Dave Greeley perched himself at the front door of Eagles Hall for three days, watching hundreds of people attend last weekend’s gun show.
Not only did people drive a short distance from within Churchill County, but others travelled from as far away as the Carson City and Reno areas, eastern California and remote Nevada towns such as Tonopah.
Greeley, a 19-year Fallon resident who took over the gun show promotion, presented his third local show, and he is excited by the results.
“By the time we opened at noon on Friday, we had 175 lining up,” Greeley said. “Ten minutes after we opened, we were crowded inside.”
Greeley said guns have always been popular, especially in the West, because it’s a part of life and tradition; furthermore, Greeley said many Nevada communities have always supported gun shows.
“This is a gun-friendly community,” Greeley said of Fallon. “It’s also a social event.”
Greeley said the “so-called” anti-gun climate is fostering an increased awareness in firearms, and each gun show is different. He pointed out that customers in Carson City, for example, may have different tastes than those in Fallon or Reno. Prior to the Fallon event, Greeley had a three-day gun show in Carson City, and he now he is setting his sights on having a three-day show in Tonopah.
And attendance is booming at each venue Greeley takes his gun show. Previous guns shows in Fallon, for example, drew about 400 people for the entire weekend. Now, Greeley said he averaged 400 prospective buyers on each day.
Once people come into a gun show and see Greeley and his helpers at the front door, they offer their opinions on the current climate of guns ranging from proposed gun legislation to Second Amendment rights.
“When people come in, we’re a sounding board for them,” Greeley said. “We hear all the comments about the political climate.”
The hot topic that keeps coming up at all gun shows is the availability of ammunition. He said more people are worried that ammunition will run out because of the supply and demand. He said at the Reno gun show, people were more interested in ammunition. At Carson City and Fallon, he said the clientele is geared toward hunting guns and accessories but not assault weapons. The gun show attracted vendors from western Nevada and one from California who sold nothing but ammo.
Greeley grew up in Reno, spent eight years in the Marine Corps and then found himself in Fallon in the early 1990s. He still has a soft heart for those in uniform. Although most active duty sailors from Naval Air Station Fallon don’t have the facilities to store guns and ammunition, Greeley, nevertheless, waives admission for both military and law enforcement officers to come and look around.
“I get some here to look at the weapons,” Greeley said of the sailors.
Greeley also receives good support from both the Stillwater Firearms and the National Rifle associations. He said places like Carson City, Fallon and Tonopah are small-town America, and he is doing as much as possible to keep the love for guns alive and stronger in these communities.
One of the things Greeley sees declining is the involvement associated with hunting, and he hopes the gun shows can foster a family bond.
“Shooting sports is on the decline,” Greeley said. “We’re trying to get the whole family here, actually encouraging families to attend. Dads love to teach their kids to hunt and fish, and we hope the youngsters pass it on.”
Navy veteran Duane Coy sat on his pick-up’s tailgate at the show. He described the people who attend gun shows as those who have honor and integrity, a common assessment expressed by others at the Fallon Gun Show.
Gordon Utz, a member of the SFA board of directors agrees.
“Most here are law-abiding citizens,” Utz said.
From what he has seen at previous gun shows, the criminal element avoids places with many attendees, especially when many off-duty police officers and deputies attend the shows.
Utz said the dealers at gun shows always run a background check, but private sales require no checks.
Utz points to statistics that show crimes committed by weapons at gun shows are minimal, roughly about 2 percent.
Merl Bates has volunteered at many Fallon gun shows. She said those who attend the shows come from all walks of life.
“They’re your average citizens ... not rich and famous, all nice people,” she said. “I have seen law abiding citizens from the day it started. I have never seen any problems. We have a good crowd of people.”
A Reno seller has been attending gun shows for 54 years. Pete (last name not given) said he also sees many different people at the shows.
“Through the years I have been sitting next to judges, police officers, all of society in here,” he added.
Dennis Williams sells clips and accessories and said the business is busy.
When Williams attended the Reno gun show, he said hundreds lined up to buy ammunition.
Susan Warren and her daughter Megan Madrigan arrived at the gun show on Saturday at noon. Both life-long gun owners and aficionados, they checked out the latest in pistols and rifles.
“We really don’t hunt,” Waren said. “We like to target practice.”
While most vendors experienced a busy day, one did not.
Shawn Hughes of Fallon was selling brass casings for reloading gun powder, but he said Fallon gun owners are self sufficient unlike other fun owners in Reno or Carson City.
As for the future of guns shows, Greeley said they will continue to prosper because of the number of gun owners. He said gun owners, for example, treat their guns as members of the family and take good care of them.
Some weapons, such as shotguns, have been in families for several generations.
Furthermore, Greeley said he wants his vendors to be 100 percent forthright in selling their guns and accessories to their customers.
“Our patrons are important,” Greeley said. “Guns are too much a part of our lives.”
“Shooting sports is on the decline. We’re trying to get the whole family here, actually encouraging families to attend. Dads love to teach their kids to hunt and fish, and we hope the youngsters pass it on.”