In a brief pretty much just-the-facts report on CZ-USA’s new Skorpion and Bren carbines, which followed the pistol versions to market by over a year, we saw this gem of insight, at a new site we like, 55 Grain Productions (one of the guys there is converting to CZ from Glock, so they’re men after our own heart):
If you’re in your 20’s reading this, consider yourself lucky. You’re in a Golden Age of firearm availability, we couldn’t get cool toys like this when I was a kid.
via 55grain Productions :: CZ launches Scorpion and Bren rifles.
A Brief Aside on Import Laws & Regulations
The import laws are profoundly irrational, and the ATF regulations implementing those laws add another layer of irrationality. (Although, in defense of the ATF, they have to work with the black letters of the statute). But by 2016, sophisticated importers like CZ-USA, FN-USA, Beretta, and others, have found work-arounds for most of the craziness in the law.
Irrationality in the application? Yes, for about a year CZ was still working to get a carbine Skorpion Evo approved, but you could SBR a pistol on a Form 1 with no drama, just the usual ATF delay. In essence, it’s a tax of several hundred dollars (tax + cost of SBR engraving) on the guy who wants to own the semi version of the light Skorpion Evo SMG, and not wait for CZ-USA to jump through all the ATF hoops and get a 16″ rifle version approved. (In fact, we think you could always get a factory SBR on a Form 4, which were stocked for LE sales, is we’re not mistaken).
Irrationality in the law itself? Consider that one part of the two-legged law in question was called The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and the other leg, The Gun Control Act of 1968, was also sold as a crime control measure by its sponsors.
Question for the reader: How many imported semi-auto firearms with prices in the four figures or high three figures turn up in the hands of criminals?
Question two: How many of those were acquired in lawful commerce?
Don’t take our word for it. Almost everybody knows a cop or a Fed, or will meet one. Just ask the question: what kind of guns do violent criminals get bagged with? Based on our experience asking that same question, it will boil down to, “Cheap and/or stolen handguns.”
The law seemed rational at the time, to some people, but we’ve seen it proven out as, at best, orthogonal to crime control.
Back to our Main Point: What Generation Are You in?
OK, if you’ve borne with us through the long digression on Evos and Brens and the law, let’s talk about the insight in the little quote above.
We couldn’t get cool toys like this when I was a kid
That betrays the author as someone born in the 80s or 90s, who grew up when the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Ban cast its pall over civilians’ armament choices. Like the 1968 GCA (the term which combines the two 1968 restrictions), the 1994 law banned classes of weapons, and it also banned standard-capacity magazines, and imposed a new wave of regulations on an unwitting public, ostensibly for crime control. Its purpose shows in its Orwellian name, The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, while it was punitive to recreational firearms use,
Unlike the GCA, though, the 1994 law had a 10-year sunset clause; it vanished from the statute books in 2004, having provided a natural longitudinal experiment in what happens to Crime Control and Public Safety when you ban a class of firearms that are almost never used in crime: nothing.
The result was this: people have different experiences of the guns available, depending on when they received their youthful, formative experience.
- If you grew up in the 1950s or 1960s, your experience was a mainstream gun culture focused on hunting and formal, bullseye target shooting; Gun Culture was Elmer Fudd Culture. NTTAWWT. There was a subculture of collectors of many different kinds, and normal firearms were available to them in shops but also from auctioneers and from mail order surplus vendors. Gun rights were only a matter of discussion towards the end of this period, and licensed concealed carriers did not exist in most states of the Union.
- If you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, you grew up in a gun culture that was on the defensive from attacks by well-organized and -funded gun-ban groups that represented a very broad sector of public opinion. But it was evolving in new ways, with increased popularity of military-style rifles, practical pistol competitions and the first three-gun competitions (which were rifle, pistol, and submachine gun), and states making the first tentative moves towards liberalized “shall issue” concealed carry regulations. These laws had always existed here and there, and Vermont had never required licenses, but the floodgates opened when Florida went shall-issue, and the gun-ban groups’ dire auguries of doom went unrealized).\
- If the 1980s was the inflection point where the allies began to advance against the anti-gun axis, the axis’s high point came in the 1990s and Oughts, with the Bush import ban of 1989 and Clinton gun ban of 1994 setting the firearms market (and firearms technology) back about a decade. But that high point was like a ballistic vertex: the anti axis had been coasting for a while, and it was all downhill from here. But if you grew up in these years, in the gun culture, you could be excused for thinking the best days were behind you.
- So far, we don’t know what people will write about the Twenty-Teens in the warm glow of hindsight. But if you’re young today, and growing up in the gun culture, it looks to us like you’re living in a golden age.
Where we stand now is on the shoulders of giants whose names you might know, like John Moses Browning, Peace Be Unto Him, and names you might not, like Neal Knox. It is up to us to take those legacies forward, on the fronts of both technology and freedom: the better to honor those who came before us.
One last thought: we’ve used cars to mark the decades. We might have chosen better; that’s a 2016 Viper, but maybe the Viper’s more an icon of the 90s, for example. (It’s hard to think of a better marker for the tasteless 1970s than a chicken-chested ’79 Trans Am, though). But car culture people, too, have seen their fortunes wax and wane through the years. If you grew up in the 1950s and 60s, you expected every year to bring you new and better cars. In the 1970s and 80s, that was tossed on its head through a dismal succession of massive Lincoln Mark Crapboxes, chintzy Chrysler K-Cars, and BMWs that self-destructed around warranty’s end, as if there was a time bomb in there. If you grew up then, you expected that between the NHTSA, the insurance companies, and Ralph Nader, that each year’s cars would be worse than the previous one’s. Yet now, incredible machinery that sixties road-racers couldn’t have dreamed of sits in your local showroom.
And you know, a lot of the same people that tried to strangle cars with character want to take your guns away, too.