|In case I forget to buy something.|
Fort Worth's finest were at the door making sure everyone's firearms were unloaded. I have to say, just as before, even though I was walking among tables after table after table of assault rifles and handguns, I fear no stray gunfire, because every gun has a brightly-colored zip-tie installed somewhere making it mechanically impossible to fire.
The assault rifles and paramilitary gear were especially plentiful, there were a number of vendors with long tables of various kinds of assault rifles interspersed with tactical (read: paramilitary) vests, holsters and carry-cases scattered throughout the show. After all, it is the Christmas season.
In contrast, I saw relatively few hunting firearms, relatively little hunting camo, only a few hunting knives and little ammo appropriate for hunting. It was far more populated by survivalist and paramilitary gear and supplies this year.
Bump-stocks were $200, but only one vendor was selling them who also, perhaps not coincidentally, was also the only vendor selling silencers, which were expensive and apparently require a ream of paperwork to purchase and own, which for a fee, they will handle for you "soup to nuts." Also, the term "bump-stock" was nowhere to be found, they weren't actually labeled at all, except for the brand name, which in this case was "Slide-Fire."
The most striking change from my gun show visit in October 2016 was the utter dearth of political polemics. There was no toilet paper with HRC's image, no "lock her up" t-shirts or bumper stickers. The NRA was there, of course, but they were just signing up memberships, they did not have an array of vile polemic bumper stickers like I saw at their table last year. However, they did have a mannequin dressed up in full paramilitary regalia, and it wasn't obvious if that was meant to sell anything other than they idea they were cool with that.
Of course, this isn't a political year, so it's understandable that the political stuff was gone, but I saw nothing with the word Trump (or MAGA) on it, no expressions of support for the administration in any form, just various standard expressions of support for veterans (this is the day after Veteran's Day, after all) and a few obtuse biblical citations mixed with God Save Our Country.
A 3x5 foot confederate flag was $10. You could get a thick reference book about Confederate Officers (self-published) for $35. Of course, everyone who had patches and stickers had a confederate flag version, expect one dark-skinned vendor of patches and stickers who just had military miscellanea amongst his selection. I wonder if anyone else noticed this omission from his inventory.
I left with a leather belt hand-made by a vendor who makes western-style gun belts and holsters (think John Wayne), another magazine pouch to use as a cell-phone holster, a pocket knife, and a reference book for furniture makers.
I honestly get the feeling that the paramilitary gear and assault rifles were so prominent because there's a kind of unspoken subtext of fear that they are about to be heavily regulated, so if you want some buy it now. Also, maybe it's just me, but I seem to have seen a lot of mixed-race couples at the show (not that common in Fort Worth) and a surprisingly large contingent of black women shopping together in small groups for handguns.
As unencumbered by stereotypes as I believe myself to be, it was still odd to see a middle-aged black woman discussing a 40 cal handgun with a white guy about my age. "Dah-ahmn," she said "this thing is big and heavy, but it feels good in my hands!" as she held it vaguely pointed in his direction.
I had to smile as I walked by. I don't know why.