Van E. Harl


When we were stationed in Albuquerque New Mexico with the Air Force, I would regularly attend a gun show at the State Fair grounds. The first time I went it was great because of all the new gun stuff I got to look at.

Now I don’t tend to spend much money at this form of entertainment anymore, for the most part because that is how I approach going to a gun show, as a form of entertainment. I pay my money to get in and experience all the firearms and related items on display. To me it is the same as going to a movie or a sporting event. I don’t have to bring a souvenir home to show I enjoyed going to the event.

The problem is the gun show in Albuquerque is the only one of any size in New Mexico, so after you had been a few times, it got a little old. Now I live in Altus and I am amazed how many gun shows there are to attend, if you are willing to drive a couple of hours. It seems like every little town in Oklahoma has its own show and then there are the big ones in Dallas or Oklahoma City. Twenty five plus years ago and before I joined the Air Force I worked in a large gun shop about 40 miles north of Chicago. I went to work there right after I got out of college. It was like being a chocolate addict working in a candy factory, only since you did not eat the things, you never got sick of your product. I learned a lot about firearms and dealing with the public; lessons that would serve me well later in life as a “cop” In both military and civilian law enforcement.

For the most part gun owners are pretty normal people. Yes there are some strange people who own guns and there are criminals who not only own firearms but use them in their line of negative work. But, these two groups of people are a small fraction of the overall gun owners in this country.

I was at a gun show in Amarillo recently. It was a good size show with over 400 tables and very crowded. As we started to walk down the first aisle I turned to my wife and said “only in America.”

With over 20,000 Federal, State and local gun laws on the books, the US is the only country that allows such an open transfer of firearms to and between its citizens. The primary reason is our government does not fear its citizens and the fact they practice private ownership of firearms. The good-guys in this country get to keep their guns. It’s the bad-guys who we need to take the firearms away from. Unlike most of the other countries of the world, our county understands – don’t punish the innocent. People in the US have the basic right to own firearms and the basic right to peacefully assemble. And you are allowed to do both in the same place at the same time. There are problems with this issue and some local governments are trying to keep these two rights separated.

I just read where the Tulsa Arms Show is coming up on the 2nd and 3rd of April. It is billed as the world’s largest gun show and I guess it is now, but it has not always been the largest. The largest gun show was the Great Western Gun Show out in Los Angeles at the county fairgrounds in Pomona, California. County officials have shut that gun show down, mostly because of the left of center negative attitude towards guns in that part of the country. There are more people living in Southern California than in all of Canada and some local County-Fathers have stopped this large group of law-abiding guns owners from peacefully assembling and legally acquiring sporting firearms. It kind of makes you glad you live in Oklahoma.

I remember when I was stationed in Alaska, you never heard of a drive-by shooting in Anchorage, because most everybody was armed up there and the good guys would and could defend themselves. Privately owned firearms deter more crime than they cause. There is a new gun shop opening in Blair and the young couples who own it are good people. Go by and practice your freedom of peaceful assembly and buy local.