Milwaukee ‘Carry Guard Expo’ underscores growing CCW interest

A big concealed carry Expo sponsored by the National Rifle Association will be held this weekend in Milwaukee, Wis. (Dave Workman)

Several thousand citizens are expected to visit the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee this weekend for the National Rifle Association’s first “Carry Guard Expo,” an event that – like the U.S. Concealed Carry Association’s Expo held earlier this year – underscores the growing public interest in personal protection.

According to a weekend report in the Washington Times, there are now more than 16.3 million Americans licensed to carry across the 50 states. Last year in Wisconsin, the state issued a total of 109,701 licenses, which were a mix of new and renewals. As of Aug. 19, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the current statewide total is 331,323 active licenses.

The Expo runs 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday. There are plenty of activities on the agenda, including seminars on concealed carry methods and tactics, active threat control, product selection and skills building, personal protection and defense, creating a home defense plan and preventative security measures.

There will be exhibits by various holster and accessory companies, and much more.

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According to the NRA, during this Expo, “lawfully carried firearms will be permitted in the Wisconsin Center in accordance with Wisconsin law. When carrying your firearm, remember to follow all federal, state and local laws.”

The Washington Times story noted that states that maintain monthly counts on concealed carry permits or licenses indicate that overall, the trend toward concealed carry is up three percent over 2016.

John R. Lott, author and researcher who founded the Crime Prevention Research Center, told the newspaper that the surge has continued even during a period of lagging gun sales. Interest in concealed carry is especially keen among women and minorities.

“It’s pretty much the most vulnerable people in our society who benefit the most from having the option to be able to go and protect themselves,” Lott told the newspaper.

While this is the first time the NRA presents its Expo, this was the third year for USCCA event, which was held in Dallas. Next year’s USCCA gathering is slated April 13-15 in Louisville, at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Concealed carry will also be on the agenda at next month’s annual Gun Rights Policy Conference, to be held in Dallas at the Westin Dallas Forth Worth Airport hotel, Sept. 29-Oct. 1. This is the 32nd annual GRPC, presented by the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Representatives from all the leading gun rights organizations are expected to attend, and there are several panel discussions on an array of Second Amendment issues.

People who attend this event typically go home with a valuable collection of free books and reading materials, and there actually is a free awards luncheon on Saturday, Sept. 30. There is still plenty of time to register.

Currently pending in Capitol Hill is the proposed national Concealed Carry Reciprocity legislation, introduced in January. Gun rights activists are eager to see the Republican-controlled Congress take up this bill, which will protect gun owners who travel from state to state from the kinds of problems they have faced for decades in New York, New Jersey, California, Oregon and a few other states.

Heavy opposition is expected from lawmakers in the restrictive states, so this process could be very revealing and gun owning voters may remember this as a litmus test in November 2018.

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