Local governments across the United States are enacting discriminatory anti-gun regulations against gun shows and small local firearms businesses.
One local gun store in Washington state was recently oppressed by restrictions while trying to host a booth at an annual logging show. The business owner, who has been in the log show for the past three years, was prohibited from displaying signs advertising guns and barred from auctioning a gun at the show. “This isn't fair to target my little LOCAL business!” the business owner wrote on social media, questioning whether other businesses had been initially banned as well. He almost was prevented having a booth there. Last year at the show, the gun store was stopped from distributing flyers. At this year’s event, however, the business owner noted that the products in a nearby knife booth were not subject to the same restrictions. After the event, he posted a video on social media showing the booth with large knives on display.
In Illinois, a local sportsmen’s gun show was forced out of its home county fair of over 50 years after local government officials prohibited images of guns and the word “gun” from appearing in marketing materials. The Fair Board “refused to negotiate … about these restrictions on the sale of legal firearms and accessories,” said the group in a statement.
A city council in a major northeastern state passed measures to ban all gun shows and shut down a local gun show that had been in place for 34 years at a fair. The ban did not target criminals, but instead punished law-abiding citizens who attended the show to do legitimate business.“Today our culture, heritage and yes, gun shows are under attack like never before,” an organizer of the show stated. He remarked to local news media: “A lot of my customers are doctors, lawyers, professionals. Some are hunting or shooting enthusiasts. Some like to collect guns.”
Meanwhile, other local governments are making coordinated efforts to ban gun shows from county fairgrounds. In Contra Costa, Calif., officials are seeking to forbid gun shows from taking place at the fairgrounds. Officials have successfully banned firearms possession and sales from other California fairgrounds including Alameda, Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties. Even the Cow Palace outside of San Francisco will no longer have its regular gun shows on state-owned land thanks to area politicians.
Elsewhere in California, local city councilors are debating whether to formally oppose gun shows at the state fair grounds—pitting state-owned property against small business owners who generate the local economy, instead of encouraging the two components to work together.
One must ask what the benefit is of enforcing arbitrary bans on law-abiding local business owners. These measures do not address criminal activity with firearms; instead, they muzzle the local economy and the freedoms of citizens seeking to prosper in their communities.
One thing that most of these scenarios have in common is that anti-gun activists in local governments say they are acting to “send a message,” or “make a statement,” or do something “symbolic.”
But it is not “symbolic” to hurt the livelihoods and freedoms of hardworking and law-abiding people in society. Discrimination is not a statement. It is something that has a direct effect on people’s lives.
It is disturbing that local officials are willing to sacrifice honest people’s livelihoods for the sake of posturing and so-called “statements.” It is disturbing that activists are so preoccupied with their own gestures that they do not fairly consider how their actions harm other people trying to explore legitimate interests and earn a decent living.
It is no less troubling that local governments are trying to control citizens using money. How unjustified it is that governments across America are trying to deprive their own people and communities of lawful income—directly impacting people’s daily lives, all for the sake of making “statements.”
If someone in America wishes to make a statement, they may exercise their right to free speech. There is no need to make personal opinions into law.