Let’s get this straight: I’m a gun owner, and I would love it if my guns were regulated like cars. Right now, my CA-owned guns are regulated far more strictly than the lax regulations we subject cars to.

I get what the anti-gun side is saying when they carp on about regulating this, but it’s based upon a complete lack of examination of the issues AND a whole lot of cultural assumptions from middle class urbanites with little to no experience outside of their own insular spheres. In the world which only exists between their ears, here is how the two items differ:

  • Everyone must go through a rigorous training and qualification process to own and operate cars, which is entirely too easy to fail.
  • Guns can just be ordered off the internet with no background check, and carried anywhere you want.

The reality in California differs wildly. In some other states, it’s a different matter.

  • Obtaining One
    • A car can be bought from anyone, without a waiting period, and only requires registration to drive in public. You do have to register it if you want to drive it on public roads. Off of public roads (i.e. race tracks, your farm, etc), no license is required.
      • There is no violation of the law in obtaining a car unless it’s stolen property or in violation of some import law, in which case… well, see ‘You Probably Knew That Was Illegal And Did It Anyway’.
    • Generally, a gun may only be bought from a licensed dealer or passed along very limited family lines, and must be registered regardless of what you do with it. There is a 10-day wait and a Federal background check on each purchase, unless you have a collector’s Federal Firearms License *and* the same Certificate of Eligibility which a police officer must have, *and* the gun you are buying is over 50 years old or otherwise classified as a collectible. And even then, you have to send in a registration form to the State identifying the gun by serial number and indicating that you have taken possession of it.
      • Any violation of this law is generally charged as a felony, which means you may never own a gun again for the rest of your life.
  • Configuring One
    • A car’s mechanical configuration may be illegally altered with inconsequential results. If you’re going to drive it on public roads, you are required to be configured in certain ways – but if you’re not on public roads, you aren’t subject to most of these laws. If you are found to be in violation, a police officer might have your vehicle impounded at worst. More likely you’ll get a “fix-it ticket” requiring you to restore your car to a legal configuration. This law is blatantly ignored, as evidenced by all the illegal window tint jobs driving around in California. It’s considered a trivial offense and the police generally don’t even bother to pursue it except as as an additional charge to other moving violations, or as a means of stopping people they don’t like for other reasons.
      • If you repeatedly violate these laws, you may accumulate enough points on your license to merit a temporary suspension. And if you are temporarily suspended, you may appeal to be permitted to continue driving to work and back.
    • A gun, if illegally configured, will put you in jail. If you attach a pistol grip to a semi-automatic centerfire rifle without a magazine lock, you’re looking at a felony and the loss of all your gun rights. Unlike a car where you can hook up a nitrous system at the track and disconnect it before leaving to be street-legal again, gun configuration laws apply in every square foot of the state, including the inside of your gun safe at home.
      • One conviction of the assault weapon law will be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or felony. Conviction of a felony offense will cost your gun rights for life.
  • Taking One in Public
    • In order to legally operate a car in public, you only need a driver’s license and valid insurance. People disregard this with impunity all the time. A driver’s license is issued to anyone medically suitable to drive, upon passing a relatively simple test for which there’s a readily available and standardized study guide. Upon issuance, this driver’s license permits you to drive your car anywhere you wish in America, and you can even drive to other countries if you satisfy their insurance, passport, etc requirements.
      • If you violate this law by driving illegally, you will generally only get fined, and you can be back to illegally driving the next day.
    • In order to take a gun in public for self defense, you must pass what is, in most counties, very narrowly defined issuance criteria. While a few counties in California have gone to “shall issue”, the areas where most of its citizens live are “may issue”. This means that the police consider each applicant’s request for a permit to carry, and generally say no. The exceptions are those they deem to be both valuable people and at elevated risk. Any ordinary person’s self defense is not a good enough basis for issuance, but a celebrity or a business owner who carries large amounts of cash, will generally be good enough. If you do manage to pass their issuance criteria, you must then go through a training course and range qualification with the gun you intend to carry, before you are allowed to carry it.
      • If you violate this law by illegally carrying, you will generally receive a felony conviction and lose your gun rights for life.

Once upon a time, CBS Sacramento posted the following article, with the header “Should Jerry Brown sign a bill that bans the future sale of many semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines?”

Many people responded on Facebook, some of whom were on our side, and some of whom weren’t.  I was requested to join in and toss in my few cents.  Unfortunately for the folks in the thread, I happened to be in writer mode at the time, and I decided it’d be a perfectly usable blog post if I just copied the text here and cleaned it up a little.

For background before we begin on my diatribe, if you’d like, you can stop in at Gunwiki.net’s 2013 California legislation page and see which laws I’m talking about.  You can see all the bills proposed, plus *GASP* read the actual text of the bills themselves so that you can be better informed than 90% of the fools shooting off their mouths about the subject on both sides of the fence.


To begin with, this legislation was written by either fools or liars.  It was drafted in response to the Aurora and Newtown shootings, both of which used guns already banned in CaliforniaThe only thing this ban will do “FOR THE CHILDREN” is to throw their grandpas, perhaps even their parents, into jail.  It’ll also keep the children, years down the road, from ever owning normal semi-auto centerfire rifles, all because of shootings which used guns which are already banned under current California law.

As of today, 9/14/13, it has not yet passed.  Brown may sign some of the anti-gun laws he’s been given by the legislature, but it’s very unlikely he will sign them all.  Brown didn’t propose these laws, and he hasn’t said he’s going to sign them all.  Anyone screaming their head off about recalling him at this point should really just shut up.  If he signs them, start the effort.  In the meantime, get recall efforts going on DeLeon, Yee, and various folks who pushed these laws forward.  Brown himself though, has vetoed a bunch of anti-gun bills in the past, even though he’s signed some. Even the anti-gun lobbyists mentioned in the article aren’t optimistic at all that he’ll actually SIGN these.

This bill needlessly endangers honest, non-violent people.  History has shown that California will not adequately notify the public of their duty to register their newly minted “assault weapons”.  The previous bans (yes, there were two – one back in 1989, and another in 1999) In both cases, CA consistently failed to let people know they need to register!  I’ve personally been in the sad position of telling a daughter that her father in his 60s, who’d owned his AR-15 for 20 years, was actually guilty of a felony for merely possessing it, even though it’d only ever been in his safe or the shooting range the entire time.  He was convicted and sentenced to, if I recall, three years for the simple non-violent possession of a gun that was perfectly legal when he bought it.

Imagine if they banned salt shakers, and ran an ad in the newspapers and posted notice on the nightly news about it.  That’s the only way people found out that it was time to go to get registration cards, fill them out, and send them in.  And most gun owners never even found out.  Even in our modern society, not everyone checks the internet every day.  How many people will actually honestly miss the notification that they needed to register?  And how many people would only find out once the cuffs go on? That’s exactly what California did the last two times they banned “assault weapons”.

If they were only banning AR-15’s and AK-47’s for people like me, it’d be one thing.  But this time, they’ve come for grandpa’s wooden rifle too.  Literally for decades, people have bought Mini-14’s and Springfield M1A’s, precisely because they are so innocuous that they expect to be able to leave ’em in a safe for 20 years and they’ll be just as legal when they take ’em out.  This ban actually covers all of these traditionally safe guns, in addition to the military-style semi-autos which I collect.  You see, this law won’t do a thing about me.  I personally own more guns than a SWAT van, and I keep up with California law as it changes.  I’ll always remain compliant with the law, and when enough new laws have been passed, I will move out of the state rather than break the law.  But grandpa won’t even know his guns are illegal now, and he’ll be the one paying the price of this idiotic legislation.

And if you aren’t too worked up about grandpa going to jail, then you should piss yourself thinking about what I’ll now be able to do legally.  I own a truly astonishing variety of guns, all of them in a California-compliant configuration.  The California-compliance parts prevent them from being handled readily.  They slow down reloads.  They cripple the guns so that they are less “scary” to bed-wetting hoplophobes.  But once they become registered assault weapons, the California-compliance parts are no longer required.  The CA compliance gear is on those rifles precisely so that they do not qualify as assault weapons.  Once the registration card comes in the mail, your gun is an assault weapon.  It’s legally as evil as it can ever get, and you no longer need the California-compliance parts.  It’s like getting a special license plate that says “No speed limit for you anymore, buddy”.  I’ve got semi-auto clones of the AR-15, AK-47, MP5, RPK, FAL, G3, P90, F2000, Stoner 63, and others.  For the love of all that is holy, I even own 50 caliber semi-automatic AR-15 pistols!  If you’re terrified of guns, why do you want to make it legal for me to remove ALL of the California compliance hardware from that?

And then there’s the fact that these laws are an exercise in futility anyway.  Back in the 1960s, a few Federal marshals had to “gently suggest” to rednecks that they step out of the way of the black children they were escorting to school. 5 years from now, with the direction SCOTUS is going, Federal marshals will likely be here to “gently suggest” to sheriffs that they approve our concealed carry permits. Not too long after that, they will be here to “gently suggest” to our legislators that our entire assault weapon ban is unconstitutional – not just SB374, but the entire thing.  Rather than wasting time with this, I propose that the hoplophobes consumed by their small-minded fear of inanimate objects owned by ordinary people, seek therapy now rather than waiting ’till the last minute.

Lately, on the ammunition front, it seems that there’s a new scapegoat on the message forums: Ammo Hoarders.  These folks are apparently some kind of distributed Bond villain; they’re insidious and diabolical, buying all of the ammo that comes out just so that they can not shoot it and so that you can’t have it.

It’s supply and demand – but supply was never very large

The supply of ammunition out there isn’t like McDonalds food – unless they begin to convey super-powers, cheeseburgers will not suddenly see a 5x-20x spike in demand after an unpredictable incident such as a school shooting.  And even if there were such a spike, McDonalds could probably handle it readily because they’re flipping huge.  Ammunition manufacturers, on the other hand, aren’t really as big as they would seem – a lot of their capacity is pre-purchased by the government, and contractually can’t be used to produce civilian ammunition when they have outstanding government procurement orders.  So, the available capacity for ammunition production is only the headspace between government orders and maximum capacity.

That having been said, under normal circumstances, the rate of ammunition capacity suffices.  Components are produced at one place, then assembled into completed rounds (either by the manufacturer, or by an 06 FFL purchasing the components).  There are several links in the supply chain which must change in response to demand spikes, such as the one caused by the laws proposed in the wake of the Newtown shootings.  But because it’s a long-ish chain, fraught with costly investment in new facilities and machines, it’s a chain which only really grows in response to a radical demand spike such as this one.

I mentioned that the current supply chain is adequate for most normal circumstances.  Well, as you may have noticed, these are not normal circumstances.  Most gun owners are casual owners, who own a gun or two for protection and don’t actually bother to keep spare ammunition on hand.  They’ll have a couple of loaded magazines for their home defense guns, and whenever they go shooting they’ll stop at the store to buy ammo.  A lot of these guys are the ones complaining about “hoarders” right now.  The thing is, hoarders are over-reported.  Ask yourself this: These guys probably outnumber normal shooters by 50:1 or so.  What happens when half of them, at the same time, suddenly decide that it’s a good idea to keep a couple hundred rounds ‘just in case’?  Well, the stores get stripped bare, which then makes everyone go, “OH CRAP, there’s no ammo!  I need to buy more so that I’ll have some!”  There’s no stopping this particular snowball once it’s started; you simply have to let it play out.  Eventually, all the Joe Sixpacks will have a few hundred rounds of ammo lying around, and they’ll go back to being content.

Defining an Ammunition Hoarder

Through the course of this post, I intend to slap some sense into the people castigating “ammo hoarders”.  But first, let’s draw some definitions.  The proper definition of the verb ‘hoard’ is:

to accumulate for preservation, future use, etc., in a hidden or carefully guarded place: to hoard food during a shortage.

Technically speaking, you could argue that any ammunition purchase is a hoard, unless you’re buying it at the shooting range and burning it that day.  But that’s not much of a real definition.  We need to draw a line somewhere though, right?  Well, just like defining obscenity, “I’ll know it when I see it” just isn’t good enough.  We should also carve an exception case:

Preparedness isn’t hoarding: If you take your Second Amendment responsibilities carefully, then a thousand rounds apiece of your primary rifle and pistol caliber, shouldn’t be considered excessive by any gun guy’s definition.  A lot of us would say 10,000 isn’t excessive, if you have the space to store it.  And still others would… ok, well, somewhere in there we cross the blurry line and become a hoarder probably.

Ok, then let’s define an ammo hoarder as the guy who buys and stores way more ammunition than he will ever use.  He buys it and stores it, and pretty much never sells it – if he does, it’s years or decades later.  So, does this sound reasonable?  This is what “hoarder” is defined as, for purposes of this post.

Now, here’s one little catch: A flipper isn’t a hoarder.  No, a flipper (which I described in the last Gouging post) is a different beast who cares only about making money, and he’s not storing it.  I’m firmly against flippers, and I think most people are confusing flippers with hoarders.  The hoarder is probably not going to Wal-Mart to buy ammo, then reselling it on Calguns for a profit.  His goal is to have ammo.  And eventually he has enough, because his wife will set a limit on how many bedrooms he can convert to ammo storage.  Wait, no, uh, that never happens, all wives are fine with this.  By the way dear, if you’re reading this… about that spare bedroom…

Seriously though, if you’re complaining about hoarders right now, consider that…

Real Hoarders Aren’t Buying Right Now

I’ve known real ammo hoarders, and the guy who angers you buying the last five boxes of 45ACP at Wal-Mart isn’t one of them.  A real hoarder is always looking to add more to his stash, but unless he’s brand-new, he wouldn’t pay current market prices for it.  Real hoarders right now are waiting out the storm, and they’ll snatch ammunition by the caseload once the market corrects itself.

Secondly, a new ammo hoarder is on the same playing field that you are.  The difference between you and him is that he fantasizes about having 10,000 rounds of ammunition, or possibly more, sitting there just in the event of social collapse or a nasty new law, or what have you.  He’s not going to settle for fighting you over 50rd and 100rd boxes; ammo stores much better in case lots than it does in individual boxes.  And in the end, this doesn’t matter.

Because we don’t have too much demand – we have too little supply

Seriously, there are folks proposing that everyone should stop buying ammo until the prices go down.  Even if everyone were to agree to this (and you shouldn’t want them to), it’s the wrong thing for the industry, for preparedness, and (in the long run) for ammo prices.  New manufacturers enter the field because there’s money to be made in it, and right now there’s so much demand that it’s producing new manufacturers under every rock.  Companies which produce primers are probably upgrading their production capacity, with the costs subsidized by current primer prices.  In the long run, for our ammunition supply once the panic dies down, this is awesome.  When we have more available production capacity, prices will probably be lower once the demand spike dies off, and the next panic won’t hit as hard either.

Another benefit is that this shortage is pushing more people to start reloading, which is even better for both the Second Amendment and for prices in general.  And even if you aren’t a reloader, this is good for you because even fewer people will be competing with you for your overpriced factory ammo!

Where things are going with this

The classic laws of supply and demand mean that the more demand there is, the higher prices go.  The higher prices go, the more new companies will choose to enter the marketplace and compete, and the more the existing companies can afford upgrade their production capacity.  When the price of ammunition goes through the roof, it pulls up production capacity, and once the demand spike is gone, the supply remains elevated and the prices dip down below where they used to be (for a while; they tend to level back out in the long run).

Anyway, the price correction after this craze will be the right time to buy, because prices will be at lows which you haven’t seen for a while.  And when that does happen, you should buy thousands of rounds!  But wait, that would make you a hoarder, wouldn’t it?  Well, actually yes – and that’s just fine.

Those who know me refer to me as the “black hole of guns”, because I never sell them.  This is partly because I have the luxury of not needing to sell them to make rent or whatever, but it’s mostly because I try to live without regrets.  In the gun field, the only regrets I have are the nagging itches of deals that I passed up.  And the regret of passing up a deal (like the $700 SVT-40 in ’04 or so), often fades into insignificance once you manage to actually get an identical gun later on, while there are lots of 60 year old guys wishing they hadn’t been young and dumb and sold a gun they loved back in their 20s.

A lot of “I should sell this” thoughts are impulse thoughts based upon mood, and likely to produce regrets.  Generally speaking, if you wait a week or a month, you’ll lose the desire to sell the gun you’re thinking of selling.

I shall summarize below some of the bad reasons people sell guns.  I am picking random guns here, but it applies to anything.  Fundamentally, it all boils down to one thing: whatever drew you to this gun once, will draw you to it again once you no longer have one.  And whatever reasons you had to dispose of it are likely not to seem so valid in retrospect when you miss the gun you sold.

I own an X D, but I want to sell it so I can buy a Glock.  Once I own the Glock, the X D won’t get used at all.  Notice the problems with this?  For one thing, the shooter doesn’t already own the Glock.  He doesn’t really know that he won’t use the X D at all yet.  There’s an excellent chance the guy will buy his Glock, shoot it for a while, then wish he’d kept the X D because the Glock’s grip angle bugs him, or he starts thinking back fondly on the X D’s sights, etc.  By the time you realize you gave up something you wish you hadn’t, your X D is long gone.  The time to decide you don’t need your X D anymore is after it’s had time to gather dust because you’re shooting your Glock now.  Never sell a gun to buy a gun.

I’ve got a collection of rare Finnish Mosins, but I’ll never get that last elusive one to complete the collection, so I may as well sell the rest.  Wouldn’t it suck to have that rare, elusive one finally dangled in front of you, and then you realize you don’t own the rest of that collection anymore?  Because that’s what’s likely to happen to you once you toss out your collection.  Also, if your collection is that close to completion, it’s still worth being proud of it, even if you can’t get that final holy grail.

My wife says a house with kids shouldn’t have any guns in it, at least when they’re young.  Yeah, and she’ll conveniently think that when they’re older, too.  To many women, guns are a “bad habit” to break you of, like smoking, and kids are the trump card which gives her her way in all areas.  This also can happen the other way around (anti-gun husbands), but much less frequently.  This drama plays out in California households time after time; the minute kids enter the picture, the wife moves from passively anti-gun to actively demanding a gun-free house.  As a counterpoint, kids in the South grow up around unlocked, loaded guns all the time without killing themselves.  Stand up to your spouse – you might agree to lock them in a safe, or in extreme cases perhaps store them with your family, but never just capitulate and dispose of them all.  I’ve never once met a man who did that and didn’t bitterly hold it against his wife years later.  Separate drama from reality.  Assess risks rationally – and if you’re not presently married, then refuse to date or marry someone incapable of rational risk assessment in this field.  As an aside, you do have to pick your battles.  My wife can’t rationally assess the risk factor of centipedes, but she’s fine with the guns, so that’s just fine.

I read some reviews, and they say the Remington 700P is better than my Savage 10FP, so I’m gonna sell the Savage and buy the 700P.  While reviews can be useful, they’re unavoidably biased towards the writer’s preferences.  Additionally, some but not all are further biased by the possibility that if you give a glowing review, you may get to keep it.  But it ultimately comes down to the fact that while the gun may be better on paper, or for the reviewer, it may not be the best gun for you.  Find out by buying the new gun and then deciding if the old one still has a place in your arsenal.  If the new one is the one that lost out, then either keep both or sell the new one.

I only have a gun safe that holds X guns, so I have to sell one if I want another.  Unless the gun you’re selling is literally one you never use,and you’ve had little use for it ever since you bought it, this is a bad idea.  A better idea is buying a new safe.  Or, like me, convert one of your bedrooms into a dedicated armory for your guns.

So, it all comes down to this:

  • Regretting a sold gun, sucks.
  • Selling a gun to “upgrade”, and figuring out later it’s a downgrade, sucks.
  • If someone else telling you to sell your guns, you’re likely to resent that person later on.  Don’t give in unless the government requires it.

Sneak preview of the next post: I might cover some of the things we gun guys would like to see in future laws.

As most know, I happen to be grammaton76, a moderator on Calguns.net.  This places me in a unique position to observe the in’s and out’s of the secondhand gun marketplace.

You may have read my previous rant, on how “gouging” isn’t gouging.  This may come as a surprise to you, but: I’m fine with what people call “gouging”, and a large part of it is because I hate gun board flippers with a blind-hearted passion.  But freedom demands that they be tolerated, and so I do.  Any attempt to infringe upon them will also infringe upon others, and there’s no way around it.

I define a gun board flipper as the person who buys something on a board with no intention of keeping it, solely because it’s a good deal and he buys it solely so that he can quickly sell it to someone else for full market value or higher.  A flipper is not the guy who bought a gun for himself years ago, then realizes it’s worth a bunch of money now and resells it.  And a hoarder (which seems to be another category of folks disliked on boards) is not a flipper.  If you’re buying thousands of rounds of ammunition to store so that you can sit in your bunker in the event of a catastrophe… fine with me; you’d make a good neighbor if things went bad.

I despise flippers because they deprive the eventual end user of a deal, they ensure that the original seller gets pennies on the dollar, and they laugh obnoxiously all the way to the bank.  Like electric arcs between contacts with big potential differences, flippers appear like magic whenever there’s a big difference between the price you are asking, and the price they know they can get from someone else.  I really want to see people offer their items at close to market price so that the sellers are reaping the profits, and the items go to the actual intended users of the items, and no flippers are involved in the process.

Let me summarize my feelings:

  • If you’re a gun board flipper, I think you’re scum.
  • If you enable flippers by underpricing out of some sense of “honor”, you’re naive and you’re the reason flippers are so prevalent.

Now that that little bit is over, I will discuss recent occurrences in the Calguns marketplace.  No names will be named, but folks may recognize their own stories here, and I do not give one flip how that makes them feel.

Our society is nominally free – people are free to buy or not at whatever price they wish, and they are also free to sell or not at whatever price they wish.  Calguns, and other gun forums, are just another example.

Of course, like in any gun panic, there’ve been some people who felt bad about the current pricing, and have wanted to help out fellow shooters.  In two instances within the last 30 days, there were guys who, instead of asking the current market price of their items, offered them openly at more or less the “old” going price.  This was a noble gesture, and their items sold fast, as you might expect.  The buyers thanked the sellers profusely for the deals, talked about how they were going to keep it for their collection, etc.

Two weeks later, the buyers re-posted the items in the for-sale forum, for current market price.  The buyers were flippers, out to make a buck off of the sellers’ misguided senses of nobility.

See what happened there?  Two guys offered “noble” pricing, the flippers took the deal, lied about how it was going to be for their own collections, and flipped the items as soon as they had them.  In one case it was a gun so the guy waited two weeks for it to get out of DROS, but in the other case it was ammo.  Now an actual end user, the person who should’ve gotten a good deal to begin with, will still end up paying the full market price (or higher), but the profits all go to the flipper, and the seller will get none of it.

There is nothing in the forum rules against this, because any such rule would be unenforceable.  The flippers in question DID make the jerk move of listing it on Calguns again though, in full view of the original sellers, which adds insult to injury.

“Wait”, you might say, “clearly, not everyone is that inconsiderate!”  Actually, you’re right.  Because most flippers are considerate enough to sell it on Gunbroker or other forums so that you don’t find out about it, and they can get a shot at the next gun you sell cheap.

Seriously, this is what happens when you list your stuff below market value to help people: you only encourage flippers, and the actual buyer of your item is still paying market price or higher.  How do you stop these guys?  Raise your prices.  Ask fair current market value, or just enough below it that it’s not tempting to a flipper.  The guy with the rifle saw a quick $300 profit, and he seized it.  Had the original seller priced it closer to market price, the flipper wouldn’t have seen enough profit in the deal to make it worthwhile, and it probably would’ve gone to an actual user.

This is why I don’t give people deals, and I don’t perform free services for people anymore.  Back when Romanian parts kits were $80 apiece and NDS-3 receivers cost $55, I helped a guy build several Romanian AK’s for free, with my tools at my place.  Months later, he bragged to me how he got $1200+ apiece for these guns which he swore we were building “for his collection”.  I never got paid a penny for the wear on my tools, or the several weekends I spent helping him build those.  The minute I changed my policy to demanding $100/build for the use of my tools and my assistance on building AK’s, he bought his own tools and started building his own guns on his own time.  It’s amazing how that works.  Same thing goes for asking close enough to market price, that the flippers won’t want to bother.

Here’s the Sean Newton guide to fighting flippers:

  1. Be a “gouger”, not a victim.  In the for-sale forum of any board, you have only two choices in this market: be a “gouger”, or be the guy pouring money into the pockets of the flippers.  It is much better to be the former than the latter.
  2. Trades are an excellent alternative to asking more than you feel is right.  If you’re offering a gun for its old retail price, and a guy exchanges equivalent ammo with you at the old retail price for that ammo, then you’re at a fair exchange no matter which way you compute the numbers.
  3. You can’t herd cats, you can’t regulate the internet, and you can’t expect honor out of your counterparts.  Does your board want to try to combat flippers by implementing a no-flipping rule?  Don’t bother, they’ll just list on another board or on Gunbroker, or Armslist, or another board.  Never accept a gentleman’s agreement with some guy you just met that, that item X is really for his own collection.  An honest man may say it, but a flipper will say the same words.  And check the next point if you think only honest men are trolling your board’s for-sale forum.
  4. Flippers ARE going to see your deal before anyone else.  Who do you think hangs out in the marketplace on gun boards all the time?  Hint: The flippers are constantly trolling for deals, and actual “real” buyers check once or twice a day – if that. Statistically speaking, anything you list at a good price is very likely to go to a flipper.  I’m not the highest-ranked ninja of Perl, but I wrote a system to scan the CGN marketplace for new for-sale threads with certain keywords for a (non-flipper) friend, and the flippers are probably doing the same thing.  Deals are in front of the motivated buyers within minutes, and flippers are some of the most motivated out there.  Never expect that the first person to see your deal won’t be a flipper.
  5. Sell everything with the full expectation that the other guy’s going to try to flip it.  If you asked full market value for your gun, and someone else knows a way to sell it for +50%, then cool – let him do it.  Just don’t sell anything so cheaply that you’re going to feel bad when you see it for sale again two weeks later.
  6. Even if you intend to take less money, list higher.  If you list something at $900, flippers will pass it by or give you a lowball offer around what you actually wanted out of it (say, $600).  Refuse the lowball offer.  Because the guy who shows up to buy it at full market value, say $900, actually does want it for himself.  So if you wanted $600 for your rifle, when he shows up at the shop to do the transfer, give him back $300.  Be aware that he might still flip it, but you’ve actually eliminated probably 95% of the flippers if you only sell to people willing to pay market price.

Preview of a future rant: Over the course of years, I’ve paid attention to all the myriad of reasons people regret selling guns.  Most long-term shooters have several regret stories, and my path to a life without regrets is simple: I just don’t sell my guns.  My friends call me the “black hole of guns”, for good reason.  This will be the subject of a later post, but you should never sell a gun to buy a gun.  Whatever made you want the gun in the first place, is going to make you want it again later on, and the next one you replace it with probably won’t be as good.  Selling a gun to buy a gun is the prime cause of most “I regret selling that” stories I’ve read.

Lately, I’ve grown increasingly annoyed by a particularly shrill subset of gun owners.  Specifically, the people who look at the prices we see during gun panics (i.e. “they’re going to ban guns, oh no!”) and loudly denounce people with prices they don’t want to pay, as “gougers”.

In the interests of fair disclosure, I’m a cheapskate.  I never pay retail, and usually I pay dealer price or under.  I make a point of learning from history as I go, and I’ve been buying firearms since 2001 or so.

I’m not going to claim that I live the life of a Spartan, but I do drive an SUV from ’96, I live in a smaller house than I could afford, and I don’t take vacations.  As a direct result of my not wasting money, I own a collection of modern rifles, handguns, body armor, night vision goggles, plenty of ammunition, and the gear to reload more of it.  If one wishes to play the “every man has a responsibility to be ready to serve in a militia” card, I’ve taken care of that need and am now free to blow my money on frivolity if I so desire.

However, among those complaining about the current prices, there are many who castigate everyone selling at current market price, and insist that the sellers have some moral responsibility to sell their items at cost.  After all, if the seller doesn’t lower the price, the buyer will have to pay more than he wants to!  OH NOES!

The following points do not apply to you if you aren’t complaining about the prices.  Some folks just shrug and say, “Man, I should’ve acted sooner.”  If that’s your reaction, you ‘get it’.  You’re not who I’m talking to.  But if you’re whining about how the prices are interfering with your Second Amendment duties… I probably am talking about you.

Now, if you’re 21 or younger and just now trying to exercise your second amendment duties, then I really do feel really sorry for you.  If you’re up to 25 and you’d been previously prevented because you lived at college, or lived with anti-gun parents, or otherwise were prevented from buying your gear, I still feel sorry for you.

But you get zero sympathy from me if you’re over 25 and are complaining about prices, yet you’ve spent money on drinking, video games, a fancy car, tattoos, or anything other than bare subsistence.  If it weren’t for the very panic which drives everyone else to buy a gun at the same time, you wouldn’t be trying to buy one either.  And, you score insufferable loser points if you were able to cough up the money for a “Molon Labe” tattoo but didn’t bother to square away your citizen militia responsibilities first.

If you’re in that whiner category, and think you “deserve” low prices so you can “defend freedom”, yet vilify profiteering when when you insist that everyone must sell their guns at cost, you’re an inconsistent hypocrite.  Freedom doesn’t only mean “you are free to do what I want”.

Here are some reasons why you should, like me, glance at inflated price tags on guns which you would actually like to buy, but simply pass without whining about it:

  • You slept.  You lost.  Your fault.  30rd AR mags have been cheap ever since 2004.  It’s been 9 years now since then, and there is literally no excuse for people in a non-ban state not to have stocked up by now.  During all those years, did you ever spend $60 on a video game?  Congratulations, great champion of the second amendment, you chose a couple days or weeks of entertainment over 3-5 magazines at old prices.  Did you buy dinner at a restaurant?  Every time you ate $15 in food, you literally ate a magazine.
  • Stupid should hurt.  If it doesn’t hurt, you won’t learn.  I didn’t buy an AR-15 when I moved back to California, because I didn’t read the law for myself.  The shop I talked to believed the letter of the law, which was that you’d still be able to buy assault weapons as long as you filled out additional permits.  But they were may-issue, and California simply said, “Nope, we’re not issuing them.”  My fault for failing to recognize that possibility.  Had I managed to get an AR then, I probably wouldn’t have bought 15 or so receivers once they became available again.  Look at this as your year 2000, and don’t waste your money once the prices go down again.
  • No one makes you buy this stuff.  If something is too expensive, then don’t buy it.  If no one buys it, either the “gouger” will lower his price or maybe he’s not too worked up about selling it in the first place.

Let me sum up the arguments of the other side:

  • It’s gouging!  Nope, by definition it isn’t.  Price Gouging (go ahead and click the link, I’ll wait) is when there is no alternative retailer available and you price above the market price.  The only gas station in town, for instance, demanding $10/gallon, would be gouging.  I can ask a million dollars for an AR-15, and I am neither extorting nor extracting it from you.  Go buy it from someone else.  Does no one else have it?  No one in the entire country will undercut me by offering you an AR-15 for $500,000?  If so, then I am price gouging.  The “current market price” is variable, and right now it’s more than you want to pay.  Not more than you have to pay, because you can choose not to buy right now.
  • Waaa, my lack of planning is everyone else’s fault!  Before the Newtown Massacre, what did you spend your money on?  How seriously did you take the Second Amendment and your dedication to your country’s defense before they started trying to take away your guns?  What did you spend your money on?  Do own a motorcycle you don’t use for daily commuting?  A fancy gaming computer?  A video game collection?  Purses?  A Starbucks habit?  As I mentioned above, if you’re 25 or older, and claim a patriotic right to complain about the prices, you are the un-American scum who’s been keeping yourself from a proper militia weapon.  Barring pre-existing legal prohibition, the only reason you don’t already own an AR-15, AK-47, adequate ammunition, or whatever, is because you already spent that money on crap you didn’t need, and you have only yourself to blame for it.  If you truly count yourself as this great patriot, with the fires of freedom burning in your eyes, then all this other crap should have meant nothing to you if you didn’t have your basic Militia Gear Of Freedom.  You have two choices: Go pawn it all and buy the guns you should’ve bought years ago, or quit whining and wait for the prices to drop.
  • Gougers care about money, and not the Second Amendment.  When/if “Red Dawn” happens, or the UN shows up to invade our country, I’ll field a fully equipped platoon from my own arsenal and not charge people a penny for the weapons and ammo.  Until that point, if someone thinks they’re going to get one of my guns, it won’t be cheap.  Why?  Because your irresponsibility funds my ascension to the next level of gear.  I spent $600 for that AR-15, and you get to buy it for $1500.  Great, now I wear ANVIS-9 NVG’s if the battle ever is joined.  Buy a couple of them and maybe I’ll have a FLIR scope.  I have already demonstrated better dedication to the militia than you have, so the money is more patriotically spent in my hands.

PS – By the way, you can still get certain curio+relic guns pretty readily, without a lot of inflation.  You don’t have to have that $2000 AR.  You could in fact just talk your local C&R license holder into ordering three Chinese Type 53 Mosins from Century Arms.  He’ll probably take the best one out of the group for his own collection, but you’ll get one or two for $90 apiece or so (this month, at least).  It may not be the sexy tactical high-speed low-drag weapon you see in the movies, but a 7.62x54r rifle in the hands of someone who’s practiced with it is worth any number of guys who pride themselves on all-Magpul furniture and only practice by playing Call of Duty.  Seriously, the tribesmen in Afghanistan were a lot less dangerous before they started pulling out their old Enfields in 303 British and learning how to aim.  I’m not a Mosin be-all end-all fanboy (they do exist, and are more annoying than AR fanboys if you can believe it!), but if you have a sincere desire for a rifle you could actually use in a legitimate 2A capacity, the Mosin is a far better choice than, say, a 22LR shaped like an AR-15.

While the rest of the world is debating large capacity magazines and assault weapons, I wish to point out something which other people have pointed out as well: Vice President Joe Biden recently said that shooting warning shots into the air with a shotgun was a good idea, while neglecting the fact that it’s actually flat-out illegal to do so in most states.  He has rightly earned a lot of derision for this comment, but I have yet to see someone point this out:

Consciously, carefully chosen warning shots actually should not be illegal.

The argument against warning shots is well reasoned and well formed, but is largely based upon the fact that warning shots are very illegal in most places.  In fact, in many instances it is legal to kill someone but not to scare them off.  This is stupid.  This is the kind of thing which liberals really should want to see changed.

The mechanism here is that in general, discharging a firearm within the limits of most cities is illegal.  Use of force generally boils down to, “by the time you’re justified to pull the trigger at all, you are justified to shoot to stop the threat.  And if you’re shooting anywhere other than the offender, you clearly weren’t in fear for your life.”

What I propose, then, as a point of discussion, is a “Warning Shot Exemption”.  Written simply, it would be an exemption to the general prohibition on unlawful discharge, provided that the following apply:

  1. The bullet remained within the shooter’s own property (the shooter may be required to prove this via bullet holes; this could be debated).  This exemption does not apply when injury or property damage to other parties has taken place.
  2. As soon as practical, the shooter has filed a police report describing the terms under which he/she was required to discharge his/her weapon.  Practical could be up for definition of course, but a day would be a sensible maximum.  If you’ve had to discharge a warning shot, there’s no good reason you can’t have called the police to file a report within 24 hours.
  3. Shooting up into the air is not a safe, well considered warning shot unless it was a shotshell using no larger than #7 shot (birdshot).  You may be required to produce a spent shotshell if you claim this.

I am sure that this will garner some kind of responses alleging that this is a stupid idea, and we’re somehow signing away rights, etc.  As a counterpoint, I observe that this creates no new crime, and only provides an exemption to existing crimes.

Let me give some scenarios:

  • Someone is in your front yard, threatening you, and refuses to leave.  You place a warning shot into the dirt.  You’ve chosen a safe direction, and there’s no ricochet.  You show the hole to the police if you know where it is, or otherwise they take a look around the area and check to see if any cars (other than your own, which you may use as a backstop if you choose) or houses nearby have bullet holes.  You don’t go to jail.
  • Someone has broken into your house.  You are aware of the structure of your house, and put a warning shot into your couch, where you know no one is.  You show the bullet hole to the police.  You don’t go to jail.
  • Joe Biden’s wife is on the balcony, and someone’s threatening her.  She shoots into the air with birdshot, which is at worst mildly annoying when it lands.  She presents the shell to the police, still warm, when they show up to take their report.  She does not go to jail.
  • You happen to live in the country, where warning shots aren’t illegal to begin with.  You don’t necessarily have to bother calling the police because the law regarding you hasn’t changed one bit.

I know some of the arguments which will be made against this:

  • “All the guys who like to shoot into the air at New Years will get a free pass now!” You mean, they don’t get a free pass already?  Because they do.  Also, if they haven’t filed a police report, they’re still just as much on the hook as they used to be.
  • “This just means people will shoot randomly to scare people away!  And innocent passers-by will get shot up!”  Seriously, meet some real shooters.  And read the actual proposal: the exemption only applies to instances where it is confirmed that the bullets remained within your own property.  Otherwise, the existing law remains in effect and the discharge is still a crime.
  • “What kind of liberal crap is this?  File a police report?”  Well yes, I suppose it’s much more preferable to just get sent to jail if you don’t feel like shooting some idiot who claims your gun’s a toy or that you don’t have the guts to pull the trigger.  Again, this is an exemption against an existing crime, not a new crime.  This doesn’t cost the pro gun rights side anything.

— Sean Newton, aka grammaton76

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