In recent days there has been a resurgence of discussion over gun control, following an Executive Order by the President of the United States. One of the issues under debate is closing the so-called "loophole" over regulation of gun show sales. While sensible measures to curb gun violence is a deadly serious matter, some aspects of the controversy are ripe for satire.

So, if you'll indulge me, here is a re-posting of a piece from May 2014. Please feel free to comment upon it if that is your wont, while kindly remembering the rules about avoiding acutely political discussions.

Hog Day Afternoon
by AuntShecky
All Rights Reserved

As the senior investigative correspondent over at the East Hogwash Pennysaver, I was beginning to suspect that I was wasting my talents. I’d been seriously toying with the idea of exchanging print media for local access cable TV. I’d also gotten wind of an opening at WDUH-FM. But I put everything on hold the minute my Bureau Chief handed me a plum assignment.

“Scoop,” Ben said, “I want you to go downtown. There’s a gun show at Rentacenter Civic Center. See what you can find out about these guns for sale. Whip up something before deadline, and we’ll plaster it all over Page One of next week’s issue.”

I was aghast. “The front page? Wow! What a minute-- what about Bucky’s ad?” Floyd “Bucky” Sinclair was one of East Hogwash’s upstanding citizens, even when he wasn’t quite sober. A couple of years ago, he gave the commencement address at DUH. More importantly, Bucky’s Gas ‘n’ Go had been The Pennysaver’s flagship ad, having appeared on Page One for almost as long as it takes to clean up an offshore oil spill. “Don’t tell me you’re going to move Bucky inside.”

He rubbed his chin a little bit. “Eh! We’ll just use a smaller font. He’ll never notice the difference.” The chief’s eyes reclaimed their hopeful gleam, just like they were the day the East Hogwash Septic Tank Servicemen Association dropped its libel suit against us. “I can just see the headline: Exclusive! Shady Gun Dealers Invade East Hogwash. Hah! If that doesn’t have ‘Pulitzer’ written all over it, I don’t know what does.” Just when this reporter begins to feel unappreciated, his mentor steps up and steers him toward journalistic glory.

“Right-o, Chief. I won’t let you down.”

“While you’re there, would you mind picking up my special order? Just mention my name to a vendor named Snake.”

“Will do. But I never knew you were a gun fancier. Mind if I ask what you purchased?”

His answer rang with the bluntness of an Orwell and the bravado of a Hemingway. “I treated myself to an elephant gun.”

“You’re going on safari?”

The chief shook his head. “Nah – just fortifying my personal arsenal. I’ve got a family to protect, you know.” He pointed to the framed photo on his desk. Ben liked telling people that each member of his brood had been named for the place where he or she had been conceived: his son, Hilton; his daughter, Radisson, and the baby, Super 8.

Straightening the “Press” card stuck in the band of my fedora, I grabbed my newly-sharpened pencil and was ready to roll.

“Oh, and Scoop –-one more thing.“

“I know, Chief –- I’ll be careful out there.”

Actually, he merely wanted to remind me to “go undercover.” So I threw a tarp over my head and headed downtown.

In front of the venue there was nary a space to be had in the parking lot, packed with the usual suspects of pick-up trucks and motorcycles, along with the occasional luxury vehicle, so pricey that the word “automobile” wasn’t hoity-toity enough a description. On tv commercials the announcers called it a “motor car.” I thought I spotted a hearse or two discreetly parked around back; on the other hand, it might have been a leftover from the last time a Grateful Dead tribute band was in town.

One look at the Rentacenter and you’d think it was the Mall on Black Friday or an electronics store during the debut of this week’s new iPhone. The long lines in front of the entrances included potential customers who’d camped out all night to be the first shoppers inside. Some of them dressed for the part -- in camouflage pajamas.

Pacing back and forth on the sidewalk was a sole protestor, a forlorn-looking college girl with a neat picket sign and messy hair. She was attempting to hand out pamphlets promoting non-violence, violently ignored by the passers-by. When I asked her if she had any takers, she sadly shook her head. I wished her well, adding,“ Don’t let the nay-sayers get you down. Just keep at it. Stick to your guns, er --“

I left the activist on the sidewalk and cut to the head of the line. “Excuse me. . .Mediaperson coming through. . .Sorry, I’m on deadline. . .” Whatever clout my Pennysaver credentials didn’t wield, then old-fashioned pushiness rudeness would.

“Hey! Quit barging in!” The gruff voice wasn’t kidding. Next thing I knew my shoulder narrowly escaped the grip of a beefy hand at the end of a burly arm covered with numerous tattoos of chickens, which were pecking the vast area between his knuckles and neck, interrupted only by the narrow edge of his wife-beater shirt. All I can say is that it was immensely fortunate that I encountered this gentleman on the way in, while he was still unarmed.

An early bird was already on her way out. The woman looked so happy that you’d think she had just downed her fourth mimosa at a Mother’s Day Brunch. Her purchase reminded me of something I used to see advertised in the back of comic books when I was a lad., like the famous Red Ryder that Ralphie lusted for in “A Christmas Story.” It was more than a pop gun but considerably less than a bullet-launching weapon. “Look what I got for my son,” she bragged. “I bought it for a song!” I haven’t the foggiest notion of which particular song she meant. (Maybe it was “Yes, Sir, That’s My BB.)

At the time I thought it was just a glorified toy. You could find more dangerous stuff at a church rummage sale. What’s the big deal? This so-called “controversial” gun show was shooting blanks. But since I was already here, I thought, I might as well pick up the Chief’s parcel and head home for a nice quiet evening with a DVD and a PBR.

In lieu of a ticket, I flashed my Press card to the ticket-taker. “We don’t want no publicity,” he said, with a menacing stare.

“Not to worry. Actually, I’m looking for a certain vendor.” Standing on tiptoes, I scanned the premises.”Now, is Snake the dude with the rattlesnake nose -ring or the one with the
20-foot live python wrapped around his neck?”

“Neither. Snake had a problem with the babysitter. Maybe she’ll be in later.”

Meanwhile I took a look around. It was only the previous night that the Upper Sandusky Salamanders beat the East Hogwash Boars 4-0, but that day the floor of the Rentacenter was devoid of ice, though here and there I could sense some vestigial slipperiness. I witnessed a typical gun show transaction at a nearby card table loaded with lethal weapons. Somebody was purchasing a high-powered, multi-shot, automatic rifle with, as they say, “no questions asked.” No identification card, no name and address, no nothing - – just cold, hard cash. The only “background checks” anywhere in evidence were on the pattern of the seller’s sport shirt.

At the next table the customer must have been eager to come to the gun show, because he looked as if he’d gotten dressed in a hurry: apparently he had forgotten to tie his boot laces as well as the back of his hospital gown. He listened to every word of the salesman’s pitch. “You won’t find a better weapon of this type on the second hand market. Look at it: it’s practically factory-fresh! The previous owner was a little old lady who only used it to shoot squirrels on Sundays.”

Second thoughts had begun to threaten the enthusiasm of the would-be gun owner, stroking his chin and shrugging his shoulders. “I dunno,” he said. “I’m not sure this is the kind of weapon the dolphins told me to get.”

The vendor wanted to close the sale, but he was running out of patience. “Well, I wish you or your dolphins would make up your mind. I gotta meet with my parole officer at two-thirty.”

“Okay. I’ll take it!”

“Excellent choice, Sir. Would you like a bag?”

“No, I’ll shoot it here.”

I hung around the joint for a couple of hours, but the she-serpent who had the Chief’s elephant gun money never showed. On my way out, I passed the check-out lines. There was not a soul in the “Ten Items or Fewer” line, but the others were packed. Every customer had a shopping cart fully loaded with a medley of shotguns, rifles, pistols and what appeared to be ground-to-air missile launchers.

The sight was so unsettling that a mere tap on the shoulder made me leap higher than a jump-shot by Monique “Too Tall” Carruthers last February right in this very arena when she led the Sheboygan Cougars to victory over our East Hogwash Sows 115-12. It was with intense apprehension that I turned around.


“Some gun show, right? Can you be-lieve these deals?” He reached into his shopping cart and dug out two identical pistols. The weapons were no doubt deadly, especially at close range, yet small enough to be concealed in pocket or purse. “Buy one, get one free!” Bucky crowed. He put one in each hand and waved them around above his head, like a rootin’-tootin’, six-gun shootin’ ringtail buckaroo. “I’m gonna put ‘em away until Christmas. They’ll be great stocking stuffers for Newt and Mitt.”

“You’re one smart shopper, Bucky.” I pretended to look at my watch. “Gee, will you look at the time? Can’t miss that deadline. You take care, now.”

“Just a second there, Scoop. What’s this I hear about The Ad?”

The very nanosecond those words left his lips, my gut heaved with a sinking feeling, so intense that I think the toilet and the tub also might have been involved. “Uh, oh – whatever you heard, it’s just a rumor. The Pennysaver would never shrink your ad –er, I mean--”

Bucky looked at me as if I were a suspect in a line-up on Law and Order. “That’s good, ‘cuz the Gas’n’Go is real important in this town. Like an institution, you know? If anybody screwed with the ad, who knows what would happen?” He passed a loving hand over the purchases in his cart, but I couldn’t help noticing that the other hand still clutched one of the pistols, pointed directly at yours truly.

I got myself out of the Rentacenter in less time than it takes to change the channel when Kathy Lee Gifford comes on. I needed something to calm my nerves, so I dashed into the nearest bodega. There was no problem with my six forms of positive I.D., but the storekeeper refused to sell me a pack of smokes when I couldn’t come up with my paternal grandmother’s maiden name.