The View of Obama's Gun Announcement from the Nation's Premier Gun Show

Alexander Abad-Santos

Today has been a massive day for Americans and their guns in this country, as President Obama signed 23 executive actions into immediate law at a White House press conference, capping a month of bold promises to reduce gun violence in the wake of the Newtown shootings. Meanwhile, some 2,000 miles away, at the 35th annual SHOT Show, the gun industry's biggest top-of-the-line trade show, emboldened gun owners and high-tech gun makers have been watching, as frustrated and determined as ever.

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SHOT is hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which itself is based in Newtown, and the show kicked off Tuesday in Las Vegas to record crowds and new models of assault rifles, which have been flying off shelves in anticipation of President Obama's announcement today that he would seek a renewed ban on them. And the NRA, preparing its inner circle and the masses for a fight with a new ad campaign, sounded like it wanted attendees to watch the announcement. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre's letter to members — the lobby's registration numbers reportedly went up 250,000 in the last month — was circulating on the floor of SHOT throughout Tuesday afternoon and into Wednesday:

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The message may not be impeachment-level rhetoric, but it was focused on the Obama administration, and so were attendees. Here are SHOT enthusiasts watching the press conference, from the NRA News's Cameron Gray:

Huge crowd in front of our @nranews booth at #SHOTShow watching President Obama's speech on guns - #NRA…

— Cameron Gray (@Cameron_Gray) January 16, 2013

Gray's and the NRA's definition of huge is under a bit of scrutiny, since that's about 30 people. And, well, people have been quick to point out the group's lack of diversity:

Such diversity. Both tall AND short men. RT @michaelhayes: Crowd at NRA booth at gun show watches Obama's speech…

— Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) January 16, 2013

But back to the scene at SHOT — apparently Obama's announcement came with a special soundtrack in Vegas:

Seems appropriate that we heard REM's "It's the end of the world as we know it" as we were walking into #SHOTshow after Obama's speech ^BB

— ITS Tactical (@ITStactical) January 16, 2013

The trade-show reaction to the executive orders was still formulating Wednesday afternoon, but the scene at SHOT has been a record-breaking one since the outset, with gun buyers and sellers out in force after the Newtown shootings:

Record setting buyer attendance here at the 2013 #SHOTShow at the Sands Expo.

— Chris Dolnack (@chrisdolnack) January 15, 2013

Not only were records being set; birthday presents were being eyed:

At SHOT Show with @shawnmichaels & just found @jeannemark next birthday present!#2nd Amendment…

— Keith Mark (@keithmarkmra) January 15, 2013

And, well, the coming legislative fight — especially the push to ban high-capacity magazines — makes images like this one all the more relevant, urgent, or scary... depending on where you stand:

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