Yeah, you heard right. There was a freaking gun retailer at a comic convention. But, it didn't last long.
Stormtroopers stand guard outside San Diego Comic-Con. Photo Credit: Getty Images
DS Arms, a gun manufacturer with a Chicago-area factory showroom, had its gun replica booth shut down at Wizard World Chicago on Thursday, less than two hours after setting up. According to the Chicago Tribune, people were complaining that it was wrong for a real gun maker to have a booth — even if it was only selling fake guns.
While, yes, the guns were replicas and DS Arms says it makes props for Hollywood, this booth didn't appear to be just about giving Commander Shepard cosplayers suitable weaponry. According to the Tribune, the booth was also promoting gun and safety classes and DS Arms owner Dave Selvaggio himself said it was also about giving attendees information about real guns.
"Just because people are fans of comic books and sci-fi doesn't mean they're not interested in protecting themselves and their family and their belongings," he told the Chicago Tribune.
Lots of comic cons have started cracking down on the use of weapons in cosplay, especially given the risk of mass shootings. Last year, London's MCM Comic Con confiscated several fake guns because of Britain's gun laws. New York Comic-Con says it will "treat anything that looks like a real gun as a real gun." San Diego Comic-Con requires all prop guns be rendered inoperable, and inspects every prop weapon before letting it on the convention floor.
Wizard World bans all forms of "real weaponry", but allows Airsoft prop guns if they're legal to carry in the city that the convention is being held in, which in Rosemont (just outside Chicago) it looks to be. In the end, Selvaggio's booth was likely legal, but for all intents and purposes, it was pretty damn unpleasant.
DS Arms is sponsoring The Armory, a replica gun exhibit, at DragonCon in Atlanta this year. DragonCon special guest Kevin Dockery said in a Facebook comment that The Armory takes a lot of time and money to be able to have replica guns on display at a convention, and noted that it wasn't surprising Selvaggio got shut down.
"The idea of going to a Comic-Con or Wizard World we found laughable," Dockery wrote.