The annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoors Trade Show is officially underway in Las Vegas. The trade convention attracts close to 60,000 individuals each year, and this year once again features big crowds and lots of new products on display.
SHOT Show isn’t open to the public. Instead, it’s an industry trade show, where manufacturers of all kinds of shooting, hunting, and outdoors products get to meet and mingle with distributors, retailers, and the outdoors and gun-related media.
I’ve had a number of individuals within the industry ask me about what’s going on in Virginia, particularly in terms of the Second Amendment activism that’s been taking place in response to Gov. Ralph Northam’s gun control bills. The industry itself has experience with responding to various gun bans with state-compliant models, from California to New Jersey, but we’re starting to see gun control advocates push bans with much broader language. Gun control advocates are also increasingly introducing bills banning the continued possession of the most commonly owned magazines in the nation.
If gun control advocates get their way, the vast majority of the firearms and accessories on display throughout five levels of the Sands Convention Center would be banned for civilian use. Right now, SHOT is one of the biggest conventions in Las Vegas, but anti-gun activists would love to shrink it down until you could fit it into a Smart Car.
Over the next few days, I’ll do my best to visit as many different booths as possible, but it’s ludicrous to attempt to comprehensively cover every company exhibiting their wares at SHOT. Instead, I plan on focusing my coverage not only on the interesting and unique items that catch my eye, but on the mindset within industry as we head into another critically important election year.
Will gun sales spike in 2020 as they did in during the last presidential election in 2016? What lessons has the industry learned since then? Are they concerned about another so-called “Trump slump” in sales if the president wins re-election? Are they more concerned about what happens to the industry if any of the current crop of Democrats running actually wins the White House? How involved will the industry and individual companies be in terms of trying to get their customers politically active and engaged? With anti-gun CEO’s like Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Ed Stack using their companies to promote gun control, does the industry feel any pressure to respond in kind?
Based on the few brief conversations I’ve had Tuesday morning, I do think that there’s an expectation that 2020 will be a strong year for gun sales, driven in large part by the anti-gun rhetoric and policy plans of Democrats running for president. I’ve also not met anyone who told me that they’re more concerned about another “Trump slump” in sales than they are about the prospect of Democratic control of the executive and legislative branches in Washington, D.C.
As far as cool and unique products, the SMG 45 from LWRC caught my eye immediately as I walked by this morning.
David Golladay, the marketing director for LWRC, says the company currently has a backorder of about 1,500 firearms, even with a price point of $2,995. Golladay says gun owners have been increasingly interested in AR-pistols and pistol caliber carbines in recent years as they look for a sweet spot between longer-range AR rifles and handguns. I’m sad I missed out on a chance to shoot one at SHOT Show’s Range Day on Monday, but honestly, I wouldn’t have traded my experience in Richmond at Lobby Day for the world. Hopefully I’ll get some range time with the SMG 45 in the near future, but right now I’m heading back out on to the convention floor to explore more of this year’s SHOT Show.