How many gun shows is too many?



AZ-pl-2-nolayers-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

Gun Show Trader boasts the "largest gun show list" in the US. According to this website, there are 1137 gun shows currently scheduled. 

Given the recent Tucson City Council decision to require background checks of any gun show conducted on city property, I looked up the number of gun shows coming up in Arizona. As of today, February 6, 2013, Gun Show Trader shows 30 gun shows scheduled for Arizona in 2013 and 2 so far for 2014.

For 2013, there are 7 gun shows scheduled for Tucson, 6 for Mesa, 5 for Phoenix, 3 for Glendale, and the other 9 are everywhere else in Arizona. To put this into perspective, one must compare the number of gun shows scheduled for Arizona with other states. Which state has the most upcoming gun shows? Texas, of course, with 103. (That was too easy.) The spread of scheduled gun shows nationwide is 0 to 103. Check out the data by state after the jump.

The data (below) are quite surprising. There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the number of shows scheduled. Five states have no gun shows scheduled at all. You'd expect pantywaist East Coast states like Connecticut and Delaware not to have any gun shows, but no gun shows in New Jersey, South Dakota, and North Dakota? On the other end of the spectrum, 6 states have 60 or more gun shows scheduled– more than one per week. Of course, Texas would have the most at 103, but #2 is Florida with 86, followed by Indiana (71), Pennsylvania (70), Washington (65), and California (60). 

Common sense would tell you that that population, politics, and/or existing regulations could be factors in the number of gun shows per state. In order, California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois are the 5 most populace states in the US; respectively they have 60, 103, 18, 86, and 29 scheduled gun shows. Indiana has less than 100,000 fewer citizens than Arizona and has more than twice as many gun shows that Arizona (71 vs 32). 

Thinking stereotypically, red neck states in the South and the Plains should have more gun shows than other states, but Alaska (think: Sarah Palin), Hawaii (think: public pot smoking), Idaho, Maine, Minnisota, Nebraska, and New Hampshire (think: "live free or die") all have 2-4 shows. Except for Florida, Southern states have a modest number of gun shows– fewer shows over all than hippie dippy states like California (60), Oregon (40) or Washington (65). States like Mississippi, Kentucky, and West Virginia, which are often the brunt of red neck jokes, have 6, 18, and 17 shows scheduled respectively. (Mississippi has fewer scheduled shows than Massachusetts– or Tucson!)

So, if population and red/blue mix don't help predict the number of gun shows, existing regulations are a likely reason for the differences. At the Tucson City Council meeting regarding background checks at gun shows, a gun show promoter said she conducts shows in California and that state requires background checks on all show sales. With 60 shows scheduled for that state in 2013 alone, the background checks don't seem to be much of a deterrent to gun commerce. The National Rifle Association tracks gun laws at the state and federal level, but the patchwork of current and proposed legislation is a quagmire. 

With 1122 gun shows scheduled (to date) for 2013 and 15 already scheduled for 2014, I wonder how many guns will be sold at shows this year, what percentage will be sold without background checks, and how much money will be exchanged at gun shows. Don't kid yourself. This issue isn't about the second amendment; it's about unfettered arms and ammunition commerce.

I also wonder how many more people will die from gun shots in the coming year. In the month and a half since the Sandy Hook school massacre, 1280 Americans have been killed by guns— a little more than 26 mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters per day. You can read some of their stories here. When will Americans stop this senseless violence?

Related articles:

Tucson Cracks Down On Gun Shows, Requires Background Checks

Tucson City Council advances gun background check resolution: Voice your opinion at Feb 5 meeting (video)  

Gun Appreciation Day: Did it backfire? (video)

Ward 6 Roast: From immigration reform to potholes, politicians answer voter questions (videos)

Image credit: Pamela Powers Hannley. Gun show data compiled from Gun Show Trader nationwide show list on Feb. 6, 2013. This is descriptive data and most likely not all inclusive.

Gun shows


  1. For any proposal to be effective much less cost effective it must work in the real world. Universal gun registration will do nothing to prevent crime from occurring. Universal and mandatory gun liability insurance will drive people to avoid government documentation. Again, that won’t prevent crime. In my opinion neither of these proposals would protect children at schools from either crazy individuals or criminal individuals.

    Good guys (with pistols and rifles) be they parents, teachers or school custodians are a means to prevent and deter evil individuals from initiating actions to harm students. Criminals aren’t going to comply with government paperwork schemes. Government paperwork schemes are cost ineffective – they don’t work.

  2. Are you on one of Jan Brewer’s Death Panels? Not cost effective to save lives?

    You want more effective security? What is that? Body armor for all school children? Tell the parents who lost children to gun violence that it’s just “not cost effective” to protect the public from lunatics with guns.

  3. All these proposals, universal background checks, universal gun registration and mandatory firearm liability insurance would work well in a world where 100% of the population was willing and able to conform to each and every government edict.

    The government of Arizona can only motivate about 78% of Arizona drivers to insure their car. I can only presume that the number of people that would comply with gun registration and gun insurance laws would be far fewer than 78% if for no other reason that gun owners do not go around with government required “universal” license plates affixed to their backs.

    All these utopian proposals are (in my opinion) unlikely to be cost effective and if enacted will provide yet another episode of security theater. We would all be better off if they were left on the shelf. People willing to invest in real security will put time and money into methods likely to provide effective results.

  4. Yes, there are unlicensed dogs, but if you are caught, it is $500 per dog and another $180 if the dog is unleashed when they encounter him.

    Retread my post above. Universal background checks are one part of a comprehensive program. I really think we need universal registration and liability insurance. That way if a gun is stolen (because of improper storage) and used in a crime, the owner can be held responsible. They have similar vehicle laws in some states. I want *responsible* gun ownership. It is a public health issue.

  5. You were lucky. Do you remember during that same time frame when a middle school student from Townsend was shot at a friend’s house while a group was playing with loaded guns? Obviously your Dad knew. Someone was buying bullets.

  6. The government DOESN’T know who owns a dog. It knows who the registered owner of a dog is (in any given jurisdiction). It knows who is legally married (in any given jurisdiction). No government knows who the owner of a dog is if the owner hasn’t volunteered that fact. If a couple hasn’t chosen to get government approval then the government DOESN’T know who is married. All the above plus government registration of guns does little to nothing to prevent crime.

    As for why not have a database for gun ownership, how about “It isn’t going to prevent crime”.

    Arizona state representative Ruben Gallego recently advocated for universal background checks at a debate at ASU. He seemed to think just because the government documents firearm ownership that it is somehow going to reduce or prevent crime. I failed to hear how that was going to happen.

  7. As a small child (5 to 15 years of age, mid 80s to mid 90s, during the absolute peak of gun and gang violence in the US) I had constant access to my father’s weapons collection who was an avid gun collector. All 37 of them were left fully cocked and loaded in the hall closet unlocked which was directly across from my bedroom.

    On the average day I wouldn’t think twice about them but on days my friends and I were felling especially ornery we’d take them up the mountain behind my house and unload a few hundred rounds of ammo into the side of the hill. My favorites were the Browning .380 auto, the Rugar .44 mag revolver, the 9 mm Glock and the Smith and Wesson .45 auto. It was loads of fun to empty the clips in a couple seconds into the dirt and fallen logs.

    When we were back down the mountain around sunset we’d return the guns to the closet and no one knew the difference. I think between the ages of 10 and 15 years old I must have fired off 30,000 rounds of ammo without harming a honey bee or anyone besides my crew even knowing about it.

    Guns are not the problem. The poli-tics and poli-ticians are the problem. Tics have always been bloodsuckers. Especially multiple-tics.

  8. Access to loaded guns in the home leads to increased murder of family members (particularly women and children), increased gun accidents, and increased suicides. The biggest risk factor for being shot by a gun is owning one.

    Availability can be reduced and lives saved through a comprehensive approach, including but not limited to: mandatory background checks (even for gun shows and personal sales); gun buy-backs of unwanted guns; a requirement for liability insurance for every gun; and universal registration. I didn’t say anything about outlawing guns; you jumped to an illogical conclusion.

    I think owning a gun should be treated like owning a car. You need physical and mental competence, a training, a license, and insurance, and every sale is tracked.

    I don’t understand what’s so scary about a universal registration database. The government knows who owns a dog, who owns a car, who is married, where you work, if you are registered to vote, and if you vote. Why not have a database for gun ownership?

  9. Don’t kid yourself. People who BUY guns aren’t in it for the money, since they pay lots of it. For most gun buyers, yes, it is about the 2nd amendment. Learn how to think.

    As for how many gun shows is enough, how many sales at The Gap are enough? How many STarbucks is enough? Of course sellers are in it for the money! That’s what free enterprise is about.

    Your real fly-in-the-ointment, however, is your assumption that more gun shows means more shootings. And ultimately where your logic goes is that if no guns can be bought and sold, there won’t be shootings. Which is a completely asinine conclusion because all you have done is restrict the rights of non-criminals; the criminals don’t give a damn, and will still kill people.

    Outlawing guns can be compared to outlawing meth: how well has THAT worked?