Fort Lauderdale Gun Show Takes Place on City Property -- Kids Get in Free!

Categories: Broward News
flickr / mrbill
A Bushmaster assault rifle like the one used in the Sandy Hook massacre.
About eight times a year, the Suncoast Gun Show takes place at Fort Lauderdale's War Memorial Auditorium -- city-owned property -- and the next event is coming up January 12 and 13. Attendees are allowed to bring guns into the show, and kids get in free!, the website announces. (Admission is $8 for adults.)

Some people might think it's just peachy that little Billy and Sally learn to shoot, but the idea of kids and guns together sounds haunting to those of us who haven't shaken off the terror from the murder of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (Their surviving classmates just started school again yesterday.)

Fort Lauderdale activist/tile shop owner/former mayoral candidate Earl Rynerson is one person who's actually taking action locally in the wake of Sandy Hook. He wants to pressure city officials to stop hosting gun shows on city property.

"In a progressive tourist destination like Fort Lauderdale, this shouldn't be happening," Rynerson says.

A year or two ago, Rynerson heard about the regular gun shows and wandered in for a look-see. He was stunned that attendees were not allowed to have cameras or shoot video on-site, but it was perfectly acceptable to bring weapons inside. "If people saw what was happening inside there, they would be appalled," Rynerson says.

On his blog, A Better Fort Lauderdale, Rynerson -- who grew up shooting a rifle -- recounted how he saw vendors selling Nazi paraphernalia and T-shirts with images of President Obama in crosshairs. And assault weapons. And bullets. Lots of guns and bullets.

More alarming to Rynerson was the impression that he got from talking to people at the show -- that permits and background checks were required in order to buy weapons on-site but that some people were using the show to window-shop and network; shadier deals were being made later, off-site in hotel rooms.

The customers he saw at the show, Rynerson says, "aren't local Fort Lauderdale residents buying sport rifles," he said. "These are guys coming down to stock up their arsenal in Alabama or their militia in Mississippi." 

Rynerson says that after attending the show, he requested from the city a copy of the contract with Suncoast; it revealed that the promoter paid $4,000 per event to hold shows here. Rynerson said he invited City Attorney Harry Stewart and City Manager Lee Feldman to attend a gun show with him, and both declined. He says he doesn't bother to contact Mayor Jack Seiler ("He hasn't done a single thing for this city") and that his commissioner, Charlotte Rodstrom, listened but did nothing. (Her seat is currently vacant.)

Rynerson believes the city has since signed a new contract with Suncoast; New Times was not able to get a copy of it late Wednesday. Seiler and Feldman were not available then either, but we will update if we hear from them.

Rynerson encourages people to call and email city officials and object to hosting the show. And if anyone wants to show up at the event January 12 and 13 to protest, he's game! Rynerson can be reached through his blog.

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Liberals hate guns.  -does that pretty much sum up this article?

guns are bad, not the people that misuse them.  and you should rely on others to protect you, since you are not capable of protecting yourself.  -is that an accurate sentiment? 

I think we should be allowed to protect our self ,   since the police can't be everywhere.  and gun controls have not worked.  -NYC, Chicago, DC, etc... outlawing guns has not stopped outlaws from having guns. (then there is Mexico).

What I wonder is what has changed in the last 20 years to cause the mass murders... there were plenty of guns in the 60-80's.  why now?  Moral decay?  TV violence?  Violent 1st person shooting Video games?

IDK, but I feel its hard to say its just because of access to guns.


"[S]hadier deals were being made later, off-site in hotel rooms.

The customers he saw at the show, Rynerson says, "aren't local Fort Lauderdale residents buying sport rifles," he said. "These are guys coming down to stock up their arsenal in Alabama or their militia in Mississippi.""

More complete BS. First, all licensed dealers (who are the ones required to do background checks at the show) must keep meticulous records of all the guns they buy and sell. Each gun must be entered into a log that can be checked by the ATF at any time. Even if a dealer takes a gun home with him and brings it back to the shop the next day, the gun must be logged out and logged back in. So the idea that he could just leave the show and sell the gun under the table later is idiotic. He would be in just as much trouble as if he had done this at the show. The gun will still trace back to him, and he still needs to be able to show all the same paperwork.

Second, it is illegal to sell guns to residents of other states. Interstate purchases must, by federal law, go through a licensed dealer in the home state of the buyer. Even if you legally purchased a gun as a present for an immediate family member (say a sibling, parent, or child) who was a resident of another state, you could not legally just drive it to them or have them come pick it up. You would have to take it or mail it to a licensed dealer in their home state, and they would have to go through a background check with that dealer in order to get the gun. So the idea that the customers at the show are "coming down to stock up their arsenal in Alabama or their militia in Mississippi" is ludicrous. 

The only way that a person from out of state could purchase guns like this would be IF the dealer at the show agreed to have the gun shipped to a licensed dealer in the home state of the buyer, where he'd have to then go through all the checks and paperwork required in order to get the gun. And why would you drive the whole length of the state of Florida just to do that, when there are plenty of gun shops and gun shows in those other states, not to mention all along the state of Florida itself? The prices and selections at the Fort Lauderdale show are not particularly good, certainly no better than anywhere else. So this BS artist wants us to believe that these people are driving 600+ miles each way just to buy the same gun that they can get at their local gun shop, just as cheap or cheaper, when they will still have to go through all the same checks and paperwork anyway, and not get the gun until they go to that same local shop when they get home? Yeah, right.


"He was stunned that attendees were not allowed to have cameras or shoot video on-site, but it was perfectly acceptable to bring weapons inside."

Uh, hello, it's a gun show. You don't want people taking pictures or video because they could be used to plan ways to steal guns. And of course you can bring guns in since the whole point is to buy and sell guns and accessories. But they are also checked by police officers at the door to make sure that they are unloaded, and the police put cable ties through the action of each gun so that it cannot be loaded or fired. All guns on display by vendors are similarly disabled. Nice job leaving out that relevant fact. Gun shows are one of the safest places you can go. There are always several police officers, including usually at least one federal agent. 

These "criticisms" show once again that fear of guns is primarily a function of ignorance, not informed contemplation. Such antipathy born of ignorance is the biggest reason why we cannot have a civil debate about guns in this country. Trying to do so with anti-gun zealots is like trying to have a rational discussion about science with a young-Earth creationist. You can't convince a person with facts and logic when his whole approach to the debate is to deny and ignore facts and logic.

By the way, the state's preemption law would likely make any such ban on gun shows illegal anyway, so this is just an exercise in emotional pandering. As a city representative, you can't discriminate against someone you don't like just because you're a bigot.


After the break in to my house, where three guns were stolen from their hiding places, the police told me that it was actually likely they would be sold at a gun show like this one.

Yet, they refuse to have background checks at these shows.


@smdrpepper wrong on two points. First, while I don't deny that the police might have told you this, according to the FBI, crime guns are only very rarely sold or bought at gun shows. Second, the vast majority of sales at gun shows DO include the same standard background check that is done at any licensed dealer's. 

And even if the very small number of private sales that occur there did include a background check on the buyer, how would that in any way prevent a thief from SELLING a stolen gun? A background check is done only on the buyer, to make sure that he or she is not a convicted felon or otherwise prohibited from purchasing a gun, not the seller or the gun itself. Again, a little logic goes a long way in debunking the vast majority of these criticisms.

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