Support your local gun dealer: Tanner Gun Show distributes list of dealer contact info, to keep you "locked and loaded" through COVID-19

Support your local gun dealer: Tanner Gun Show distributes list of dealer contact info, to keep you "locked and loaded" through COVID-19

Buy guns locally, even though the shows are cancelled

VicesApril 01, 2020 By Will Brendza

There are few things more blatantly, unapologetically American, than a good ol’ fashioned gun show.

Most people are either die-hard, gun-toting, freedom loving, American proponents of these firearm flea-markets; OR they’re unshakable, anti-violence gun-denouncing liberals, who find the gun show "loophole" abhorrent and dangerous.

Then, you have the folks who fall somewhere in the middle. Those who long to see an America where married lesbian couples can protect their pot fields with registered AR-15’s. (I think I actually read that on a T-shirt at a gun show.)

Anyway, in the wake of this COVID-19 pandemic the Tanner Gun Show (Denver’s largest, and best attended) was postponed until further notice. Just like every other event in Colorado, they had to shut down to stop the spread of this disease.

Which, for many, is unsettling news. Particularly during these strange times, when true apocalyptic chaos seems to be lurking beneath the thin ice we’re standing on. Gun owners want to be armed — locked and loaded — now more than ever! But the ammo isles at Cabelas have been picked clean. And without gun shows to stock up and re-arm at, where are people supposed to get their hands on firearms in these trying times!?

On the internet, of course. Which is pitting local gun vendors against larger out-of-state wholesale businesses — not so unlike the struggle between local book stores and Amazon. (And yes, I did just compare gun vendors to book stores; ideas can be just as dangerous as bullets, after all.)

And believe me, people are buying guns and ammo right now. Gun sales have soared since the COVID-19 pandemic really started picking up steam — in Colorado alone, background checks for firearms have increased by 227%. In some places like Anchorage, Alaska, dealers are facing ammo shortages. Much of the money made from those erupting sales would have gone into gun-shows to support local business and business people. Now, it’s vanishing into the ether of the web…

That’s why the Tanner Gun Show came up with a plan — a way to circumvent the COVID-19 problem and to make sure that people can still support their local gun dealers. They sent out an email, explaining to their customers the new situation.

“Due to the current state of the virus, we have devised a plan to connect our trusted Tanner Gun Show vendors to our customers through our website,” read the email. “Click the button below for the list in order of vendor registration.”

That button, takes you to a long list of Vendors, detailing what company they’re with, what they sell, their phone, email and websites. So if you need Glock, SKS, AK or AR parts, concealed carry fanny packs, speed-loaders, extended clips, tactical gear, and/or, of course, any conceivable firearm, from .50 caliber hand-cannons, to fully automatic laser-scope assault rifles, you’re in luck.

They even have a vendor listed who’s whole shtick is BBQ sauce and targets (Hotrod-BBQ, check them out).

Now, you or anyone else out there, can contact these vendors directly and arrange a sale privately outside of the gun-show — keeping that cash within Colorado. Tanner Gun Show has effectively taken themselves out as the middle man, between buyers and sellers.

But, as Ty Blount, the owner of the Tanner Gun Show told me, “Right now, people in Colorado are more important than just our profits. So we’re trying to help those guys that still have employees they are trying to take care of.”

While, to some, this might sound like dangerous way to make the gun-show loophole bigger, it doesn’t change anything. Colorado’s laws are very clear on the transfer of firearms: FBI background checks are a must.

“The gun show loophole has been dead in this state for years,” Blount says. Buying a gun at his show, is no different than buying one from Wal-Mart or Cabela’s. Background checks are universal for all gun purchases in Colorado — no matter whether the vendor is licensed or not, no matter whether the sale happens at a gun show or in a parking lot.

For those wondering, here’s how the loophole used to work in Colorado (and how it still works in many states): at a gun-show, you can buy guns from two different kinds of vendors: licensed, and unlicensed gun dealers. The licensed dealers make the majority of their income selling guns and have to run a very tight ship. They are required to run a federal background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System every single time they sell a gun.

The unlicensed vendors, on the other hand, do not (or at least, are not supposed to) make the majority of their income from selling guns. For these guys and gals, it’s just a side-gig, a hobby, even. And when an unlicensed vendor sells a gun to someone, they can be far less scrupulous — no background is check necessary. It’s a matter of personal judgement who they sell their firearms to, not a matter of who is actually a convicted felon/who’s a minor.

That was the gun-show loophole as it used to stand in Colorado, and how it still stands in 35 states throughout the US. And without gun shows, that loophole effectively closed everywhere.

However, the cancellation of the Tanner Gun Show, and the dispersal of their list of vendors doesn’t change much in Colorado — it doesn’t make it any easier or any harder to lawfully buy a gun in Colorado.

“The laws are still the same,” Blount tells me. They’re just trying to make it easier for people to buy locally, instead of regionally. And they aren’t afraid to take a financial hit to make sure that happens.

“We believe and care so much about our vendors,” Blount says. “We know it's a resource people need right now.”