My Election Day Journey to the Belly of the Beast

It’s kind of a ritual for me. On presidential Election Days, I visit a local gun retailer to pick up ammo and accessories for the hunting season. Call it my quadrennial journey into the belly of the beast. But thanks to my shoulder-length COVID hair and redneck baseball cap, I fit right in. You see, clerks and customers in gun shops are a lot more helpful if they think you’re one of ’em, so I tend to travel under cover.

In 2008, a clerk at the now-defunct Gander Mountain store warned me to stock up on ammo that very day, because “if Obama is elected,” he warned, “you won’t be able to find it.” Implication was that Obama would immediately propose regulations to limit the availability of ammunition or pass a “bullet tax” to make it unaffordable. None of those regulations were ever proposed, of course, but a massive ammo shortage did follow the ’08 election, triggered entirely by panic buying by gun nuts.

The ammo shortage lasted a good two years until the NRA faithful came out of their bunkers to learn there was no gun control threat from the Democrat in the White House. But their story didn’t change. In 2012, I dropped by the same gun counter on Election Day and heard the exact same spiel from the clerks and customers. “You know, you guys told me this story in ’08, but have a look,” I said sweeping my arm in the direction of 3 fully stocked ammo shelves — enough to equip a small army.

Nevertheless, the clerk insisted that with Obama not facing re-election in 2016 the President would ram through all sorts of anti-gun legislation. It seemed pointless to remind this guy that the GOPhers has taken control of the House in 2010 and were unlikely to lose it in 2012. These were facts that didn’t fit the NRA’s narrative.

I skipped my trip to “gun heaven” in 2016, most likely because I, too, had done my share of ammo hoarding during the shortage, amassing enough to last me until me until 2020. But supplies have dwindled, so today I stopped at a local gun retailer, despite knowing I’d pay a premium price for the lead AND just might have to put up with the same Election Day bullshit.  

I did pay a premium price for the ammo. But there was no campaign conversation this time. I refused to get within 10 feet of any store employee except to check out. Not a single employee was wearing a face mask to protect customers from the corona virus, yet all of them were wearing sidearms to protect themselves from, well, maybe from liberal gun owners like me.

Every one of these employees was working without a mask in a county on COVID “red alert.” If that ain’t a Trumpian political statement, I don’t know what is. And it’s all based on either arrogance or ignorance. Maybe both.

Yeah, I should have wheeled around and just walked out of the store, but I’m a deer hunter, and you can’t do that without ammo. Besides, this store is pretty mild compared to where I’ll be hunting soon. Here’s a shot taken a few weeks ago at the main intersection of the nearby town.

It ain’t easy being a liberal deer hunter. 

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