Guns R Us

Is it time to re-examine the West's extraordinary fascination with firearms?

  • Is it time to re-examine the West's extraordinary fascination with firearms?

  • Ryan Horsley at Red's Trading Post, which is battling to keep its firearms license

  • Rifles and a relevant sign at Red's

  • Lowell "Red" Kinney, right, and his son Jesse standing by the Red's Trading Post truck around 1945

  • Handbill from The Gang, a movie produced by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership


(Note: A sidebar to this story sums up gun laws in each Western state.)

TWIN FALLS, IDAHO - As 7 p.m. approaches, the high-desert sunlight lingers with a golden hue and 80 degree warmth, favoring the people who pull their vehicles into the downtown lot by the Lamphouse Theater. Disembarking and filing into the movie theater, they appear to be a Western cross-section: carefully stepping gray-haired ladies, a guy in an electric wheelchair, a few sweet little girls, the vice mayor, a toddler clinging to a mother's shoulder, two doctors, and the inevitable guy wearing camo pants.

Collectively, they would seem to have little to worry about. All around them on this mid-June evening, Twin Falls prospers, grown up recently into a livable small city of 40,000 residents, complete with branches of Old Navy and New York Burrito and Cold Stone Creamery, nestled in productive farmland and authentic sagebrush. Sprinklers green the crops at city's edge, emitting a comforting hiss that is music to desert dwellers.

The theater occupies the back room of a saloon complex. It's an intimate setting, where thick curtains baffle the walls and about 100 upholstered seats, on a downward slope, face the screen. The seats are mostly filled; some of the people are drinking beers they've carried in from the saloon. They've come to show (1) support for a man they respect, and (2) their insistence on the U.S. constitutional right to bear arms, which they see enshrined in the Second Amendment, right up there with the amendments guaranteeing freedom of speech and religion.

Ryan Horsley greets them as they walk in; he knows many by name. He's a young-looking 32-year-old with a perennially friendly manner and a Beach Boys-ian haircut. He's president of the Historic Downtown Twin Falls Business Improvement District, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, board member of the Chamber of Commerce.

Mainly, though, he runs Red's Trading Post, which bills itself, without much argument, as Idaho's oldest gun shop. His great-grandfather, Lowell "Red" Kinney, opened the shop 71 years ago. It's located a few blocks from the theater, in a building made of black lava rock pried from the land. Horsley took over the shop about eight years ago as other family members stepped back, and he changed it from a clutter of knickknacks into a formidable business that offers rows of assault rifles and nearly everything else a shooter would desire. Serving online customers as well as walk-ins, the shop sells 2,000 guns per year.

But now the federal gun-control agency — the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (commonly called ATF) — wants to yank the license that allows Red's Trading Post to sell guns.

Horsley stands in front of the movie screen and thanks the crowd for showing up. He talks of how he's spent more than $50,000 in court battles against the feds in the past year, trying to keep his license. "It's been a real journey for my family and I," he says. "But the more you stand up, the more they want to knock you down."

The lights dim, and the movie begins. Titled The Gang, it was made by a super-hard-line national gun-rights group, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. The group believes the United States government has copied Nazi gun-control laws that disarmed Jews during the Holocaust; it is holding the movie's national theatrical premiere here tonight, with no admission charge, to reinforce Horsley and Red's Trading Post in the minds of the locals.

The Gang has the format of a documentary, presenting interviews and other evidence, but really it's a one-sided attack on the ATF. For 85 minutes, it charges that the ATF operates as a $1 billion "criminal organization," persecuting innocent gun dealers and gun owners, lying, conspiring with big-government politicians, and even murdering its way toward the goal of taking citizens' weapons and imposing tyranny upon them.


For some people, guns are like abortion, politics boiled down to a single issue.

Gun-rights absolutists have some reason to be concerned about the course of recent history; there has been an incremental creep toward nationwide gun control. Congress has passed laws in response to spectacular gun violence — first in the 1930s, as organized crime emerged, and then in 1968, 1986, 1993 and 1994, reacting to two race riots in Los Angeles and a wave of assassinations (with President John F. Kennedy, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy killed and President Ronald Reagan wounded). Some state legislatures have taken their own steps, and gun-control advocacy groups have sprung up. Because of these regulations, which include heavier licensing fees that discourage small gun businesses, in the last 20 years the number of federally licensed gun retailers nationwide has declined by 80 percent, leaving about 50,000 in business today.

But the controls have awakened a powerful gun-rights movement composed not only of the single-minded National Rifle Association (3.6 million members), but also many smaller groups, down to the Wisconsin-based Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (about 6,500 members). This movement has thwarted attempts to pass more laws and rolled back provisions of existing regulations. It has also pushed new, blatantly pro-gun laws — allowing more people to carry concealed guns in more places, for example — while encouraging voters to evaluate political candidates in terms of their position on guns. And the number of civilian guns in the U.S. has continued to increase, topping 250 million now, more than one-third of the world's total.

The whole gun-rights movement has a Western flavor, invoking the frontier mythology of fast-draw self-defense, says one of the region's gun-fascinated academics, Jean Burbick, who is a professor of English and American Studies at Washington State University. She studied gun shows and other gun-related events in Idaho, Nevada, Washington and several states outside the region to write her 2006 book, Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy. At a gun show in Illinois, she found piles of Buffalo Bill memorabilia and booths for groups called Cowboy Action Shooting and the Single Action Shooting Society (members dress up like Wyatt Earp to do their blasting). She writes, "The mystique of the Western gun rested on an inflated belief in the individual and the power within reach of an ordinary human being."

Aug 07, 2007 11:04 AM

"inflated belief in the individual"

Why is this fool living in the United States, trying to take our freedoms, when there are many countries willing to cater to her desire to be dominated? 

Aug 07, 2007 11:10 AM

Hmmm, I thought High Country News was about celebrating Western Culture, not sneering at it. You forgot to get a quote from your leftist professor ("English and American Studies", now there's an impressive discipline) about how guns are a phallic symbol, didn't you? That's about the only thing you missed in this biased screed.

Aug 07, 2007 11:34 AM

A native Westerner myself, I have a number of specific and good reasons for liking and owning guns, none of which was represented fairly in this article.

The majority of Americans, particularly in the West, feel similarly.  Your writer, Ray Ring, is in a shrinking minority.  (Leave Paonia once in awhile and see for yourself).

The surest way to lose half your readership is to publish more biased anti-gun crap like this.

Aug 07, 2007 03:49 PM

I'm a native Westerner and a gun owner, but I didn't really have a problem with this article.  Gun ownership is part of the America heritage and especially so in the West.  However, that doesn't preclude responsibility.  We, as a nation and a gun-culture, need to find that fine line between the freedom to express that heritage and at the same time how to use common sense and responsibility in its implementation.  Maybe we need to shift our cultural consciousnes from gun ownership as a "right" to gun ownership as a privilege.  Then we can finally admit that our society has reached a point where not everyone has the right to own a gun. 

Aug 07, 2007 04:51 PM

I don't understand how anyone could deny that there are individuals in this country that should even be near firearms, let alone own them.  If responsible gunowners could come up with suggestions, perhaps even solutions, as to why laws shouldn't be made to limit and monitor some irrational, dangerous individuals, and some of the automatic, rapid-firing, large caliber guns, I, for one, would be glad to listen.  As far as prohibiting Americans from owning firearms,  those Democrats listed in this article have no intentions of taking guns out of gunowner's houses.  I and many other Liberals in this country believe that people have gunowner rights.     Another question.  How can so many people concerned with firearm's rights be so quick to relinquish their other Constitutional rights that our executive office and the majority of Congress has recently taken from us? 

Bruce Huey


Aug 08, 2007 11:34 AM

Guns aren't going to go away in America.  They are too valuable a political football for the politicians.  Just like illegal immigration, nothing gets people up on their soap box like a heated, rhetoric-fueled Gun Rights arguement.  Remember: People shoot guns, not the other way around. 

As Bruce Haley said: "How can so many people concerned with firearm's rights be so quick to relinquish their other Constitutional rights that our executive office and the majority of Congress has recently taken from us? "  Good question.

Aug 08, 2007 11:35 AM


 Felons are already prohibited from possession of firearms.  How else would you like to do it?  In Germany, you have to belong to a club & it can take up to a year to purchase a firearm including a psychological exam.  That still didn't stop a university student from killing 16 people then himself.  Criminals, by their very nature, will go to illegal means to get their hands on a weapon.  

Are you even aware of the process required to purchase a firearm?  If legislation making purchasing more complicated lowered crime, why are crime rates highest in the states that have the strictest gun laws?

 If you believe the anti-gun democrats (there are some republicans too) don't want to reduce firearms ownership as close to zero as possible, you are either ignorant or disingenuous.  Senator Dianne Feinstein stated on 60 minutes in regards to handguns, "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in, I would have done it."

Aug 08, 2007 11:46 AM

"As far as prohibiting Americans from owning firearms,  those Democrats listed in this article have no intentions of taking guns out of gunowner's houses"


"If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in, I would have done it."

               -Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, discussing the 1994 "crime bill"


Aug 08, 2007 11:46 AM

"I don't understand how anyone could deny that there are individuals in this country that should even be near firearms, let alone own them." Sounds reasonable, until you realize thousands of individuals have been denied the right to protect their families due to battlefield stress while in the military, or due to misdemeanors like "domestic violence" that often amounted to little more than a slap (an unconstitutional es-post facto law). Government never stops in their regulation where you or I think they should stop. Nor are any real crazies ever truly denied access if they want it (there is a black market after all). Gun control cannot deliver what it promises, and imposes something else that we don't want.

And gun ownership as a privilege? There's a sure path to gun prohibition.

 "How can so many people concerned with firearm's rights be so quick to relinquish their other Constitutional rights..." Maybe some of them see others such as yourself indulging in picking and choosing their constitutional rights, so they think it's OK for them to do it too. Tit for tat. Don't like constitutional rights going away? Then support all of them. Don't fall for this "reasonable gun control" crap, which is no better than "reasonable speech control".

Aug 08, 2007 11:48 AM

     As sure as the Cross on  Mount Olive, the Head Piece being The Freedom of Religion, Its  Arms being The Freedom of Speech, the Base holding Them, is Our Freedom to Bear Arms.  With out this Base of support, the Other Two Freedoms fall to the Earth; One, Two, Three----just like that, They would dissapear. Do you really believe the agenda of those who would erode our basic freedoms want you to go into the New World Order with a way to control how we get there. Just who do you think these people are?

     I applaude this author's right to say anything she wants to say, so long as she understands, that I would Die for that Freedoms she enjoys, should it ever be necessary to do so.

Semper Fidelis.

Frank Caputo

De Ruyter, NY

Aug 08, 2007 11:54 AM

Thanks for examining an aspect of western culture that receives less coverage than it deserves.  Responsible gun ownership includes acceptance of safeguards that are essential to the maintenance of a peaceful society.  The paranoia and fear driving this small, feverish band of gun zealots is one of the strongest arguments for strengthening regulations.  Their willingness to barricade the doors and start exchanging fire with any manifestation of government force begs for increased measures to prevent them from attaining that capability. 

I suppose it's obligatory to mention that I am a native Montanan and a lifelong gun owner in order to appease the xenophobes.  I personally welcome strengthened legislation limiting access to military assault-style weaponry, and I know a great many westerners, Americans, and human beings who agree.  

Aug 08, 2007 02:01 PM


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.

Read the first part: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state..."

This amendment was written before the United States had an official, government controlled standing army.  The country relied on citizen militias to defend the country.  We now have a large government controlled/regulated militia that is very well armed.  We do not need a citizenry that is armed to the teeth as if they were a militia.  Wake up! Times have changed and our laws need to change as well.  The regulation of firearms is not unreasonable.  I too find it ironic that many of you who spout off about defending the constitution (as you interpret it) seem to have no problem with the current administration stripping the country of some of its base freedoms and threating the very fabric of our constitutional government.  Amazing. 


Aug 08, 2007 03:31 PM

Oh for pete's sake!

"... the gun-rights movement began ... as a reflection of white men’s anxiety about the civil rights movement."

The gun control movement in the United States began as (and continues to largely be) an effort to keep firearms out of the hands of blacks! How in the world the can someone possibly think that the gun rights movement has anything to do with race? The belief that individuals have the right to arm themselves in their own self-defense and should be able to do so without egregious and arbitrary interference from the government is absolutely color-blind.

Professor Burbick's biases seem to be hindering her ability to see the truth.

"The Gang has the format of a documentary, presenting interviews and other evidence, but really it’s a one-sided attack on the ATF."

If the data they present as facts are indeed accurate then it is a documentary. There's no rule saying that a documentary has to be balanced, just factually accurate. For instance, do you think it would be possible to do a balanced documentary of the Gestapo or of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge?

"The people in the audience must know of the incident, but apparently think the actions of an unbalanced shooter don’t bear on their gun rights."

They don't. Why should the acts of an insane person constrain the rights and freedoms of those who are not insane?


Aug 08, 2007 03:32 PM

I felt the author Ray Ring did an exceptional job at writing this article. No sides were taken; just the facts of the topic were presented. I don’t see how the previous comment posters can derive the notion that the author is either for or against gun control.  (Although I was interrupted several times while reading the article, so I may have missed something) 

I found the article to be highly informative on an issue I know little about.
Gun ownership has never been necessary for me due to my exceptionally large penis.



Aug 08, 2007 07:21 PM

This article has inspired make an extra large donation to the NRA and go buy a new gun this weekend! I grew up hunting and target shooting with my Dad and his friends. They were/are some of the hardest working, most honorable men I've ever met. They would do anything for a friend and they could all be classified as "gun nuts" by the anti-2nd Amendment factions in this country.


Matt Mallery


Aug 09, 2007 11:19 AM

" If responsible gunowners could come up with suggestions, perhaps even solutions, as to why laws shouldn't be made to limit and monitor some irrational, dangerous individuals, - Bruce"

 Just one.  It's called incarceration, whether in a mental institution or a prison.  If an individual canot be trusted to be around arms then they cannot be trusted to be loose in society. So lock them up. 

 "Maybe we need to shift our cultural consciousnes from gun ownership as a "right" to gun ownership as a privilege - sagenov"

You are free to do whatever you want to with your rights, JUST DON'T TRY TO TOUCH MINE! 

Aug 09, 2007 11:22 AM

"Guns R Us"

was a hatchet job of the first order.

The author (Ray Ring) used the civil rights infringement of Red's Trading Post as a fig leaf to present a blatant anti-gun screed.

Take this quote:

"The seats are mostly filled; some of the people are drinking beers they’ve carried in from the saloon. They’ve come to show (1) support for a man they respect, and (2) their insistence on the U.S. constitutional right to bear arms, which they see enshrined in the Second Amendment, right up there with the amendments guaranteeing freedom of speech and religion."

The part about people drinking is inserted to mark the people seeing the show as perhaps drunkards, at least to make you wonder.

The comment about the second amendment is carefully phrased as "their insistence on the U.S. constitutional right to bear arms.." "which they see enshrined in the Second Amendment..."

As if it is not written in the Bill of Rights, merely inferred by radical drunken gun-rights fanatics.

The rest is line after line of the same drivel. This is a VERY anti-gun article.

It is shameful that this writer used Ryan Horsley as grist for his anti-gun agenda.
Aug 09, 2007 11:28 AM

At first, the article was interesting to me, but after reading the whole thing it seems a bit slanted. I'm an avid shooter and hunter, and it seems to paint me as a "nut". I'm a sane guy out here in the west who enjoys hunting and shooting with my kids to put food on the table, and I don't appreciate the feds trying to limit where I can purchase supplies. The guys with guns out there holding up liquor stores didn't buy them at licensed gun stores, and that's where the feds need to concentrate their/our money. It seems "High Country News" needs to change it's name to "Low Country News". Colorado used to be the "West", but seems it's a little closer to Kalifornia than I thought. 

Aug 09, 2007 11:32 AM

Professor Burbick is fascinated by guns?!?!? Are you kidding??? Burbick is aboput as anti-gun as you can get! She was shown the door for trying to do an "expose" on a gun show!

And this article is a hit piece against Red's in particular and gun owners in genral, nothing less. You can see it in the snide references to the way gun owners view the Second Amendment, while references to the Brady Bunch, etal, if not outright reverent, are at least devoid of the snarkiness.

The Guano Group (BATFEces) has played fast and loose with the Bill of Rights for years now, and more and more gun owners are getting wise to the Guano Group, and they don't like what they see. Congress just had a big to do about them over a gun show in Richmond, Virginia, and it appears that it hasn't bothered them at all. It's no wonder that many gun owners are beginning to think it's time to use the 2A as it was intended, and "call 'em out in the street, Pilgrim!"

 So, how 'bout it, Ray? Since you can cherry-pick rights for us, can we do the same for you, and put "reasonable controls" on your First Amendment right to free speech? (By the way, gun ownership is a right; not a "privilege".)

 Molon Labe

Crotalus (Don't Tread on Me)

Aug 09, 2007 11:33 AM

From the article - "The people in the audience must know of the incident, but apparently think the actions of an unbalanced shooter don’t bear on their gun rights." Since when do the actions of every unbalanced -'whatever'- bear on our rights?  I don't get a speeding ticket when you speed, (yes, I know) so why are my gun rights being restricted when someone else abuses their gun rights. By your tho't process shouldn't religion be closely controlled because of  the likes of Heaven's Gate and Jim Jones and his Kool-Aid and all those priests emotionally wounding all those children? Dead people are dead people no matter how they die. Wounded is wounded. So if intense control of religion could save just one life, wouldn't it be worth severely restricting religion? Should every newspaper be highly regulated because someone could print lies and libelous statements and incite a riot where property is damaged and people die? The basic underlying premise of every one of us 'guns nuts' is we just want a chance to not be a victim. I would rather have a gun and lose the battle than have no gun and always wonder 'What if?'

Aug 09, 2007 02:16 PM

By changing a few words in Professor Burbick's sentence, we're able to come up with the truth: 

"Gun-control laws have become a fetish — an emotional response to a changing America," she notes, "the idea that somehow, the social problems of the U.S. will be solved through government regulation of private gun ownership and a lot fewer guns in the hands of lawful American citizens."

 See how that works? We have a lot of evidence that armed American citizens protect themselves from criminals every day, usually without a shot fired. There is zero evidence to prove that disarming law abiding citizens, through "tougher gun-control laws" does anything to reduce violent crime.

There is no freedom when only the Military and Police are allowed to keep and bear arms. 

Never forget Liviu Librescu!

Aug 09, 2007 04:54 PM


Regarding "Guns R Us:" As a long-time subscriber, and sometime contributor, to High Country News, I always look forward to your feature reporting--especially when the reporter is Ray Ring. But I have seldom been not only so disappointed by an article's obvious slant, but also so absolutely astonished by the lack of breadth in Ring's information-gathering (it is not worthy of being called "research").  His primary source--indeed, practically his only source--is Professor Jean Burbick of Washington State University, whose GUN SHOW NATION: GUN CULTURE AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY does little more than rehash the standard screed of the anti-gun crowd.


There is, by now, a large and well-developed body of literature presenting multiple sides of the complex story of American gun ownership—much of it coming from the political left of center, at that.  It would have been appropriate for Ring to have familiarized himself with some of it. For readers of yours who may be seeking a more balanced perspective on American gun users, and enthusiasts, I would suggest the following books: Abigail Kohn's SHOOTERS: MYTHS AND REALITIES OF AMERICA'S GUN CULTURES (Oxford University Press,2005); Jan E. Dizard’s anthology GUNS IN AMERICA (New York University Press, 1999); Caitlin Kelly’s BLOWN AWAY: AMERICAN WOMEN AND GUNS (Pocket Books, 2004); and my book with Carol Oyster, GUN WOMEN: FIREARMS AND FEMINISM IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICA (New York University Press, 2000). All of these works amply show that there is a lot more going on in America's "gun culture" than a bunch of conservative white Anglo-Saxon males asserting their masculinity and playing at being gunslingers. That stereotype is limiting, demeaning, distorting, and insulting to the majority of HCN's readers who are, themselves, responsible gun owners and users.


Mary Zeiss Stange

Ekalaka, Montana





Aug 10, 2007 11:03 AM

Look at this website and then ask what yourself what the outcome would have been if the victim was without the means to defend themselves. Would they be alive today?

Firearms are used for self defense purposes everyday by people of all ages and all races.

Aug 10, 2007 11:03 AM

You want a gun enthusiast to suggest an answer?  Ok, how about we make it really, really illegal to kill people.  That will stop all this crime now, wouldn't it?

 How are those "illegal drug" laws working for you?

How are those "illegal immigration" laws working for you?

The Bill of Rights enumerates RIGHTS that pre-existed BEFORE the government did.  The 2nd Amendment does not "grant" you the "priviledge" of weapon ownership (under whatever restrictive and totally worthless laws the government see fit to employ).  It says YOU have that RIGHT and the government SHALL NOT INFRINGE upon that right.  Period.  End of story.

Aug 10, 2007 11:05 AM

A fool and his God Given rights (Bill of Rights) are easily separated. Anyone willing to give up these rights deserves none. Just because Congress makes a law and the Supreme Court blesses it doesn't make it Constitutional. Peoples acceptance of Unconstitutional laws leads to slavery. A small drip of water on stone can make the Rockies into beach sand.

Aug 10, 2007 11:05 AM


Maybe we need to shift our cultural consciousnes from freedom of speech as a "right" to freedom of speech as a privilege.  Then we can finally admit that our society has reached a point where not everyone has the right to speak. 

Posted by Viet Nam Vet

Aug 10, 2007 11:05 AM

This article proves yet again that no two words were ever more meant to be used together than"CLUELESS LIBERAL".

Madison,Jefferson,and Hamilton would spit in the face of this marxist dupe. 

Aug 10, 2007 11:09 AM

"Horsley took over the shop about eight years ago as other family members stepped back, and he changed it from a clutter of knickknacks into a formidable business that offers rows of assault rifles and nearly everything else a shooter would desire."

Please explain to us, Mr. Ring, what exactly an 'assault rifle' is and why you are so afraid of a law-abiding citizen possessing such.

Thought for the day:  Gun control is a tight grouping in the center of the target.

Aug 10, 2007 11:09 AM

"Highlighting APPARENTLY AUTHENTIC documents, The Gang reports that the ATF’s terrible traits... "

A real reporter would have verified the authenticity. A liberal thug with an agenda would not.

Guess which one this  is.

Aug 13, 2007 11:58 AM

California used to be a reasonable state when I lived there in 1961.  Then the progressive socialist "Democrats" took over.

The Western slope of Colorado used to be a down-to-earth, focused place where a man (or woman) cold live a free life.  Then the "Kalifornicators" moved in.

Going to high school in Steamboat Springs (back when it was a cow town), every student's pickup had a gun rack with a rifle in it during elk season.  No one shot up the County High School.  When the newly elected "Kalifornicator" city council banned the carrying or possesion of a firearm, case or uncased, loaded or unloaded, anywhere outside of one's dwelling, the Chief of Police just ignored it.  Next election, the locals elected locals and that ordinance went away.

There is a historical trend.  As the socialist progressive "better People" move us towards their communitarian 'Utopia" nanny state and away from a free democratic Republic with limited government we are bombarded by articles like this to keep us worried and afraid.  Guns are tools.  Guns are inanimate objects.  Tools and inanimate objects are neither good or bad, moral or immoral. 

The PERSON that wields the tool can use it for good or bad.  The USE the tool is put to can be moral, immoral, or neutral.

The socialist progressives and their cheerleaders in the so-called media (whether its "news", "entertainment" or both) realize that in order for a free people to be cajoled into voluntary slavery they must be frightened and herded.  Only then will the sheeple clamor for more laws, more safety, more security, more taxes, more regulation while orgasmically surrendering their rights and freedom.  Then there's that whole "inflated belief in the individual"!  Can't have anyone question "the State" can we?  Funny how the heirs of Abie Hoffman have become the vanguard of the subjugation of the individual to the State. 

Murder is already illegal.  Possession of firearms by felons is already illegal.  Murder rates are dropping, especially in states with high gun ownership and 'shall issue' concealed carry laws.  But that is against the mantra!  We have always been at war with Eurasia! ("!984" reference).  So the hyperbole must be ratcheted up to scare the sheeple! 

More "reasonable restrictions" every day.  More laws from Congress, more volumes of Federal regulations 'as the Secretary deems necessary' to enforce those additional laws, more state laws because there are new Federal laws, more local ordinances, more misdemeanors turned into felonies, new felonies, new ex-post facto laws, more police, more state and Federal "agents" and 'special operations' units - like the US Dept. of Health and Human Services SWAT teams, and more people who are already felons for breaking laws no one ever heard of to arrest. 

The socialist progressive communitarians and their cheerleaders must demonize guns.  The lawful possession and lawful use of firearms must be made a sin against humanity - an evil.  Don't let your children play there - that man owns a gun!  Doctors, interrogate your patients!  Find out who has a gun because its a mental illness / public health issue!  Teachers! Ask your pupils if their parents have a gun!  Its for the children!   But lets ignore everything else, because its a privacy issue...

"Citizens" will not need guns in our brave new utopia, but police departments need sub machine guns, fully automatic M16s, heavy machine guns and armored vehicles because they are "outgunned" (they really aren't, since the most common firearm used in crime is either a .38 revolver or a small-caliber automatic), and masks to hide their faces during no-knock raids at 2 a.m. (and aren't the socialist progressive communitarians like Her Excellency, the Senator-Because-She-Should-Be and President-to-be-by-Acclamation, Hillary Rodham; Senators Boxer and Feinstein; et al the heirs of the 1960s?  more like the heirs of Major Daley the First).

Your article mentions Westerners owning machineguns under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 (and amended by the 1986 Volkmer-McClure Act).  How many of these have ever been used in a crime?  Could it be zero (0)?  Except for the one owned by a policeman (under the special rules for police) which he used to kill an informant?

Thank you for doing your part in reeducating the masses.  After the Second Amendment, we'll work on that pesky First.


Aug 14, 2007 01:13 PM

The writer states that Jason Kenneth Hamilton was able to acquire a gun by "mail from an out-of-state dealer", implying that the gun was delivered to his door by the Post Office or UPS.

We haven't been able to mail order a gun since '68, for all the good it's done.

The quoted phrase is a distortion by omission. The law requires interstate transfers to be accomplished by sending the gun to a local, LICENSED, dealer, who would verify that the recipient was who he said he was, and conduct the MANDATORY check against the criminal and mental datebase. The man may well have belonged to the Aryan Nations, but, at least so far, guilt by association hasn't been codified (outside of newspapers, that is) as a disabling trait for gun ownership. I leave the reader to decide if this omission is either poor journalism or bias.


Aug 17, 2007 12:02 PM

Your magazine is supposedly 'for people who care about the West', yet you publish this garbage?

You people don't really get America. Please do us all a favor and move to the UK, or some other nanny-state. 


Aug 20, 2007 11:51 AM

High Country News, you would have to be High just to publish this drival.....long live freedom, lets celebrate the open range...lets live by the libertarian creed...I'm so libertarian that I don't even believe in stop signs....why would we need guns when George Bush is on watch? The only reason to have gun control in my book would be to protect Dick Cheneys hunting buddies! Live and Let Live thats the mantra of the west.


Peace Yale Bloor 

Aug 23, 2007 04:57 PM

 Dear Editor,

Articles like Guns R US will surley do more damage to your paper than the recient postal rate increse ever could.   The High Country news has always printed negative only articles about the West and us backward Westerners but this time I beleve HCN steped off the edge!

A more one sided presentation of Gun ownership would be nearly impossible to write.  A clue for you,  It's in our constitution, specificaly the Bill Of Rights.  You remember, that unique and incredible idea that the individual has specific, unailenable, itemized rights not given by government and thefore these rights cannot be taken by government! You surely remember that the people of this country are the only ones, to this day, that had the courage to form thier country around the idea that the individual and his or her freedom are the core of our country?  Why do you think the right of Gun Onership by the individual is second only to the right of freedom of speech?  Sort of to back up that right and all the others, ya think? I guess the editors of HCN must have had thier heads where the sun doesn't shine or this really poor excuse for journalism would have been quickly inserted in the round file. 

As a journalestic endevor why don't you look up the "Shot Heard Around the World"?  It is the incident that started the Revolutionary War,  The British decided that the colonists in Concord had guns that were better than thiers and shouldn't have firearms.  Why, they might use them!  At a place called Concord Green, on the bridge, for freedom from tyranny, they used thier guns, so America was born with an attempt at gun control by clueless elites. Sort of like yourselves.  The British made a bad mistake, really bad.  And so has the High Country News.

Most Sincerly

Dan Stucker,  Hotchkiss, Co

Aug 24, 2007 05:36 PM

What does this make me? 

* I am a FFL (Federal Firearms Licensee) Dealer and I sell Firearms* I am a Retired Police Officer* I served over four tours of duty in Viet Nam* I am a Registered Republican* I am a Jew and belong to the JPFO (Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership)* I belong to the NRA (National Rifle Association)* I am an avid supporter of the War on Terror and Support Our Troops and Their MissionWhat does this make me??? Well, let’s see...* I do believe strongly in the Second Amendment but I also recognize that not all citizens should be allowed to own firearms. I view weapons ownership the same way that I do the privilege of driving a vehicle. Before being allowed to drive, a person must prove proficiency (so as not to endanger the public). Which is "potentially" more dangerous... driving an automobile of carrying a loaded firearm? I would rank them as being about equal in the scheme of things. For those who are mixed up on the words "It's my Right to....", well, you have "Rights" under the First Amendment as well, but not to the extent that you can endanger the safety or rights of others by the exercise of "Your" rights. Living in a civilized society is a balancing act... a series of gives and takes with "Public Safety" being foremost and paramount. Yes, everyone has the "Right" to bear arms, but those "Rights" may, and should be, (in my opinion) reasonably regulated. It is incumbent upon Congress to see to it that the rights guaranteed to the people are not abrogated or overly-regulated.* I support the BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and recognize that they have an important roll to play in the War on Terror and in keeping America a safe place for us to live. I am personally acquainted with some of their agents and know them to be totally professional and dedicated individuals. Calling them murders and accusing them of being involved in a conspiracy to deprive Americans of their lawfully acquired weapons is far-fetched and un-deserved.* For those “All or Nothing” types who march blindly forward saying that ALL Constitutional Rights must be equally supported and defended, you have a point. However, to deny that gun ownership should be anything else than a “Privilege” is insane. As a licensed Firearms Dealer, I can refuse to sell my products to anyone that I feel should not possess a firearm. I can make that assessment and I don’t have to give a reason. Sure, anyone wanting a gun can get one just like the resistance does when fighting a repressive Government. But…I am convinced that restricting the ease with which some may acquire a firearm undoubtedly saves lives. We all admit that the “hard-core” individuals who want a gun will get one no matter what repressive gun laws may be on the books. There is no debate there.* Conclusion: I believe that the laws already on the books are more than adequate to control the illegal possession of firearms. Many of the States have draconian firearms laws which should be overturned. I am against any State making laws more restrictive than the federal laws already standing. There is no evidence anywhere to show that repressive gun laws make your neighborhood any safer from gun violence. On the contrary, in areas where concealed weapons permits are granted much the same way one would get their driver’s licenses have less crime (i.e. fewer home invasions, burglaries, car-jacking and armed robberies).  Firearms are as much a deterrent to violent crime as an armed citizenry deters the rise of a dictatorial Government. Those politicians who advocate removing firearms from the hands of the public perhaps have a hidden agenda which causes them to rightfully fear the armed citizen. Firearms are necessary for the preservation of Freedom and Democracy. Resonable regulation of firearms ownership is not however, a violation of our right to bear arms. Bill Maniaci, Owner                                                                                                                              Maccabee Arms Ltd.                                                                                                                        Reno, Nevada 
Aug 28, 2007 03:58 PM

There's another issue that was briefly touched on in this article.

"Horsley tells the crowd that the ATF is trying to bankrupt him with legal bills, so even if its case against him collapses, he’ll be out of business."

Whether it's the ATF, the IRS or probably most any other Federal Agency, it's all the same.  Guilt should never be determined by how much one can pay in legal fees and court costs.  Once these agencies make an accusation, one is guilty until he or she is proven innocent, which may never happen if the person has limited resources.  Until this is changed and the judicial system is there for all of us there are going to be alot of innocent people bankrupted by the system.

Sep 04, 2007 11:17 AM

The claim, in the movie, that there is no federal agency regulating freedom of speech is wrong. That is precisely what the FCC does. There are also federal conspiracy laws that limit what a person can say, as well as a series of Supreme Court decisions that do so also.

Sep 24, 2007 12:00 PM

Good story, Ray!

This anxiety has been going on for a long time, and the Feds only seem to aggravate it with their ham-handed methods.

There is no surer way to mobilize the "right-wing crazies" than for the Feds (notably the BATFE) to keep overreacting to some of these cases, and then wonder in stunned amazement why there are events like Ruby Ridge, Militias, the Montana Freemen, etc.

It is federal incompetence which only helps to give goonies like Larry Pratt a prime soapbox; But he has a point, when he charges that the NRA is not radical enough, and that, in turn, inspires others.

I am teaching both of my daughters safe firearms handling and marksmanship, while discouraging hunting of wildlife -- unless we absolutely need it for our food supply. But they need to know about guns, and about very-real consequences of firing ammunition, and how to be responsible for their own safety. Needless to say, they really like shooting.

When the corporations and government sends out squads from Blackwater Security to discipline the towns in the Heartland, they better watch out for my Annie Oakleys! Don't laugh -- it could happen..........


Oct 17, 2007 07:04 PM

My family has lived west of the West for nearly four hundred years.

I own guns.

I hunt.

I will never join the NRA.

A year ago last spring I came home, happy as the proverbial clam, a nice turkey in my vest, my Benneli doing it up just right.

I came home to wretched disappointment in finding all the rest of  my rifles and a pistol gone, stolen by a meth head.

If there were more comprehensive registration of firearms chances are that

a) those firearms would have been much less enticing to the drugged out twerp that could EASILY sell them on the street.

b) well he was a drugged out twerp, he might have taken them anyway, but if there were a culture of checking weapons w/ instant data retrieval I  would stand a much better chance when said twerp was stopped on the street. Plus I'd get  the pleasure of having him caught.

This is not "gun control" per say but thug control.

As Americans we can demand the laws we believe to be best for our well being. We could codify insurances that guns will never be taken from responsible, law abiding Americans.

For myself I just wish I still had my Mk V Weatherby in .300WBY, My Kimber 6.5 Swede, My old lever action and my S&W 686 w/ the 8 3/8" barrel w/ wooden grips and adjustable front sites.

In Particular. 

May 11, 2010 05:38 PM
Someone else already said it but: this article is drivel. "white men anxious over the civil rights movement", there it is. Today, once you link one side of an issue to racism, you win automatically.