Story Rush

Machine Gun Expo Is Down-Home Americana Gone Ballistic

by PETE BROOK, Wired  |  published on December 5, 2012

There are thousands of gun shows in America each year, but machine gun shows are a rare spectacle. At the two-day hands-on shootfest that is the Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot & Trade Show (OFASTS) exhibitors rent out fully automatic weapons to the public so that they may annihilate refrigerators, ovens and other household appliances.

Photojournalist Pete Muller recently scratched a years-long itch to visit OFASTS and documented his trip.

“I grew up in a congested and heavily regulated area of the northeast and consequently had little exposure to guns and gun culture,” says Muller. “What was happening at OFASTS was unlike anything I’d seen or experienced.”

Muller has seen a lot of guns. Between 2009 and 2012, he lived in Sudan documenting the tense transition from civil war to independence for the South — even now the peace agreement on which independence rests remains fragile and not without skirmish. While Muller pursued his long-term story in Sudan, he was also thinking of gun culture in the United States, specifically the recreational use of machine guns. That’s when OFASTS came on his radar.

Held annually in Wyandotte, Okla., OFASTS is — alongside the Knob Creek Machine Gun Show (Kentucky) and the Big Sandy Shoot Out (Arizona) – one of the largest machine gun shows in the country. Over a hundred vendors trade machine guns there, with prices in the thousands and sometimes in the tens of thousands. Though prices are high, the opportunity for machine gun enthusiasts to shoot others’ weapons is a big draw.

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