"Find me the one Democrat at this thing."
That was the task presented to me by my new denim-clad friend. Who at this machine gun shoot would even ponder voting for Barack Hussein Obama, the man who everyone in his right-leaning mind believes will eradicate our God-given right to semi-automatic weapons in his second term?
Two weekends ago, I was at Knob Creek Gun Range, a weaponry Mecca in West Point, Kentucky, that holds a biannual event that is sort of like a comic book convention where everyone is cosplaying as someone from Call of Duty. A person could view, buy, sell, or rent weaponry that’s illegal in a multitude of states, like a working antique cannon. For those fearing the socialist apocalypse (and a lot of people fit this description), vendors were hawking containers of canned bacon and other bunker necessities. And if your car’s bumper was in need of some political sloganeering, seemingly every other stand sold anti-Obama stickers that ranged from the vaguely jingoistic to full-blown racist.
I wasn't unfamiliar with all this. Raised in rural central Pennsylvania, guns were a regular part of my life. My dad had me practice at the local range and I’ve killed a few creatures larger than your average pit bull. Truthfully, guns can be a metric ton of fun. Witnessing the explosive orgy of household objects and automobiles getting blown to scrap is an incredibly visceral experience. Watching a boat captained by a department store mannequin transform into splintered wood and flames is just plain invigorating. If I had the thousands of dollars needed to rent a space and take part in the demolition, I’d love to render some of my busted camera equipment asunder.
But, while destruction is all fine and good, something was off at Knob Creek. Sure, every subculture has quirks that can be distasteful, but this was something different. These guys clearly didn't use their automatic weapons for sport, the way me and my relatives did; they were all about owning them to own them. It's downright odd to possess a weapon that has no other purpose than to kill people just to prove that you can. And it's even more odd to hate anyone who might possibly want you to not own quite so many of those deadly weapons. Standing there at the shoot, watching the destruction and the pageantry, I realized this was the sort of America those of us living on the coasts should be more cognizant of. After all, they vote.
Dustin Fenstermacher is a self-taught photographer living in Brooklyn, New York. For more of Dustin, check out his website.