Friday, November 18, 2011

A note from the bad old days...

Check out this NYT column from 1989:
The Bush Administration today banned imports of semiautomatic assault rifles indefinitely, pending a review of whether the military-style weapons are being used for sporting purposes.

The step, announced by William J. Bennett, the director of national drug policy, is effective immediately and was taken after officials learned that requests this year from importers to bring in the weapons had already nearly tripled those for all of 1988.

I dug it up last night while nosing around Google to answer a question in email.

This ban is still in effect. It's the reason why, say, an HK-91 is a $3,500 collector's item rather than an $800 gun sold in Wal-Mart. (In 1989, an HK-91 or -94 cost somewhat less than a new Colt AR-15.)

If you were a nerd for foreign military rifle clones, the late '80s, after the passage of FOPA but before this ban by Bush, were the salad days. You could get semiauto Galils, FAMAS bullpups, Beretta AR-70s, Valmets, all kinds of stuff. All cut off with the stroke of a pen.

Presumably, should we ever get a pro-gun-rights president in the White House, it could all be restored at the stroke of a pen, too, but we haven't had one of those since.

Meanwhile, if you're all tore up about the exotic foreign bullpups you're not getting your hands on, here's something to assuage that a little bit: At least in the case of the SA80, you ain't missing much.


NPVIRR said...

I still have a de-luxe NRA "Vote Freedom First" seed company cap from their "trust us GWB is nothing like his father" tour.

On the other hand, just think of all of W's cheap milsurp AR's and 5.56 sitting in warehouses for the next decade once the crumbling bond market forces us back into our own borders.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Of course, there are some Tin-Foil Hat Types who think certain Gun Collectors are just happy as can be with Bush the Elder's Ban and the NFA. Helps keep the price of their Toys up, you know.

Also, heard a rumor that Colt wanted the Ban because they could stop the flow of Norinco 1911's, which was killing their sales. Any truth to that rumor?

Tam said...

The 1989 import ban did not affect the Norinco 1911.

Anonymous said...

The PTR-91 is readily available, has a bunch of HK parts inside, and mangles brass just as efficiently as a real HK-91.

It looks like KelTec is pulling a Hyundai... moving from ultra cheap to kinda cool with RFB and KSG (tho I haven't touched either one). Bans are bad, but smart folks can still make interesting things happen.

Samsam von Virginia

Bubblehead Les. said...

Tam, I know Bush stopped the import of the Foreign Assault Rifles, but wasn't there something his Admin did that also stopped the ChiCom M-14's and the SKS and the 1911's also? I know some Chicom (supposedly) AP 7.62 x 39 came in and there was a hissy fit about it, or did this all occur later under Billary?

It seemed like every other week there was something going on back in those days to restrict the RKBA.

Tam said...

I think that the total ban on Chicom self-loaders happened in the early Clinton years, but I could be wrong.

ZombieRush said...

Why do executive orders not expire at the end of term for each pres? Is that a tinfoil opinion I hold? I mean if they act like tinfoil dictators,make them explicitly resign each one.

Standard Mischief said...

>Presumably, should we ever get a pro-gun-rights president in the White House, it could all be restored at the stroke of a pen, too,

Presumably, if we ever get a pro-Constitutional slate of supremes and at least one defendant that magically retains "standing" we might be able to do away with the abuse of power that is inherent in "signing statements" and "executive orders" that go far beyond just instructions to the president's henchmen.

Which hell freezes over first?

Panamared said...

Tam you hit on an interesting point, what the King gives with one hand he can take with the other. The idea that we have to get permission from the government to buy or carry a firearm is the antithesis of a right.

If you get all weak-knead over the 80's. excuse me for being heartbroken over the losses of the 60's. I remember anti-tank rifles as well as most other surplus weapons for sale in magazines. The USPS delivered to your door whatever. We had no idea what a yellow sheet was, and newly manufactured machine guns were available if you wanted to pay the tax.

We've come a long way back from the brink but were not there yet.

Standard Mischief said...

>make them explicitly resign each one.

Hah, they'll just get an intern to use the auto-pen anyway!

Noah D said...

Strange Gun/Gamer Geek Trivia:

In the last section of the second to latest version of Call Of Duty, the already-bizarre 'Black Ops', the Americans and Russians were armed with FAMASes and Galils, respectively. It was a strange combination of nostalgia, awesome, and WTFery.

WV: prypiti - No, no, I've played Stalker, I'm not going there.

gamachinist said...

I blamed ( and still do ) Kengs' Firearms and those cheap AK's for that.

The first time I saw those cheap ( $200.00 if Irc ) AK's I just knew they were going to bring trouble to gun owners, given the overall mood of the country and the successes the anti gun crowd had enjoyed in previous years ( Saturday Night Special was still a common term for cheap handguns, and while those were more reliable, they still fit the term price wise).

For the record, I didn't own any AR 15 type guns then either as they were out of my budget and collecting interests.

Just another example of how the Chinese pooched us.
Keng got his when the ban hit while he had guns in shipment and he couldn't sell them.
The Chinese wouldn't take them back and he was a little worried about getting a midnight visit from some goons over the money he owed them for what he couldn't sell. He eventually was able to part them out, and may have made decent money on that, but things were never the same for him.
(Kengs' was based in GA at the time and I knew someone who worked there. )

Word verification:
Which is really what I should be doing....

Larry said...

What tickles me about the whole "sporting use" meme is that a review of "US v. Miller" shows that the question was if a sawed-off shotgun was suitable for MILITARY use.
The second ain't about duck hunting.
(The choir is now dismissed.)

Anonymous said...

The biggest issue, that still prevails today, is that somehow they've convinced everybody including the majority of gun owners that guns are for "sporting purposes" - I reread the 2A lately and I'm pretty sure that it doesn't read like "A well organized opening weekend dove hunt being necessary..."

This is the most sinister thing that the anti's have acheived because a lot of "rational gun owners" buy into it. Afterall, we aren't talking about the bolt action deer rifle and O/U shotgun so it doens't apply to them - why worry.

Jeff J

Tam said...

Jeff J,

"This is the most sinister thing that the anti's have acheived because a lot of "rational gun owners" buy into it."

I don't think so anymore. That's very much a Gun Culture 1.0 attitude.

People who've come into the gun culture in the last ten or fifteen years don't tend to see it that way.

Boat Guy said...

Going back to guns instead of politics/legislation, I will point out the single best thing about the SA80; the magazines are GREAT and highly sought-after by our folks. As to the rest of the piece? Concur.
One reason that "Gun Culture 2.0" folks are different is because of the stands taken and examples provided by Aaron Zelman, Phil Van Cleave and other contemporaries of Culture 1.0. They provided the leadership we needed.

Tam said...

Boat Guy,

"One reason that "Gun Culture 2.0" folks are different is because of the stands taken and examples provided by Aaron Zelman, Phil Van Cleave and other contemporaries of Culture 1.0. They provided the leadership we needed."

Well, I'd say the main reason is why and how the person got into guns in the first place.

Gun Culture 1.0 grew up around guns, because dad took them to the duck blind or the deer stand or the high power match. Guns to them are normal accoutrement of a hobby or lifestyle, like golf clubs or fishing poles.

Gun Culture 2.0 bought their first gun because they heard it was about to be banned. Or because they'd been mugged. Or because it looked cool in Call of Duty. They got political because the guns and gun rights they most wanted or needed were the ones on the chopping block.

Gun Culture 1.0 v. 2.0 isn't an age thing, and it's not a hunting vs everybody else thing, either.

One of the most active gun rights types I know is an older guy who'd been around guns most of his life, but in that casual way (a .22 rifle and an 870 in the closet, that may get shot every other year or so) until he heard about the AWB coming down in '94, and that's what turned him into an activist, shooter, and collector.

Anonymous said...

Soldiered with both the FAL (L1A1 SLR) and then the SA80. And on ops too, for over two years solid. I also competed with the 'SA-Tee' at Bisley. Really, honestly, I don't recognise the description this guy gives it. Once a few bugs were ironed out, ours were reliable and very, very accurate. Maybe not as 'soldier proof' as an issue weapon should be.......

Having said that, I totally agree that there are better weapons out there, and the SA80 does have some serious problems.

Funny thing is, I can remember guys talking in just such a manner about the M16. British soldiers carried them in jungles, we also carried them when working alongside the USAF units in the UK. Some lads carried them in the Falklands during the tustle in '82. It too was disliked, yet now it seems to be the dog's bollox??

Cheers- Rusty

Tam said...


Comment over there, please, as I would be interested to see more feedback on the topic!

Drang said...

Restrictions on cheap SKSs and the "armor piercing" 7.62x39 were, indeed, under Billary. (Note to any lurking DNC operatives: When the NSSFs membership votes Your Guy "Best Gun Salesman of the Year", Your Guy has just done something to get us pissed off.)

Don M said...

The advantage of a longer barrel is mostly seen by the guy that does the autopsy. If the 5.56 bullet hits at over 2,500 feet per second it fragments. If it hits at less that that, it fragments much less. for the short barrel on the M-4, you get past 2500 fps only out to 50 meters or so. In CCB by definition you are within 50 meters. M-4 disadvantage occurs when you get hits with reduced lethality outside of 50 meters.

Patent 6,079,138 permits a 28 inch long rifle with a 24 inch barrel, using a delay blowback. No gas system to clog, no operating rod to kink. It extracts even if there is no extractor.

The 24 inch barrel permits the 5.56 round to stay above the 2500 fps threshold out to 300 meters.

Don M said...

I set it up with the ejection path straight down, between two magazines and a switch to change to feeding from the B magazine when the follower on the A magazine comes up.

Still mangles brass...

Tam said...

Don M,

When the day comes, I would love to T&E one! Seriously!

davidc said...

HK91A3 with combat sling & extra mags for about $600. Mid 80's.

Ed Foster said...

Boat Guy: When I was up at S&W I did a bunch of 6,000 round magazine tests. Guess which one was, hands down, the worst of the batch? The H&K, at almost fifty bucks a pop.

The supposedly "improved" Heckle and Jeckle M-16 clone mag was a wobbly POS that pendulumed shamelessly on the too shallow latch declivity with the humoungus coined radius that reduced bearing surface to about nil. Most of them had to be loaded forward with the thumb against the rear to achieve any kind of functioning.

I would imagine the SA80 has a very tight mag well to obviate the wobble. I imagine that wouldn't do too well with some of the crappier magazines I've seen.

On the M-16 magazine,there is also a 1.357 distance, plus or minus .003, from the top of the feedlips to the top of the locking slot. I ground away part of the lower jaw of a dial caliper to fit into the slot, allowing me to get a quick read, rather than having to do a surface plate set-up.

You couldn't measure said distance on most H&K magazines, since there wasn't a really defined edge to engage with either a height gage or a magazine catch, but as best as I could figure on the maybe three out of ten I could find a small flat on, the figure, when it existed at all, was maybe low limit to minus .010 or .012. All over the place.

For reference, an American magazine made by O.K. Industries or someone comparable would hold perhaps plus or minus .001 on every single mag.

Don M., the biggest problem found in the terminal ballistics of any full jacketed round in Iraq was the more than hundred thousand empty adrenaline syringes found after many firefights.

Evidently the dosage was so extreme that some healty 19 year olds dropped stone dead before the Americans had a chance to shoot them.

Afghanis are on average bigger and stronger than Arabs, and a whole lot meaner when they're straight, but the Mk. 262 load with a 77 grain bullet puts them down with about the same authority as a larger caliber round.

Penetration and hydrostatic shock are primarily a function of sectional density and velocity.

Breakup and tumbling are functions of bullet construction for the former, and bullet length vs. rifling twist rate and velocity for the latter.

The 150 grain flatbase in the old M2 30-06 load was noted for coming out in two seperate pieces, seperated at the cannelure.

It was commented on within the War Department as a possible violation of the Hague Convention, and the powers that be decided to act stupid until called on it, so as to improve stopping power during the war.

Delayed blowback has been around for a long time, and always required fresh ammo to function with any semblance of reliability. It's jerky, and tends to pull the rim or head off the round. There's a reason everybody on the planet is building a rifle nowadays with a rotating bolt and front locking lugs

Anonymous said...

I THINK the uk have switched to a magpul mag for the SA80

Tam said...

I seem to recall reading that they'd ordered a blue million E-mags from Magpul, myself.

Ed Foster said...

Step One. I'm switching over to MagPulls myself.

Vaarok said...

They only imported something like ten semiauto FAMASes before the ban. I think it was one crate.