Guns, gear and glory

Inside the largest roving gun show in all of Amurrica, there's a whole table devoted to women's pumps. Candy-pink slingbacks, cheetah-print peep-toes, mid- and low-heel versions in basic black. It's an island of WTF confections amid sleek, phallic death metal.

Why there are women's shoes for sale at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show at Cal Expo, I do not know. Maybe someone's trying to appeal to whoever casts those low-rent fetish videos of women in bikinis blasting Uzis.

Whatever the reason, these pumps ain't moving.

There are only 90 minutes to go on this particular Sunday before Crossroads packs up its guns, gear and glory, and moseys on to its next show. A Huntington Beach vendor with a leathery bosom bemoans the nine-hour drive ahead of her to Southern California. On her table lay the remnants of her biggest seller: a $2 paper target of President Barack Obama made to look like a ghoulish, green zombie. “You gotta have at least one Obama,” she chirps. I buy one for my editor, who's not really into guns or political assassinations, and then go hunting for myself.

As sleepy-eyed vendors stare into space, the crowd wanders the pavilion and jams the line to purchase ammo. Unsurprisingly, the militia contingent is representing, draped in camo hunting jackets, wispy facial hair and those wireless eyeglass frames that make the wearer resemble one out of every five police sketches.

But it's not just the white liberty crowd trawling this cavernous maze glutted with death-dealing hardware. There are also young minority couples of black and brown skin, mousy churchwomen, kids, and at least one reporter who doesn't know a gas-powered M4 carbine rifle from a Super Soaker CPS 3000.

A man in a floral shirt talks up surgical-elastic handgun holsters that slide down the front of your pants. Now that crotch-bulge can make babies and obliterate them. “I have a hard time convincing women to buy those,” he admits.

At another table, a tubby vendor strokes a .45-caliber Glock. “Oh, I'm not selling that one,” he explains. “That thing has more sentimental value than my old lady.”

It wouldn't matter. These guns are all way beyond my price range. A Colt Single Action Army revolver with a buttery handle is priced at $5,200. Even a single-shot pistol tinier than my palm is $200. I wander past tables cluttered with action figures, electrode hand massagers, an exploding SpongeBob SquarePants piñata, toy swords, real knives with comfy grips (for your stabbing pleasure) and all kinds of firearm-related minutiae only a true gun nut could appreciate.

I finally spot a man selling a simple, wood-handled rifle so ancient and rickety it looks like it went to school with George Custer's gun. Even this black-powder boom stick is $180, but because it's more than 50 years old, the state requires no paperwork on it. It's untraceable. I wonder why there aren't more gang shootings involving muskets.

I scurry to find an ATM and ask my editor whether the paper will let me expense a gat. You know, for journalism. I am repeatedly shot down.

So, this is what it feels like to have one's Second Amendment rights trampled upon. Meh, I'll live.