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Thread: Just Got back from Canvassing Houston Gun Show

  1. #1
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    I just got back from the Houston High-Caliber Gun Show. On the whole it went very well. First I'll describe what I did, then the response from other gun owners, exhibitors and the gun show organizers and finally conclusion and some ideas for next time.

    What I Did:
    I printed 150 fliers from this thread. I went for black & white (actually grey scale) and carried them with me as I walked the exhibit hall. After a few minutes I came up with a few rules and a method for myself to follow:
    1. Only approach people who are not engaged with or even looking at an exhibitor's booth. This seemed really key so as not to piss them off. (Below you'll find out why this was a good idea.)
    2. Ask "Do you support the open carry of handguns in Texas?" I found if I only said "open carry" it was not engaging enough to stop them and they might pass me by. "Open carry of handguns" succinctly tells people what you're talking about.
    3. While asking whether they support "open carry of handguns" I'd peel off a flier and hold it up and say "Like this gal here" and I'd point to the girl in the flier and gun on her belt.
    4. Depending on the person and their response I'd either go straight to the petition at the bottom, or I'd explain that Texas is one of 6 states in the US that has no provisions for open carry, other than on your own property. (Yeah, I could have mentioned businesses but for most of us that's inapplicable.)
    5. While showing the petition again, depending on the person an the response, I'd either say "please go on line and sign the petition" or "please read the petition and if you agree, sign it". I had a few skeptical people so I went for the soft sell.
    6. I would also tell them that we're hoping to get the legislature to remedy the problem in the upcoming 2009 session.
    7. I would then show them the "OpenCarry.org" along the top and tell them they could go there to get more info and track our progress.
    8. If they were chatty or wanted more info I would tell talk for a few minutes.
    Show Attendee Response:
    I got lots of "yes, I do (support open carry of handguns)" responses; a satisfying number of "hell yeahs", a few "I've already signed it" and a smattering of "yes, it would make us all safer" replies and 1 "yes, I believe everyone should be armed". One of my favorites was the guy who quoted Heinlein's "an armed society is a polite society".

    A few folks thought only concealed was the way to go. I told them politely everyone has a right to their opinion and thanked them for their time. Typically it was the 50 and younger crowd who were mostly in favor, though a few younger folks were against. I also talked with one guy who volunteered he's a peace officer and was fully in support of the idea. Woohoo!

    I had a few questions about whether this would replace or abolish CC and I vigorously assured them that it wouldn't.

    For those who were skeptical about the idea I would tell them that TX is one of 6 where OC is illegal and the other 44 allowed it. That usually got their attention. I'd cinch the deal when I told them folks in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia can and we can't. ;-)

    Exhibitor Response:
    A few exhibitors let me leave fliers on their tables. I didn't ask very many because one of the first vendors I talked to gave me a "that's a bad effing idea" response after he called me over to know what I was handing out. He was a gun dealer. Go figure.

    Looking around I saw a lot of CHL instructor booths and decided to just focus on "joe citizen".

    But there were a few who let me leave fliers on their table. The NRA was one of them. I showed them my lifer card and told them what I was doing. One of the guys manning the booth said "hey, I'm a CHL instructor, what do you think I support?" and I responded "isn't an armed citizen of any kind better than a victim?" He agreed and told me to put them on the table. I don't know whether they stayed there but I didn't leave many just in case.

    The other two were a gun-safe vendor I know and a gunsmith I was visiting to have my .45 looked at. He was an older gentleman and as I was waiting for him to look at my weapon I talked to a lady next to me. When she asked what it was about the gunsmith jumped in and said "we're trying to get it legalized here in Texas." Sweet!

    Show Organizer Response:
    The show got over at 5:00 so I went near the exit and started handing out the fliers and was told I couldn't do it there in front of the exit so I went outside. After about 10 minutes somebody came and told me not to block the door so I moved over.

    A few minutes later she sent one of the officers on duty out. He said he thought they wanted me to move well off to side so I asked him whether that was their request or just what he thought they wanted. He and I negotiated a moment or two. I told him I wanted to be respectful of the show but also wanted to exercise my first amendment rights. I think he was wanting to be a decent guy so we agreed on a little area about 5 ft behind where I was and he left.

    A few minutes after that I ran out of fliers and went home.

    Conclusion and Ideas for Next Time:
    On the whole it went well. Almost every gun owner I met was either very in favor or very interested in the idea. Of those who were against the idea the only one who was adamantly against was the gun dealer.

    While walking the floor and passing the fliers out worked, I think it would be better to rent a booth. It costs money but is less likely to cause consternation with the show organizers who were probably not aware of what was on my fliers and thought I might be "bothering" their clientele. From the response I got I can assure them they were not bothered, but a booth would have given me an "official" location from which to really talk about OC.

    I took 150 fliers and came home with none so it was a good start. Despite a few minor issues I would do it again and recommend every OC supporter do what they can. Print some fliers, keep them in the car and pass them out or talk the topic up when you can. If you can attend a show and pass them out, go for it. If possible talk with the show organizers in advance. Get them in your corner.

    --Aaron



  2. #2
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    Get a cheap banner from a sign shop and set up an outdoor booth next time. You will probably get a special rate--or no charge rate from the organizers... put it up in a area that gets traffic, but is not sought my sellers (outside location), like right next to the NRA booth.

    Just a suggestion.

    ST



  3. #3
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    Though ti would cost mor emoney, doing up thpousands of fliers and sticking them on car windows in the parking lot at guns shows is another way to reach out and touch people.

  4. #4
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    Mike wrote:
    Though ti would cost mor emoney, doing up thpousands of fliers and sticking them on car windows in the parking lot at guns shows is another way to reach out and touch people.
    The money is one issue. Distributing thousands of fliers also requires more than one person.



  5. #5
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    Takezo wrote:
    Get a cheap banner from a sign shop and set up an outdoor booth next time. You will probably get a special rate--or no charge rate from the organizers... put it up in a area that gets traffic, but is not sought my sellers (outside location), like right next to the NRA booth.

    Just a suggestion.

    ST
    I had already thought about getting a banner. I was thinking to be on the show floor, in a less than sought after place. Outside in the foyer is a good idea. That's where the NRA were located.

    Good idea.


  6. #6
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    akpoff wrote:
    Mike wrote:
    Though ti would cost mor emoney, doing up thpousands of fliers and sticking them on car windows in the parking lot at guns shows is another way to reach out and touch people.
    The money is one issue. Distributing thousands of fliers also requires more than one person.
    Occurred to me last night that another reason to get a booth of some kind would be to bring a couple of laptops and set up a "Sign the OpenCarry Petition" kiosk. Most convention centers these days have wireless. Making it easy for folks to sign the petition right then is even better than giving them a flier.

    --Aaron

    Edit: Minor wording change to clarify meaning.

  7. #7
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    Bravo indeed +100

  8. #8
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    /HI-5:celebrate

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