Monday, January 31, 2005
First Amendment No Big Deal, Students Say
It seems that some journalists and educators have their panties in a bunch because a new survey shows that only 83% of students think that unpopular views should be allowed to be expressed and a decreasing number of students think that the First Amendment is such a big deal.
Now I wonder where students would have gotten that idea from???
Maybe from schools that expell students who wear an NRA t-shirt to school, disallow a student from having his picture taken with his shotgun for his school yearbook(This happened near us in New Hampshire and the student is an avid skeet shooter), or who read the riot act to students who dare to say Merry Christmas.
And this is rich, coming from journalists, who wouldn't know free speech if it bit them in the ass, who only tell one side of the story as far as gun rights are concerned and are deathly terrified of competition from bloggers who provide a balance to their one sided blather.
And it also chaffs me that these hand-wringers sputter and whine about students who don't know the Constitution from a roll of toilet paper, but are wilfully ignorant of the other Amendments or even whole sections of the Constitution. As far as they're concerned the Constitution is the First Amendment and that's it.
But they have the solution at hand. All that needs to be done to get these students on the right path is to fund student journalism. Yeah, that will do the trick.
While there I sought out any gun stuff and found a link to their firearm forums. It seems like we have some gun nuts to the left of us. Some of them understand the Second Amendment (one said that the Second guarantees the first—how ‘bout that). Some stated that gun ownership is good but we needed licensing and registration. Silly idea, but I say that having seen how bad these schemes are in Massachusetts--maybe they just need to see the light. Occasionally a moonbat would screech in with a “guns are bad” screed and be "shot" down.
I celebrate all gun owners including those to the left or right of me. I support their rights even if I don’t agree with the rest of their ideas. All gunnies need to support our freedoms and maybe then we will keep those rights. Take a look at the forum and maybe read a few. It is good to find gunnies in any place even deep in left field.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
We didn't buy a new gun, but found a spotting scope on sale and bought some ammunition. Today, we shot most of it at the Manchester Firing Line. This is one of the few commercial indoor ranges in our part of New Hampshire. While we were there, a man and a woman who are about 18 to 20 years old came in. The owner of the range took some time showing both of them how to fire a gun safely.
We got the lane next to them and we could "eavesdrop" on their targets, which they moved to the fifteen-foot line. He was shooting but not really hitting the large silhouette target unless you call the edges or very bottom hitting his target. She took her turn and placed all her shots in the red oval in the center of the target. We suspect this was not her first time at a range. She stopped and showed her boyfriend how to align the sights and not claw at the trigger and he actually got better.
Well, that is it for today. Boring stuff about a quiet weekend. Denise is working on another part of our Gun Nut series. It will be up in the next couple of days. Thanks for stopping by.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
I had an opportunity once to buy a Thompson sub-machine gun. I was in college in the 1970s. A man from our "brother" dorm knew I liked to shoot and told me his Dad was selling an old Thompson. I telephoned his Dad, the police chief of a small town. He had bought the weapon surplus and it was registered. Everything about it was legal and I met all qualifications for owning a machine gun then.
After a weekend visit home, the young man brought the gun to the dorm for inspection along with a copy of its ATF forms. We could not fire it since his Dad nixed that just in case something happened while he was in the middle of selling it.
By the way, we did not break one anti-gun rule even though my friend had the gun in his dorm room for a week. I even had it in my room since I had some gunsmith tools and we field stripped it and poked around in its innards for a closer look.
The Thompson was a World War II model with relatively crude wood stocks and finish. I don't remember what company made it. It had a stubby barrel, a sharp little front sight, and as I recollect little dings and scrapes around the bolt handle. The stock had also seen better days, but it was beautiful to my eyes.
I wanted that gun so bad my teeth hurt, but I had to talk to my father about buying it. The price was $500.00 and I would have to pay the $200.00 tax. As a college student, I didn't have $700.00 although I recall I had a good part of it. I needed a loan. I also needed the wise counsel of my Dad, the smartest man I know. He is an entrepreneur (retired now), he built a business from the ground up, he flew B-17s and B-29s in the war. I admired him then just as I do now.
Still, I got the worst advice possible. He talked me out of buying the gun. He questioned why anyone needed a machine gun. He talked about the expense of shooting one, the legal hassles of filling out ATF forms, the cost (high for a gun in those days), and everything else.
I took his counsel and thought then that I was making a wise, adult choice. I felt that by heeding my Dad's advice, I proved I was not some headstrong adolescent, but an adult ready to take her place in the world. I didn't buy it and regret it every time I think about it.
If I owned the gun now, it would be worth at least $18,000.00--not that I would sell it.
Friday, January 28, 2005
She, her fiancé, and another couple were accosted by two men. She intervened when one of the robbers grabbed the other woman’s purse and asked, “What are you going to do, shoot us?” He shot her in the chest.
This post is not about resisting or not resisting violence. I could say she should not have intervened. I could say just give up your money since it is not worth your life. I don’t know if she really resisted or acted out of a momentary impulse—a human reaction to help a friend. I don’t even know if she or others in the party could have saved her life with a legally held gun. I wasn’t there.
I do know that her assailants had at least one gun and I doubt they bothered with New York City’s notoriously hard to get gun licenses. I doubt they bought them at a gun store or in a gun show. They probably bought them on a street corner.
Firearms licensing does nothing to end the violence. The robbers saw the gun as a tool and a young woman as prey who tried to fight back. They shot her and probably feel no guilt—unless they are caught, then they will give a big show to the judge and jury.
The robbers will do anything they can to get their robbery tools and they could’ve just as easily used a knife. No ban, no license will end street violence. If you melt all the guns in furnaces, someone will make more. If you erase all knowledge of guns, predators will still kill their prey.
Get real. Punish the mutant scum who commit these crimes. Perhaps education or churches can take the violence out of mutants like these two robbers. We only distract ourselves when we try to ban the object.
We don't own any. We don’t have anything against these weapons in the hands of law-abiding citizens. We have enjoyed shooting them. We believe that they are great investments, but are too expensive for us to afford.
Machine gun prices have risen fast since the Hughes Amendment to the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act banned the purchase of machine guns made after 1986. Further, all machine guns must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). If they are not registered they are illegal to own. There is no way now to register an unregistered machine gun (once you could do so, but not anymore). You cannot transfer an unregistered machine gun to a private citizen—unless you want a long stay in a government facility equipped with gray bars. (For more legal information click here.)
The fact that no new machine guns can enter the supply stream and old ones cannot be registered causes a very small supply in the face of a fairly large demand. Economic s dictate that the price of these weapons is reaching the stratosphere. The prices will continue to go up as weapons are destroyed in house fires, stolen, confiscated, or whatever else reduces the supply still further. The only thing that will change this upward price spiral is the repeal of the Hughes Amendment, the ability to register machine guns made before 1986, or both.
There are probably thousands of unregistered machine guns out there. They might be in Grandpa’s attic since his Dad bought one in the 1920s when it was perfectly legal to but he never did trust the ATF enough to register it. Or, the gun could be a war trophy, or a bringback (a gun stuck in a duffle bag and shipped home from the war). Here at the Ten Ring, if we opened one of our grandfather’s old footlockers and found an unregistered machine gun, we would cry as we turned it into the ATF—we have to stay on the legal side here don’t you know.
So, how much does one of these things cost? A MAC 10 machine pistol will set you back about $3,000.00. It is a good entry level item since you could hold it a couple of years and trade up for another gun. An Uzi might cost about $8,000.00. A Thompson sub-machine gun will really hurt. You are looking at about $18,000.00 or more. The early models from the 1920s were carefully machined, polished, and blued. One of these in collector’s condition, well the sky’s the limit as far as cost. World War II models were less well-finished and the manufacturer took many shortcuts in making them. Still, renewed interest in collecting WWII weapons has also raised the price of the later made guns.
Here at the Ten Ring, we have our wish list. We would like a WWII Thompson. We collect military firearms and no WWII collection is complete without one. We would like an M14 since we collect rifles made in the Springfield Armory and one of these would almost complete our collection. We would like a Browning Automatic Rifle (not the semi-auto hunting rifle Browning makes now) since they are fun to shoot.
But, we cannot afford them—at least not now. Our government has passed laws and promulgated rules that have artificially inflated the prices of these guns. Their decisions have made it impossible for most middle class people to buy part of their nation’s heritage. Only people with a Rolex on their wrists and Mercedes in their garages can invest in these guns. So much for an egalitarian nation and fairness for all.
We make do. We occasionally rent a Thompson at a local range that rents machine guns. We have gone to machine gun shoots. We read about them. We hope that we can repeal the Hughes Amendment and send the ATF registration scheme into the dustbin of history.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Bruce presents (scroll down) a table from the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) of Massachusetts. I saw something in that table that troubled me. I did some calculations and they made be realize just how horrible Massachusetts’ guns laws are. Bruce may have covered this in another post, GOAL may have printed an article about it, but another opinion never hurts.
First we have to wade through some numbers. The first line of the table shows that in 1997, before the 1998 gun laws, Massachusetts had 1,541,201 licensed gun owners. The state’s population in 2000 was 6,349,097. For the sake of argument, let’s decrease that to 6,250,000 and assume that the state’s population in 1997. About 23% of the population is under 18, so the adult population is 4,812,500. That means about 32% of the state’s adult population had a firearms license in 1997.
In 2001, according to GOAL’s table only 199,660 had valid firearm licenses. If the state’s population in 2001 was 6,350,000 and the adult population was 4,889,500 then 4% had licenses.
Massachusetts’ licensing scheme is hard to understand. There have been many people who did not realize that their once lifetime firearm licenses now expire. For the sake of argument, let’s say that 750,000 had their heads in the sand then, but now have new licenses. Another 150,000 (about 10%) may have died. These numbers plus the number of valid licenses total 1,099,660. These calculations are all guesses on my part, but logical. Your guesstimates may differ.
If you’ve followed me this far, I am about to get to the point (“finally,” I can hear you sighing out there). There are 441,541 licensees unaccounted for. Where are they? Are there almost half a million law-abiding Massachusetts gun owners who are now criminals because they no longer have a valid firearms license? Have almost half a million people fled the state? Have half a million people sold, destroyed, or otherwise got rid of their guns? Gun owners also move into Massachusetts. Do they all get licenses? Of course, true criminals don’t get licenses.
Last time I looked Massachusetts was part of the United States. While each state can make certain rules and laws to govern its citizens, it cannot infringe on Constitutional guarantees. The Second Amendment is infringed frequently and not least of all in Massachusetts.
The state has created a scheme that has made some flee like refugees, made others into unwitting criminals, and made others decide not to get licenses and thus witting criminals. It has caused some people to give up hunting, target shooting, or sell family heirlooms. This is insane and truly criminal. The real criminals are the bastards who foisted this un-American, freedom-hating scheme on the people who elected them and re-elect them to office.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
As we announced this morning, we decided to share some items from our collection if there is interest (let us know in the comments if you want us to continue or if this bores you to tears).
A couple of days ago we talked about a little slice of gunnie heaven in Massachusetts of all places. For a state that has some of the most onerous gun laws in the country, it certainly has some of the best places for gun nuts. Let me make a non-exhaustive list:
- Smith and Wesson headquarters, factory, and training facility;
- The Springfield Armory National Historic Site;
- Lexington and Concord (Birthplaces of the American Revolution).
Some of the military firearms we own were made in the Springfield Armory. Here is the oldest one we own at this time (click on all pictures to enlarge).
Bill's Trapdoor Springfield
This is a Trapdoor Springfield. The armory’s Master Armorer, Erskine S. Allin, faced a problem. The Civil War proved that the muzzleloader’s day was over and yet the military owned too many muzzleloading rifles to just scrap them. Allin had to come up with a way to turn these weapons into breechloaders.
He faced many problems, not least of which was the safety of the user. Like most good solutions, he came up with a compromise. He sliced off the top of the breech of the muzzleloader (the part of the barrel where the cartridge sits before it is fired), and created a replacement piece (the eponymous trapdoor), that included a firing pin, hinge, a way to open the breech for loading and a way to securely seal it when firing. To load a soldier would unlock the trapdoor, swing it up, insert a cartridge, swing it down, and lock the action.
The new breech used the same hammer to strike the firing pin when it once crushed a percussion cap. This meant the same lock (the part of an old-fashioned gun that includes the trigger and hammer assembly) could be used as well. Small changes to the wood stock also had to be made. Overall an elegant and cheap solution. The army loved it and chose to implement his design. They retrofitted thousands of guns, used up stores of old parts, and eventually built new ones on this model.
We don’t know if our Trapdoor Springfield was ever used in the Civil War as a muzzleloader. It would be nice to know if it had been at Shiloh, the Wilderness, Gettysburg, but who knows. We do know it is a Model 1884 with a socket bayonet. There are other Model 1884s with a rod bayonet built into the gun.
The firearm went through several models, about 14 of them although some of these, like the Model 1884, are really small changes that are hard to justify calling a model. For detailed information on the history of this weapon and more photos, check out TrapdoorCollector.com.
We were determined to fire this weapon. The cartridge it takes is still made today for modern rifles, but we did not want to use a modern load. Its smokeless powder could build more pressure than the Springfield Armory ever thought the gun would face.
The factory knows owners may try to fire modern cartridges in old guns and they load most .45-70 cartridges a little on the soft side. We admit we could probably shoot modern cartridges from it, but our rifle is about 121 years old. We felt we should take it easy on the old codger.
We went to a store that specializes in Cowboy Action Shooting and bought almost original specification black powder loads. The cartridge is the .45-70 which means a .45 caliber bullet setting on top of 70 grains of black powder. The service bullet weighed a whopping 500 grains (a common weight for a .45 ACP pistol bullet is 230 grains). The bullets on the cartridges we bought weigh in at 405 grains.
We liked the cartridges we found since they would almost duplicate what long dead soldiers experienced when they first fired their new pieces on the training range. We fired a round and the gun proved a trooper. No signs of over-pressure, no hint of metal fatigue, just a satisfying billow of sulphurous gray smoke and a rather loud bang.
Firing this gun is fun. There is no other description. Place the cartridge in and ram it home with a thumb, close the breech cover, aim, pull the trigger, lift the breech cover, and watch the cartridge spring out. Then repeat. It is simply fun.
We had some trouble with the Buffington sight. Neither one of us has used it before although it is similar to other military sights. There are a number of peepholes, prongs, and every other possible sighting device built into it. Once we settled on which one we would use, we both found the gun is a tack driver. It was so accurate that it was a favorite rifle for competition shooting in the 19th Century.
The military used the gun from about 1868 to 1899 with some overlap on both sides of the date range. It last saw action in the Spanish-American War. We don’t know if our firearm went to war or stayed home; the government does not keep records that detailed. We think it may have been assigned to Company B of the 33 rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry. Our firearm has a serial number in line with numbers on guns assigned to that unit. The record is sketchy though. It does have all the proper proof marks, inspectors cartouches, and other stamps the military loved to put on guns of this period.
This is a fine gun and picking it up reminds both of us how far gun technology has come. We see later model trapdoors fairly often in gun shows and stores. If you want to shoot a true antique that is accurate, reliable and well built, you could do a lot worse by taking one home with you. Not only is it fun to shoot, it is a piece of living history, made in Massachusetts.
UPDATE: 9:20 PM. Be sure to read Seth from Massachusetts' comments on this post. He adds more information in a greater detail than we went into. We welcome people to add their knowledge in the comments or talk about their experience shooting a similar gun.
Bill and I are collectors. Lots of people collect things like stamps, coins, Beanie Babies (or are those too passe to list). We collect guns, a hobby that makes us somehow suspect in some peoples' eyes. Look at eBay. They sell almost everything, but no guns--not even collectible antique firearms. This is just part of the world the gun banners have made for us.
Oh well, it is the world we live in although we at the Ten Ring are doing everything we can to change it.
Bill and I enjoy collecting guns and everything that goes with it: buying, shooting, researching, cleaning, and seeing how the firearms work. We don't have the largest collection in the world and we don't have the best guns in our collection. We can't afford association guns (those that are made valuable by being connected with a famous person or event). There are certain firearms that are completely out of our price range such as a Borchardt, the Luger's immediate ancestor (some sell for as much as a new car). Some antiques are also out of our league.
We also do not collect machine guns. The Hughes Amendment to the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act banned civilian sales of all fully automatic guns made after 1986. Subsequently, prices for fully automatic and transferable guns (meaning registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) skyrocketed. If you have the money, these weapons are a great investment unless Bill and I can get the Hughes Amendment repealed (fat chance of that).
But, we collect what we can. We have several quality criteria. Serial numbers must match when applicable, the gun must have its original finish (no reblueing, etc.). The gun must have no missing parts. Finally, we insist on shooting the guns.
Many collectors won't shoot their guns. And, we confess if we stumbled on an expensive firearm that would decrease in value if shot, it would remain in the gun safe. With that one caveat, we shoot all of our guns. We just think that guns were made to be shot and we guess you could say we are shooters first and collectors second.
If you are with a gun-banning group and making a list of everything we own, you won't see all of them here so list away. If you are a burglar making a shopping list, our guns are securely locked away in the World Headquarters of the Ten Ring, deep within an abandoned mine, surrounded by razor wire, machine gun nests, and we almost have the moat completed.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
I am trying to get into this working-for-a-living-thing today. The office was closed yesterday because of the snow storm. I live in New Hampshire but work in a suburb of Boston. This area had a lot of snow dump on it this weekend and Boston is so screwed up they have nowhere to put the snow. They could not get the local and secondary roads open. My employer closed down, but I still get paid though. I've got my priorities in order.
Of course, nothing good lasts forever and I drove to work today. It took me two hours to get here when my normal commute is about 45 minutes. I also had a large travel mug full of coffee. It was empty when I got here, but something else was full. I had to rush in, sign the timelog while doing the famous dance, and then off to the ladies’ room. One more delay and I would have been seriously embarrassed.
I am behind in work and have a long to-do list today. I won't be able to clean up the other post. I am just giving you some links; a walk around the Internet if you will. Early tomorrow afternoon Bill and I will have something better we promise.
Alphecca has a story on the rise in crime, especially gun-crime, in gun-free Merry Olde England.
TFS Magnum has a post on the same subject but from a different source.
Ravenwood has a link to an editorial from Merry Olde England that talks about the gun-crime there and how yesterday’s gun owner had little to fear.
Kim du Toit has an excerpt from another blog that states England may have so eroded their "gun culture" they may never be able to rearm again.
Headsbunker has an analysis of firearm cartridges showing their relative sizes. As he points out non-gun owners may be very surprised at how small some military cartridges are.
View From North Central Idaho lists evidence we are winning the war to support our gun rights at least in our country. May we never become another England.
And, finally, although I have no link for it, Michael Moore got dissed. The Academy Awards were announced this morning and poor widdle Mikey’s (errr poor humungous Mikey’s) “Fahrenheit 911” did not make the cut for anything.
Well, that’s all the time for "research" I have and lunch is over. If you have already read these posts I apologize, otherwise enjoy the linking goodness.
Monday, January 24, 2005
We hoped to attend this year. We read about the Boomershoot roughly a year and a half ago. Later, we read Kim du Toit's adventures at last year's shoot. Be sure to click the Boomershoot link above to read all about it.
At a Boomershoot; you shoot bullets at very small targets located hundreds of yards away. The difference is, these targets are reactive--that is, they contain an explosive mixture. They explode with a satisfying bang and plume of smoke--or so we have heard. We thought this sounded like a blast, oops forgive the pun, like fun.
We can see raised eyebrows now--explosives and guns together--Oh my Lord! The sponsors are explosive experts and put safety first. So don't get your undies in a bunch.
We made plans to attend. We put a brand new variable Nikon scope on Bill's Remington Model 700 chambered in 7mm Remington Magnum. We made sure our calendars were clear at work and looked at the budget. Unfortunately, the best laid plans and all that. We have other travel obligations this year, parental visits, work travel, and yadda, yadda, yadda.
We also know we wouldn't get much out of it this year since our long distance skills are rusty. We live in New England and shooting game is done within 100 yards. The trees and thick brush make long shots unpredictable even if you could see a deer. Thus, few places have ranges long enough to practice real distance shooting. We are working on getting access to a long distance range for next year though.
We envy those bloggers and all others attending the Boomershoot and the long distance shooting clinics held before the main event. Have fun and shoot straight.
Here at the Ten Ring, we have spent some time talking about Massachusetts’ licensing scheme. You might be tired of seeing the state's name, and we are tired of even thinking about Massachusetts. Yet on the other hand, the Commonwealth is a good object lesson for gun owners: Don't let this happen to you!
We gun owners today must fight gun registration schemes. Many countries, including Canada, have registration in place. Some states and cities in America also have registration. It is a "holy grail" that most gun banning groups want to bring to your state.
Many gun banners tell us that licensing and registration is only "common sense." They point out that cars are registered and their driver's are licensed after proving their ability to drive their car. There is a superficial appeal to their argument. Licensing could mean that people who have never learned how to shoot would take classes maybe learning to clear a semi-automatic properly; remove the magazine before you eject the cartridge from the chamber.
Registration has that superficial rationality about it too. We will know how many guns are in the country, how many licensed shooters there really are, and how many guns per person are owned. We believe there are many more gun owners and guns in the country than most people estimate.
The biggest problem with both registration and licensing is simple; there are people who want to confiscate firearms. The only way to confiscate anything is to know where it is. Only licensing and registration in tandem can provide this information. There is also the fact, that the government should not be collecting this data in the first place.
Licensing, as we see it, is a way to reserve gun rights to the elite. As dangerous as licensing is, registration is worse. If gun confiscators ever have their day they will go first to licensees (and this includes those with concealed carry permits no matter which state you are in) and do their dirty work. But, they will never know if they got all the licensees' guns. Registration solves this problem. Of course, you might argue, that no one would register all of his or hers guns. Let's look at Massachusetts' registration scheme.
In Massachusetts when you buy a gun legally (and we always keep it legal here at The Ten Ring), the gun dealer will fill out a form, the FA-10. This is in addition to the Federal form 4473 (the yellow one we all fill out here in America). The state is currently implementing a digital version of the form, which is completed electronically at the time of sale in a gun store.
If you buy a gun at a licensed dealer, the store will complete and submit the form. If you sell a gun to a friend, you have seven days to complete the form. You also can use it to report loss or theft. If you move into the state, you must complete and FA-10 for each gun you own after you get your gun license. The forms are available at your local police station. We have not been able to find an online version. If they ever get rid of the paper version, it could mean you would have to go through a gun dealer for all personal transfers.
The FA-10 asks for all sort of rights infringing information. The seller lists the name of the store or himself if a private sale. The seller includes federal and state firearm licenses if a dealer or the gun license number in the case of a personal sale.
The form includes information on the gun: make, model, type (handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun [yes the form includes the latter]), serial number, caliber or gauge, date of sale, surface finish, a check box if large capacity (a semi-auto that holds more than ten rounds), and finally barrel length.
You then enter the purchaser's information: the gun license number, Social Security number (optional), name, place of birth, race, sex, height, weight, eye color, hair color (there are special codes you must use for race and hair/eye color), address with zip code, occupation, and employer name. The buyer's and seller's signatures complete the form.
The information on the gun is troubling. Why does the state need to know the barrel length? Could this be a way to easily confiscate concealable weapons if the state ever outlawed handguns with barrels less than say four inches. It begs the question, if you get a barrel shortened for a legitimate reason, must that be reported? Does that change the nature of the gun's record to the point you are in violation of having an inaccurately registered gun?
This form captures a lot of information about the gun buyer. Coupled with licensing information, the state knows even more about you.
Some leftists in Massachusetts want gun records to be completely open even though many support privacy rights for criminals, child molesters, voters, Internet users, and just about everyone else except gun owners.
After all, it is for the children. Mothers can know if a child will be playing in a house with a (gasp) gun, neighbors will know whom they should fear, and people will know whom to ostracize. The fact that burglars will have a shopping list never enters into their minds--or does it. [Paranoia mode on] Perhaps some gun banners want to see gun owners burgled since the gun owners might give up their guns as being too much trouble [/paranoia mode off].
Denise chose to register those guns she wanted to have in Massachusetts. We left certain ones in New Hampshire or with her parents--no registration for some of them. Still, she wanted to be able to shoot certain guns and to hunt with others. We bought a number of firearms in Massachusetts and the dealers in every case completed the form and duly sent them in.
Some gun rights advocates might criticize us and dealers for following such blatantly un-Constitutional laws. Fine, you are right on a moral level. But, try following your course on a practical level. If you go to a range a cop can ask for a license and can check registration (this never happened to us, but in theory it is possible). If you are pulled over and a cop finds you have guns, they will check licensing and registration. If you are hunting, game wardens can and will check gun registration and licensing.
A gun dealer will not risk his license and possibly jail time. We did not risk jail and a lifetime ban on gun ownership. We cannot practice and advocate gun ownership if we are considered criminals. We fled to New Hampshire and are fighting for gun rights here. In some ways, and we hate to say this, Massachusetts is a lost cause, but we admire those who are fighting the good fight there.
Fight this in your state. Never let "common sense" gun licensing and gun registration get their snouts in the door.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Well, you can't always prove it when we gunnies become our own worse enemies. View from North Central Idaho and Alphecca discuss a thread on the AR15.com forum about gay symbols, which includes verbal attacks on gays in general. View from North Central Idaho read the riot act on the forum (posted 01/21/05 at 12:34:29 PM). Say Uncle backed him up on 01/22/05 at 1:29:39 PM.
Alphecca and View have covered this subject well. Bill and I are only spilling more bytes on this issue because we believe that the stereotypes that all gun owners are violent, white, straight, male, and conservative hurt our gun rights (one of our earliest posts touched on this topic). We know that gun owners are more than this stereotype, but anti-gun groups, gay groups, and others read comments like these in public forums and they become even more adamant that we must be disarmed.
There are gay people in Denise's office who honestly believe that the red staters want to put them in concentration camps. She has offered gun training to them and they refuse to learn. Instead, they say they need to pass laws so people can't get guns and that they need to elect Democrats so they no longer need to fear their own government and their fellow citizens.
Later in the AR15 thread, some people argued that gays and Jews have been against our gun rights. It is true that some gays and others have infringed on our rights. It is also true that some straight, white, Christian males have tried to take our guns.
We gun people are in a minority and our gun rights, as we know them now, can end. Our grandparents had more gun rights than we do today, and I want my grandchildren to have at least the same gun rights I enjoy now. We are not going to win this battle by giving ammunition to our enemies.
Take a look at this press release from the Pink Pistols, an organization of mostly gay people dedicated to arming gays for self-defense. In the release, they vow to fight a proposed gun ban in San Francisco. They are our allies. Don't disparage them.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
If you have been reading this blog, you know that we are not fond of Massachusetts mainly due to its ridiculous yet draconian gun policies. Yet, thirty or more years ago, the state was a haven for the gun industry and gunnies. The Springfield Armory is just one of many places that made guns in the state.
George Washington ordered the Armory's creation and it was later part of the Department of Defense. It made rifles for the United States military and it has made guns for soldiers since 1794. Its products have been used in every war America has fought since. There are probably Armory made M14 rifles in use in Iraq today. In its infinite wisdom, the government closed the facility in 1968 and ten years later gave it to the National Park Service to turn into a museum.
It is a wonderful museum for us gun nuts. As you drive through the gates, you can almost smell the gun oil. You enter into what had been the Armory's administration building--most of its workshops were on other parts of the grounds. The first floor is an impressive exhibit space. As you walk in, gun-making equipment and some gun exhibits are on your right and gun exhibits to your left. An information desk and museum store is right in front of you. The museum store contains many firearm reference books, posters, videos, and more.
The gun exhibit areas are full of rare firearms. The museum holds weapons that other manufacturers gave the Armory as part of competing for arms contracts. Large numbers of prototypes and firearms with very low serial numbers are exhibited. You can see the first Armalites that evolved into the M16, you can see M1 rifles, Thompson submachine guns, a M1903 with a Pedersen device that made the modified bolt action rifle into a semi-automatic. Most of the exhibit is chronological and you can see the development of firearms.
The gun making tools exhibit is impressive. Many ideas developed at the Armory were adapted to civilian manufacture of guns, shoes, and many other items. If you are lucky, museum volunteers who once worked at the Armory will tell you about the guns and the equipment.
One exhibit case tells of Armory employee, Erskine S. Allin, who cut the breaches of Civil War musket, added a hinge and created the Trapdoor Springfield--the US military rifle from the late 1860s to the late 1890s. Another case features employee John C. Garand who invented the M1 Garand and worked on the M14.
The heart of the museum is the second floor storage area. The Armory has a guided tour of this area for a $12.00 fee. Bill and I toured this area and here is the photo Bill took as we walked in the door.
Springfield Armory Storage Area
We were honored to see rifles with Serial Number 1 (the museum has 28 guns with this serial number), M1 rifles issued to soldiers who added magazines and converted them to full auto (in effect early M14s, but done in the field). There are numerous guns made in foreign countries our government acquired for comparison. In fact, the Armory based the M1903 rifle on the German Mauser and lost a patent infringement case. There is a small barrel full of Colt 1911s. The barrel was designed to be dropped from planes to resupply troops in Korea. There are well over 8,000 guns in this collection.
Some museums can show you one M1816 flintlock rifle; this one can show you dozens. There are too many guns to describe and this museum is a collector's heaven. The museum is a place to do serious research on guns in your collection and the website includes a research link.
If you are ever in Springfield, Massachusetts visit the Armory. Unfortunately, the site is hurting for money. The Shooting USA show mentioned there is only one conservator who preserves this collection. Being a government facility, it has few ways of generating funds for special programs. It also cannot advertise. If you go there, drop a dollar or five into the donation bucket, maybe join the Friends of the Springfield Armory. This is a worthwhile place to support.
Friday, January 21, 2005
She has not bought a gun--yet. On the other hand, she was willing to learn to shoot. She is young (she says she can pass as16 maybe 19 with makeup), a journalist, and probably liberal. And yet, she went out and shot a gun and is still considering buying one. I see young people at the range all the time. Presumably, they have been indoctrinated at public schools, have heard countless messages of "guns are bad," and yet they come to the range and shoot.
We gun people are winning. More people are getting the message that guns themselves are not evil. The number of states "allowing" concealed carry has expanded, the Assault Weapons Ban is dead, the current Congress might be supportive of the Second Amendment, and gun banning groups have shrunk in terms of membership. But, not all is rosy. There is still a lot of opposition and too many laws infringe on our rights. We must work to change these laws and never let our guards down.
This Wednesday, mASSBackwards posted a picture of a gun on his wish list. His post inspired me to show off a similar gun.
Meet Feather, so named because she only weighs 12 ounces when empty. When you pick her up, you expect to feel a lot more weight. Instead, she seems to leap from the counter. Feather is one of my carry guns. I bought her in June of 2002 when I lived in Massachusetts and I acquired her from Four Seasons Firearms, which was Bill's and my favorite gun store when we lived in that state.
Denise's Smith & Wesson Model 340PD.
Feather is made of a space-age metal, scandium. Actually they use a little scandium in an alloy with aluminum. The scandium changes the grains in aluminum making it stronger and less subject to metal fatigue (click for more information). Feather's cylinder is made of titanium. She has the factory grip made by Hogue.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that I like guns with a lot of recoil. I have shot pistols chambered in .44 Magnums .357 Magnum, .30 M1Carbine, .500 S&W Magnum, and enjoyed every shot. Feather is chambered in .357 Magnum. Full of confidence, I took her to the range with a box of .357 cartridges. I loaded the five chambers in the cylinder, aimed and pulled the trigger.
Sweet Jesus, Ow. My God, a jet of flame came out of the cylinder gap an inch from my hand. A larger burst of fire blew in all directions from the muzzle. The grip hammered my hand.
I wondered for a moment if the gun had blown up. Nothing could feel that bad on purpose. Nope, everything was fine. After checking my target (I hit the ten ring with that first shot), I shot the next round. OH. MY. GOD. It hurt worse. I fired the next round. I emptied the cylinder. I put Feather down and stared at my hand. My palm had red imprints left by the grip.
I soldiered on and loaded five more. I put on a thin leather glove (not a shooting glove). The glove helped, but my shot group was getting more and more scattered--fewer ten rings. I went through 35 rounds and with each shot I almost whimpered like a little girl. I faced Recoil and I was bested.
Now, I rarely shoot .357 in Feather. I load her with .38+P and enjoy shooting those. Feather is proof-positive that physics will not be denied. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. And, an object at rest will stay in rest unless acted on by some force. A heavy gun simply has more inertia and dampens felt recoil. A light gun lets you feel all that lovely recoil. In Feather you can't use a bullet weighing less than 120 grains. The recoil can "pull" the bullets right out of the brass in the other chambers.
So, that is Feather. A remarkable little gun made out of a wonderful metal. Just wear a good quality padded shooting glove when you shoot .357 ammo out one of her litter-mates.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
The article mentions that in some areas there are 30-35 deer per square mile. You could not prove it by Bill and me. We went deer hunting this year and brought back bupkis.
We were out on the first day of muzzle loading season and had a perfect set up. We knew we had controlled out scent and sound because a coyote went loping across the clearing not 30 yards in front of us. I had it in my scope, but didn’t shoot it. After a long time, still no deer. Not one sight of one.
We took an extended hunting trip in the White Mountain National Forest while it was covered in a late November frost. We found a buck rubbed tree with antler scars a good foot over our heads. Bill sat on a spit of land overlooking a pond criss-crossed with deer trails. I found another place well away from his that was near the juncture of several deer trails. Neither of us saw one deer. Leaving the forest, a flock of turkeys strutted in front of us. Of course, not being turkey season they got off scot free and I could swear they knew it.
Other days led to other nothings. Still, we got out into the woods. Hunting is not just a long walk in the woods. While hunting you extend your senses, you watch for sign, you try to outsmart one of the now plentiful deer. It is frustrating to leave the woods empty-handed imaging the deer laughing as you take off your vest, unload and case the guns, and drive off.
The saddest thing: no venison in the freezer. Always next year.
I had a moment of cognitive dissonance when I saw a blog ad in the margin. It advertised anti-Bush bumper stickers and such. It was the second ad down from the top. That one advertised GOP t-shirts. Ain't capitalism grand? Check it out, I don't know how long it will be up.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
This was Ron's favorite pub when we were there on temporary duty before he lived there. This room was called the gun room in a pub called the Green Man in the village of Tunstall near the base. All walls were covered with old and exotic fire arms, African spears, shields, and skins from safaris that the owner had been on in his youth.In later years, when we were stationed at the base, we found that the pub had been sold and redecorated following the previous owner's death. Unfortunately, it has lost all its character and we never went back again
This makes me physically ill.
So I guess if Winston Churchill was alive today, he would be banned from the party, due to that famous picture of him and the Tommy Gun.
Are these the people who stood alone against the massed armies of Hitler’s Germany? Are these the people who defeated the combined naval forces of France and Spain at Trafalgar two hundred years ago this year. I used to admire Britain, their culture, their spirit and steadfastness in the face of adversity. Now I weep for the nation that once was and is now gone for good.
Last week, as I am sure you are all tired of hearing, I was on a business trip. My Thursday flight was cancelled due to fog and I made the best of my delay by checking into the Sheraton Four Points at BWI Airport in Baltimore.
Bored, I clicked on the TV and didn't like anything playing. I broke down and rented one of the REMs (Real Expensive Movies) hotels have today. At $11.00 to $13.00 I usually don't bite, but boredom won out. I'd heard good things about "Shaun of the Dead" and it was cheaper than some other movies so I clicked the Select button.
I was nicely surprised. "Shaun" is a very British comedy dressed up as a Zombie flick. But, this is not a review for movie lovers, or zombie film aficionados. This is a gun nut review.
There are several scenes for us gunnies. Shaun and his friends take refuge from zombies in the Winchester Pub, which features an antique Winchester mounted over the bar (it looks to be a Model 92, but it is heavily engraved and I wasn't paying that much attention, so don't quote me).
Shaun's best friend, the layabout Ed, tells Shaun he knows the pub owner is "connected" and thinks the gun is real. Shaun says it must be deactivated, after all it is Britain. When Ed hands Shaun the rifle Shaun pulls the trigger and sends a bullet near Ed. Not bothered at all Ed says something to the effect, "See I told you he had connections."
Ed finds a partially full box of cartridges and there is a revealing interchange showing their common lack of gun knowledge. Shaun says we have 29 bullets, and Ed corrects him by saying, "It's shells." To me, it is cartridges since shotguns shoot shells, but it is England.
The five refugees have a gun, but no one has ever fired one before. All of them shrug as they compare experiences and Shaun, our hero, decides he will fire it. After all, he and Ed play a lot of first-person shooter video games. He gets on the job training with a real gun. His aim is hilariously bad although he puts down a few zombies (you have to destroy the brain).
Once zombies break into the pub, the survivors light the bar surface on fire to use the flames as a shield forgetting they had placed the cartridges on it. The rounds cook off and fortuitously kill an attacking zombie. I will grant the filmmakers some ignorance, but a cartridge needs the support of a gun's chamber for the bullet to launch fast enough to kill. Oh well, willing suspension of disbelief and all.
What struck me was the gun use in a modern British film. The characters have a wistful sadness as they admit to having never fired a gun. They all know now they would be better off if they could shoot.
There are lessons in this movie for the British and all of us gun nuts. Don't let yourself be disarmed. Don't run low on ammunition. Learn how to shoot. After all, you never know when zombies might attack (or mutants, goblins, burglars, robbers, etc.).
"Shaun of the Dead" is out on DVD. There are a few gory scenes, lots of variations on the word fuck, and the accents are a little heavy. I recommend it as a funny homage to the zombie genre, a movie with many memorable moments--or maybe I was just bored.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
I was eight years old. The gun was a Hopkins & Allen 12 gauge shotgun with one barrel and a break-open action. There was no recoil pad, just the bakelite butt plate. When I fired it, the only reason I didn’t fall on my own butt was my Dad’s firm hand on my back. I still remember the roar of the gun (in the 1960s no one wore ear protectors especially outdoors—probably why the volume on my TV is too loud and Bill tells me to turn it down).
I still remember the feel of my Dad’s hand on my back. It comforted me as the gun slammed into my shoulder. I knew I would be alright even though it was loud and kinda hurt. I started to hand the gun back to my father and he asked if I wanted to shoot it again. I wanted too more than I had ever wanted anything else.
I ended up shooting almost an entire box of shells (25 of them for neophytes). We were just shooting at some cardboard boxes and other trash in the local gravel pit/impromptu gun range, but I shredded those boxes and demolished that trash. I was actually good at it.
When I got home, my mother yelled at my Dad when she saw the bruise on my shoulder. She could not understand that the bruise was my badge of courage. I was sad when it began to fade.
I took to shooting like a duck takes to water. My Dad took me out again and soon I was shooting his hunting rifle, but I still loved the shotgun more. Today, I still love shotguns, but I shoot handguns more than anything else.
Maybe because I started shooting a shotgun when I was but knee-high, I grew to love guns with lots of recoil. At a range recently I rented the Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum with the long barrel. It looked like a clown gun in my hand—too big and too shiny to be a real gun. I let off several rounds and laughed. The recoil was strong, but it felt so right and I almost felt my father’s hand on my back. Now, I wonder if I am going to buy that big gun and have to pay over two dollars a round each time I want to recapture that feeling. Oh well, there is a down side to everything.
Monday, January 17, 2005
When I was growing up, gun ownership was about as notable as owning a car. Just like with a new car, you might comment on the features of a new gun as you showed it to your neighbor, but your neighbor did not get an attack of the vapors and call down the wrath of Sarah Brady. Maybe that is because I grew up in the 1960s in the great American West. Maybe my family did not have a gun fearing wussy (hat tip to Kim du Toit) living next door. Nope, it's not either one, it is because in today's world too many people have been brainwashed into becoming anti-gun.
I live in New Hampshire now and I would not think of showing a new gun to a neighbor. When I lived in Massachusetts the neighbor would probably have called the police when he or she found out I owned guns. Even when I lived in Texas there was still some anti-gun silliness around.
This is not right. A gun is a tool. Nothing more nothing less. I long for a time when deciding to own a gun is no different than deciding to own a chain saw. If you have a legal use for either tool, no one should throw roadblocks in your way. Likewise, no one should be forced into buying a gun or chain saw if they don't want or need one. Bill and I live in an apartment right now and we have no use for a chain saw--no brush to clear, no trees to fall, no logs to cut.
Unlike chain saws, we have uses for guns. We shoot at paper targets, clay birds, deer, pheasant, and certain other tasty critters. We collect guns for their mechanical and historical interest. We should never have to defend that choice. And yet, both of us have had to do just that.
The first time I remember defending my choice to own a gun was ironically in Texas. I worked with a person who felt that guns were bad. Just that, no argument just an emotional "guns are bad." Guns were not for her, but she accepted that I owned guns.
That is the way it should be. She made a decision not to own a gun. It would have been just as rude of me to try to convince her she needed a firearm for self-defense or recreation as if she tried to convince me to sell my guns.
I moved to Massachusetts for my work and things got interesting. I had to get three letters of reference for my gun license application (click here if you want to read that story). When I asked my supervisor for one of the letters, I learned she was very anti-gun. She told me about the dangers of having a gun in the house, including some debunked statistics and an anecdote from her childhood. She accepted that I owned guns though, recognized I am a responsible person, and wrote a good letter for me.
Again, this is how it should be, more or less. I had to listen to a lecture, but she listened to me too and in the end we agreed to disagree.
Once I got my license, I did not hide the fact I owned firearms--I came out of the closet. A co-worker turned out to be one of the most gun fearing wussies imaginable. He actively tried to convince me to get rid of my guns preferably by melting them in the nearest blast furnace.
We argued back and forth at first good naturedly, but then more seriously when he could not convince me. I became his project. Every day he would present me with a new article, legal case, or fact to challenge my gun ownership. I would argue right back and did a great deal of research to refute his arguments.
Sometimes our discussions would become personal and sometimes silly. He admired Ghandhi and I found the quote,
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."At first he thought I made it up. Then he thought the gun website made it up, then he found it in his copy of Ghandi's autobiography. Oh.
When asked, he said he had no reason to hate gun ownership, but that guns caused more problems in society that they were worth.
I had never run into anyone who so single-mindedly hated the concept of gun ownership. I finally asked the right question and learned he hated guns because, "guns are made to kill." That was it. No fact, no legal case, no book would ever convince him that my gun ownership was not a prelude to a shooting spree. He even said he was afraid the evil inherent in guns could rub off on me. There is no logic that will defeat this emotional hatred. Unfortunately, he is politically active and votes.
Almost everyone else where I work is anti-gun and I became the office's pet gun nut and people made jokes about a woman owning guns or mentioned episodes of gun violence. Very rarely, they would ask if something they read about guns were true. I made offers to take anyone to a range at no cost to them. No one took me up on it. They, in their usual Yankee fashion, knew they were right, I was wrong, and guns are bad. Instead, I was told that they would do everything they can to end gun ownership, as we know it in America.
Most of the people in my office, including the Ghandhi-hugger, are good liberals. Back when I was a liberal I thought liberalism meant to let people make up their own minds. Like the old rock song says, "He can't even run his own life/I'll be damned if he'll run mine."
That is what I thought liberalism was all about, but it has changed. Today, it is about statist control of your life. It is about communitarianism. One person told me I should give up my guns for the good of the community even though she believed I would never hurt a fly. These people's agenda must be defeated. I don't want to live in a statist hellhole.
One thing my experience showed me is that we gunowners must become educated on gun issues. We can't take our rights for granted. In order to counter my co-workers' arguments, I had to become an expert on gun rights. I now own 47 gun books, 15 of them are about political issues four of those are anti-gun, the rest are on shooting or collection interests. I have read all of these and other books, legal cases, Internet articles, and many other sources. My knowledge does not defeat the anti-gunnies' emotional arguments, but they have had to reassess some of the facts they use to back up the emotions.
Bill being the true "Yosemite Sam" he is takes another tact. He knows the facts about gun ownership, but he no longer argues about gun rights, he just says, "Come and take 'em, bullets first." I am getting that way too.
While it is good to learn and knowledge can help us defeat the bastards, I wish I had never needed to read as much or the writers needed to spill so much ink. I wish the decision to own firearms was no different than it was when I was growing up.
We don't always get our wishes and in the final analysis it comes down to choice. It is my choice to own a gun. The liberals trust me to make a choice about an abortion* when a potential human life is at stake. They can damned well trust me to own a gun.
*I will not get into an abortion argument one way or the other except to say I've never had one, don't like them, but I am leery of laws too.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Last week, I posted a long description of everything I went through to get a Massachusetts gun license. JR of the Texican Tattler left a comment,
"Sweet merciful crap. That's a lot of hoops to jump through just to be able to legally own a gun....I'm impressed that you stuck with it. The fact that people are willing to do what it takes in spite of their government is heartening."Thanks for the comment, JR. I stuck with it since by nature I am law-abiding and I wanted to shoot my guns without looking over my shoulder fearing a very unpleasant stay in the Graybar Hotel.
Also, I am a recovering liberal. When I lived in Texas, I had been naive enough to almost believe the crap one hears on television and other media, "If we license people to drive cars, it makes sense to license people to buy guns."
I bought into it at least partially. I believed it made sense to require training in gun usage, check criminal histories, and then issue a license to those who passed the training and history check.
Getting a Massachusetts gun license opened my eyes.
I now see the gun banners agenda for what it is and it is not gun banning (although there are some guns they want banned or severely limited such as handguns, "assault weapons,' and .50 caliber rifles).
Instead of banning guns, they are trying to use "common sense" gun control, especially licensing, as a necessary step to limiting gun ownership to the elite.
Massachusetts' scheme fills that bill. You have to read some badly written law or afford a lawyer to do it for you. If you are an "established" member of society," it will be easy for you to get letters of recommendation, or a doctor's letter stating you are of sound mind and body, or anything else the scheme requires. A "beautiful person" already knows city councilors, the mayor, the governor, doctors, and the Police Chief who will issue the license.
A regular person can go through the process. It will be open to anyone. But, even if you do everything right, the Police Chief has full discretion to deny your application or severely limit your gun rights. There will even be a right to appeal, if you have a lawyer and can afford to do everything necessary to win your case--including taking time off of work.
Of course, the Chief would not deny or limit the rights of a John Kerry, or even a George W. Bush. They are established members of the elite and can be trusted. Sean Penn who has been know to clobber photographers got a concealed weapons permit in California since he is part of the elite and can be trusted.
Elite people need elite guns and the gun banners won't ban fine Purdey shotguns or equally fine rifles. New York City has some very onerous gun laws and yet a shop there sells some of the most expensive guns in the world--Holland and Holland.
The banners do not need to ban your pump action Remington 870 or Winchester Model 94. Instead, they will make it so hard to get a license that most of us will give up and find something else to spend our money on. When our heirs decide not to get a license when they inherit our guns, the state will be glad to buy them for pennies on the dollar and send them to the smelters. Since fewer people will be getting licenses, fewer people will be buying guns. Firearms will become too expensive for most of us to afford anyway.
If you don't believe me, look at machine guns. Strict licensing made it so difficult to own one that most of us have not even applied. No one banned machine guns, but if you want to buy one you have to go through a background check, be fingerprinted, pay a $200.00 fee, and get the approval of the local Police Chief or other local law enforcement authority, etc. Sound familiar?
Since few people owned fully automatic weapons, Congress critters passed the Firearm Owners Protection Act with the execrable Hughes Amendment limiting the supply of the firearms to those made before 1986. The cost of legally owned and registered machine guns skyrocketed. Now a cheaply made and (let's face it) ugly machine pistol costs $3,399.99 (on sale) while its semi-auto counterpart costs $299.99.
This is what is in store for us. Limited and expensive arms, Police Chiefs telling us if we are "elite" enough to pass muster, full infringement of rights our grandfathers took for granted. Stop taking your gun rights for granted. Wake up and become aware of what is coming to your state.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
My return trip was not fun. Manchester Airport was socked in by fog. Two planes actually got to Manchester, but had to return to Baltimore Washington International. I think if I would have got that close and then been turned back, my head would have exploded. At least my plane never got into the air. Luckily, I was able to check into the Sheraton at the airport and even used one of their computers to make a quick blog post.
Tomorrow, I am planning another addition to our series on being a gun nut in today's world. Today, I will be catching up on e-mail, reading blogs, unwinding from the business trip from hell, and visiting a gun store--the best way to recharge.
I will mention a blogosphere roundup post on Head's Bunker that mentioned The Ten Ring. A big thank you goes out to Head. If you have not visited his blog, go do it now and be sure to read his post on Mosin-Nagant rifles. I am a proud owner of a Mosin-Nagant Carbine and if you have not picked up one of the rifles listed in Head's post, you are missing out on a good deal.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Update: Joe Huffman has brought it to our attention that Clark County, of which Las Vegas is a part, actually has handgun registration. So the CSI writers had this one right.
But, all of that has changed. For reasons that many have tried to explain, New Hampshire has moved into the Blue column. True, the election was very close, but there can be no doubt that the momentum was toward the Democrat side. We now have a Democrat governor, who says he won’t raise taxes (yeah sure) and to make it worse, our very pro-gun representative on the Governor’s Executive Council was replaced with a Left Wing Democrat. The whole thing makes me sick.
So, I no longer get to lord it over my Republican colleagues. New Hampshire is Blue now, just like Massachusetts, albeit a very pale sort of baby blue. I have to console myself with the knowledge that at least I don’t have Ted Kennedy as my Senator, who recently confused Barak Obama with Osama Bin Laden. Can you imagine the squealing from the media if President Bush made this kind of mistake? But old Teddy gets a pass.
So Bruce and other pro-gun people, move on up here. We need your vote.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
All of this for what really is just a rich man’s toy. After buying a .50 caliber rifle, it costs around $3 a round to feed it. That’s a C note for a nice day at the range. That kind of money is definitely out of our league. But if California and CBS think that ordinary people like Denise and myself have no right to own a .50 caliber BMG rifle then that really makes us want one. The irony is that .50 caliber rifles flew off the shelves in California once the ban was passed. We gunnies are kind of perverse that way. You try to ban something, that just makes us want it even more.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Not too long ago, Bill told his story about how he became a gun nut. Basically, he watched me go through hell getting a gun license while we lived in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is time to tell you my story.
We were living in Texas when about five years ago I saw a job advertised in a professional publication. I applied for the job even though it was in Massachusetts.
I was naive then about gun rights. I shot frequently, owned several guns, but never paid much attention to gun politics. I grew up and lived in states where gun rights were no more questioned than the right to breathe. I should have known that some states did not respect gun rights, but I was not a member of any pro-gun organization. I was ignorant. I woke up when Bill told me a little about Massachusetts gun laws he had researched on the Internet.
It was too late to back out of the offer and I never really considered it; the job paid almost twice my salary and was perfectly in line with my education and experience. I sighed as Bill told me about the gun registration and licensing in Massachusetts. I closed my eyes while I did my own research. We hired movers, put the guns in locked cases in my car, and headed off to Massachusetts.
Before I go any further, you need to understand I am very law-abiding. I was raised that way. I finally accepted that in Massachusetts I could not own a gun even in my own home unless I got a license. Until I had that license, I could not buy a round of ammunition, a grain of black powder, or possess one brass cartridge case even if it were deprimed and had no bullet or powder. I was treated like a criminal and I have no criminal history.
Because of my law-abiding nature, Bill and I rented a secure storage unit in New Hampshire and that is where my guns lived. I was defenseless--something I had not been for over thirty years. We talked about moving to New Hampshire where rights are not infringed (at least not too badly). We procrastinated. We only lived about five minutes from my job and we had just made a major and costly move. I finally decided to bite the bullet (almost literally) and get a license. After all, how bad could it be.
Bad. To understand the horror of this exercise in infringement of Constitutional rights, you need to bear with me as I briefly describe the laws as they existed when I went through the wringer.
These draconian laws (there are other sections than the one at the link) passed in 1998. Before this year, the state's gun laws were bad compared to Texas, but not as bad as they became.
To get a license, you have to go through your local police. You have to decide which category of license you want. There are two categories of licenses and these have sub-categories. It is a system only a bureacrat could love or understand.
The lowest category is the "Firearms Identification Card" (FID). It authorizes possession of non-large capacity rifles and shotguns--no handguns. The Police Chief can limit the FID to mace/pepper spray only, and yes you have to have an FID to own pepper spray even if you never touch a gun.
The other main license is the "License to Carry" (LTC) and it does not necessarily authorize you to carry a concealed firearm. An LTC Class B authorizes its holder to possess handguns and long guns that do not have a capacity of over ten rounds. The Class A LTC lets you own large capacity rifles, handguns, shotguns, and any feeding device that is capable of holding more than ten rounds.
The Police Chief, at his or her discretion, can limit a Class A LTC in several ways. The Chief can limit it for employment purposes (i.e., carrying large sums of money), target practice, hunting, and finally "ALL LAWFUL PURPOSES." The Holy Grail of gun licenses. This is the one license that allows you to carry a concealed firearm (unless the Chief limits this on the license), and transport almost any gun anywhere in the state and for any lawful purpose. As I said the Holy Grail.
That's enough of the law. Because of gun-types I already owned, I had to have a Class A LTC. I set out to get it and boy did I earn it. I first got a packet of information from the local police department.
My first step was to take a basic safety course even though I have taught firearm safety before. This cost about $100.00. I don't mind taking firearm classes and I learn new things everytime I do, so this was no biggie. I even got to shoot in the class--the first time in almost a year.
With an official Massachusetts State Police approved training certificate in hand, I completed the LTC or FID application form. Then I learned that the local Police Chief insisted that one had to be a member of a bona fide gun club. The teacher of the gun class sponsored me for membership (in New England, there are few "sportmen's" clubs you just join, most require a senior member's sponsorship). That was another $180.00.
My next step on the infringement road was to get some passport-type photos. These could not be just any old passport photo. These had to be one-inch by one-inch and the head had to be a certain size. The photographer had to adjust where she placed the camera. The focus was a little off, but the size matched. This cost another $10.00.
I was finally getting out of the costly part of the application. I had to find three people who would write letters of reference for me. Each writer had to state how long they had known me, that I have a good character and sound mind, that I would be responsible in the handling of guns, and agree to a telephone interview by a police officer. All this just to exercise my consitutional rights.
The letters were a bit of a problem since I did not know many people in the area yet. I got two people in Texas to write a letter each, but the police department wanted at least one local writer. I asked my supervisor, a fellow ex-Texan, to write a letter. I found out that she was very anti-gun, but agreed to write a letter stating I would be a good person to own guns.
I had to write my own letter of application and sign a formal statement to the effect that I understood the limits of deadly force. I assembled my ten-page application package, wrote out a $25.00 check to the police department, and took it down to the Firearms Officer. I had to swear that everything was accurate. The officer fingerprinted me, and said he would give the package to the Police Chief, but he never reads all of these things anyway.
Now, I had to wait for about three weeks. My Class A LTC came in the mail and I almost leapt for joy when I turned it over and it said, ALL LAWFUL PURPOSES. There were no restrictions. Its effective date, however, was about three more weeks away since they dated it to my upcoming birthday. Tthey actually did me a favor since had it been dated from my previous birthday, I would have to renew it almost a year sooner rather than later). I would have to renew it every four years. It only cost about $315.00.
Some of you might criticize me for going through all of this costly mess. If you do remember that the Commonwealth is serious about gun laws. If you go to a Massachusetts gun shop, the clerk will ask for your license before they will hand you a firearm. You have to present your license to buy ammo or shoot in one of the few public ranges. If cops catch you with a gun, ammo, or ammo components they can arrest you and you will face at least a mandatory one-year sentence under the Bartley-Fox Act.
Police Chiefs have maximum discretion as to who gets a license and how it will be restricted. I applied in a suburb that has a reputation for lenient licensing standards. Other townships have far worse rules. For instance, the North Andover Police Department and one or two surrounding towns insist that you get a doctor's letter attesting to your mental and physical suitability for firearm ownership. The City of Boston is also highly regulated, but they have only a FAQs page with a brief description of their process.
The laws are designed to discourage gun ownership and they work. You have to be a dedicated gun owner to go through this process. You have to have money. It helps if you are established in the community since you will probably need sponsorship at a place to shoot, and if you live in North Andover, you will need a doctor who knows you well enough to attest to your sound mind and body even though he or she might risk a lawsuit if their patient ever shoots someone else.
I have not even talked about the gun registration rules and they are bad too. But, enough for now. My experience has changed me from a naive gunowner to a gun fanatic. Long live the Second Amendment, Molon Labe, and thank God we moved to New Hampshire.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Today, the sun is out, the snow is melting and Bill and I went to the range. We shot our bullseye .22 pistols for practice. We both shoot bullseye at 25 yards in the classic one-hand stance. It is challenging, but it actually improves the other shooting we do.
We went to the Manchester Firing Line near the Manchester airport. What I saw there heartened me. One guy brought his 9 or 10 year old son who clutched a Henry Mini Bolt, probably a Christmas present. The boy kept the barrel down range and beamed like a small sun as he punched holes in paper ten yards away.
On the other side of us, a father brought his daughter. She was about 15 with two braids running down her back. She knew how to shoot and was using a 9mm (we were not sure what kind).
At the far end of the range, a husband or boyfriend was teaching his wife or girlfriend how to shoot. Down two more lanes from us was yet another husband/wife team, but she was outshooting him from what we could tell from where we were.
Woman and children are a key to the future of our sport. If we can get half the human race out shooting and keep young people interesting in shooting, we will keep our gun rights for another generation. So pass your passion on to a woman or kid in your life.