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Romanian term limits,” somebody was saying as I walked into
Grouchy’s Gun Shop, just north of the Hardyville stoplight.
The other guys around the counter laughed, as if at a bitter joke.
Then their grins — and their talk — chopped off as they turned to see
who’d come in. “She’s OK,” said the glance they exchanged. I went to
look at holsters and they went on as if they’d never been interrupted.
“Didja hear about this new executive order? That murdering dictator
in the White House …” one groused as I disappeared around a display
rack. And it occurred to me — not for the first time — that
this is why politicians and bureaucrats are so desperate to crush
gun dealers and gun shows out of existence.
It’s got less to do with “killer guns” than with talk.
Maybe they don’t do it in the locked room at Cabela’s, where rich folks buy $6,000
engraved shotguns, but in every gun store I’ve been in the last
six years, this is what goes on all day. Talk. Talk about what’s being
taken away, and how brutally, how unlawfully. Talk about their whole culture being demonized
and slowly legis-regulated out of existence — not only “the gun
culture,” whatever that may be, but an entire culture of independence,
individuality, and live-and-let-live.
Like ’em or hate ’em, these once-peaceful gun owners of the ’90s are
feeling a lot like Jews of 1939 Germany. Maligned, lied about,
persecuted and threatened. Afraid, confused and angry. Very.
Of course, talk is proverbially cheap. A substitute for action, as
often as not. Still … if a revolution or a Bill of Rights underground
is going to develop, it’s going to happen here, in grubby little
gun shops like Grouchy’s.
It is happening. …
“I was talking with Colonel Beaudoin, over at the Armory,”
stage-whispered one of the talkers. “He said if they ever get the order
to confiscate guns, he’d warn some of us. That way we could turn over
old junk and hide the good stuff for a ‘rainy day.'”
“S—,” snarled another. “If the government ever comes collecting
guns, that’s about as rainy a damn day as we’re gonna get. What is this
‘rainy day’ BS, anyway? Do you suppose the farmers at Lexington and
Concord just said, oh well, we’ll let ’em take our guns now and will
fight on some ‘rainy day’?
“Look, if they come for the guns, we fight. Even if we can’t do
anything but die. That’s the day. We either give up or stand up — right
then. But the truth is, I don’t think they’re gonna come for the guns.
Not just like that.”
“Yeah. They’ll just regulate everything away until there’s nothing
left. They’re already doing that, one whack at a time.”
“Nothing left that’s legal. But there will still be hundreds
of millions of guns. They’re not going to go away just because
Rosie O’Donnell and Sarah Brady wish they would — or just
because politicians wave their magic laws. No more than booze or dope
just went away. You know what this country’s going to look like once
there are hardly any legal guns anymore?”
“The South Bronx.”
“Al Capone’s Chicago.”
“Half a million more people in prison, at least.”
“Won’t old Rosie like that, now?”
“But speaking of Al Capone’s Chicago, if they want to make criminals
of us, some people are going to be good ones.”
“Yeah. For starters, most gun owners will outwit the
Gestapo one way or another.
“They’ll just crack down on anything we try, eventually.”
“We outnumber them, though. Even if they put a half a million of us
in prison, that still leaves millions of us out here.”
“Yeah, but doing what?”
“Well, if they make guns illegal or impossible to get, some people
are going to build their own. And the thing is, when you can go to
prison for owning a .22 single-shot target pistol, why not own something
bigger and meaner, instead? Did you know you can build
an assault rifle or machine gun — from scratch — with ordinary
“Friend of mine, a gunsmith, just got a new lathe. He says he can do
anything now, including that.”
“And if you don’t have those tools, you can still
turn some kinds of .22 pistols into machine pistols, right in your
“Geez, that’s crazy!”
“Look, I’m not saying anybody should do it. I’m just saying
that people will do it once they can’t get legal stuff. It’s a
“Some of those guns will be blowing up in idiots’ faces!”
“Yeah, just like some people went blind from drinking wood alcohol
once the government stopped ’em from getting the legal booze. Just like
they die of drug overdoses because there’s no quality control. What else
“But why would anybody want to build a machine gun? They aren’t that
effective, compared to being
skilled with plain old semi-autos or bolt-actions. They found that
out in Rhodesia a few
years ago. Machine guns are mostly just big, noisy toys. Use up a lot of
expensive ammo. And we’ll have to make
that for ourselves, too.”
“Like I said, if you’re gonna hang for being a litterer, you might as
well hang for being an international jewel thief. At least you get some
excitement before they stick your head in the noose. Besides, it’s not
just machine guns. People will go for bigger caliber stuff. Exotic
stuff. More destructive stuff. Just like they went for harder booze and
stronger drugs once they were illegal. Just like they went back to big
old .45 ACP once the Feinstein magazine ban made 9-mill less useful.
“It’s not a recommendation. It’s just history. Reality.
“And another thing. Don’t you suppose those guys who’re getting their
cocaine shipments around the world will be happy to add another line of
merchandise to the inventory? Stick some pistols in with the white
powder. Even the government admits 90 percent gets through — so you can
bet even more than that does.”
“Oh, man. We’re gonna have cartel wars between Glock and Colt!”
“Something like that. Between whoever replaces them on the black
market, anyway. But whatever happens, guns aren’t going to go away.
They’re just going to get more dangerous, every which way — for the
people who own ’em, the people who shoot ’em, and the people getting
“Then what’s Rosie gonna be screaming for, I wonder?”
“Longer sentences. Death penalty for ‘gun traffickers.’ Then death
penalty for ‘possession.’ House-to-house sweeps. Visits from
your friendly, local SWAT team.”
For a moment, there was a silence. Then someone said, flatly, “We’re
still going to have to fight. In the end.”
“Lay in a stock of
And start readin.'”
“Yeah, ain’t it interesting that the biggest supplier of subversive
literature in the world isn’t really Paladin Press or Loompanics or Delta? It’s the U.S. gummint. Teach you
how to do everything from set booby traps to sabotage communications.”
“Man, I don’t want to get into any of this stuff! I just want to be
“You might not have that choice, someday. The gun-banners are setting
consequences that everybody’s going to have to live with. They just
don’t understand that the only way to get rid of guns is to murder a few
million gun owners. And after that, they’ll have to murder all other
people who get mad about the police state they created in the process —
and those guys will have found guns to fight with, somehow. I, for one,
am gonna stand up and kick butt a long time before it goes anywhere near
“I’ll play criminal games as long as I have to. But someday, it’s
gonna be Lexington time all over again. And there’s a few million of us
out here who not only feel that way but have the experience — Thank
you, Vietnam; Thank you, Korea, World War II, Desert Storm and all Bill
Clinton’s little wars — to know how to do it. And when you’re talking
guerrilla tactics, you don’t need big numbers on your side.”
“When, though? How do we know?”
“If they come for the guns, for sure. When they burn the next church
full of babies. Maybe. If they declare martial law. Maybe. I don’t know.
Maybe there won’t be any one time, but a whole lot of little
incidents over the years, leading up to something big. I just know we’d
better be ready. Maybe it’s even good that we don’t know exactly when.
Because that means they never know how far they can push us before
we push back — hard.”
At that point I came around the counter and the guys changed the
subject. It’s not that they suddenly realized I was overhearing. They
knew all along there was a writer lurking.
No, they’d just said all they had to say. For the moment.
“Hey, Claire,” one said, “you really stirred up a fuss with last
week’s Rosie O’D column.”
“Well, freedom lovers did. It seems we swamped Rosie’s Web servers
that morning and sent so many protests to Kmart that they took two of
their e-mail addresses out of service. Most of the credit goes to other people.”
“You said you were going to write about armed confrontation this
week. I tell you, that Joseph Farah’s a good guy, but he’s never
gonna let you write about that.”
“Oh, he might,” I said. “If I handle it carefully.”
“Well, in that case,” said one of the guys who, like the rest, shall
remain nameless, “You just tell that Rosie O’Donnell something for us.
We don’t want trouble and we aren’t gonna start any. Leave us alone and
we’ll leave you alone. But you can tell Rosie and all her fans —
including Chuck Schumer and Orrin Hatch and Larry Craig and Dianne
Feinstein — that when they send their goons after our guns, Hardyville
will be waiting for them.”