I haven’t been to a gun show in months. Not since anyone thought there was any real chance that a guy named Barack Obama, who has made very public his plans to gut the Second Amendment, would get the opportunity to do so. I’m more of a theoretical gun nut than a practicing one. Meaning, I like shooting, and I like the Bill of Rights, but my expendable income and free time are limited by family life, writing, and work.
But, with Obama and Biden in office, it felt important to get out there and exercise the rights they most directly oppose. Just as, under Bush and Cheney, it felt equally important to make a stand for the First and Fourth Amendments. (And, no, that’s not an admission that I think Obama will be any better about those either; we shall see.)
So, when I heard that a number of local Denver anarchists were heading to the Tanner Gun Show to pass out literature and try to find common ground with the wild and wooly libertarians, it seemed like a good time to revisit the scene.
The first thing to notice was how crowded it was. I got there at 8:30 with the show opening at 9:00, and there were already two lines around the building of folks waiting to get in. The last time I visited the Tanner Gun Show, I parked in the front lot and strolled right in. This time, I found my parking spot a good five-minute walk away, and it took twenty-minutes of waiting in line after the doors opened to make it inside. That actually turned out to be a blessing, in that I got to chat with a bunch of the folks in line.
You can say what you want about gun shows, but I’ve always been of the opinion that you ain’t gonna find a gang of folks anywhere else more dedicated to individual freedom and the right to self-determination, two things which are pretty much central to my way of thought. And nothing I saw when sitting with the anarchists changed that perception. The anarchists were passing out overviews of John Brown, literature on war resistors, histories of COINTELPRO and other examples of US government repression, DIY self-defense pamphlets, war resistor propaganda, a spectacular anarchist zine called The American Gun Culture Report, and more. With only three exceptions I can think of, the folks who stopped to talk were all receptive, interested, and, though not always in agreement with everything on the table, more than willing to discuss their differences politely. Moreover, enough donations were received to easily cover the cost of printing and rent for the table.
Then there was the shopping. I went looking for something to scare the hell out of Obama liberals, I’ll admit. My first thought was an AK-47 variant along the lines of an SAR-1. The last time I hit a gun show those were going for roughly $400, with a complete kit of accessories that included a bayonet, cleaning kit, sling, and two 30-round magazines.
Not even close. What was going for $400 dollars a few months ago was now priced at $700 to $1,100.
But I was also looking for a 1911. Again, my means are limited, but ideally I wanted something I could shoot the hell out of, have a great time with, and use for home defense as needed. Luckily for me, the prices on those have not gone crazy yet. I saw a number in my price point, including a couple of dozen Taurus PT1911s and one, just one, Springfield GI.45.
Now, I’ve got nothing against Taurus. The PT1911 is getting great reviews and the thing is absolutely stuffed with custom-like extras. But I’ve already got a tacticool handgun that never fails, and when I turn out to my shooting spot up Left Hand Canyon, I always find myself quitting it after about thirty minutes, and taking up my .357 wheelgun, which is a lot more fun to shoot.
So, the Springfield GI.45. The finish was almost perfect. There was one small scratch in the Parkerizing that I didn’t even notice until got home (and which I’m guessing came with a failed attempt to reinsert the slide release), but other than that it was in perfect condition. It looked like there had been about ten rounds put through it and then the previous owner gave up. There was no evidence of damage. Long story short, the price was right, and that’s what I came home with. I have an old friend who works gun shows, owns more firearms than I ever will, and swears by it.
I don’t know if I’ll modify it at all yet. I figure I’ll put about 1,000 rounds through it first, see what I like and don’t like. If hammer bite’s an issue, perhaps a beavertail grip safety and a new hammer. If the accuracy’s weaker than I am (and that’s a long shot), maybe a Wilson barrel and bushing. If I can’t pick up the low-profile, combat sights I might call up Springfield and get a set of their three-dot Mil-Spec sights. If it has trouble chambering the last round or two in the magazine, maybe a Wolff recoil spring.
I’m looking forward to being sold on the 1911 platform. If I’m not, good enough. But I can’t wait to squirrel away the money for enough ammo to give it a real test.
Update: Just noticed that The American Gun Culture Report has a website. This from their mission statement:
Do you like guns but hate “gun people”? Are you uncomfortable when political “progressives” support every amendment from the Bill of Rights but the 2nd? Do you wish you could walk into a gun store in full drag and get advice on which holster will best hide a full size 1911 automatic (and spare magazine) with your fabulous outfit?
If you answered yes to any of these questions,AGCR is just what you’ve been looking for.
Update II: trm49 leaves the following advice in the comments:
Some of my friends almost bought a gun from John Allen Muhammad at a gun show. ha. They didn’t know him personally but recognized him later when he made the news.
We were talking about where a chance encounter like this could lead. What if they had given him their card and it was found on him when he was arrested? The feds would have taken one look at their writings and music and dubbed them the DC sniper accomplices.
You also gotta watch out for some of the other vendors cause they aren’t exactly on the side of the freedom loving..in other words they’re snitches or undercover cops.
I once bought a book there, I think it was one of those Hitman books, and the vendor gave me his phone number. He said “Call me if you need any help with that.” I gave him a closer look and I could’ve swore the guy had a fake mustache.