In Cumberland County, TN a group of volunteers along with citizens working with the Cumberland County Government Community Complex decided they would work towards continuing a long term commitment, by providing a free place for youth groups and organizations from the entire county to hold their meetings and events every year.
When the Community Complex was first built the County commissioners made a policy that it be rented to the public for shows weddings, family reunions, etc… but it would be donated to any children’s organizations which needed space. Herein lays the problem. In 1974 there weren’t as many kids’ organizations as there are today. This 119 acre Community Complex located in Crossville, TN consists of two large buildings, open air barns, an outdoor stadium with arena, and the Obid River Park.
That space is donated to youth organizations such as: Little League Football and Youth Soccer; 4-H, FFA, and Horse Shows; Cheerleading and Junior and Senior High School Barbeques; Christian Youth Meetings and Boy and Girl Scouts; Hunter Education; Foster Children’s Groups; just to name a few.
A few years ago the commissioners put their heads together to look at ways to generate revenue to continue the donation policy. None of the commissioners wanted to change the policy but they had to offset the losses to continue to keep the doors open at this facility and still meet the demands of an ever growing youth participation at the center. The idea of a Gun and Knife Show was born, with the first show held at the Government Community Complex itself.
The show is now a yearly event, generating enough income to provide free use for youth groups for an entire year. Not only are the kids benefiting from the use of the Complex, but a confiscated weapons auction is also held to benefit the local Police and Sherriff’s Departments, providing more benefits to the community as well.
Most gun shows are geared towards men; this show is geared to family. To do this the group of government and volunteers seek partnerships from the community. These partnerships include: The Plateau Longbeards (chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation); Daisy Air-Guns who provide inflatable air-gun ranges for the children to shoot in; local sportsmen provide an archery range so the kids would have the opportunity to shoot a bow; bounce houses; birds of prey exhibits; face painting and balloon characters; gun safety classes; just to name a few of the events provided. And the number one key – all children’s events are supervised by qualified personnel trained to teach kids safety and responsibility.
Gun safety classes are also held for the adults along with Concealed Carry Permit classes to fully qualify for obtaining a carry permit. Various How To classes are also provided to acquaint attendees with other aspects of gun/knife safety and operation, CPR, self-defense, and etc.
We don’t want to forget the enormous support provided by our local law enforcement officers and medical personnel who donate their time to provide security and health services during the entire event. We also have lots of support from local businesses and citizens as well as the Friends of the NRA.
We are the only Gun and Knife Show in the state of Tennessee sponsored by a government agency that hosts a show to benefit the youth of the area and possibly the only one in the United States. We hope that other communities take on similar projects with their Gun and Knife Shows.
This outreach will help to educate more citizens of our gun rights in this nation and the continuous battle the NRA fights with government regulations –good can be achieved if we work together to make it happen.