JEFF FOLLODER | NFATCA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
This article was written at the beginning of July 2020. Word had just been received that the Fall edition of the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot was officially cancelled. This happened after the Spring show and the NRA Annual Meeting had been cancelled, along with a host of smaller shows and events. Clearly, the pandemic has had a huge impact upon the firearms community. Speculation abounds as to what the future holds for other shows, including the annual extravaganza of SHOT Show, held in January in Las Vegas. All of this is playing out against reports of records being shattered for firearms sales on a continual basis. What to make of it?
Merchants across the entire economy are taking hits—some of them severe and some of them fatal. The firearms industry is not immune to the body blows being endured by all. For many, gun shows are the life blood of their businesses. Up close, face-to-face and personal have been the bread and butter of their existence. It is not uncommon for many of those journeymen retailers to attend 30-plus shows in a year! Now, much of that dependable income stream has been obliterated. Whether the severity of the response to the pandemic was warranted or not will be written in the history books to come, and much of that narrative has yet to unfold. Is it necessary, political, draconian, misguided, helpful, hurtful? The truth remains to be seen. All we do know right now is that lots of people are affected, many have died, we have no cure, treatment is expensive, and entire livelihoods have been sundered in the name of public “security.”
Many are finding new ways to extend and maintain their businesses. E-commerce is becoming more of a thing for many in the firearms world. This should be considered a really big deal! After all, we are one of the last industries that still regularly relies upon the use of fax machines and its associated technology for daily activity. Let’s point out that the first commercialized version of the fax machine was introduced by Xerox Corporation in 1964! It is understood that embracing new technology is not the easiest mode for us, yet here we are. We are building functional websites and accepting credit cards; although that credit card thing can be a challenge for the firearms industry (NFATCA is working on that!). We are learning how to use social media, contributing to blogs and embracing new forms of promotion. Apparently, the virus has changed us in more ways than we expected.
So, what comes next? It’s entirely possible that we will have started to get a handle on things as you read this article, but it’s more than likely that we will not have achieved that handle. Infections will most likely still be occurring at an alarming rate, and people will still be dying from those infections. Debates will continue to rage about what is and is not an appropriate response to the situation. One thing that is certain: We will need more civility, especially at gun shows. Social distancing will be the order of the day, of course. Gone will be the handshakes, hugs and bon homme of the past. We will need to take extra effort to “make space” out of respect for each other and out of genuine regard for our fellow shooters’ health. We will need to pay extra attention to asking if it is okay to handle items on offer from dealers and vendors. Gloves will become mandatory when shooting your buddy’s gun. And yes, that mask will probably be a big deal, at least until we have that vaunted vaccine.
Fortunately, the mission of the NFATCA can still be mostly achieved via telework and distance interaction. We’ve said it before: What we do is not action-packed or fast-moving; it’s more like watching dry paint fade. However, our Board and our members are still committed to making meaningful change in the world of the NFA—even when that world contains a pandemic. Please help us continue the efforts! Sign up or renew your membership today at nfatca.org/join.htm.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V24N8 (Oct 2020)