On Business: Weapons Ban

By | Monday, May 29, 2017 Leave a Comment
So the big convention news last week was that Matthew Sterling attended the Phoenix Comicon with the intent to kill former Power Rangers actor Jason David Frank. After the incident, Phoenix Comicon responded with additional security and a ban on all prop weapons. So the question at hand is: does that type of thing hurt a convention's business?

Well, first, let's see who this ban really affects. Unless a convention specifically focuses on cosplay, the number of people actually in costume relative to the overall attendance is incredibly small. Typically, something in the five percent range. Then, how many of those in costume actually require a weapon for their character? Popular characters like Batman, Storm, Spider-Man, the Joker... they don't generally have weapons as part of their ensemble. So a complete weapons ban would only impact a small subset of an already small subset of attendees. Granted, it would be a very visible subset, and it's quite noticeable when you have Stormtroopers walking around without any blasters, but it's a still a relatively small number of people. That would explain, at least in part, why the number of people who took the Phoenix show up on their offer to issue refunds was "very few" according to spokesman Tom Kuipers.

Phoenix Comicon also noted that the ban doesn't apply to vendors who are selling prop weapons. They are required to keep them in the packaging, and to tell anyone purchasing them that they must remain in the packaging for the duration of the show. But they don't have to stop selling anything. So, financially, the vendors aren't really impacted too much; they might be annoyed at having to reconfigure their displays a bit, and I imagine their sales will decline a little from not allowing a "hands-on" approach to letting the products sell themselves, but I don't expect that would be a deal-breaker for most people.

I suspect a lot of people wouldn't have noticed the ban at all, had it not just been in the news tied to Sterling's attack. They would still see people in costume, they would still see vendors selling weapons; the con experience wouldn't be appreciably different for the vast majority of attendees. And while such a ban doesn't eliminate every potential threat, certainly, it does go a fair ways towards ensuring everyone's safety.

But the most striking thing to me in all of this is that a comic convention is doing more to curb gun violence than our government.

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