Gun World - - Contents -

Are guns al­lowed? That is usu­ally the first ques­tion asked when at­tend­ing a large gath­er­ing of gun en­thu­si­asts in a pub­lic set­ting. You would think that the ques­tion is a “no-brainer,” but, in many cases, you would be wrong.

There are a cou­ple of large gun in­dus­try events I like to at­tend. The poli­cies of two of the big­gest re­flect a stark dif­fer­ence re­gard­ing whether or not at­ten­dees are al­lowed to carry a gun at the event for self-de­fense. There are many fac­tors that come into play, not the least of which is the level of re­spon­si­bil­ity the event host is

will­ing to ac­cept. Other fac­tors, such as what the owner of the venue al­lows, what the lo­cal laws al­low and what type of per­mit the gun owner has, all play a role.


Dur­ing the 2018 Las Ve­gas SHOT Show, hosted by the Na­tional Shoot­ing Sports Foun­da­tion (NSSF), no loaded firearms owned by pri­vate cit­i­zens were al­lowed in­side the con­ven­tion cen­ter. Much of this pol­icy has to do with the venue man­age­ment rather than the NSSF: The Sands Expo Con­ven­tion Cen­ter (SECC) pol­icy is that nei­ther per­sonal firearms nor am­mu­ni­tion is al­lowed:

“Only firearms on dis­play by ex­hibitors, and with fir­ing pins re­moved (and have been in­spected by SHOT Show Safety Ad­vi­sors), shall be per­mit­ted on the show floor.”

This means that re­gard­less of whether or not you had a concealedcarry per­mit, and you also had rec­i­proc­ity with Nevada, you could not carry in­side the con­ven­tion en­ter.


In con­trast, the NRA an­nual meet­ings (NRAAM), en­cour­age mem­bers to ex­er­cise their rights un­der the Sec­ond Amend­ment. Even dur­ing the 2017 NRAAM, held in At­lanta, the NRA posted the fol­low­ing:

“Dur­ing the 2017 NRA An­nual Meet­ings & Ex­hibits, law­fully car­ried firearms will be per­mit­ted in the Ge­or­gia World Congress Cen­ter and the Omni At­lanta Ho­tel at CNN Cen­ter in ac­cor­dance with Ge­or­gia law. How­ever, firearms are not al­lowed in the re­main­der of the CNN Cen­ter, in­clud­ing the food court and shops. When car­ry­ing your firearm, re­mem­ber to fol­low all fed­eral, state and lo­cal laws.”

So, as you can see, here are very dif­fer­ent takes by two of the in­dus­try gi­ants con­cern­ing firearms-carry at their event venues. Even in the NRA’s case, you must still be legally able to carry a firearm at its event. In the case of the NRA con­ven­tion, if your state doesn’t have rec­i­proc­ity with the state in which the event is held, you are for­bid­den from car­ry­ing your firearm. For the SHOT Show, I imag­ine it has to do with state laws about car­ry­ing

firearms in casi­nos, as op­posed to think­ing there will be a big shootout at the show.


Of course, there are some ex­cep­tions. Dur­ing the run up to the 2016 elec­tions, then-can­di­date Trump spoke at the NRAAM in Louisville. Guns were not al­lowed to be car­ried in the area where he was speak­ing. I have no com­plaint about that and don’t feel that a Se­cret Ser­vice agent’s job needs to be harder than it al­ready is.


While I am sure there is plenty of se­cu­rity in and around these events, it is not overt—and al­most un­no­tice­able. I’ve seen

more-overt se­cu­rity at my lo­cal gun show, where it mim­ics the TSA rou­tine when board­ing a flight: full-up metal de­tec­tor, all be­long­ings re­moved from pock­ets, and bags get the once-over. There is none of that at SHOT or NRAAM.

With these two ex­am­ples in mind, what can you do in case you aren’t al­lowed to carry a firearm for self-de­fense?

My num­ber-one sug­ges­tion is that when trav­el­ing to and from the con­ven­tion build­ing, avoid ar­eas that are ques­tion­able in na­ture. There is plenty to do in Las Ve­gas with­out ven­tur­ing into the seed­ier ar­eas. In Nevada, car­ry­ing in bars is OK—as long as you fol­low lo­cal laws. This year, for the NRAAM, Texas does not al­low that.


I al­ways tell stu­dents and oth­ers that the most im­por­tant thing about car­ry­ing a firearm is to know the law. The eas­i­est way to get your­self in trou­ble is to vi­o­late one of the lo­cal statutes by as­sum­ing that all state laws are the same.


Now, you might be ask­ing your­self, Should I go dis­armed? My an­swer is, Not com­pletely. There is a mul­ti­tude of things be­sides a firearm you can carry for self-de­fense.

The first would be a good fold­ing knife—one strong enough that it won’t break off in the event you strike bone or some­thing else hard. I have also be­gun car­ry­ing a tac­ti­cal pen. Manufacturers now even make them so they don’t have the “ex­treme” tac­ti­cal look to them.

Be care­ful if you are us­ing a Taser or pep­per spray; both must still be used in ac­cor­dance with lo­cal laws. And what­ever you do, do not have your pep­per spray in your carry-on. It can re­sult in a hefty fine. In ad­di­tion, not all “gun-free zone” signs are no­tice­able. Just be­cause you didn’t see it doesn’t mean you’re ex­cused.


There are plenty of is­sues to think about when trav­el­ing with weapons of any type to venues such at SHOT, NRAAM or other large, con­ven­tion-style shows. If you are fly­ing, make sure to check with your air­line for rules re­gard­ing any weapons you’re plan­ning to travel with. The same goes for buses and trains. In ad­di­tion, be sure to plan ahead and look on the event web­site for guid­ance.

What­ever you de­cide, be re­spon­si­ble. A sin­gle form of de­fense should never be your only plan. The best bet is avoid­ance. But when that fails, you’d bet­ter have a backup plan! GW

One con­cern when car­ry­ing con­cealed in a crowd such as this is the con­stant bump­ing into other peo­ple. It’s best to carry as tightly to the body as pos­si­ble, such as in­side-the­waist­band carry.

Ev­ery year, tens of thou­sands of gun in­dus­try types con­verge upon Las Ve­gas for the SHOT Show. De­spite the “any­thing goes” at­mos­phere of Ve­gas, one thing that doesn’t “go” is firearms car­ried in­side on the con­ven­tion floor.

Al­ter­na­tives to firearms and knives in­clude items such as these (start­ing at the top left): Böker Plus Ur­ban Sur­vival L.E., tac­ti­cal pens (Bear Edge, Fenix and Böker Plus) and flash­lights with a strik­ing bezel, such the Sure­fire E2D Ex­ec­u­tive De­fender....

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