Book Reviews: Standard Catalog Of Military Firearms Second Edition: The Collector’s Price And Reference Guide- 1870 To The Present
by Lee Arten

Standard Catalog Of Military Firearms Second Edition: The Collector’s Price And Reference Guide- 1870 To The Present
By Ned Schwing
ISBN 0-87349-525-X
Krause Publications Inc
An F&W Publications Company
700 East State Street,
Iola, WI 54990-0001
$24.99 U.S. + $4 shipping.

The Standard Catalog Of Military Firearms: Second Edition is a large-format paperback with more than 400 pages of information on military firearms. Weapons from single-shot rifles and early military revolvers to modern selective-fire rifles and belt-fed machineguns are covered. The book can be a frustrating read - there are many guns pictured I won’t be able to handle or fire. That frustration is balanced by the amount of information about military firearms contained in the book.

Photos are well composed and well lighted. Firearm markings shown are readable too. I’ve looked over many photos of men carrying and shooting military firearms, but many I hadn’t seen appear in this book.

Author Ned Schwing also wrote the Standard Catalog of Firearms. The author’s bio on the back cover of this book calls Standard Catalog of Firearms, “...the world’s most complete illustrated price guide for antique and modern firearms.” The Standard Catalog Of Military Firearms gives military firearms the same treatment. Each country, from Argentina to Yugoslavia-Serbia has its own section. They begin by listing the military conflicts of each nation from 1870 to the present. Then handguns are cataloged, followed by submachine guns, rifles, shotguns and machineguns. Firearms are listed alphabetically by manufacturer.

After reading a bit, I looked up the Madsen M50 and the UD M42. The note on the Madsen submachine gun was short but contained the basic information on the gun. The listed price for transferable Madsens was higher than I expected, but those for Pre-1986 and dealer sample M50s seemed to be in the current range. (The author states that the prices in the book are intended only as a guide, and that the Class III market is volatile.)

The note on the UD M42, a scarce US submachine gun, was longer and included the name of the gun’s designer, Carl Swebilius. Information on who used the guns in World War II was also included. The line, “These guns saw a lot of action during the war” drew my eye. I’d like to see the UD M42’s record documented in a book or a series of articles.

The quoted prices for transferable UD M42s were almost identical to asking prices I’ve seen in print ads or on gun boards in the last two years.

Other features of Standard Catalog Of Military Firearms include the author’s introduction and notes on firearms grading and prices. A short overview of the Class III scene written by J.R. Moody takes up pages 12 and 13. Moody is an historian, a full-auto shooter and a collector, and works with Knight’s Armament Company as a consultant.

Schwing’s contributing editors include Moody, Bruce Canfield, Jim Supica, Robert E. Naess, Nick Tilotta, and others. Seven other writers penned commentaries on firearms covered in the book. Readers of Shotgun News, Small Arms Review, and other gun magazines will recognize the names: Charles Cutshaw, David Fortier, Dan Shea, Peter G. Kokalis, Chuck Karwan, Frank James and Paul Scarlata.

Dan Shea’s commentary on shooting the MG52-2A, a water-cooled .50 caliber Browning nicknamed “Fat Alice” is a neat, nostalgic bit of writing. His piece on the 1914 Hotchkiss is informative, and maybe as close as I will come to shooting one. Frank James’s piece on the M3A1 Grease Gun is a compact history of the M3A1, as is Chuck Karwan’s write up on The U.S. Rifle M14.

Besides the commentaries, Standard Catalog Of Military Firearms contains five and a half pages on variations of the Walther PP and PPK, 10 pages on the Luger, and seven pages on the P.38.

According to a staffer at Krause Publications, Schwing’s Standard Catalog Of Firearms is in its 14th edition and is a best seller for the company. The Standard Catalog Of Military Firearms seems likely to follow the path blazed by the earlier volume.

It would be a fine addition to a collection of books on military firearms, or a good start on a collection for a shooter developing an interest in the field.

Supreme Court Gun Cases
By David B. Kopel, Stephen P. Halbrook and Alan Korwan
Bloomfield Press, 4718 E, Cactus, Nr 440, Phoenix, AZ 85032
Phone: 602-996-4020,
Fax 602-494-0679, website: www.gunlaws.com
Copyright 2004
Trade paperback ISBN:
trade paperback -1-889632-05-8,
library/lawyer’s hardcover:
668 pages, US$24.95
Reviewed by Charlie Cutshaw

It is a virtual article of faith that the Supreme Court has rarely ruled on cases involving firearms. The most famous Supreme Court case is that of the United States vs. Miller which was heard and ruled upon in 1939, although this case actually had little effect on firearms case law, as we shall presently see. In fact, the court has ruled on firearms involved cases in no less than 92 instances over nearly 200 years, three dozen of which quote or directly mention the Second Amendment. In the words of Alan Korwan, one of the book’s authors, “The ‘few’ cases...most were referring to was just ...passed down from one lazy parrot to another, and I include myself in that class.” In the landmark study that forms the basis of this book, the authors show not only every single case in which the Supreme Court has ruled directly on the Second Amendment, but examine all cases in which guns were involved. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled on many aspects of firearms, including numerous cases of self defense. In the words of the Mr. Korwan, “...the Court easily and calmly presumes that gun ownership is normative behavior. American people own guns for all the legitimate purposes that make guns so important in a peace-loving society.” In all cases of self defense, the Supreme Court has focused solely on when and how people used their guns and if the use was proper, taking it for granted that people had them.

The authors are all extremely well-qualified authorities on the subject matter of this book. David B. Kopel and Stephen P. Halbrook are both lawyers and highly regarded experts on firearms legal issues. Mr. Kopel is Research Director of the Independence Institute, a civil liberties organization in Colorado. Mr. Halbrook is an attorney in private practice in Fairfax, VA. He has successfully argued three cases before the Supreme Court, including that of the surviving Branch Davidians. Alan J. Korwan is a full time author and consultant specializing in firearms matters. All three gentlemen have written extensively on Second Amendment subjects and have numerous books and articles to their credit. Supreme Court Gun Cases is probably their most ambitious effort, however. The book achieves its stated goal of covering every Supreme Court decision affecting the Second Amendment admirably.

Of course, since the authors are from legal backgrounds, the book features a legal disclaimer as foreword before any substantive matter is discussed. The reader is sternly warned that this book is not the law and is no substitute for it. The foreword goes on to warn that the reader no representation is made that the book covers all case requirements, prohibitions and rules that may exist. The reader is further strongly urged to consult a qualified attorney and local authorities to determine the current status and applicability of the law to any specific situations that may be encountered. “Being able to cite the perfect test case may not matter to a police officer at the side of your car.” The authors go on to say “...what the law says and what the authorities and courts do aren’t always an exact match.” (emphasis in original) Although the disclaimer might be considered a legal way for the authors to duck any responsibility for actions taken by a reader after having read the case law cited within their book, their advice should be duly heeded. Laws are subject to interpretation and the leftist anti-gun, bigoted judge you are facing doesn’t like you because he (or she) doesn’t much like guns. The bottom line is that if you are ever in a case involving the use of guns or self-defense, get a lawyer specializing in those matters. Even with the disclaimer, Supreme Court Gun Cases is a treasure trove of information.

The entire text of the Supreme Court ruling is contained in every significant case. Since most gun owners are not lawyers, each case also features a plain English summary of the case and its meaning. If this weren’t enough, Supreme Court Gun Cases explains at length the legal meaning of the Second Amendment and its ramifications not only for federal, but in state law. Supreme Court Gun Cases not only cites every single case and explains its meaning in plain language, but also contains separate chapters on Gun Rights in State Constitutions, enumerating each state’s constitutional comments on the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms. A separate chapter by Stephen P. Halbrook titled “Firearms Law Deskbook,” is intended primarily for lawyers. This chapter not only includes methods for defense attorneys to use an array of defense tactics, but also shows prosecutors how to use the law to build the case for indictment. Included are what Mr. Halbrook calls “tactical tips” for attorneys. At the end of the chapter, Halbrook provides a “litigation checklist.” A chapter by David Kopel examines what the Supreme Court has said on 35 cases directly involving the Second Amendment, citing not only the case, but examining the rulings by each court, beginning with the current Rehnquist Court and working back to the obscure 1821 case of Houston vs. Moore, the first Supreme Court case which directly mentions the Second Amendment. This chapter discusses each case in some detail, and includes a chart showing the plaintiffs, the main issue in the case, which justice wrote the opinion, the type of opinion, whether or not the opinion supported the individual right clause of the Second Amendment, the part of the clause quoted and the page of Supreme Court Gun Cases on which the summary can be found. Interestingly, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the Second Amendment is an individual, not a collective state right. In 26 of the 35 Second Amendment cases, the right is stated to be an individual right. In six others, the court’s ruling is ambiguous in that the Court does not make clear its intent. In only two decisions was the Second Amendment not confirmed as an individual right. In only one, the 1972 case of Adams vs. Williams, was the individual right specifically rejected. In the other, Hamilton vs. Regents, the Second Amendment was not directly at issue, but was used to decide the case of two conscientious objectors who refused to participate in militia training. In sum, the conclusions of the Supreme Court of the Second Amendment as an individual right have been overwhelmingly positive. The summaries of the cases make fascinating reading.

There are many gems of information contained through this comprehensive examination of the Supreme Court and firearms. For example, the oft-cited Miller case decided nothing, which according to the authors is the reason why both pro gun and anti gun advocates refer to it for support. Because there was no evidence presented, the court remanded the Miller case back to a lower court for retrial. By the time of this ruling, however, Miller, a small time thug, had been murdered and his co-defendant had plea-bargained his way into a lesser offense. Thus, the mandated retrial and evidentiary hearing never was held. Another noteworthy fact is that the Supreme Court has consistently recognized the legality of armed self defense as a distinct right of American Citizens and that a “duty to retreat” is not obligatory.

Although every significant case is cited in its entirety, the reader does not have to wade through page after excruciatingly boring page of legalese. As previously mentioned, each case is summarized in a readable “gist” that explains the background of the case in question, how it came to the Supreme Court, what the court ruled, what dissent there was and why. These short “gists” make for fascinating reading as to the court’s opinion on firearms ownership and self defense. For those whose attention span is too short even for the “gists,” a one paragraph descriptive index of each case is also included. There are many significant cases that include issues that transcend the Second Amendment. Such cases include the infamous Dred Scott case, in which the Supreme Court decided that a black man was not a full citizen and should not be afforded the full rights of citizenship, including firearms ownership.

The authors are all eminently qualified and Supreme Court Gun Cases is a book that belongs in the library of every citizen concerned not only about the Second Amendment, but about the entire Bill of Rights. It is a book not only for gun owners, but is an invaluable reference for lawyers who may become involved with a case associated with the use of firearms. This isn’t a book that one picks up and reads through like a novel. It is one of those books that a person keeps handy to dip into at random and enlighten one’s knowledge of our rights as citizens. As such, Supreme Court Gun Cases is a scholarly tour de force and is highly recommended.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V7N9 (June 2004)
and was posted online on August 16, 2013


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