Frances Stead Sellers of The Washington Post Magazine recently caught up with the busy Director of NRA Museums, Jim Supica, to chat about ... what else? Firearms.The director of the National Firearms Museum shoots from the hip
Jim Supica, 62, is director of the NRA Museums, the biggest of which is the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va., which houses 3,000 guns and traces their role in U.S. history. Supica spent 20 years running a family business dealing in antique firearms and is co-host of “NRA Gun Gurus,” a kind of “Antiques Roadshow” for firearms.
How do you evaluate a gun?
There are many factors: make and model, condition. Provenance can add a huge amount — whether it was owned by Theodore Roosevelt or used by Jesse James. But you have to see how reliable the paperwork is that ties the gun to the individual.
Then there is the artistic value of custom firearms or engraved guns. They are the result of incredibly skilled craftsmanship, cutting images into steel, often using a hammer and chisel. The bulino engraving in our Petersen Collection is done by pressing dots into steel to create an illusion of light, almost like pointillist painting.
Do gun politics hover over this museum?
I don’t see that. The history and artistry of these guns transcend political issues. We’d love to be down on the Mall, but gun laws would make it very difficult in the District for people to bring us loans or donations.