Six times a year, Tradeshow Productions owner Daryl Klein sponsors a gun show at Hawkeye Downs. Sellers rent booths from him in order to hawk their handguns, rifles and etc. to the background-check approved masses over a few days. Although two Iowa teens have been charged with stealing guns from the event in January, it’s not too often that illegal transactions go on inside his events, Klein said.

“We have strict rules we need to follow,” he said. “I will not allow vendors who have been found selling guns without the proper background checks to sell at my shows…and our security measures are tough.”

There are off-duty police officers and sheriff’s deputies who check every weapon that comes in the door to make sure they’re unloaded, also checking weapons on the way out. Exhibitors use their own methods to secure their weapons, he said, whether that’s by connecting them all with a cord or rope, or putting them inside a glass case. Tyler Carter and Ethan Johnston just “got lucky” when they ran out the door with their stolen guns, Klein said.

“The vendor’s table was right next to the door, and they must have just taken off running,” he said.

But, alas, their plan was faulty. In their haste, they didn’t realize one of the guns was missing a clip. So they took a chance when they returned the next time to ask for a clip for one of the stolen guns. The woman recognized them and pointed them out to security officers. They were searched, and officers found MORE stolen goods on them from the show. That time, security worked like it was supposed to, Klein said.

The people who attend the gun shows are looking for hunting weapons or handguns and pistols for concealed carrying or target practice, he said — the shows are NOT conduits for illegal sales. I, for one, appreciate that. Bureau of Justice statistics suggest that at least 1/3 of gun crimes involve stolen guns. Interestingly enough, they also say juvenile offenders are more likely to have guns than adults. Hm.