A few months ago I was able to purchase a replacement for my St.Louis Hawken Rifle. I know it is not a Civil War Period arm, but the post is valid.
The rifle was in a rack on the selelrs table and I ask permission to pick it up and examine it. On doing so I noticed the ramrod was sticking out beyond the muzzel in its thimbles. I myself make my ramrods a bit longer for a better grip when loading a fouled bore, so thought nothing of it.
At home I was doing so checking and minor cleaning and to check the cone (nipple) was clear, I capped it and pointed it at the ground. Imagine my shock and surprise when a loud BOOM issued from the bore with a flash of light and cloud of sulfure smoke. Thank goodness I was outside! I had been correct, the ramrod is longer than the barrel but I still should have used a regulation ramrod to check for a loaded condition.
I could not get to the show the next day, but did call and report the incident to the promoters and later was told by someone I knew who had tables at the shows that the promoters did go around and check "ALL" firearms for loads.
IMHO, this should have been done prior to the doors opening on Saturday Morning. Do a check of every firearm as the vendors are setting up on Friday afternoon and evening.
Those coming to the shows with firearms to sell/trade are subjected to a weapons inspection, why not the full, weekend vendors?
I was at a show in Miami years ago when a 11 year old boy was killed with a pistol the police at the door failed to inspect as the owner had several others, and when he showed it to a vendor to possably sell to him and the man pulled the slide back and saw the round in the chamber, he let go of the slide, which was not fully drawn back, fell and the firing pin struck the primer and discharged the round. THe bullet hit the boy who had knelt down to get something from abox under the table and was inadvertantly in the line of fire. Even though the Paparmedics were "In House" ( they had stopped to see some of the show, and grabbed the boy up, they had to transport him across town to N. Miami's Jackson Mem Hosp. and he was D.O.A.
As my units Ord.Sgt. I see each member as they arrive at the event site and inspect their firearms as they unpack and set up their camp. I make sure no firearm is loaded and that there are no live ( powder and ball) cartridges in their packs or Ammo Box and no loose ball that could be loaded. I do a Formal inspection during the drill before the battles scenes and again after to be sure no charge is left unfired.
I see no reason this could not be done at a Gunshow during the set-up hours or at events as the unit members arrive and set up camp or at drill or even at Colors Assembly each morning, partricularly Sunday as a lot of reenactors do not arrive until after Colors on Saturday due to work and driving to the events.
Safety in our hobby and at Gunshows, is everyones concern and should be taken more seriously than it is at some of these events. If we do not "Police" ourselves, then others will and we will loose the right to have trhese events and in the case of a reenactment, loose the means to teach the truth about that period of our history