Talk about being a fish out of water. Last weekend I hiked up my city-boy britches and attended a real-life gun show. There’s a first time for everything.
This pistol-packin’ Smith & Wesson soiree was known as the 2018 Amarillo Pioneer Gun Show hosted at the Amarillo Civic Center. I was in the Texas Panhandle courtesy of compadre Jack Barnes and his Foundation: America – Celebrate, Honor & Serve.
A-CHS had a booth with the mission of “Fill The Bucket For Our Heroes.” We were asking for donations to honor America’s fallen warriors from the War on Terror. For a $20 donation, gun show attendees would be entered into a July 9 drawing for one of three Henry rifles. I had no idea what a Henry rifle was, but these lever-action, breech-loading buggers were nice looking and certainly well-respected among gun aficionados.
How would I describe what was observed over two days on the showroom floor? It was fascinating. It was mind-blowing. It was wall-to-wall weapons and WiFi. It was Texas. I’m surmising everyone was looking for more bang-bang for their buck?
In NRA-friendly territory, I reckon this was the OK Corral with open-carry permits. There were oodles of good-ole boys roaming in Wranglers, big belt buckles, and scuffed boots. There were more magazines for sale than a New York City newsstand. One ZZ Top-looking fella was so bow-legged you could’ve driven a small Buick between his wickets. It felt like a movie set and Clint Eastwood was soon to arrive on horseback.
The demographics were 96 percent white male. I might have seen 20 people of color. There was a holster-full of “Bonnie and Clyde” couples, and some adults brought their children. Also espied were several grandpas passing down weaponry wisdom to their grandsons. The Beretta beat goes on.
Talk about your armed forces. There was a young couple strolling the aisles on Sunday. The cowpoke, maybe 25, had a shot gun in one hand and a baby carrier in the other. He smiled as I snapped his picture and probably wondered about my intentions. I wondered about his sawed-off lifestyle and what his mama would think? She probably owns a Glock and maybe a Remington.
One final single-shot salvo. On Sunday afternoon, a nearby Shriners’ booth held a drawing for 60 Guns in 60 Minutes. Entry fee was $100. A crowd gathered as ticket numbers were announced every minute. This seemed normal. Not by a long shot.