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August 10 2019
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This is not the invitation. But it was inspired by an actual gun-decorated poster at the event.

For years it has been one of history’s greatest injustices: there are hundreds of famous people in the world, but the truly evil people only really wanted to hang out with singers. Beyoncé reportedly earned $2 million performing at a party hosted by the children of Colonel Qaddafi. Mariah Carey had the honor of performing for an Angolan president fond of throwing dissenters into crocodile-infested rivers. Jennifer Lopez got to sing “Happy Birthday” to authoritarian Turkmenistan dictator Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov at a concert sponsored by the China National Petroleum Corporation. Talk about living the dream.

But spare a thought for the other celebrities. The actors, the models, the talent-show contestants. They’d love to spend their days fawning at the feet of powerful and legitimately dreadful people, too, but they never really stood a chance against such august competition. That is, until now. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s raise a glass to Gaston Glock.

Like Glockwork

A week ago, the likes of Hugh Grant, Joan Collins, John Travolta, Naomi Campbell, Robbie Williams, pop singer Leona Lewis, Chris Noth, and Kristin Davis headed to the Glock Horse Performance Center, in Treffen, Austria—some of them reportedly jetting in on Glock-owned planes—to celebrate the 90th birthday of billionaire arms manufacturer Gaston Glock.

Kathrin Glock’s Instagram selfie with John Travolta.

Judging by the Instagram feed of Glock’s 38-year-old wife, Kathrin, the party was a tasteful affair filled with flowers, neon handgun illustrations, and at least one giant, two-story, oppressively dictatorial portrait of the birthday boy himself. Sure, the timing could have been a little better—it’s not ideal to be photographed celebrating a gun mogul’s birthday on the same weekend that 31 Americans were murdered in two mass shootings—but that didn’t seem to take the shine off anyone’s evening.

The likes of Hugh Grant, Joan Collins, John Travolta, Naomi Campbell, Robbie Williams, pop singer Leona Lewis, Chris Noth, and Kristin Davis.

Not surprisingly, some have leveled charges of hypocrisy at the partygoers, many of whom have previously spoken out against the scourge of gun violence. Like Lewis, who last year attended a March for Our Lives event. Or Grant, who decried the ready availability of guns following the Columbine massacre in 1999. Or Campbell, who as recently as June was urging lawmakers to “take major action for change” on gun ownership on her Facebook page. Or Collins, who tweeted, “I hate guns,” after the Sandy Hook massacre, where the shooter eventually killed himself with a high-capacity semi-automatic Glock pistol.

They Love Horses, Don’t They?

But who can really know for sure whether or not these celebrities are hypocrites. After all, Naomi Campbell has said that she only attends the Glock parties in support of the Glock horse charities. And that’s a completely valid point to make. Horses are entirely innocent creatures in all of this—have you ever seen a horse trying to fire a gun? They’re useless at it—and there is nothing to link Glock’s equestrian program with his gun business. Unless of course you visit the Glock Horse Performance Center’s Web site and happen to notice the massive image of a beautiful white horse prancing next to a colossal horse-size handgun.

Mrs. Glock Instagrammed herself cheek to cheek with Naomi Campbell.

Or perhaps they were celebrating the man rather than the product. After all, Gaston Glock didn’t even start making guns until he was 52 years old, before which he was but a humble curtain-rod manufacturer. Maybe a trace of that mild-mannered rod enthusiast still lingers within Glock, and maybe that’s what draws the affection of the stars. Maybe they can see past all the baubles of notoriety—the donations to populist right-wing parties; the alleged racketeering; the way he locked his first wife, Helga, out of his mansion and bought his “nurse” a $15 million horse, according to a lawsuit Helga filed in 2014; the way his U.S. salesman would entertain so many police procurement officers in an Atlanta strip club that his visits quickly became known as “Glock night”—and get to the heart of who he really is. And, really, deep down, Gaston Glock could be any of us. He’s a self-starter. He’s an animal lover. His wife is two decades younger than his own estranged daughter. His products have been used in at least 11 mass shootings since 1991, according to the Violence Policy Center. He’s an Everyman, basically.

His wife is two decades younger than his own estranged daughter.

Maybe there are other reasons for their participation. Maybe they were drugged and forced onto the private jets against their will. Maybe the celebrities misread the invitation and thought they were actually being invited to the birthday party of Gaston Clock, the man who invented clocks. Maybe they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet John Travolta, to see if his views on guns—“I still think that if you analyze most of the school shootings, it is not gun control. It is [psychotropic] drugs at the bottom of it”—are just as batshit as they sound.

The sign that welcomed guests to celebrate Gaston Glock’s 90th birthday.

Whatever the reason, though, these celebrities did attend the Glock party. Sure, their reputation might suffer for a while, but at least now the big-time baddies of the world know that they’re available, that the sky’s the limit. The invitation from Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is surely in the mail.

Stuart Heritage is a journalist and author living in Kent, U.K.

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