“I don’t mind having to jump through some [regulatory] hoops to get a gun, as long as I can still get it,” Brian Hiebert of Oklahoma’s Hoyle Creek Firearms told me, a few spots down the firing line. He felt that gun-rights activists’ fear of government gun confiscation is absurd, and says he often disagrees with the National Rifle Association’s uncompromising stance on basic gun regulation. But, he said, “You also have to understand—they’re the only organization [advocating for gun owners’ rights].”
As Hiebert saw it, policy questions about the recreational sale and ownership of guns are not really questions about guns at all. Rather, they are about a set of related issues that the government seemed incapable of confronting: mental-health infrastructure, for example, or persistent poverty. He expressed dismay over the country’s general political climate and the ability of this year’s presidential choices to change it. “Much as I hate to, I might have to vote for Hillary,” he said. Regardless of the outcome in November, he said, he will feel that the U.S. is headed in a troubling direction, with no one offering satisfying answers to the massive social and economic problems that have exacerbated the gun debate.
Saturday’s flagship event was a spectacle called “Kill the Car.” Two old minivans, painted bright yellow and adorned with the words “ISIS Taxi” were filled with explosives and rolled down the hill until, in a hail of gunfire, they detonated. It was a gesture that might have seemed insensitive to some visitors. But OFASTS was also radically inclusive in its own way. Anyone who loved both America and guns was welcome, no questions asked.