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Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton is a 33-year law enforcement veteran, a trainer, and the national spokesman for The American Council on Public Safety. He served 10 years with the Princeton (N.J.) Police Department and 23 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He is an author who has published multiple books on law enforcement.
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Walking the SHOT Show

What happens when a retired cop joins 60,000 dealers, buyers, and fellow journalists at the nation's premier gun exhibition.

January 26, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

The Safariland/Kona patrol bike is an all-terrain bicycle with 29-inch wheels. Photo: Mark W. Clark
The Safariland/Kona patrol bike is an all-terrain bicycle with 29-inch wheels. Photo: Mark W. Clark
Lions, Tigers, and Bears-Oh, Hell No!

Not if they know what's good for them, at least.

Much of the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT) held each year in Las Vegas is dedicated to tools for killing, skinning and gutting such creatures.

I was walking around the Sands Expo & Convention Center last week and I realized that Sin City appeared to have been taken over by men sporting bolo ties and hunting caps. Like so many Elmer Fudd's, they told stories about their various mano-a-animal adventures and traded jokes with punchlines like "Those ain't flashbulbs," and "I only have to run faster than you."

There was also a strong law enforcement presence at the show, with attending representing agencies from corrections to fish and game; from Homeland Security to all manner of county, municipal, state and federal angencies. Many of the men and women so employed appeared to have colorful, larger-than-life personalities equal to their hunter brethren, including a couple whose early retirements were doubtlessly not the result of physical injuries or buy-outs, but those same multiple personalities. But all in all, I was fortunate to meet quite a few good guys and gals and typically gleen additional insight into how things are throughout the law enforcement community.

I would like to make a case that you and your employing agency should seriously consider attending the SHOT show in the future, if you haven't already.

First, SHOT isn't your typical gun show by any stretch of the imagination. For one, it is the nation's largest gun show, and the fifth largest convention in Las Vegas, a place that knows a thing or two about conventions. For another, its patronage is by and large exhibiters and buyers; casual off-the-street browsers are not admitted. However, cops are, if they influence the purchase of equipment.

Another of the great things about the show is that there are so many products directly tailored to our profession; indeed, a third of the 630,000 square feet of the show's floor space is dedicated to Cop World with booths promoting police-related products. These products cover everything from eye and ear range protection to high-tech laser sim training where players light up like Christmas trees.

Full-grown men line up in these booths, not so much like kids in a candy store as kids in a video arcade, hunkering over all manner of long guns, staring down the length of their barrels, and engaging imaginary targets both near and far. Elsewhere, three-dimensional video tutorials-which I personally find far better than their cinematic equivalents-allow one to visually break down firearms and watch shooters blast otherwise inanimate objects into high-velocity smithereens.

While the actual firearms being exhibited at this year's SHOT Show covered the gamut from shotguns, to pistols, to rifles, to semi-automatics, to even derringers-it was not just lethal force on display. There were all manner of less-lethal tools on show, as well, including disorienting light technology, both handheld and that can be affixed to firearms. There were lower velocity projectiles that mitigate the likelihood of hospital trips. There were all manner of chemical agents. There were even hybrid products that allow officers to make split-second adjustments between their force options.

Many companies are not shy about promoting other law enforcement officer-friendly product lines at SHOT such as Safariland's new patrol bicycle, a 30-gear model that's capable of covering all manner of terrain at a pretty good clip.

The ancillary benefits of attending such a show aren't just to see what you or your agency should be stocking, but how non-cops might be packing. There were a number of concealed carry undershirts on display like the Packin' Tee and the FlashBang, which allows a handgun to be secreted within the cross-section of a woman's bra. These sartorial accoutrements allow for easy concealability and accessibility of firearms.

One might also reasonably wonder just how many law enforcement agencies might be purchasing the Slide Fire, which effectively increases the speed of fire for semi-automatic rifles such as the AK-47 and M-16. But the availability of a device that "bump fires" rounds at a 400-800 round pace per minute is something cops might want to at least know about.

And this year I found a mere two blocks away a collectables guns and knives show at the Riviera with some outstanding antique firearms. I don't know if this event will coincide with the SHOT Show again next year, but it's worth looking into if you're on the fence.

I ain't gonna be writing travel brochures or advertising copy anytime soon. Lost Wages remains a place where the neon promise of "Change" and "Redemption" speak solely to matters of currency and you don't have a *ahem* shot at either.

But isn't it nice to know that at SHOT Show, law enforcement officers can at least avail themselve of a chance of coming out on top where it really counts? And that's something worth betting on.

The SHOT Show will return to the Sands Expo & Convention Center next year, Jan. 15-18.

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