By Dan Shea
Someone asked me the other day what my “Occupation” is. The best I could come up with is a “Military Firearms Technical Historian”. Most of SAR’s readers fit into that category, in one way or another. We research arcane subjects, study firearms oddities, collect oddball items – the paraphernalia and accessories of war. We provide service to the military and law enforcement communities even if many of us are not active members of those communities at this time. We have a lot of fun as well. From the new guy with his first Mac to an advanced collector with a vault full of historical rarities, very few of the people in the Class 3 community do not advance the knowledge pool in some way. There are those who could argue against this statement, and give a few of our problem children as examples- and I would be hard pressed to defend those few members of the firearms community who are law breakers. Those are the exception, not the rule. The majority of firearms collectors and manufacturers are good, law abiding people.
New generations of firearms owners spring from the ranks of the new shooters- people we introduce to the martial arms. Traditionally, this has been our children, the children of others, and the uninitiated, all of whom we take out for private shoots. We show them our collections, we talk about how we and others before us used these firearms to preserve freedom, to defend ourselves. We share the joy of fine machine work, the genius of the inventors. In the end, those who are so inclined join our ranks and pass on the knowledge, skills, and camaraderie that is the shooting community.
I am talking about this for three reasons, things that I want to throw out to the readers to think about.
First, there has been an increasingly hostile set of “Threads” on Internet boards, and in discussions I have overheard, against families at machine gun shoots. There were a lot of people saying that children shouldn’t be there. I had a rant all written about the stupidity of this stance, but wanted to take a moment to appeal to the people who are saying this. I have heard your reasons, and it all seemed to revolve around keeping the shoots as “Adult entertainment”, including drinking and even having strippers show up. Children seem to crimp your “Style”.
Please take your “Adult style” and go somewhere else. You can go out to a bar at night, or somewhere that does what you want. Leave the shoots with the wholesome, family atmosphere that most have had. I have spent many a night sitting with families at a campfire, after a fun day shooting at targets. The children enjoyed their day, and learned a lot as well. They will carry that lesson forever. They will also carry the lesson of drunken adults carousing around, and the families won’t be back. If this is your desire, to make the machine gun shoots into adult parties, you will succeed in thinning out our future prospects for firearms ownership. Kids don’t have a place at shoots? Baloney. The few jerks who have done things that ruined the shoots for the rest of us- don’t belong at shoots. Keep it clean, and keep the shoots a place where families can comfortably go for recreation.
Second- the enemies of private firearms ownership know this. They want to encourage us to keep the children away from the shoots. No kids at shoots? No future gun owners. They teach them at school how bad guns are, as a way of socializing firearms ownership out of our culture. Every time we have an incident of bizarre behavior at a shoot, they point and say we are all bozos on this bus. We need to keep our family friendly atmosphere at the large public shooting events. In the 1960’s it was said there was a fifty year plan to do away with private firearms ownership- gun control by entropy. Let the old gunnies die out, and keep the kids from wanting firearms. They have done it in Canada. We are working on forty years now… and counting.
Third, related to the previous rant, is the question of where our future firearms innovations will be coming from. Every leap forward that has happened in the United State’s military small arms has come from the small shops. The inventors, the tinkers. Gene Stoner in his garage- voila the M16 system is born. Garand. Carbine Williams. John Browning. Hiram Maxim. The list goes on and on. I do not want to minimize the importance of the large companies, and government R&D, but most of those leaps came from a man with an idea of how to do something better. Right now, out there somewhere, on someone’s workbench, are the drawings of the next leap forward. I don’t know if it will be caseless ammunition, electric primers, liquid propellants, or pulse lasers. But somewhere, the seed is planted and starting to germinate. If we stop private ownership, and private tinkering with firearms, the United States will fall backwards in the world technology. We are facing new threats today, and this writer does not believe it is from low intensity conflicts. We need a strong, powerful, well trained and well equipped military. We need cutting edge technology. Don’t fight crossbows with armored knights, if you catch my drift.
SAR is watching and listening for these new innovations, and we try to bring this info to the readers. However, we have to keep passing on the knowledge, the training, the skills, and the firearms themselves, from generation to generation, in order to keep our freedoms strong. Take a kid out shooting, and answer their questions… don’t turn them off and shut them out.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V4N11 (August 2001)|