L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 58, October 31, 1999
All Hallows Eve
So You Want To Buy A Gun
by Bruce Elmore
Special to TLE
OK, you have thought about it a lot. You have heard all the arguments
on both sides, and you have decided for whatever reason to arm
This is good.
The second question you have to answer is why do you want a
If you want a gun to put meat on the table, that is one thing. But,
if you are buying a weapon with which you hope to be able to defend
your life, your freedom, and the lives of those you love that is
entirely a different matter.
I will address the self defense aspects of firearms purchases in this
So, here we are at the gun store, looking at all those beautiful
handguns in the long glass cases, and the racks of absolutely
stunning rifles along the wall. The smell of new guns is almost
intoxicating. The pistols gleam under the glass, and the wood and
synthetic stocks of the rifles beckon you like sirens.
Forget them for now.
If you want just one firearm with which you will be able to both
defend your home, your life, and as an added bonus be able to put
meat on the table with, you want a shotgun. The shotgun was invented
around 1600 or so, and it has been killing both man and
beast in amazing numbers since then. Modern shotguns are well built,
inexpensive, phenominally reliable, and have an absolutely astounding
variety of ammunition avaible for use in them.
There are shotgun rounds which can literally clear a street of
opposition in 3 or 4 shots, others which can kill a man or deer at
ranges of 100 yards. There are shotgun shells which can kill any
variety of game bird from snipe to goose. Smoke and teargas rounds
can be had for your shotgun. There are even shotgun shells which can
turn your trusty hogleg into a flame thrower if need be.
And the shotgun has the true beauty of a home defense weapon. It's
cheap. You can buy a completely reliable American made shotgun for
less than 400.00 dollars. Both Mossberg and Remington make perfectly
useful shotguns in this price range. Either one will serve a person
Now shotguns, as good as they are, have their limits.
They are best employed at ranges from point blank to about 100 yards
depending on the ammunition you have. And while you can kill large
game or opponents at fairly long ranges with a shotgun, realistically
for anything over 100 yards you need a rifle.
Also, if you are buying guns for self defense purposes, you shouldn't
count on your shotgun at anything beyond 50 yards or so. At ranges
from 50 yards to 100 yards, you are going to need a pistol.
Just because this is my article, I am going to cover pistols first.
Your Second Choice
Handguns. Ah, handguns. I don't think any aspect of self defense
firearms ownership has had more words written or spoken than this
one. A lot of what has been written and said is right, and an awful
lot more is wrong.
There are two basic types of handguns. Revolvers, and
semi-automatics. There are literally dozens of manufacturers, and
thousands of models to chose from. Don't let any of that scare you.
If this is to be your first handgun, and you want it for self-defense
purposes, you want a revolver.
OK, I will give the semi-auto fans a moment to calm down, and I will
Everyone better? Good. Now, I personally love semi-auto pistols. In
fact I own and carry one. It's a beautiful stainless steel Colt
Commander. I will also say that it is a lousy first choice for a
handgun, and I am writing to the first time handgun buyer here, so
give me a break.
So for the first time self defense buyer, here we go. You want a
revolver. Preferably one chambered in the really scary sounding .357
Magnum cartridge. Some reputable manufacturers include Smith &
Wesson, Colt, Sturm Ruger, Taurus, Rossi, and Dan Wesson. Handguns
from these manufacturers chambered in the .357 magnum cartridge are
available for purchase anywhere from $300 to $600. The beauty of a
pistol chambered for .357 magnum is that you can also shoot the less
powerful but still very effective .38 Special cartridge from the same
Don't worry, the .38 Special cartridge is effective against all kinds
of critters, both two and four legged. Police departments the world
around have carried this venerable cartridge for almost one hundred
years. It has the added benefit of being very widely available, and
inexpensive so you will be able to practice with it more than other
more expensive rounds.
Don't get hung up on someone trying to sell you a particular
manufacturers gun. Find one that feels good and natural in your hand.
For some, it's a Smith & Wesson Model 19. For others the Ruger SP-101
is better. Don't sneer at the Taurus because it's made in Brazil.
It's a well made gun as is the Rossi. Just look around and find the
best deal. Put the money you save over the 500.00 semi-auto into
ammunition and more importantly range time.
Rifles. Actually, Two Rifles.
Here, I am going to veer off from the strictly self defense aspects
of my article.
There are literally thousands of rifles on the market directed at the
self defense buyer. Some are military in style, others are mated to a
shotgun barrel and sold as "survival" weapons. I am going to beg the
readers indulgence here and ask you to trust me.
You are going to need to buy two rifles, but I promise you can get
both of the ones I think you need for less that a months pay for most
people, and you won't raise any eyebrows with your(my) selections.
The first one you want to buy is a .22 Caliber rifle. Yes, a .22
Most kids in America have fired a .22 at one time or another. At one
time it was an American boys rite of passage to have someone put his
first .22 into his hands. Those days are gone, but the .22 lives on,
A good quality brand spanking new .22 caliber semi-auto rifle will
run you about $300. Ruger makes a really good one. So does Browning.
Another good manufacturer is Marlin. The .22 caliber round is
accurate and effective at ranges to 200 yards against small game.
Believe it or not, the largest bear ever killed in North America was
shot by a 65 year old Native American woman with a bolt action .22
caliber rifle. The bear weighed over 300 pounds, the woman less than
150. The bear became a rug, the old Indian woman got famous. Go
But, once again, the true beauty of the .22 is that it's cheap! A
good new one will run around $300 and ammunition is so inexpensive
that you won't believe it. A box of 50 rounds of ammunition is less
than a dollar, and you can put 500 rounds in the pocket of your
jacket. One can literally shoot a .22 all day for under $15. Now
that's a cost effective weapon in my opinion.
The Other Rifle
Just in case I haven't really ticked anyone off yet, I am going to
recommend a large caliber rifle for you, my gentle reader.
If you thought that buying a handgun or shotgun was a dizzying
experience, then prepare yourself. Pick a nice day, have a hot cup of
tea, and brace yourself for your final trip to the gun store. You are
about to buy a rifle for self defense.
Nothing in your life has prepared you for this experience.
When you tell the proprietor of your local gun store why you are
there, his eyes will gleam. He will smack his lips and rub his hands
together. He will tell you that he has just the thing for you. He
will pull some amazing pieces of firearms technology from his rack.
There will be one of 3 or 4 models. It will be an AR-15 of one type
or another, or it will be an FN/FAL of one type or another, heck it
may be an AK-47 of one type or another. If you frequent the finer
type of gun dealer, it may be an M1A1 by Springfield Armory.
You should ask your esteemed gun dealer to put all of them back on
the rack as any one of these fine firearms costs well over $1000 in
Remember, you are here to buy something that can save your life. That
means you have to be able to become competent in the use of that
weapon and that means practice. Practice costs both time and money.
The more you have to spend on practice time and ammunition, the more
likely you are to survive actually having to use your weapon.
Have your firearms dealer show you bolt action rifles chambered in
.308 caliber at the minimum.
That most popular and readily available calibers .308, .30-06, or
.300 Winchester Magnum. There are other calibers available as well,
and I would be remiss if I didn't tell you dear reader that .270 is a
fine cartridge as well. I must also share my prejudice for larger and
heavier bullets. To my mind, .308 is the smallest caliber I
think you should consider.
In these calibers, Remington, Browing, Winchester, Ruger, Savage, and
Weatherby all make very fine rifles. In terms of cost, Remington and
Savage are perhaps ones best buy. One should be able to locate and
purchase a rifle in one of the above calibers on the $400 to $700
dollar range depending on the make and model you chose. Remington and
Savage being the least expensive and Weatherby being the most
Putting a telescopic sight on any of the above firearms gives the
user a weapon which can stop any assailant at ranges approaching 500
yards providing one has practiced sufficiently. There are documented
cases of individuals killing man sized targets at ranges approaching
700 yards with this type of weapon. Telescopic sights add cost, but
budget at least what you plan to spend on the rifle itself for a
OK, I know I was long winded here, but I have had some requests on
the subject and wanted to share what I consider to be common sense
advice on the subject.
Any individual should be able to equip themselves with this type of
weaponry for under $1500 and not attract a whole lot of attention
while doing so. With the money one can save using this list as a
guide, a motivated person should be able to become quite competent
with all of the firearms listed here for less than $3000.
I know that sounds like a lot of money, but you aren't going to do it
all at once.
Just follow these steps, and before you know it, you will be ready
and able to defend yourself against all the evil types in the world
as well as provide for your family should things ever deteriorate
'PROFILE' OF A CHILD WHO 'OWNS HIS OWN FIREARM':
PG Online (Pittsburgh, PA Post-Gazette)
Can 'profiling' prevent school violence?
Its critics fear that some kids would be branded unfairly
Wednesday, October 27, 1999
By Gretchen McKay, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
Gavin de Becker Inc., a safety and privacy consulting firm based in
Studio City, Calif., this winter will pilot a computer program it
claims will help school officials identify troubled students who pose
an elevated risk of violence.
The program, called Mosaic-2000, rates students on a scale of 1 to 10
based on a series of questions about behavior, each with a range of
Responses to the carefully worded questions -- which were crafted
from case histories by 200 experts in behavioral science, education
and law enforcement -- are weighed against one another as well as
against those cases where the outcome is known; the higher the score,
the more the student's situation resembles those which have escalated
and is in need of intervention.
According to vice president Bob Martin, the program works better than
the more often used checklist because it takes the dynamics of the
particular situation the school district is concerned about --
bringing a weapon to school, threatening another student with violent
language -- and puts them all into context with one another.
In asking about guns, for example, the range of answers includes
everything from "no known possession of a firearm" and "owns his own
firearm" to "friends known to have ready access to a firearm."
The risk-assessment program, which was co-developed with the federal
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, will be tested in 25
elementary, middle and high schools in California, Ohio and Oregon
beginning in December. The main focus, however, will be in high
Martin said the program does not profile students but "evaluates a
system and the context it is occuring in."
He added other versions of Mosaic are already used by public safety
agencies in screening threats to Supreme Court justices, members of
Congress and federal judges and prosecutors.
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