Generational Changes and Firearms

The future of firearms in America after the Baby Boomer generation has left us.

by Brian R Smith

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The times, they are a-changin’, and the average American firearms enthusiast is changing radically with them. Let’s look at how Baby Boomer generation shaped the firearms interests and market of the past 40-some years, and how as we Boomers exit the scene the next generations of firearms enthusiasts will influence what the market is and how radically different it will be.

I attended a somewhat local semi-annual “fire hall” gun show in early Spring 2022, a habit of the past 30 years. This one has a reputation as an “old time” gun show; more of a gun, gun parts, and ammo bargain hunt than a show hall housing portable commercial gun shop operations for the weekend. In fact, it has been a long-time joke of sorts that “someone had to die so that someone else could get a table.” Normally, between the social hall and the equipment garage, there were no spare tables to be had. If someone canceled due to an emergency, someone else on the wait list took their tables for that particular show.

This last show it was all too clear that old adage was not a joke. There were 11 open tables or spots that were usually occupied by tables. This was unheard of at this show up until Covid-19 hit. The first show held at this venue since the pandemic was in the fall of 2021, and at 0800 on Saturday there were 17 tables empty due to cancellations. Many of the old time vendors didn’t want to take a risk with the crowds in the two buildings with limited ventilation. By 0930 at last October’s show, many of the empties were filled by nearby vendors spreading out or by folks on the waiting list that were able to get there quickly. They probably had the vehicle packed, just in case, or got a call from the organizer on Friday night. It was much the same this past show, except seven tables weren’t set up to start with; it was an extra-wide aisle for a change.

There’s a sea change taking place in the American firearms scene and when it’s done, what’s left won’t be recognizable to anyone born before 1965. To understand what’s happening, we have to review how we got where we are.

Read more in the April 2023 issue.

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