↓ Archives ↓

Posts Tagged → rifle

Great American Outdoor Show Day Six – Fired Up Trump Supporters

Having worked as a volunteer at two different booths and at a separate nearby event at the Great American Outdoor Show here in Harrisburg this week, there is one big takeaway: Attendees are overwhelmingly passionate about President Donald Trump and seeing him be re-elected.

At first the constant parade of Trump 2020 hats going past my eyes did not hit home. Ya know, it’s the biggest outdoor show and gathering in the world, and outdoors folk are naturally conservative, so why not expect to see them…is what I unconsciously thought.

And then as the first day ticked through the first hours, my mind began to start its own “clicker” count of Trump and Trump-Pence hats going by. And mind you, this particular booth is in the Fishing Hall, and a lot of GAOS visitors are there for the hunting guides, the demonstrations, and the opportunity to handle and try out lots and lots of firearms. So this spot I was in is hardly representative of the overall visitor population.

And the mental “clicks” immediately surpassed my ability to keep counting. Somewhere around 150 my mind said that it had had enough of trying to keep track of Trump hats while also greeting visitors and engaging with them on issues of wildlife policy and politics and raffle tickets for guns. So if I saw 150 Trump hats on heads in about 30 minutes, and the rest of the day was just as filled with them, then about 2,600 went by in the day in that particular location.

Another stint at another GAOS booth on another day reinforced the same observation, except I have to admit up front that it was the Trump Campaign booth I was volunteering in. And of course the visitors here naturally self-selected for visits, and about fifty percent had Trump hats. Even those visitors to the Trump Campaign booth who did not have Trump hats were just as FIRED UP as the hat wearers, however.

The Trump Campaign booth was a non-stop feeding frenzy of activity. If you sat down to take a breather, you had to get right back up again to help someone fill out a form. And at any given time there were half a dozen of us working that booth. We were constantly busy.

I know, I know, the GAOS naturally attracts exactly the kind of people who are going to support president Trump anyhow – outdoorsmen, gun owners, pickup truck drivers, etc. But, having attended and volunteered at this show in both of its forms for many years (I started the 2012 vendor boycott that ended the prior Reed Expositions representation of the show, and which eventually resulted in the NRA taking over) I have never before seen anywhere near this level of politicized, politically aware, FIRED UP attendees.

In fact, in years past, it was rare if you got into any kind of political discussion with attendees beyond wildlife policies. Even Second Amendment rights were largely passe to the vast majority of past attendees, who seemed to just want to look at new RVs, camping gear, duck calls, and hunting rifles without being hassled about politics. Politics was off everyone’s radar in the past.

So if this politicized crowd with its nonstop stream of Trump hats is any indication, Trump’s voter base is both larger than in 2016, and a lot more passionate and politically involved. In fact, all of the people I registered to vote or spoke with felt personally invested in the outcome of this November’s election.

And personally dedicated to Donald J. Trump’s re-election.

This bodes very well for President Trump’s re-election prospects.

So God bless flyover country and the NRA.

My comments to the PA Game Commission

The Pennsylvania Game Commission board of commissioners will be meeting this weekend, to set next season’s dates and bag limits. Like many other people, I submitted comments by email last week. From past experiences with this, I know that the commissioners read comments and requests from the public. Some of my comments, and those of my son, have received direct feedback from various members of the board.

A key to getting the commissioners to read and truly consider your comments is to submit them with plenty of time for the recipients to read them. If you submit comments a day or two before the meeting, it’s a very low likelihood of anyone having time to read them. Also, try to keep comments short, to the point, and sweet. Comments with prolonged bitching, whining, and playing biologist when you have no training or education or even a novice’s interest in wildlife biology, are all ways to ensure that your audience at best glances at your comments.

“Dear Commissioners,
Hunting should be fun, and therefore our small game seasons should run unbroken from their Fall opening to their February close. Whatever long gone reason for the on again-off again pattern of small game seasons, Pennsylvania must create opportunities for everyone. No biological reason exists for hiccup-style seasons. Few if any other states have this odd pattern. Let’s just let our hunters have fun and hunt.

In that vein, please consider allowing bodygrip traps on running pole sets in our most rural WMUs. The idea that a loose domestic dog is going to get caught in a trap in the middle of a state forest wilderness is preposterous. Same is true on private land. Same goes for allowing snares. We need all the tools we can get to manage coyotes. With now three years of crazy freeze-thaw-rain winter weather cycles, it’s impossible to rely on footholds. Cable restraints should be allowed throughout the whole season, and snares should be allowed on private land and or on public land in the Big Woods WMUs.

Finally, please put one of our Sundays on the day after the Saturday bear rifle opener, and another Sunday on the day after the Saturday deer rifle opener. This will create the most energy and excitement for our hunters. Even better, make bear and deer rifle concurrent!

Thank you for considering my thoughts,

–Josh”

100 years of Liberalism = mass shootings

Since the 1917 violent triumph of Socialism in Russia, communists have more aggressively spread their efforts world-wide. There is no secret about this. Lots of official information outlets of openly socialist and communist organizations precisely describe their goals and targets, past and present. Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Cuba, now Venezuela, all fell victim to socialism.

Where socialists have failed to openly gain control in democracies, like America and Britain, because their intended victims have more say through voting, they have mostly gone vague. Vagueness allows socialists to talk in circles and in generalities, avoiding the unpleasant hard realities their policies will truly mean for hard working Americans and Britons.

In that vein, for decades the Democrat Party purveyed a more palatable-sounding ideology than socialism or communism. They became Liberals. Liberalism, now called “progressivism” and its advocates “progressives,” is still the same old evil socialism; it is just more incremental than the overtly revolutionary form of the 1917 Soviet Union’s tyranny.

And so for one hundred years, liberals in American government have steadily introduced policy after policy, regulation after regulation, textbook after textbook, slowly changing American culture from the inside. For one hundred years liberals have used America’s democratic form of government (technically America is a republic, but loosely speaking we are governed by democratic principles) to achieve non-democratic outcomes. That is, liberals have used America’s freedoms and government to implement anti-freedom and anti-America policies and changes to our national fabric.

In general, American liberals have sought greater government power over the citizenry, a diminishment of individual rights, a lessening of the individual ability to stand up to and prevail against the kind of overwhelming government power America was originally founded to prevent. Their assault on America has at its core a determined corrosion of American identity and norms; that makes it easier to sell their anti-America, anti-freedom laws, regulations, and policies.

So, for example, by inverting the First Amendment, liberals have removed God from the public square. To liberals, any practice of religion in public is officially establishing religion. By gaining control of public schools through teacher’s unions, and then removing God’s values from those schools, liberals removed the ancient barriers and social mores that glued Americans together.

We can go down a list of liberal laws and policies that have been inflicted on America, and we can talk about how liberals have captured institutions like media, entertainment (Hollywood’s violent movies and ultra-violent video games), and academia, but let’s just say that after one hundred years of liberals tearing away at America’s social fabric, they have succeeded in destroying a great deal of what held America together.

Hearing liberals talk about more gun control is like watching people remove the wheels from my car, and then tell me how dangerous it will be to drive it and how I need to just give them the car keys.

I grew up in a rural community that had more guns, and more cows, than people. We all owned guns from an early age, and we suffered no gun crime. No mass shootings, no individual shootings. My 7th grade biology teacher reloaded my 7×57 Mauser rounds for me. In 7th and 8th grades I took my deer rifle on the school bus from home to Park Forest Junior High School in State College. The gun was placed inside my locker, and at the end of the school day, we students who had brought our rifles joined together to go deer hunting at some local farm or forest. Someone’s parent was in charge of picking us up and taking us to the hunt, and someone else’s parent was in charge of picking us up and taking us all back home at dark. It worked just fine.

Fast forward 40 years and America is a different place. School kids are shooting each other, unlike any previous time. The wheels have come off!

What changed is the American culture that supported responsible gun ownership was weakened by liberals, who have sought to eliminate private gun ownership. The founding American culture that created and reinforced values like self-reliance, personal responsibility, deferring immediate pleasure and gratification in lieu of future success, and making good choices was all tossed away in liberal-controlled public schools and colleges.

Instead of good solid time-proven American values, liberals taught bozo ideas like “challenge authority” — meaning disrespect your parents, having babies out of wedlock is fun, killing babies at will is freedom, who needs Home Economics and a hard work ethic when the government will just give you taxpayer-funded welfare money, and so on. So the culture of America changed, and now many of our youngest seem incapable of living up to basic American norms while still being presented with basic American freedoms, like gun ownership.

Liberals created this failed culture in which young Americans shoot each other. Just look at every major American city: They are nearly all run by liberals, home to the latest and best liberal ideas, and yet they suffer the greatest social failure, financial failure, and violence.

Liberalism is not the solution, but the cause of all that ails America today, especially the mass shootings in liberal-controlled schools.

And so liberals now demand gun confiscation, and phony “universal background checks” that are designed to create lists of who has what guns, to make gun confiscation easier.

Liberals created all these problems in the first place, and more liberal policy ideas like “gun control” are simply adding fuel to the fire.

Many years ago I worked with a woman who specialized in creating problems and crises in our office, and once the interpersonal conflicts were going hot, she would then swoop in and aggressively demand to “solve” the very problems she had created. Her proposed solutions always left her with more authority and direct control over everyone around her. This is what the liberals and the Democrat Party are doing with guns. They created all this mass shooting business, and now they want to exploit the violence crisis they created to further their assault on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, who have no connection to crime but who stand between liberals and their dream of absolute tyrannical control over everyone in America, like their socialist brethren everywhere else.

At a certain point normal Americans have to wake up to this obvious situation, and stop voting for liberals and their deceptive ideas. Liberalism is not good for America. Turn it back, restore our founding principles as America’s norms, take back our government and our institutions from destructive liberalism.

Here (below) is retired US Army Col. David Grossman talking about why children are now killing each other. Grossman was the guy who taught American special forces troops how to overcome their natural human inhibitions in order to quickly kill their opponents, and who then witnessed an alarming generational change in how American youth perceived killing. If you care about what causes mass shootings, watch Grossman’s fascinating videos.

 

Do I own my things, or do they own me?

A recent correspondence with a man about a possible mutual exchange of what The Boss Lady here calls “rusty old junk” made me think, hard, about the things we surround ourselves with. These are things that, on their surface, bring us pleasure.

History is important to a successful civilization, and for most people collecting the detritus and symbols of history is a meaningful touchstone to the past. It is deeply satisfying to own and admire authentic representations of human history.

Collecting can be as simple as little cast iron figurines and cornstalk dolls, from a simpler and more humble time, and representative nonetheless. These are fairly inexpensive and fun to display in the living room, and still carry an intriguing punch for the Saturday lunch visitor.

The other end of the spectrum has items so valuable that they must remain under lock and key for all but the most pressing times. These are more investments than for joy.

One guy I know has probably the largest private American battle flag collection extant. It is so large in number, and the flags so large in size, that he must loan them out to various museums around America, despite the capacious capacity of his own home. In museums, these powerful bullet-ridden symbols of American freedom and sacrifice are on public display for any and all comers to see. My friend gets  a sense of satisfaction from both owning and sharing these flags. Not a bad way to collect. The flags are insured and in pretty secure environments. He can recall them at any time should be desire to sell or trade one.

I could go down the line of friends and acquaintances who own and collect expensive horses, automobiles, memorabilia, clothing, machinery, and so on. There is even the guy who at great expense built a majorly off-road pickup truck that he refuses to allow mud on, even when he is in conditions where he must.

Those who hunt with antique firearms face a true dilemma, because sporting guns are by their nature thrust into the most rugged and potentially destructive and damaging environs. Carrying your sleek 1912 Purdey double rifle on a bear hunt in northcentral Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains is a risky proposition no matter how slow you go. But go you may feel compelled anyhow.  I would.

Using the rifle’s open sights, you might kill a bear under true fair-chase conditions with the classiest gun in the entire state. Such would be a lifetime achievement. On the other hand, you might drop the rifle, fall on it, bang it, or scratch it in those rugged hills, thereby incurring an expensive trip to gunsmith Abe Chaber in Connecticut, or a ship-and-wait to gunsmith Mike Rowe down south. The incredible satisfaction of both owning and successfully hunting with such a fine firearm is measurably balanced by the risk to the rare gun. And no, money is not the issue with such a gun; the issue is its rarity, impossibility of replacement, and one’s absolute duty to protect it in its original condition, as much as practicable.

So when this fellow and I got into horse-trading mode, and he demonstrated a tangibly possessive and prideful feeling about his own “rusty junk,” it jarred me, got me thinking. Do I own my things, or do they own me?

To own a piece of history and be buoyed by it, informed by it, inspired by it, is one thing. But to be a slave to those things, to turn them almost into graven idols of worshipfulness, is nearly blasphemous. It is dangerous, because it causes us to lose perspective. These are, after all, only material things, by design made by men and destined to return to the earth from whence they came. The most important things in life are not things; they are our family members, our friends, our community, and so on.

So it got me wondering, that’s all.

Do I own my things, or do they own me…

Adios, Pancho Villa

When he came out of the guest room, suited up to hunt, he looked like the famous Mexican bandito Pancho Villa.

No lie.

Under his ten gallon Texas cowboy hat, he had two bandoliers of rifle ammunition crossing his chest, a Colt .45 ACP on his right hip, a massive custom Bowie knife on his left, his rifle slung over his shoulder, and I think a revolver in a shoulder holster rig.

We were going deer hunting in northcentral Pennsylvania, but my Pancho Villa was loaded for bear and beyond. We all kind of stood there at 5:00 AM, slack-jawed, staring at him in disbelief, our coffee mugs levitating between lips and falling to the floor in uncontrolled spasms.

He carefully explained what purpose each weapon served. The scoped rifle was obviously for deer, and the knife was for gutting a deer. The Colt Commander .45 ACP was in case a bear attacked him at close quarters, and the revolver was in case a human attacked him. Or maybe I have that reversed.

The bandoliers were self-evident. Everyone needs an extra 100 rounds of ammunition when deer hunting.

We went hunting that day, and I sent him up the hill to sit above the cabin. It was a good spot, and many deer had fallen there. He did not shoot any deer, however. Oh yes, he saw some, and a couple that presented decent shots. But he did not feel like getting all bloody.

He took a lot of chiding that night around the dinner table. So the next day, when we set out from the porch under twinkling stars, he was dressed like everyone else: A parka, orange hat and vest, a rifle. Half way across the gravel driveway I stopped and asked.

“What the hell is that SMELL?”

We all looked at one another, and then everyone looked at Pancho.

“What? I always wear aftershave in the morning. Every man should wear aftershave,” he stated.

“We are deer hunting, not running around on our wives, dammit,” I hissed. “Get back inside and clean yourself off. Every deer can smell you for a mile away!”

Five long minutes later Pancho emerged from the cabin, smelling less like a man on the make. Good. We all checked out with complete kit, and we started to all walk across the same stretch of gravel driveway.

Again, halfway across the gravel a tremendous CLANG! rang out. We all jumped out of our boots, whirling about to see what it was. In the stillness of the 5:20 AM pre-dawn dark, that loud and incongruous metallic noise was the only noise, something absolutely necessary to avoid if we were going to put the sneak on wily whitetail deer.

“Oh,” said Pancho.

“My rifle sling was not attached properly and it disconnected from the rifle barrel.”

His rifle and expensive scope had fallen to the ground. Never mind the air raid siren warning affect this had on deer for half a mile around, it probably damaged either scope or gun, or both.

Nevertheless, he reattached the sling and off we went into the gloaming, working our ways into spots high up to snipe ambushed deer from above.

He did shoot at a deer that day, and he missed. Even he was not surprised. The scope had taken a hell of a hit, and required a half dozen shots off the porch to get it dialed back in later that day.

Over the years many similar hilarious and improbable tales emerged from Pancho’s hunting exploits up north. Unfortunately he skipped an opening week of rifle season to take his flock on a trip to the Holy Land, ate undercooked, tainted chicken, got Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and became paralyzed from the neck down.

This once strong, masculine, proud, intelligent man was increasingly hemmed in by a world of aids, walkers, motor scooters, and help with everything. In the past couple of years he talked constantly of dying. His body was in fact shutting down, and he wanted out. His untreatable pain was immense.

He died Friday, a victim as much of the Guillain-Barre paralysis as the double-edged drugs meant to prolong his life.

Pancho Villa was not his real name, but to me, one of his admirers, he will always be that colorful bandito. A man swimming powerfully both with and against the tide he had been born into. To those who could not pronounce his name, he was “Chay-me.”

To his parents, he was Chaim. Born in Boro Park, Brooklyn, he was the son of a wood worker and a homemaker, who both fled Germany before the death plague descended on everyone around them. To those who do not know Boro Park, think Fiddler on the Roof. This is a super insulated society, walled off from everything outside. This concrete jungle does not breed woodsmen or hunters.

Chaim Schertz got his PhD at NYU and his rabbinic ordination at YU. He was a terrible hunter, but a great man, a great teacher, a great friend. I miss him now and always will.

 

Last Dance at Julia’s Auction

James D. Julia was in full-throated auctioneer mode when I hung up the phone earlier today, his voice rising high above all the other competing voices.

With a standing-room-only crowd at Julia’s Auction in Fairfield, Maine, the background noise was overwhelming, even on the phone. Today being Julia’s last-ever auction, the place is packed to the gills with people who just want to experience it and be able to say “I was there.”

“Please yell at me, like you are mad at me, OK?,” instructed Debbie, the Julia’s Auction employee assigned to handle my phone-in bid. She could hardly hear herself, much less her client on the other end of the line. I, too, could only hear a roar, a cacophony of voices, with the auctioneer’s voice occasionally rising above it.

I have been to Julia’s several times, and it has never been anything like this chaos.

Yes, it is a long drive from central Pennsylvania, but if you are into the stuff I am into, then the drive is worth it. If for no other reason than to inspect in person the various antiques (my wife calls it all ‘rusty junk’) of interest.

Julia’s firearms catalogues are phenomenal, presently approached in quality and accuracy only by Amoskeag Auctions, but there is no substitute for being there and seeing the items in person.

Please understand that Julia’s catalogues are more than just sales listings. They are historic repositories of hard-won information, useful to researchers of all sorts, as well as helping set some parameters on overall market prices.

Julia’s catalogue photographs set the industry standard. Nor have I ever seen an example where Julia’s mislead or provided an inaccurate description of some item. No doubt it has happened, but compared to the other auction houses, Julia’s descriptions are perfection. Gospel, really.

The Lancaster double rifle I was interested in came up quickly, and before I could indicate a number, it was already at double what I was prepared to bid. On quick second thought, I was ready to bid higher, but by then the auction price was already beyond double my highest bid, which was still forming in my mouth.

“Do you want to bid?,” asked Debbie.

“Nope. I’m out, it is already way beyond my highest” said I.

“But it was nice just to be able to bid one last time at Julia’s, a place I have come to love and fear,” I said.

Debbie laughed at my joke, and then after a few brief pleasantries she said goodbye, moving on to help the next phone bidder in what will probably go down in the history books as the most expensive, frenetic, chaotic firearms auction ever.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Julia’s has been purchased by Morphy Auctions here in central Pennsylvania.

I say unfortunately, because no one likes to see a good thing change, and Julia’s is not only a good thing, it has been the best thing in antique firearms auctions, bar none. So now that it is becoming part of Morphy Auctions, it is disappearing.

I say fortunately, because the merger will bring all the highest-end antique firearms to Morphy, which is much, much closer to my home. No more long, long drives to south-central Maine. But this may be too close.

And that is why I say unfortunately, because now that all these guns will be on display so close to my home, like less than an hour away, I will end up acting like a kid in a candy shop: Out. Of. Control.

Oh, my suffering wife. Yet more rusty junk, honey!

Which brings me to a much more poignant point: Don’t assume things will always be so, because in truth things are always changing. When you see something good, and it looks right, and it is going to bring you pleasure, or happiness, or a good investment, then strike while that iron is hot.

Just five months ago, Julia’s previous firearms auction had barely anyone in attendance. Hardly any bidding occurred on most of the firearms there. Maybe one or two bids per item, except for the especially rare or collectible, with most going for just one low bid, filed by absentee bidders. No one knew then that Julia’s was going to be merged with Morphy, and so no one showed much interest.

Had people known then what they know today…that October 2017 auction would have been a mad house, like today is, and the assemblage of fine, one-of-a-kind firearms would have been much more competitive.

For those of us who did participate, we reaped the benefits of low competition.

Goodbye, Julia’s! You will be missed. We welcome to central Pennsylvania the many outstanding firearms experts who have made Maine their home in the past decades. They will be happy here, surrounded by lots of natural beauty and an all-American culture that does not punish or stigmatize gun ownership.

My only hope is that Morphy carries on the same high quality catalogues that Julia’s produced, in style, substance, photography, and descriptive accuracy. That is one thing the industry cannot afford to lose.

First World Problem: Antique Arms Collectors Now Face Mostly Fakes

This headline is probably ho-hum to most people, at best.

To others, it is a “here we go again, another whine-fest by history buffs who spend their money badly on old rusty junk.”

But if you are indeed a history buff with a penchant for old weapons, both edged and those that go BOOM, you may be interested in this post.

My opinion is that most antique weapons collectors are facing an overwhelming amount of fakes.

Much more so with Japanese swords, so let’s discuss them first.

Used to be that finding a Gendaito blade was unusual; maybe one or two a year. Now, you go on eBay and find the same several sellers conveying dozens of them annually. Wakizashis, katanas, even various sized dirks and tantos etc.

These must all be fakes, as there simply were not this many Gendaito blades in existence before Chinese smiths began to create them in about 2011.  Having watched these counterfeits move at an ever brisker pace, I simply feel sad. At some point the uninformed collectors will discover their money has been taken for what is a very good reproduction that is probably worth a thousand bucks, simply because it is that good of a copy. But it ain’t real.

Smith-made (hand made art blades) Shinto blades also fall into this counterfeiting scam by the hundreds annually. Again, there simply were not as many of these blades surviving WWII as there are now for sale on eBay.

With guns, it is harder to fake than a sword, because a gun is obviously a gun. A Winchester 1873 is a Winchester 1873, and its condition usually dictates its value.

What makes some gun values go crazy high are rare or historic marks (the ubiquitous spurious stage coach markings on rabbit eared double shotguns being the best example), which can be easily faked by anyone with good control of a metal punch. This is true fakery and it is an area most collectors know about and do more diligence about.

But let’s talk about the area where it is harder to see what has happened, and harder to call it fakery, though it is: The collectible antique sporting rifles.

Demand is high for antique sporting rifles, because their modern day equivalents cost about $35,000 to start and easily get to $100,000 and much, much higher. So in that context, it “makes sense” to pay $5,000 to $20,000 for an antique sporting firearm that functions as it should, rather than several times that amount for a brand new one that goes BOOM just like or nearly like the old one.

Antique sporting rifles are getting lots and lots of makeovers, both in England and here in America. They are marketed at auction and on websites as having been “period upgraded” or “period refurbished” (say from the 1870s to 1930s), when in fact they were very recently “tarted up” by a gunsmith to heighten their attractiveness to unknowing, unquestioning collectors.

I recently purchased – and immediately returned – such a rifle.

Oh it was a rare dandy, and looking past the hyperbole on the well-known seller’s website, which included an obviously fraudulent claim of “original condition,” there was still a fine gun that could take an American bison or a grizzly. If it worked the simple way a rifle should work, it was the gun of a lifetime. In a rare, hard-hitting caliber that I wanted.

So, I busted a move on it.

After joking on the phone with the salesman about the obviously fake claims of original condition, the seller and I eventually reached agreement on price, and the gun arrived in a couple days. Right out of its original 1895 leather and brass case with the original owner’s name and military rank on it (God, what a case!), the red flags were popping up: Improperly refinished wood had pulled the stock away from the receiver, leaving the stock to accept the heavy recoil on only one side.This meant the stock would crack soon after use.

A punch mark on the barrel lump was testimony to the cheap and meaningless effort to temporarily tighten the otherwise loose action. The list of el cheapo work went on. Yes, the bores were immaculate, but the fact is that this gun had been recently “tarted up” for re-sale, and it had been worn down quite a bit recently. Worn down more by the nature of its heavy caliber than by any misuse by previous owners.

Had the seller simply disclosed these facts, I might have made a more informed decision, and he would have received less money. We would have had full disclosure and an honest exchange. But within 48 hours of receiving it, I drove the gun all the way back to the sales room, three hours away, where the sales manager and the business owner tried to talk me out of the return. The refund check arrived ten days later, with none of the additional costs I incurred like shipping, transfer, gunsmith evaluation etc. They knew full well what had been done to that gun, and they simply got caught, and they punished me by withholding cash they should have covered.

This is one of the big names in high end gun sales.

Today I am looking at another uncommon rifle on a well known auction site. The gun has clearly been recently overhauled for re-sale. The wood finish is as bright and shiny as the new wood floor in a brand new home. The metal finishes look like they were done weeks ago, and not the 117 years ago that is the actual age of the gun. Yet it is marketed as having a “period” refurbish. Rubbish! Nonsense! Buyer be super aware!

This is not total fakery, as no fake numbers or markings have been punched into the metal or wood. Custer did not purportedly grasp this gun as he fell at the Little Big Horn.

Instead, until a few months ago, this gun’s metal parts were probably a mix of silvered and plum finishes, the welcome, honest patinas of hundreds of days afield in India or Africa, or the Scottish Highlands, chasing big game in the hands of a British, Indian, or Scottish Man of Importance. Until months ago, the wood probably looked like hell, was beat to hell, dented, dinged, and scratched, each a story in itself. Not any more! Now it looks so fake and shiny it about blinds the eye.

Shame, too, because under the fakery is a really cool gun.

Apparently the sellers believe that hiring “gunsmiths” to do quick and dirty upgrades to these collectible old sporting arms is more important than selling the actual honest gun, with its actual original wear and condition.

This means the sellers have gullible buyers who ascribe too much weight to new and fresh appearance, when the opposite is true: An original condition gun that has not been butchered or fooled with by a modern day “gunsmith” is actually more valuable.

The key to fending off the faking is educating new gun collectors and buyers to understand this fact: Fresh, new looking antique guns have been shined up to turn them into shiny objects. Don’t be a foolish fish and bite on them, unless you recognize a) what they are, and b) there are probably problems covered up by the new “improvements” that would have been addressed 100 years ago, but are now papered over, and thus, you are not getting what you paid for.

And as for the Japanese swords out there on eBay, man, what can be said? Be super wary. Ask yourself simple questions about production numbers, survivor numbers, and then answer your own question: How on earth is this one seller repeatedly finding so many of these should-be rare swords? Is every American veteran selling his prized Japanese sword to just these few dealers?

You know the answers to these questions. Run away, and hold on to your money.

In closing, buyer beware. Because there are gullible collectors willing to part with their money, there are unscrupulous sellers willing to sell them things that simply cannot be true. It behooves the smart man to ask the simple questions before biting.

Good luck and be patient!

A well-deserved Thank You to some stalwarts in the shooting sports

Since early childhood and Wyeth paintings of Captain Kidd and pirates bearing cutlasses and flintlock pistols, old timey guns and edged weapons have gripped my imagination.

No, there is no oddity here in that. There is no eccentric or weirdo behavior resulting from this affliction.  In a sporting world increasingly enamored of stainless steel and plastic firearms, bearing Hubble Telescope-like magnifying scopes capable of coldly assassinating animals at half a mile or longer, being a nut for simple guns of old steel, open sights, and darkened walnut sets one apart more on the side of sanity.

When these old guns last hurt someone, the War of 1812 was a recent memory; maybe some time in the 1890s a kid playing with one hanging above the mantle managed to unintentionally bag his grandma in the living room.

In 1994, a pile of them were dumped into the trash by one of my neighbors in suburban Maryland, because they were “guns,” and therefore bad, apparently, despite each one being representative of one artistic school or another, each a canvas of steel and wood, not fabric. Together worth a new luxury car at that time, and today each worth a single car.

Dumping them in the trash was that recent widow’s own self-inflicted wound.

In general, these quality antique firearms and their “modern” descendants, including the black powder express rifles, double barrel shotguns, nitro double barreled rifles, and single-shot stalking rifles, pose no risk to humans and are a threat to four-legged animals only when used with hard-won, developed skill and hard-earned, focused woodcraft. After all, these weapons require their user to approach wary wild game within at least 150 yards, and well within 100 yards is preferred, where noses, ears and eyes easily tell the quarry “RUN! NOW! FAST!”

No assassinations here.  Hunting skill is the key.

Many of these guns were made at a pivotal time in human and technological history when steels were dramatically improving in hardness and durability, explosives were well on their way to matching our best fireworks today, electricity-powered machinery was becoming more available and more precise, human labor was still abundant and relatively cheap, and standards of craftsmanship were still exceptionally high so that each item a worker produced carried his or her pride of best abilities applied.

Finally, remote stands of ancient walnut trees and other tree species, long neglected for their timber and enjoyed by the natives for their fruits and nuts, became known and available by steam locomotive, pack mule, and steam ship. Wood from these trees captured a time when few factors reared their hands against the relatively soft material, and so they grew slowly in peace and quiet in far-off lands and places, each decade adding a narrow band of dense and highly figured curl and figure to what would eventually become a stunning, valuable gunstock in London, Suhl, Ferlach, and Belgium.

Today, such firearms, and even reproductions of them, are highly sought after by harmless romantics seeking to hunt but not necessarily to kill, to capture the essence of bringing an aesthetically pleasing hand-craft to the necessary bloodletting in harvesting wild game; basically, to class-up and improve the joint a bit with style and understated elegance.

Certainly there are representations of this time period among our most favorite buildings around the planet, so if “guns” elude you, your emotions, or your tastes, think of beautiful, carefully constructed, famous buildings that inspire people (or furniture, or cars, or or or…). Then you should understand that those nerdy, harmless romantics actually carry such high art around in the woods, and that being a nut for such specimens of humankind’s best mechanical and artistic abilities is not such a strange preoccupation, after all.

It is an aesthetic pursuit, with a bang.

As this right here is not a book, and as it is merely my own small, off-hand, and brief attempt to say Thank You to people who have distantly but materially added to my quality and enjoyment of life, just three institutions are receiving mention today, though many many many more deserve kudos, too (Steve Bodio comes to mind, or Ironmen Antiques, and and and…).

First, a big thank you to the Cote Family, the hard working founding publishers of the Double Gun & Single Shot Journal (DGJ), 1989 to present. Without the DGJ, aficionados of old but not the oldest or most popular firearms would have but occasional and fleeting mentions in Grey’s Sporting Journal, American Rifleman, and hard-to-find tomes filled with errata and alchemy.  DGJ captures both the spirit of old hunting tools and methods, and the details required to make the whole endeavor successfully fall into place now.

Without the DGJ, Capstick and Pondoro and similar oldies-but-goodies would be most of the reading available to us.  Yes, yes, Roosevelt’s African Game Trails and his other hunting books are phenomenal, but how many times over can a person read them?

So a huge Thank You to the Cote family for keeping the DGJ going.

Second, DGJ hosts such gifted analysts as Sherman Bell, whose decades-long “Finding Out for Myself” series of articles has put to rest silly notions about using black powder and nitro-for-black substitutes (yes, you can kill a beautiful buck with style, elegance, and woodcraft, you do not have to be an assassin to be successful), the safety of Damascus barrels (yes, they are safe with modern shells), and other interesting myths and facts surrounding Grandpa’s old gun on the mantle.  Thank You to Sherman Bell, for enriching my life in small but directly meaningful ways with these beloved and useful artifacts.

Finally, a huge Thank You to noted gun writer Ross Seyfried, whose introspective writings and wanderings in DGJ and elsewhere have inspired many others to pick up the double rifle or single shot, and shelve the plastic contraption, once again capturing the spirit, at least, of fair chase. And Thank You, Ross, for your own steady, incredibly patient guidance and knowledge as I walk my own path.

Yes, I know, you too had your mentors, and they too held your hand and guided you along your path. We have walked those paths with you in the Matabeleland of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and the hills of Elk Song in Oregon. But in a culture of increasingly shallow or fragile relationships, expectations of immediate gratification, point-and-click ‘knowledge’, plastic contraption guns, brief patience, half-mile assassinations of unstalked animals, and so on, being a junior apprentice to someone like you is a pleasurable rarity, and an honor.

Ross, I pledge I will do my best to follow in your footsteps and do as you have done with me: Passing along all of my knowledge of the old things, the old ways, the class and the grace — what little I possess!, to those who want them. I will withhold nothing from that next generation.

 

Shoot straight, Downton Abbey!

Downton Abbey is my favorite TV show of all time.

Every in-season Sunday night at 9:00 we eagerly gather round the big screen, home made spiced popcorn by the bucketful for each family member, and we drink in the beautifully done details and attention to form and grace we might otherwise mock, but which suddenly doesn’t look so quaint nowadays.

Everything Downton Abbey is done just right: The clothes, the rooms, the landscapes, the attitudes, the horses’ braided manes and cropped tails, the food, the historic cars, the cobblestone walks, the Upstairs Downstairs separate lives of the nobles and their low-born helpers constantly saying “Yes, m’Lord,” and deferentially bowing.

That awesome acting!

For an award-winning PBS Masterpiece Theater show that has so carefully threaded the yarn of social commentary through the needle of the dramatically changing times of the early Nineteen-Hundreds and Twenties, it is bizarrely deficient on one count: The depiction or even the meaningful presence of field sports at Downton.

Field sports, like pick-up, informal, cross-country steeplechase horse races, formal horse-back fox hunts, weekly and near-daily hunts for driven pheasant, partridge, rabbits, stag, and red deer that for hundreds of years  made up the lives of real-life Downton Abbey residents and their peers until the 1970s, but still lingering on in remote places.

Not to mention salmon fishing with spey rods and picnic baskets filled with bottles of phenomenal Scotch!

Field sports were core to the luxurious but physically challenging lifestyle of the English landed gentry and nobility (and also to their Welsh, Scottish and Irish counterparts), and generated significant economic, technological, and cultural evolutions across the planet.

Downton Abbey’s second season delivered on the natural expectation among educated viewers that accurate depictions of field sports would be part of the rural landscapes designed around them.  And then, in one evening, Downtown Abbey did it right, to the hilt, as we expected.  As we had a right to expect.

Indeed, upon his visit to Shrimpie’s Scottish family castle, properly stocked with historic arms and armor, the most pedestrian Matthew (now dead) successfully stalked Highland stag, using period-correct clothing, ponies, and best-quality rifles, complete with attentive Ghillies nattily attired in the Hebrides’ best men’s skirts.  And he enjoyed it.  A lot.  How true that would have been.  How accurate it was to portray Matthew that way.

How normal that experience was, in real life, at the time Downton Abbey is set in, not only among the Scottish castle dwellers, but among the Downton Abbey residents, as well.

So then, inexplicably, we must wait another year and a half before we see even a brief hunting scene.  Sure there is a steeplechase, and Mary’s galloping sidesaddle was impeccable.  Exciting to watch, and viewers around the globe worried that she might fall; I did.  Jumping sidesaddle is a rare skill, which a gentlelady like Mary would have time to perfect.  Seeing it was, in fact, perfect to my eyes.

Well done!

But the hunting scene this season is awful.  It is shamefully bad, I am sad to say.

This time Tom, Mary, and one of her suitors take a walk on the Downton grounds with best-grade shotguns to hunt up some hares for the house pot.  Incredibly, Tom hesitatingly walks out into the middle of an open field, where no self-respecting rabbit has ever lived or been shot with a gun or caught by a hawk, points his gun up at shoulder level, and pulls the trigger.

At which point we are supposed to believe, what, that a Monty Python-style King Arthur quest-rabbit-on-a-string slowly sailed up into the air and delivered itself to the careful arc of Tom’s staged, static, single shot?

Come on, Downton Abbey!  This is not right. Not only is it not technically right, it’s not naturally right, but most important, it’s not socially right.

Just think of the potential social commentary available to the writers about a radical Irish Socialist private limo driver who then becomes the family’s land manager.

From being against estates, he is now the arm of the Lord of the estate.  From opposing monarchy, he literally gets in bed with it and his (now dead) wife Sybil bears him a child born to wealth and noble high status.

Putting the equivalent of a $150,000 best-quality shotgun in Tom’s hands, and a $5,000 wool suit on his handsome frame, while he hunts on the estate with pure-bred gentry at his side, surely we could have been treated to some scenes of rabbits dying in the place of King Edward, in Tom’s mind’s eye, or some other subtle but visual tension as we have seen elsewhere in Downton, such as where Tom feels physically drawn to the material comforts of the life he once intellectually opposed.

One can only guess why this dearth of hands-on hunting, riding, and fishing is an elephant standing in the castle’s drawing room.

Is it that Julian Fellowes is like so many of England’s effete cultural elite, openly disdaining even rudimentary firearms like single-shot rifles and double-barrel shotguns, and so including them only of the barest necessity in Downton Abbey?  And what a shame this is, because even for liberals there is rich mining to be had, a wealth of opposites, a world of contrasts in the universe of noble field sports.

Reality is not scary, Julian, nor is it objectionable.  Reality is reality, and if you are going to be historically accurate for our viewing pleasure, reality must be shown and said.  And as your loyal fan, I am telling you that you can put rose tinted lenses on anything at Downton, and we will eat it up, including rabbit hunting and driven pheasant shoots.

I hope you do it right next time, and include more accurate field sports portrayals.  To be prosaic, make sure you serve the other course with our otherwise fulfilling meal, please.  It should be roast duck or pheasant, with a scattering of chilled lead six-shot picked out from the rear molar with a pinky nail or toothpick like any Lord or Lady would have happily done in 1927.

 

Josh’s Veteran’s Day presentation in Catawissa

Hello. My name is Josh First.

I am a political activist and small business owner from Harrisburg, and a dad and husband.

What an honor it is for me to stand with you today, recognizing our past and present military Veterans.

Thank you for your service!

Thank you to Jared Valeski and the other volunteers for all of your hard work on the field gun dedication, and for the invitation to be here with you today.

If you go to Ironmen Arms here in town, Jared and Tom might sell you a French army gun from World War One. It is in great shape, because it has never been fired and was only dropped once.

Hey, don’t forget the French army knife, either.

We all know what a Swiss Army knife looks like, right?

Lots and lots of tools in it, lots of uses.

You can fix your car with a Swiss Army Knife.

Well, maybe you’ve seen the French Army knife.

It has just two tools: A corkscrew, and a little white flag that flips up.

Hey, we can pick on the French a little bit, because American military veterans have been saving their behinds time after time, right?

Lots of ultimate sacrifice by our boys for the French, and for the other Europeans, to be free.

American military veterans are beacons of freedom and hope, each and every one of you, and the world knows it.

Who does the world call when freedom is on the line?

You. Each one of you.

We are going to talk about one of your fellow military veterans today, a young man named Herb McCarty, who defended the French from being turned into Germans back in World War One.

The question is: Will America be able to produce in the future more patriots like you, more heroes like McCarty?

A big thank you to Steve Campbell of the Catawissa Valley Historical Study Group.

Steve did the historical research on Herb McCarty, a real local American hero, and one of America’s best known combat veterans.

History is critical to civilization’s success, because without understanding history, we are doomed to repeat past mistakes.

Civilization only progresses if people learn from their successes and mistakes.

McCarty was a farm boy born here in Catawissa, in 1893, and like many Americans who loved liberty, he dutifully, almost happily went off to fight the Kaiser’s army in Europe in World War One, which threatened the cradle of Western civilization, that being France and western Europe.

During 1918, the end of World War One and also the year when most Americans fought and died then, McCarty covered a lot of territory over there, notably at the Argonne Forest front, where over 26,000 American patriots died for freedom in a matter of just days.

The Western Front there has been memorialized in many films, because the fighting was especially fierce, the weather was especially cold, the conditions were awful, and many wonderful young men did not come home to their families.

McCarty’s heroism there included leading men in an up-the-middle charge into entrenched German positions, after their captain fell, right into the teeth of thick furious fire, deadly combat, and

–carrying his wounded comrades off the field of battle while under intense fire, and

–being shot multiple times from a strafing German airplane, and

–then blown up by an artillery round, and

–then being merely wounded badly by another shell, and

–then he was left for dead on the zero-degree ground for 46 hours, before he was carried off.

All of this just three days before Germany surrendered and the armistice was signed.

But McCarty’s will to live was powerful, and while recuperating in Europe and during the following four years back home, he underwent just shy of fifty, yes fifty surgeries, 16 of which were done without any anesthesia at all, none, but involved young Herb simply lying there and screaming into a clenched wooden dowel while the surgeons sliced away at his wounds to heal his body for hours at a time.

In just one surgery, four bullets were removed from various parts of his body. Two bullets eventually became attached to his jugular vein with scar tissue, and McCarty took them to his grave.

Shrapnel was constantly being found throughout his body, and removed.

Some wounds just would not heal, and required frequent invasive attention, and that is what eventually killed him, four years after the war ended.

This is why McCarty is known as “America’s Most Wounded Veteran.”

92 years ago, at McCarty’s July 1st, 1922 funeral here in Catawissa, the Reverend Doctor Ulysses Myers said “This army never had a better or a braver man…We give thanks to God for him and feel that now he has been promoted.”

Reverend Lau said “For McCarty to live was God, country, and justice to all, and it was for this cause that he finally gave his life.”

McCarty’s incredible strength of will to survive, his powerful character, his grace and ability to bear such tremendous pain, are representative of Central Pennsylvania’s good people, long ago and still today.

And McCarty was motivated by much bigger ideas than just himself. He wanted everyone to be free.

I was thinking, if Catawissa meant “pure waters” in either Shawnee or Delaware Indian back in the early 1700s, then to its native boys in 1918, it must have meant “pure spirit,” because that is what McCarty represented to the world, pure American spirit.

For his many acts of heroism on the field of battle McCarty was awarded many medals, most notably the American Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Croix d’Guerre (that’s the War Cross in English) by the French government.

You know, it’s amazing the French didn’t make McCarty their prime minister!

Take note that Columbia County also produced other World War One combat heroes, two of whom were also Distinguished Service Cross recipients: a young Mister Monahan, and Michael Chyko, who fought in McCarty’s unit and who was one of his pall bearers.

For those who may be wondering, the Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army, for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force.

Only the Medal of Honor outranks it.

You know, if the first European settlers of the Catawissa Valley were English Quakers, opposed to warfare, then I am here today, as a former Quaker myself, to say that in these modern times we still need the Private Herb McCarty’s.

We need them in our own generation.

We need to absorb McCarty’s strong character, his gallantry, his willingness to take the ultimate risk, and apply it here, at home. His quintessential American spirit.

Without that attitude, America fails.

There are some who claim the American spirit is bad, that we are a bad nation. They claim that we are too war-like.

Of course, they say nothing of the people who started wars with us in the first place, so you have to wonder whose side they are really on, and what they are doing here in America…

But we are gathered here today to honor long-dead heroes like Herb McCarty because they still inspire us so many years later, and we want them to inspire future generations, too.

As we are not presently at war abroad, we must ask, To what present purpose are we inspired by heroes like McCarty and their patriotic sacrifice?

More succinctly, what relevance do Herb McCarty’s actions from 1918 through 1922 have for our own actions today, 92 years later, or even as recently as this past Election Day?

We have been hovering about this question and it is time we took a shot at answering it.

Although there is certainly a serious conflict looming ahead of us between Islam and Western civilization, our biggest war right now is at home, here in America, not abroad, and we must recognize that we are fighting on our own home front.

This is a war not of bullets and bombs, but of ballots, hearts, and minds.

To that end, we must draw inspiration from Herb McCarty’s dedication to the American principles he passionately believed in, the American flag, our Constitution, and each of us must become a warrior-in-spirit for our nation on the home front, wielding a pen, a vote, not a sword….yet.

A majority of Americans and certainly most Veterans are awakening to the reality that our own federal government is presently at war with the very citizens who lend the central government its legitimacy.

Using federal agencies like the IRS, ICE, Homeland Security, NSA and others, our individual liberties, our free speech rights, our Second Amendment rights, our rights of assembly and petitioning our government, our privacy rights, our voting rights, our religious rights have all been “transformed” for the past six years in an unprecedented assault on the core of American democracy.

There is today in Washington a man who believes he is a “government of one,” a man who believes that Congress either rubber stamps his policies and his anti-America nominees, or it gets the hell out of his way so he can do whatever he wants.

There is a man in Washington whose tyrannical actions are greater in number, scope, and gravity than those in our Declaration of Independence’s list of grievances against King George in 1776.

No, his behavior is not democratic, and Yes, that man was soundly and absolutely repudiated by the American people last week at the voting booth.

That still feels pretty good, doesn’t it?

The citizens of our Constitutional Republic spoke out against his usurpation of power.

He has been repudiated in historic terms.

But the problem we face in recapturing the America of liberty, equality, and opportunity as it was founded, is that our votes only matter to those who believe in the American system.

We can vote, win at the ballot box, and go home feeling like we succeeded.

But we may still be defeated in the long run, if we forget to recapture our traditional culture and values, the qualities that made us Americans to begin with, the values that motivated Herb McCarty.

We risk becoming slaves to an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-doing central government.

And the problem with that is, The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

In America, we are all about the citizen, not the government.

This is the real battle, the real war: To maintain our freedom at home, not on European battlefields.

This is a culture war, a contest either for an America as it was founded, or an America that looks like the old Soviet State, with no liberty, our Constitution rendered meaningless.

Like McCarty’s long battle to stay alive, this is not going to be settled with a single decisive battle.

Rather, it is a long-running war from which there is no retreat and no easy resolution.

It is not just about that one man in Washington.

It is about the anti-America movement that put him in Washington.

Our politically correct opponents’ tentacles have penetrated every fiber of our nation, every major institution, including churches, academia, charitable foundations, the Boy Scouts, the military, the media…you name it.

Sorry. Digression here, I just need to ask a simple question – with all due respect to the professional journalists with us today, may we ask if you are truly an objective, dispassionate arbiter of facts and accuracy, or are you an agenda-driven political activist hiding behind a false mask of fairness, like so many journalists appear to be?

Back to today. Today we face politically correct opponents not on an active combat battlefield like those on which Herb McCarty fought.

Rather, we are battling with ideas, information, and taxpayer-funded giveaways of great wealth.

Our opponents are not necessarily swayed by elections, nor dissuaded by individual electoral defeats.

They view these as merely temporary set-backs, individual lost battles while the bigger war continues behind the scenes, where McCarty’s strength of character and a sense of duty – YOUR strength of character and sense of duty — can be quietly erased from entire generations of Americans through control of groups like the Boy Scouts and educational institutions.

The very next day after an electoral defeat, our opponents return to the same battlefield with wing-nut activist Federal judges whose hatred for a Constitutional America is exceeded only by their pursuit of Socialism and big government micromanagement of We, the Peons.

They have Dumb and Dumber educational programs like Common Core.

Our opponents want to take America, the world’s most vibrant economy, and turn it into another French socialist democracy, at the least.

And that is why France has not fared so well in my presentation.

Because let’s be honest: France stinks. It is a mess in every way.

France hasn’t produced any Herb McCartys in a long time, and if America becomes like France, then we won’t produce many more quintessential American heroes, either.

The result of France’s socialism is that everyone with money and potential is fleeing the country.

Demographically, culturally, France will never be the same as it was 92 years ago.

But that’s where the politically correct Left wants to take us, despite history telling us that experiments in socialism and multiculturalism always fail.

And mind you, the France that Herb McCarty fought for had a military that invented Poudre B, or Powder B, the precursor to modern smokeless gunpowder used by all modern militaries.

That was a different France then.

But now, in France and their allies here in America, advocates of Big Government have spawned the rise of the entrenched, unelected, unaccountable, demanding Big Government bureaucrat.

The bureaucrat and his enormous pension have deeply eroded our individual freedoms.

The bureaucrat is a huge threat to liberty not anticipated by our otherwise brilliant Founding Fathers, who envisioned a limited government, not a big government.

But the bureaucrat outlives all elections. His ever-bigger government makes citizens ever smaller.

He is not balanced by the other branches of government.

We must elect politicians who are brave and strong enough to tackle this tough challenge.

So, if we are to follow in the footsteps of Herb McCarty, and if we are to translate his actions into actions today, and similarly serve our nation personally 92 years later, without necessarily fighting abroad or at home in a military combat unit, and if we are to be inspired to live for America the way Herb did, then here are four specific suggestions for winning the political fight for our traditional liberties and values here at home:

1) Be as politically active as possible. Go door-to-door, make phone calls, etc. for causes and candidates.

Support and work for good political candidates every year, in primaries and general elections.

America runs on political activity like a heart needs blood. Without you, the process is run by people who do not have your interests at heart.

2) Elect only those public servants who will voluntarily term-limit out, who do not seek a career in elected office, and who rely first and foremost on the Federal and State Constitutions for limited government.

Tell candidates that you will only vote for them if they pledge to voluntarily term-limit out.

And for state house and senate seats, elect people who will stick to the Pennsylvania Constitution and take only a salary and mileage as compensation.

That is what Article 2, Section 8 says is allowed, not the laundry list of taxpayer-funded benefits, like a pension, health care, car and per-diem costs.

Elected officials who term limit themselves are more able and willing to take risks and make sacrifices than those career politicians who will sell their soul just to stay in office.

Representative government, politics, should be about service, not self-enrichment.

And if there is a theme today, if Herb McCarty means anything today, it is about taking risks and making sacrifices in the service of our fellow citizens.

3) Bypass the political parties, and donate directly to political candidates and organizations like Gun Owners of America, Firearms Owners Against Crime, the NRA, and others.

Recognize that political parties are self-interested. Individual citizens do not interest them.

The political parties are full of bureaucrats and self-important functionaries who are modeled on government bureaucrats and functionaries.

Political parties were supposed to be vehicles for ideas, but nationally and especially in states like Pennsylvania, they are privately run business enterprises, whose goal is self-perpetuation.

They rarely serve the forgotten taxpayer, citizen, and voter. Rather, they simply re-divide the political spoils between each other every two to four years.

And do not fool yourself that “your” political party is better than the other.

I am a Republican because I am a conservative, traditional American, but believe me, the Republican Party establishment fights activists like me harder than they fight the Democrats.

Why? Because establishment Republicans know how to deal with the liberal Democrats: They each get a slice of the taxpayer pie; sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more, but they always get a slice.

Both parties agree on that, even though how big their slice of pie is may change year to year.

But good government activists can’t be bought, we stand on principle, and we want the taxpayers to eat their own pie, not politicians, and not the bureaucrats.

So we pose a greater threat to the bipartisan exploitation of government than if the parties merely temporarily lose to one another.

Our good government movement needs your support. Look for our candidates, like Scott Wagner in York County, who became a state senator on a write-in vote against his own party this year.

And finally, number 4) Reassemble the militias, out of love for our nation, Constitution, and our individual liberties, not out of hate for anyone.

Organized militias with muster rolls meet the “well regulated” clause in the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

Militias formed the basis of our nation, the basis of our military, and they are as American as apple pie, so long as they are focused on protecting communities and the Constitution.

And yes, that can include protecting American citizens from their own federal government, which is not some kooky idea from out of the blue, but in fact was a long discussion among our Founding Fathers and is the basis of the Second Amendment.

Even the French once knew the danger of big government, except they didn’t have the militia.

Instead, they used mobs and the guillotine.

Americans are just a wee bit more civilized than that, right?

It’s like Europe was the imperfect prototype, and America is the finely finished product.

It’s like Europe was the cradle of democracy, and America is the kid that got up out of the cradle and walked away, and grew up into an independent, strong young man.

That’s why young men like Herb McCarty have had to return several times to save the Europeans from themselves, and demonstrate each time how great we Americans are, at great cost.

Americans are exceptional, we have always been exceptional, not because we simply think we are better than everyone else.

It is because we humbly demonstrate our greatness time after time.

We get the toughest jobs done, because we are asked to.

High-falutin’ Europeans pretend they are exceptional by living hedonistic lifestyles and tossing their traditional values out the window.

Let’s not follow Europe’s lead, and let’s not allow young Herb McCarty and the many other vets buried here to have died in vain.

Let us learn from history, and let’s not make mistakes we know can end our civilization.

Last week’s election results were a small step in the right direction, and the real work is just beginning to re-create a traditional American culture.

Please be part of that movement.

In conclusion, thank you very much for having me here with you today, and…

Again, a big Thank You to our military Veterans here: Each and every one of you sacrificed and contributed toward my own personal liberties, like my ability to speak honestly with you here.

I would like to thank our audience for listening so patiently.

In Herb McCarty’s memory, I want to thank God the All-Mighty for having founded America on the Bible, the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, so that law, justice, fortitude, service, mercy, charity, liberty and love forever inspire and bind us together in American brotherhood.

Thank you!