By Vic Fogle
Oh, the terror of it! Good people completely surrounded by objects of evil incarnate! What horror! As the scores of people gazed appreciatively around them, they saw pernicious pistol gripped armament, hideous high capacity magazines, scary shoulder-stocked pistols, diabolical destructive devices, suspicious semi-auto shotguns, brutal black plastic in many configurations, confrontational compensators, fearsome flash suppressors, and myriad malevolent machine guns. One baleful banana mag was of such large capacity that it appeared to be almost semi-circular. Particularly shocking were those guns that brazenly boasted brutally business-like bayonet lugs, for several of the lugs held real bayonets. In fact, one shooter professed himself ready for a bayonet exercise. A reunion of Janet Reno’s infamous Team Waco? No, just the Albany, Oregon, Rifle and Pistol Club’s Banned Guns Solidarity Shoot, held May 31, 1998.
Some of the best ideas are themselves the result of the confluence of several simple but good ones. In this instance, the good idea of holding the shoot came, first, from the truism that it is totally unnecessary to have either a complicated reason or major event as a reason for holding a shoot. The second simple idea is the rueful, bemused acceptance of the fact that, because of the thrust of the present administration’s philosophy and accompanying actions, many of the people who shoot at Albany have become, through no deliberate, positive act of their own, the owners of guns and/or accessories whose further manufacture or importation into this country is currently banned, although possession and commerce remains legal. One example is the club member who read a morning paper one day and learned that he now owned a destructive device, Clinton having whimsically changed the status of the Streetsweeper the previous day. So rather than mope or whine, ARPC decided to sponsor a sardonic “solidarity” shoot, held two weeks after the main shoot, another opportunity to come out and shoot strictly for fun with kindred spirits.
There was a certain show and tell aura to the get-together. Many smiled appreciatively as they looked over each other’s treasures. The scores of shooters who attended took full advantage of the opportunity to unlimber some really questionable ordnance. Understandably, many of the items were not exactly state of the art for various kinds of regular competition. What standard course of fire, for example, allows a shoulder-stocked 9mm pistol with at least an 18 shot magazine? For what standard course of fire does one use an M1 carbine that folds into about 15”? But that’s irrelevant. The point of the exercise is that if they’re fun to shoot, that’s reason enough to own them. And considering that the targets consisted of the same kinds of drum lids, balloons, and water jugs that were so popular among machine gunners just two weeks before, the guns were highly appropriate. The day’s shooting was provided gratuitously by ARPC strictly as a public service to all shooters. Everyone there had a good time and hoped that the shoot will become an annual event. It was certainly something to see!
As a footnote, in case anyone is curious about connections, the Albany range is approximately 45 miles from the site of the unfortunate May 21 shootings at Thurston High School. Naturally, the question of whether to proceed with the shoot was raised in the wake of the shootings. The club officers decided, quite rightly, to press on. These officers correctly determined that Albany’s shoot was a legitimate recreational event at which guests would safely and legally use legally acquired firearms for a sporting purpose, in contradistinction to the crimes committed at Thurston with illegally acquired firearms used as weapons. It is high time that we shooters everywhere quit being apologetic about our shooting avocations and quit allowing our enemies to define us. This writer’s hat is off to the Albany club’s courageous and correct decision to hold the shoot as planned. It is only by closing ranks and going on about our business that we shooters can maintain shooting sports of all kinds in this country.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N3 (December 1998)|