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The rise of America's gun

In one of those delicious historical ironies, America’s weirdly mysterious anti-gun president is making gun manufacturers rich.

When candidate Barack Obama said in 2008 that real Americans “cling to their guns and religion,” he doubtless didn’t really know what he was talking about. After all, the Chicago community organizer had probably never hung out with gun owners in his life, save for the thugs who roamed the Windy City.

But as the country has descended deeper into the dark woods of Obama’s totalitarian rule, the Second Amendment has especially come under fire, pun intended. Except for the NRA and Congress, Obama would have already succeeded where he and Hillary Clinton want to see success: severe restrictions on gun rights.

All the while, Americans pony up for more guns and more ammo. It has always been thus.

From Colonel Patrick Ferguson in the Revolutionary War, to Alvin York, to Chris Kyle, Americans have defended themselves using firearms. Today, one particular gun is called by some “America’s Gun.”

In “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun,” Paul Barrett weaves a fascinating tale of how the handgun has grown in popularity.

The book begins with a shootout between federal agents and bank robbers in Miami, in 1986. While FBI agents used five- and six-shot revolvers, the bad guys returned fire with Ruger semiautomatic rifles. When the smoke cleared, two agents were dead, three were crippled, and two more seriously injured. The bank robbers also were finally vanquished by a brave agent who fired at them from point-blank range.

This bloody exchange led to a great deal of soul-searching and analysis by law enforcement. As the presidency of Ronald Reagan neared its end, crime was rising in America. During those same days, Gaston Glock began to dream. From the book:

After thirty years in manufacturing, Gaston Glock’s industriousness had yielded a respectable social station and a comfortable life, without elevating him to the higher ranks of Austrian commerce. Still, he dreamed big. Glock, the son of an Austrian railroad worker, managed an inconspicuous car radiator factory outside Vienna. In the garage next to his house in suburban Deutsch-Wagram, not far from the radiator plant, he operated a side business with his wife, Helga. Using a secondhand metal press made in Russia, they produced a modest volume of brass fittings for doors and windows. The garage metal shop expanded over time to make steel blades the durability and reasonable price of which so impressed Austria’s Ministry of Defense that Glock obtained a contract to supply field knives and bayonets to the Austrian Army. The military work led to contacts at the ministry, where Glock became an occasional visitor, his eyes and ears open for new opportunity.

In short order, Glock began manufacturing guns and today, while all gun manufacturers produce semi-automatic weapons, “the Glock” has become a standard-bearer.

The Gaston Glock story is one of those historical moments when an individual is not ruled by fear or doubt, but resolve. Upon hearing from two officers in the Austrian army that they were having trouble finding a replacement for the antiquated Walther P-38, Glock asked if he could submit a bid. The officers laughed.

Trained in mechanical engineering, “Designing firearms was something far beyond his experience.” Still, Glock gave it a try, with real determination.

Thank God he did. Today, the Glock line is elite, joining other gun manufacturers as a favorite of both law enforcement and civilians. In “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun,” Barrett blends data with the Glock story, and if such a book can be a page-turner, this one is. For example, he notes that a Colby, Kansas patrolman ordered two Glocks in the spring of 1986, thus becoming the first force to do so in America. Today, the Colby Police Department still uses Glocks.

Further, not long after Colby went Glock, a prop supplier in New York, Rick Washburn (originally from an Arkansas and a sometimes actor; truth is stranger than fiction!) began recreational shooting a Glock. He was surprised at its superior performance in hitting targets and before long, the gun emerged in the TV show, “The Equalizer.” Pretty soon, the “super gun,” as it had come to be known, was being used by all the Hollywood good guys. Just like that, Glock became a household name.

(It’s also how another Arkansas boy, a book reviewer, became a Glock owner after hearing of its merits from a friend … in Israel.)

Truly, Gaston Glock’s dream came true. Today, the 86-year-old Glock is still in the gun manufacturing business. As his fans in America wait out the end of Obama’s presidency, the company has never been more popular.

America’s Gun is still pointed forward, toward bright horizons.

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