True Purpose

The editorial staff of the Southwest Pistol League magazine has come up with a curious debate about what may be the purpose of the Southwest Pistol League. Well, I do not know what the purpose is now, but I do know what it was when the league was founded, because I founded it.

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The purpose of the league, when founded, was to discover, by means of open, unrestricted, diversified competition with the heavy-duty sidearm, just what weapons, what tactics, what principles and what general equipment would serve best in a fight. I remember that on one occasion the late, great John Plähn exclaimed to me, “Jeff, the rest of us are in this just to have fun, but you are using us as a research tool!” Exactly. That was what I was doing.

It may now be that that purpose was accomplished, though that would be a very dangerous position to take. Certainly, however, the so-called “race guns” that now lead the competition have indicated that a majority of the contestants have simply lost the point. They do not know what the purpose is. That is the reason why the question has come up for debate in the periodical.

Innocence Defined

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Jeff Cooper

In our despairing pursuit of precise communication we are continually affronted by the newspaper term “innocent civilians.” I am not at all sure what makes a civilian innocent, but when war invades populous places there are going to be non-combatants who will suffer from the efforts of uniformed soldiery. Whether they are innocent or not is a very complex question. Almost by definition guerrilleros are “innocent” in that they are not soldiers paid by any military force. Throughout the beastly wars of the late 2Oth century, large numbers of unpaid, un-uniformed, non-combatants have been caught up in disaster and slaughtered wholesale. This is, of course, tragic, but it does not imply that the innocents have been murdered by the guilty. Sometimes it has been conspicuously to the contrary. Let us watch that!

Always Vigilant

A while back we commented upon how popular it is to embellish a point by mentioning that “studies have shown” it to be so. Now we have a really good one. A sociologist group at Harvard has come up with the shocking conclusion that citizens who have received adequate training in small arms are distinctly more likely to keep their personal weapons at the ready at home. The idea that a ready weapon is automatically a horribly anti-social manifestation seems so obvious to these Harvard types that they published the results of this survey, with a wringing of hands in The New York Times.

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We of course know that the only proper way to maintain a personally owned weapon in the household is loaded and ready. It would seem obvious even to a Harvard man that an unloaded weapon is totally useless. The interesting thing is that the newspapers who printed this piece and other newspapers who picked it up and reprinted it never seemed to think further about the matter.

I would certainly like to think that those people who received weapons training have profited by it, but we are not up against reasoned argument here. Hoplophobia is after all a true phobia, which means that it is not susceptible to reasoned argument.

Remember when Kennesaw, Georgia, made it mandatory for all households to be armed, and the media viewed this with dismay? Well note further that in Kennesaw, Georgia, where there used to be very little armed violence, there now seems to be none. What was it that Heinlein said about an armed society?

Out of School

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Gunsite Ranch, 1977. Jeff Cooper is third from the left of the photograph

It appears to us now that current American society in general believes that any amount of learning is a dangerous thing. To quote Florence King again, “The egalitarian left says it isn’t relevant, and the Philistine right it won’t help you earn a living. Probably not, but it makes life livable.”

Arms Abroad

Note that Finland’s five million people own four million personal firearms. Just wait till Congressman [now New York senator] Schumer finds out about that!

Quick Question

I once worked for a superb general at Quantico who posted up over the exit doorway of every office in the school complex the question, “What are you trying to do?” written in gold letters upon a scarlet background. That is truly a shocking question for the majority of the human race, which really has only a vague notion of what it is trying to do.

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Move Along

I have discovered a new use for air guns. Anchorage, among other places, seems to be overrun with moose. These moose fancy city dwelling because the streets are ordinarily plowed and thus make movement easier. The local authorities frown on busting moose in your front yard within the city limits and without a license. If you sting this moose on the fanny with your air gun, it may occur to him that he is not welcome.


Note: The intellectual property of Jeff Cooper is owned by Gunsite Academy and reprinted from Gunsite Gargantuan Gossip 2 with their permission. Cooper’s books are available from the ProShop (928-636-4565; and

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