Thursday, August 11, 2011

How quickly it can happen.

Wouter's blog documents, among other things, his shooting and firearms collecting hobbies in South Africa. He recently got permits through for several more pistols, including an assortment of Spanish iron that looks like it would be right up my roomie's alley.

Reading through his back posts on the drama involved in getting your hands on a firearm in South Africa today can be instructive, all the more so because, just twenty or thirty years ago, South Africa had some pretty decent gun laws. Then again, so did California.

For most of the US, the nadir of gun rights happened in 1994 or so, and things have been on a generally positive trend ever since, we're still not back to where we were post-FOPA and pre-Bush'n'Bennett's "Imported Assault Weapon Ban". In 1987, you could walk into the sporting goods store at the mall and buy a genuine German HK91 without any background checks or anything. (Of course, in the living memory of someone of my parents' generation, you could just mail-order the thing instead...)


Stranger said...

You make me feel old. The cutoff date for mail order was December 12, 1968. Less than 43 years ago. I remember it well, Sears refunded me for two Chilean Mausers they could not deliver in time.

The 1967 FBI homicide rate was 6.1, up from 3.8 before the entertainment industry and industry linked unions began the gun control drives. And the major cities under reporting violent crimes was offset by the many districts that had no crime so did not report any.


Bram said...

In 1989 I did exactly that - in Massachusetts! I bought the HK because I like the feel better than the Springfield and they were asking too much for the Steyr AUG.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Also, there were a LOT more places selling Firearms than today. Some, like Sears and Western Auto even had the Gun Manufacturers re-label some of their products and they were sold under their House Brand.
And the DCM (pre-CMP) process was a lot easier, also.

But you still couldn't get a Glock in Rare Dark Earth. ; )

Tam said...

Bubblehead Les,

"But you still couldn't get a Glock in Rare Dark Earth. ; )"

No, because back then everybody wanted a Beretta 92 so they could be like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. (And besides, Glock only sold black guns in the Eighties; they didn't add the baby-poo green frames until the early Aughties.)

theirritablearchitect said...

And we should all be kicking ourselves at the prices of those HK91's at that time...about four or five bills, if I remember correctly.

Ah, those were the days.

Tam said...

And why not? It's not really much more complex than an AK. Just a big steel stamping and some tack welds and down the road you go, Hans.

It was the '89 Bush Ban that was largely responsible for the unobtainium HK mystique in this country.

John Peddie (Toronto) said...

And to think I bought a .303 SMLE mail order for $10.00 in June 1965-and sold it 2 months later cause they were too "common" and I wanted a fancy new Remington for moose season.

Anonymous said...

"In 1987, you could walk into the sporting goods store at the mall and buy a genuine German HK91 without any background checks or anything."

Which is why I'm hanging on to mine. Just very expensive to feed these days.

Firehand said...

I've got some old outdoors magazines of Grandpa's, and the ads for mail-ordering Webley and Enfield revolvers, Enfield rifles, Springfields... it's enough to make you weep

Tam said...

I'll note that, in 1986, when ~$600 would buy an HK91, it also bought me a 12-year-old Ford top-of-the-line midsize with 48,000 miles on the clock and air that blew cold.

Find me a clean, straight, low-mileage '99 Taurus right now for a grand.

Anonymous said...

Yep-I bought my No.4 MK 1 with a coupon out of the NRA mag but I think I paid 30.00 for it. Anyway whatever it cost it was the grocery money for that week. That was about 1966 or 67. It still shoots good after all these years.


Stranger said...

Before you weep - take the devaluation of the dollar into consideration. $125 for a new Series 70 on sale at Kroger figures out to a hair under $700 in real colorful fiat money with Big Ben on the front.

While the "new and not so improved" version of the Series 70 will cost more, there are a number of perfectly serviceable 1911 patterns at well under that price point. In a couple of cases enough under to let you replace the stuff that usually breaks with genny-wine Colt parts and have enough left for a burger at the Grease Spot Grille.


wrm said...

Yarr. 1969, when yours truly was two, brought an Act that sucked, but was at least clear.

2000 brought an Act designed by a committee. Unsure whether to licence the person or the gun, they decided on... both. Not being able to string coherent sentences together, they left so many loopholes nobody knows whether they're coming or going.

They've been patching this piece of excrement by amendments written by pretty much the same committee.

The only good thing about it is that no lawyer will ever starve in this country.

Having said that, since on the one hand the system is backed up two years, and on the other hand the law can't be implemented, the police take shortcuts to make their life easier so sometimes it's not *that* difficult to get a licence.

Registering as a collector was as much work as my Masters in Engineering. Now, licences are relatively easy.

Tomorrow, all might be different.

Appreciate your 2nd amendment, folks.

Justthisguy said...

I remember the ads in the back of Boys Life, back in the early sixties. Savage would sell you one of those neat over-under .22-shotgun thingies through the mail, if you just swore that you were old enough.

Of course that could be a problem for a Scout who took his Oath seriously, as I did, and who also did not have helpful parents, as I did not. Sigh!

Ancient Woodsman said...

Seems to me your best chance of getting a good HK91 on the cheap nowadays is to wait on the Mexican side of the border for the ATF to hand you one.

I used to drool over the guns in the Sears catalog. There was an earlier time when one could mail-order a Solothurn 20mm - I remember the add at the back of American Rifleman - and yes, the gun adds at the back of Boy's Life! Folks get arrested now for going to the post office with a firearm, when in my youth our post office WAS a gun store. All us pre-teen kids would walk heavily armed down the main streets to the dump to shoot rats, and the only thing the Deputy Sheriff wanted to know was if our parents knew what we were up to - and to be sure to be home for dinner.

Yet back then we had no MagPul or any other AR accessory maker, only one AR maker for that matter, few 1911 smiths - all working on only Colts - no 3-gun matches, no gun blogs, folks in most states were iffy at best to get a CC license, the Brady folks actualy survived for a while naming themselves for what they were really after, every time I bought a handgun in NH a notice got sent from the dealer to my police chief...hmmm...there's more than a few ways we are better off now.

But I'd sure like to see more kids walking down the street to shoot rats at the dump, and the local LEO nonplussed. Nostalgia.

Steve C. said...

One of the big things that lead to mail order guns being banned was that Oswald bought the rifle that killed JFK thru the mail. The ironic thing is that was about the only way Oswald could have bought a gun back then that the seller kept records of who bought the gun.