NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — Gun shows are coming back to North Texas after COVID-19 restrictions closed them down.
Gun stores were listed as essential businesses when the stay-at-home orders came down in March, but shows were canceled because of size limits on gatherings.
Michelle Finucane, who runs Premier Gun Shows, which bills itself as the largest gun show promoter in Texas, said she is reviewing the guidelines in Gov. Greg Abbott’s April 27 order and the report on reopening Texas.
Finucane said attendees at the show June 6-7 at the NyTex Sports Centre in North Richland Hills will get information about social distancing and face coverings with signs and announcements.
She added that during the stay-at-home orders vendors and their businesses were affected by the event cancellations.
“As you can well imagine, like so many in retail, our vendors are hurting very much financially,” she said.
Finucane said the North Richland Hills show isn’t the first in North Texas as several shows took place recently.
Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a lobbying organization for the gun industry, said that when the pandemic took hold in March and April, the U.S. saw brisk firearms sales and its highest number of background checks since record keeping began in 1999.
In March there were 2.3 million background checks in the U.S. and 138,523 in Texas. In April, there were 1.6 million background checks nationally while Texas had 158,526, he said.
He said people often visit gun shows to explore the different types of firearms before deciding what to buy.
“I think the firearms sales will continue to remain elevated. People like the accessibility of having gun shows open to the public where they can ask questions about firearms they want to use,” Oliva said.
The shows attract dealers from brick and mortar stores, but they also attract collectors with federal firearms licenses who operate their businesses from their homes, Oliva said.
“They’ve had financial difficulties,” he said. “Gun shows got lost in the wash. Now, as these restrictions are starting to lift, people want to get back to some level of normalcy to go out and check out a firearm.”
Mike Cox, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association, said that besides gun sales, the shows attract collectors who have items such as old coins, boots, uniforms and Civil War memorabilia and rare firearms for sale.
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