Gut Rumbles

June 03, 2005

saturday night specials

I'll give the gun-control nutballs credit for one thing: They HAVE managed to make firearms so expensive that a lot of poor people can't afford them anymore. I believe that's always been part of their ultimate agenda.

When I was visiting Catfish yesterday, he showed me a new catalogue from Smith & Wesson. BEJUS!!! Some of their handguns now have a "suggested retail price" of well over $1,000 for a gun that I don't think is worth NEARLY that much money. I almost shit my pants looking at those prices.

I still don't have have the first rifle I ever bought for myself. It's a Marlin .22 semi-auto that I purchased at K-Mart in 1975 for $39. The gun still works, it's accurate, I still shoot it on occasion and an IDENTICAL MODEL now costs more than $200. That's farkin' ridiculous.

I got a lot of flack from gun purists about that cheap-ass Rohm revolver I inherited from my father. I shot it yesterday and I was happy with the results. I have one question to ask of the purists: "Would you rather have that "turd" pistol, or no pistol at all?"

My daddy paid $25 dollars for it. I didn't EXPECT it to be a collector's item or a remarkably fine piece of workmanship. I expected it to SHOOT, and it did. Quite loudly, if I may throw that fact into the mix.

Now, riddle me this--- if you live in a bad neighborhood, you DON'T intend to go off to the range and fire a couple of hundred rounds a week, and all you want is a pistol to run off some crack-addled thug who may try to break into your house at 2:30 in the morning, are you going to buy a $1,300 Smith & Wesson, or would you prefer a $25 .38 pistol that's good enough to fire six shots ONCE in your life?

How many people living in bad neighborhoods can AFFORD a $1,300 S&W weapon? Not many, is my answer.

This point is where I tend to stray from the gun-nuts and the purists of the world. I would rather have a pistol that was built like a disposable camera--- shoot it six times and throw it away--- than have no pistol at all. I collect guns and I like guns, but I can afford to do it, the same way I collect guitars. But some people don't have that luxury.

What they need is a reliable piece that packs a punch, makes some noise and may save their life some fine day. They may NEVER shoot it, so who cares how many rounds the damn thing can stand? It's just better to have a pistol and not need it than to need one and not have it.

I don't want to debate about "cheap" handguns anymore. I don't own am familiar with a LOT of very expensive, very nice firearms. I am proud of what I don't own.

But if you think there's not a need for a reliable INEXPENSIVE handgun in this world, just a cheap-ass pistol that may NEVER be fired by the person who owns it except in the most extreme of circumstances, you're out of your fucking mind.

I don't see a damn thing wrong with owning a "Saturday Night Special" when that's all you can afford. It beats being unarmed.


Personally, I'd rather face down a punk with a Raven .25ACP than a Glock .40...

Check out some of the other manufacturers like Charter Arms and Taurus. Not everyone is insane with prices like Smith & Wesson.

Not to mention that S&W guns are selling for WELL below MSRP even here in the People's Republik of MA...

Posted by: Jay G on June 3, 2005 12:29 PM

You are exactly right. If I am going to shoot a gun a couple thousand times a year, then I want a good gun. If I am only going to have one for emergency use, then a cheaper one will do. The anti-Second Amendment group has added a LOT of cost to cheap handguns to where they hardly exist anymore.
All guns need love, even the cheap ones.

Posted by: Robert on June 3, 2005 12:31 PM

And, of course, you may never have to fire your $25 pistol to ward off goblins. My understanding is that many goblins are effectively deterred once the fact that an intended victim possesses a firearm is established. It may well be sufficient to simply draw the pistol and point it at the goblin to foil a crime.

I'm with you. Making all guns expensive simply deprives the poor the means to defend themselves from those who would prey on them.

Posted by: Tom on June 3, 2005 12:32 PM

Yeah, I can get 'em for less that half that S&W "retail price" but they're still too expensive. I ain't paying that kind of money for a pistol.

Posted by: Acidman on June 3, 2005 12:32 PM

S&W tends to be over priced. There are still some good quality guns to be had at a reasonable price.

For example the Springfield Armory 1911 45ACP GI Mil-Spec can be had for around $400 and it's a fine shooter.

After all, everyone should have a 1911 in their arsenal.

Posted by: Daniel Medley on June 3, 2005 12:37 PM

Daniel, everybody I know keeps telling me that. I need a 1911. I don't have one. The other stuff I DON'T OWN is sweet, but I cannot complete the gun=testosterone cycle without buying a .45.

I may become whole next week.

Posted by: Acidman on June 3, 2005 12:45 PM

Hi-point arms compact 9mm =$109.95 MSRP. Made in Mansfield, Ohio. Poly frame, ugly as hell but goes bang every time.

Posted by: Kilowattkid on June 3, 2005 12:51 PM

Oh yes, you NEED a 1911, it's just a fact of life!

It's always been a factor, some of the people who need protection the most can't afford a fine firearm; they need something affordable that will take care of the crackhead coming in the window, and that's EXACTLY the kind of firearm the VPC assholes want to ban- first- before they go after everything else.

Posted by: Mark on June 3, 2005 01:07 PM

A cheap gun is better than no gun. But that fact doesn't turn a cheap piece of shit into a shining gold plated example of modern engineering, either.

"This point is where I tend to stray from the gun-nuts and the purists of the world. I would rather have a pistol that was built like a disposable camera--- shoot it six times and throw it away--- than have no pistol at all."

I DONT think any gun nuts would choose the no pistol at all option.

If I were running away from jihadis, I would drive a Yugo if it were the only car available. But it isn't.

Posted by: rightisright on June 3, 2005 01:48 PM

Here are my thoughts on the Saturday Night Special weapons. If they work, great use them.

I believe in firing the gun - a lot - before trusting it for use as a self defense weapon however. Yours being a revolver the only thing you have to worry about is accuracy, but it sounds like it's pretty good. So again, if it works.. use it.

Posted by: chaos on June 3, 2005 02:01 PM

I'll stick with my .44 magnum. I've had it for years. When it talks EVERYBODY listens.

Posted by: assrot on June 3, 2005 02:03 PM

I believe the 1968 GCA stopped the importation of "cheap" small hanguns because they had no "sporting purpose." I believe the term "Saturday Night Special" was also coined around this time. I also believe this legislation was meant to keep guns out of the hands of poor blacks who couldn't afford the good stuff (and who have the most need). Your guvmint at work!

BTW, everybody should have a cheapie or two. I've got a Jenson .22. It blew apart one day, but I found all the pieces and gave it to my Dad. He fixed it and loves it. I do too!

Posted by: Ed on June 3, 2005 02:08 PM

I had a Rohm .38 on layaway at the local gun shop last year. After I put the money down I went and researched it on the 'net and found all these folks bad mounting it and predicting that it would blow up in my hand. So I got my money back on the layaway and bought a .22 rifle instead.

I'm happy the rifle, but I often wish that I'd gotten that snubby instead. .22 rifles are a dime a dozen, but that was the first .38 snubby that I'd seen that I could afford (it was priced about $100) in several years.

Posted by: Nick Wright on June 3, 2005 03:15 PM

"It may well be sufficient to simply draw the pistol and point it at the goblin to foil a crime."

As a woman, do I have that luxury? What do you guys think?

(.20 gauge, BTW)

Posted by: Grace on June 3, 2005 04:03 PM

Damn right, you do, Grace. You'd be surprised how big a gun barrel looks, even a CHEAP ONE, when you're looking down the wrong end of it.

And a 20-gauge is a damn good shotgun for a woman.

Posted by: Acidman on June 3, 2005 04:14 PM

Was wondering when the ladies would turn up! Not a luxury at my house, Grace. More like a necessity. I have an imaginary little snub nose, plus a live Rottweiler. But I sure would hate to have to fill in all the paperwork that would be required to implement either.

Posted by: Indigo on June 3, 2005 04:15 PM

Rob or anyone who has read this blog for years:

Why can't Rob own a gun? I understand that it has something to do with the ex-wife. I also understand that 18 USC 922 applies to people who have been convicted of domestic violence or have a restraining order precluding violence/stalking etc. Such restraining orders tend to be temporary, and I gather Rob has been divorced for a spell now. What's the story?

Posted by: Kukulkan on June 3, 2005 04:20 PM

Rob, Chaos had it right in the precceding comment:

I believe in firing the gun - a lot - before trusting it for use as a self defense weapon however. ..........

(and Dana's follow-up was right on target, too!)

And so did you sir, here:

It ain't no lie. Practice makes perfect. You may never achieve perfection, but you won't come even close if you won't practice. Do it over, and over and over again. Keep doing it when you're sick and tired of doing it. PRACTICE isn't supposed to be fun. Practice is hard work.

Which, my friend, is precisely why I'm so damned persistent on the point of having a decent-quality gun for self defense. Yeah, I know...the RG might be all that a truly cash-strapped person might think they can afford.

Choosing a defensive gun though involves more than just buying cheap, making it go "bang" a handful of times and then hoping it, and you, are ready for the big game, as it were.

If (allegedly) trained cops can't hit a terd but 4 times out of 100+ rounds fired, what makes the average joe/joeline think they're going to be all that effective sans any respectable amount of ....(wait for it) practice!

And it's those 100s....nee...1,000s of rounds of practice where the RGs of the world fall short. They just won't hold up to it.

But as Killowattkid illustrates, good can indeed come cheap, and even with great reliability reviews, and the respect of the "experts" of the gun world. Even though they're cheap, ugly and feel like dogturds to operate.....they're stone reliable, reasonably accurate and affordable.

And they won't blow up in your hand, either.

Sloop New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim on June 3, 2005 05:08 PM

Guns are never handy when you need them, unless you are wearing one. Mother did, in the nursing home. When old guys would stand in her doorway, she'd use her water pistol on em, empty it, and they'd go away. That is about as much gun-power as I could handle. How many of you have really had to use your guns on intruders or trespassers?

Posted by: Bonita on June 3, 2005 06:24 PM

Acidman and Indigo, Thanks, you both confirmed the words my brother told me when he gave me the gun: "If you shoot someone, the paperwork's a bitch. Rack it and they'll run".

Posted by: Grace on June 3, 2005 07:36 PM

I've NEVER shot at anyone in my life and I hope that I never have to. But TWICE in my life, the fact that I was carrying a gun saved me from a terrible fate, maybe even death.

All I had to do was display the firearm, and the goblins ran. I was ready to shoot, but I didn't have to. Just showing them that I was armed was enough to change their minds about using ME as prey.

That's the main reason I believe that EVERY law-abiding citizen should own a firearm.

And that shit works for wimmen just as well as it does for men. Point a pistol at a thug in the dark of night. He ain't checking to see what kind of gun it is or whether it's "reliable" or not. He just thinks "OH, SHIT!!!" and most of 'em will run in that kind of situation.

Buy one and learn to shoot it. That's good advice coming from someone who DIDN'T end up on a slab because I had one in the right place at the right time on TWO different occasions.

Posted by: Acidman on June 3, 2005 08:46 PM

Accidentally left my comment under your post "Disgusting", but, too tired to rewrite it. Thanks, A-man. Good advice, especially for young women!

Posted by: Bonita on June 3, 2005 09:22 PM

I agree entirely, Rob.

Much work was done, and we're still left with it in some states, to keep "Saturday Night Specials" away, and it was most definately started to keep guns out of the hands of poor blacks. The original term is "Niggertown Saturday Night Special."

As somebody else noted the GCA (Gun Control Act) of '68 put some restrictions on what we could import. Arms had to be "sporting" for importation, but the definition of that was left to the executive branch. There is a metric defined by the BATFE in place for this, and you can read about it in my blog archive here:

Just scroll down to the chart... there's a point system and it's absurd as can be. The purpose is simple, however, and that is to keep cheap and small handguns out of the country.

I'm no gun snob, that is for sure. Sure, I like the fancy stuff but I'm a cheap bastard at heart. I don't know what kind of idiot would pooh-pooh a Lady Smith in .38spl either. That's a FINE weapon and better than any revolver I've got!

Recently myself and another certified gun-nut buddy took a young fellow to a gun show a while ago, across the state of Michigan, so that he could get his first gun. A pistol. We set him up with a $150 Makarov. That right there is a damned fine pistol, and I'd put that sucker up against any other semi-auto I own when it comes to reliability.

Gun snobs annoy the piss out of me. I've got a few $80-$150 rifles, and they WORK.

If it puts lead out the naughty end I like it. Period. I like some better than others, but anything designed to go bang should be in the hands of every human being on the face of this earth.

Posted by: Justin Buist on June 3, 2005 09:40 PM

The CPI multiplier from 1975 to 2005 is 3.6, which gets you from $39 to $140. So $200 is a hefty price increase, but not nearly as bad as it first appears.

Posted by: MTGlass on June 4, 2005 12:25 AM

Inexpensive isn't the same as cheap. You can get cop trade-in Sig pistols in .40 in the $350-$400 range that sat in a holster and were used for qualifying whatever apallingly few times that agency reqired per year. That's
a high quality firearm in reach of even my poor ass.

Posted by: Brian on June 4, 2005 03:28 PM

I've got what sounds like the same Model Rohm passed down to me when my Dad died in 1970. It may be a junker in some eyes..but to me it is priceless. Oh, its been loaded with five (one empty chamber under the hamer) and next to my bed for 35 years now. It will work. Try bustin in on me some night...., I'll show ya.

Posted by: Wyostk on June 4, 2005 09:07 PM

Bonita, I've used a firearm once to protect myself, from a home invader. The mutant had a crowbar and was working to untangle my TV from the mess of cords it was wrapped around.

It's possible outside of movies and bad television shows. I had a weapon on a nearby mantle, pointed it at the goblin's neck, and cocked it. Freak drops the weapon, I kill a lamp for something to tie his hands with, and police arrive 30 minutes later (-.-) without myself having expended a single BB.

Yes, a BB gun, the penultimate of cheap weapons. I think this one was a 25$ pistol bought at a local Wal-Mart, 10$ for the pellets, bought because of the fairly realistic shape and the sound the cocking mechanism (a huge spring around a tube for holding air) made, for demonstration purposes for Firearms saftey. I wouldn't advise doing the same thing, and I doubt I would have it my real handgun wasn't currently out of reach. Since then, I've been a lot more religious about keeping my defensive gun on me.

Have I fired and killed someone with a gun? No, and I hope that I never reach a situation where I have to make that choice. But I have a foster brother who has had to, on the streets of Boston, MA, in daytime no less.

Posted by: blueeyes on June 5, 2005 12:26 AM

Historically, gun control has usually been about making sure "those people, over there -- the ones we cultural elites don't like" don't have guns. For example, see Clayton Cramer's "The Racist Roots of Gun Control." Bob Cottrol and Raymond Diamond have done scholarly work on this subject as well. One way of denying firearms to disfavored minorities -- who are usually from the lower socioeconomic class -- is to price them out of reach. See "Gun Control and Economic Discrimination: The Melting Point Case-in-Point." As the author of that article points out (he's by no means the first to make the connection) the very phrase, "Saturday Night Special" is derived from the term, "niggertown Saturday night," which evoked images of poor, drunken blacks engaged in debauchery and violence. My old criminal law professor, Dan Polsby, points to a comment in a 1909 edition of the predecessor to the Virginia Law Review, in which the author wrote:

It is a matter of common knowledge that in this state and in several others, the more especially in the Southern states where the negro population is so large, that this cowardly practice of `toting' guns has always been one of the most fruitful sources of crime. . . . Let a negro board a railroad train with a quart of mean whiskey and a pistol in his grip and the chances are that there will be a murder, or at least a row, before he alights.

I am not making this %$*! up. That was printed in a respected, scholarly legal publication less than 100 years ago.

Switching gears, I prefer a good quality firearm for self-defense, and would encourage anyone thinking of buying a gun to buy the best they can reasonably afford. However, the first rule of gunfighting is to bring a gun; if a Lorcin is all you can afford, then you should damned well buy a Lorcin -- and the government has no business telling you it's too cheap. It's your ass on the line, not the government's.

Posted by: Matt on June 7, 2005 11:27 AM
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