Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Not just for urban criminals and drug dealers anymore!

Although I'd started working in gun shops back in '93 or so, it wasn't until 2001 that I started doing any serious collecting. Soon I had sold off all the assorted effluvia I had bought over the years except for a handful of "working guns" and was focusing on collecting S&W revolvers and older military rifles. I was now no longer a "shooting hobbyist", I was a "gun collector" which is a different kettle of fish entirely.

While the shooting hobbyist may accumulate a couple of guns that interest them, for the most part the guns are utilized for shooting, not just for having. Rarely is there any particular level of obsession involved, either: They shoot and golf and tend vegetable gardens and have other hobbies. A serious collector, on the other hand, appears a little touched in the head to the outsider. The same gene that causes someone to fill their house with ceramic frogs, build a perfect O-gauge replica of the Topeka switchyards in their attic, or have a basement that looks like a Radio Shack delivery truck overturned in a broadcast studio is at work when grown adults quibble over the internet as to whether it's properly called the ".32 Single Action" or the "Model 1-1/2 Top Break".

Getting into collecting exposed me to a whole new kind of hobbyist. While my collection may seem large to those who do not collect, it isn't a patch on many I've seen. This is a hobby that is, due to its very nature, populated by folks with fairly serious levels of disposable income. Mostly older and mostly professionals, I have met doctors, lawyers, judges, and engineers, all equally enthusiastic about their particular niche of the hobby. Vintage Colts, old Winchesters, American martial arms; if it can be collected, there's someone out there collecting it.

It was pretty amusing, then, to be pointed at a Reuters piece that seemed to express surprise that normal people, not just "urban criminals and drug dealers", collected guns. Frankly, I can't see an "urban criminal" getting excited about finding the right bayonet to go with his Brazilian M1908/34 Mauser or a "drug dealer" painstakingly finding the proper Mark Twain book to serve as a prop in a photo of her newly-acquired 19th Century revolver (unless by "drug dealer" they meant "pharmacist"). Leave it to a reporter to get into a hand-wringing tizzy about harmless old duffers and their eccentric hobbies.

Thankfully, NRAhab saved me some trouble by giving the subtle hit piece the fisking it so richly deserves.


Curtis Lowe said...

And isn't an "arsenal" where they manufacture firearms, and an "armory" where they store firearms?

Anonymous said...

That S&W photo is so good, it should be in Wikipedia.

Anonymous said...

"shooting hobbyiest" not obsessed?

One trip to a BR match will cure you of that notion.

Tam said...

Bear with me, here; it was necessary for the article to flow.

Besides, benchrest guys aren't "shooting hobbyists", they're reloaders, which is another thing altogether. Reloaders make UFO fans look like casual hobbyists.

Assrot said...

Yeah, I'm a little touched like you I guess. I've been collecting since about 1970. I had 6 huge safes full and got tired of buying new safes.

I just reinforced my garage and had the garage door removed and walled up the opening. I have a bank vault door on the inside of the house to the garage and I just built some nice looking racks where I can see all my guns when I go in there.

Very seldom will I buy a non-shooter though. Even though I don't shoot all my guns, I like for them to be in shooting condition. I have maybe 5 that are not.

Right now I need to either buy a bigger house with a bigger garage or add another garage to the house I live in. I couldn't cram another toothpick in that room much less another gun.

That does not stop me from collecting though. I have a father and 3 brothers that have plenty of safes and garage space.

Molon Labe,