We went to stay at my sister’s house last weekend to go skiing, but the thermometer hit 65 degrees and we weren’t dressed for water-skiing. Luckily we had made a back-up plan to play some tennis at the local resort. When we got there, the place was lined from stem to stern with guns of all sizes and manufacture. The Eagle Arms Gun Show was in town, and I could tell immediately that this was going to adversely affect my tennis game.

A lot of people were covered in camouflage, which would have been very effective had we been in the jungle instead of on a tennis court. If I was out hunting with a bunch of other dudes I definitely would NOT wear camouflage. What if one of them doesn’t see me? I don’t want to be somebody whom the police describe as being “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” My goal is to simply stay out of the wrong place, and that way I don’t have to keep such strict track of the time.

We stopped at Bubbees Gun and Sport booth, and there you could purchase a 30-round custom engraved magazine for your AR-15 that says “I’m Your Huckleberry.” If that doesn’t aptly describe your mood at the time, you can go for the “Zip it, Hippie” model, if you’re convinced anyone remembers what a hippie is. Or you could go for a simple skull and crossbones design, which will correctly identify your magazine as poisonous if you were to eat it.

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I enjoy skeet shooting myself, and I would have liked to buy a good used shotgun, but I don’t know enough to determine whether I’m getting a good deal or not. I certainly didn’t want to be somebody’s huckleberry, whatever that is. I have a Remington 870, which is a good starter gun, but I thought it might be time for an upgrade when the last time I went shooting, I pulled the trigger and the magazine cap came off and a big spring came flying out. It went about 15 feet and landed on the ground, and still came closer to the clay pigeon than my actual shot did.

I was talking to somebody last month who was teaching his kid how to hunt, and it sounds way more complicated than I thought. Apparently the key is to ALWAYS be upwind of the prey that you are stalking. Or is it downwind? I forget, but trust me, it’s important. I’d say you’re doing it all wrong in the first place. Anybody in law enforcement will tell you to set up a perimeter to cut off the routes of escape. I’ll stay here and cover the park’s entrance, and you hike the 45 miles to the rear so the deer can’t get out. When you do confront it, try to keep it talking in order to collect information that you can use later. “What exactly are you doing out here by yourself in the middle of the woods? Nothing to say, huh? Well, that’s no antler (a little interrogation humor can put the subject at ease). Where’d you get that fancy fur coat? Well? Don’t just sit there with that deer-in-the-flashlight look.”

There were some interesting historical weapons for sale, including the Maxim Gun, which was essentially the first machine gun to be put into regular production. It was water-cooled, so too heavy to be operated by one man, but it could fire 600 rounds a minute. If I had $12,000 dollars with me I would have picked it up right then and there. There were arrays of Derringer pistols, the small single or double-shot weapons that you could hide in your boot if you were in a testy poker game at the saloon. “What’s that up your sleeve, Tex,” you ask. “Well, that’d be my arm, Zeke,” I reply, but my other hand is already reaching for my boot. Unfortunately, the gun has slid underneath my foot and now I’m afraid to move lest I shoot my toe off, which forces my hand and I have to check, even though all I have is two fives.

You could pick up a silencer at the show, which is good if you’re a secret agent, for instance, and you don’t want the guy you just killed to hear that you just killed him. There were all kinds of ammo belts, which I could picture me wearing wrong. So wrong that not only am I out of ammunition, but my pants have fallen down.

It was getting late and I was getting hungry. All they have to eat at gun shows is beef jerky and doughnuts, but you can wash it down with some homemade mead of you get thirsty. All of this is putting off a discussion about the actual intention of the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which I will definitely not have here. What I will say is that somewhere between a pea-shooter and a Sherman tank there are weapons ought to be available to for military use only. It doesn’t seem that hard to figure out. I read somewhere that there are enough guns in America for every man, woman and child, which tells me first of all that there are way too many guns in this country, and second of all, that I’m going to have to start being nicer to children. 

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