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View Full Version : It's just a piece of machinery


Lissauer
10-19-2009, 6:01 AM
I like the way this guy writes.

Paul Markel touches on a subject that many in the industry would prefer to ignore: the schism between hunters and modern rifle enthusiasts.

"It's just a piece of machinery. They all look the same. There's no pride in craftsmanship." remarked a noted outdoor writer and famed hunter during a recent industry event. A second like-minded individual responded, "Sure they're fine for shooting varmints or prairie dogs, but this craze will come to an end soon." Naturally, they were discussing the Stoner-based self-loading rifle in its many forms.

For more than a decade I have listened as shooting sports "purists" have denigrated and apologized for the "evil" black rifle. Not so long ago I was standing in a gun shop when one of the regulars remarked that "I can see banning some kinds of gun, I mean what does anyone need one of those for anyway?" He gestured in disgust at a couple of semi-automatic carbines on the shelf.

Most of us have read the editorials in the outdoor sports magazines, this editor or that will belittle the black rifle "fad". At best they will concede that some people might find a use for one, but not I. By the end of the written sermon they have firmly emplaced themselves on the moral high ground bidding others to follow in their lofty steps.

I've been in the industry for two decades and have present during these gatherings of purists where the Stoner design is ridiculed and belittled. I've sat quietly as those present responded "Hear, hear" and "Good show old boy."

On the other hand, I have also attended innumerable training courses and events where those in attendance used their Stoner-based rifles. Not a single time during a meal break or post-shooting socializing did anyone in the group bring up the outdated and antiquated single-shot, falling block rifle. Never once did one of these folks disparage the $5000 over-under shotgun as a complete waste of money and resources. I cannot recall an instance where an AR-15 owner has told me that he resented those who stalked and killed antelope just for sport.

Nope, can't recall a single instance of that occurring. Conversely, I have lost count of the times I have been present in a group of sportsman and outdoor types and the subject of the self-loading, gas-operated rifle has come up. It seems to be a favorite pass time for upland game and big game hunters, trap and skeet shooters, and conservationist types to bash and belittle those that would purposely own and shoot the AR platform.

No, I am not painting all hunters and birders with a broad brush. Before you get your panties in a wad be honest with yourself. How many times have you kibitzed with your buddies at the trap range and heard someone reference Stoner rifles as "assault weapons"? When was the last time you attended a benefit for the conservation of ducks, pheasant, whitetail, elk, (insert game preservation society here) and someone at your table made a snide remark about "black rifles"? Be truthful, have you heard that guy spout off about how he can understand banning some kinds of gun? Did you say anything or just nod your head?

Folks, human beings have been having this argument since the dawn of mankind. Flintlock purists saw no sporting value in those new fangled percussion cap guns. U.S. Army troops were saddled with muzzle-loading muskets when cartridge firing, repeating rifles were available. Who would ever need to shoot that fast? Many argued.

At the turn of the century soldiers and peace officers carried single-action revolvers because the semi-automatic pistols couldn't be relied upon and were untested. While we are on the subject, how many purists who see no craftsmanship or pride of ownership in a Stoner rifle would say the same thing about the Model 1911A1 pistol and its myriad clones? That pistol started life as a mass produced, faceless piece of machinery.

Purists have a real problem with the "mad rush", as one outdoor writer described it, of Americans to purchase 100% made in the USA black rifles. Those same folks see no problem buying a Krieghoff, Perazzi, Benelli, or Beretta and sending the profits back to the Old Country.

What these well intentioned, often very intelligent, folks are afflicted with is the "Reasonable Disease". If we are only reasonable and meet the other side halfway then they will be reasonable too. I have a news flash for you purist, anti-Stoner folks. The other side doesn't like you either. They will happily step over your body to get to the rest of us.

We all want to be reasonable. Just think how wonderful our world would be John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington could have been more reasonable and met the British Monarchy halfway. Being reasonable has taken us the edge of the abyss in these United States. I dare say that the founding fathers would scarcely recognize what we have become.

The bedrock foundation of the Constitution, the document that was forged after our forefathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, is at this moment being trampled. It has been used as a doormat for incoming congressmen, senators, and yes, even the current occupant of the Oval Office.

This did not happen overnight. We, the good citizens of the United States, have handed over our freedoms under the guise of being reasonable. We have been promised if we will only give a little that the enemies of freedom will be satisfied. They will not be satisfied. Their rotten guts are never full. Consumed by greed for power they take a bit more and a bit more. Can you placate a lion by letting him eat only your foot?

My friends, and we still can be friends, the question is not about whether the "black rifle" is good for the shooting sports industry. It is not whether the Stoner design has a place on the hunting field. The question is will we stand united to protect our freedoms from an ever encroaching enemy. Will we squabble with each other over aesthetics and operating systems or will we lock arms and say "No More!"?

Though it will pain your eyes to read and your ears to hear, the United States Constitution, at the moment the supreme law of the land, does not grant you a "right" to hunt, shooting sporting clays, compete in bull's eye matches or any sport. You hunt only as a privilege of the state. That privilege is not in any way guaranteed.

For those purists in the audience, those who look upon the Stoner design with disgust and distaste, I challenge you to take a moment to reflect. Wade past the emotion and prejudice you have harbored deep down. Be intellectually honest with yourself for a moment.

At this point in history we are in a more precarious position than we ever have been. Either we will unite and demand that our elected public servants adhere to the principles of our founding fathers and the U.S. Constitution or we will fall in the abyss of never ending government intrusion, regulation, and slavery to a system we neither understand nor recognize.

You see, the Stoner designed, gas-operated, self-loading rifle is more that just a machine. There is a definite pride of ownership, the pride that comes from the realization that you are a citizen not a servant. The lawful possession of the black rifle means that you are still a free man in a world where the free man is an endangered species.

Paul Markel 2009
Finally, to our grand purists, look down from your moral high ground and see this. The black rifle is a living symbol. It is a symbol not of varmint hunting but of freedom. It is the black rifle that will preserve your privilege to practice the shooting sport of your choice. Embrace this self-loading, gas-operated machine. If the black rifle is lost your nation, all that you hold dear, and your freedom will surely follow.

Markel is a former United State Marine and Peace Officer. He is currently a full-time Small Arms and Tactics instructor for the U.S. Miltary. Mr. Markel has been writing for the outdoor/firearms world for two decades with hundreds of articles in print.

Mitch
10-19-2009, 6:32 AM
My word for hunters who would happily sell our civil rights down the river is "Zumbo."

Yeah, yeah, Zumbo reformed and all that, but only after his livelihood was threatened.

"Zumbo." Rolls nicely off the tongue.

yellowfin
10-19-2009, 7:01 AM
It's a big problem in Pennsylvania, that much I know. They've got a HUGE number of hunters and NRA members and I've read and overheard LOTS of this. We're working on it in NYS but still have a long way to go. I'm told Connecticut also has a big problem of it.

CALPsidewinder
10-19-2009, 8:04 AM
There was a really good article in American Hunter recently regarding the "black guns" as hunting firearms and how it was the only rifle that was used by our armed forces that didn't get carried over to the hunting culture right away. The article remarked that most of our service men who were hunters and came back from Vietnam didn't want to use their AR for hunting because it brought back too many bad memories. I am glad there are a lot of companies out there and hunters trying to dispel the "evilness" of the so called black gun.

Mitch
10-19-2009, 8:19 AM
The article remarked that most of our service men who were hunters and came back from Vietnam didn't want to use their AR for hunting because it brought back too many bad memories.

I suppose state game laws outlawing the use of .223 for deer hunting or requiring shotguns had nothing to do with it?

WWI and WWII vets had a lot of bad memories too.

Sheepdog1968
10-19-2009, 8:25 AM
Semi autos IMO can be a more humane way to hunt as it offers a faster chance for a follow up shot. Beretta has a semi auto specifically designed for hunting.

BigDogatPlay
10-19-2009, 8:32 AM
My word for hunters who would happily sell our civil rights down the river is "Zumbo."

+1

You read my mind on that.

The hunters and sportsmen who don't see the need for EBRs and say it's okay to ban them need to realize that they (and we) are playing an all or nothing game. The only difference between going all in at the table and what we are doing is that the grabbers are willing to take the rights away incrementally. In their mind the end result is still the same.... hunters, sportsmen, collectors and just average shooters all leave the table with nothing.

The Zumbos of the discussion can't seem to grasp that.

mmartin
10-19-2009, 8:34 AM
excellently written piece. to the point for sure.
megan

SJgunguy24
10-19-2009, 8:37 AM
I've gotten into spirted conversations about this before. I asked one guy if a 240lb wild pig was charging would he want his 7mm mag, or an AK with a 10 round mag?

He kinda looked at me and said thats not a fair question. I asked him why,"well that pig could kill me".
"So having that quick follow up shot would good then?" I asked.


Crickets........

Restrictions on any firearms are a violation of our rights. And any way to devide us is a win for the anti's.

calixt0
10-19-2009, 9:44 AM
I wonder when we will regive our declaration of independence to our own "government" .

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Our government has consistently taken steps to hinder our rights (both stated in the declaration and in the bill of rights) . My life is not my own. My life is what my government will allow it to be, Liberty that is a joke, I'm only allowed to create what the government says is OK (through licensing and taxes) , I can only buy (medications, alcohols, drugs, cars, utilities, if I want to smoke or not wear my seat belt, or not wear a helmet) what the government has approved. Pursuit of happiness, not that I believe that happiness is promised but I can pursue it. what If owning and shooting Full automatic weapons is where my happiness lies? Why should I have to live in a certain state or be subject to ownership (by signing up and "serving" in our military to do so, please note that I'm thankful for those that serve the greater good, but don't feel a need to serve as our current military sees necessary ie total and complete domination by those who have served longer and have a greater rank) in order to pursue my happiness?

WE need to get ourselves together and quit being defeatists and throw off this not functioning government and recreate or maybe restart what this was intended to be. I believe that this government is so far off from the design that the founding fathers would not even recognize it.

bombadillo
10-19-2009, 9:49 AM
Just show the nay sayers a camo'd out .243 remington and they'll probably start drooling over it. They knock it because they haven't tried it. Or they're luke warm gun advocates who think that because it was initially a battle rifle, then its good for nothing but killing people. :rolleyes:

oso grande
10-19-2009, 9:55 AM
Semi autos IMO can be a more humane way to hunt as it offers a faster chance for a follow up shot. Beretta has a semi auto specifically designed for hunting.

As do Remington, Ruger, and Browning.

CALPsidewinder
10-19-2009, 3:05 PM
I suppose state game laws outlawing the use of .223 for deer hunting or requiring shotguns had nothing to do with it?

I don't know, perhaps that was also a valid reason. Were there laws already in the 70's banning the use of .223 for hunting deer?

WWI and WWII vets had a lot of bad memories too.

WWI & WWII were not as unpopular a war as Vietnam was. My father was in WWII and from what I can gather from many conversations with him is that he didn't suffer any lasting post traumatic events, unlike a vast majority who returned from Vietnam. Maybe it is a combo of the two, the lack of ballistic efficiency of the 223 round and deer hunting and the hunters of that era equating the AR as merely a human killing weapon. Whichever it was I think that time is passed with the advent of the Ar10 and the ability to use larger calibers.

M. Sage
10-19-2009, 4:25 PM
WWI and WWII vets had a lot of bad memories too.

Yep, but they didn't come home and have dirty hippies treating them like dirt and twisting the knife.

At least when the other guys came home, they came home to a public that appreciated their sacrifices and helped them heal their wounds.

Army
10-19-2009, 6:21 PM
Yet, these very same "purists" will slobber over the latest Remington, pretty Winchester, CZ, Rogue River, or Cooper while ignoring that those rifles all came from the same purpose and technological mindset as the AR15.

I like to remind them of that.

NovaTodd
10-19-2009, 8:10 PM
I have ran into this one time. It was with an older gentleman who I've known for years. Unfortuantely, there was not swaying him, as he verimently feels that there is no use for any sort of black rifle - and him not knowing I have one in 308...

In any event, we need to work together and get these crappy laws off the books.

rabagley
10-19-2009, 9:08 PM
My grandfather has this attitude. He fought in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam and feels that all handguns and anything semi-automatic are "only designed to kill people".

So using a handgun and an AR for hunting means what, exactly... He doesn't want to hear that I own an AR let alone hunt with it. He'd probably have a heart attack on the spot if I told him that I now own five AR's and a similar number of handguns.

Mitch
10-20-2009, 5:25 AM
WWI & WWII were not as unpopular a war as Vietnam was. My father was in WWII and from what I can gather from many conversations with him is that he didn't suffer any lasting post traumatic events, unlike a vast majority who returned from Vietnam.

Your father was lucky.

According to the literature I have read, principally The Sharp End by John Ellis, what we call PTSD was no more prevalent in Vietnam than anywhere else. In WWII, virtually all soldiers were subject to it if they were kept on the line long enough. In Vietnam, US soldiers rarely spent more than a few days in combat before being rotated back to a base of some kind, in sharp contrast to the situation in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific in WWII, where fighting men might spend weeks living in the open in almost constant combat.

In WWI it was called shell shock.

In WWII it was called battle fatigue.

After Vietnam it was called PTSD. And only then was it widely recognized as something other than cowardice that victims could talk about openly. Which is probably why we heard more about it then.

CALPsidewinder
10-20-2009, 6:50 AM
Your father was lucky.

Perhaps, or maybe the enviroment of this country after the war was more condusive to a speedy recovery by treating our veterans as heroes instead of baby killers. A benevolent atmosphere will do a lot for someone's psyche just as a malevolent one will help tear it down.

nicki
10-20-2009, 9:56 AM
If your mindset is guns are for "Sporting purposes", then no one needs military type arms or "weapons of war".

If your mindset that the RKBA confers a duty on the population to be armed to protect our country from enemies both foreign and domestic, then everyone not only has a right, but a duty to own and be well trained with "weapons of war" so that they can protect the free state.

The second amendment specifically is about protecting our rights to weapons of war so that we can fullfill our responsiblitiy to keep our country free.

Sportsmen need to become aware that the 2nd amendment wasn't designed to protect their hobbies, it was designed to give us the means to protect all of our freedoms by force.

Nicki

yellowfin
10-20-2009, 10:02 AM
A simpler explanation might be that the early ones jammed a lot so they didn't come home liking the AR design very much, couldn't put much faith in it.

wash
10-20-2009, 10:21 AM
My Grandfather got shot down over France. Now he won't fly unless he is really really drunk.

I think his last sober flight was in route to the Palo Alto VA for his reconstructive surgery.

He seems mostly OK outside of that.

I think the confirmed kill to shots fired rate in Vietnam was about 1:10,000 so a lot of hunters might lose confidence in 5.56...

The Director
10-20-2009, 12:36 PM
EBRs and anything too military looking at is really frowned upon in my family, even though most of my family are gun owners / hunters.

I remember one time I went shooting with my dad, he brought some 20 guage engraved uber expensive pheasant gun and I brought an AK and an AR. Went over like a lead balloon....

Mitch
10-21-2009, 6:34 AM
A simpler explanation might be that the early ones jammed a lot so they didn't come home liking the AR design very much, couldn't put much faith in it.

Ha ha, that too, but also because the AR-15 was a pretty spendy platform in the 1970s.

The .223 rifle of choice until 1994 (thanks Senator Feinstein!) was the Mini-14.