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SITREP: September 1998

By Dan Shea

Be careful out there....

Civilian machine gun shoots are becoming more popular every day. Here at SAR we tend to hear more about it than most people, and we want very much to “Get the word out on safety”. There are a couple of reasons why this is important to do.

Military firearms and their civilian owners tend to be demonized in the press. I have been attending civilian shooting events since the mid 1960’s, and machine gun shoots since the late 1970’s. The camaraderie and passing on of knowledge is matched in scope only by the fun people seem to have. The odd person here or there may be a poster boy for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Gun Goober of the Week”, but hey, I’ve seen the crowds at almost any liberal event you can name, and those crazy old uncles that we gun owner’s might try to keep in our closet have NOTHING on the crazy old uncles that the left-wing events seem to celebrate bringing out. Too bad the media isn’t fair about showing those who are really at each event. I’d like to see some unbiased reporting. You are probably wondering if I have lost my mind.

We try to be media conscious, but that’s admittedly hard to do when you are holding a machine gun in your hands shooting at exploding targets.

One thread runs through all firearms enthusiasts, whether they are active duty military, law enforcement, industry professionals, or back yard shooters- that is we all enjoy our past time. We like to shoot. The mechanisms fascinate us, or the history excites us. Perhaps the idea of hitting a target dead smack in the x-ring at 1000 yards is exciting to us. Maybe seeing how long a burst a water cooled can safely perform is a Holy Grail. One of our fraternity is actively shooting clay pigeons with a Suomi Model 1931 submachine gun with 70 percent success rates, and is embarking on aerial targets with a shoulder fired fifty caliber rifle!

You know SAR will be reporting on that one.

He shoots aerial targets and practices range safety as well. The vast majority of shooters have a strong commitment to safety, even as they push the envelope experimentally. This is one of our strong points, yet not part of our image with the general public.

As we move into the season of the big civilian gatherings, SAR would like to ask all of the readers to be ambassadors for safety. Without being picky and insufferable to be around that is, we should try to lead by example. Safety glasses, hearing protection, well thought out ranges with good backstops, and safety rules at all times. Keep the booze for after the guns are cleaned and away.

Remember you represent us all, and what you say to the media is what they will be able to bring back later to haunt you and the rest of us with. When it comes to safety, be careful so that no one gets hurt. When it comes to the media, be careful because they are not on your side. On every level, Be careful out there...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N12 (September 1998)
and was posted online on January 6, 2017

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