Sunday, June 19, 2016

The end of an era

As I told my friends, Saturday I went to witness history--the last Charlotte Gun Show at the old Metrolina Expo Center in Charlotte, NC.  The site, which for many years has been the home to fairs, antique shows, gun shows and other events has been sold.  While I was there many of the long term antique vendors were loading up and construction workers were demoing some buildings.

For NASCAR short track fans, the site is also the home of the old Metrolina Speedway.  You could still see it, barricaded off behind a tall fence.  The Charlotte Observer actually did a good write-up on the entire story when the sale was made public.

I'm going to miss the old Metrolina.  For one thing, it's the last place in Charlotte that I know of that still uses that term in its name.  Progress can be a wonderful thing, but as I get older I'm beginning to think too much of it sucks.  Hey you kids--get off my lawn!

At any rate, Daughter, Boyfriend and I ventured off Saturday to the gun show.  Based on Intertubes reports, I expected pandemonium--ARs flying off tables, fights over the last box of 5.56 and that sort of thing.  Instead, it was closer to...crickets.  Attendance was lower than any Charlotte show I've ever seen.  It's entirely possible that this was due to the weather, which was unseasonable cool with low humidity.  I imagine more than a few folks were elsewhere, outside, enjoying it.

So let's get the all important panic buying report out of the way.  There were plenty of ARs--literally in some cases, tables of them, ranging from bargain basement types to high buck upper-end marks.  Prices were the same as what I saw 3 weeks ago in Winston Salem.  There was plenty of 5.56 ammo and magazines, prices on those also stable.  Ditto parts kits, uppers, lowers, accessories, the whole list.  There was no panic to be detected.  People were, however buying steadily when a vendor had good prices,

I was able to talk to a few dealers I know, and the prevailing opinions were:

  • People who thought they needed to stock up have done so.  Only the few who have seen the light since the last event are panicking now.
  • People are over being panicked because the Gun Salesman of the Decade and his all Liberal Orchestra have cranked up for another chorus of "Gimme All Your Guns, Bitter Clingers".  
  • People are tired of being played be unscrupulous vendors.
Hey, I dig it.  The Gun Culture has wised up.  Good for us.

One thing that I have always liked about the Charlotte show was the number of quality vendors, and this final show was perhaps the best ever.  Even the non-firearms vendors of jewelry, food and so on were excellent.  I got some tremendous fudge (peanut butter, chocolate and vanilla/chocolate swirl) and Daughter grabbed a bit of jewelry and an old license plate that struck her fancy.  There was a vendor of high end cured meats that just killed me, but I had to pass up that fragrant delicious goodness.  I've learned that cured meats in quantity are a trigger for migraine attacks.  Just great.

Lest you think I forgot I was at a gun show, I did do some buying.  I'm going to have to stop this soon or get my own tables and start selling off a few.  Safe space (of the gun safe kind) is becoming a scarce natural resource.  But, since my recent birthday present to myself was an NFA trust and some goodies to fill it (which I figure I'll see around my next birthday), I did want to look for a couple of .22s with threaded barrels.  After having done some reading, I decided to look for either a Ruger 22/45 or a Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory, either in the threaded barrel version and a Ruger 10/22 Takedown with the threaded barrel and flash suppressor.

After looking at and handling several 22/45s and Victories, I decided to go with the Victory.  I know there are more after market accessories available for the 22/45, but I liked the Victory in my hand better, and I was able to get it for very little extra over the best price on a 22/45 that I could find.

On the Ruger 10/22, you would have thought I was looking for Unobtainium, until I hit one of my go-to dealers, who I should have went to earlier.  They had a Davidson Gallery of Guns Distributor Exclusive 10/22 Takedown in stainless (bonus points!) with a Ruger BX-25 magazine in the deal.  Yeah, I snatched that up.

On the ammo front, .22 is starting to make a comeback at something approaching reasonable prices.  CCI Mini-mags, which were around $7.50/100 before Newton are now available for $12/100 in reasonable quantity.  I wound up with 1500 rounds of that and 500 rounds of the Winchester Super X.

Once again I will note the broadening of the audience for gun shows.  I saw white, black and Indian (sub-continent) and yes, Arab.  As you might expect, the Arab gentlemen were being not too discreetly observed by the rather obvious police presence.  A pity, but understandable given the circumstances.  I saw young black males who frankly raised my eyebrows a bit (Sorry, but dress like a gangsta and I'll assume that's what you are) being treated with courtesy by vendors as they asked questions about this or that gun.   I saw a lot of women, some of them in groups of just women, which I think is a wonderful sign.  The funniest thing I was was the family who was carrying the baby so they could use the stroller for the guns and ammo they'd purchased.  That was getting grins and elbow nudges all over the place. Plenty of kids, some of whom were apparently present for the task of getting that all-important first gun.  And as always the old guys, debating the merits of this or that.

Honestly, as the last show at the Metrolina, this one was the best I've ever been to.  I hated to leave, but all good things must come to an end.  Fortunately, while the Charlotte Gun Show at the Metrolina is over, the show will go on, but with another organizer and at another venue, the Park Expo and Conference Center on East Independance Blvd.  The next show is in August.  Two whole months....

Sometimes the memes just write themselves

I've pretty much stayed away from the subject of the terrorist attack in Orlando as far as the Intertubes goes.  Other than saying I feel really sorry for all the people that were killed, which really doesn't help, I've got nothing useful to add to the noise.

But locally, oh boy, locally.

One of the local small-town "newspapers" basically stepped on its male member this week while attempting to write an editorial.  It started off as "Automatic weapons deserve ban" but after quite a few of us pointed out the author's gaffe, they at least got it corrected to "Semi-automatic weapons deserve ban".  Still after you read the thing, it's nothing more than a sophomoric collection of emotional feces, flung by a monkey at its digital cage wall.

Well then.  The online comments and apparently a lot of phone calls moved the executive editor  to write "Error in editorial on guns leads to stereotyping comment".  Note that he isn't concerned about the mistakes in the original as much as his is that one caller in essence stereotyped him as a hillbilly.  (Please note that I'm not going to name him, just so he can't go ego-surfing around here.  He's going to have to look for proper links back to the paper he manages, just like a real journalist.)

Why, the nerve of some people!  Just because his family was from the mountains they thought he'd know something about guns.  I think he may be the first person I've ever heard of from the mountains who doesn't know anything about guns--and is proud of it.  Takes all kinds, as my mother would have said.

At any rate, seeing as I haven't done any proselytizing for the Second Amendment out amongst the heathens lately, I decided I would write a letter to the editor.  Then my innate sense of caution kicked in, since doing such thing can have various foreseen effects such as burglary and employment issues.  (Sidebar:  Daughter recently changed jobs and they ran a background check on her.  Would you care to guess what was in the information that came back?  Yes, the fact that she has a concealed carry permit.  She got the job but had to acknowledge that her employer has a policy of "no guns at work".  She keeps it in a lock box in her car.)  So I decided to post it as a comment, which had to be broken up into 4 pieces due to limitations of their commenting system.  As I'm modestly proud of this particular piece, I thought I'd share it with you.

Chad, I for one won't stereotype you in the manner you seem to find unseemly.  Instead, I'll stereotype you as something else—dangerously uninformed.  

You tell us that you do not hunt and that you have no knowledge of guns.  I’m happy to accept your self-assessment.  But given that, why should your completely uninformed opinion be given any credence in a discussion in which you don't know even the most basic of facts?  Example:  "Automatic weapons have been banned since 1934 in the United States."  As I and others have previously pointed out, the National Firearms Act of 1934 did no such thing.  It regulated and taxed them, no more.  Automatic weapons in the United States are still legal in the vast majority of localities, including North Carolina, if one wishes to jump through the legal hurdles and pay the exorbitant prices they now command.  Later laws have restricted the available supply, but those that are available are still legal to own.

You also state "...I don't think too many want to ban guns completely."  You are far from correct here as well.  My best estimate, based on the national polling I've seen, is that somewhere around 20-25% of the US population would quite happily rip the Second Amendment from the Constitution and allow Senator Nancy Pelosi to have her moment in the sun, saying "Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in."  By the way, just for the record, she made that statement in 1994.  The gun banners, as we call them, have been at this for a long time.

Now to address what you say is the overall point of the editorial. "Certain types of weapons aren't needed in the public sphere for legitimate uses like self-protection or hunting."  What types of weapons are you talking about?  If it's semi-automatic rifles, you might be interested to know that the first one of those was invented in 1885.  The first magazine-fed semi-auto came shortly after, and both found modest success--in civilian markets.  Semi-automatic rifles did not see wide-spread use in any military until World War II and the US introduction of the M1 Garand.  If it's magazine fed semi-automatic rifles that concern you, these are really rather old hat, technology wise.  The main difference between the various models at this point is simply in physical appearance.

Perhaps you're more concerned with the AR platform rifle, the most popular rifle in the US in terms of number sold.  Developed in the late 1950s, this rifle has been sold in the civilian market since 1963 (with certain changes, notably the removal of the select fire or as you would call it, machine gun, capability).  It is used, in various calibers, for hunting everything from varmints to large game, in firearms competitions that draw competitors from around the world, and yes, by people like me to defend their homes.  Eugene Stoner designed a very reliable and flexible platform, and the dual facts that it is the longest serving main battle rifle in US military history and capable of so many diverse uses in its civilian incarnation are a testimony to his genius.  

You or anyone with access to the Internet could have easily discovered these facts, but instead you launched an emotional appeal full of inaccuracies and you've been called on it repeatedly.  I can't imagine that's been a pleasant experience for you, but I hope it's been a learning one.

Now to address one final item.  You seem to have an issue with our desire for anonymity.  Let me give you the view from our side of the street.  We gun owners have a long history of distrust of the media.  From our point of view, you’ve earned it.

As an acquaintance of mine has put it, we can usually win the interviews but we can’t win the edits.  Latest case in point, Katie Couric and her latest gun “documentaries”.  I’ll allow you to plug that into Google.  Luckily for the Virginia Citizens’ Defense League, they had their own copies of the interviews in question.

Couple that with certain dirty tricks, such as publishing some time back of the names and addresses of holders of North Carolina concealed carry permits, which put those people in a bad position. “Hey, spousal abuser!  They got a carry permit and they are living here now!  Happy hunting!” or “Break in here for guns!”  Oddly enough, when some of our folks published the reporter’s, editor’s and publisher’s addresses, they were pretty upset.  We, on the other hand, were supposed to just take it because it was “public record”.  Thankfully, the legislature didn’t see it like that, and those records are now not public.

Then there is the fact that we are gun owners, and we’d like to keep that quiet for any number of reasons.  For example, despite gun safes and burglar alarms, some individuals might still break into our homes looking for guns.  My home has been broken into, and while no guns were stolen, it wasn’t fun dealing with the mess after.

There’s also outright discrimination against gun owners in the workplace.  We aren’t a protected class, so we’ve learned how to keep our mouths shut when it comes to our politics and our hobbies.  I, for example, have spent over 20 years working for employers where my politics, my ownership of guns and my advocacy for the Second Amendment could have easily caused repercussions including losing my job.  I like to eat and I need to keep my bills paid.  I stay anonymous within the known limits of the technology we use to communicate.

I hope missive meets your civility requirements.  Your publication rules do not allow for anonymous letters to the editor, so you leave me little recourse but to drop this note here and hope you see it.  Cheers.