Friday, February 23, 2007

Petzal Logs On

Dave Petzal has a blog too. Over at Field and Stream. He doesn't get it either and he remarks that:
For the last several days I’ve been visiting all manner of blogs and chatrooms, which has reminded me of when I used to deliver used clothing to the local mental hospital. I’ve tried to make some sense of it all, but because the waters are still full of blood and body parts continue to rain from the sky, I haven’t come up with any Great Truths.
We're still learning too, Dave, but the dynamic has shifted.

Here's a lesson, Mr. Petzal. Zumbo called for the banning of certain firearms simply because they don't look like a scoped deer rifle. He called them terrorist rifles. Within hours, the Brady Bunch had picked up his comments and trumpeted that a respected hunting writer had called for a ban on assault rifles. Reading his words was like being stabbed in the back by a trusted uncle.

We've got to be careful when we talk about banning some weapons. Back in the day when I was raising children, my second son wanted to hunt and was old enough to sit on his own stand. The only rifle I could afford for him at the time was an SKS, which cost about $150.00. Poor folks like to hunt, too. Some can't afford $1000.00 rifles and $500.00 scopes. That $100 Mauser (a true military arm) imported from Europe suits them just fine.

The bigger lesson, Mr. Petzal, is that since 1994 the RKBA crowd has learned to mobilize. The internet lets millions of us exchange ideas, talk to our Congressmen, network with others, and even.. yes.. call for the firing of someone who works for a major outdoor magazine and calls us terrorists.

Mr. Petzal. The dynamic has shifted. We're the customers that drive the major chains and they listen to us. Their ear is as close as my Send button.

Hat tip to Xavier.

1 comment:

plblark said...

you may have read an earlier 1994ish article by the same author:

ield & Stream (West ed.), June 1994 v99 n2 p26(2)

Reveille. (gun control laws) David E. Petzal.

THE BUGLE CALL KNOWN AS REVEILLE IS A CHEERFUL, energetic tune that, when I was in the Army, few soldiers actually got to hear. The real reveille was something quite different; it consisted of the NCOIC (noncommissioned officer in charge) snapping on the overhead lights at 4:30 A.M. and slamming a sawed-off broom handle around the inside of a garbage can. That is about the least cheerful experience that you can have, but it wakes you up for fair, and brings you face to face with reality.

Real-world reveille came for gun owners this February in the form of a single sentence buried deep in the 1994 Federal Budget. On page 201 of that document, under the heading "Passing Effective Crime Control Legislation," there is this sentence: "The administration also supports a ban on semiautomatic firearms; limitations on access to handguns by juveniles; and the creation of a crime control fund to pay for eligible crime control initiatives."

The key phrase, the one that turns on the overhead lights and crashes the broom handle around in the GI can, is "a ban on semi-automatic firearms." Not "assault weapons," but semi-automatic firearms. All of them. It is simple English, and there is nothing else it can mean. It means all semi-autos.

It also means that the NRA has been right all along when it warned us that an "assault weapon" bill was only one of a series of steps in a much more ambitious plan to outlaw many types of firearms. If you would like to dismiss the NRA's warning as paranoid and hysterical, you must ignore the fact that the White House has put us on notice: All semi-autos are going to go if the Clinton Administration has its way.

In January, President Clinton included the following in his State of the Union Address to Congress:

"Hunters must always be free to hunt. Law-abiding adults should always be free to own guns and protect their homes. I respect that part of our culture. I grew up in it. . . . But I want to ask the sportsmen and others to join us in this campaign to stop gun violence. I say to you: I know you didn't create this problem, but we need your help to solve it. There is no sporting purpose on earth that should stop the United States Congress from banning assault weapons that out-gun police and cut down children."

Will the real Clinton policy please stand up? Before Congress and the United States, the President said he wants to get rid of assault weapons. In the Federal Budget, it's semi-automatic firearms. Which is the real agenda?

There are a couple of possibilities. One is that some overreaching functionary was confused by the terms "semi-automatic firearm" and "assault weapon" and assumed they were interchangeable. This. is given support by Barry Toiv, a spokesman for the Office of Management and the Budget, who was quoted as follows in the March 14th edition of The Washington Times: "The language in the budget is a mistake. It made its way through without being fixed."

A more likely scenario is somewhat simpler. The Administration wants to ban semi-automatic firearms, judged the political climate to be favorable, and decided to put its intent on the public record, albeit not in a forthright manner.

Let us now consider the legislation submitted to Congress by Senator Diane Feinstein (D/CA). Amendment No. 1152 would, if ratified, be applied to the Omnibus Crime Bill (which was passed late in 1993 by the Senate), and appears to be the type of "reasonable" gun bill that "reasonable" gun owners should support. Amendment 1152 would ban, by name, a number of firearms (or duplicates of same) such as the Colt AR-15, MAC-10 and NRC-11, Galu, Uzi, Street Sweeper, and others of this ilk It would also ban guns by description; i.e., firearms that incorporate folding or telescoping stocks, flash suppressors, threaded muzzles, bayonet lugs, grenade launchers, and "conspicuous" pistol grips.

Also included are semi-auto shotguns with magazines that hold more than five rounds, and any large-capacity magazines (tubular magazines for .22 rimfires exempted), which means those that hold more than ten rounds.

The Feinstein Amendment would, upon passage, allow the present owners of proscribed guns to keep them, provided that they obtained and maintained Form 4473s documenting their ownership. However, no new guns of the types described could be bought, sold, or owned by civilians.

The Amendment contains a sunset clause, meaning that it expires after ten years. It also contains a lengthy list of firearms that are exempt. These guns include bolt, pump, and lever-actions, and many semi-automatic rifles and shotguns of the sporting variety.

If you are a gun owner who is looking for the middle ground, it is very hard to argue against legislation such as this. Senator Feinstein, it seems, has made every effort to prescribe "assault weapons" and protect "legitimate firearms."

So what's wrong with supporting--or at least not opposing--this amendment? Perhaps nothing--except that the reveille sounded by the 1994 Federal Budget warns us we can't think of Amendment 1152 as a final step. Anti-gunners see it as an interim measure, paving the way for much wider prohibitions. Sarah Brady, Senator Metzenbaum, and others, have been quite honest about what they have in mind. The Feinstein Amendment is, in their view, just one in a series of steps to outlaw other types of firearms. The next step, without doubt, is handguns. In the lengthy list of "legitimate" guns protected by Amendment 1152, not one handgun is mentioned.

There's more. President Clinton, in a lengthy interview in the December 9, 1993 issue of Rolling Stone was asked by national editor William Greider:

"Is it conceivable that the country. . . could entertain the possibility of banning handguns? Is that a cockamamie idea in your mind? Or is that in the future?"

President Clinton answered: "I don't think the American people are there right now [emphasis mine]. But with more than 200 million guns in circulation, we've got so much more to do on this issue before we reach that. I don't think that's an option now [emphasis mine]. But there are certain kinds of guns that can be banned and a lot of other reasonable regulations that can be imposed. The American people's attitudes are going to be shaped by whether things get better or worse."

You are at liberty to interpret this any way you wish. My interpretation is: "We haven't got the votes for a handgun ban right now. In the future, if I think the votes are there, well go for it."

Judging by the letters we get at Field & Stream, and the people I talk to within the firearms industry, there are many of us who would like to rid the United States of assault weapons. It is true that these weapons account for only a miniscule percentage of armed crime, but the crimes they are used in tend to be horrific.

The classic example of this is the schoolyard massacre in Stockton, California, in 1989, when a deranged man named Patrick Purdy used an AK-47 clone to kill five children and wound twenty-nine others. The fact that Purdy was at liberty with a gun of any kind was due to a catastrophic failure of the California justice system, but the question we have to ask is, if Purdy had not had a thirty-shot semi-automatic rifle that was designed for the express purpose of taking human life, would the carnage have been so great?

Much is made about the difficulty involved in defining an "assault weapon." However, firearms such as the AK-47, AKM, Uzi, Street Sweeper, and others have two things in common: They are designed for killing people, and they enable a person who is unskilled in the use of firearms to do an extraordinary amount of damage in practically no time at all.

Assault weapons are designed to be produced quickly and cheaply, and in huge numbers. They are designed to operate under conditions that would destroy civilian small arms. They are designed to put out a high volume of fire with a high degree of controllability. It is these characteristics that prevent assault weapons from being us as anything but what they are. (The AR-15/M-16, and the M1A in modified form, are highly accurate, and have a legitimate place in organized target competition.) You can remove the flash suppressors and the bayonet lugs; you can change the shape of the stocks; you can sell "sporting" ammunition for them; but they remain guns for killing people.

Gun owners--all gun owners--pay a heavy price for having to defend the availability of these weapons. The American public--and the gun-owning public; especially the gun-owning public--would be better off without the hardcore military arms, which puts the average sportsman in a real dilemma. We have received a wake-up call that clearly warns us that gun ownership is under siege. On the other hand, the public at large has been sent another kind of reveille: that guns are the root of most present-day evil, and the NRA is somehow to blame for the guns.

MOST AMERICANS HAVE LITTLE FAITH IN THE promises that politicians make, and with reason. Most gun owners are uneasy about making concessions of any kind, and with reason. But it may be time to consider shifting from an absolute opposition to any ban on any guns to an effort to get lawmakers to include a guarantee that will safeguard our handguns, and other arms--something not subject to the whims of the BATF or the Secretary of the Treasury or Sarah Brady. If the Feinstein Amendment included a list of "protected" handguns, and did away with its prohibition on magazines that hold more than ten shots, that would be something for us to think about. If Senator Fienstein is willing to meet gun owners halfway, we should think about her amendment very hard indeed.

For at some point we must face the fact that an Uzi or an AKM or an Ak-47 should no more be generally available than a Claymore mine or a block of C4 explosive. It is time for these guns to be limited to people with Treasury Department licenses, just as with fully automatic arms. I doubt if anyone would suffer much without assault weapons. Surely, we will suffer with them.