Picture a carnival barker with a straw boater perched on his head, a cigar dangling precariously on his lip, snarling at passers-by, "Hurry! Hurry! Step right up and get your guns before the mean ol' gubmint takes 'em from you!"
That's not a verbatim account of what the television ads for this weekend's gun show said, but it is pretty darned close.
The advertisements urge all patriots to come to the Capital City Gun & Knife Show at the State Fairgrounds today and Sunday to "celebrate the Second Amendment and get your guns while you still can."
The unmistakable message was that our right to bear arms - or, presumably, to arm bears or even crazy people - is in jeopardy of being taken. From where Steve Elliott, president of C&E Gun Shows, would get that impression is hard to tell.
Several calls to Elliott this week were unreturned, but in a "60 Minutes" interview with Leslie Stahl that's shown on his website, Elliott attributed the success of his gun shows - he travels the country year round doing these things - to President Barack Obama.
"He's very liberal. He's very on-record as being very anti-gun," Elliott told Stahl in explaining why his gun shows are doing such a bang-up business these days.
His wife added that the economy - which, one presumes, was booming before President Obama took over, right? - is also a factor. "People don't know what's going to happen," Annette Elliott said.
On the company's website we learn that Elliott feels "the Second Amendment ... is actually the most important" amendment because "it is the only amendment that guarantees all the other rights. Without the Second Amendment," Elliott writes, "we would be a country of unarmed subjects."
Chill, homes. You have nothing to worry about - at least that's what Kristin Goss and plain ol' common sense say. Goss, an assistant professor of public policy and political science at Duke University, and author of "Disarmed: the Missing Movement on Gun Control in America," said this week, "The Supreme Court has made it clear that Americans have a right to own handguns for personal protection. ... I don't foresee the Second Amendment being repealed anytime soon."
Neither does anyone else, but even suggestions for common-sense restrictions - like a waiting period to see whether someone escaped from the Hoo Hoo Hotel before allowing him to purchase a hand cannon - are invariably met with an uproar from some gun advocates.
To his credit, when asked by Stahl whether his ad urging people to "get your guns while you still can" was "churning the waters," Elliott shot straight.
"Why sure," he said. "We do this for a living."
In Prince's song "1999," a little girl asks the unanswered question, "Mommy, why does everybody have a bomb?"
The answer in 2011 would be because it's the patriotic thing to do.
So, come on, folks. Hock Granny's spare set of false teef - she can eat some of that powdered oatmeal stored in your Obamashelter - and come on out and buy some guns.
While you still can.
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