The Arms Bazaar
Visiting a traditional arms bazaar in a decaying village in a decaying civilization is something of a culture shock: the quaint old men in their tribal garb, the hundreds of rifles old and new of all sorts of provenance and caliber, the creaky tables stacked with boxes of ammunition, the dogs thumping their tails, the children enjoying a snack among the firearms, the mostly silent women.
I refer, of course, to the East Texas gun show I attended last week as a quaint old man in my own tribal garb.
In very truth, people at gun shows appear to be very nice, and given the presence of all the ironmongery, that’s best. Some brought their children and some brought their little dogs, and it really was a pleasant occasion.
At the show I noted especially:
A 1943 Czech-made Mauser K98. Beautiful.
Civil war muskets. History.
A Moss-Nagant, the military rifle of both the Czars and the Reds. Cheap - as cheap as the lives of soldiers are to their leaders.
Lots of bumper stickers: “Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight,” “I (heart) My Blood-Crazed Dachshund,” “God Bless America” (this one would go well with the ChiCom assault rifle), and so on. I didn’t ask about a “Re-Elect the President” sticker.
Rosary beads. Whaaaaaaaaaa? Unexpected, until you realized that they were being sold as a fashion item to those whose sense of style derives from the guys who skulk around bus station restrooms. Rosary beads as ornamentation are barely north of wearing a copy of the Bible as a hat.
An AK-47. Creepy. Why did President Clinton sign the papers on these things? And why hasn’t a subsequent government suppressed them? We live under the erratic rule of a federal government that forbids us to choose our own light bulbs or toilet tanks, but winks at thousands of Chinese semi-automatic combat rifles in the possession of the sort of people who would buy Chinese semi-automatic combat rifles.
Oh, yeah, bring on the all-caps letters-to-the-editor.
Lots of pocket knives, most of them cheap, shiny, and Chinese. A gentleman is not dressed without his pocket knife, but one wonders if the owner of the Shanghai factory that turns out all this junk carries a good, utilitarian, American-made Case, a Texas-made Moore, or a Canadian-made Grohmann.
J. C. Higgins shotguns, once the inexpensive and modest harvester of Sunday dinners for generations of poor rural folk, were among the most expensive firearms for sale at the show. These were made by different companies under contract by Sears, neat but not gaudy, until 1961 or so. They were not cool in their day; they only got the job done. And now they are cool after all.
The food vendors at the gun show didn’t feature a vegetarian plate. Why is that?
I saw a fellow wearing a Marine Corps / Viet-Nam baseball cap, hopping happily along on one leg and one crutch. Was the leg untimely ripped from him in Viet-Nam, or in a motorcycle accident in Escondido in 1972? But I think he was genuine because he wasn’t working the patented thousand-yard-stare thing so beloved of the phonies.
Many folks believe that at gun shows weapons can be bought and sold illegally, without reference to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Not so. The United States Department of Justice under the little man with the little moustache may be pleased to donate thousands of military combat rifles to drug gangs along our borders so that they can murder you, but if you want to buy an old single-shot .22 just like the one you took rabbits with when you were a young’un you’re going to have to fill out the forms and wait for the computers to approve of you.
If only an American citizen could apply to the BATF for computerized permission to buy a toilet that works.