By now everyone has seen NRA head Wayne LaPierre declare that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” while calling for armed guards in every American school. The NRA’s proposed solution to gun violence can be boiled down to even more guns, and the group wants concealed weapons in all public spaces – including churches, schools, bars and airports.
If there’s one place that I would expect to be able to take a concealed gun, it’s to a gun show. That’s why I was struck by the advice doled out by the NRA’s National Firearms Museum on “How to be a Gun Collector.” In the article, authored by NRA museum director Jim Supica, would-be gun collectors are directed to “practice basic gun safety” at gun shows.
Supica starts off with the most basic rule of gun safety, warning against allowing “the muzzle of a gun you're handling to point at other folks.” But then he stumbles badly off-message (from the NRA party line) with some commonsense advice that, were President Obama to say it, would hasten comparisons to Mao and Hitler.
The NRA’s Supica directs gun collectors to “keep your guns tied inoperable” (like this) when attending a gun show, noting that this is a “requirement at the better shows.” And he isn't done.
Supica then directs gun collectors to “never bring a loaded gun into a show,” even if it’s a “legal concealed carry gun.” Furthermore, collectors should never “test chamber a round in a show.” Of course, your typical armed guard or concealed carry enthusiast already has a round in the chamber, but never mind that.
Supica observes that “negligent discharges are very rare at shows.” However, when they do happen they typically involve “a concealed carry gun that was brought in loaded.”
You might be wondering why this namby-pamby Supica character hates the Second Amendment so much or whether the NRA knows it has a gun-hating pinko running its museum. But in their defense, Supica’s article bears this disclaimer: “Opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of NRA or the National Firearms Museum.” Well, that’s a relief. Supica may be an NRA employee and run their museum, but at least his commonsense, life-saving advice can’t be pinned on the NRA.
But maybe Supica isn’t such an outlier. As Scott Keyes reported in January, gun shows typically ban attendees from carrying loaded guns. Yet the NRA categorically supports efforts to expand concealed carry to “previously prohibited places.”
The takeaway, then, is that guns should be unloaded, tied inoperable and held out in the open at gun shows. But if you’re at a church, school, bar or shopping mall, you should feel free to conceal and carry a loaded gun with a bullet in the chamber. And that is how you practice basic gun safety.