Monday, July 10, 2017

Day 14: A Gun Show??? :o

After a very long night in Colorado (I think we got back to the hotel at around 1am, but this was after about 8 hours of driving earlier in the day) we woke up to a family friend of my father's knocking on our hotel room door.

We treated him to breakfast at the hotel-- I was honestly so shocked when I found out that the breakfast was not complimentary and saw that $45 dollar bill-- before heading on our merry way.

There was a slightly rambunctious couple at the hotel that took some chagrin to the disposition of a server, and decided to make life more difficult for her by spilling juice on the table before leaving.
Why am I including this bit of information? Well, it shows a spectrum. People have different ways of dealing with their emotions. And neither person involved in this passive aggressive conflict can ever know what the other was dealing with at that particular moment in time, but I am certain that all had their feelings hurt. Try to be more considerate, whoever you may be in this interaction, be careful with what you say and how you react, especially with people you are not familiar with.

Anywho, the night before I was up kind of late--we got to the hotel late and thusly I showered and got dressed for bed late. When I got out the shower I saw a commercial on the tv for a gun showcase in Denver that would be open the following morning. Usually, a gun show would be something that I would steer clear of, for a number of reasons, but this trip is all about learning about people unlike myself so I knew that my father and I had to go. So I purchased a couple of tickets and let my father know about the little detour we would be taking before heading out to Utah.

The tickets were only $10 per person so I was cool with this set up already. The location was somewhat difficult to find, it was behind a hotel in their convention center. And walking towards the entrance I was just observing people. I saw that a father had bought katana-like swords and was showing them to his young son, others looked like they were preparing for guerilla warfare, and, by and large, they were mostly White. That last part did not surprise me, though, because according to , Denver is 70% White.

So I walk into the center and immediately I see "NO CAMERAS ALLOWED" in all red. Damn. I was already trying to get it off my hands and see where I could put it when this elderly man that was running admission into the center tried to give me a hard time about it but I already knew that I had to put it somewhere. I'm just going to start of by saying that I did not like this guy, he gave off vibes that came across like he did not like me, like I was only there for nefarious purposes, to criminalize the idea of guns with my journalistic practices. But the other guy helping with admissions was cool. I showed him a receipt of my tickets on my phone and he asked me for permission to touch my phone and scroll to verify. He was respectful and did not come across as having any preconceptions.

I probably only spent a half hour or so there, but this is what I took in:
-It's really a family affair, adult fathers and sons but also parents that bring their young children too
-It's a community, there were a number of people that were gleeful seeing familiar faces
-It's not just guns, there were other objects that fell within the category of self defense like tasers, pepper spray, knives, survival kits, gun attachments, etc.
-Seemed to be mostly old White men that were selling, a demographic fairly different from the demographics I saw walking through the space (there were a number of Latinx-appearing individuals, but very few Black individuals and I do not recall seeing any Asian individuals). Many of these sellers were also either wearing or displaying their military decoration.
-It's normal, the demeanor these people had was the same that I see in grocery stores, this is such a heavily ingrained part of their culture.

And I made a purchase.
It was a film camera, but still. I'm upset because the camera ended up not working-- which explains why the guy sold it to me along with a camera bag for only $20-- but it led to something better, albeit more costly, down the line.
Ansco Autoset

Pretty, yes, but as I soon learned, the solar right above the "Ansco" on the camera is only meant to last 10-15 years, and this camera was from the 60s.

Before long I had walked through most of the show and was not interested in seeing much else there so I decided to leave. I chose not to interview anyone inside the center because security would probably get suspicious or the people I'm interviewing would get defensive, risks that I was not willing to run.

So to leave I had to meet up with the old dude at the front gate again, and he snarkly said "Leaving already?" or "Couldn't handle it?", I am not sure but that cemented my disdain for him. I got my camera and I was happy to leave. But I still had not interviewed anyone. I saw some people sitting around outside, and knew that that would be my only opportunity to get an interview here. I just sat next to this older gentleman smoking a cigarette and waited. He seemed comfortable with me and even made a joking comment about the weather or something fleeting. Then I began to ask him a few questions. I did not ask for his permission to interview him so I will not disclose any personal information, but he was visiting from another state and went to the gun show just to see what was there. His gun usage was mostly for hunting, but decades ago he had been injured by a gun when a friend was playing around with it. This would make me think that he would stay as far away from guns as possible from the rest of his life, but not even, for here he was at a gun show. He was very much of the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" mindset, which I can understand, but I likened his disposition to what would happen if I was hit by a car. Living in LA, I have to drive, and I have to drive often, and it would be impossible for me to avoid cars even if I did not drive, so, in a community like this man's where guns are everywhere, being afraid of them would not do him any good. All one can do is just be careful.

Guns and gun culture intrigue me because it is so different from what I have grown up around, but people will always hold home near and dear to their hearts.

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