The reasonable gun nut

By David Bowman



Salon Staff
September 11, 2000 11:49PM (UTC)

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I am an NRA member who has also been an ACLU member: I support gun rights AND abortion rights, equal rights for all and ending the war on drugs. I think you'll find the ACLU, PFLAG, etc. as lacking in jocularity (and compromise) in their areas of expertise as the NRA is. Also, the NRA is not pushing for the greater availability of AK-47s. They do wish, as do I, to see semi-auto clones of AK-47s no more regulated than the hunting rifles they are functionally equivalent to. You can take an ordinary hunting rifle and make it an "assault rifle" under the 1994 law by putting various cosmetic features on it , if you haven't modified it to fire more than one shot with each pull of the trigger, and that makes no sense to me.

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Our society is done a great disservice by the over-simplistic view that all violence is wrong. An infinitely healthier view would be the martial arts attitude that one should do as much as possible to avoid violence, but then be capable of switching into wolverine mode if doing so would prevent a violent crime.

As a member of PFLAG, I would have preferred to see Matthew Shepard defend himself with a handgun, rather than dying horribly as a result of gay bashing. Based on what they are asking for, today's gun control advocates would rather see him as a dead symbol than a live survivor adept at self-defense. That is sickening to me.

-- Don Baldwin

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David Bowman's interview with historian Michael Bellesiles was both interesting and troubling. I find Bellesiles' credibility stretched through his technical inaccuracies (which is only matched by the volume of historical rebuttal he has received from his analysis of gun ownership through probate records in revolutionary America). For example:

  • Bellesiles talks of 15-round clips for Kalashnikov-series rifles. I have held 10-round AK magazines, and an occasional 20-rounder, but no 15-rounders. The standard magazine is 30 rounds.

  • Bellesiles claims the "Street Sweeper" -- outlawed by Congress in 1994 -- was renamed the Tech DC. Given that the Street Sweeper was a 12-gauge shotgun, and the Tech (9) DC is a 9mm handgun, Bellesiles' research seems impaired.

  • On a historical note, Bellesiles asserts that probate records of the Revolutionary War period were very detailed and showed few guns in private ownership (Concord and Lexington aside?). A scan of records of that period from Powhatan, Va., shows the level of detail to be like the following "detailed" excerpt:

    "20 acres of land known as Jefferson Ford, 2 draft horses, one wagon."

    I hesitate to criticize Salon, Bowman or Bellesiles, but all in all, the selected source appears to be unreliable.

    -- Guy Smith


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