Shooting Guns in the foothills of the Black Mountains, Arizona

So here is a completely random experience that Ron and I had in Las Vegas. Ron saw an advertisement to shoot a gun at a range on some brochure. So like Ron does, he was telling everyone. Then one girl, Toni, who ran the Joomla conference, said we shouldn’t do that but shoot guns with her husband instead. So we did. We drove an hour out into the dessert of Arizona and met her husband on the side of the road. Then we drove 15 minutes off the road into the middle of nowhere, setup a a target and shot away.

This was much more fun, and as I’ve been told more dangerous than going to a boring old range where we get 15 minutes of going gun happy. We got a history, gun and political lesson all in two hours. Yes, that is an AK-47 in my hand.

Here is the e-mail he sent us after to tell us all the guns we shot.

CZ 52, a Czech gun in 7.62X29 caliber. The gun is unique in design. It is based on a Nazi artillery piece, but scaled down to handgun size. It is a very sturdy design. The bullets are fast and small enough in diameter that they can penetrate standard body armor.

1911, Norinco, in .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol): a Chinese copy of a Colt 1911 that was the standard issue sidearm of the U.S. military from 1911 to about 1980. The Chinese copy is actually made of better metal and to tighter specifications than the American military models. This particular gun is highly customized.

Tanfoglio 97B in .45 ACP: This is an Italian-made gun that is based on the Czech CZ 75, a Czech military and police sidearm. This one is customized and I use it as my primary competition gun.

1911, AMT Hardballer in .45 ACP: Another one of my customized guns. This was the first time it was fired after I did the custom work. It was came out very well. This is the one I rapid-fired while you took pictures. It was the first American-made gun you shot that day.

CZ 82 in 9X18: This is a Czech modification of the Russian Makarov design that is based on the Walther PPK. It, too, served as a military and police sidearm for the Czechs and in a number of other countries. The recoil was sharper than the previous pistols even though it was the weakest ammo we shot. That is because of the design and the light weight.

Smith & Wesson Model of 1917 in .45 ACP: This is the revolver that was made in WWI because the Allies could not produce enough automatic 1911 pistols to supply their needs. This one was also customized and made into a belly gun. It has a shortened barrel, rounded grips and bobbed hammer spur making it a double action only gun.

Kimber Custom 1911 in .45 ACP: This came out of the box customized in the ’90s, but last year I put about another $1,000 into it customizing it about as far as it can be done. It is a sweet shooter and has been my primary carry gun for more than a decade. It is probably worth in the neighborhood of $2,400, but I wouldn’t sell it for less than about $3,000.

Romanian AK47 in 7.62X39: The ubiquitous carbine of the former Soviet Union. You see them every time you see Arabs on TV shooting guns into the air in celebration. What can I say? They’re just plain fun!

Mossberg 870 pump 12 gauge shotgun: We used 00 (double ought) buckshot. It is a very powerful weapon at close range that will stop an adversary in their tracks. Just racking the slide will generally make them feel a need to change their drawers. A fun toy that lets you know you are shooting a powerful firearm.

I think I got all that we shot in order. When we got home I realized I’d brought a couple others that we didn’t get around to shooting – maybe next time. Everything you shot was originally a military design. The designs date from 1908 to 1982. The only unmodified guns were the CZ52 and the CZ82.

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7 Comments

  • That pic of Ron shooting with the spent casing getting spit out is amazing.

  • WTF?

    So, let me get this straight, as I scroll down through your blog I move from pictures of the Eucharist being celebrated on Good Friday (complete with a loaf hammered into wood and the words ‘we were there’ carved into the table) to pictures of you shooting guns in Arizona (complete with info on the guns and the ammunition)?

    Am I the only one who finds this totally odd and inconsistent? (Unless, of course, the words ‘we were there’ refer to your actions in Arizona.)

  • Ha. I was wondering when someone would point that out (more the pictures of guns in general, but being the post before the pictures of the Eucharist makes the contrast all the more compelling).

    Would you have written the same comment if we went into the dessert and shot old bow and arrows?

    I don’t really lean towards guns being completely and inherently evil. Like most things, that’s a majority of what they’ve been used for because of the person behind them, but if you would have been there that day you would have seen the the other side of what was going on. This 55+ dude who’s never shot anyone in his life sharing his passion and hobby with us, he was as safe as safe can be with a gun in his hand and shooting (at a target) was a sport to him.

    So while I see the oddness and inconsistency in symbols (bread and wine vs guns and ammo) I don’t really have a problem with it in reality because the guns were never a symbol of anything it was just shooting a target in a dessert, if I was at a NRA protest waving my right to gun possession, or high fiving the soldiers on their way to war…then ya, I get what you are saying :)

  • Do you really believe what you have written or are you just saying that to provoke further discussion?

  • I believe it.

    The guns were not used for violence by us, nor were they a symbol of violence for us (despite how it may be interpreted).

    Are you of the view that we should not touch/use guns whatsoever because of the evils they have been used for or the violence that it symbolizes?

  • It doesn’t much matter what the gun does or does not symbolize, what matters is the implications and interconnectedness of gun use and ownership to broader socio-economic and political structures, people, and actions.

    So, while a flight to the symbolic may provide a person with all sorts of justifications for engaging in the type of activity described above, a return to the historical and material reveals the falsity of those justifications.

    Allow me to provide a counter-example. Let’s say I go on my blog and post pictures of myself and a friend smoking crack together. My friend and I justify this because we’re not actually addicted to crack and, in that moment, we weren’t hurting anybody. We also used proper crack smoking kits, so everything was as safe as safe can be. So, hey, no big deal, right?

    Now, I assume that you would disagree with this sort of thinking and acting. And you would have good reasons for doing so. However, those same reasons apply, mutatis mutandis, to the issue of gun ownership and use.

  • I don’t think I’m understanding what you are saying then Dan. If we really looked at it this way then shouldn’t we do the same for alcohol? Alcohol has been abused since its beginning. Thousands have died by it directly or indirectly (my guess more die by drinking and driving accidents then by gun shots). My guess though is that you, like me, would not have an issue having a beer together despite all the implications that might have to some in the faith community and despite what damage and violence alcohol has done in the past.

    I just don’t see the jump you are making to guns, there is plenty of nonviolent activites that are done with guns (historical collecting, target competitons, skeet shooting). Are guns and any participation with guns unreedeemable?

    I will admit I am not continuing this conversation because I think guns need to have a place in our live (the same way that I could care less if beer did) but because I’m more trying to figure out where your line is and why it is there, cause I’m not clear on it.

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