ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – The Orlando Gun Show returned in full force amid increasing coronavirus cases, and a host of political candidates joined the fray.
This past weekend the Central Florida Fairgrounds welcomed back visitors to the Orlando Gun Show for the first time in months. Eager buyers filled the parking lots, long lines wrapped around the building’s entrance, and masked crowds tore through vendors.
Florida Gun Shows, the governing organization, is the largest gun show in Florida. Orlando is one of eight cities shows are held in. The event was held from 9 am – 5 pm on Saturday and 10am – 5pm on Sunday, and tickets were $12 for ages 12 and up. It is highly popular, with visitors and vendors coming across state lines to attend.
Vendors set up tables and booths within one of two exhibition buildings, selling a variety of firearms, self-defense weapons, political gear, and toys. All products sold must be gun or knife related, as per Florida Gun Shows policy, and with upwards of 30 different vendors to pick from, the selection available was impressive.
Vendors could be private sellers, mom-and-pop shops, or multi-store corporations.
Straight Shoot, the largest vendor and the event’s host, took up a 1/3 of an exhibition building with several rows of gun-filled tables. With the guns empty of all ammo and zip-tied both to the tables and to keep from loading, visitors could pick up and hold any gun in the collection while associates zoomed around on segways to answer questions.
When asked about the success and turnout of the event, a representative from Straight Shoot told FNN News there were “way more [people] than normal” and “sales are up everywhere.” Additionally, the representative explained that “our [concealed carry] classes are maxed!”
When asked about the reason behind such a high turnout, “People are scared about news, the protests on TV. There’s just negative news coverage on every station.”
This follows a series of both peaceful protests and deadly riots around the nation following the death of George Floyd. Images and videos of destroyed businesses and vandalism, as well as drastic increases in violent shootings and killings have scared many, and nowhere was that more clear than at the Orlando Gun Show.
The FBI has released monthly reports from the National Instant Background Check System (NICS), which keeps track of how many people are applying for background checks for firearms.
In June alone, nearly 4 million background checks were filed, with more than 19 million year-to date. That is 6 million more than this time last year. In some months, background checks are up 60-70 percent.
While background check requests are a good indicator of gun sales, the NICS makes the disclaimer that “a one-to-one correlation cannot be made.”
Regardless, interest in guns are up around the nation, and politicians are taking notice.
The Orlando Gun Show was as much of a political rally as it was an exhibition.
At least seven local political candidates, all Republican, attended the event, setting up tables, passing out flyers, and detailing their Second Amendment positions.
Congressional District 10: Vennia Francois, Willie Montague
Congressional District 7: Leo Valentin, Yukong Zhao
State House District 44: Bruno Portgliatti
State Republican Committeewoman (Orange County): Kathy Gibson, Debbie Galvin
The Orlando Gun Show served as an opportunity to reach voters on both sides of the aisle in anticipation of an upcoming primary on August 18 and the fast-approaching general election on November 3. Candidates also spent time meeting with vendors and local business owners, learning about their issues and concerns as constituents.
After a flurried weekend of sales, vendors on Sunday night packed up their inventories, many of them heading to Tampa for next weekend’s show. The show will return to the Central Florida Fairgrounds August 16 and 17, just days before the primary election.
Marcos Barrios is a Florida National News contributing writer. The avid writer and musician is passionate about politics and entertainment in Florida and abroad.