Americans should be proud to love firearms . . . and freedom

At one of the local thrift shops this week I picked up the fifth ever weekly issue of Sports Illustrated — Sept. 13, 1954. The magazine has one major article, each, on college football (no NFL — my dad reported the pro league was still considered largely disreputable back then, sort of like professional wrestling); baseball; auto racing; boxing (Rocky Marciano vs. Ezzard Charles), mountain-climbing, hunting, and spearfishing.

Only one sport in that fledgling “Time, Inc.” product of 60 years ago merited THREE MAJOR FEATURES: A feature with color photos on American skeet team captain (and Cuban native) Carola Mandel; a second feature on 13-year-old trapshooter Johnny Lilly winning the under-21 Grand American Handicap Tournament in Vandalia, Ohio (thousands attended); and a major flashback piece to the Great Rifle Match of 1874 between the U.S. and Ireland, shot at ranges out to 1,000 yards, and won — after they ran neck-and-neck all day — on the last shot.

The point? We need to remember — and to remind the younger generation — that the climate of hatred, fear, ignorance and scorn for firearms that we see in much of America today is historically aberrant. It is unnatural, dangerous to our survival as a nation, purposely manufactured by people with an ulterior motive — members of urban political and media elites who sneer at everyone out in those “Red States” as “barefoot yokels,” smug and arrogant know-it-alls who wouldn’t know how to rack a slide if their lives depended on it, but who prefer their peasants subservient and disarmed.

In 1785, Thomas Jefferson wrote to his 15-year-old nephew, Peter Carr, that “as the best form of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprize, and independance to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.”

Is this “ridiculously out-of-date advice — after all, no one out walking in Virginia today is likely to be attacked by Wild Indians!?”

Actually, Jefferson was equally unlikely to be attacked by “wild Indians” in 1785. But my doctor advises me to walk a couple of miles, when I can. Living in one of our Southwestern deserts, the only time of day this is feasible in the summer is at night. There are mountain lions in this valley. I carry a sidearm. It’s not a flintlock.

As our friend John Ross reminded us in his novel “Unintended Consequences,” thousands of Americans used to flock to shooting events every weekend — as participants and spectators – with fewer casualties on average than a stock car race or aerobatics demonstration.

Throughout the 19th and the 20th centuries, exhibition shooters including Adolf and Elizabeth Topperwein, Annie Oakley, and Ed McGivern were names as well known in America as any sports celebrity today. Ad Topperwein once hit 14,540 two-and-half-inch hand-thrown wooden blocks out of the air . . . . in a row. Ed McGivern could toss a tin can in the air and drill it with his revolver — all six rounds, mind you — before it hit the ground. Annie Oakley didn’t just shoot holes through playing cards with her rifle — she set them edge-on and sliced them in half, to the cheers of the paid-admission throngs.

In all of America’s wars, through Korea, officers could assume young recruits entering the armed forces not only could read and understand a technical manual, but also knew how to hit a squirrel at 50 yards. Think today’s typical urban youth can do either of those things?


How on earth did we get from there to widows today calling the police and whining, “My husband left guns in this house. I’m afraid to even touch them because they might go off. Could you come and haul them away?”

Yes, young men create a shocking toll of death by fighting over drug territories in our inner cities every weekend. But since guns used to be MORE commonly seen in America, we need to look for our causes at what’s changed — the massively unconstitutional and counterproductive “War on Some Drugs,” to start with, and then young men growing up in fatherless welfare homes.

If guns cause crime, why is it states with no “gun control” have tiny crime rates?

I used to ride around my suburban Connecticut home town on my bicycle in the 1960s, carrying my .22-caliber rifle; no one ever worried young Vinnie was out to commit mayhem. When I went away to boarding school in Massachusetts -– Massachusetts! -– at the age of 12, I took my rimfire rifle. We practiced on an indoor range in the basement of the gym. I’ve lived in many parts of the country since then; many an old-timer has confided that the local high school, if built before 1970, has a target range in the basement, though they’re locked up and never spoken of, today.

I wonder how many features on competitive shooting I’d find in this week’s Sports Illustrated?

But you can bet there’ll be a piece on the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP threatening to boycott the NFL because no team has opted to sign Colin Kaepernick, a mixed-race player whose insistence on prominently showing his disrespect for the flag and the national anthem (based on his claim that the U.S. in 2017 “oppresses black people”) has been driving fans away in droves.

Would that be the same NFL, I wonder, that now reports 67 percent of its salaried players are black, making AVERAGE salaries of $2 million per year (yes, that’s the AVERAGE, per Forbes Magazine, which reports the MINIMUM NFL salary is now $420,000)? And they’re about to be boycotted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a step which can have no realistic goal but to make sure a few of the more marginal franchises will go broke, close down, and send all their two-million-dollar-a-year players to the unemployment lines?

Of course athlete Kaepernick has a First Amendment right to declare the United States in 2017 “oppresses” black people — even though millions of black Africans would love to come here, and not very many African-Americans seem anxious to relocate to Africa, or anywhere else.

But the same Constitution gives the private owners of football franchises — which are in the entertainment business, living or dying on ticket sales and the size of their TV audience — the right to do without players whose public antics and pronouncements are already driving away fans in droves.

(It would apparently come as a shock to some of these millionaire crybabies to learn that many of us spent our working lives in an America where bosses actually insisted that — instead of purposely ALIENATING the paying customers, flipping them the bird and telling them to “Fuck off” — paid employees were required to come to work clean-shaven, well-groomed, and with no visible tattoos, to avoid being repeatedly busted for girlfriend-beating, grand theft, and drunken brawls, and that whining that this violated your “First Amendment right to free expression” would get you plenty of time to express yourself as you saw fit . . . on the unemployment line. Are they under the impression we’re somehow REQURED to tune in six to eight games a week — now including Monday nights, Thursday nights, and December Saturdays — to watch paroled felons we’ve otherwise never heard of play two-hand touch for cellar-dwelling franchises out of Tennessee and Jacksonville, in games announced by “commentators” whose contracts forbid them from saying anything that might displease “The League” . . . even including any mention of the betting line? These aren’t “commentators” — they’re paid-up Ladies of the Evening!)

Meantime, if we’re going to insist on “racial equity” in sports and everywhere else (not MY idea, mind you), forget about the need to more than double the number of white guys out on that field; I want to know how the owners are going to get those NFL rosters up to 5.7 percent “Asian.”


Finally, let us not lose the argument before it begins, by adopting the oppressor’s terminology.

No gun-grabber in America has ever sought to ban “large-capacity magazines.” They seek to ban the “normal capacity magazines” with which those firearms were designed to function.

And our opponents are not in favor of “gun control” — since nothing they have proposed or tried has ever “controlled” the ability of criminals to acquire and use firearms.

What they favor is “Victim Disarmament.”

She had pepper spray with her when she was attacked on Florida State University’s campus in 2014, the victim testified. But the spray did not stop the attacker.

Citing 4Jax, Breitbart News reported on Aug. 6 that college campus rape survivor Shayna Lopez-Rivas testified: “He had a knife. I had pepper spray. And even though I ran for blue lights that are scattered all around, (he was) faster, stronger, and I did not win.”

She said she now carries a gun and the next attacker will not find her to be easy prey. Ms. Lopez-Rivas testified that if she had had her gun with her in 2014 she could have stopped that attacker in his tracks. She said “The way that I carry it now, I would have been able to prevent what happened to me.”

Lopez-Rivas was asking Florida legislators to pass campus carry so women with concealed carry permits can carry their guns on campus for self-defense.

Campus carry is the law of the land in Georgia, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Ohio, and Idaho. It also took effect in Arkansas on Sept. 15.

“The left consistently responds to campus carry proposals by warning that campus crime will increase or that women will actually be endangered if campus carry is enacted,” comments Breitbart Second Amendment columnist AWR Hawkins. But “In the real world, the enactment of campus carry has not led to violence and mayhem. Rather, it simply provides a means by which law-abiding citizens — including vulnerable female students — can be armed to defend their lives and dignity.”

(A version of this column appeared in a recent newsstand issue of “Firearms News.” Vin’s first column on the October First mass shooting in Las Vegas will appear in “Firearms News” this month, and will be posted here soon. Meantime, ask yourself this: If you’ve got a couple of spare springs on your workbench, do you want the ATF to be empowered to arrest you for “possession of components that could be used to assemble a ‘bump-stock'”?)

7 Comments to “Americans should be proud to love firearms . . . and freedom”

  1. K. Bill Hodges Says:

    Modern day Sports Illustrated got kicked out of my office waiting room when they posted a video saying Kaepernick will be remembered as great for what he did. I do give Kaepernick a lot of credit for getting Trump elected.

  2. Henry Says:

    Really? Because I can’t remember hearing word one about Kaepernick until well AFTER Trump was elected. Before that, we are to assume that the flag actually represented Commander Lightbringer and Eric the Boy Wonder, and where was the impetus to protest THAT?

    Love the article, by the way. Gun Laws author Alan Korwin continually points out that the shooting sports are still, today, America’s *number two* most popular participant sport, either just behind or just ahead of golf, I forget the current rankings.

  3. Steve Says:

    Astounding. Maybe some of them are “getting it”.

    By Leah Libresco
    October 3, 2017 at 3:02 PM

    Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

    Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way.

  4. Vin Says:

    Hi, Steve — Research like Leah Libresco’s is, unfortunately, as counterproductive as researching drowning deaths in an attempt to find effective ways to keep potential drowning victims — that being all the rest of us — out of contact with water.

    3,800 people may accidentally drown in the United States each year, and it would indeed be nice to reduce that number. But I’m afraid setting out to make sure the other 300 million of us have no access to water might do more harm than good, since we would all pretty reliably die of thirst within three to four days.

    Similarly, the fact that some 33,000 Americans suffer “firearms deaths” each year is a sobering statistic — even after it’s made clear that most of those are seriously ill older men committing suicide, that only 11,000 to 12,000 are “firearms homicides,” of which many are young men fighting over “drug distribution turf” (a method of dispute resolution to which for some reason the drivers of Budweiser and Miller beer trucks seldom need to resort), and that another substantial number represent dangerous felons shot to death while committing serious crimes, sometimes even by police.

    But I don’t think my comparison is inappropriate. Just as “keeping us all safe from water” would cause us all to die in less than a week, we need to ask what REALLY happens in countries where the gun-grabbers get their wish, and the great masses of people have no access to firearms, at all.

    In the Soviet Union from 1929 to0 1945, Comrade Stalin found it very convenient that his political opponents — and Ukrainian farmers who resisted “collectivization” — were all disarmed. He murdered 20 million of them, many by purposeful starvation. (Those starved will surely spring back to life with great rejoicing when they hear the gun-grabbers insist “starvation deaths don’t count.”)

    Even if we assume there hasn’t been a single government murder in the former USSR since 1945 (Ha!), that means the AVERAGE murder rate of unarmed civilians by their own government, there — made possibly only by their complete effective disarmament — was 200,000 per year for every year of the Twentieth century.

    Better than well-armed America, protected from government tyranny by being well-armed, and suffering 12,000 firearms homicides per year — most of which could be eliminated by re-legalizing all plant extracts, as they were all legal from 1607 to 1914?

    In Germany from 1933 to0 1945, Chancellor Hitler found it very convenient that his political opponents — as well as virtually all his growing empire’s scapegoated Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals, cripples, and lots of other “undesirables” — were disarmed. He, too, murdered 20 million.

    Even if we assume there hasn’t been a single murder in Gross Deutschland since 1945, that means the AVERAGE murder rate of unarmed civilians by their own government, there — made possibly only by their complete effective disarmament — was 200,000 per year for every year of the Twentieth century. Better than well-armed America, protected from government tyranny by being well-armed, and suffering 12,000 firearms homicides per year — most of which could be eliminated by re-legalizing all plant extracts, as they were all legal from 1607 to 1914?

    In Communist China from 1949 to 1976, Chairman Mao found it very convenient that his political opponents were all disarmed. He murdered at least 30 million of them. Even if we assume there hasn’t been a single government murder in mainland China since 1976 (Ha!), that means the average murder rate of unarmed civilians by their own government, there — made possibly only by their complete effective disarmament — was 300,000 per year for every year of the Twentieth century.

    Better than well-armed America, protected from government tyranny by being well-armed, and suffering 12,000 firearms homicides per year — most of which could be eliminated by re-legalizing all plant extracts, as they were all legal from 1607 to 1914?

    Before we take away people’s access to water in a “well-intentioned” effort to keep them from drowning, we need to ask whether their access to water may actually be saving more lives than it costs — a whole LOT more.

    Before we attempt to take away a people’s access to firearms (in violation of the founding document of this country, by the way, without which the government would have no right to exist, at all), shouldn’t we ask whether their possession of firearms may not be saving more lives than it costs?

    Or shall we just assume that Madison, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Adams — the whole gang whose statues the Democrats now want to tear down — were a bunch of morons?

    I search in vain in the work product of Leah Libresco and her outfit for a single word about the BENEFITS of private firearms ownership. And we haven’t even gotten to Maryann Watkins’ account of what the would-be rapist with the coil of rope around his arm said after he approached her in the deserted Arizona highway rest stop, declaring “I’m gonna have some REEEEEEAL fun now!!”

    Producing her Ruger from her fanny-pack and centering its sights on his chest, she responded: “If you want to play, we’ll play with this.”

    “Bitches with guns,” he complained, over and over again, as she backed to her car and drove away. “Bitches with guns.”

  5. K. Bill Hodges Says:

    Here you go, Henry. Don’t know how you could have missed it.

  6. Steve Says:

    Vin, I think you missed the point of that opinion piece.

    They actually admit all their efforts to restrict firearms ownership is wrong if their goal is to prevent deaths due to violent attack. Whatever the weapon of choice.


    “We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.”

    is their own conclusion.

    It appears to me, they seem to have discovered (using their own means) what we have been saying all along.

  7. L. Neil Smith Says:

    As somebody once said, “Guns cause crime the way flies cause garbage”.