GUN PRIVACY WYOMING STYLE
By Grant Hall
For three days, I expect I’m on the verge of being blown away as the strongest winds in the memory of locals’ hit my rented cabin. I’m awakened by freezing temperatures in May. Rain and snow follows. Summers are short up here. Now, I know why a mere 600,000 residents make the state their home base. I love Wyoming.
Guns are a part of Wyoming culture and certain residents take their second amendment and privacy rights seriously. Jake and Willie, my neighbors for my summer assignment, are two such Wyomingites. Jake is a disabled, retired, Vietnam veteran with a penchant for guns and ballistics. A perfectionist, his library has an entire wall of neatly, catalogued, magazines, books, articles, and pamphlets on gun related subjects. Willie is a Korea war veteran. He’s worked all over the world and made his home in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Panama, England, Singapore and the Netherlands before electing to live in Wyoming. He’s had five wives and still writes to all of them. Both like the gun privacy Wyoming gun shows provide and we’re headed to Laramie today to see what gun prizes locals and western states, “dealers” have to offer.
“The boys from Utah will be there today,” Willie says. Jake lights a cigarette, inhales deeply, crooks his neck so he can look at Willie in the back and replies, “It’s a drive for them, but guns are selling. Some of them make their living from buying and selling at shows. We’ll see. They’ll probably come.” I watch my driving and fight the fog with a reduced speed and low beam lights.
Tables with guns of all calibers, ammunition and accessories fill the large, brick building and I’m immediately uncomfortable. They’re all pointed away from the sellers behind the table-at us.
We each embark on our separate exploration journey. An hour later, Willie taps me on the shoulder. He’s picked up a 45 caliber, Glock that’s like new. Jake shows up with an SKS, and 50 caliber rounds. “Ever shoot a 50, Grant?” I nod. We take another tour together, agree we’ve seen enough, and head to the truck stop for lunch.
“There’s no paper work at the shows. No record of who owns what. Just like currency. I don’t want anyone knowing anything about my guns or my money,” Willie whispers between bites of pot roast and potatoes. Jake claims he made a thousand dollars by selling two pistols at the show. I’m surprised. I never knew he was carrying on the trip.
Later, we arrive home and I’m invited for a day at the range two days hence. I’m working and request a rain check.
It’s the most private way of buying and selling guns. Gun shows in Wyoming are the last bastion of freedom for shooting enthusiasts who prefer their guns remain their business. “Just like money” as Willie said.
Copyright: James Clark King, LLC, April 14, 2009