Friday, February 12, 2010

Gun and Horn Show

As there was very little going on today, my tai chi class was canceled, it was a bit rainy and overcast, and it is far too early to think about gardening, I decided to do something I had never done before. I went to a Gun and Horn show. It was quite an experience. These shows are popular here in North Idaho (other places, too, I guess) and we always have one or two a year. They take place at the Fairgrounds where there is suitable parking and buildings. I was amazed, first of all, to see how many cars and trucks there were. It seemed to me that there were more than there usually are at the County Fair, maybe not, but a lot. It was difficult to find a parking spot near the show but I finally found one in a particularly muddy spot. The admission for this annual or semi-annual event was $4, but if you agreed to join the NRA for $10 I guess you can get in for free (or maybe a reduced fee) next time. As I have no desire to belong to the NRA I just paid the $4. This is a three day event, they mark your hand so you can leave and return at will.

The gun show itself was in the larger of two rooms, the other set aside for the horns, where they are measured and given points and win prizes. There are mostly elk and deer horns but occasionally you might see some antelope horns as well, and maybe, much more rarely, mountain goat or mountain sheep horns. I did not see any of these today. Actually, as I have no interest in the horns, I merely glanced in at the apparently serious business being conducted there.

There are rows of tables where sellers, mostly gun dealers, display their wares. There are many items besides guns, lots of scopes, knives, ammunition, clothing, gun cases, and other things related to hunting (and also violence in general). But of course it is the guns that are the major interest, and there are lots of them of just about all descriptions. I didn’t see any brand new guns but there were many almost new, rifles and shotguns carefully displayed on the tables, marked with tags and prices, virtually any kind of gun you might wish, including military types that are clearly not meant for hunting. Many of these rifles and shotguns are antiques (not truly really old antiques but older and no longer manufactured) and the prices are often revealing. I gather there are many more collectors than I would have imagined, and they apparently think nothing of paying up to a couple of thousand dollars for an odd caliber rifle that is no longer produced, or one that is engraved or otherwise unique. There was, for example, a beautiful factory engraved .300 Savage lever action rifle (I don’t think they make these anymore) for the modest price of $1600. As I no longer hunt and have no use for such a gun I happily admired it but that was all. Although I didn’t see any today, I know there is quite a market for weapons captured in the wars. German Luger pistols, for example, sell for big bucks, and if they happen to have some German officer’s name or something, they go for even more. It’s not only Lugers that are expensive, anything that belonged to a German Officer is worth a lot of money. Mauser made lots of .25 and .32 caliber semi-automatics for the military, and even some .380.s. If any of these have the original German manufacturer’s name, or the name of an Officer, they are particularly valuable. But If you are merely interested in finding a gun for the coming hunting season, you can find it here as well. If you are a collector, this is also the place for you.

There didn’t seem to be as many handguns as rifles and shotguns, but there quite a few, both semi-automatics and revolvers. There seems to be a slight tendency here for what would be regarded as “old west” types of guns, both with respect to rifles and handguns. That is, a preponderance of old lever action rifles (often of odd calibers) and a lot of older long-barreled six shooters, mostly .45’s. But there were also quite a number of relatively new pistols, Glocks, and others. Nine mm. pistols seem to the main fashion nowadays, but many seem to prefer the more powerful .375 magnums. You can, of course, find older .32’s, and .38’s, along with .40 and .45 calibers as well (to say nothing of .22’s, .25’s, and .380’s). If you stand outside and watch there is an almost never-ending procession of people arriving with guns or leaving with them. This is, in short, quite an event.

When you realize that this particular Gun and Horn Show is actually quite a small one, and that much larger ones occur annually if not more often, in Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, and other places much larger than here, the amount of trade is really quite staggering. What makes this of even greater interest is that you can buy and sell guns with no questions asked, basically making a mockery of gun control. I have never been able to understand how gun control could work in the United States, given the millions of guns, mostly unregistered, that already exist. Any serious attempt would be rather like herding cats or trying to force the genie back in the bottle. Given the number of gun owners, and the passion with which they cling to their weapons, even if guns shows were regulated somehow, it would only create a huge clandestine black market that would continue. One note of interest, perhaps, is that almost all of the dealers, as well as customers, were older people. I don’t think I saw more than half a dozen younger people in attendance. I’m not sure what to make of this, if anything. Anyway, go to a gun and horn show, it’s quite educational.

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