This right here, that laugh of joy, this is why we win. That is why those who wish to restrict our freedoms lose. Every. Time.
Posts in category RKBA
The Belgian Corporal
by Neal Knox
In the summer of 1955, I was a young Texas National Guard sergeant on active duty at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. A corporal in my squad was a Belgian-American named Charles DeNaer. An old man as far as most of us were concerned, being well over thirty, Charley commanded a certain amount of our respect, for not only was he older than the rest of us, he had lived in Belgium when the Germans rolled across the low countries by-passing the Maginot Line on their way into France. He had seen war.
One soft Oklahoma afternoon, sitting on a bunk in the half-light of an old wooden barracks, he told me his story.
In Charley’s little town in Belgium, there lived an old man, a gunsmith. The old man was friendly with the kids and welcomed them to his shop. He had once been an armorer to the king of Belgium, according to Charley. He told us of the wonderful guns the old man had crafted, using only hand tools. There were double shotguns and fine rifles with beautiful hardwood stocks and gorgeous engraving and inlay work. Charley liked the old man and enjoyed looking at the guns. He often did chores around the shop.
One day the gunsmith sent for Charley. Arriving at the shop, Charley found the old man carefully oiling and wrapping guns in oilcloth and paper. Charley asked what he was doing. The old smith gestured to a piece of paper on the workbench and said that an order had come to him to register all of his guns. He was to list every gun with a description on a piece of paper and then to send the paper to the government. The old man had no intention of complying with the registration law and had summoned Charley to help him bury the guns at a railroad crossing. Charley asked why he didn’t simply comply with the order and keep the guns. The old man, with tears in his eyes, replied to the boy, “If I register them, they will be taken away. ”
A year or two later, the blitzkrieg rolled across the Low Countries. One day not long after, the war arrived in Charley’s town. A squad of German SS troops banged on the door of a house that Charley knew well. The family had twin sons about Charley’s age. The twins were his best friends. The officer displayed a paper describing a Luger pistol, a relic of the Great War, and ordered the father to produce it. That old gun had been lost, stolen, or misplaced sometime after it had been registered, the father explained. He did not know where it was.
The officer told the father that he had exactly fifteen minutes to produce the weapon. The family turned their home upside down. No pistol. They returned to the SS officer empty-handed.
The officer gave an order and soldiers herded the family outside while other troops called the entire town out into the square. There on the town square the SS machine-gunned the entire family-father, mother, Charley’s two friends, their older brother and a baby sister.
I will never forget the moment. We were sitting on the bunk on a Saturday afternoon and Charley was crying, huge tears rolling down his cheeks, making silver dollar size splotches on the dusty barracks floor. That was my conversion from a casual gun owner to one who was determined to prevent such a thing from ever happening in America.
Later that summer, when I had returned home I went to the president of the West Texas Sportsman’s Club in Abilene and told him I wanted to be on the legislative committee. He replied that we didn’t have a legislative committee, but that I was now the chairman.
I, who had never given a thought to gun laws, have been eyeball deep in the “gun control” fight ever since.
As the newly-minted Legislative Committee Chairman of the West Texas Sportsman’s club, I set myself to some research. I had never before read the Second Amendment, but now noticed that The American Rifleman published it in its masthead. I was delighted to learn that the Constitution prohibited laws like Belgium’s. There was no battle to fight, I thought. We were covered. I have since learned that the words about a militia and the right of the people to keep and bear, while important, mean as much to a determined enemy as the Maginot line did to Hitler.
Rather than depend on the Second Amendment to protect our gun rights, I’ve learned that we must protect the Second Amendment and the precious rights it recognizes.
Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included. Text is available at www.FirearmsCoalition.org. To receive The Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Knox Hard Corps Report, write to PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA 20108.
©Copyright 2009 Neal Knox Associates
This blog started out as primarily a hunting, outdoors, and survival/preparedness-oriented blog, but I seem to find more articles to write concerning firearms and gun ownership than anything else at the moment. Perhaps that’s because it is a subject that is near and dear to my heart.
Regardless, I want to take the time to address “sportsmen” and hunters who disclaim the natural and inalienable right to keep and bear arms. Though I’m an advocate of concealed carry and self-defnese, I’m going to address this from the perspective of a hunter. Fellow blogger Weerd took to task a self-proclaimed hunter and writer, whose article I will not link to here, over his claims that the “NRA Extremists” do not represent him. These “Fudds” (as in Elmer Fudd), as they are referred to by those who champion 2nd Amendment rights, claim that it does no harm to restrict or even ban ownership of handguns, standard capacity semi-automatic rifles, or other firearms with “scary” features such as folding stocks, flash suppressors, or muzzle brakes. Such claims could not be further from the truth.
Laugh if you want, but this “tactical” shotgun can easily do double-duty as both a home-defense firearm as well as an effective dove gun by simply inserting a magazine tube plug.
First, let’s take a look at the current tax scheme that weds hunters and 2nd Amendment supporters together. Ammunition sold in the United States is subject to a federal excise tax. Every round that is sold is taxed, and that revenue goes directly into the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, also referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Trust Fund. Every year over 700 million dollars are sent to this fund, and that money goes directly to establishing, restoring, and preserving huntable wildlife habitats.
As a hunter, you may think that you are the primary source of revenue for this fund. Based off of just the number of shot shells expended chasing dove last season, it’s easy to see why someone might think that way. But if you’re a hunter who does no range shooting other than to sight in a rifle and fire some #8 shot at a few clays, the amount of ammo you expend is FAR less than what a shooting enthusiast might go through in a given year.
I don’t know a single person with hunting as their only firearm-related activity who will go through more than a couple of hundred rounds a year. On the other hand, an active IDPA or USPSA shooter can easily run through tens of thousands of rounds in a season, all of which are taxed as “hunting equipement”. In fact, every firearm and firearm-related accessory, whether intended for hunting or self-defense, is subject to this same Federal excise tax.
Who’s supporting the wildlife now?
There’s nothing quite like the grin on the face of a new hunter who’s just bagged their first quarry.
Second, let’s address the claims that restrictions upon the types of firearms that are legal for an individual to own will not impact or hamper hunters. For hundreds of years, soldiers and warriors who went off to war brought back with them a fondness for the rifle that kept them alive throughout the conflict. Whether it was the Brown Bess musket of the American Revolution, the 1903 Springfield, M1 Garand, M14/M1A, or even the M16/AR-15, after the war the soldiers who returned often sought out similar, if not identical, rifles for hunting and shooting at home. And why not? The rifles proved themselves accurate and supremely reliable under combat conditions, and that same accuracy and reliability would continue to be useful in bringing home a little venison every fall.
Yet, the excuses from the Fudds pour forth:
“Nobody needs that much firepower in the woods.”
“Those rifles are only good to spray-and-pray.”
“…hunting rifles can be used to kill people as well as deer and ducks, but they’re not designed for that, and that makes a big difference.”
“My shotgun has as much in common with a machine gun as a Piper Cub has with an F-16.”
These and other excuses make up the bulwark of the Fudd’s reasoning for further violations of our natural rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment, but when you break down and examine each excuse, they fall flat. Nobody needs that much firepower? A .300 Win Mag has more than twice the energy of a standard issue 5.56 NATO round, and .308 hunting rifles are virtually identical in form and function to a 7.62 NATO “sniper” rifle. Only good for spray and pray? Modern military training with the M16 discourages automatic fire, and in fact many rifles issued to our troops these days are only equipped with a 3-round burst. Instead, soldiers are trained to use deliberate-aimed fire for maximum effectiveness, much as hunters use carefully aimed shots to quickly down their prey. Hunting rifles aren’t designed for killing people? Au contraire, every black powder, bolt action, and semi-auto hunting rifle on the market today was derived from, or is a direct copy of, a military rifle design. Every. Single. One.
Firearms were first developed as a weapon of war and a means of self-defense. It was only later that their usefulness in pursuing game was realized. Ancient cannons, muskets, and handgonnes begat modern punt guns and shotguns, while nearly every modern bolt-action rifle is based in part off of the Mauser brother’s 1871 design.
And what about handguns? I’m using a handgun as my primary hunting weapon this year. It presents an interesting challenge and forces me to hone my skills stalking close to my prey, and it’s much lighter and easier to tote around the woods than a long gun. If there were restrictions on handgun ownership, I might not have that option.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to basic human rights. Everyone has the right to self-defense, and I believe hunters have the right to provide food for the table. Hunters also have the right to restrict themselves to muzzleloaders, shotguns with slugs, single shot centerfire rifles, or modern bolt actions. Or, they can utilize the latest magazine fed AR-based semi-automatic rifle (where hunting laws allow it).
I will not pass judgement on someone who uses a modern sporting rifle in pursuit of deer. We have enough problems trying to grow the sport. Instead, we should be encouraging firearm ownership of all sorts and helping those who have the interest in hunting to learn the ways of the woods, to learn the ethics of hunting, and to learn the skills it takes to bring a meal from hoof to table.
At the end of the day, we’re all in this together, seeking to protect the rights that are valuable to us.
I will end with this offer: If you are a hunter in the North Texas area, and want to learn how to carry and shoot a handgun for self defense, contact me and I will take you to the range at my expense and safely teach you the basics of pistol safety and concealed carry. Likewise, if you are a shooter or CHL holder in the North Texas area, and want to learn how to hunt safely and effectively, contact me and I will help you pass a Hunter’s Safety Education course, help you get a hunting license, and then take you out on a dove, deer, hog, or squirrel hunt (your choice).