Monday, November 10, 2008

Sniper Rifles and Silly String

Peter W. Wickham, Jr.

I would like to expound on some comments I made to a recent posting JR made here on his blog. I was shopping with the family the other day at America's favorite discount retailer and while walking through the Sporting Goods department I overheard a conversation between one of the salesclerks and a customer who was complaining that this particular store no longer carried the brand of riflescopes he liked. The salesclerk announced it didn't really matter since the government was planning to ban high-powered riflescopes anyway. I stopped walking abruptly and both gentlemen noticed me standing there with one of those "Whaaat?!?" looks on my face and the salesclerk explained that one of his merchandisers had told him they were no longer buying certain riflescopes since they might be outlawed in the next few months. I said I hadn't heard anything about that but we were in rush and I didn't have much time for more conversation.

I used to work in retail back in my college days specifically in a Sporting Goods department where we sold firearms and I know any good businessman will continue to sell something if it turns a profit right up to the second before (and maybe a few afterwards) any ban by government officials becomes effective, so I suspect the decision to drop this particular brand of riflescopes was more along the line of poor sales figures than anything else but since I have a vested interest in this I decided to do some research on the matter.

We have enough "Assault Weapons" around the homestead so I have been looking for something a little more conventional that packs a whole lot more wallop at long range over my 5.56 mm Main Battle Rifle (MBR). When I was a member of my police department's SWAT team, I was trained as a long-range marksman (not sniper; different jobs that use similar tools) and during my training I developed an affinity for bolt-action target rifles. The model I owned at the time was a Ruger 77 VR in .308 Winchester but of late I have been studying the Remington 700 VTR in the same caliber as a future purchase.

Remington 700 VTR

As you can see from the accompanying photograph it looks a lot like any other deer rifle except maybe for the O.D. green stock with black handgrips. It has a specially designed barrel with an integral muzzle brake and vents in the forward portion of the stock that allows for quicker heat dissipation. It has no sights so I was looking to attach a Tasco (I know there are better brands but Tasco has always worked for me at a price I can afford) Varmint/Target 10X-40X 50mm riflescope to it. Again, we're talking basic stuff that any varmint hunter would use to take out prairie dogs, coyotes, and armadillos at 400+ yards.

Target & Varmint 10-40x50mm

Now the first place I looked for information was at Google and I found no current news about any plans to ban riflescopes but under a search for a "Sniper Rifle Ban" I found this information at the NRA-ILA website which was mostly about the old whine on banning .50 caliber rifles. I did learn that the Remington I was thinking of buying was considered an "Intermediate Sniper Rifle." I guess that means it's for targets at ranges less than a mile. This led me to visit the Violence Policy Center website (I wiped my shoes before I left) where I found a page titled, "Voting From The Rooftops" which had this little jewel on it:
"Therefore, a useful strategy for effective control may lie in civil litigation, a strategy that would be enhanced if states passed legislation clearly establishing strict liability for damages resulting from the use or misuse of such weapons. Such litigation could impose tort liability, including punitive damages, for manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, importers, retailers, and any others who participate in bringing to the civilian market any sniper rifle (in any caliber) or associated gear (such as ammunition or optics) that is used to kill or injure a human being or to damage property." Emphasis mine
So what these fine people want to do is sue any and everybody involved in the firearms and firearms accessory market if a criminal decides to use a product in the commission of a crime. It is easy to see that if they get tired of paying attorney fees they might want to use their influence to cause the government to ban, outlaw, or heavily regulate everything they list here. One should note that all this information is from around the last turn of the century so since it's old news one might ask why should we be concerned?

In case you weren't paying attention, there was an election last week and the most liberal Senator in Congress was elected President of these United States. And he will be working with a Democrat-controlled Congress with its most liberal members in charge. All this stuff that has been simmering on the back-burners for the last eight years are probably going to be moved to the front of the stove and some of us are going to get burned. A lot of gunowners and hunters are complacent when it comes to bans on certain types of firearms because since they don't own those types they think they have nothing to worry about. Our benevolent government officials have a lot of plans for "We the People" over the next few years and to get them to work, they need to take our guns; all of our guns.

As Benjamin Franklin said, "We must hang together, gentlemen (and ladies)...else, we shall most assuredly hang separately." One has to wonder if a criminal ever used it in a crime, would these people want to ban Silly String? Oops, I spoke too soon...

Peter W. Wickham, Jr.
AKA The Ol' Grey Ghost

For further reading the Violence Policy Center would like to recommend Stalk and Kill: The Thrill and Danger of the Sniper Experience by Adrian Gilbert and Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills by Charles Henderson.

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