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Sunday, June 29, 2008


The Second Amendment Applies to US!

This landmark decision of the US Supreme Court is perhaps the best news that American gun owners have received, since that disputed Amendment was written. Disputed? Yes, but only recently in the timeline of events that comprise the American Story.

I will not attempt to dissect and comment upon on each facet of the Supreme Court's one hundred and fifty seven page opinion. The world's best and brightest legal minds will expend incomprehensible amounts of time, money and intellectual horsepower toward that end. For those who haven't read it yet, you may simply click on the blue header above for the full text of the opinion.

For 'regular people' like me, the bigger question is this-

How on earth did we arrive the point where these twenty seven simple, carefully written words required a one hundred and fifty seven page legal opinion, in order for them to 'make sense'?

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

I am fifty two years old this fall. As a child, I spent significant time around my Grandmother; a product of the late 1800's. She was literate but not highly educated'; yet she didn't have any trouble at all understanding that it was the individual rights of individual citizens which the Bill of Rights was forged to protect. My parents didn't have any problem understanding it. In fact, you would find few 'salt of the earth' Americans, since the nation's birth, who experienced any difficulty understanding it at all.

The reason is that these people possessed the ability to believe in absolutes. Those earlier generations were not corrupted, intellectually and morally, by a liberal academia and an equally liberal media. They weren't distracted by an entertainment industry bent on destroying their moral fiber and sending the country straight to hell with an efficiency heretofore unimaginable.

Two sterling examples of the mindset produced by a liberal education system appear below:

Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.”-Justice Stevens

The reason there is no clearly superior, less restrictive alternative to the District’s handgun ban is that the ban’s very objective is to reduce significantly the number of handguns in the District, say, for example, by allowing a law enforcement officer immediately to assume that any handgun he sees is an illegal handgun. And there is no plausible way to achieve that objective other than to ban the guns.”-Justice Breyer

According to Title 28, Chapter I, Part 453 of the United States Code, each Supreme Court Justice takes the following oath:

"I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.''

That Oath apparently has no meaning to elitists who would re-write the Constitution from the bench.

American gun owners 'won' Heller and we can be thankful for that.

But how close were we to losing the rights that generations of Americans have fought and died for? We were within one vote of the Supreme Court- that's how close. Let the Scales of Supreme Justice tip just eleven percent further to the left- and we will soon have no rights at all.

From here on out, we had better pay close attention to who will be making Supreme Court appointments; and equally close attention to the yammerings of our elected idiots in the Senate, during the confirmation process.

Assuming, of course, that we can tear ourselves away from American Idol.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Rusty Old .54 'Santa Fe'...

Here of late I seem to be getting downright picky, about what I want in a rifle. I have specific ideas about what I want to accomplish with it; how I want it to handle and yes, how I want it to look. I expect a rifle to have some soul beyond the sights and the trigger and the hole it makes in the target. My wife, God bless her, understands my weaknesses and when she heard about this rifle, she sent me an email saying "BUY! BUY! BUY! Happy Father's Day Honey!!!" There is no doubt that I've found a treasure in her.

But the subject at hand is a rifle and this one was purchased for no other reason than the fact that it exactly fits my concept of what a muzzle-loader should be. I had been trolling for one, ever since we gave our son Josh the 'Springfield Hawken'. I have handled and put down a half-dozen in-lines that I could have bought right during the off-season, and they do have their utility- but I wanted my personal front-stuffer to have some panache, as Skeeter Skelton would say. The reproduction guns closest to my ideal rifle were the Jonathan Browning Mountain Rifle or maybe the Lyman Plains...I knew I wanted iron furniture, a browned barrel, and the 'mountain rifle' feel.

On Monday I made my usual buzzard-swoop of the pawn shop, to see what treasures had arrived over the weekend. The pistol case produced nothing and I let my eye wander the long gun rack- and WAY down on the far end I caught the lines of a Mountain Man gun. It took about one hands-on minute to sell me this gun, which appears to have been a kit version of the Track of the Wolf 'Santa Fe Hawken' or the Dixie 'Rocky Mountain Hawken' Mine appears to be the latter by Pedersoli, right down to the rear sight.

The finished guns with nice wood go for about five bucks shy of a grand. I got this one for about what the set triggers alone, would have cost you from Dixie.

The gun was not without its warts; the ramrod was missing, the 'brown' is almost rust in places and the wood isn't nearly as pretty as the linked examples. While the previous owner (a mountain-man reenactor) had let the finish go 'authentic', he gave at least moderate care to the bore and he added some 'tack-work'. This is a nice touch for a period recreation of this type. Markings are all but non-existent in its present state, but a little light cleaning may produce some. I did find a “54 caliber” and “Made in Italy” on a barrel flat, under the stock. 'Santa Fe', as I have dubbed her, is actually pretty good example of what a man might have carried between 1840-1870.

The old gun came with a load in it and once I got the rusted-shut nipple out, I primed the drum and installed an old Hot Shot nipple I had laying around. It fired on the first try and even gave good ignition with a few charges of Triple Seven. This rifle has the direct-feed nipple that angles right in to the main charge- and whoever fitted the lock managed to center the hammer fall on the nipple exactly on the nipple. Of course I had no 54 ball on hand, so the first few fired were with double-patched 50 ball. Needless to say, no groups were fired but I did manage to center a bean can offhand, at about 60 paces. The set triggers functioned

Range Time

With some Hornady .530 ball in hand, I was itching to see if this thing would shoot. But it's rained for days and my range road is swamped. I wasn't carrying a folding table, etc down there so I shot from a $5 plastic lawn chair... I never did get what you'd call a righteous 'cheek weld'. The damn 'skeeters were biting like piranhas. Starting load was 75 grains of Triple-Seven, CCI #11 'Magnum' caps and the patches were some old store-bought which I soaked in vegetable oil- way too much, as it turns out. Ignition was perfect however and the report was sharp & quick. Shooting was at 100 yards.
The plain holes left & right of the bull were ranging shots. Then I hunkered down & fired 3 more, shown in blue, for the actual group which measures 5 inches.

I think with decent conditions, a good rest & proper patches this old gun will really shoot. I've got some 2F Black coming and for me at least, it usually shoots better than the substitutes. If not, the rifle will still work fine for game shooting to 100 yards. It shoots a tad left with this load; might be dead center with the 2F. I'm real happy with what I've got here.