Thursday, June 18, 2009


I went up into our attic for the first time today, to run cable as part of our plan to wire the Grondulbarn for the 21st century. While there, I discovered these interesting artifacts positioned just next to the trapdoor:
  • A machete, with scabbard, made in 1945.
  • The barrel of a double-barreled shotgun. Don't ask me where the rest of the weapon is.
  • A Winchester Model 1894 .30-30 lever-action rifle, in a leatherette case.

I checked that the rifle was unloaded, and Alison called the police to come run its serial number, to see if it had been stolen.

While we waited, I got Google smart on the rifle. The Model 1894, or Model 94, it turns out, was one of the most popular hunting rifles ever made. About 7.5 million were made during its 112-year production period, which started, not surprisingly, in 1894. The internet tells me, based on the serial number, that this particular weapon was made in 1974. The gun is in near-new condition; there's essentially no wear or rust on it. Interestingly, my father owns a much earlier example of the Model 1894; that weapon belonged to his grandfather and was made, if I recall correctly, right around 1900. My dad's rifle, in addition to looking both more aged and more worn, has an old-school octagonal barrel in contrast to the round barrel on the gun we found in the attic. The newer rifle also has a safety on the lever; I'm not sure if my dad's has that feature.

The 3 policemen who arrived at our door---apparently, it was a slow night for crime fighting in Montgomery Village---ran the serial number, and found that the rifle was "clean." I've decided to keep it. So, suddenly and unexpectedly, we own a gun. Now I need to learn how to safely operate it.

And I guess I need a gun rack for my Miata.


  1. If you don't get the rundown from your dad, the NRA offers excellent courses- I don't have an overwhelming well of respect for them as a lobbyist group, but their education and sport-organizing efforts are both excellent. Out of their basic classes, First Steps Rifle Orientation would probably be what you're after.

  2. Ms Rat,

    Stingray actually mentioned those classes to me some months ago, when I asked him how a person might go about learning firearms safety. I guess my question is more relevant now.

    I'll probably get my father to instruct me, since he'll be visiting in a few weeks, but taking a class strikes me as a good thing to do, too. He can also check the weapon's condition, as you suggested on the dog board. Incidentally, he just bought a shotgun, and h tells me he's planning to use it on "whatever Democrats come through [his] door." Sigh.

  3. Welcome to the small minority of liberals with firearms. Prepare to sigh and roll your eyes a lot in the coming weeks and months, as you watch people solemnly equate Barack Obama with Satan and gun registration requirements with Nazi death camps.

    That Winchester should be a really fun gun to shoot, with enough kick and noise to be satisfying, but not so much that it's painful. (I really did not enjoy firing my dad's .30-06.) The good folks from the Serenity are often seen firing one, and it shows up (often anachronistically) in a whole lot of Westerns.

    I agree with the others that a firearms safety class is probably a good idea; I took a handguns class myself many years ago, even though I had already put a thousand rounds or so through my Browning Buck Mark. There may be classes offered by non-NRA folks (I'm pretty sure mine wasn't an NRA class), which may be desirable if, like me, you find the NRA to be odious.

    You will need cleaning supplies to bring the gun into fireable condition; I suppose your dad can help you with that. I'm not sure about Maryland law on long guns, but you may also need a trigger lock or locking case for it.

    The machete sounds pretty cool, too. Make sure to oil it (gun oil would probably work) at your earliest convienience so that it doesn't rust.

  4. The NRA's mostly convenient because they're nationwide, cheap, and have consistently good standards. Your local clubs probably run classes as well, I just have no idea if they're awesome or not.

    I learned to shoot mostly from Stingray, but a few of the classes I've taken with our own clubs to polish up skills he hasn't mastered as well as rifle and pistol (like shotgun) were more rewarding just because family dynamics were removed.

    Your Mileage May Vary (tm)

  5. Oh, and about the politics- it really, really depends on where you are and what your local gun clubs are like. At the Sportsman's Club up here, politics almost never comes up; Los Alamos has an enthusiastic shooting community but is very politically purple, so people don't just assume another shooter is a conservative or even categorizable. I've never actually talked about politics at any class or range trip, and the one time someone put up an anti-UN poster at the rifle range, someone else penciled in rebuttals to most of the points on the poster.

    Meanwhile, some shooters I know in CA or MA act like they're essentially closeted and don't let their friends and neighbors know they shoot less they be treated like pariahs. Range trips and clubs can be DADT depending on the area.

    The online community is definitely conservative/libertarian dominated, though, and I'd imagine a lot of clubs in the South and further into the interior are too.

    Long story short, if the atmosphere at one club or range makes you uncomfortable, try another- they definitely form their own local mini-cultures as people prefer to associate with others of like mind.

  6. Nick and LabRat,

    Thanks for your comments. I certainly would like to avoid politics, if possible, so I don't strain my eye-rolling and sighing muscles.

  7. By the way, LabRat, I didn't realize that Stingray taught you to shoot. I have a hard time imagining you unarmed. If fact, I picture you springing fully formed and fully armed, like Athena, from your father's head.

  8. Nope. In a rare example of tacit sexism on the part of my father, it occurred to him to teach my brother but not me what he knew about shooting. I simply was neither afraid of nor opposed to guns when I met Stingray, plus I was already *seriously* bugged by my university's requirement that I be functionally helpless to live on campus, so I was eager to learn.

    It agreed with me. :)