T&G Reporter Comes over to the "Dark Side"

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Apr 26, 2005
"Live Free or Die" Hampton, NH
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Check it out - another convert:

Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Jun 14, 2006

To this novice, Krag-Jorgensen is one nifty rifle

Chris Sinacola Sina-cism
[email protected]

No one can call me a gun nut. The last time I fired anything more powerful than a squirt gun, I measured my age in single digits. My military experience is limited to playing cowboys and Indians as a boy and reading reams of history as an adult.

That said, when gun enthusiasts tell you that the Krag-Jorgensen bolt-action infantry rifle has some of the smoothest action going, they are right on target. Before proceeding further, I would like to publicly thank the Riverside Gun Club of Hudson for inviting me to take its home firearms safety course last Saturday. Particular thanks are due to Ken Kennedy of Northboro for the opportunity to try my hand on the firing range.

If nothing else, I learned this week that while ignorance may be bliss in some areas of life, when it comes to guns, ignorance is just ignorance. Worse still, it might prove deadly to your freedom or your life.

The first lesson surrounding firearms is safety. Anyone who thinks he can skip that part is mistaken. And people who doubt the good will or intentions of the National Rifle Association, its members and the vast majority of gun owners when it comes to safety really ought to sign up for a basic course and judge for themselves.

On Saturday, some 19 students, one just 14 years old, spent more than six hours listening to lectures, watching short films, viewing charts, examining samples of ammunition and participating in hands-on demonstrations of how to safely handle revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, infantry rifles and even the famous AK-47.

Living in Massachusetts, many of us are trained from birth to fear and avoid all guns. There is a paradox in this. We learn in school that the American colonists beat the British by breaking the traditional rules of warfare — such as by hiding behind New England stone walls to fire their muskets at the king’s men in their unmistakable scarlet uniforms. Some students are lucky enough to learn about the Second Amendment, which reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Somehow, however, the pride we feel in our Constitution and our brave forefathers is supposed to coexist, no questions asked, with some of the most restrictive, illogical and infringing gun laws on the planet.

I have neither time nor space to scratch the surface of Massachusetts’ gun laws. Mr. Kennedy gave some idea of their complexity when he held up a publication the size of a small city’s phone directory and said, “These are just the Cliff Notes!” Organizations such as the Gun Owners Action League, based in Northboro, are constantly fighting to secure, for Massachusetts residents, the Second Amendment rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution.

For beginners, whether you intend to use a gun for hunting, target practice or historical purposes, plan to take several courses, learn the safety rules and follow the laws to the letter. If you have self-defense on your mind, this advice goes double. Several Web sites, such as www.massgunlaw.com and www.goal.org, can provide you with the information you need. Your local gun club is also a good place to start. But even if you have no intention of ever owning a firearm, taking even one course will give you tremendous insight into guns and their vital place in our history.

Assuming you are a responsible person with even a small taste for adventure, you might just find yourself on the rifle range someday, armed, as I was, with an 1898 Krag-Jorgensen rifle. The Krag-Jorgensen, developed by two Norwegians, was first adopted in 1889 by the Danish government. In 1892, it won a competition to become the standard infantry rifle for the U.S. Army. With a hinged trapdoor that held up to five rounds, the Krag was a huge advance over the single-shot Springfield rifle. Some 500,000 were produced at the federal armory in Springfield, and many of those rifles saw action during the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection.

For living history, it’s pretty hard to beat all that. So I did exactly as I was told. Shouldered and sighted the weapon, exhaled, focused and gently squeezed the trigger. Did I fire 10 rounds in all, or 15? I don’t know. All I know is that every time I pulled the trigger, a plastic laundry bottle got its wings. OK, almost every time. I’m new at this.

Contact Chris Sinacola at [email protected].
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