Monday, November 10, 2008

Clinging To Our Guns

by Ben Small

In anticipation of an Obama swearing-in ceremony, America has been buying guns in unprecedented numbers. Of course, Obama-phobia isn’t fully the explanation. Americans feel threatened; they’re afraid. Gang and drug warfare are on the rise, as are home invasions, and in some cities, like Chicago, which is setting murder records, only the cops and bad guys have guns. (Ordinary people aren’t supposed to defend themselves in Chicago. Mayor Daley won’t permit it.)

But there’s no denying the Obama effect. Overnight, prices of AK-47s skyrocketed, in some places as high as 200%. Same with AR-15s and other weapons carrying more than ten rounds. You may remember the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban. That didn’t do much to stop the proliferation of serious weaponry. It was a joke. Yes, magazines were limited to ten rounds. But there were no limits on how many magazines one could carry.

Several articles have appeared about surging guns and ammo sales across the nation, and the gun stores I’ve visited have been packed full of purchasers eager to beat expected new anti-gun measures. Barack Obama has said he supports gun control, and his legislative record backs him up. Yes, there was the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, but that victory for Second Amendment gun rights was by a one vote margin. Change a judge, and it’s a new ballgame.

But something else, too is driving the buys. A different fear.

Mexican drug gangs are storming our border, shooting up border towns and killing police officers and border guards from El Paso to Tucson to San Diego, and of course, their Mexican counterpart cities. And the Latino gangs that support these drug lords, like MS-13, are spreading across our lands like an infection. MS-13 is in Los Angeles, San Diego, Tucson, El Paso, Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and other cities as well.

Just last Halloween in Tucson, my home turf, three teenagers in three wrong places at three wrong times were shot down, two of them killed. All three were students at Sunnyside High School. Three normal kids with bright futures, students of a friend of mine. One of these kids, a young girl, was at a party. Some gang-bangers tried to crash, and an argument ensued. Later the bangers came back. They shot up the house from their car. The girl, inside dancing with friends, died.

My teacher friend says the kids know the ropes. You’re sitting at a stop light and a car pulls up. Someone in the other car flashes a gang sign. You’re not in a gang or you’re in a different gang; you don’t respond or you give the wrong sign.

That's disrespect.

Bang, bang, you’re dead.

Amazing. Imagine being a teenager today...

A few weeks ago, my wife and two of her friends took their Concealed Carry Class and submitted their permit paper-work. The class was jammed. The instructors said classes have been packed for more than a year; they're struggling to keep up with demand.

Now these are ordinary citizens. Not gang-bangers, not criminals. You can’t get a concealed carry permit if you’re a criminal. Nor can a criminal buy a gun – legally. But criminals don’t have any problem getting guns, all kinds of guns, even automatic weapons. They just smuggle them in from Mexico and spread them around the gangs. The guns that are terrorizing Chicago aren’t guns held by law-abiding citizens; they’re gang guns. No gun ban is going to stop that trade. Only law abiding citizens are denied the means to protect themselves in Chicago.

Our growing security anxiety is fueled by several very real concerns: 1) fear that our institutions are breaking down; 2) fear that wealth re-distribution policies will heighten tensions; 3) fear that anti-gun measures will limit purchases by law-abiding citizens of weapons and ammunition; 4) fear that like the L. A. riots after the Rodney King beating and the looters and marauders during and after Katrina, there will be roving gangs of looters and predators following any future catastrophe or breakdown of food delivery, power supply, energy or social order; 5) fear that terrorist or gang or drug lord raids within our borders will increase; 6) fear that our borders are so porous, we have no ability to stop drugs or the growing illegal gun trade, and 6) fear that the police cannot adequately protect us.

A Harvard study a year or so ago examined the effectiveness of strict gun control measures worldwide. The study concluded that those jurisdictions that have the more severe gun limits, have higher crime rates. Look at Chicago or Washington, D.C. Indeed, Britain, which completely banned most guns many years ago, has seen violent crime rise since.

Already, some silly measures have become law, and are being considered elsewhere. Like the California law that requires every handgun sold by 2010 to imprint on its cartridge identifying marks traceable to the gun. This law was passed last year by the California legislature and signed by the Governator despite no proof that such technology exists or would be effective. In fact, a study by the University of California at Davis, showed that such technology does not work. And what about revolvers? Their cartridges are carried away with the gun.

Imagine how easily you could be framed. Go to the gun range, fire your weapon. Someone picks up your brass and leaves it at a crime scene.

Boom. You’re in jail.

The gun industry has reacted slowly to the California measure, although at least one manufacturer has decided not to sell guns to police or anyone else in California if this law remains in effect. A few other manufacturers are considering similar actions.

So called “assault” weapons are defined very loosely. The term is usually described as semi-automatic weapons, those that don’t have a rotating cylinder feeding a bullet to the chamber. Banners claim these weapons aren’t used for hunting; they're only used to kill people.

That's not true. On either front.

Varmint hunting is popular these days. Rats, prairie dogs, coyotes, they're fair game in many areas. And semi-automatic weapons, both pistols and rifles, are popular choices for hunting them.

I've owned semi-automatic weapons for over ten years, and I don't hunt.

I haven’t killed anybody.

I shoot paper, lots of paper. I compete in paper-shooting contests. Fun stuff, shooting in competitions, part of our American heritage. Sergeant York, an American hero, used to compete in turkey shoots. So do I, but my turkeys are paper, and they’re taped over cardboard.

And what’s wrong with that? Good clean sport. Nothing gets killed, and only a few pieces of paper and cardboard are damaged. The paper, bullets and cartridges are all recycled.

Shooting is green.

So who gets hurt by me owning a gun... or several?

Semi-automatic weapons fire one bullet at a time, just like revolvers do. Yes, magazines for these guns may contain more bullets, but some revolvers shoot as many as eight rounds, and there are speed loaders available. Speed loaders facilitate a revolver rate of fire not far slower than a semi-auto's.

Pick up any gun magazine; there are many from which to choose. Check out the ads. Yes, they may scare you. But remember, these are the guns the good guys, law-abiding citizens, are buying. They're used for self defense and for sport. A gun ban won't stop gangs from getting guns. Criminals don't file for concealed carry permits, and they don't buy their guns in U.S. gun stores. You bump into a bad guy at the wrong time and place, and the only thing between you and the coroner may be your ability to defend yourself.

The bad guys may have machine guns. And sometimes, grenades.

Back in Connecticut, a Revolutionary War cemetery adjoined my back yard. Stones dressed with flags mark the war's graves. In those veterans' days, every home contained a gun.

We may return to that notion.


Jean Henry Mead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth Terrell said...

Wonderful article, Ben. You are so right, on all counts. There was a shooting less than a block from my office. At least 10 shots were fired. Apparently, MS-13 has staked out of the two gas stations on the corner, and a rival Latino gang has staked out the other one. I used to go up there for lunch sometimes, but I haven't been there since.

You've called it exactly right; this stuff had made it across the whole country, and they have no trouble getting guns, no matter how many laws are passed. If they won't follow the ones about not murdering people, why would anyone think they would follow the ones banning guns?

I've read that places with the least restrictive carry laws have much lower crime rates than those that ban guns altogether.

Ben Small said...

Tucson, last time I looked, was standing at 69 murders this year, already many more than for the full year last year.

Ben Small said...

This is what precedes ads on's website. AimSurplus sells surplus rifles, pistols and ammo, most of them from WWII. They're primarily known for their Mosin Nagant Russian infantry rifles and German Mausers.

"11/11/2008 Memo to our Customers:

As you know, we at AIM and others in the firearms industry are experiencing an extraordinarily high demand for the products we sell.

This extreme demand compares only to the spike experienced in 1993-1994 when the Brady Bill became law.

Although we will do all we can to insure the fulfillment of your order(s) in its entirety, we are experiencing product shortages that may result in backorders or delays of specific product from your order.

We ask for your patience as we work diligently to process orders, answer phone calls and respond to the thousands of emails requesting information about orders placed and product status.

Although some have responded to this spike by raising their prices immediately after the election. You have our promise that we will make every effort to maintain our advertised prices until our suppliers increase our costs.

In an effort to better control our remaining inventory, we are allowing only selected products to be purchased via our website.

Thank you again for your business and your patient understanding."

Anonymous said...

Right on all counts. Most of the proposed gun control laws will only keep honest people honest. They don't and can't take firearms out of the hands of people that already have them illegally. Law enforcement officers can't get to you in time when your facing armed criminals. We must be able to protect ourselves and our families. I will be one of the many who will be in line to purchase more weapons before the end of January, you can count on that!

D said...

Super article, you are spot on. There is so much good information in your article that I am linking it to every one of my email contacts with a note to READ it all. In spite of our matter of fact knowledge about the upcoming onslaught against the 1st and 2nd Amendments I am not hopeful for our future. However, it is as I've heard many times, "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best". I hope that EVERY LAW ABIDING, TAX PAYING NORMAL CITIZEN BUYS A GUN OR TWO AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. The ban IS coming no matter how loud folks play the LA LA LA - Fingers In My Ears game with themselves. Thank you and God Bless You for your article!

Jackie said...

Wonderful! J