by Dan Shea
I don’t have a crystal ball. As I write this on August 23, I am in the UK waiting for the Shrivenham Small Arms Symposium to begin. Very much on my mind is the impending sunset on September 13 of the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” and you will be reading this after that date. Congress has a few days to mess up this sunset for us, and this is very much of a political hot potato. On the other hand, many of us have concerns that if Congress has a late-year Lame Duck Session, they might sneak in a retroactive extension of the law. Many manufacturers are sitting back watching, and not fully committing to inventorying these items until all of the danger of an extension is past. Once the November elections are done, we will have a pretty good idea of how the legislative prospects will be. “W” is not our staunchest ally, but he is a better friend to the firearms community than John Kerry would be.
Some months past (May) I went on record that we shouldn’t be questioning Kerry’s medals; that this was a dark path. I still feel that way, but in light of recent events, and the fact that John Kerry seems to be running as a “War Hero from ‘Nam” after lying so much about the other veteran’s behavior for his own political career, I think it is time for him to answer the questions they are asking. I don’t know what happened where, but there are a whole lot of people who were in the same place and time that are saying Kerry is a liar and a fake. I think many of them are still burning up about the lies Kerry told on his return, with Vietnam Vets against the war. Kerry is on record accusing his brothers in arms of committing horrible atrocities, and because he has now decided to play “Noble War Hero” for political gain, I think they should nail his ass to the sidewalk for doing it. Do it in front of The Wall, friends, figuratively speaking, of course. He has gone from simply disingenuous to despicable.
An Air Force Major at Eglin Air Force Base is on trial for smuggling war trophies back from Iraq. AK47s, RPGs, Iraqi uniforms, bayonets, on and on goes the list. The law is the law, unfortunately. That same Major’s father might have returned from World War II with a pile of trophies to fill out the Battalion HQ display and personal items for all of the men, including machine guns, all quite legally. This time honored tradition of soldiers and their trophies goes to the beginning of time, the beginning of war. One can hope that all of the war trophy machine guns that predate the 1968 Amnesty may one day be listed in the NFRTR, as they should be, made transferable by the Veteran’s Amnesty Bill that is before Congress, should it pass. However, this will not cover new weapons being brought back and we would hope that the soldiers out in the field would follow all of the laws of our country, and the regulations of the military branch they are in. I think it is terrible that the United States does not allow those who serve, those who sacrifice and risk their lives in our national defense the time honored tradition of bringing home war trophies, but if it is illegal, then it is illegal. I guess some small trophies are all right, but nothing of substance.
Several friends in formerly communist countries have contacted me about my commenting that I would rather be shooting at communists than helping them in their cause. (See the Eurosatory lead). There will be no apology forthcoming. I would really much prefer to be disassembling some rare and obscure machine gun, testing an early Maxim, soaking up rays on Waikiki beach, or enjoying dinner with family and friends. I am far too old and out of shape to do more than briefly fantasize about running through the jungle or the desert. In any event, when I think of the failed ideology of communism, the resultant destruction of the human spirit as well as the loss of life is all that I can think of. When I meet people who would like to inflict this on others, usually by force, I am not on their side. While I very much admire the weaponry, history and the spirit of many of the soldiers, the ideology followed by the Marxists is anathema to everything I believe in. When I referred to the Left Bank Marxists and Anarchists who go berserk on the streets at most arms trade shows; they are in an entirely different category than those who have grown up under the old regimes and are facing a brave new world. I will continue to meet with shooters, designers and end users, in whatever country, to learn of their small arms and customs. I do not, however, have any time for the counter culturists who preach peace while practicing violence, and would tear down the world around us.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V8N2 (November 2004)|