The Council has spoken, the votes have been cast and the results are in for this week’s Watcher’s Council match-up.
If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, a decent amount of knowledge is a real safety factor.
It has been an interesting week in regard to some of my discussions with people who have recently purchased firearms. Gun dealers and manufacturers are struggling 24/7 to keep up with the current demand. I’ve never seen anything like it. It is as if Americans are preparing for war, thanks in no small measure to the left’s war on guns and the Bill of Rights.
Gun dealers and gun manufacturers are not the only ones dealing with the increased workload to satisfy demand. I spoke with a law enforcement official this week who handles gun permits for our local jurisdiction and she stated she was two weeks behind on issuing permits due to everybody and their brother wanting a concealed-carry permit (CCW) these days.
Additionally, I’ve talked to some people who have just purchased their very first firearm. I’ve spoken with others who have owned firearms, and are reasonably proficient in their use, but are now purchasing stuff like expensive gas-piston AR-15-style hybrids that would make a SWAT team member drool over. Still others are purchasing firearms that they aren’t really that familiar with, and only understand their operation in a strictly cursory sense.
I feel compelled to write this article for one reason only: if it can help just one person from injuring themselves or others (or worse), then it will definitely be worth the effort. First, since this subject matter is so important, I highly recommend that if you have just purchased a firearm for the first time, or you are not that familiar with the safe handling and operation of a firearm, to take a gun safety course taught by a certified firearms instructor. I can not stress this enough.
DO NOT assume you know everything about a firearm, when, in fact, you don’t. I guarantee you, if you get with a certified gun instructor, you will be surprised (maybe even “shocked”), at how much vitally important knowledge you will gain on the proper handling of firearms.
And to really drive this point home, be sure to double-check anything I may have included in this article with a qualified gun expert so that you are sure, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that you know how to safely handle a firearm. I only to wish to share my experience so that you can double-check it with a qualified gun expert to see that it lines up with standard and universally accepted safe-handling practices for firearms.
I’m not going to go outside my field of expertise here by getting into any martial use of firearms, or any highly-technical aspects of firearms; that’s better left to people who are specifically trained in those areas of self-defense and the tactical use of firearms. I only want to touch on some of these matters, just so you can be familiarized with the some of the important basic concepts. My focus in this article is focus on the critical importance of gun safety fundamentals and to encourage the reader to seek further education in the subject matter.
First off, let me just clearly state the level of my experience with firearms and Class 3 “restricted” weapons; and how I was trained to safely handle firearms and weapons. This is not rocket science, folks. But these fundamental rules of proper handling of firearms applies overall to all firearms and weapons, short of artillery and above. I’m talking about guns—guns of all sorts.
Back in the early 90′s, I was involved with a historical reenactment society—specifically, World War Two reenacting. Since I was nine years old, I’ve been a student of World War Two history. Naturally, being asked to get involved piqued my interest and I joined up. The particular group (or “unit”) I was involved with were led by two members of the National Guard who had federal firearms licenses (FFL) and were able to legally own and purchase Class 3 “restricted” weapons—meaning: machine guns, i.e. fully-automatic weapons. (Civilians who do not possess an FFL cannot purchase Class 3 weapons legally.)
Our first “leader” of the group maintained a collection of American and British weapons from the Second World War. Our second “leader” maintained a very impressive and extensive collection of German weapons, as well as numerous Allied vintage arms. Since live rounds are never, ever used in a reenactment, it was necessary to fit some of these automatic weapons with blank adapters.
For example, the German MP-38 / MP-40 (commonly known as the Schmeisser) cannot create enough pressure in the chamber to properly cycle rounds when firing blank rounds. Blank rounds are crimped shell casings that contain a charge, but no bullet. Typically, the end of the barrel would have to be threaded to receive a cap with a small, precisely engineered hole to create just the right amount of pressure in the chamber to allow the weapon to function normally. Over-pressurization of the chamber can cause the weapon to possibly rupture or explode. Naturally, all this required the expertise of real gunsmiths and armorers familiar with vintage arms.
Every month or so, a live-fire exercise would be held that gave invited members a chance to fire live rounds from Class 3 weapons, as well as our own personal firearms, at a proper range. We just had to supply the ammo—which wasn’t cheap, by the way. Machine guns chew up ammo quick! I never missed an opportunity to participate in a live-fire exercise. I consider myself fortunate now, considering the current “climate.” I had the opportunity to fire the Thompson submachine gun w/ box mag; an early model slow-fast, select-fire Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), the MP-38 submachine gun, and numerous other weapons and firearms. During reenactments, I ran a MG-42 belt-fed machine gun (blanks only) that was a real handful. It could jam in a number of different ways.
The people who conducted these live-fire exercises were certified firearms instructors with military and law enforcement experience. I highly recommend seeking out gun experts with this sort of background when you first start handling and shooting firearms for the first time, or if you have little or limited experience. My experience and training on these weapons by no means makes me an expert. I just want to share the experience I had and how much gun safety played the prominent role throughout.
Before I was ever allowed to handle weapons like the ones mentioned, even blank-adapted guns, I had to display proficiency in handling firearms safely to those who owned those weapons. And this is where it gets serious—deadly serious. Guns don’t kill, but guns in the wrong (untrained) hands certainly can. The fundamentals of gun safety must be practiced at all times, no exceptions … EVER! Firearm accidents happen all the time, mostly due to the improper handling of a loaded firearm—operator error.