Thursday, April 15, 2004

I can't say I wholeheartedly agree with David Kopel on everything although I must confess I'm more in agreement with him than Ted Kopel. But over at the High Road someone linked an article Mr. Kopel & Stephen D'Andrilli wrote in 1990 about Switzerland & its militia system. It's called The Swiss & G U N S ~A Success Story~. It's a bit dated as some changes to the gun laws in Switzerland occurred in the 90's. In fact the Swiss pro-gun group Pro-Tell is busy fighting these efforts as we speak. But the bulk of the article is correct in its assessment of Swiss firearm laws.

Now here's something to think about:

"Indeed, the militia is virtually synonymous with the nation. 'The Swiss do not have an army, they are the army', says one government publication. Fully deployed, the Swiss army has 15.2 men per square kilometre; in contrast, the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. have only .2 soldiers per square kilometre. Switzerland is 76 times denser with soldiers than either superpower. Indeed, only Israel has more army per square kilometre."

I'd venture to guess that only certain parts of the American South & Southwest could even begin to approach that kind of coverage by the militia. If I'm looking at the correct conversion table (hey - it's late) a square kilometer is 0.3861 square miles, & a square mile is about 640 acres. So the U.S.A. figure mentioned above would equate to (if my calculations are accurate) about 2.5 soldiers per square mile. Now a mile is 1,760 yards so at the dead center of a square mile you'd have 880 yards in all directions (actually a little more than that in the corners). That's along way to shoot. But throw in the other man & a half & you could cut it down to something a bit more reasonable - say just shy of 600 yards. Now for a rifleman with a rifle that'd be no problem, but for a soldier with an M16...let's just say I'm not optimistic. After all, no matter how good Hank Aaron was ain't no way in hell he could've hit anything in a meaningful way if he substituted his Louisville Slugger for a flyswatter.

But the Swiss can field 38 men per square mile. That's a man for every 16.8 acres. They'd be spaced so close together that they could effectively cover each other with rifled muskets!

Now Kopel & D'Andrilli don't take into account the U.S. militia which would boost our numbers a bit. But probably not by that much. If someone tried to invade Switzerland almost the whole citizenry would show up to stop them. In the U.S. we'd expect the Marines & Army to show up & do something. But the average citizen for years & even decades has been bombarded with the idea of letting the professionals handle things. Hell, lowly peasants often get arrested for shooting criminals in self defense or merely partrolling private land on the borders. So it wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear a chorus of "let the Marines handle things - that's what we pay them for" echoing through the countryside if anyone ever tried to invade the U.S.

In Texas, the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Colorado, New Mexico & Arizona I'd expect a little more turn out than average but only in the rural parts of those states. Any state with a medium to large urban area (i.e. a big city) can almost write that part of the state off. This isn't so much because people in big cities are cowards but rather they've been indoctrinated so long into government dependence that it'd be difficult to get them to change their views in time to do any good. The rural areas of every state won't have the same mindset as most rural folk are used to doing for themselves - well at least to a greater degree than their citified brethren.

Another reason is that in urban centers (i.e. big cities) gun control is usually more strictly enforced. That means the confidence that comes with developing skills in arms will be lacking & create another psychological barrier. & that's not even dealing with the issue of having arms in the first place. After all, would you feel positive about repelling invaders when your most potent weapon is a bottle filled with gasoline & a lighted rag? I'd like to think the city dwellers in D.C., Chicago, NYC & other places where possessing arms is legally difficult to impossible ignore those laws, but I can't see more than 10% or so being armed with anything more than a small pistol.

The Geek With A .45 touched on a related subject in a post of his a few days back. His focus was on gun control laws on the federal level being harmful to small arms development that is essential to national defense. A few months ago I wrote about an article on the National Matches & their relationship to national defense, or more specifically how the government has been withdrawing its support of this important primer for national defense. But as important as those two issues are to address I feel they are insignificant compared to the one I'm talking about now, which is an apathy on the part of the populace. After all, if we could buy newly designed & manufactured machine guns over the counter & the government was actively involved in civilian matches as it once was it would accomplish very little if the majority of people simply looked to the government to protect them.

Pay attention over the next week or so to the news & other forms of mass communication. In newspaper articles, news stories, billboards & magazine ads & articles you'll see that anytime the public's role is mentioned in anything its merely to be a good witness &/or informant. No cop has ever said (in recent times at least) for a citizen to get directly involved in preventing crime. Illegal aliens crossing on your land? Call the cops. A little old lady getting her ass kicked? Call the cops. Someone's being gang raped in the alley beneath your window? Call the cops.

What this message is doing is conditioning the populace to not getting directly involed. It's taking them out of their proper place in society a sparticipants & making them mere spectators. Now I'm not saying you should go out on "patrol" every night looking for drug lords & pimps to place under citizens arrest. But if you see a person getting beaten up & robbed, even if its by the cops, you should try to intervene if you can. Yes, it's risky as hell; you don't know if the attacker will turn on you or just run away. But here's the thing - that attacker whom you let get away because you feared for your own safety could very well be the attacker your wishing someone will save you from 3 weeks from now. Or worse: he'll be the one who beats up &/or kills your wife or daughter or son 3 weeks from now. C'mon - didn't you watch Spider-man? He let a guy go because he didn't want to get involved & that same guy ended up killing his uncle. There's a message in that which most people seem to ignore: if you tolerate someone you don't know being mistreated then don't be all shocked when it happens to someone you care about.

That's one of our problems as a society: we do not want to get personally involved. If we won't get involved when crime threatens our community, then what makes you think it'll be different if an invasion threatens out community? Do you think the Jews in Hitler's Germany just accepted their fate? Do you think they were all pacifists up till the very end? No, it was conditioning that made them too susceptible to inaction. That same conditioning is present today in the U.S. It's perhaps a bit more varied than what the Jews in Nazi Germany were taught, but everytime you here that "it can't happen here" or "we'd be no match for a modern military so resisting would be futile" I hope you'll recognize it as a modern variant of the reasoning that caused millions of people to allow themselves to be murdered with little if any resistance.

More from the article:

"Since 1291, when the landsgemeinden (people's assemblies) formed circles in the village squares, and only men carrying swords could vote, weapons have been the mark of citizenship. As a Military Department spokesman said, 'It is an old Swiss tradition that only an armed man can have political rights.' This policy is based on the understanding that only those who bear the burden of keeping Switzerland free are entitled to fully enjoy the benefits of freedom."

I can't say that I'd be opposed to something like that over here. Hell, can you imagine the looks on Schumer's, Feinstein's & Brady's face if on election day everyone showed up at the polls with their pistol, rifle & best web gear?

"In 1977, the Münchenstein Initiative proposed allowing citizens to choose social or hospital work over military duty. It was rejected at the polls, and in both houses of parliament (the Bundesversarnmlung's Nationalrat and Ständerat). There are provisions for conscientious objectors, but this group only numbers .2% of conscripts."

& keep in mind Swiss militia service isn't about getting job training or money for college. These people are very serious about defending their country. They want to serve.

"In 1978, Switzerland refused to ratify a Council of Europe Convention on Control of Firearms. Since then, Switzerland has been pressured by other European governments, which charge that it is a source for terrorist weapons. As a result, in 1982 the central government proposed a law barring foreigners in Switzerland from buying guns they could not buy in their own countries and also requiring that Swiss citizens obtain a license to buy any gun, rather than just handguns.
Outraged Swiss gun owners formed a group called 'Pro Tell,' named after national hero William Tell. In 1983, the Federal Council (the executive cabinet) abandoned the restrictive proposal because "the opposition was too heavy" and suggested that the cantons regulate the matter. A few months earlier, the Cantonal Council of Freiburg had already enacted such a law by a one-vote margin. A popular referendum overturned the law the next year, by a
60%-40% vote."

Apperently they want to vote as well. Can you imagine what the press would do if gun owners got off their ass, stopped making excuses for the lesser of two evils & elected pro-gun politicians to repeal gun control laws? Imagine every time a gun control law is passed it gets repealed right after the next election. But imagine is all we can do because gun owners are petrified of Kerry even though Bush isn't all that different on the gun issue.

But go read the rest of the article. It does a good job of explaining the Swiss mindset when it comes to guns & culture. I still think in theory America has the best system going, but in practice the Swiss aren't that far behind, if at all as far as arms ownership goes. Switzerland isn't perfect by a long shot, but if you read your history you'll note that several American institutions were copied from the Swiss. One of those was the militia. It's a shame it's more a part of history for us than anything else, especially when the Swiss seem to be doing well with it after 500 years or so.
At End the War on Freedom I found a rather interesting link: a fellow by the name of Larken Rose has put together a flash presentation called "The 861 Evidence: A Disturbing Exposé of the United States Income Tax System". It takes a while to load & it's rather lengthy but considering the day I thought I'd pass it on.

Monday, April 12, 2004

April 15th. It's only 3 days away so you have to get moving.

No, I'm not trying to encourage you to send your yearly extortion payment to the IRSS; I'm telling you about B.A.G. day.

Aaron the Liberal Slayer came up with this last year. His original goal was for everyone to buy a gun on April 15th just to piss off Michael Moore. Can't say his heart wasn't in the right place with that one, but he decided to shorten it to B.A.G. so it'd be a little catchier this time around.

Unfortunately due to a lack of finances & a recent purchase I won't be able to join in with y'all this year. But that will not stop me from vicariously shopping through you - so if you're undecided on what you want to purchase feel free to drop me a line & I'll give you my $0.02 for free.

But allow me to go over what in my opinion is a complete battery for anyone in the U.S. to have in their gun safe:

First & foremost a .22LR chambered firearm is essential. No, it won't stop a tank with one shot nor will it shoot flying saucers down from a low orbit. It will put food on the table. I've never seen a squirrel or rabbit that's immune to a .22LR. It will also keep pests out of your garden. In a pinch it'll keep the two legged vermin from doing much damage to you (although there are better choices). Most importantly it's cheap to feed. You can still get a 100 round box of decent quality ammo for around $3.50. Three cents a round ain't anything to laugh at & you can find plinking ammo for a bit less than that. But the beauty of its economic friendliness is that for under $10 you can have a nice little practice session. & practice, even with the lowly little .22LR, will help your shooting skills to develop.

As far as which .22LR to get it's hard to go wrong with damn near any well know make of firearm. Ruger makes a superb autoloading pistol as well as a decent single action revolver in .22LR & .22 Magnum. CZ makes a much talked about line of .22LR bolt action rifles. Browning makes fine autoloading pistols in .22LR. Smith & Wesson & Taurus have both pistols & revolvers to choose from. Remington makes a superb line of .22 rifles as does Marlin. But my favorite for a host of reasons is the Ruger 10/22.

Next I'd list the shotgun. In fact if a pragmatist was limited to one firearm a repeating shotgun of some sort would not disappoint. The main virtue of the shotgun is its versatility. By switching the ammo you can have a firearm that propels multiple projectiles or a very large single projectile. It's ideal for close range hunting of damn near any game in North America & is an ideal choice for close range defense against bipedal predators. I would also advise getting a 12 gauge. For the recoil sensitive people out there (& it's nothing to be ashamed of) you can use target loads in your 12 gauge to reduce the perceived kick. If it comes down to it Aguila makes a 1 & 3/4" (as opposed to 2 & 3/4" or 3") shotshell they call the Minishell. They make slug, buckshot & birdshot loads. As you might imagine it doesn't have as much projectile as the longer shotshells but a 7/8 slug or 5/8 ounce of birdshot will get most jobs done that you need done at close range. The big plus is that they generate very little recoil so those who are sensitive to kick don't have to settle for a smaller gauge (not that there's anything wrong with 16, 20 or 28 gauge guns).

Remington makes perhaps the best pump action shotgun available in the model 870. There are other very reliable & very decent pump action shotguns out there but I've always had a soft spot for the 870. One other one I will mention is the Ithace model 37. It's another one of JMB's designs & as such I wouldn't feel slighted with it at all. (For more on JMB look here, here & here.)

Of course being somewhat of a traditionalist I have a big soft spot for double barrel shotguns; particularly side by sides. My grandfather was an avid bird hunter in his youth & the first firearm I ever had any exposure to was his L.C. Smith 12 gauge field grade. Unfortunately it was stolen from him when I was still a teenager. I'm primarily a rifle person so I could never justify spending a grand or two on a long gun that doesn't have any rifling although when I think of the old man & the look in his eyes when he'd tell me about dove hunting with his favorite pointer I'm tempted to sell something & find an L.C. Smith that needs a good home. In the meantime however I'm making due with a rather enjoyable & economical Brazilian side by side imported by Stoeger called the Uplander. I doubt my grandfather would turn his nose up if he'd have been handed one though I'm sure he wouldn't have favored it to his Smith.

But there are automatics as well as single shots & over/unders made by many manufacturers. Depending on your needs finding something suitable won't be nearly as difficult as narrowing the selection down.

Handguns are next on the list. Revolver or auto is strictly a matter of preference. Personally I'm intrigued by the S&W model 610 although I haven't acquired one for various reasons. The steel frame 10mm EAA Witness is another one I've had my eye on. Keep in mind though that the fit & feel of a handgun are the most important things to consider. A gun that fits comfortably in your hand may feel awkward in mine. & recoil that you're comfortable with may cause me to flinch. So try to narrow your choices to handguns that feel comfortable in your hand when you hold it & cartridges that are tolerable when you shoot them.

Now if you're thinking I'm a fan of the 10mm you'd be correct. It's odd because I don't own one & can't honestly say I've ever fired one, but the external ballistics have me hooked. A full powered 10mm load would be ideal for hunting medium to large sized thin skinned game & I wouldn't feel too peevish about carrying one into brown bear country. But the thing that has me most intrigued is that in my opinion the 10mm would make the ideal cartridge for military use. It'd be a much more decisive fight stopper than the 9x19mm & I'd wager it'd be more effective than the much revered .45 ACP. But that's another discussion all by itself.

The important thing to remember about handguns is that their main purpose is to allow you to fight you way to your long guns. So without further ado...

Rifles are what make my world go round. & nothing spins it faster than an accurate rifle. Remington, Browning, Ruger, Savage & many other make brand spanking new bolt rifles that will usually shoot better than you can right out of the box. Those same companies also make fine auto-loading rifles. A few companies even make single shot break open rifles.

But in my opinion there is no finer product offered today than the ones offered by the Civilian Marksmanship Program. They sell government surplus 1903 Springfields, 1903A3 Springfields, 1917 Enfields & M1 Garands. All four rifles are chambered for the .30-06 Springfield cartridge & as such I cannot think of any man or beast in North America that would not be deterred by its judicious use. Now in keeping with the original theme of B.A.G. can anyone think of a way to piss off Michael Moore, Sarah Brady or any others of their particular ilk more than to buy a battle rifle from the U.S. government? I think not.

Another reason to buy the Garand in particular is that it can have 5 (count 'em - 5!!!) of the features that make a semi-automatic firearm into an evil "assault rifle". Reese Surplus has some BM-59 folding stocks that will fit on the Garand. That'd knock out the folding stock & conspicuously protruding pistol grip. The Garand's gas system uses a threaded part on the barrel that will accept a flash suppressor so even if you don't have one that knocks out that requirement. All Garands come with a bayonet lug - it's part of the gas system. & finally Numrich Gun Parts among others offers grenade launchers for the Garand. So all 5 of the evil features can be on your rifle at the same time. The only thing lacking is the "high capacity" detachable magazine.

One rifle, sold to you by the government that can have 5 of the 6 features that the hoplophobes feared so much they sought to make them illegal. I'd say that alone would be reason enough to buy a Garand. Of course I am of the opinion that the Garand is the finest piece of machinery available, so forgive me if my bias shows.

But just as important as the platform you select to launch projectiles from are the projectiles themselves. Or more precisely the cartridge. If you only want one or two rifles in your collection then a general purpose cartridge such as the .30-06 or .270 Winchester would be what to look for. But if you don't mind having two or more cartridges in your ammo locker then I'd say there are three areas you'd want to focus on: a small bore, a medium bore & a large bore. Now keep in mind these are all dependent upon your needs: I'm only offering an opinion.

For a small bore I'd look at one of the medium velocity .22's such as the .223 or the .222 Remington Magnum. They're not the fastest out there but they're close enough to give good performance without the decreased barrel life offered by the .220 Swift or the .22/250 Remington. & I'd prefer a decent bolt action but I wouldn't be opposed to an accurate autoloader since these cartridges would be limited to target shooting & varmint hunting. So don't misunderstand - I am not telling you to get an AR-15 for defense from anything other than prairie dogs. A decent variable powered scope would be a must no matter what type of rifle as the targets are often small & far away, but occasionally closer than you'd need a 14x scope for.

I also wouldn't discount the .243 Winchester or some other 6mm cartridge to bridge the gap between a small bore & medium bore. Truth be told for deer (not elk) & varmints a .243 is pretty close to ideal as long as you use the appropriate bullet weights for the game you're hunting.

For a medium bore I'm all set with the .30-06 Springfield. But the .270 Winchester, .280 Remington or any of the .30 caliber magnums would work just fine. & almost any action type will work depending on your needs. Bolt actions have a reputation for accuracy, but I've seen Garands that will shoot 1 inch groups at 100 yards.

For a large bore I'd look somewhere between the .338/06 & the .375 H&H Magnum. Personally I don't see a need for anything larger than the .375 H&H for any North American game, although if I were in Alaska amongst the grizzlies I might consider revising my standards considerably. But for me a .35 Whelen would be about ideal for anything that could be hunted. This has nothing to do with the fact that Garands can be chambered in that particular cartridge. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

If you plan to hunt in Africa then that's a whole ?nother ball game. I'm sure there's a host of people that could give more accurate detailed advice on which cartridges are best for Cape buffalo & other dangerous quadrupeds. But feel free to ask & I'll try to point you in the right direction.

I'd be remiss in not pointing out that the pistol caliber carbines such as the Ruger PC4, High Point carbine & M1 carbine fill a very unique, if somewhat limited niche & they'd be worth considering. Also the cheap surplus rifles aren't a bad idea especially for those on a budget. The SKS in 7.62x39mm, Mosin-Nagant in 7.62x54R, & 98 Mauser in 8mm can still be found relatively cheap.

So to sum it up I think everyone should have a .22LR (either handgun or long gun but preferably both), a shotgun, a centerfire handgun, & at least one rifle.

I regret that I won't be able to make any new (or used) purchases this week but by all means let me know if you do. Hearing from a reader who buys a firearm isn't quite as good as getting one myself, but it's definitely the next best thing. Thanks again to Aaron for not only coming up with the idea but for doing a lot of footwork on its behalf.

So do him, me & yourself a favor - go buy a firearm on the 15th.