Dark Days At The Gun Show


I never miss a chance to visit the gun show. Whether I’m in the market for a new addition or not, I gladly fork over my 8 bucks and wander through the room, adding items to my internal wish list and internally smiling at items I suspect are left off almost everyone’s wish list. (Selling cheap clones of EOTech products by calling them hit-what-ya’-aim-at devices is a poor sales pitch indeed.) My firearm-averse friends occasionally make the mistake of asking why I attend gun shows; my response is always three-fold:

  1. I explain that I relate to gun shows the way women relate to shoe stores — only I don’t have to worry about fidgeting kids or asking the attendant to find a 1911 in my size.
  2. I deliver an exposition of the greatness of so many Americans availing themselves of their Constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms — at rock bottom prices!
  3. I flex my biceps and say: “Or did you mean this gun show?” I’m not kidding; I do that every time. One of these days, someone will laugh.

Whether I’m buying or browsing, the interaction with my fellow shoppers is always worth the trip. Gun shows are as much a public forum as they are a bazaar. And the speakers run the gamut — from the father who proudly shops for his son’s first .22 to the shifty-looking cat hawking copies of the lunatic novel The Turner Diaries to the undercover law enforcement agent trying desperately to blend in while staring too long in one direction and absent-mindedly fiddling with a Taurus .38 with pink faux-ivory grips.

Of course, the opinions expressed tend to weigh in heavily against the Democrats and their anti-Bill of Rights accomplices — opinions which can not only be heard in conversation but seen emblazoned on T-shirts, bumper stickers and various novelty items. My personal favorite this time around was the T-shirt featuring a center-punched target and the slogan “I didn’t shoot this, and neither did Obama.” I thought to myself: “Attorney General Eric Holder would try — with you still in the shirt.” I should note that the anti-Barack Obama items now outnumber the anti-Hillary Clinton items by a wide margin, meaning the Lady MacBeth of Little Rock, Ark., has truly disappeared into the bowels of Obama’s Ministry of Love.

Despite left-wing hate groups’ characterizations of gun shows as an ersatz lodge meeting for toy soldiers and moody loners, not only are the vast majority of attendees far less wild-eyed and manic than the average shrieking ninny at an Occupy Wall Street rally, but they are far more serious about precisely the sort of behavior that causes liberals to scoff. They’re fiercely independent patriots who consider the Constitution sacrosanct above any of the partisan bickering or political gamesmanship that has so damaged our Republic. While many eyebrows were figuratively arched at the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket and even more were furrowed by Obama’s attempted demolition of American democracy, Ron Paul 2012 logos abounded.

During this most recent show, I picked up on a new sentiment — one that caused me disappointment and discomfort. For the first time, I heard resignation. Unlike mewling liberals who promise self-exile every time a conservative challenges the monolithic hegemony of the Democrats, conservatives tend to embody the stand-your-ground ideals upon which this Nation was founded. But the prospect of four more years of the statist criminals in the Obama Administration was simply too much for some to bear. When I asked one attendee why he would even consider turning his back on his country, he responded: “I’m not sure this place is my country anymore.”

There were no threats; this wasn’t some union thug protest or racist liberal lynch mob bent on murdering a black conservative or Hispanic fellow. And the number of folks who had no plans to pull up stakes for freer pastures was far higher than the potential future expats. But the idea that the middle class Americans upon whom the future of our Nation must certainly depend might finally throw up their hands rather than continue playing Horatio at the Bridge against the onslaught of Obama and his Democratic henchmen brought me down a bit.

I wanted to shout: “Don’t despair! Even the darkest nights give way to dawn!” But I didn’t want to seem as disturbed as — say — Vice President Joe Biden. So I bought a “ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ” patch for my bug-out bag, and I felt a little better — but only a little.

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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