I have written a few posts, but due to an incomplete thought or not having complete information on a variety of topics I have started to write about, I just haven't finished up several smaller posts sitting in my draft box.
I managed to contract a real sumbitch of a bug, the jury is still out as to whether it fell under the category of cold, flu, or just a bug. It has made the rounds around everyone I know, and it takes a week or two to really get through it. Of course, I managed to come down with this particular illness right prior to finals week. Despite being so sick I had to take enough medicine to allow me to see through time, I managed to study enough to pass my final exams.
Christmas was standard fare for someone who works in the industry that I am in. I spend a few hours with my family, then it's off to work to serve my community.
However, I did have an interesting experience prior to Christmas.
Well, two, really.
First off, I have some relatives that live down in Southwest Texas, and I go down to pick up different odds and ends from time to time, or just to see how they're doing. Well, in the small town they live in, there is an Ace Hardware store, locally known as Morrisons. To say it is just an Ace hardware store is being a bit disingenuous. It is the local:
1. Radio Shack
2. AT&T store
3. CAT and John Deere rental house
4. Home appliance store
5. Firearms shop
I love going in there, because you never know what you are going to find. There is a standard glass display counter that has literally dozens and dozens of handguns stacked on top of each other, then they have a glass cabinet stuffed to the gills with rifles and shotguns. You will see AR pattern rifles, AK knockoffs, Dragunovs, Remington 700's, you name it.
The best part is, no one seems to think this is unusual. Firearms are literally that prevalent in the local society that this doesn't raise an eyebrow. Nor does the fact that there are shelves that have cases upon cases of ammo, and next to the ammo is dishware.
Do I love small town Texas? You bet.
Where else can you go and join in conversations over ballistics, stopping power of different calibers, or even politics with not only local gun nuts, but with the local sheriffs deputies, game wardens, and state police?
Anyway, I was heading into Morrisons Ace Hardware, hoping to pick up some rifle and pistol primers and peruse their selection of firearms, when I was accosted by Santa Clause.
No, not really accosted. Let me put that another way.
Santa tried to sell me a gun.
Yes, friends and neighbors, Santa Clause handed a couple thousand primers over the counter, and let me put my hands on a couple of 1911's I have been drooling over, as well as a Saiga 12 they had on the rack.
I did not know that Santa was so knowledgeable about guns, nor that he worked in an Ace Hardware in southwest Texas in his spare time. I wouldn't have figured the climate would agree with him, but I guess he gets tired of the north pole from time to time.
I know it's useless without pics, but believe me, in no way can imagination trump reality on this one. "HOHOHO, LOCK AND LOAD!"
The next item up was that I finally started filling out the paperwork to get my C&R license from the ATF, and I also started filling out the paperwork to do some NFA transfers/construction.
I have been waiting for a while to do this, as I have not been looking forward to bothering my local chief of police or Sheriff.
Apparently, I was not wrong to be concerned about such things.
I spent a little time doing some research on building a suppressor as opposed to buying one, and finally decided that was the avenue I wanted to take. I have quite a bit of machinist and welding experience, and since the average suppressor for a .22 only consists of about 50 bucks (or less) of raw material, I imagine that building one was well within my reach.
A while back, during the Great Obama
bum gun rush of late 2oo8, I happened across a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 receiver at one of my local Merchants of Death. I decided to buy it, as AR's were getting pretty tough to find, and I knew it to be a decent investment. Well, after some deliberation, I decided to sell it to a friend of mine who had been wanting to build an AR. He amassed a lower parts kit from the good fellows at Model 1 Sales and brought it to me for assembly.
Unfortunately, said friend moved off to Nevada in search of bluer skies, and left his finished lower receiver with me for storage. Contact was later made as this friend needed money for various reasons, and a decision was made to sell the completed lower back to me. Not because I really need another AR, but because a friend needed money and does not like to borrow.
So, a really nice AR receiver. What to do with it?
Ah. I know. A chance to register it as a Short Barreled Rifle with the ATF and procure a 7 or 10 inch barreled upper for it?
So, I finally sack up enough to contact my local chief LEO and request a few moments of his time and some signatures on some NFA paperwork.
His secretary was friendly enough on the phone as to the whole matter, but I could tell that the term NFA or Title II paperwork mean exactly NADA to this person.
I set up my appointment to speak to the Chief of Police, and headed downtown to get all this baloney out of the way.
The Chief was pleasant, but firm.
He has never, nor will he ever, sign off on an individual owning a suppressor. He seemed less troubled by my request to manufacture a short barreled rifle than he did anything else, but the kicker was when I inquired about me owning a machinegun. Would he sign off on such a transfer?
"No civilian has the right nor need to own a machinegun. I will not allow anyone not currently law enforcement or military to own such an item. I will refuse to sign on any transfer of one, and I stand by that. Machineguns are not to be owned or used by any civilian at any time."
Apparently, this guy needs a lesson in understanding the Constitution. Need? We don' need no stinkin' need!
Frustrated, I gathered my paperwork and headed home. A trip to the range was in order, to get some r&r before my next venture.
Upon leaving my local bullet hose club, I gave the local sheriff a call. I got in touch with the man immediately, and set up an appointment to discuss the matters of NFA transfers with him. He seemed a bit cautious over the phone, but not completely close-minded about it.
I met with the Sheriff the next day, and was very impressed with his mindset on the whole thing. He was cautious in his dealings with me, but seemed open to the idea that ownership of NFA items was not only legal, but perfectly okay for many people to do. He asked me what my reason for owning a suppressor and short barreled rifle were, and proceeded to ask me why I 'needeed' a machine gun. I informed him that I was extremely grateful to live in a state wherein need did not legislate ownership of anything, and that if we were all living by need alone, we would both be riding bicycles to work and would have never heard of things like big screen TV's, SUV's, sports cars, nor would we have ever even gone out to a restaurant to eat.
The Sheriff nodded, and said he agreed. Need should not dictate ownership. That is never what our country (nor my state) has been about.
We spoke at length about some things pertinent to my ownership of such items, and I informed him that no one of sane mind would jump through all these hoops, spend thousands of dollars, try to get permission from their local law enforcement for ownership, be registered by the ATF, and have background checks done on a local and federal level, all to let their weaponry fall into the wrong hands or use it to kill a bunch of cops or a school bus full of kids.
I informed the Sheriff that I have lived my life according to the rule of law, even if it meant following laws I found unconstitutional or that I plain didn't like. I have gone out of my way to abide by the law in every way. I go out of my way to be a responsible gun owner and keep my weaponry out of the hands of those who would misuse it. I work hard at training new shooters, both young and old, as to the proper handling, storage, and usage of a firearm.
In closing, he informed me that pending a local background check proved me legally fit to own such an item, he had absolutely no problem with my transfers or manufacture of these politically incorrect items and would grant signature pending the background check. He then wished me and my family a Merry Christmas, and walked me out.
The sheriff may not be crazy about the idea (mainly, it seems, because I haven't lived out here too long and he really doesn't know me), but he knows that I have a right to own such items, and he is willing and able to aid me in acquiring them.
Many times over, I have looked at rulings handed down by judges and courts, and I have longed to see either one say, "You know, I may not like this ruling, and I may disagree strongly with it on a personal level, but this is what the Constitution says, and I will not stand in the way."
Instead, we get rulings like the Heller case, where it is nothing more than a half decent interpretation of the law, instead of the law itself.
However, I think my experience with the local sheriff is a good example of an upstanding peace officer giving way to the rule of the constitution instead of forcing his own emotions into law, like my chief of police.
So, my paperwork is still pending at the Sheriffs office, but that is the best Christmas gift I have gotten this year.
Well, except for my family and friends and stuff. Those are kinda nice too.