The US Concealed Carry Association’s Concealed Carry Expo is slated to hit Pennsylvania Friday as thousands of concealed carry enthusiasts descend upon Pittsburgh. Held at David L. Lawrence Convention Center the Expo will see renowned instructors conducting seminars as well as vendors and manufacturers showcasing their latest and greatest in concealed carry products.
Tim Schmidt, President and Founder of USCCA, sat down with Guns.com prior to the kickoff of the event to delve into what attendees can expect to see and the Pittsburgh politics plaguing the convention.
GDC: What sets the Concealed Carry Expo apart from other conventions?
Schmidt: First, the USCCA Expo is not a gun show. It’s primarily education and training. Literally, the first day alone there’s over 30 training sessions people can sign up for. There are tons of vendors, all sorts of firearms manufacturers, gear companies, holster companies but you don’t buy guns at the Expo. We also have a live training event that we are doing on Friday. There’s one of those remote ranges that is a big semi-trailer. You can shoot and test guns out there.
GDC: It seems to be really focused on providing gun owners with training opportunities they might not normally have access to with instructors they might not be able to see otherwise, correct?
GDC: This is the fifth year running for the Concealed Carry Expo and it seems like each year draws more attendees. Why do you think the Expo is gaining momentum?
Schmidt: The reason that our attendance is getting bigger and bigger each year comes down to two reasons. Number one, there’s more USCCA members — we grow between 30 and 40-percent per year in total membership. Number two, the perspective across our whole society is that firearm ownership is becoming more acceptable by a lot of people. There’s a lot of curious people wondering how they go about being a responsibly armed citizen.
GDC: How many attendees are you estimating to see walk through the doors and how does your estimate stack up against last year’s event?
Schmidt: Well last year in Louisville we had 15,000 attendees. I suspect we’ll get somewhere between 20,000 to 25,000 this year. The city of Pittsburgh helped us out a lot with that. You know three months ago they asked us not to even come.
GDC: Yes, I was going to ask about that. I saw that a local city leader wrote a letter to you asking USCCA to move the Expo to another city. Why do you think they are afraid of the event?
Schmidt: I think a lot of that comes from ignorance and unfamiliarity with firearms. They don’t understand that the only language evil people or bad guys understand is the fear of force. The responsibly armed citizen is the most effective deterrent to crime.
GDC: Do you see these politics impacting the Expo? The mayor did just recently sign local anti-gun ordinances.
Schmidt: They don’t take effect until June so there won’t be any direct effect on us. Certainly, I suspect there may be some protestors. We may have to deal with that but I hope that doesn’t happen.
GDC: What is something new that attendees will get to experience this year in Pittsburgh?
Schmidt: We’re doing a live USCCA training ground. We do a simulated self-defense exercise where we put a responsibly armed American in a simulated situation where they defend themselves. We’re going live on Friday night at the convention center.
GDC: That sounds really cool! Is there anything else you think our readers need to know about the Expo?
Schmidt: Just that it’s turning into the biggest group of like-minded, responsibly armed citizens in the county. It’s a great place. We’re people who think just like you do and we’re all willing to be our family’s first line of defense.
The USCCA Concealed Carry Expo will run Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.