Despite recent attempts to pass new national gun control legislation, the gun lovers of America are winning.
This couldn’t be more apparent than at the Lakeland Gun Show, the biggest gun show in the Southeast and one of more than 5,000 gun shows held in the U.S. each year, where you can buy an incredible variety of guns and weapons, as well as military surplus gear and military artifacts.
These gun shows are particularly controversial because they allow individuals to buy guns from other individuals without going through background checks.
We visited Lakeland to see the core of American gun culture.
Not far from Tampa, the largest gun show in the southeast is held at this massive convention center.
The show starts at 9 a.m., but it doesn't take very long for the parking lot to fill up with gun enthusiasts, who pay $US11 for admission.
Many bring guns in, often to sell. They need to have their guns 'checked' to ensure they don't have any ammo, and the show staff zip ties it so it cannot fire.
After walking through the doors, you can see 'largest show in the Southeast' probably isn't false advertising.
They're warned against being 'straw purchasers' -- people that legally purchase a gun intent on giving it to someone who can't, like a convicted felon.
But the big entrepreneurs of the gun show are not dealers. They are regular people making a few bucks selling their wares ...
Inside a case with guns was this Sheriff's badge from Lincoln County, N.M. -- known for the 1878 'Lincoln County War' involving Billy the Kid and others that was immortalised in the 'Young Guns' film.
If the military used it in war, it's probably here. That includes medical kits, bayonets, helmets, and canteens.
In Florida and many other states, high capacity magazines can be legally purchased, although even the president has called for their ban.
You can even find body armour. The man selling these had tons of military stuff, since he operated an Army-Navy store.
Many sport t-shirts in response to what they see as an attack on their 2nd amendment rights from the gun control crowd.
And with thousands in attendance, the NRA capitalises on this enthusiasm with a recruiting pitch over the loudspeaker: 'If you are not an NRA member, you need to join today.'
Or how about some grenades (don't worry, they don't work). When asked whether they had any real ones, one man said jokingly, 'We used them all this morning. They're great for fishing.'
Another seller offered targets that featured realistic-looking blood when shot. 'To complement those, we also have these exploding targets,' he told me, as he pointed to jugs of Tannerite, a legal substance that explodes only when shot with a rifle bullet.
Every few minutes, a zapping sound would come from a man selling stun-guns. 'Hit someone with one of these and they'll be on the ground in half-a-second,' he said, while demonstrating his 10-million volt hybrid flashlight/stun gun.
Perhaps the most controversial facet of the gun show are people selling guns to each other in private.
Unlike guns sold by dealers, private sellers are not required to do background checks on buyers. Gun control advocates call this the 'gun-show loophole' and they've been trying to close it for years.
The pro-gun side fears that legislation could lead toward banning private firearms sales between individuals altogether. Still, the idea of universal background checks -- now strongly opposed -- was once supported by the NRA.
Other weapons are on the gun control radar as well. These AK and AR-based weapons are classified as pistols although they fire the same size round as their big brothers.
... there are some items marketed to women. These are concealed carry purses, which come with a built-in pocket to store a handgun.
With many states adopting concealed carry laws, manufacturers have been making guns small enough to fit inside a pocket ...
In many states, you need to have a permit if you want to carry a concealed handgun. That includes Florida.
And most shows offer training. After $US90 and only a few hours, attendees learn the basics, shoot a few rounds, and get all the paperwork they need to get their permit to be legally armed in public.
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