Welcome to the Gun Show, Part One

CRYSTAL LEO

General Manager


Last weekend, the Kentucky Farm Bureau Building was full of Meade Countians, and those from nearby, who were celebrating or looking to add to their 2nd Amendment right. The annual RK Gun Show was in town, and the place was packed with both vendors and customers alike.

RK Gun shows claims to be one of the largest gun and knife show promoters in the US with 29 years of experience. They travel the country year-round, giving an avenue for both small town businesses and big-time vendors to show and sell their wares including guns, hunting supplies, military surplus and outdoor gear. Giving spectators and consumers a well-rounded visit is not their only concern, however.

Upon inspection of their website, and at the entrance to their event, you are met with signs that state ‘Safety is first at all of RK Shows Events, so we will have security and check-in points for the safety of our attendees and vendors.’ However, what is not posted on a sign, but is told to you verbally, is that pictures are not allowed to be taken inside the event. The explanation for that directive was that the vendors and patrons do not like to have photos taken during the event.

Torin Kehrli is one of the RK Gun Show event organizers. When asked what brought their show to Brandenburg every year he stated, “The geographic area that it’s close to Louisville. It’s a good hub, or spot, to attract a good crowd for the show”.

Kehrli also noted that in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was still a strong number of vendors and customers in attendance this year.

“There’s approximately 26-30 vendors, or companies, at the Meade County show. It’s the equivalent to approximately 90 tables worth of goods for sale”.

The RK Gun Show organizers were incredibly pleased to see that, even with the COVID-19 pandemic still in effect, many flocked to see what vendors had on hand this year. Kehrli also pointed out that it is good for local Meade County tourism.

“Every year we come, not just us but the vendors too, and we book hotel rooms and go out to eat. So, in a way we’re also giving back to the Brandenburg community.”

One of the vendors attending the show this year was a woman who represented Lakepoint Outdoors from Cartersville, Georgia. She asked to remain anonymous, but when asked how she was enjoying her time at the RK Gun show here in Brandenburg, replied “It’s been great. There’s fun people here. Nice people here. I’ve been having a great time.”

While Lakepoint Outdoors did not sell guns themselves, they did sell a variety of conversion kits, pop smoke and pocketknives.

David Wilds, who is the owner of KY Safety Tech out of McKee had numerous tables full of inventory for sale ranging from guns, gun accessories, stun guns, pepper spray to handmade leather holsters, belts and slings made by the owner himself.

“I’ve been in business about ten years, and when I first started out, I only had two tables selling pepper spray and stun guns.” Waving a hand to the approximately nine tables around him, he continued, “Now I’m up to all of this. I also travelled to Springfield, Missouri three times so that I could learn how to make leather holsters, slings and some other leather goods by hand.”

Wilds runs the business with his family. His youngest son and his daughter work by his side, but at one time, his oldest son worked with him at the gun shows as well. “My eldest son, he used to help me. He passed away six years ago. He was born with spina bifida and they told him he wouldn’t be able to do nothing. He ended up being on the volunteer fire department and he was the best engineer we had. He could keep the engine running better than anyone else. He was the one who got me into the fire department too.”

Wilds is a busy man. In addition to running KY Safety Tech and travelling all over the state of Kentucky to sell his wares, he is also a carpenter four days a week and still somewhat active in the volunteer fire department.

Wilds said that sales have slowed down recently.

“Up to two months ago it was business as usual. Very busy. It’s slowed down in the last four weeks. I think that some of the scare is starting to wear off.”

After asking for further explanation on what he meant by the word ‘scare’, Wilds indicated the newly appointed Biden administration.

The organizer and both vendors were asked the same question when it came to the Biden Administration, “Are you worried that there will be any future legislation from Biden that might change the atmosphere of the gun market?”

The anonymous vendor declared, “No. People are still going to have their own interest. They can’t take that away.”

Wilds answered, “I think it’s going to shut down most of the gun shows and events.” He went on to add that he knew of gun store in Berea that has been so busy with sales due the ‘scare’ that he had been averaging sales monthly that he would normally average in an entire year.

A statement that is not exactly surprising since it was recently reported by multiple major news networks such as The Washington Post and USA Today that U.S. gun sales in January surged 60% to 4,137,480, making it the largest single month since figures started to be recorded in 1998. All of which is part of the overall 2020 trend where gun sales in the U.S. rose 40% to 39,695,315.

The most memorable answer to the potential legislation from Biden question came from Kehrli however, who said, “It’s never really guaranteed, even under the prior administration, it’s never a guarantee period. But under the Biden administration it’s definitely not looking like sunshine and rainbows coming up.”

Tune in next week to read what Biden has reportedly plans to pursue when it comes to new, or re-instated, gun legislation during his term.


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