Gun shows have always been hotbeds of what I'll call 'Folk Reactionaries' in the US. This morning, my wife, our kids, and I went to one of the larger gun shows around these parts to see what might be seen. My wife has been expressing a desire to gain cultural familiarity with arms, and I was considering getting either a 38 special revolver, 9 mm automatic pistol or a 22 target pistol to serve that end. Normally we go to a gun show every year or so, usually the same one down in the Expo Center.
Here are a few of the things I noticed:
The place was busy---really busy. It felt much more crowded than in years past. My wife says that this is partially explainable by the season. Apparently a lot of people want a Luke 22:36 Christmas in Oregon.
The crowd was somewhat less male than normal. Granted, my youngest draws women, especially of grandmotherly age, like a magnet, but there were a lot more women around than is usually the case. I take this as an indication that gun purchasing demographics are broadening. We even saw a couple of small groups (2 or 3) of just women to add to the usual leaven of wives and girlfriends. In addition, we saw a reasonable number of booths selling hand-crafty things that is probably aimed at that demographic.
The explicitly political material on offer was substantially reduced from years past. Sure there were the usual anti-gun control and generally wonderfully politically incorrect t-shirts and tracts, but much less so than is the norm.
Instead, much of the booth and floor space that such material generally occupies appears to have been converted instead to preparedness and survival material. Some examples---When There is No Doctor (medical field manual), When There is No Dentist, Nuclear War Survival Skills, tons of water filtration and freeze dried/otherwise highly preserved rations, and the like. This can be taken as a sign that this section of the population has raised its estimate of the probability of civil disorder.
On the guns and ammo, this year appeared to be more rifle than pistol centered, and a lot of the ammunition was being sold in larger lots than I recall the norm being. I saw considerably fewer SKS rifles than I'm used to seeing, and quite a few more AR-15s. Perhaps there's a desire to have ammunition compatibility with the NATO standard?