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Gun Shows Are Hot in Florida

Bucks for the Bang: The election of Barack Obama has been a boon for gun dealers, and with more than 200 gun shows a year, few markets are hotter than Florida.

The most expensive guns at south Florida shows can usually be found at Vito Servideo’s tables. His Pompano Beach store (above) sells machine guns and grenade launchers. [Photo: Aaron Ansarov]

The Specialist

Vito Servideo’s Only The Best Firearms holds the distinction at south Florida gun shows of having the most expensive merchandise on the floor. He has hundreds of high-priced weapons in locked display cases, the most expensive a $20,000 German-made Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine gun. He has a Minimi machine gun at his store that sells for $75,000.

A collector himself before opening his Pompano Beach business eight years ago, Servideo has a Class III federal dealer’s license, allowing him to trade in machine guns, silencers, grenade launchers, destructive devices and other, as his website says, “investment grade firearms.”

Buying machine guns generally isn’t fast, easy or cheap. Only weapons registered before a 1986 law are allowed to be bought and sold. Scarcity drives prices up. There’s a $200 federal transfer tax. In addition to a fingerprint check, the buyer’s local chief law enforcement officer — typically, a sheriff or police chief — has to sign off that there’s no known reason against the buyer owning one. Some law officers won’t sign off for anyone.

Servideo’s inventory includes higher end conventional firearms and storied weapons like the Thompson submachine gun, the Browning Automatic Rifle and the Grease Gun. “Most of the stuff we sell is expensive and rare. We sell the normal stuff just to pay the bills,” he says.

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