Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Guns and stuff

So the New York Times had a big write up on Smith and Wesson in today's business section, chronicling the gunamkers near oblivion and recent minor rebound. Apparently, in addition to competition from Glock and Beretta for service pieces, the assault weapons ban, and the lawsuits against the company by municipalites, Smith and Wesson until recently didn't have any lobbyists in Washington. None. Could it be that this once great company is just too stupid to survive? One thing the times dnaced around but didn't really mentioned: nobody (well, nobody but me) wants a wheel gun anymore, and wheel guns are what S&W has always been famous for. You think S&W you think the .38 special, the snub-nosed Chief, and Dirty Harry's .44 magnum revolver (I've fired those a few times. Ouch!). In New York City only detectives who were issued them years ago and some transit cops (I don't know why) still carry .38s.

Now S&W is at the forefront of a "buy American" campaign that it hopes will win it more defense contracts, maybe even the new pistol contract, which would be a $600M godsend. Here's hoping.

In the course of the article I read that Winchester had shut down. I hadn't heard a word. Sure enough, Winchester closed it's doors less then two weeks ago, on March 30th. What a dark day for America! The lever action carbine was at least as important as Colt's Peacemaker or Browning's auto rifle in American history.

but who really cares? Guns are passe. Most of my students think of them as some almost mythical evil: except, I was reminded recently, my students from the projects, who love handguns like the love cars, and one student who gave a speech last week on her hero, John Moses Browning. Hardly anybody hunts anymore (including me--I've been exactly once when I was about thirteen). People want Glock and Berettas, or maybe pump action shotguns. Real beautiful old New England manufactured firearms are long gone for the most part. Besides Smith and Wesson, Colt is still there pumping out M16s. Browning is still out in Utah. They don't count.

I once went to Springfield MA, where S&W is located. It looked like a ghost town--the movie set of a decaying rust-belt town that had seen better days. You got the impression that everything in American history was inventeed in or around Springfield. Basketball (the hall of fame is there) volleyball, the automobile, the motorcycle and the repeating rifel. Outside Orange New Jersy and maybe San Jose, it is the most imortant center or innovation in American history. And now it's more or less dead.

And how much of this has been covered in the news? How mny of you--even my Gun people out there--knew Winchester had shut down? Props to the Times for it's piece on S&W.

And speaking of John Moses Browning, why don't we learn as much about him in school as we do about Edison? He was, let's face it, the edison of firearms. He invented the pump action shotgun, the automatic shotgun, the BAR, the Colt 1911, .25 ACP, several water-cooled machineguns and, of course, the afformentioned Winchester lever-action rifle. But who knows that outside of Guns and Ammo readers? I know, it's my own fault, mine and my liberal bretheren, most of whom just can't stand guns.

Oh well. It's not a big issue with me (if it was I'd join the NRA and vote republican). I'm still a true-blue liberal on just about everything. But it is kind of sad that Winchester is gone.


Post a Comment

<< Home