So, we now approach the era of the new FDR. An era in which those in the Democrat Party see an opportunity to hammer American government and society against the anvil of Democrat dominance in power in order to forge and shape our homeland into one more to their tastes.
Key among their most fervent desires is to make it safer for them to do so. Something our Founding Fathers absolutely had no intention of. This is because the degree and level of change they ultimately desire is so extensive and opposed to what even the most apathetic non-voter would find acceptable, in the end, armed rebellion is likely if not prevented early on. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so too does collectivism abhor an armed citizenry. For the utopian vision of anti-liberty politicos like Obama, Clinton and all the other vermin soon descending upon the seats of power to succeed, the citizens must be controllable. They must be suppressible. They must be disarmed.
Many of you reading this have known this for some time, and others are just becoming aware of it. Many of you reading this already are armed, but some, while having supported in principle the idea of right to arms, have not previously felt the need to personally own a weapon,…yet. And for more and more of late, that is changing. As you might already be aware, guns have been selling briskly since Nov. 4th, on well-grounded fear that the worse round of federal gun-control legislation in our history is on the near horizon. In fact, so many guns are being bought that the federally required forms one must fill out when purchasing from a federally licensed dealer are in short supply. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) had previously insisted that only genuine forms received from them were allowable for the recording and processing of transactions. (It is unclear as to why. Typical bureaucratic BS.) But with the national stockpile of these forms nearly depleted, and gun shops around the country on the verge of running out and being forced to shut their doors, BATFE has temporarily relaxed the rule, allowing dealers to use photocopies of forms.
Doing something just because everyone else is perhaps seems to be not well thought out. And usually, that might be true. But imagine you are at the zoo, and suddenly all these people are running away from the area with the big sign that reads “PREDATORS”. It just might be prudent to head in the same direction.
This is the first in a series of articles wherein I shall attempt to illuminate you as to what choices you have in purchasing weapons. Weapons are nothing more than power tools. Like any tool, it is only as effective at its job as the user of the tool. A skilled user of tools recognizes that they may need several types of tools to perform different tasks. Believe it or not, this is also true of weapons. To understand what weapons you may one day require, you need to understand what weapon-related tasks you may need to perform. Only you can answer as to what those tasks may be. But I will try to help you imagine what situations the future may hold for you, so that you can arrive at your own conclusions. And based on these conclusions, I hope that you may be better informed (and soon) about what type of weaponry you ought to set about acquiring if you haven’t already. But tools are merely hardware. And hardware cannot run without software. Even if you end up acquiring an arsenal of weapons that would make the Terminator drool,…if you cannot effectively use them, they might as well be a bunch of hammers. Invest in quality weapon handling instruction. This is perhaps even more important than having the guns. Also, you will need ammo. A car cannot run without fuel, and guns cannot run without ammo. Imagine if you had to have a federally issued license to buy gasoline, but had to show a clear and convincing need for the gas you sought to buy. What if that gas cost $20 a gallon? Or $200? Ammunition may soon be regulated in such a way.
What Is Available?
Let me first lay out for you what the types of weapons are that can currently be bought in the United States at this time:
HANDGUNS: All handguns are portable, but not all are easily concealable. Handguns are notoriously poor tools for stopping an aggressive attack against you. That is because, of necessity, they are chambered for calibers that can be managed when merely held in the hand. Handguns are prevalent in American society because the task they are effective at is portability and concealability,…not lethality. Which is not to say handguns aren’t lethal. But of the classes of personal arms available, they are the least lethal, least accurate, most misunderstood and easiest to mishandle. People have been shot multiple times by handguns and lived, more often than you might be aware. Armies have not considered the handgun to be of much importance on the modern battlefield, and there is ample reason why. Yet, due to their size, it is easy to always have a handgun at hand, while the same cannot always be said of other weapons. After all, the first rule of a gunfight is: “Have a gun.”
RIFLES: While people shot with handguns often survive, that is not so true nearly as often when rifles are involved. They can be chambered for a wider variety and power level of cartridges, and are inherently more stable and accurate. This is why armies use them. Sub-classifications of modern rifles are:
Assault Rifles: Purist gun people will inform you that true “assault rifles” are select-fire; which means that the shooter can choose between shooting it as a machinegun or by merely firing once every time the trigger is pulled. And while that is technically true, most people today refer to any rifle which looks like an assault rifle as such. Assault rifles do not use the most powerful cartridges - fire 20, 30, even up to 100 times without reloading – tend to be shorter than most other types of rifles – are not made to the same levels of fine craftsmanship as more traditional guns.
Battle Rifles: These can look similar to assault rifles and often have many of the same features. However, “battle rifles” are rarely select-fire, chambered in heavier more effective cartridges, made to slightly better standards (sometimes much better) and meant to be able to engage targets at further distances than assault rifles.
Precision Rifles: Sometimes spoken of as “Sniper Rifles” or “Marksman Rifles”, these can include all manner of types and styles. Some assault rifles have been refined into precision rifles, though it is more common with battle rifles. But until very recently, a precision rifle was usually a bolt-action rifle, which 100 years ago was the design of choice for a military arm. But some are single-shots, while others are auto-loaders. They all have a magnifying optic or scope.
.50 Caliber Rifles: Usually simply referred to as “fifties”, these are rifles of any style that fire a specific military round known as the .50BMG (Browning Machine Gun). Half inch diameter is the largest rifled bore diameter citizens may own without requirements under federal law that the weapon be classified as a cannon and thereby more heavily regulated than a mere rifle. This class of weapon truly scares gun-control advocates and is threatened to the same degree as assault rifles.
Sporting Rifles: This category includes just about anything else that isn’t in the other categories, has none of the offending features that Congress dislikes and is therefore generally not considered a “weapon of war”. Which is not to say that sporting weapons cannot be used in warfare. They are simply not considered the preferred tools for the modern version of that task.
SHOTGUNS: Other typical firearms throw a single projectile and try to do so with as much accuracy as is possible. The word “shot”, while also having other meanings, in this instance refers to a payload of multiple projectiles within a single cartridge. Thus, “shot”guns are guns which fire shot, and do so from a smooth bore rather than a rifled one. (There is specialty ammo available for shotguns which fire single projectiles with some accuracy and there are even rifled barrels available, but that will be covered later.) As a result of this design, these guns will throw shot much as you might throw a handful of pebbles;…the group expands and opens up into a cloud of projectiles the further it travels. Thusly, their effective range is short. As a class, shotguns tend to be considered “sporting arms” and are at the least risk of federal regulation, but not all of them. The sub-categories of shotguns are:
Single-barrel: These are hinged designs (called ‘break-opens’ or ‘break-tops’) that only fire one round at a time, opened and loaded by hand between each shot. They are considered sporting arms.
Double-barrel: Essentially the same as a single-barrel, but with 2 of course.
Pump-action: These are repeating guns, capable of holding 5 or more rounds in a feed tube under the main barrel, which cycle by means of a shucking/pumping of the foregrip. Most of these are considered sporting arms, however, some are designed as fighting tools and called “Riot guns”.
Autoloader: Similar to pump-actions, except the cycling of the action is performed by utilizing the energy of the fired round. Many of this design are considered sporting arms, however, as with pump-actions, some are designed for combat.
Riot guns: Modified for combat, either pump-action or autoloaders which have barrels 20 inches or shorter, feed device capacity of greater than 5 rounds, and sometimes even means of mounting bayonets. Some riot shotguns have been fully automatic and held 20 rounds! Early combat shotguns in WW1 were nick-named “trench brooms”.
MACHINEGUNS: Yes, although they are more heavily regulated and not available to the citizens of all states, machineguns are legal to own in the U.S.,…for now. They are more expensive than “normal” guns, for reasons that will be explored later. But many people don’t use the word properly. Most believe it merely means any gun which fires more than 1 round with a pull of the trigger. Within this group, the sub-categories are:
Crew-served: Also most commonly referred to as “belt-fed” (think Rambo), though not all feed from a belt of linked ammunition. These guns were meant originally to simply pour fire on entire areas of the battlefield more like artillery than like aimed rifle fire. They still do that, but have evolved as well. Early models required mounting on tripods due to their size and weight. They fire rifle ammunition of different types and power levels. In military circles, this is the type of weapon referred to when they say “machinegun”.
Sub-machineguns: These are smaller more portable fully automatic or select-fire guns, which usually fire pistol caliber cartridges instead of rifle rounds. (Think of the Thompson “Tommygun” from gangster movies.) Simpler to manufacture, more were produced in times past, and they are correspondingly cheaper than crew-served machineguns. In fact, some are among the simplest guns of the modern age and can be fabricated with unsophisticated tools (just ask the Brits, Israelis or Vietnamese). Due to their pistol calibers and other design traits, these are usually employed at distances of less than a football field.
DESTRUCTIVE DEVICES: This catch-all category is one of two BATFE uses to regulate things such as grenades, short-barreled shotguns, cannons, rocket-launchers, flame-throwers, mortars and explosive weapons. Yes,…all of those things I just listed can be legally bought by qualified citizens. But they cost a lot, and are pretty much beyond the scope of this series. But we’ll touch on them briefly later.
SHORT-BARRELED RIFLES: Heavily regulated just like machineguns and destructive devices, short-barreled rifles are nothing more than exactly as the name implies. According to federal law, any rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches.
“ANY OTHER WEAPON” (AOW): BATFE’s other catch-all category that includes certain types of short-barreled shotguns not classified as destructive devices, as well as disguised weapons such as pen-guns and cell phone guns. Due to a bureaucratic difference in interpretation, while still regulated heavily, these are more affordable than all other federally regulated weapons.
SILENCERS: More accurately and properly known as “suppressors”, while not actually a firearm are none the less treated by federal law as such. They are also so very key and unique that we will devote some time to this category.
We will begin to delve into why and how to choose a weapon or weapons suited to you in our very next chapter. But for now, lets understand the market for firearms.
Everything has a price, and that price is affected by supply and demand. There is ALWAYS a supply and there is ALWAYS a demand. Prices are merely the expression of the degree to which these two forces are opposed. Regulation and prohibition only affects supply or demand, but NEVER eliminates either. Where there is little or no regulation, prices are reasonable. Where there is prohibition, prices are quite unreasonable. What we are experiencing in the firearm market right now is similar to the fear gripping Wall Street. Bad news for the market looms on the horizon, and everyone feels it coming. But while on Wall Street this drives prices down, with firearms, the prices go up. On Wall Street, if eventually nothing happens, prices will go back up. While with weapons, if eventually nothing happens, prices will come back down. And both are affected by who’s running government.
And just as there are past financial troubles to refer to for study of what to expect, so too are there past examples of bad news for access to guns, which explain a lot of the current panic in the firearms market. Let’s examine them:
GUN CONTROL ACT OF 1968 (GCA 68): Prior to that year, guns could be sold to anyone of any age, and could be ordered through the mail. Surplus guns from wars around the world were often advertised for mail order in backs of magazines. As easy to buy as any other hardware store item. But the fear that permeated the turbulent 60’s created unique opportunity for gun-haters. Key political and cultural figures had been assassinated. Youth culture and drug culture seemed alien and threatening to those outside of them. But most importantly, blacks were organizing and on the move. Militant sub-groups within each of these had shocked the nation. To the average citizen, it seemed lawlessness and disrespect for patriotic establishmentarianism was threatening to consume the nation. Playing on these perceptions, the GCA was sold as measures to fight militarism and violent crime. Among the measures the GCA instituted: all commercially sold guns now had to be sold by federally licensed dealers – no more ordering of guns through the mail, importation of surplus war weapons ceased (introducing for the first time into gun law the concept of whether a gun had a “sporting purpose”), explosives could now only be bought through similarly licensed dealers, and many wall-hanger surplus or war-trophy guns that had previously been considered “non-guns” because they had been rendered inoperable were re-interpreted as “readily repairable” to be functioning machineguns and were therefore actual machineguns (which had to be registered for “tax” purposes).
As a result, some interesting things happened. Many criminals who used to merely buy weapons at the hardware store like everyone else began to steal them instead. Thusly, while guns had always been among the items of value a burglar might steal from a home, their value had increased, guaranteeing they would be taken. The cheap surplus guns from around the world suddenly became collector pieces since the supply had been cut off. Old German pistols and rifles left over from both world wars that used to sell for under $100 were now commanding several hundred dollars. Many poor folks suddenly had to pay more to get guns. Much of prejudiced white America thought this was fine, since armed poor inner-city ethnic minorities was the principle group blamed for America’s problems. But rural working poor folks also had to pay more for their guns too.
NOV. 1981 BATF MACHINEGUN RULING: Fear of war with the USSR and of economic collapse due to the inflation and poor economy of the past several years had created the “survivalist” movement that began in the late 70’s. People began to fear a future they saw as uncertain and began to arm themselves with military style weapons at a pace some found alarming. The poorly conceived War On Drugs had been going on enough years by then to have raised the stakes considerably, so violence in the drug underworld was on the rise. They too used military style weapons. One of the weapons popular to both survivalists and the drug thugs was a style of handguns and short rifles based on sub-machineguns that operated from an “open-bolt” design. This design of operation was simple and cheaper to produce than “closed-bolt” designs. But partly due to their simplicity, “open-bolt” designs were easily modifiable with simple tools to operate fully automatically as a machinegun. Some had been used in high profile underworld killings. So, just as the Tommygun had in the alcohol prohibition days, the MAC-10 (the most common of the “open-bolt” designs) brought about new regulations. But this time, an act of Congress was not needed. With powers granted to it by the GCA of 68’, BATF made a regulatory declaration that it had determined that these “open-bolt” designs (although they had been previously approved by BATF for sale in the U.S.) were so “readily convertible” to machineguns that they would no longer be allowed to be manufactured. As when any supply suddenly becomes limited to only those which already exist, prices for the existing “open-bolt” guns in private hands went up considerably. A simple MAC-10 prior to Nov. of 1981 sold new for $180. But by 1984, if you could find one for sale, they were usually $500. Today, if you find one for under $1200, you are doing quite well.
1986 MACHINEGUN BAN: Since the GCA of 68’, all guns imported to the U.S. had to meet the silly “sporting purpose” clause of the act. This included machineguns and sub-machineguns. But as long as one was willing to pay the $200 tax and go through the onerous registering procedure, you were still able to buy machineguns made in the USA, or as some did, build your own from various surplus parts available. Prior to 86’ it was possible to buy a cut up surplus British STEN sub-machinegun for $20, pay the $200 tax, and fabricate a newly reincarnated WW2 weapon used by the allies in Europe. Attached as a poison-pill rider to the Gun-Owner’s Protection Act (GOPA) of 1986, which was actually meant to undo various gun-control schemes, it got passed anyway. The rider simply banned any further manufacture of machineguns for civilian sale, but left the existing supply legal to be bought and sold. Once again, prices began to climb. By 1989, that $20 STEN was $500, without the tax. By 1996, it was $2500. Today, just try to find a transferable STEN for less than $5000! In fact, federally registered machineguns have the best investor record of any and all commodities.
1989 ASSAULT WEAPON IMPORT BAN: After the mentally disturbed racist Patrick Purdy used an imported Chinese semi-automatic AK-47 rifle to shoot up a kindergarten playground in Stockton, California that year, President George H.W. Bush by executive order banned further importation of assault weapons, leaving only those made in the USA available for new retail purchase. Suddenly, that same affordable Chinese AK-47, raised in value. Previously available for just $269, overnight they were $600 or more. Some of these same models today, because of their collector value (although other models of AK-47s are available) sell for $900 or more. Some of the more exotic European arms, like the the Steyr AUG, which sold for the incredibly expensive sum of around $850 prior to 1989, now sell for over $3000.
THE 1994 ASSAULT WEAPON BAN: With a fake Republican like Bush as President, gun-control proponents were gaining ground. While cheap imported assault weapons had been eliminated, some of those same banned models were now being assembled from parts here in the U.S. and sold as made in the USA. So thanks to the singular sell-out Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Az., the 94’AWB passed. Drawing on the silly “sporting purpose” language first fostered in the GCA of 68’, semi-automatic rifles could still be produced and sold, but they could have no more than one of any of a list of features said to be characteristic of assault weapons;…flash-suppressor, bayonet lug, pistol grip, detachable feed device capacity of more than 10 rounds, or muzzle-launching attachments. Again, “pre-ban” examples of these guns began to skyrocket. A U.S. made version of the Belgian FN/FAL battle rifle was sold by Springfield Armory prior to 1994 for about $675. By 1995, they were $1100 or more. Although the 94’ AWB had a “sunset” provision in it that automatically repealed the ban after 10 years, many individual states not friendly to gun ownership passed their own bans, and in some of these states, only assault weapons made prior to the 1989 or 1994 federal bans are legal to be sold or traded. As a result, the prices for these “pre-ban” examples are still high, because they are all that some people can legally buy.
So from these examples in recent history, we see a regular and repeating pattern. The supply is restricted, but the demand remains (or even increases), and so the prices go up.
Have prices ever come down? Yes, on occasion, but not nearly as often as they have gone up. Two examples come to mind – 1988 “Dole Amendment”: Many sportsmen had long been exasperated by the provision of the GCA of 68’ which banned surplus war rifles from importation and had been pushing for years to at least let some of these now (by modern standards) low-tech arms to be imported again. In 1988, Sen. Bob Dole attached a rider to a bill favored to pass through Congress which did exactly that, and surplus bolt-action rifles from countries around the world began coming into the country again. Some of these rifles that could no longer be had after the GCA of 68’ had appreciated quite nicely were now depreciating as their brethren could once again be had for as little as $50. - Expiration of the 94’AWB: When the 94’AWB expired in November of 2004 and domestically manufactured assault weapons were once again available new for retail, the market for “pre-ban” arms reduced somewhat. But since in some states they were still all that could be sold, they did not depreciate fully, and instead simply became items of interest to a wholly separate market, while folks in western states (primarily) bought new rifles at newly reasonable prices.
So while it is possible that money you spend on a firearm today may at a future date become diminished in value, the likelihood is that in the future many gun folks dread is on the near horizon, that money spent on guns will instead retain value at the very least, and very probably increase. In fact, having learned from mistakes they made in the text of the previous bans that still allowed a limited amount of loopholes through which a few assault rifles were still able to be made and sold, the gun-haters fully intend to make the next versions more restrictive and more onerous than before. And permanent, they have willingly admitted. Some consider it likely that assault weapons will be made a new class of weapons included in the National Firearms Act (NFA) registry, just like machineguns and cannons, along with the $200 transfer tax whenever they are sold to new owners. Likely they too would receive a permanent cap on their production, with only those already in existence to ever be allowed. Which of course would only be a temporary bargain until it is later decided to ban and confiscate everything.
As a result of the certainty many feel about what is going to be coming in the way of legislation from the Obama Administration, prices have begun to go up and some items are scarce already, before the man has even taken office. It will only get worse. Those of us in the gun community who have lived through these other examples of price fluctuations and increases I have mentioned are ourselves in full panic-buying mode, spending even money we don’t have to acquire every last bit that we can before they are “grandfathered” and no more allowed to be made. Paranoia, you say? Perhaps. But a foreign-born black man is President and the Cardinals are in the Super Bowl, so Hell has definitely frozen over. Dinosaurs could be roaming the earth tomorrow. Anything is possible.