Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gun-related content...

At the Fun Show this past weekend I found myself wishing that I had bought a Russkie M38 carbine back when they were practically giving them away. I think the wholesale price was thirty or forty bucks there, back in the late Nineties/early Aughties; some wholesalers had to be actively discouraged from throwing a couple in the box with every order.

Instead I picked up a Hungarian-made M44 with the fruity folding bayonet, which turns an otherwise light and handy carbine into something with all the grace and balance of a 3-foot length of 4x4 lumber. And now the M38s are bringing around two bills.

As an aside, Joel over at TUATK had an interesting post on the term "the gun culture", contrasting it with the lack of a corresponding term for owners and users of other tools or possessions, such as an "axe culture" or a "milk crate culture". It's a reasonable objection, I suppose.

When I rode a motorcycle for my daily transportation, the bike was a vehicle. It got me to and from work, fetched the groceries, and was an ordinary, everyday part of my life. It also meant I had something in common with other motorcycle owners and, more specifically, the very distinctive subculture of motorcycle commuters. We had a lot of shared experiences: Having to to dress in such a way as to arrive looking presentable at work no matter the weather, and hauling groceries on two wheels (A gallon of milk is no big deal in a Civic; it's a very big deal bungee-netted on the pillion of a 600cc sportbike.)

I read motorcycle magazines and hung out with other motorcycle riders and yes, there was a motorcycle culture, and I didn't feel that it made me a worse person for being part of it. Conversely, I knew other people who owned motorcycles who only used them for transportation and never went riding for pleasure or hung out with other riders, and that was cool, too.

What gets my hackles up are comments like the one left by commenter Johnathan at Joel's place, who says it's quite one thing to own guns for the necessity of protecting one's home and hearth but "[i]t is quite another thing, however, to glorify the use of weapons, to associate one's image with them, to devote so much mental energy to thinking about them and discussing them with reverence."

Nothing personal, Johnathan, but get bent. Unlike Professor Tolkien's character, I do love the bright sword for its sharpness and the arrow for its swiftness, and I am not ashamed of it one damned bit. I'm sorry that you have been bullied by the society around you into thinking that owning weapons is some slightly shameful necessity, to be borne only until the lion lies down by the lamb and we can beat our swords into plowshares in the sweet by-and-by, but I've got news for you: Your heaven is not mine. If I can't take my pistol, I don't want to go.

There is nothing wrong or shameful about appreciating finely crafted machinery simply for what it is, studying the history behind it, or enjoying the mastery of its use. And guess what? That motorcycle can even do useful stuff, like taking you to work, too.

45 comments:

Stuart the Viking said...

"Those who beat their swords to plowshares are doomed to plow for those who do not."

Of course it's probably not the exact quote, and I've seen too many fights over who really said it to bother attributing it to anyone. Suffice it to say that while it isn't mine, it's something my cynical mind could probably have come up with.

I'm with you Tam, I like guns and I'm not ashamed or scared to say it.

s

Reno Sepulveda said...

I'm thinking of all those 19th Century portraits where the men would make sure their fireams were visible for the photographer and it reminds me of the British two fingered salute.

Basically a backwards peace sign, said to be started by English longbowmen in defiance of a French custom of cutting off the fingers of captured soldiers so they would be unable to draw a bow.

Just another way of saying "Still here assholes, come and take em."

Bob said...

I managed to nab an M38 a few years ago, just as the supply was running out. Can't say I paid $40 for it, more around $125. Nice little rifle.

Broken Andy said...

"I'm sorry that you have been bullied by the society around you into thinking that owning weapons is some slightly shameful necessity, to be borne only until the lion lies down by the lamb and we can beat our swords into plowshares in the sweet by-and-by, but I've got news for you: Your heaven is not mine."

This is why I read Tam!

Anonymous said...

Absofreakinglutely! Some folks get all giggily about sewing, or kitchen widgets. Gunnies tend to be gearheads, so motorcycles & fast cars are a good fit. But I will never apologise to any sheeple because I enjoy guns and shooting as a part of my life, and not simply because I hunt or believe in self-defense. Besides, you just _KNOW_ St. Peter had to build a range capable of handling heavy MG's when John Moses Browning showed up... :-D JohninMd(help)

Anonymous said...

@Tam

You're just envious when my friends and I get together and talk about adzs and drawknifes!

wv: rdseryba hatsSe - are we really proofreading books still?

-SM

BryanP said...

There is nothing wrong or shameful about appreciating finely crafted machinery simply for what it is, studying the history behind it, or enjoying the mastery of its use.

Thanks for this. I'll be using that one.

Mark Alger said...

Also from Tolkien, not to put -- heh -- too fine a point on it, but 'tis true: those without swords can still die on them.

M

Randell Beck said...

There is a huge Jeep culture, as well as a ski culture, a fitness culture, an avuiation culture, a guitar culture, and a gun culture, all of which I am proud to be part of. Anything worth doing is worth having a culture built.

Craig said...

Johnathan seems to have gotten the memo that is circulating around the internetz from the 1995 C-SPAN video of Holder saying that Americans (particularly the young) must be "brainwashed" into hostility toward the right to keep and bear arms.

Brad K. said...

Tam, I can see your point.

I know a blacksmith can spend a lot of time, discussion, travel, research, and money for the bragging points of a good anvil or ball pein hammer. (I recall the box of hammers I picked up at a machinist's auction for $22, just for a particular 2 ounce ball pein mounted on a good and well used handle. Immediately the other guy bidding asks what I want that that littlest hammer, and I told him, that no, I had just paid $22 for that particular hammer. That was years ago, and I have yet to light a forge fire. But I love me that hammer.)

Those invested in professional, college, and high school sports are quite enamored of letting their neighborhood know their allegiance -- their identification.

The commenter apparently has never been to a science fiction convention replete with costumed attendees, discussions on plot foils and author whims, and on huckster rooms with everything from sodas to light sabers and regalia appropriate to this story or that on sale.

I could contend that "business dress casual" is an identification, of obsession-appropriate accommodation and devotion of thought into a sub-genre of human activity.

If you believe Jean Auel (Valley of Horses and some kinda primitive story with Darryl Hannah) and related research, most guys then were actively associated, and considered their social status in, the spear, the rock they carried and hunted with.

I bet that commenter believes all meat originates in the grocery store, that the IRS never cheats on returns or audits, and that Elvis fled to Brazil from the pressures of fame to the half-nekkid chicks.

Brad K. said...

Tam, The very next article I looked at had a picture of Russel Lee, Texaco Troubadour, from 1940.
http://theautomaticearth.org/Finance/you-wouldnt-know-it-to-look-at-it.html

And look at that guitar, the shine on the guitar and the intarsia work, the clean and pressed shirt and well-used shoes.

Actually, what I got looking at, was that he is setting on a basket, and I would like to have a basket in that kind of condition that is sturdy to set on.

Talk about pride, and identification. And joy and using one's possession as a bridge to relationships with other people.

Firehand said...

Reminds me of people who'd look at my knives and such and be bothered: you might need a knife but
These are too big
These are too sharp
That is too scary to actually own/carry/use
Heard variations on all those over the years.

'Course, I also sold blades to people who might not plan on using them in combat, but owning a blade capable of, say, removing limbs or defeating armor delighted them. They loved what went into making them, and what they were capable of because of that(I may not be saying this the best way, hope the meaning comes through).

Earl said...

They, the ungunned culture, have a large problem over coming the good stuff in marksmanship, collecting, searching out History, and the Art of engraving, designing and the comradeship of the Gun Culture - since it sings to humans well.

I very much expect never to have to shoot another human being again, but CC because I have been wrong before, but I do know I will be shooting and sharing all my fun at ranges somewhere, soon. What is the ungunned culture sharing?

Will ride the Trusty Triumph when the rains dry up. Thanks!

Caleb said...

Those who beat their swords into plowshares are just going to get plowed by the people with swords.

og said...

"There is nothing wrong or shameful about appreciating finely crafted machinery"

Indeed. And a motorcycle, or a jeep, or a cooking knife, or a pair of nicely honed teeth, or a rolled up National Geographic will kill you just as dead as a bullet.

Erin Palette said...

Whenever people start trotting out the "swords into plowshares" bit or otherwise getting all "Jesus was about peace and would never own guns," I love watching their eyes bug out when I quote Luke 22:36 at them.

Then said He unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

Jesus was pro-open carry, y'all.

staghounds said...

As usual being a bit contrary...

His point I think is that there is a difference between gun owner, gun culture participant, gun nut, gun monomaniac, and gun fetishist.

And that our enemies try to pretend that there is really only the last category, that a firearm inexorably draws its possessor through all the precursor stages like treponema pallidum means gibbering madness.

He's right that being in a "culture" of any sort is a bit unusual. "Parent culture" is a subset of parents, and "paints himself orange" is a slightly larger subset of Vol fans.

I suspect that most people are in one or more cultures, and that they see other cultures as as being pointless, odd, or a mark of dangerous thinking.

They are right to a degree.

I mean, golf?

But like free speech, if we don't all get it we don't none of us have it.

P. S, you can google that sh!t:

http://www.google.com/search?q=fire+extinguisher+collectors&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

Stuart the Viking said...

"His point I think is that there is a difference between gun owner, gun culture participant, gun nut, gun monomaniac, and gun fetishist."

OH ME! ME! Thats ME!... What? All of them. Well, maybe fetishist goes a little too far, but then again, I love me some Oleg pics.

s

Kristopher said...

Shoot the M44 with the bayonet extended.

It tightens your groups up quite a bit.

Tam said...

Kristopher,

Yes, I know. The sights are regulated with an extended bayonet in mind. What would be even better, for my purposes at least, would be to not have the awkward thing on there in the first place. ;)

For me, it's the difference between a wallhanger/sometime-range-toy and something that might conceivably be taken into the deer woods without too much fuss.

DirtCrashr said...

I have found a new like for the shiny things - he's treading awfully close to Sporting Use crap, let's not "Everybody play hockey" without the ice.

Anonymous said...

I bought an M44 ,just to have one, about 6-7 years ago. Heh. It's still in cosmoline. I also have 2 M38's. They get shot often.

Anonymous said...

I do appreciate guns, their skillful use, their craftsmanship and history.

But I'm still going to roll my eyes and make rude noises at the Cabela's camo-everything-you-own catalog.

Stuart the Viking said...

Yes, but cammo culture != gun culture. Sure there is some overlap, but the only cammo I own are some left-over uniforms from when I was in the Marines (that I don't wear). Oh, and I think I have a cammo mini-skirt still drifting around somewhere left by a girl I dated years ago, but I don't think that counts as me OWNING it (I don't wear the mini-skirt either).

s

Sport Pilot said...

Bravo Tam, well said indeed, I too consider “gun culture” an inaccurate and demeaning phrase. I also admire each gun I own or view for its specific purpose, collector, recreational or defensive. If someone chooses not to own a firearm then that is their choice, for them to attempt to impose their individual values and opinion on me is impudent. One of the aspects rarely mentioned when dealing with some anti-gun people is the correlation to zealot and bigot. As to the M-38, I purchased one for $40.00, it was a war trophy from the Viet Nam War and I gifted it to my Father in Law who served with the 173Rd there in 1964-1965.

John A said...

staghounds, I think, got it. The commenter agrees that guns are useful tools, just does not see wgy one should LIKE tools, and search out really good, odd, whatever ones.

That is an attitude some feel in themselves, and think those who feel otherwise are deranged. Hmmm, where have I seen that before...

Most of us manage to heve one passion, or if not appreciate those who do. For example, I do not collect violins. I would not pay more than say $200 to own one. But I appreciate the people who will pay a million for a Stradivarius: not only is it well worth it to them, but they are helping preserve some very fine craftsmanship. That is where this person falls short, being unable to empathise or even sympathise.

As to the "culture" tag, think of it as a compliment and say "Why, thank you." It beats being called "gun mad" and implies a level of civilisation, courtesy, and other appreciated values.

Blackwing1 said...

It's also interesting to someone not interested in firearms that they usually refer to firearms folks as "the gun culture". Singular. As in, there's only ONE?

- Auto-pistol vs. revolver?
- 1911 vs plastic-fantastic?
- AR vs. Garand?
- Don't even get started on the caliber debates.

And that's just scratching the surface. You've got Fudds vs. preppers, plinkers vs. single-hole-at-300-yarders, collectors vs. the "yeah, I think there might be a .22 in here somewhere".

There's got to be at least a couple of hundred different cultures within this so-called monolithic "gun culture", some of whom are quite vehement about their disagreements.

Anonymous said...

Now me, I likes me some pistol caliber carbines with integral suppressors.

Nice, quiet, and thump hard with proper range measurement tools to 400 yards.

Sigivald said...

Instead I picked up a Hungarian-made M44 with the fruity folding bayonet, which turns an otherwise light and handy carbine into something with all the grace and balance of a 3-foot length of 4x4 lumber

So take it off and drift the sight to compensate for any change in impact?

It's not even bubba-ing, since you can reattach it later.

Darrell said...

You don't want a Russian M38, you want a Swedish M38. Teh sexy!

global village idiot said...

Here's how I feel about "gun culture." Ownership of a gun, even if one doesn't train with it but merely keeps it as a magic talisman to ward off the evil spirits (though certainly if you train with one) separates a person from the sheeple herd. It is a declaration - even if mousey-voiced - that one's life, the lives of those nearest him, and his property are worth protecting, by his own hand if need be.

This declaration separates a person, however slightly, from those who cannot or are unwilling to take such an adult responsibility.

No less a person than the author John Lott used the term "gun culture" more than a decade ago, and while he was casting a wide net in his definition, he didn't use it as a pejorative.

Thugs who own guns for the purpose of furthering crime are quite a different species, but we already know that.

gvi

P.S. Call me weird, but whenever I own a rifle capable of carrying a bayonet, I feel obliged to have one on it. I know the M38 was never designed for it, but the base model was (which is why I own it over the carbine). Never been much of a fan of amputee guns anyway.

global village idiot said...

Having said that, does anyone know where I can find a M-N manual in Russian? I've got plenty of English-print ones, to include the old Ordnance Dept. reprint. I'd like to have a Russian one to translate.

spasibo!

gvi

Justthisguy said...

I will never understand people like that. Guns are purty, and fun. Oh, yeah, they are also deadly weapons, which means you have to be careful with them, use them wisely, etc, usw, and so forth.

Justthisguy said...

Randall, don't forget the knitters. I just found the blog of Mary Shafer Iliff who worked at NASA Dryden at Edwards for many years, and is a hellovan engineer, as we used to sing at the North Avenue Trade school.

With a few exceptions for F-4s and SR-71s, every post on it is about knitting, and esoteric knitting technology. She mentions a gizmo called a "swift", for example. I am not too sure just what that thing is.

Old NFO said...

Damn well said Tam! As always!!!

raven said...

A "swift" is a rotary device to wind off the spindle of spun wool from the loom. It essentially winds big loops from the small tightly wound spindle, which are then given a couple of super secret twists and end up as a skein of yarn which is then wound into a ball with a ball-winder. Sort of a grim sounding appliance, ain't it!

Tam, around here we could just save ammo and bayonet the deer.

Jerry said...

I would never buck Mr. James, butt. Don't try to shoot it. Your a good judge, use your smarts. You've got'em.

Kristopher said...

Sigivald: It doesn't work very well. Not only does the rifle shoot off to the side, but the group opens up to about twice as wide without an extended bayonet on it.

The only way to shoot an m44 is with the bayonet on it and fixed.

Which is why I bought an M38 to turn into my truck gun ( and yes, I still have the original bolt and stock. ).

gnholb said...

Years ago I coveted beautiful, expensive, and useful tools for working wood by hand. Bridge City Tool Works catalog was, believe you me something to drool over, as were several others whose names are long forgotten.

There was almost an infinite variety of new, used, antique, or imported items marketed as specialty hand tools (and their necessary spare parts) that were just the ticket for working wood in situations unlikely ever to occur for the average woodworker (which I was).

Nevertheless, I wanted them all. To have because - I could - if money were no object; and to have because because...some day I just might find a use for such a thing. When like minded friends visited, I would show, for example as others might show a stamp collection, the few beautiful tools I had and still have, safely locked away from the unsupervised curious.

I do not remember anyone calling such an interest The Fancy Useless and Inefficient Tool Culture. (Spousal Unit had other names for this condition, however).

montieth said...

Splendid as always.

As I personally view it, I'm a tool user and a tool maker. I appreciate finely made tools. Firearms are one aspect. Computers, Motocycles, armored vehicles, aircraft, rail systems, engines and motors, tools to make tools, forges, mills, lathes, shapers it goes on....

DirtCrashr said...

Snap-On aint what it used to be...

Justthisguy said...

Oh, Dirt, say it ain't so! If Snap-On fails, that is a sure sign of the imminent collapse of Western Civilization.

Kristopher said...

Snap-on has failed. The center cannot hold ...

Shawn said...

I love lord of the rings references.

I really do.