Sunday, September 16, 2012

Man With a Gun

There was a big fat guy sharing a confidence with a dealer in very large firearms yesterday at the Crossroads of the West gun show in Tucson.

"I know a guy high up in Homeland Security," the fat man was saying with self-assurance. "If Obama gets reelected, the first thing they're going to do is take guns away from anybody who's a member of any organized church."

The gun dealer nodded gravely, but actually he was looking over this lunatic's shoulder, searching for potential buying customers, of which there seemed to be few among the throngs of people who wandered the crowded aisles by counters and booths stocked with a staggering selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns, ammunition, magazines, martial-arts gear, hunting and survival knives, and even the occasional table full of religious end-times books. Will the religious nuts in America -- and I include even the perpetually alarmed nuns who taught me in grade school in the 1950s -- ever get tired of predicting the imminent end of the world, as a consequence of political opponents, insufficient public holiness, or (the 1950s nuns here) causing offense to the Virgin Mary in word, thought or deed.

They're wearing me out, these people.

Anyway, at the gun show, I was surprised to see the sign out front telling attendees that they had to check their own guns at the door. Maybe I miss the point of that, but it seemed to me that the gun show people were signaling that they are as wary as the rest of us might be of a crowd of armed gun-nuts assembled in a large group.

The Wall Street Journal the other day had a story saying that gun sales were going to go up sharply if Omaba gets reelected.

Says the Journal, "Even though there haven't been any substantial changes to gun-control laws under Mr. Obama, Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops, Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. SWHC -2.41% and Olin Corp., OLN +0.52% the maker of Winchester bullets, are anticipating another bump in sales this winter if President Obama is re-elected. Smith & Wesson raised its full-year sales forecast last week to $530 million ..."

Noted. But I saw no sign of the imminence of that at this gun show, where the lookers were in far, far greater strength than the buyers. Nor do I find the gun-show spectacle as alarming as this overwrought piece in Salon seems to have found a similar show in Phoenix.

I simply do not see a lot of guns being bought at these events, though there are a whole lot on sale.

Dunno: Maybe the gun market is sated? I mean, anybody who wants a gun -- for whatever reason -- probably already has one or more. And guns are extremely well manufactured. Buy one and it lasts pretty much forever.

As I've said before, I have no personal objection to gun ownership. I have always known hunters, even before I moved to a part of the country that used to be known as the Wild West. I have friends who are cops and other law enforcement agents. I'm a Vietnam veteran. I don't get hysterical about guns -- well regulated, to borrow a few words from the Second Amendment.

On the other hand, I recently declined to renew my membership in the National Rifle Association because the NRA -- which used to do important work in gun-safety and firearms training education -- has now become nothing more than a propaganda arm for the lunacy wing
of the Republican Party. And frankly, it just bugs me that the $1 million-a-year head of the NRA, the pompadoured Wayne LaPierre, is one of those loud-mouthed faux warriors who, like so many others in his cohort, is a draft-dodger who somehow managed to avoid going to Vietnam, back when there was real shooting.

Also, I wish the gun crowd, including those who are responsible gun dealers with genuine regard for firearms training and safety, would drum out the most indisputably ugly and unacceptable wares at those gun-show tables.

Nazi flags? Not okay.


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