While the reviews for the 2017 SHOT Show have been overwhelmingly positive, a show as large as ours doesn't happen without a few complaints here and there. As you might imagine, some are minor and don't really have anything to do with the show itself. Others, of course, are absolutely legitimate, and as we sort through comments, suggestions, criticisms and compliments, it's those serious concerns we always want to address.
One concern in particular stood out this year, not for its frequency, but for its telling. One of our retail members approached me late in the show week to tell me he'd seen someone with a buyer's badge on the floor whom he knew for a fact was not a buyer and was not at all associated professionally with the industry. That person, he claimed, was wearing a store badge and "working" with another retailer our member knew and who was indeed a legitimate attendee.
"Did you get the name on the badge?" I asked him.
"Yes, but I don't want to tell you who it is. I don't want to cause any trouble. But you really ought to do something to stop this kind of thing."
Truth be told, this is a concern--and a valid one--we hear every year, just as we do those of suitcasing and outboarding. We take every one of them seriously: We comb our attendance list every year, performing an in-depth audit of a percentage of all buyers, wholesalers and other permitted attendees to the show. Here's how the audit works.
Those names and businesses with which we are not first-hand familiar are periodically asked to provide credentials supporting their claim of being active professionals in the firearms industry. It doesn't mean someone has to own a 50,000 square-foot store and staff half their county. It does mean if they can't produce an invoice for ammunition or firearms or accessories orders they've placed in recent months, there are going to be additional questions--and if those answers don't come back satisfactorily...