Last weekend, Steve and I attended "The Nation's Gun Show" at the Dulles Expo in Chantilly, Va. I went out of curiosity, and I found that what you hear on the news is true -- you really don't need anything but cash/check/credit to walk out with a high-powered rifle/AK-47/12 ga. shotgun/copious ammo/etc. I know this because Steve bought a gun there, and no records were made or taken during the transactions other than those needed to get his cash. While I support the right to bear arms, guaranteed in the Second Amendment, I firmly believe in background checks and waiting periods. This gun show situation is a massive loophole.
[Update: This page http://www.stategunlaws.org/viewstate.php?st=VA states the following:
GUN SHOW CHECKS
Are background checks required at gun shows? No
No state requirement that a Brady criminal background check be done on people buying guns at gun shows if they are sold by "private" individuals or gun "collectors." Gun shows can operate on a "no questions asked, cash-and-carry" basis, making it easy for criminals and even juveniles to buy as many guns as they want at gun shows, including assault weapons. No records are required to be kept on gun show sales by private individuals or gun collectors, making it almost impossible for police to trace such weapons if they are used in a crime.
I guess the upshot is that, even if you have a huge booth at the gun show with a company name on it, and you take credit cards and offer 100s of items for sale, all you have to do is call yourself a "collector" and you're off the hook re: record keeping.]
Clientele at the gun show included lots of older men in ill-fitting mossy oak camo, many fathers and young sons, and lots of military-looking guys with high-and-tights. Needless to say, there were few women present; the ladies room was very clean. And, based on the variety of people walking around, it would not surprise me to find that some of the patrons were gang members and some were white supremacists. Not that I would admit to saying that certain people "look like" gang members or white supremacists. But take my word for it when I say that the secret is definitely out among the hoi polloi.
Apparently they've had some sort of problems with people bringing loaded guns into the building, evidenced by the signs below. In case you can't read them (cell phone photos again), they say: "UNLOAD YOUR GUNS. ALL OF THEM" and "NO LOADED GUNS IN THE BUILDING."
Included for sale at many tables were historical military artifacts, which is understandable. What is less understandable, to me, however, is the number of artifacts floating around with swastikas on them. I saw at least four tables with Nazi armbands and flags for sale. My thoughts on this: The people who think Nazi stuff is cool are the same people who are likely to go shoot up their high schools. So the only use I can see for this is to allow the crazies to self-select so law enforcement will know to keep an eye on them.
I know we have freedom of speech in this country, and I support that 100%. But what's wrong with these people that they aren't ashamed to sell this stuff? Just because you're free to sell it doesn't mean it's appropriate to do so.