I've created this special feature for the print media and
broadcasters ("Page Nine" regardless of where it runs),
Author Alan Korwin
as drawn by Pulitzer-prize-winning cartoonist Steve Benson
The annual Shooting and Hunting Outdoor Trade "SHOT" Show, is the world's biggest firearms expo for consumer gun dealers and suppliers. This special edition of Page Nine takes you through the massive halls for a peek. Only members of the trade are eligible to attend, though a good number of ambitious enthusiasts manage to gain access (to the chagrin of show organizers who would prefer to keep it straight business).
PAGE NINE No. 108
The Uninvited Ombudsman Report, Feb. 29, 2012
by Alan Korwin, Bloomfield Press
-- Tell your friends -- Permission to circulate granted --
The people we elect or hire for public service should be screened for latent or overt gun hatred, and disqualified if such hatred is found, before it can do any more harm to our nation and its values. Gun hatred is as unacceptable as any other hatred of civil rights. If you meet people who say they hate guns, calmly remark that, "It's not good to hate."
1- The 2012 SHOT Show
I look forward to the show each year with both eager anticipation and dread. There are so many miles of aisles that no shoes will be comfortable enough. The sheer volume of it is overwhelming, more guns, knives and gear than a person can absorb, or even see in detail in the five days of the show. Parties at night, entertainment, and of course, it's in Las Vegas which is its own sensory overload. Speaking of sensory overload,
There is always plenty of eye candy for male chauvinist pigs to enjoy, or as we, the real mainstream knows it, beautiful women to admire and appreciate. That appreciation translates to sales, everyone knows it even if some political cults like to denigrate it, and so plenty of eye candy gets used at this show as at any show. This young lady was giving out discounts for the Indian food booth at one of the many eateries scattered around the show. Dos this make you hungry?
As in years past, the evolving militarization of local police was evident at every turn. An entire section of the show is dedicated to police, private security and paramilitary, and the gear is getting way awesome, much of it out of reach of the common citizen. Bullet proofing is getting so elaborate (full body suits, floor to head ballistic panels, much more) that it's important to remember, "You only think you have a gun if the other guy is wearing armor."
This is a slice of the "and more" of the police becoming militarized. Experts observe that this is a result of federal funding programs to local law enforcement. Although technically prevented (by the olden Constitution) from acting directly in a state-police capacity, federal forces offer tantalizing funding to state police, for gear, training, infrastructure. With it come federal guidelines and thus increasing federal control of Officer Friendly. I did mention they don't look quite so friendly anymore, right? Note Officer Friendly's badge:
What's the matter Alan, don't you want our hard-working and courageous police to have the best protection possible? This isn't Don Johnson running around in a t-shirt, sport coat and Galco shoulder rig anymore.
The NRA was broadcasting live throughout the show from right on site, and we did a segment together, one of a very long line of interviews and appearances. You know what NRA News, or Cam and Company looks like when you see it at home on your screen -- here is what it looks like from behind the camera. (Google "NRA SHOT Show video" for a list of clips.) The carpet and back walls reveal how they have tastefully converted an ordinary hotel meeting room into a video set, with portable facilities that allow NRA to have a studio available at any location.
Look closely you'll see three cameras on tripods (in front of the two square umbrella lights). The producer will cut in and out of host, guest and wide shots live. The production table is just visible at the right of the frame, and stretches back a long gear-covered way. You've got to admire what these folks do. This is all about one of the most fundamental rights of humanity. The NRA is there non-stop, while the lamestream media considers this a non-stop. More than 2,000 sports and outdoor journalists attended. (Continued)
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Ummm, where was I?
You obviously spotted Joe Sirochman right away in the back of this picture, gazing out at his wife Brandi, who is gazing out at me. Joe is President of American Spirit Arms, a very significant manufacturer of AR15, M16 and M4 carbines, conveniently located where you would least expect it, Scottsdale, Arizona. People don't realize how much gun industry there is here in Arizona, providing jobs, tax base, good community neighbors. Maybe I ought to write a paper about that. http://www.americanspiritarms.com
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For me at least, the most unusual new item at the show. It is a 300-pound fabricated "tree trunk" hunting blind. You can see one of the shaded gun-port windows on the right, and the top angle of the door is visible on the left. Nice and roomy inside, an absolute playland kind of space, and in fact, they had just sold two as backyard playgrounds. How do you get it out to the field, I asked, naively? Easy, I was told. Just two guys and a pickup. I just remembered, I'm busy that month. http://www.natureblinds.com
Ooops, lunch time again.
I know you knew that because you could see the menu board.
The kind of roof-mounted firepower and optics every citizen,
or at least every police department, should have.
I did mention the increasing militarization of the local police, didn't I?
You can see just enough of his embroidered patch to know he's on your side.
The police segments of the show, held partially in a bewildering stretch of smaller exhibit rooms, was easily the most crowded and loud at the show. The entrepreneurship and individual businesses competing was a sight to behold, from a free-market perspective. The tendency in the industry however, to stretch the margin of power between the public and government forces was of no small concern. Come to think of it, they're basically making their money strictly on tax dollars.
At least these people have a sense of humor.
The Claymore Mine desk accessory, basically a paper weight.
If enough people write and ask me for one I'll add it to our line.
They're about $40 bucks if I recall. Heavy composite material.
A real show stopper.
Here's an item you can't live without.
It's a night-vision attachment for your smart phone.
That's Rose Rhomberg of Veteran Gov Supply, LLC
Speaking of competition, I walked past booth after mind-numbing booth of people making AR15 variants. Some of the more gun savvy among you might have digested it all, I wondered how such a glut of competitors got along. The market must be bigger than I imagine.
Often, people were stopped in their tracks
by the many video screens playing everywhere.
I know I already mentioned the growing militarization of the police.
An idea whose time has come.
Rubberized composite-material dummies for training.
I gotta get me some of these.
And in case you have any idea about getting one of these,
all the stories you've heard are true...
This is obviously a view of the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation, the show sponsor) media room, an island of respite in the churning sea of the show. http://www.nssf.org. The staff works at the larger-than-it-looks booth in the back. On the left are the cubbies where show participants can put their press releases, catalogs, DVDs, giveaways and other paraphernalia. Not shown (behind the camera) are tables, chairs, coffee service, a bank of on-line computers and other facilities for the media -- the outdoor and sports media. The networks and such did not park themselves here that I saw. Go figure.
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