Up and armed: A day at the gun show

By Wick Hunt

I anticipate that a trip to the Fishersville Gun and Knife show on January 27 at the Augusta Expo will be a visual, and therefore photographic, cornucopia so I arrive armed with my Nikon. I'm shocked to find a sign taped to the door forbidding unauthorized photography (along with signs forbidding loaded weapons, and felons carrying the same). 

C&E Gun Shows Inc. are sponsors of this show, as well as 72 other gun shows this year. Later I look at their website, which clearly states, “All political material must be pre-approved by show manager. No photography or video allowed without written permission of promoter. No media interviews allowed. No loaded firearms– no exceptions!”  Similar warnings are posted on signs on the front doors.

At the door, a gentleman is inspecting the many firearms being carried in to make sure they are unloaded. Once inspected, the owners– nearly all of them white and male– shoulder their weapons and stride into the crowded arena, which is located in an industrial area midway between Staunton and Waynesboro. It's a little unclear to this novice what they're going to do with them.

Today I'm with a friend who's shopping for a shotgun, and whose son has joked that this trip earns him another punch on his redneck carrying card: own an ATV and a pickup truck with a dog cage and gun rack, and attend a Nascar race and a gun show. Check, check, check, and check. 

Vendor’s tables pack the Augusta Expo’s floor in neat grids. They display their hardware at spaces rented for $60 a day. There's something for nearly every shooting interest. There are huge displays of pistols: revolvers (antique and modern), semi-automatics, single shot dueling sets, eponymous derringers, ornate and plain, flint and cap, air and black powder. Racks and racks of rifles: single shot, bolt action, lever action (including a replica of the customized Winchester rifle popularized by Chuck Conners in the 1958 TV show The Rifleman), pump and over-and-under shotguns, elephant guns, blunderbusses,  semi-automatic shot guns and rifles (including the now infamous Bushmaster semi-automatic).

Some dealers wander up and down the aisles shouldering rifles with flags poking out of the barrels printed with the description of the gun and its price. Accessories are also sold. Large capacity magazines and extra ammo seem popular.  At times the ceiling looks like a light show as people try out the different colored laser sights. Body armor is available, accessorized with pockets for extra ammo, or snacks.

Speaking of snacks, there is food. Nuts and candy can be purchased, as can Girl Scout cookies from a woman and two young girls– some of the few children present. Doomsday preppers can get outfitted with years of freeze-dried supplies, complete with survivalist recipe books. A sign on the table of the Expo’s Budweiser Burger Bar forbids gun sales at the dinner tables.

For the ladies there is theme jewelry, and lush animal pelts that have been fashioned into clutches and purses. Move over, Coach!  As for the dress code, camo is king.


Second Amendment politically themed clothing is sold alongside cute cat posters. One metal plaque, designed to be placed on your front door, catches my eye: “Warning: This door is locked for your protection, not mine. Homeowner armed.”

The show is over at 4pm Sunday. I purchase a display case for my arrowheads and drive the not- quite-one-hour trip home to Charlottesville.  Imagine my surprise when the local news reports a young man has marched into Kroger with a loaded AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. He's been questioned and released, since what he did was legal in Virginia.  

What created quite a stir at Kroger did not turn a head at the show. But then again, at the gun show, you were required to prove your gun was empty before entering. Kroger shoppers did not enjoy this same protection.



Please clarify in your sidebar that concealed weapons are not "illegal" if you have a permit--and it is very easy to get a CCW permit in Virginia, which is a "shall-issue" state. This means that if you complete the (shockingly simple) requirements, law enforcement must issue the permit unless you fall into a prohibited category (felons, etc.).

Always remember this everyone, the street thugs are packing heat!!!!!! RIP Charles Bronson

nice article , sounds like a good show.

Re: the sidebar, thanks for the info on Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Richmond. Now I feel so much safer going into those inner cities knowing their gun control measures.

Re: the Kroger mention (placed oh-so passively/aggressively at the end of the essay), this incident is going to be the go-to occurrence for people who grandstand about gun control. I hope that the person whose car breaks down at midnight on a Saturday near Friendship Court can enjoy the same protection that was allowed the person who walked into Kroger, since police would be just moments away in that war zone.

Re: the redneck joke and NASCAR reference, the Philly market is one of the top markets for NASCAR. Not sure about the colors of necks there. While the live audience for NASCAR races is still the stereotypical rural market, TV audiences have grown to include decidedly more upscale demographics. A bigger issue is the author's ease of a disparaging joke; I doubt that, if he decides to write an article about gun violence in inner cities (of which Dr.Wick should know something), the writer would be so quick to joke about the NBA and some other color of neck besides red.

I have seen many of Wick's writings and quotes: Meadowbrook Parkway, chickens in downtown Cville, etc. Please offer up something on the failed mental health and drug policies in our country. Or write something about the CARS/Albie quandary; you're certainly close to that issue. A bunch of gun collectors at a rural gun show makes for great condescending prose, but does not address the causes of the disease.

R.I.P.: James Huberty

I don't understand the purpose of this article. Informative? Not really. Funny? nope. Interesting? No. Educational? Not hardly.

The Hook has some of the worst written articles... Who edits this crap? "Visual (photographic) cornucopia"? What???

"Today I'm with a friend who's shopping for a shotgun, and whose son has joked that this trip earns him another punch on his redneck carrying card: own an ATV and a pickup truck with a dog cage and gun rack, and attend a Nascar race and a gun show. Check, check, check, and check."

Quick analysis only of this paragraph (if you can call it that): ATV, pickup truck, dog cage, gun rack, Nascar race, gun show. Those are six items. But you follow this up with four checks.

"Speaking of snacks, there is food." - This isn't even a complete sentence.

"For the ladies there is theme jewelry, and lush animal pelts that have been fashioned into clutches and purses."


"For the ladies there ARE themed jewelry and lush animal pelts that have been fashioned into clutches and purses."

When Hawes left did he take the editors with him? These are writing mistakes that a sixth grader could find.

And WHY are loaded guns not allowed?

You work for a newspaper and you're writing an article. You didn't think to call ahead and get authorization to get a press pass so that you could legally take photographs inside the gun show?

Loaded guns at a gun show are a bad idea because they tend to go off "accidentally". As witness January 19th of this year when five people were shot at three different gun shows around the country:


Ahhh, the fawning liberal deigns to be one with the masses.

Now if I could just figure out if the writer is female or male. A writer, and I use that term very loosely, when surrounded by guns and guys in cammo generally provides a sense of gender. But the angst at not having Coach luggage would indicate Wick is a lady. Use of the word cornucopia, and the excitement of a light show reinforce this while finally the "not-quite-an-hour" seems to fill the bill as a guy would just say 45 minutes or the like.

Really, taking a camera to a gun show. Isnt that like taking a gun to a camera show?

If guns are not allowed at gun shows because they accidentally fire then why are they allowed to be taken anywhere. The folks at gun shows are the most gun savvy of all gun owners, correct?

@Ice Dogg...Guns are not prohibited because they accidentally fire. Just like anything--cars, knives, explosives, Hoverounds--careless handling can result in an accident or fatality. When literally hundreds of people with firearms converge in one enclosed space, show management does not want the liability that one of those hundreds might sloppily handle a loaded gun. It's a liability issue.

If guns "tend to go off accidentally," then dozens of people would be accidentally shot daily in this nation, based on the number of firearms.

For all the other folks, the writer is not a press person; he is a physician who writes opinion essays on the side. Don't expect Capote-esque or Vonnegut-like prose here.

Finally, is it me, or is The Hook wearing its leftism on its sleeve more since the beginning of the year?

R.I.P.: Warren Zevon

And the point of this article is......?????

I read this article this morning and thought about posting. Now that I'm home from work and the article is still up I will post.
1. Talk about a fluff piece - there's no information contained in it. It also sound as if it's written by someone who doesn't like guns but is trying (not very well) to be neutral on the subject.
2. I don't consider myself to be an expert on gun shows, but in my experiences, the guys walking down the isles toting a gun with a "For Sale" sign on it are private sellers and not licensed gun dealers. The private individuals head to gun shows because it is a market for gun buying . These are some of the private individuals who make up the "Gun Show Loophole".
3. The comments about rednecks and the veiled attempt at calling gun owners are an attempt at putting down gun owners. I am not a redneck by any means, I don't drink beer, belch, chew tobacco, have an ATV. I dislike NASCAR, nor do I have a pickup or a dog cage.
4. I do however enjoy many of the shooting sports such as skeet and Cowboy Action Shhoting.
5. After reading your dumb article can I my 5 minutes back?

K: Yep I agree. There's 5 minutes of my life I'll never get back. Lots of stories like this on the hook that just are not worth my time. Better things to do like cut my toenails or clean up dog poop in the yard. Here's an idea: get some real stories and writers that can write about those real stories.

Ice Dog... ummmm LOADED guns are not allowed. they are being responsible. And showing they are most savvy.... unlike you.

watch out for that loaded gun . it just might go off all on its own and spray bullets all over town killing who knows .?

Interesting that they commented on the racial and gender make up of the crowd, even if it was not accurate.

White males... the cause of all of society's woes.... sigh

The article is neither funny, informative or newsworthy. The author better not quit his day job and try to survive financially by relying on this crap.

Well, I've never been to a gun show, and I've always wondered about it, so I thought this article was pretty interesting.

But what's more interesting is the reaction. Wooo-ee! People are a little sensitive these days, particularly about their guns.

OK. He's a doctor. That explains why he can't write or plan ahead.

Thanks for clearing that up!

I enjoyed the article. It's refreshing to find ANYTHING in Print that communicates to the general public Real issues. I don't subscribe to "tv" so I have no clue who the trash mags are talking about when broadcasting stories about whose sleeping with whom...BUT THIS - after enduring a War Zone called FloriDUH for the past several years (because they are just a couple years ahead of Virginia's Police State Full Implementation) - I can assure you, if you don't Bear Arms, or Own a firearm - You best ramp up and educate yourself...The sky isn't falling in Charlottesville, because this is considered a "safe zone"...Those living here for over a decade or who do not travel regularly - have NO CLUE what is coming.

The sidebar listing the cities and counties where open carry is prohibited in Virginia is completely wrong. http://vaguninfo.com/pages/opencarry.htm