January 18, 2007
The Land of the Black Rifle: Law Enforcement/Tactical Gear at the 2007 SHOT Show
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
As I noted in my previous rant, the fastest growing segment of the SHOT Show is the category called Law Enforcement/Tactical, which I explored at great personal risk. Your first thought on entering the LOTBR is, Are there any wants and warrants out on me? In the 1970s I was questioned on a possible charge of moping with intent to loiter, but it was dropped, so I was OK on that count.
The first thing you notice in LOTBR is that hardly anyone looks like a cop, or a Ranger, or a SEAL, or even a mercenary. There were very few guys under 45 with flat stomachs and short haircuts. I think that most of the people I saw were there to ogle the booth babes (LOTBR was Booth Babe Central, the connection between sex and violence being well established.) or simply admire all the dangerous hardware.
There were M-16 and M-4 knockoffs in such profusion and prolixity as to beggar the mind. There were camo uniforms by the bale, commo equipment, a black Hummer 2 converted to a deathmobile, sniper rifles, chemical weapons, knives for slicing and dicing people, packs, handcuffs, clubs, and dummies on which you could practice your joint-breaking holds. There was the Red Man, which is a plastic suit of armor that’s worn by stick-fighting instructors; it allows their students to wale away on them with batons, clubs, and cudgels without doing any damage.
And there were patriotic slogans everywhere, mostly supporting the war In Iraq and Afghanistan. (One company, at its press conference, had an invocation by a chaplain and a Marine Corps color guard. I think the jarheads would rather have been beating up sailors, or whatever jarheads do in their free time.) This is an old, old tradition, and they’re free to do whatever they like, but it bothers me.
If a military boot company, say, wants to put up a poster that says “Iraq is not Vietnam II,” or “The President is not an imbecile, he just sounds that way,” that’s not really tending to business.
If the same company put up a poster that said: “If you have to wade through broken glass, blood, chunks of concrete and rebar, and garbage of all kinds in order to kill people who don’t like us, our boots will do it better than anyone else’s,” I could buy into that.