The Gun Guy recently wrote of his trip to the Tulsa Gun Show, penning a poignant rant on how the thrill had gone for him. It seems that, after having to sell off many of his guns to stave off the lupine pest lolling at his door, he no longer views firearms as special entities, but rather as simple material commodities.
Allow me to commiserate.
Three times now in my brief life, I've been forced to sell off my guns in order to keep a roof over my head and that owie, empty, hurty feeling from my tummy. That, plus the fact that I buy, sell, and trade guns for a living probably causes me to view them with a level of mercenary detachment that is anathema to the casual collector (more correctly, "accumulator", as true collectors tend to be too neurotic to be casual.) The net result? This history, combined with the fact that I'm now collecting, rather than accumulating, makes trips through gun shows a lot faster for me. Other than an obligatory stop at the Georgia Arms table and picking up a bag of Blazin' Cajun ends 'n' pieces from the Crockett Creek jerky lady, my gun show experience consists solely of chatting up various collectors and business acquaintances to catch up on news, and a quick surf through the aisles to see if any S&W Model 58's or Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifles are lying about and available cheap.
My guns themselves? Well, except for the one on my hip, they are just commodities. I have them ranked in my head more or less constantly in order of "sellability". The Excel spreadsheet I keep on my collection has a column titled "Fast Sale Value"; ie. the price I could put on a gun of a gun show Saturday morning, and not still be holding it come Sunday afternoon. Does this mean I'm some callous, unfeeling ice queen who doesn't care about her hobby? No, it's just pragmatism.
There's a definite heirarchy of sellability. At the very top are pieces with sentimental value due to being gifts, as well as one or two earmarked for personal defense needs. These are only for sale if needed to, say, keep me out of prison or off the streets or the like. Behind that come the milsurp rifles and my S&W revolver collection; I'm saving these for a really, really rainy day. For the forseeable future, they are my own personal museum, but some black day in the far future, they'll be part of my retirement fund, too, and I harbor no illusions about that; I'd no more sell one on a whim than you would dip into your 401k for a night at the movies. At the bottom of the totem pole are practical pieces; various hunting or target rifles, some custom 1911's, and Project Housegun. These remain ranked in my head in order of replaceability; for instance, if I need to shake loose a quick grand in cash, my decked-out M4gery goes on the block. After all, another stripped lower is chump change, and, within a month or three, it'll be all built back up into another swell Housegun. With 1911's, outside of exceptions like the Springer Pro or the Delta Elite, the build is half the fun. My stainless 1991A1 could go away tomorrow and be replaced in a month, and my heart would remain untroubled.
This is a viewpoint obviously shaped by my own experiences. I'll be told constantly by folks on the various gun boards how horrible it is to sell a gun, and how they've never sold one of theirs; I try to politely refrain from explaining the differences in viewpoint of someone who owns ten guns, and someone who may have owned half a thousand, but really has no idea what her total is.
They're just guns, folks; easy come, easy go. Unless you're talking about an heirloom, historical artifact, or rare out-of-production piece, they're easy to replace. And even those are easier to replace than a kidney, or the roof over your kid's heads. Don't lose perspective.