People of good will frequently send one off with the injunction to “Have a safe trip!” There is no such thing as a safe trip. Safety is an illusion. It must always fail in the end. That does not mean that we should not consider safety, but never to cry “Safety first!” Safety, while something we should seek, must always be placed second to getting the job done. One who places safety first is, quite specifically, a coward. We do not go to war to be safe, neither do we climb mountains, or race cars, or hunt buffalo, to be safe. We hear commentators explain that we should not resist violent crime because we may get hurt. This is the advice of the rabbit people who live all their lives in fear and never know the joy of danger. There are people like that, and while we may feel sorry for them, we must never take their advice seriously.
I was asked by a magazine editor what sort of sidearm I would suggest for “the elderly.” This caught me somewhat aslant, since I am pretty elderly myself and I do not feel a need for a firearm especially attuned to my aged condition. For one who has handled firearms since early adolescence, as most of us have, it is hard to discern any age differentiation when it comes to shooting. Certainly eyesight tends to degenerate with the advancing years, but as long as one can see at all he ought to be able to use Gun A as well as Gun B.
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Amongst the continuous irritations foisted upon us by government is the impertinent assumption that one must prove to the state his need to be armed. In a recent feature in Time magazine the author found it surprising that in various jurisdictions the applicant for a firearms license was not even asked to establish a need. A free man should not have to show any need for being armed, and a public official is almost never in a position to pass judgment upon any such need. “I want it because I want it.” That should be enough.
Hail Or Blizzard?
Have you noticed the frequency with which journalists employ the term “a hail of bullets”? This is the wrong term, since hail comes down from above, not from the side. The proper term should be “blizzard,” as anyone can attest to who has been out in one. However, I have never seen an author use the term “a blizzard of bullets,” whereas I hear about “a hail of bullets” with every second copy of the newspaper.
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And then there is a matter of magazine capacity. “If my piece holds twelve rounds, while yours hold only ten, I win.” Here again we are dealing with irrelevance. The highest score I have ever heard of in a pistol fight was five, and that victory was achieved with a seven-round magazine, without reloading. Our late companion Bruce Nelson was once asked in the course of an interview at a police station if it was a good idea to carry a P35 because of its high-capacity magazine. Bruce’s response: “Sure, if you plan to miss a lot.”
In the Age of the Wimp we are apt to forget that there really is such a thing as a hero. We call people heroes who simply do what they are told, or put out fires in garbage cans, or make statements which may risk their jobs. We hardly remember the real heroes, a few of whom are still alive. On June 4, 1943, for example, Dick Best flew two missions. He dropped two bombs, and he sank two carriers—in the teeth of enemy fire. If you will think for a moment of what it takes to blast your dive bomber vertically down onto the blazing guns of an enemy warship, hold your nerve, and plant your bomb squarely amid ships, you may reflect upon what it takes to do that once. Dick Best did it twice on the same day. Let us have no more talk about “football heroes.”
Attorney William Burkett of the Oklahoma County Bar’s education committee frequently speaks to school children about legal topics. When he spoke to a class of fifth graders, he asked if any of the students knew the punishment for theft in some countries.
“Yes,” one boy said. “They will cut off your hands.”
“Could that happen here?” Burkett asked, and the students replied with
a chorus of “nos.”
“Why not?” he asked a young girl in the front row.
“Because,” she said, “the Constitution gives us the right to keep our arms.”
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Ready For Action
Those involved in competition should remember that the start signal should always be visual rather than audible. In the real world, you start because of what you see, not because of what you hear.
A correspondent from Bosnia showed us a copy of a general order for operations in that peculiar land which specified no personal guns and no beer. I do not know who is in charge of those operations, but whoever it is seems to lack all concept of historical continuity.
I can cite two campaigns which were called off when the beer supply ran out. You may remember that the proprietor of one of the early English exploratory expeditions of the New World was threatened with hanging when he returned to Britain because he did not supply enough beer, and the crew had to make it all the way back to England on nothing but water. As to personal weapons, to deny a soldier his weapons is to negate his existence as a soldier.
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Note: The intellectual property of Jeff Cooper is owned by Gunsite Academy and reprinted from Gunsite Gargantuan Gossip with their permission. Cooper’s books are available from the ProShop (928-636-4565; http://www.gunsitestore.com) and http://www.jeffcooperbooks.com