The Guns And The Glory

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A traveling gun show visited Savannah, Ga., this past weekend. As always, I gladly paid the entry fee to spend a few hours browsing the arena-sized showroom. I don’t visit the gun show just to fondle the M2 Browning “Ma Deuce” one of the regular dealers always sets up behind his table — although I am impressed by such a fascinating (not to mention still fielded and functional) piece of history.

I also love to linger around the AR accessories. My own AR, to which I unapologetically refer as the “M4-gery,” is a continual work in progress, something to which AR owners will relate. This past weekend, I went in looking for an inside-the-waistband holster for my compact 1911 and found it with minimal effort. But even when I’m not in a buying frame of mind, I still never miss a chance to attend.

I enjoy the camaraderie, the characters and even the smell of cosmoline. The gun show is like a gigantic family reunion. I chat with real American small businessmen whom I see three or four times a year. I ooh and aah at the Norinco NDM-86, which would almost be worth the months of ramen noodles I’d have to eat in order to afford it. I chuckle quietly to myself over the guys who sell painfully obvious Chinese knockoffs; this year, Magpul stocks seemed to be the clone du jour.

Most of all, I marvel at the guns. Table after table sports firearms in virtually every conceivable shape, function and caliber. There are the pink faux-ivory handled .22 derringers just begging for a place in someone’s purse. There are rifles in calibers ranging from “squirrel” to “Holy cow! That elephant is definitely charging!” and every bore in between. Shotguns from the .410 starter perfect for Junior’s first hunt all the way to the Purdeys that cost more than a European sports sedan, if not the European sports sedan’s owner’s house. And for every firearm, no matter the caliber, there are magazines by the mile and ammunition by the palette-load.

Crowded into this forum of firepower are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who either own, plan to own or are about to own a firearm. The demographics of the Savannah area are fairly unusual in that Savannah is home to Hunter Army Airfield, itself home of the 1st Ranger Battalion. Fort Stewart, home of the 3rd Infantry Division, is a short march away. Just across the river lie Parris Island and the Beaufort MCAS. And the local airport provides hangars to the 165th Air National Guard Unit. Essentially, the Savannah area counts among its residents literally thousands of people who have been professionally trained to kill people. And many of those servicemen and women make the gun show a must-do.

Just imagine the scene: a civic arena full of firearms, enough ammunition to fuel a lifetime of range visits, and humans in all shapes and sizes, at least a plurality of whom are occupationally capable of mowing down a small town with a Crickett .17hmr and one of those weirdly ornate double-ended swords offered at the collectible knives table. And yet, despite the plethora of “killing machines” and the battalion-sized group of ostensibly trained killers, not a single shot was fired. Despite thousands of weapons and thousands of rounds within arm’s length of hundreds of people who know precisely how to use them against other people, no one suffered worse than a paper cut. (I’m guessing there.)

By liberal logic, even a small gun show should produce mass casualties and mayhem galore. Given the size of this past weekend’s event and the military backgrounds of so many of the attendees, this past weekend should have erupted in a conflagration of killing the likes of which doesn’t normally exist outside one of those Third World countries where murder is the unofficial national sport. Give a couple members of the 1st Ranger Battalion a .50 Browning M2 and say goodbye to a significant number of targets, presuming the Rangers are inclined to open fire.

It didn’t happen. It never happens. Savannah, along with cities across America, hosts gun shows on a fairly regular basis. And Savannah is home to a peculiarly high number of active, reserve and retired service personnel, people whom Secretary of State John Kerry has indicated are either too stupid or too dangerous to do anything nonviolent with their lives. And yet, unlike the “gun-free” zones that liberals promise will turn America into a blissfully nonviolent paradise, the gun show came and went without incident.

The Democrats would have you believe that the mere presence of a firearm in your world, much less your home, dramatically increases your likelihood of falling victim to someone they call “Gun Violence.” I spent the better part of my Saturday literally surrounded by not only guns, but people who really know how to use them. Not only did I not meet anyone named “Gun Violence,” it would appear that no such person even bothered to show up.

When I got home, I checked the gun safe. My firearms were all there, sitting in precisely the same spots I assigned to them. Much like the weapons on display at the gun show, not one of my guns has ever been so much as aimed at another human being, much less fired at one. According to the anti-Bill of Rights crowd, gun shows should naturally produce absolute bloodbaths. Saturday’s didn’t. At least, I’m fairly certain it didn’t. I left after a while and went home to not shoot anyone. I wonder if that means I’m doing it wrong.

–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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