Every six months, 8000 Americans gather for three days in the hills of Kentucky with machine guns, sniper rifles and cannons to blast away a million rounds. Jonathan Franklin buys earplugs and ventures to the edge of the American psyche.

Anyone can attend the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot.

Once you arrive it feels more like a pilgrimage for white American men and their kin.

Entire white families attend the event, including babies with earplugs and 10-year-olds with assault rifles casually slung like a knapsack.

But this is a select crowd. During the entire weekend I see five blacks, two Asians and a Mexican. The rest were self-designated "good ol' boys" like former army soldier and retired police officer John Marks who is here to celebrate his right to sell an Uzi, buy a bazooka or stockpile 140,000 rounds of military grade ammunition.

"If you have even a passing interest in guns," he says, "you have to come here; this is like a Muslim going to Mecca."

But all is not well in the brotherhood. A dark cloud has descended on the Homeland. Black president. Gay marriage. Complete financial meltdown with socialist style bailout. The Republican Party in tatters. All of that was enough to make a good ol' boy nervous.

I approach a gun dealer named Joe sitting behind his table full of machine guns. Joe is preparing for the upcoming uprising. "I tell people that first they should have their food, their fuel and good warm clothing.

After that I used to say gold, now I have changed my mind, after warm clothing I suggest people stockpile ammunition.

"Ammo," he says, "might be the best investment in the world right now."

Like most gun owners, Joe considers the 2nd Amendment (the right to carry a gun) to the US Constitution as the spine supporting the entire US way of life. "Without the second amendment, the first amendment (right to free speech) is just a piece of paper."

Joe has been buying and selling guns for more than 20 years and wants to share his secret with me that in the coming conflagration bullets will be the new currency. I ask Joe how many guns he owns and he claims not to know.

"One day I was opening up one of my gun cases that I forget I had, I opened the case up and had no idea what was in it - here is an AK47 that I had. It was just like Christmas." Now I understand his T-shirt, which is emblazoned "If you know how many guns you own, you don't have enough."

Talking to Joe about guns is easy - he is fluent in firepower - but when I ask his opinion of President Obama, he disappears into a shadowy underworld that I can't fathom.

"Obama's speeches are very Hitleresque; some psychologists say he is using about six different types of hypnotic techniques during his speeches. Things like rhythm. He is getting that whole mass hypnosis thing going. It is probably on the internet - type in Obama speech and hypnosis."

Behind Joe is a poster that shows Adolf Hitler standing behind Obama. Both have calm expressions and Hitler is gently resting his hands on Obama's shoulders - "Obama & Dad Pictures $1". The posters are selling even faster than the bumper sticker of a picture of Obama and the slogan "#1 Gun Salesman of the Year."

I came to Kentucky to investigate this gun culture and take the pulse of these people. Are they planning to shoot their way back to democracy?

Are they joining the Christian Crusade to save the world from Muslim terrorists? This corner of the American Midwest has a love affair with guns - churches where the locals pack pistols for the Sunday services and even a truck dealer who gives away a free AK47 to each new customer.

I was born in the US and know well that America's independence in 1776 was based on a home-grown insurgency that sent the British troops running.

American farmers with their guns were key to the American Revolution.

Now in 2009, these farmers drive gas guzzling 4x4s, organise on the internet and attend this machine gun festival to exchange ideas with their fellow thinkers about "the second American Revolution."

Wandering the grounds of the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot and gun show is like falling into an Eastern European arms bazaar - need a bayonet for that Polish AK47? US$25 (NZ$35). Or a 100 round can of ammo for that Hungarian PKM? US$80. A mint Belgium FAL will cost you US$15,000, a bargain I am told.

Dealers wander the show with Uzi price lists taped to their back, prices often slashed for quick sale.

One man flashes me a gleeful smile as he strides back to the parking lot, a bazooka in each hand. "They are disabled with little holes in them, but I can fill those in and make them functional again," he says.

Many of the dealers are history buffs who enjoy holding the same Sten machine gun used by German WWII soldiers or rebuilding a grenade launcher or trading a .50 calibre machine gun for a bazooka.

While certain states in the US have strict laws about owning handguns or semi automatic rifles, Kentucky is, as one dealer told me, "a very machine-gun friendly state." With the proper paperwork and a clean criminal record, individual citizens can buy machine guns, ammo and enough weapons to outfit a SWAT team.

After hours of examining the machine gun rental booth, the piles of Nazi literature and skipping over books like A History of Cannibalism and an illustrated coffee table book Public Executions, I sit down to eat a charred burger and listen to PokerFace, the rock and roll group that is the official house band.

Paul Repete, lead vocalist for PokerFace is a fervent spokesman for the coming uprising. Between songs he summarises the state of the nation.

"[Obama] is basically the exclamation point on the globalist takeover of the United States. The globalists think they can take over this country, but too many of us are waking up and too many are heavily armed. They are going to push and we are going to shove back. The second American Revolution will commence."

The grand finale of the machine gun festival is a night time shoot. Dynamite and barrels of petrol are strategically placed a hundred metres down range. Rumours rage that napalm will even be dropped from the Huey helicopter which has buzzed the campground all weekend. Napalm in Kentucky, it's enough to give a Vietnam veteran a full-on flashback.

Two hundred armed Americans prep their machine guns, loaded to the hilt.

Gloved trigger fingers ready. Eye protection in place. A ferocious wave of firepower is about to be unleashed. But first a woman's voice creaks out of the speakers - as she sings the national anthem, the crowd is still.

Hands and hats over their heart. When she reaches the line "and the rocket's red glare" a trio of rockets explode over the encampment, shaking the ground and unleashing the howl of a hundred car alarms that almost drowns out the religious blessing.

A man's voice on the speakers begins "Dear Lord ... we come boldly, yet humbly, before your throne and grace to ask for protection... As we witness the deafening noise [machine guns] and the ever-present fire [napalm or dynamite] tonight remind us of our need to heed the warning throughout scriptures about the eternal flames [hell] that are avoidable through your son Jesus Christ."

Now I have that unmistakable stomach churn of realisation. Despite the innocent explanation that "boys will be boys" and this gathering is an innocent love of exploding lead and burning cars, it is clear the sponsors here have a religious mission.

The car alarms drown out parts of the sermon but not enough for me to miss his final message - "Those nations that refuse to be led by the laws of God will be governed by tyrants."

Then the firing begins. Orange fireballs mushroom skyward. Tracer rounds fill the air with enough zipping bands of light to make even a Hollywood producer jealous.

Private Ryan wouldn't have survived this onslaught.

Mud puddles erupt with jets of water. Cars explode. A civil war cannon blasts its charge into the dark. The crowd is enthralled, children on their father's shoulders, cellphones recording every last tracer.

For 20 minutes the apocalypse is here and now. Despite all the talk about Muslims and mullahs, I have no doubt this message is aimed not at Baghdad or Kabul, but the White House itself.

It is easy to dismiss this talk as the raving fantasies of wannabes. And it is true that the majority of these men will not take aim at either the President or the Government. But it only takes a few.

The man who first told me about the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot was in prison, facing execution for 168 murders in Oklahoma.

He was executed; injected with lethal chemicals by the US Government, but I interviewed him years ago in prison, face to face. His message was "Go To Knob Creek, you'll see the real Americans."

Though he is now dead, his name still resonates - Timothy James McVeigh.