From where I live, the US border at Plattsburgh, NY, is a mere 40-minute drive. Our neighbor, Vince and his wife, Tricia, shop down there frequently. Oh yeah, everybody over here goes down south of the border to shop. Even for groceries. The last time, Vince and Trish came back with all sorts of stuff. I saw even a stalk of broccoli leaning wearily against the rear window of their SUV, looking fatigued like kinda,’ are we home yet?’
South of the border, stuff are dirt cheap as compared to Canada. Right now a CAD is 0.76USD because oil has tanked, but the prices down there have always been way below ours, even after currency conversion.
There is a law that has been ready to be tabled at the US Congress since the late 19th century awaiting debate, named the “Canada Annexation Bill of 1866”. It proposes to annex Canada by force as the 51st American state. If the law is taken up and passed, prices in Canada will crash and I will get Kleenex at $1.29, oh yeah. Those depending upon social services would suffer, though. Canada, a welfare state, splurges on the unemployed and the have-nots.
US border towns like Plattsburgh have the look of boom towns. They exist for one purpose only – catering to Canadian shoppers. At Plattsburgh malls, Canadians are treated much the same way a Las Vegas casino welcomes high-rollers. The same thing plays out at the other border crossings at Burlington, Stanstead and elsewhere. (Remind me to tell you about Stanstead. There’s a library there that sits on the border, one half -some shelves, tables and chairs – inside Canada and the other half inside the US. The border, a black band, runs across the middle of the floor).
So, I was telling you about how Canadian shoppers are treated like royalty in the US border towns. Of course there is a limit to how much each person is allowed to get through Canadian customs without having to pay duty, but there are ingenious ways by which one can show the customs agents their middle finger.
Suppose you have set your eyes on buying new tyres. At Plattsburgh a set of new 16” Toyos is less than half the price in Canada. Now you don’t drive all the way just to get tyres. You buy other stuff as well and before you know it, you’ve crossed your limit. If you are an idiot, that is. Otherwise, when you leave home, you take the ready-to-scrap tires that your neighbor was anyway throwing away and he helps you put them on.
You go buy the new tires at Plattsburgh and switch them right there with the active connivance of the dealers. They can’t say nothin’ to you at the border. Want an expensive jacket? Just wear it back. As long as you don’t have a beard and aren’t muttering “allah-o-akbar”, you’re cool. The border agents aren’t stupid of course. Once I remember an agent mentioning to me in a heavily accented southern twang, “How come you ain’t got no noo tyres?”
After I had my new tyres installed, I had nothing else ta do. I ambled around the sprawling Champlain Centre Mall and strolled through the Walmart, Target and Best Buy stores. These are gigantic outfits, each store spread over acres and acres.
The Champlain Centre Mall is so huge that you can barely see the roof of the Target store from the Walmart, due to the curvature of the earth. Kidding. I get carried away and lie all the time when I’m writing my blog. Don’t ever take my words to the bank. But its my blog, so I’ll lie whenever I want ta.
Anyway, there I was, minding my business in the land of the free and the prosperous, the kick-ass surgical strike capital of the world and I was enjoying it. I went into a bar and ordered a beer and a turkey-bacon club with a side order of fries. It was delicious. Costed me peanuts.
I was doing a little more ambling when I passed a Gander Mountain outlet. Leaning against a wooden stand at the display window was a belt-fed Browning machine gun, pretty much like the one you saw Arnold Schwarzneggar pack, in Commando.
Canada too has gun stores. There are in fact three within a block of where I live. But you won’t find stuff that resembles artillery in Canada. Canada is much stricter and doesn’t allow either “conceal carry” or “reveal carry”. I own a Lapua Magnum with scope but as per Canadian law the gun, along with it’s .338 ammunition, has to be inside a locked case in my home. I am allowed to transport it but only inside that locked case and only to and from the shooting range or the designated hunt zone for which I have been issued a tag and permit. And I can do the hunt only for the designated game during a season designated for that species. Caribou season is now on, until End-September. I did it once and if you behave I’ll tell you all about it in my blog at some later date, when I feel like it.
So, like I was sayin’ , Canada strictly regulates the use of firearms. I have a firearm license and a hunting license but that does not cover hand guns. For that I need a special waiver. No such rules exist in the US. You can just walk into a Walmart or an outfitter (hunting goods retailer) and walk out with any gun you please. In America, you can buy your son a 9mm Micro Uzi for his 13th birthday and he can fire it as long as he is in the company of an adult above 18.
So, here I was passing the Gander Mountain outlet. Just like every other store there, this one too was massive and at the very end, behind all the outdoor gear, was a narrow section with a long counter on which there were at least 30 handguns of varying caliber and make, lying on their side in a long line. At the far end of the counter there were 10 Uzis and Armalites, also on their sides. I gaped, my mandible dropping to the floor with a crump.
I’m sure these guys can smell a Canadian a mile away. “Lookin’ foah sumpn?” boomed the rotund man behind the counter, looking me straight in the eye and sizing me up in a glance. If you are a gun retailer in the US, you have got to be a good sizer upper of body language, if you don’t want to suddenly gain weight. Lead weight.
“No..I..umm..er..I was just kinda lookin’ around..” I stammered.
“Look all you want, they ain’t goan nowhere.” You have to love the way Americans speak English, kinda rolling the words around before saying them. He was staring down at some receipts, probably doing his taxes or something. Then he straightened and moved down the counter to a shelf from which he picked up a handgun, placed it on the counter and gave it a shove. The gun came slipping and sliding across the full length of the counter top and came to rest, bumping against the back of my right hand. I immediately recoiled at the touch of the cold steel.
“Go ahead, pick it up. It ain’t loaded,” said Humpty-Dumpty. I reached out and picked the gun up gingerly. It felt surprisingly light and on close inspection, it didn’t appear metallic at all. I curled my fingers round the grip and snaked my index finger through the trigger guard.
“Glock33. Takes three fifty seven SIG. 9 shots. Tritium illuminated night sight. Semi-automatic.” (Americans don’t say ‘automatic’. It’s ‘awrmaric’).
“Its so light!” I exclaimed in amazement.
“It’s not steel. It’s a special polymer patented by Glock,” he replied. He was leaning against the counter and regarding me with amusement.
“How much is it?”
“Five hundred but I’ll letcha have it faw foah cash, plus a coupla boxes of ammo, seein’ you’re a reg’lar gent and all.”
“Do I need to show you any papers? I’m Canadian.”
“Far as ahm concerned, you could be hooky doo, I doan care. Just a piece of ID shoan you’re over ayeteen, that’s it. No forms, nuthin’. You walk out with this baby, no sweat. ‘Course I can’t say about those dumb asses at the border though.”
“But if I remain here in the US, is it legal for me, a Canadian, to have a Glock?” I was beginning to fill with amazement.
“Shore it is. The law is simple – everybaady, and the guvmint means eeeeverybaaaaady, has the right to bear arms.”
“Thanks, I guess I have seen enough guns for a while. Have a great day.” I straightened up to leave.
“No problem, bud. Just drop in anytime. In fact if you weren’t in a rush, I’d show you this little mother that came off the cumpunee depot just yesterday.” He reached inside a drawer and his right hand came out with a nasty piece of work about a foot long. Shining silver, it had a long long barrel and a rotating breech like those colts you saw in westerns.
“Taurus 357 Magnum, 9-shot semi-awrmaric. You could kill a moose with one shot,” he called after me as I walked out. I kept walking. Ah the poor American moose, they don’t stand a chance.
I was back at the mall parking lot when a Camaro convertible sighed to stop just next. A blonde got out. Wrapped around the girl’s waist was a holster with a large gun, probably a Smith and Wesson .44 like the one Dirty Harry had. She walked with a thumak-thumak like swagger and disappeared into the Gander Mountain. I wondered whether I should wait to see if she walked out with the Taurus. I felt my richard stir inside my pants as I watched her. A gun-toting woman can be a huge turn-on.
The girl had a halter top on, one that must have weighed ten milligrams, give or take a milligram. It had straps that spiraled up over her shoulders, like DNA, only the straps had less molecules in them, I swear. Would I lie to you?
Now that’s more palatable for peaceniks like me – the right to bare….