Monday, May 5, 2008

The Weekend - The Get Together - The Gun Show

Saturday May 3rd has come and gone. As I had promised myself, my son, my friends Charlie and Pete and Charlie's brother-in-law Rob, I drove up to the gun show in Middletown to meet all of them except Brendan there. Brendan was supposed to come with me but could not get out of Lacrosse practice since he came with me and Linda last weekend when we visited my mom. The coach is pretty strict and I figure if Brendan is willing to go with the discipline - good for him.

So there I was driving my wife to the auto mechanic on Saturday morning at 0800 to pick up the Ford, so she could take that to work. Yep the old piece of shit Ford needed $411.00 of work pretty much precluding me buying any guns at the gun show unless I sold something first. When we got there, Linda hopped into the Taurus, and I went inside to pay. Then I was off in the Toyota (saving gas instead of using the Ford for the 85 mile, each way, trip). The Corolla made it without a hitch and before I knew it I was getting off exit 120 in Middletown (Route 211). Good thing that that was my exit, because right there near the bottom of the ramp was a Lowes. I made a quick stop, picked up a can of stain for my front door, and decided to kill two birds with one stone and also bought a couple of wood dowels, a length of yellow nylon 1/4" rope, and a Sharpie marker. Then I drove the couple of miles to the Orange County Fairgrounds and the gun show. Once parked - very close to the entrance despite the crowded parking lot - I popped the trunk and went to work.

What I was doing bent over my trunk was getting to work with marker, paper and dowels. It went something like this: Marlin Model 56 Levermatic, .22LR $150 plus NICS fee, J.C. Higgins Model 43 .22LR $100 plus NICS fee (I was told the fee could run anywhere from $10 to $45 - what a rip off). I cut three pieces of rope, tied the one piece onto each of those two rifles, keeping a piece in reserve in case I later got out the Mosin Nagant M44. I stuck the dowels down the barrels of the two 22s, and made flags at the end of the dowels protruding from the barrels with the little for sale signs I had just made up. Now I knew for a fact that I could sell these legally inside the show; but being respectful of the show promoters and the police I did something first before walking right inside with them slung over my shoulders.

First thing, I secured the trunk. Then I went to the front to look for my buddies; not there, so I paid the $8 entry fee (would have been $9 but I had a dollar off coupon - funny how the price has gone up each time I go to a gun show, but that dollar off coupon always stays only a dollar off), and I went inside. As I went in, I asked the guy taking tickets at the entrance if it was legal to sell guns in a private transaction at the show - he answered yes. Then I saw a couple of state troopers talking to a suit. I also asked them. I already knew the answer but wanted to make sure to keep it on the up and up. They said it was legal and confirmed I would have to get a dealer to do a NICS check on anyone who was not a dealer to whom I sold a firearm (I think that is technically wrong, holders of a 01 FFL or of a pistol permit don't need the check as far as I am aware). Then I took a quick walk around to look for my buddies. I did not see them, but saw a guy walking out of the show with several .50 caliber ammo cans in great condition. So instead of heading right back to the car, I asked him where he had bought them. He told me and I grabbed 4 right way since they sell out fast.

I brought them out to my car to put em in the trunk. Funny thing was those two state troopers followed me. I saw them behind me and did not realize they were actually following me at first, they made it look nonchalant. Yet after I got to my car, and had been bent over my trunk a minute or two arranging the ammo cans and other stuff in there, I came up for air and there they were about 25 feet away, both craning their necks to watch what I was doing. They both snapped their necks so fast into the other direction when I looked up I was surprised their heads did not come off. I guess those two officers should have figured I was going to sell my rifles inside, instead of illegally in the parking lot, since I had the respect to ask them if it was okay before just walking into the place with them slung over my shoulders, but there they were. Oh well, doing their jobs I suppose. I closed the trunk and left the rifles inside of it. I wonder if they were disappointed.

Then back into the show, this time to look around with a keen eye for my pals. This time I only showed my stamped hand for reentry. Once inside I kept an eye out for the guys, and suddenly there was Charlie. I called him over to me, and he let me know Rob could not make it. We both wondered where Pete was since neither of us had seen him, and I told Charlie about Brendan not being able to make it because of his lacrosse practice. We talked for a few minutes, and I decided to go back tot eh car to grab my rifles for sale. This time no police escort. I made sure the makeshift slings were secure, slung the two 22s one over each shoulder, and went back inside to meet up with Charlie. We made the rounds of all the tables. Not bad as gun shows go nowadays in this neck of the woods. I saw lots of guns for sale and that was somewhat of a surprise. Now you might think, hey wait a minute - why wouldn't you see lots of guns at a gun show? Well in recent years with all the restrictive laws put in place for gun shows, there had been a decline in sales. What wound up happening is that you would go to a gun show and see more tables of knives, beef jerky, gadgets, and books for sale than you would see of guns and ammo. My guess though was that this sale had about at least 75% of the tables showing guns for sale, maybe even 85%. That was a good thing, though I will admit the prices were sky high. No great deals at this show, well except for those two on my shoulders.

Charlie and I kept up our search for Pete as we walked around (he never showed up much to our dismay), and we kept an eye out for things we wanted or needed. Besides the ammo cans, I picked up a cleaning kit for an M1 Garand (for a buddy at work), a camo back pack (for a grab and go emergency kit), and was on the lookout for a couple of bricks of .22LR ammo. Sadly there were only two vendors selling any good amount of ammo, one was selling collectible stuff, the other shootable stuff. The one with the shooting ammo did not have even one box of .22LR ammo. Go figure - the most popular cartridge ever, and this moron gentleman was not selling any of it! As we walked around, I had a few people stop me to ask about my rifles, but only one seemed really interested. He went off to look for a dealer for a NICS check or so he said, and he said he would look for me again if he could find one. Sure enough he stopped me again later, but had a newly purchased rifle in hand; but this time he had a buddy in tow. His friend looked at the marlin, but decided against it. Charlies was off still walking around and I was looking at my Marlins big brother in .22 magnum on a table when suddenly the dealer at that table asked: "How much do you want for the Marlin?". Heck he had seen the sign, I would have thought so, but I just said $150, and he immediately and much to my delight said "sold". I completed the transaction and now had $150 for a rifle for which I paid, well let's just say, for which I paid less. Sure I could have probably asked $200, maybe even $250, but I was happy to get a fairly quick sale and be rid of it and its two after market magazines.

After the sale, I looked around for Charlie and spotted him near the front door. He was talking about picking up a pre-ban AR15 (yes NY State still has the ban). He had been holding my other rifle for me since my shoulder had been hurting, and I took it from him and brought it back to the dealer who had just bought the Marlin. He showed no interest at all in the J.C. Higgins. After having asked, it no it did not hurt to ask, I looked around for Charlie. He was one row of tables over from me, eagerly looking at a pre-ban AR15, for which the dealer wanted $1400; but for which Charlie would only go a grand. The dealer would not budge on price, not even a few bucks. Soon after that we decided to call it a day, having spent a few hours at the show. We exited, and took stock outside of what we had purchased. Then Charlie remembered something he wanted but failed to buy, so back inside for him as I waited outside. He picked up some ammo cans himself; and he also grabbed one for me as a gift. That was nice. Then just as he got back, I remembered I wanted some strike anywhere matches they were selling at a table near the front door. I picked up three boxes and a couple of waterproof match cases. Did I mention they sell survival gear at these shows besides just guns and ammo?

Then we were off, but not yet apart. We headed out to grab lunch, stopped at McDonald's,
and actually enjoyed a coup,e of Big Macs (one apiece). As we did I told Charlie again about something I had brought up inside the show - Gander Mountain. He had not wanted to take the extra time to stop there, but I explained again it was only about 1/2 mile away, and it was a store he should not miss if he had never been there. He reluctantly agreed to go with me. Once inside he did not seem impressed. Charlie is not a hiker, camper, backpacker, fisherman, boater; and we passed ost of those departments on the way to the gun department. Once there though his eyes opened wide and a huge smile broke out on his face. He pulled me aside and said 'this place is great'. Charlie got some ammo he could not find at the show and was very pleased. I picked up a rifle cleaning pad, and then went to the bait department and got 15 crayfish (food for my pet Musk Turtle). I would have also bought a brick of .22 ammo there but they wanted $19.95 for a brick of ammo that was worth about $12.00. After that we split up, Charlie headed home and I drove to Wal-Mart just up the road a bit. There i picked up a box of 550 rounds of loose federal 22LR, and 100 rounds of Federal shotgun shells for trap at a much better price than offered at Gander Mountain. While gander Mountain is on the expensive side for ammo, I will admit they probably have the caliber for which you are looking and if you need it you would probably pay the price. Of course while at Wal-Mart, I also picked up a little something for Linda. Not my usual place to shop for gifts for anyone, but on the way to the sporting goods department, I saw a nice garden figurine of a boy with fishing pole over his shoulder, pulling a wagon, the wagon holding a puppy and a bucket with a trout in it. When I got home and showed it to she who must be adored, she loved it.

So I never bought a gun at the gun show, though I did sell one, and i did have one heck of a fun time with my good friend Charlie. Too bad the others could not have made it, it would have been so much more fun had they been there. We had also wished our buddy Don could have been there, but since he lives in Wyoming now, I guess it would not have been a cost effective trip for him. We missed him too since we had been to a few shows together when we used to work with him years ago. Still though it was good to have been there with at least one good friend; and nice to think that there will be other such shows in the future when the other guys may be there too; I hope so.

All the best,
Glenn B
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