(When the ADL, SPLC, and various law enforcement agencies influenced by their publications targeting law enforcement, released reports earlier this year warning of increases in Militia Activity and "Right Wing Extremism", and linking "potential terrorism" to gun shows, many mainstream media outlets picked up these reports and echoed their assertions unchallenged. As a result of the many voices challenging what they claim is an unfair implication of extremism, diverse groups ranging from Libertarians, to Conservatives, to minority Christian, Pagan, and other religious organizations who feel they have been wrongly labeled and even discriminated against by those claiming to represent a voice of equality, the LA Libertarian Examiner decided to go on a fact finding mission, seeking to find out the truth about various subcultures and movements being lumped together under the names "anti-obama extremists", "hatriots" and other catchy yet inaccurate descriptions. This is the first major article in a series which will attempt to discern the validity of various claims being made as a part of what might best be termed the Redneck Scare.)
The sun shines brightly in Costa Mesa, even in early spring. The Orange County Fairgrounds are a hub of entertainment, with craft fairs, cultural events, and trade shows. Yet one of the major events hosted there is the subject of what many of it's attendees feel is unwarranted controversy. The crossroads of the west gunshow is a event which draws attendees from all over SoCal, both vendor and Consumer alike. Many of it's attendees are small children, families of military servicemen and of vendors, as well as other civilian attendees, and it's not an uncommon sight to see a young boy beaming with pride as he carries a firearm, or box containing one, (with a parent nearby on every occasion witnessed personally by this Examiner.) Women with attractive figures and provocative outfits model with assault rifles and promote a drawing, while the usual food court vendors continue happily with their business.
A Heavy and steady law enforcement presence and rules mandating the use of zip-ties to block the mechanisms on any firearms, among various other safety rules, ensure that the experience is both positive and safe for all participants. The usual waiting period is required even for private transfer on firearms not considered antique, under California state law, and names are taken when purchasing a military antique. Vendors have the option, which they frequently exercise, of checking ID before any sales of ammunition, to ensure the legal age and residence of their customers.
Gun shows are quite simply nothing like the monstrosities painted by the SPLC, ADL and other radical left-wing agencies claiming to protect civil rights. There is no "gun-show loophole" despite claims made by those opposing the right to keep and bear arms, when making a private transfer of a firearm, all regular Gun Dealers still file a background check, even on "cash and carry guns" (firearms in private collections, which are of a variety legal to transfer without a waiting period due to their age) and private citizens transferring them normally take the name of their purchasers, in order to protect themselves from liability.
Still, there is some truth to the stereotype of right wing politics. Outside the Gun Show in Costa Mesa, activists distributed leaflets and bumper stickers promoting a candidate whom they felt was an advocate of strict adherence to the United States Constitution, and books are sold on political issues by some vendors. After all, gun owners are a group frequently made the subject of heavy political debate, and they have reacted by becoming involved in politics to protect their own interests. One customer said that "America is a nation built on guns, it would be impossible for them to outlaw firearms much further." whereas a vendor debated the kind of rifle he would use to engage anyone attempting to harm him, and stated that there are millions of Americans who grew up hunting and would take up arms to protect their freedom. Yet all in all, the only radical talk to be found was that of a radical love for Human Rights, individual liberty, civil liberties protecting those, and for the United States. Military collectibles are sold from all major wars in which America has participated, but beyond collectibles related to WWII, there was not a trace of Nazism to be found.
The fact of the matter is, gun rights politics is a very single issue, and very libertarian oriented field. Los Angeles and surrounding Counties have laws on top of those of the State of California, which make it one of the most difficult places to obtain a firearm, and there is no connection between the many law abiding gunowners attending shows, and the various crimes committed with firearms by gang members and other groups who are inherently criminal, and don't obey registration laws, stealing and committing fraud to bypass them and background checks.
And, gun shows, far from being the extremist haven portrayed by their opponents, are a safe, enjoyable, family-friendly atmosphere, with an ambience of friendliness, socialization, and entertainment so natural, that one can almost forget that it's a trade show and the focus is business.