News Release
Montana Gun Show Cancelled because of New Federal Regulation
Is this a “Canary in a coal mine?”
(For immediate release, May 18, 2024)

MISSOULA, Mont. – A gun show scheduled in Hamilton, Montana for the weekend of May 17th, 18th and 19th has been cancelled because of the new regulation by the Biden administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) redefining what “engaged in business” is for selling one or more firearms.

Typically, some vendors at gun shows have federal firearms licenses to be in the business of selling firearms and require all buyers to complete a federal background check before completing a transaction.  Other venders are private sellers, not in active business, but who may be selling firearms from a personal collection or trading firearms as a hobby.  Such private sales have always been legal and allowed until the new Biden/BATFE regulation about who is seen to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms.  With a change in administrative rules and definition, the new regulation could make it a federal crime for private sellers to sell even one firearm.

The proprietor for the Hamilton gun show reports that because of the uncertainties and possible criminal liabilities created by the new regulation, he is unable to attract enough vendors to cover the costs associated with putting on his annual gun show.  Private sellers of firearms at gun shows are unwilling to risk prison time to pursue their hobby or sell firearms from personal collections.  Therefore, this historic and regular gun show has been cancelled.

Many people have expressed concern about the effect this new federal regulatory change will have on gun shows nationwide.  There are concerns that the uncertainties of this new regulation will dissuade typical vendors from having tables at gun shows.  This fear appears to be proven correct by the cancellation of the Hamilton gun show.  This problem will likely repeat for the thousands of gun shows held across the U.S. each year, which are typically attended by millions of people.  This, in turn, will interrupt a major marketplace and recreational activity in the U.S.

It remains to be seen if the Hamilton gun show cancellation is a dead canary in the coal mine.  It is likely a warning about the future of gun shows.  Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association commented,  “A wave of such cancellations is probably the intended outcome for the new Biden/BATFE rule.”

At least three lawsuits have been filed in federal courts challenging the new Biden/BATFE rule.  One lawsuit is by Texas, another by Florida, and the third is by the Attorneys General of multiple states, including Montana.  All lawsuits ask for emergency orders restraining the BATFE from enforcing this new rule.  As a result, the rule could be suspended by judicial order while the merits of the lawsuits are sorted out in court.

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Information:  Gary Marbut,, 406-549-1252

By mssa