I like going to gun shows. It is not the guns that interest me. It is the people. I could never understand why the Democratic Party ever embraced gun control as a policy. There is no upside. But there is and has been a huge downside. Want to know why the Democrats lost their grip on white, working class voters south of the Mason Dixon line? No need to read any long winded books and articles employing all sorts of voting data to try and explain electoral behavior. Just go to a gun show.
The people that attend these events are "regular folks." Basically, working class, middle to lower income, overweight, high school education, very patriotic, and not too sophisticated when it comes to anything. Except guns. Economically, they are probably more in tune with the Democrats. But the gun issue is what makes them vote Republican. That is what Democrats could never figure out: that gun is a symbol of their independence and freedom. In the presidential campaign of 1992, I heard Bill Clinton give a speech where he declared that he would never take people's guns away from them. He said it in a southern drawl. It sounded convincing. I knew then that he would win. Conversely, it is accepted wisdom that a major reason the Republicans won the house in 1994 was the health reform issue. Wrong. As Clinton pointed out in his memoirs, the biggest factor was the assault weapons ban that Congress passed in the summer of 1994. It alienated the very people who would normally vote Democratic except for the gun issue. He was dead on. Democrats have always stereotyped gun owners as being ignorant hayseeds who are too dumb to know what is best for them.
Big mistake. The people at gun shows are racially diverse. But they share a common cultural trait: they have a right to defend themselves and their property free from government harassment. Here is a cheat sheet on the cultural tastes of an average gun show attendee: Dunkin Donuts over Starbucks, Walmart over Bloomingdales, Ford F150 over a Lexus. You get the drift. So if you want to take a peek inside a real slice of Americana, visit a gun show. Chat with the vendors. It is fun.