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Front Page » January 27, 2009 » Opinion » The Wasatch Behind: Gun show fever strikes
Published 2,058 days ago

The Wasatch Behind: Gun show fever strikes


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By TOM MCCOURT
Guest contributor

A couple of weeks ago Jeannie and I went to the crossroads of the west gun show in Salt Lake City. The place was packed. Thousands of people jammed the Expo Center and the parking lot was overflowing. People were buying ammunition like the barbarian hordes were at the gates of the city.

I guess we should have felt guilty going to a gun show. The mainstream media has characterized them as being dark and evil events. Chuck Shumer and Teddy Kennedy want to shut them down. Hillary and Nancy Pelosi want to regulate them to death. President Obama has said he wants to tax them out of existence. And Joe Biden and Diane Feinstein would like to commit gun show attendees to mental hospitals. So maybe we should have worn a disguise. But we didn't.

So who attends a gun show? Why were thousands of people there? And what is the mindset? Jeannie and I discovered some of the answers as we mingled with the crowd, listened, and observed. And yes, we did a little shopping, too.

First, let me tell you who we didn't see there. We didn't see any terrorists, at least terrorists a person would recognize. There were no shifty-eyed middle eastern types wearing turbans, or cloak and dagger Mafioso's that were readily recognizable. We didn't see any gang bangers either, which was surprising for a crowd of that size. There were no sneering, cold-eyed little punks with nose rings and tattoos, flashing gang signs and wearing baggy pants with one hand in a pocket and the other over the crotch. It was nice not to have them there.

And there were no white supremacist skinheads wearing swastikas and German helmets. In fact, we didn't see a nazi in the whole place. We didn't see any of Louis Farrakhan's black panthers either. Or for that matter anyone wearing a T-shirt that said "militia" or "hate America" or anything like that. And we didn't see any Goths with spiked hair and eye shadow or anyone advertising he was from Brokeback Mountain.

For years we've been told that guns cause violence, so one might expect a gun show to be a violent place. And they were even selling beer there, which should have compounded the danger. But we didn't witness a single act of violence. In fact, I don't recall a single incident of anyone ever going on a shooting rampage at a gun show or in a sporting goods store that sells guns. Isn't that interesting?

What we did see at the gun show was a big group of common, ordinary people. The crowd was predominately white, middle class, middle aged, and mediocre. They looked like the folks who deliver our mail, fix our cars, stock shelves in the grocery store and drive trucks for the city. Almost a third of them were women and there were quite a few little kids. As a group they were clean, neat, mannerly, and surprisingly friendly. Among the men, earrings, tattoos, and long hair were almost non-existent. The women dressed modestly. I didn't see many peek-a-boo navels or bunched-up, silicone infested boobs yearning to break free. Overall, it was a crowd that might have been labeled "redneck light," the kind of people who fly the flag and wear military veterans caps.

So what were these common, ordinary people doing at an evil gun show? They were stocking up, and they made no bones about it. Many were laughing and joking about how sad it was they felt compelled to buy guns and ammunition. Most were using credit cards and some admitted they were going into debt to do it. A lot of them were buying bullets by the case.

They were not criminals or evil people out to destroy our country. They were good citizens, and they were afraid. Afraid of what the future holds and afraid their own government is going to deny them the right and the means to defend themselves. And it isn't just people in Utah who feel that way. Gun show fever is happening all across the country.

Isn't it sad that this new administration could inspire such fear and mistrust, even before the inauguration? Since 1994 when Bill Clinton first imposed his "assault weapons" ban, the liberal politicians have sold more guns and ammunition than Winchester and Remington Arms could have ever dreamed.

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January 27, 2009
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