Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 10, 2013

Hundreds of people attend day one of R&R Gun & Knife Show

BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BRUSHFORK — Hundreds of people from the area came out Saturday to the National Guard Armory in Brushfork for the opening day of a two-day R&R Gun & Knife Show that concludes today at 3 p.m.

The annual event features scores of exhibitors showing a variety of firearms, several vendors that feature knives of all kinds, coin collectors and informational booths.

John Wilburn, an executive member of the Virginia Citizens Defense League Inc., said that he typically doesn’t participate in gun shows in West Virginia, but since the show at the armory was so close to the state line, and since he lived in Bluefield in the early 1990s, he decided to help staff the booth on Saturday.

“The VCDL goes to shows throughout Virginia,” Wilburn said. He said that last year, at the annual Hillsville, Va., Labor Day gun show, we gave out 18,000 blaze orange stickers that contained the message: “Guns Save Lives.” This year, a new red, white and blue sticker contains the message: “Freedom is not a Loophole.”

“This show is a lot more well-attended than it has been in recent years,” Wilburn said. “I think that’s probably due to the present political climate and attitudes toward the second amendment.” Wilburn quickly pointed out that anything he might say to a reporter is his opinion and does not reflect the opinions of the VCDL. He did, however, said the organization has about 5,500 members, and provided a phone number to call the VCDL for a comment.

That was generally the rule for the morning. One male said: “A recent NBC poll says that 90 percent of Americans are in favor of gun control laws,” he said, and pointed to the packed aisles of the Armory. “Look around here today,” he said. He did not want his name used for the purposes of this story.

People of all ages packed the armory and studied what the vendors had to offer. Randy Gibson of Bramwell purchased a .22 rifle that was the same model as a rifle he sold to someone several years earlier. “I promised myself that if I ever saw another one like it, I would buy it,” he said. Gibson is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War and remains active with the Marine Corps League.

Entire families attended the show together and enjoyed checking out everything there was to see. Young people asked questions about the various firearms and the older adults with them answered. “It is like a family atmosphere here,” Nancy Gunnoe of R&R Gun & Knife Shows said. “People here get along.”

Gunnoe checked every individual who entered the armory, checked any firearms they may be bringing inside, and placed plastic ties in the firing mechanisms to prevent accidental discharge.

“Do you have any guns with you?” Gunnoe asked a man who was paying his admission to the show.

“Not yet,” the man responded, prompting laughter among people lined up waiting to enter.

“We’ve been here 6 or 7 times before, but over all, this is the most of a morning crowd that we’ve ever had here,” Gunnoe said. She’s well aware of the concerns about the so-called gun show loophole, but she said that the vendors perform background checks on the firearms they sell. She said that she works with many of the same vendors, but added that not all of the same vendors participate in every show.

“We have shows in Martinsburg, Morgantown, Parkersburg ... Really, we go all over the state,” she said.

Surprisingly, there were far fewer discussions about the politics of the day, and more discussions about the availability and the cost of items up for sale. In spite of the number of people in the armory, people seemed to move easily through the aisles.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com