The Marfa gun show returns with little fanfare

Scott Wash and his son Zachary of Alpine peruse the gun selection at the Devil’s Advocate Armory gun show at the Marfa Activity Center last weekend. “We didn’t come here to specifically buy a gun but to support events like this in our community,” Wash said. (photos by Maisie Crow)

MARFA – Gregory Romeu handpicked over five hundred gun dealers between Las Cruces, New Mexico and Midland, attending gun shows, shops and an NRA convention, personally inviting them to sell at the Devil’s Advocate Armory-hosted gun show in the Marfa Activity Center last weekend. So he was disappointed when only a handful of dealers, an accessory maker, an open carry advocate, a beef jerky maker and a wickless candle dealer turned out to vend their wares.

Romeu believed dealers took one look at the demographics of Marfa and said, “All you see here is the manufacturing of snowflakes.” Marfa’s last gun show was in 2015 at the Marfa USO building.

Romeu, a Marine, previously co-hosted shows in Indiana, Michigan and even one in California – implying it was before it became so liberal. He brought a show to Marfa this year believing it was a chance to support the Second Amendment and the general public, but now he has “no idea” whether he’ll host an event here again.

A child who attended the Devil’s Advocate Armory gun show with his family checks out the selection at the Marfa Activity Center on Sunday.

Scott Wash attended the event with his son this year, planning to “browse and support the local economy.” He said his interest in guns was for “sport and protection. Because, America.”

But he also believed, “Whether you want to be a shooter or hunter, everybody ought to be taught weapons safety and how to handle a gun.”

Two dealers positioned at tables across from each other represented the facets of gun show sales.

One dealer, who did not wish to be identified, sold “curio” to collectors, with no guns made after 1950 on his table. He was not required to run background checks on purchasers, but he did have a personal rule: The buyer had to have a valid Texas Driver’s License or a Military ID to purchase any of his rifles.

Shelley Jordan of Winnsboro, LA, tries on a Ladies Lace Gun Belt at the Devil’s Armory gun show in Marfa. Jordan’s husband works in the oilfields near Pecos.

Across the aisle, Ed Flores of Tactical Hunter in El Paso was selling a Kel-Tec 40 caliber rifle to a buyer excited that the weapon was foldable and could “fit in a briefcase.” The gun uses handgun ammunition, but because the barrel is longer it “generates a lot more power,” the buyer explained.

Flores holds a Federal Firearms License so he must run background checks, even at gun shows. He strictly scolded a teen for picking up a handgun from his table; it’s not legal to handle a handgun if you’re under 21 and it is illegal to handle rifles and shotguns for those under 18.

Flores said he collects a form of ID from a buyer, has them complete Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Form 4473 and puts their information through an FBI background check. “If they come out clear we can proceed with the purchase,” he explained.

If they’ve never bought a gun, they get delayed, and the system will provide information on whether they’re approved and if they’ve bought a gun before, he explained.

Flores also has some personal rules too. He spends extra time with first-time buyers, showing them around the weapon’s features, teaching about the safety and giving tips.

James Peinado from Open Carry Texas, a gun advocacy group, said ideally he’d like Texas to get away from the permitting process entirely. “I don’t think you should have to ask the state for rights for the First Amendment or to carry a tool,” he said.

Those who shared their thoughts during the Marfa gun show last weekend all seemed to agree on one thing: the sanctity of the Second Amendment. Wash told The Big Bend Sentinel, “I believe in the Constitution and what it says. There’s a reason there’s a Bill of Rights. If you don’t think so, get on a plane and fly somewhere else.”