George Block Column

Plenty of mistakes made by those talking about guns

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It was a dark, rainy evening, and I was driving south on Route 19 when a critter darted in front of my car, and I hit the breaks. I know this is a common occurrence in Washington County, shown by the many deer carcasses littering the roadside. Only this time, it wasn’t a deer but a person rushing to get to Ace Sporting Goods. The store’s parking lot was filled, and customers were parking across the road in the lot of the now defunct Washington Animal Hospital.


To the dismay of the anti-gun people, firearm sales have never been brisker, and there were probably as many guns sold in a week as were sold in the last three months.


Why?


Just look at an approaching snow storm and watch the people flock to get bread and milk. When the storm clouds appear on the horizon, people naturally stockpile. The results appear in the local stores in the guise of empty gun racks where previouly there was a supply of military styled assault rifles that are used in many rifle matches. That’s right. Some competitions require the use of a military style rifle.


Years ago, when my hair was red, shooters utilized the .03 Springfield. It was called the Garand and M-14. Today, they are those funny looking rifles that mimic the M-16, but there is a major difference: The majority of these rifles fire in the semiautomatic mode only. Technically, they are not assault rifles because an assault rifle can be fired in a fully automatic mode.


The real assault doesn’t lie in the rifle but in the attack by those who understand little of firearms and assault the law-abiding gun owners. They call cartridges bullets, which is like calling a car a tire. They talk of super cartridges, when in reality, the round used in the AK-47 and the M-16 is hardly as potent as ones used in a deer hunting rifle.


I believe if you want to write about a subject, then you should learn the nomenclature.


Large-capacity magazines are also on the anti-gun hit list. It takes but a second to replace an eight-round clip, so the magazine capacity means little. With the threat on magazine sales, they have all but disappeared from the dealers’ shelves. The supply of certain ammo has dried up under a threat of a ban. I expect a similar threat to a reloading component, despite the fact I have never heard of a crime committed with handloads.


It is strange that in the face of every tragedy involving guns, the first thing that comes to some is increased gun control, despite the fact it doesn’t work. We saw it in the 1960s and 1990s. Did it eliminate illegal shootings? As long as we have evil and unstable people in society, we will have tragedy.


Blame the gun, but less then one percent of the accidents that occur in the U.S. involve firearms. There are three times as many assault preventions by the use of a firearm than crimes committed with a firearm. Have any of those shootings ever occurred in a police station or gun club, where everyone is armed? The perpetrator might but crazy, but he isn’t dumb.


Some of the solutions seem ludicrous at best. For example: a rifle without a bayonet lug is alright, while one with a lug is bad. I can picture someone entering a store or bank with an AK-47 equipped with a bayonet. Give me your money or I’ll stab you. Somewhere along the lines, you would think it would sink in: criminals break the law. That’s why they are criminals. We do live in a dangerous world.


For those who don’t know, here is a quick lesson on firearms:


A cartridge, sometimes called ammunition, is made up of four components: primer, casing, powder and bullet. Casing is the container for the other parts. Primer is the spark that ignites the powder when struck by the firing pin. Powder is the burnable material that gives off gases as it burns, building up pressure that pushes the bullet down the barrel. The bullet is the part of the cartridge that flies out of a barrel and strikes a subject. A bullet is usually made of lead or a lead-copper mixture.


A semiautomatic fires each time the trigger is pulled and is sometimes called a self-loader. An automatic weapon, often called a machine gun, fires as long as the trigger is pressed or until the magazine runs out of bullets.


A full-jacketed bullet is a military-type bullet with no soft or hollow-point tip. It’s made not to expand.


A soft-point bullet has lead exposed at the tip and is made to expand on contact. It’s used for hunting but outlawed for military use by the Geneva Convention. It does more damage on contact than full-metal jacket rounds that are commonly used in AK and M-1 styles of firearms.



George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.


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