You don’t need to know Smith & Wesson from Smith & Hawken to understand that an afternoon at the gun show ain’t just about guns anymore, pilgrim.

It’s true that the first thing you can do after paying your $7 admission to the Silverado Gun Show at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro is to join the National Rifle Association, as any God-fearing American should. I did not need to join because as a lad I was certified by the NRA as a junior marksman, and somewhere among my personal effects is a little dog-eared card bearing witness to that. (It’s like the Book-of-the-Month Club or the Mafia. Once a member, you are always a member.) 

The second thing you can do is marvel at the pitchman from Lightning Bond (“the only glue you’ll ever need”), buy a big old bag of Bronco Billy’s Beef Jerky, behold the wonders of Hot & Nasty Pepper Defense Spray (“Discounts for NRA members and police”) or get yourself a poster of Adolf Hitler emblazoned with the slogan, “When I Come Back— No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

You can pick up a tasteful gag gift like a box of “Spotted Owl Helper.” Or chat with the guy hawking “Beat The Box,” a manual on how to beat a lie detector test—  although why a law-abiding, God-fearing, upstanding American would need such a thing is beyond me.

You could also visit with the lady with the ‘50s-style hairdo peddling rubber band guns. That’s right, wooden guns that shoot rubber bands— good old-fashioned fun.

But if you prefer your guns somewhat less old-fashioned, descend to the exhibition hall where a modern array of shooting irons is displayed.

There’s Smith & Wesson and Colt and Winchester and Walther and Ruger and Browning and Beretta and Glock. I liked the looks of the Mossberg 500 “Persuader,” a 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip on it that looks like it would be just the thing to have under your pillow (OK, you’d need a big pillow) if a crack-crazed member of the Taliban climbed into your trailer in the dark of night. 

They’ve got everything a well-armed American needs here, from a Spanish Mauser bayonet to a Vaquero Grande II (a really big knife) to a Ka-Bar knife (not so big) to a pink .22-caliber rifle called a “Cricket” (“a young lady’s first gun”). You can even get a free 20-round magazine of ammo with every Bushmaster purchase. It’s hard to resist buying, especially when there’s a sign that proclaims the “Top 10 Reasons Handguns Are Better Than Women,” including: “You can buy a silencer for a handgun.” And: “You can have one handgun at home and another when you’re on the road.”

But the gun show is not just about guns. It’s a celebration of traditional American values, replete with high noon pledge of allegiance and a ragged detachment of Boy Scouts who, after trooping those broad stripes and bright stars, attempt to raise a few dollars selling candy bars. 

And traditional American values are best expressed in the bumper stickers and T-shirts for sale at this and any garden-variety gun show. To whit:

Guns Kill People Like Spoons Made Rosie O’Donnell Fat

Earth First, We Can Mine The Other Planets Later

I’d Kill For a Nobel Peace Prize

There’s Plenty of Room For All God’s Creatures– Next to the Mashed Potatoes

Jane Fonda, American Traitor Bitch

Mom and Dad, not Todd and Brad

Ted Kennedy’s Car Has Killed More People Than My Gun

Ted Kennedy in ‘08, A Blonde In Every Pond

Hillary For President, Kennedy For Her Driver

Dick Cheney’s Gun Is Not As Dangerous As Ted Kennedy’s Car

When All The Trees Are Gone You Can Wipe Your Ass On A Spotted Owl

Osama– You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

Vietnam– We Were Winning When I Left

God Made Adam and Eve Not Adam and Steve

Surrender– It’s A French Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand

If You Aren’t Running With The Pack You Are Hunted By Them

Warning: Premises Guarded By Bichon Frise

Criminals Don’t Wait Seven Days– Why Should I?

I Just Got A Gun For My Wife– It’s The Best Trade I Ever Made

I Live With Fear Everyday– But Sometimes She Lets Me Go Fishing

Sgt. Rummy Says: Hope Allah’s Wearing Kevlar

Criminals Prefer Unarmed Victims

But the best bumper sticker I saw at the gun show was the one that read: The Second Amendment Ain’t About Duck Hunting. No, that’s probably true. The Second Amendment ain’t about duck hunting. And neither, alas, is the gun show.

The next Silverado Gun Show is June 23-24 at the E-Ventplex at the Frederick Fairgrounds in Frederick, Md. http://www.silveradogunshow.com

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