Growing up with both my father and mother as law enforcement officers in a small Texas town, I have seen firsthand the bloody mess that improperly handled firearms can do when in the wrong—and right—hands. They are instruments of death that, sadly, have become fraudulent symbols of freedom, typically by a group of people that have willingly signed said freedom over to a corrupt oligarch.
But, still, I’m an Oklahoman and being an Oklahoman I’m deftly aware that the culture of gun-lust is a mostly penile one that I desperately want to get closer to. To achieve this, last weekend I went to the Original OKC Gun Show—think of it as a local comic-con but with far more open-carry—at the Oklahoma Expo Hall at the Fairgrounds.
After paying a bloated entry fee of $14 dollars—thanks, Obama!—I wandered past the police officers sitting by the door and the immediate tables of high-powered weapons just waiting for greasy hands to lovingly caress and stroke them. I can’t lie though: to see that full-metal hardware lined up and fully erect, you can really feel their awesome power just being in their mighty presence.
Walking into the main event, I passed by one booth after another of loud conversations, some from dudes admitting their various violent fantasies to the tenable salespersons, such as what would happen if someone traipsed onto their property, accidentally or not. The storytellers usually fulfilled that lawful stereotype of an Okie gun-owner in saggy overalls and a MAGA hat, as if they knew I would be there to catalog it.
It was a bit of a tempered shock to see how many small children—all boys, natch—were in attendance, proud fathers and other male role models allowing the kids to hold different pieces, aiming them with giggly precision; there were a few wives wandering around as well, typically ignoring not only the pink assault weapons, but the lonely Avon salesperson back in the corner.
Around noon, a voice come over the loudspeaker and asked those in attendance to stand for the National Anthem; in an act of truly cultish behavior, everyone froze in their path and stared diligently at the American flag next to the large sign that read “Restrooms.” Apropos these days, I suppose. As the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, I noticed I was standing next to a table that had books like The Anarchist Cookbook and other incendiary tomes for sale.
Walking around the hall for a third time, I noticed a tall man with white hair following me intently, stopping when I stop, moving when I move. Eventually, he crept up behind me and told me to stop taking pictures; perhaps my association with the “fake news” had gotten the best of me?
Regardless, I wanted to get into the true spirit of the show and, with the last five bucks I had after that bloated admission—thanks, Obama (reprise)!—I bought a particularly dangerous hunting knife for my 7-year-old nephew; he may not be ready for high-caliber rounds, but I think he’s mature enough for graphic tools of faux-warfare. Don’t tell his mom!
Fully aware that I’m admittedly a beta in a roomful of alphas, I figured it was time for me to leave, especially when I noticed that same tall man with white hair watching me as I crossed the threshold for the exit. Tucking the ridiculously large knife into the front of my bulgeless jeans, I set my sights on the taco truck across 10th street, a Saturday-night special of barbacoa just askin’ for it.