Industry Mask-Preference Survey Link Inside

Warning:  I occasionally get complaints from readers when I get into politics and industry gossip, and stray from valuable legal information.  I’m straying this month, so stop reading here if you’re looking for information to help you make better legal choices in your business.  See y’all next month…

So, everyone’s asking me about the SHOT Show.  But I do talk to dozens or hundreds of clients, and I’ve been polling informally and confidentially about COVID and trade show cancellations since the beginning.  Informal contacts with NSSF help to inform me on the matter.

I’m hearing consistent opinions from my clients, which are mostly small to mid-sized businesses, and larger privately held businesses.  And because I tend to agree with what I’m hearing, you might well guard against this reporter’s bias.

Here’s what I’m hearing:  While we appreciate the clear effort of the NSSF to survey us, many worry that the surveys are missing the point (or maybe there’s a point we’ve missed).  I’ve taken a couple of the surveys, but don’t have the text in front of me.

One client emailed me putting it this way:

I just received an anonymous survey from the shot show officials asking if I would rather have attendees:

    1. A) wear a mask
    2. B) show proof of vaccination (Vegas allows this at the moment)
    3. C) both

Of course there was not an option for “none of the above it’s a free country and we shouldn’t be violating HIPPA nor ones first amendment rights to speak ‘unmuzzled”’ as I call it.  I didn’t realize how much hearing loss I had from [my military service] until I can no longer watch someone’s lips while I’m in conversation…

…it seems like [the SHOT Show authorities] are trying to go the route that is very contrary to what most of the Firearms community believes is right.

I’m seriously debating not doing my 10×10 Shot booth, at great cost to myself, if they want to enforce any of the aforementioned requirements.

I would certainly not hesitate to add another option: “D) Let attendees decide for themselves what precautions they wish to take, and limit event efforts to providing sensible sanitation facilities and information urging anyone with even slight symptoms to stay away.”

I should note that my NSSF contact tells me that the surveys were intended only for exhibitors, so we’re both mystified why I received multiple requests to participate.  I also learned that the surveys and results are considered confidential.  And most importantly, that the requirements are purely driven by the State of Nevada, so SHOT authorities are managing within that constraint.

My take is this: if I thought I really needed a mask, I don’t want to be there.  And that would involve a properly-fit N95 mask.  But I’m not saying that masks work well.

It’s the same as carrying a gun: If an event or destination is so dangerous that I know I’ll want to have a gun to be safe, I don’t go.  The reason I carry a gun is to get away safely from a place I had assumed was reasonably safe, and turned out not to be (which could be anywhere).  Similarly, I’ll have a good mask with me at SHOT in case things seem more medically dangerous than I expect, to protect before bugging out of a dangerous situation.  I don’t think SHOT will be any more dangerous than normal, but I’ll be ready for the worst.  Then again, if I can foresee that there will be mask enforcers inside the show with the same enthusiasm for authority that we hear about with some airline crew, I probably won’t attend.  Imagine being put on a lifetime “No-SHOT” list for having your nose out of a mask.  Add to that the important reason that I know some people I meet with have health problems that make them vulnerable.  If they brave the risks to attend, I’m happy to mask up when meeting for their safety and peach of mind.

As far as how the situation should be managed from my outside and uninformed viewpoint?

  1. Survey to determine the true opinions on any mask and vaccine mandates, whether or not the NSSF has any power. It’s often said that “they never give back freedoms – they must be taken back.” If every trade show pushed back because half of their members said they didn’t want mandates, the political winds might shift.  Compliance will never get us anywhere.  Attendees might be different from exhibitors, but exhibitors might well be disappointed to find that attendance was far below normal.
  2. On the ground research of other trade shows in the same venue to determine what the enforcement and compliance levels are. This would be helpful to members whether they prefer strict enforcement or individual choice. Are there roving police arresting people?  Or just the badge checkers checking masks, and lots of non-compliance on the show floor?  The SHOT Show isn’t put on for my benefit, but I’m probably not alone in thinking that one scenario would be attractive to attend, and one might leave me at home.

One reader put me on to a source ( for masks that serve only to give the appearance of compliance, while lettering the fresh air flow.  They appear to be the choice for those more worried about getting enough fresh air, and less about what in the air.  And that company reportedly has been terrorized by the “mask-Karens.”

A Radical Innovation to Transform the Future of the SHOT Show?

I was on a Zoom call with an old client today, and we got to talking about all this (I didn’t charge for the call, in gratitude for helping me decide what to write about this month).  He reinforced all of the above opinions that seem to be prevalent but not offered as options in the surveys we’re invited to answer.  We stepped back to the bigger picture of whether things have changed in a larger way and there might some greater transformation ahead.

We still need to meet, build relationships eye to eye, and to handle the goods.  Zoom calls may have turned out to be a silver lining for my communications with clients (especially first-time caller prospective clients).  But they’re no substitute for meeting in person before placing a big order or launching an enduring relationship.

I thought, “Why meet every year?  Why not make it like the Olympics?”  Every four years probably isn’t enough, but if SHOT goes off successfully, we’ll have completed a valuable experiment.  The word is “biennial” (not biannual – I had to look it up).  With winter/summer game, the Olympics are essentially biennial.  What would a biennial SHOT Show look like?

With new halls being opened, special one-day supplier showcases and pop-up newcomer venues, and even a competing (SCI) show held simultaneously in the same city, I might suggest MORE days for the show.  That probably sounds like torture to any exhibitor (and to the CFO).  Unless…  What if it was only every other year?

If I can think of a dozen reasons why this is a good idea, you can probably think of a hundred reasons why it isn’t, so this is just for discussion.  Idea: Big SHOT biennially, and Little SHOT in between, without losing exhibitor priority for doing only the big one (Obviously, those who do both will be higher in the pecking order).  Also, with the NRA Annual Meeting expo becoming a major industry show, the need to meet annually in Vegas might be met well elsewhere (not to mention NASGW, etc.)

Here’s a twist: For the off-year shows, have them travel around to country to locations that can handle the smaller exhibitor space (limit booth size) and the attendee numbers.

Economically, the cost per show would be higher but the cost over time would be a lot less for a typical exhibitor.  It might be harder for newcomers who need to launch now and not wait a year (or for annoyingly persistent newcomer patent attorneys calling on booths to build relationships and a reputation).

It might nearly cut costs in half over time, but how much would it cut the benefits?  Let me know what you think and if you have other ideas.

If You No Longer Trust the “Experts”…

When you no longer can trust the experts, it’s sometimes necessary to think for yourself.  It doesn’t always mean we get it right, but how could we get it much worse?  “Two weeks to slow the spread” vs. “We never said that!”  Or, “Masks don’t work, save them for medical personnel” vs. “Mask up to save the lives of people who are wearing masks.”  Or, “Look at the numbers from [pick a nation or state]” vs. (months later) “never mind.”

Truly, the greatest casualty of this pandemic may well be the reputation of “experts” especially the medical profession, who seem comfortable misleading us in order to achieve their agenda (which might well have good intentions).  Speaking from the universally-beloved and respected legal profession, I’d suggest that the medical profession might be giving us some competition.

Here’s my unqualified medical hypothesis for your consideration:

    1. People who are sick, stay home. We don’t go to work, or out shopping, or to social events, especially since COVID.  This is the new normal, and while maybe the boss used to admire the employee who toughed out the big project with the flu, that is no longer acceptable.  It’s socially unthinkable to go out in public when you feel sick with something that might possibly be COVID.  That’s like an AIDS patient having unprotected sex with an unknowing partner.
    2. Therefore, the whole justification for masks, distancing, and the need for a vaccine is based primarily on one thing: People might become infected and contagious, but not realize it until later. Lockdowns, masks and social distancing are of no public health benefit when the knowingly sick stay home.  The vaccine might provide a net health risk benefit to the recipient, but if the recipient stays home when they get sick, then the vaccine helps only their recovery prospects, without providing a public health benefit as long as they stay home.  Because those who stay home don’t infect others in public.
    3. The key term is “Asymptomatic Transmission.” People who spread a disease in the period before they realize they’re infected.  I recall hearing a lot about this early COVID days.  “Experts” were saying this was a real risk, but it never really materialized.  It probably was necessary for them to invoke this risk (real or fabricated) because public health principles normally require it to justify extreme lockdown measures.  Without “asymptomatic transmission” there would be no lockdowns, no widespread adoption of vote-by mail without legal safeguards.
    4. To understand asymptomatic transmission, consider two examples. First, imagine a deadly sexually transmitted disease that has a month of infectiousness before the person realizes he’s infected, during which he’s transmitting to others.  That creates a wildfire – exponential growth as each person infects more than just one other person before realizing they are infected.  Now contrast something like Ebola (as I simplistically understand it), which hits hard and fast soon after infection.  Quickly debilitated, the patient isn’t out infecting others, and it might be rare to infect even one person.  So the disease, horrible as it is, tends to die out.  (I’m making up medical details here to illustrate for simplicity).
    5. Now, imagine you developed a miracle drug for Ebola. It made people less likely to become infected if exposed, and even if infected reduced the severity of symptoms, and most importantly reduced the infection fatality rate significantly.  No downside to that drug, right?  Not so fast…
    6. Reducing the misery of symptoms sounds great, but what if reducing symptoms increases the length of time a newly-infected person is unaware of their infection? That would mean they’d be out and about, potentially infecting others, more than those who didn’t get the drug.  Maybe their risk of death was a fraction of those who didn’t get the drug, but what if the odds of a patient infecting someone else go from 90%, up to 110%?  You have a less lethal disease, but one that grows exponentially, and unstoppably, until a vastly greater population is exposed to that somewhat less lethal disease.
    7. This is just a hypothetical, but I worry that the symptom suppression “feature” of COVID vaccines may make vaccinated people riskier spreaders for this reason. They may be less likely to be carriers, and less susceptible to contracting the virus (though some also worry the vaccinated can carry and transmit without getting infected – the ultimate “asymptomatic transmission.”)
    8. Those who are vaccinated naturally will “relax” with relief that they are protected, and have been lauded for how they are protecting others. This isn’t am moral criticism, it’s reality, and applies to those who were previously infected and rely on their natural immunity.  It undoubtedly will reduce vigilance and precautions.  Being vaccinated, it’s a relief not to worry every time one gets a sniffle or scratchy throat.  Whew!  But that means that an actual “breakthrough” case of COVID might be a greater risk for transmission, because now an infected person isn’t as likely to stay at home, away from the workplace, or off of the SHOT Show floor.

I’m not a doctor but science is largely about common sense and logic.  I don’t trust anyone who says to “trust the science” because my scientific education that is the foundation for my engineering education always taught me that true science is about continually “questioning the science.”  If you’re not allowed to doubt, that’s when to doubt the most.  I know that’s far off topic, and appreciate your hearing my thoughts.

My Survey

Take my one question survey and see results immediately.  Click this link to register your opinion.  Or, if you’re old-fashioned, just email me your opinion on this simple question:

How do mask mandates influence your decision to participate at an industry trade show?

  1. Much less likely to participate.
  2. Somewhat less likely to participate.
  3. No effect.
  4. Somewhat more likely to participate.
  5. Much more likely to participate.

Meanwhile, I’m still offering “virtual booth visits” in the form of a no-charge Zoom call to talk about your plans and to answer your questions about the year ahead.  Book now.

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About the Author: Ben Langlotz

Ben Langlotz is the nation’s leading firearms patent and trademark attorney, and the author of Bulletproof Firearms Business: The Legal Guide to Success Under Fire. He is trusted by more firearms industry companies than any other lawyer or law firm in the nation, and is consistently ranked at the top of all attorneys in securing gun patents and gun trademarks.