I went to my first gun show recently--part of my ongoing remedial education in American cultural literacy, which my (American) wife has lately taken in hand--and I have been turning the experience over in my mind these past few days. As a Brit, of course, I was conditioned to expect that the first time I saw an unholstered pistol would be when a mugger stuck one in my face. That is how it works in a civilized country. So for me it was passing strange to see many hundreds of pistols--not to mention shotguns, assault rifles, armor-piercing bullets, laser-sighting attachments and all manner of other lethal weaponry--arrayed for the delectation of ordinary citizens. They let me pick up a gun, for heaven's sake!
A few moments inside the exhibition hall, I was still puzzling over the perfunctory security check at the door--"Are you carrying firearms?" "No, but why would that be a problem?"--when I gaped as a rotund and cheerful old gentleman with a white beard walked past me to the exit, with what looked like an Armalite and attached bayonet slung casually over his shoulder. (I was pleased to see that the trigger was secured by a plastic tie. Dangerous otherwise.) Trade was brisk. The Supreme Court had just overturned DC's de facto prohibition on hand guns, upholding the Second Amendment as an individual rather than collective right.