intention to tax business profits, and it is outright hostile to any company that is involved in the firearms industry. That move s expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2019, according to Ed Weatherby.

Goodman’s one-man protest may make the evening news, as there were at least two film crews filming his effort. But it will not make even a ripple among the businessmen and women strolling the “miles of aisles” of this year’s SHOT Show, the 40th annual event. The show continues through Friday.