A manufacturer and dealer of replica guns and gun parts who planned to have a booth on the exhibit floor of Wizard World Chicago was told that his business was not welcome after all.
Dave Selvaggio of DSArms in Barrington, Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune that he had been planning since March to have a booth at the show, which takes place this weekend. He advertised his show booth on the DSArms Facebook page and planned to have people walking the con floor. Wizard World bans real weapons, including firearms and sharpened swords, and Selvaggio wasn't planning on selling any actual guns, just replicas, as well as promoting shooting and gun safety classes.
"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 said.
Comic Con attendees make for a natural market, he said, as many of the movies and games enjoyed by those fans involve firearms.
"Maybe 90 percent of people walking around in costumes have (presumably fake) firearms," said Selvaggio, who added that his company has provided props for movies. "All of these movies are filmed with live guns, with firing devices and with replicas."
However, word of this got onto the media and people started pushing back. On Monday, Wizard World spokesman Jerry Milani told Tom Spurgeon The Comics Reporter that the dealer had been disinvited:
A scheduled exhibitor at our upcoming Wizard World Comic Con Chicago event, one which had been included through a third-party partner, was to have displayed and presented imitation, costume Star Wars and other movie/comic type weaponry. But, as it has come to our attention that the organization markets and sells actual, real-life weapons, we have elected to not retain them as an exhibitor at the event.
Although Spurgeon reported that there would be a booth on the floor after all, the DSArms table was taken down about 90 minutes after the show began on Thursday.
DSArms has exhibited at other, non-comics themed conventions and plans to do more. They will be a major sponsor of The Armory, a weapons display at DragonCon, according to a Facebook comment by Armory curator Kevin Dockery.