Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 4, No. 16          December, 1996

Year End

Well, 1996 was a pretty interesting year. It is unsatisfactory to match the ups against the downs, but we must always make every effort to accentuate the positive and ignore the negative as best we may. The election is water under the bridge now, and it is up to us to keep fighting. The greatest harm that the Billary people can do the republic is in the appointment of "constitutional activists" to the federal bench. The best we can do as individual citizens is to make sure that our senators know where we stand on this when it comes to the confirmation of appointments. We have not worked hard enough on this in the past. We must mend our ways in the future.

In reflecting upon a recent all-cop pistol session we conducted over in California, it is apparent once again that cops, as a group, are pretty hard to train. Those who are stuck with the crunchenticker - and these are many - will persist with the slow-crunch technique in spite of all advice to the contrary. This system is almost universal in the law enforcement establishment. If it is done accurately it is too slow. If it is done rapidly it is inaccurate. It is possible that I am paying too much attention to unrealistically high levels of performance, which are really not necessary in gun fighting. Still, I like to see people do as well as they can. It is bothersome to see them make no effort to do so.

"He who goes unarmed in paradise had better be sure that that is where he is."

James Thurber, via Mike Baker

There has never been much question about it, and it is indisputable after decades of observation that the single-action self-loading pistol - the Colt 1911 and its clones - is the easiest, heavy-duty sidearm with which to hit. The crunchenticker is the most difficult, and the Glock is somewhere in the middle. Shooting a Glock is simply shooting a single-action self-loader with no safety and a very poor trigger. If real excellence is not the objective, this is a satisfactory system to employ.

In case I forget to mention it in the next issue of this paper, I remind all hands that 15 January marks the birthday of Dan Dennehy, and should be observed as such. In view of the fact that Dan has now gone on the wagon, this date may not be as significant as formerly.

The results of the recent bloodless revolution in South Africa are gradually becoming felt. The dominant ANC party has terminated commercial relationships with Taiwan (free enterprise), and opened diplomatic contact with Peking (communist tyranny). This need not surprise us, in view of the fact that the majority of influential people in the ANC are unabashed communists.

Objection to that sneaky piece that was slipped through at the last congressional session, depriving anyone convicted of "spouse abuse" from forever owning a firearm, is rising to a crescendo. Certainly no one defends wife beating under any circumstances, but permanent recision of civil rights is not the answer. I have always held that the proper punishment for the wife beater is the public whipping post, but certainly not permanent deprivation of basic civil rights.

Recent developments in Washington establish that Janet Reno is the one who knows where the bones are buried. In view of what became of Vince Foster and Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, Ms. Reno will be well advised to watch her back carefully at all times henceforth.

We learn with sadness from J-P Denis, distinguished outgoing president of IPSC, that the revised rifle rules for international competition have driven the last nail into the coffin of practical shooting. This was not unexpected, of course, since the whole idea of practicality has been absent from the operations of the Confederation for at least ten years now. As an example, a weight ceiling of five kilograms can only be seriously suggested by a man who has never packed a rifle in the field. The rest of the program is similarly oriented. Practical shooting was a good idea. It is too bad we never seriously tried it out.

This does not mean that local clubs throughout the world may not organize serious competition according to their own individual ideas.

I find it fascinating that the re-establishment of the cougar as a legitimate and prominent example of American wildlife is now greeted with all sorts of hand wringing by the very bunny-huggers who sought for so many years to pamper our preeminent pussy cat. I think a proliferation of cougars in American wilderness areas is a fine thing. The fact that they can be, under certain circumstances, hazardous to the health of joggers, is one of those things that ought to be taught in schools, but is not.

Cougars, along with bears and wolves, are large, strong, dangerous animals. If wimps find this distressing, they had best stay home in front of the tube where they belong.

And now it appears that we also have too many deer and too many elk. Isn't that great! Proper game management is one of the things that the entire human race has learned to handle better in recent years than previously.

Our good old friend Ian McFarlane, who has taken us hunting various times in Africa, reports that his new concessions up in northern Botswana are opening up vistas for hunters of truly big game. As you know, the African elephant must be kept under some sort of control, as he is a very destructive beast otherwise. It is now legal and zoologically respectable to hunt elephants in Botswana, and Ian's people took 15 over this last hunting season. Some had pretty good ivory - like 80lbs on a side. Personally I have no desire to bust an elephant, but for those sportsmen who have, I know just the man to call.

The people at Bruno have now introduced a new bolt-action very similar to the renowned ZKK series, but somewhat smoothed up and streamlined in the area of the cocking piece. This item should be available for examination at SHOT next month.

We got our full share of Christmas letters from friends and well-wishers throughout both the United States and the world, and we thank you all very much for the information. Some people had items of much interest to report, while others did not measure up so well. Sad to say, a good many of our friends didn't even get to go hunting last year. Evidently, the gloom was on the sage.

"America is at that awkward stage. It is too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."

Claire Wolfe

The conclusions seem inescapable that in certain circles a tendency has arisen to fear people who fear government. Government, as the Father of Our Country put it so well, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. People who understand history, especially the history of government, do well to fear it. For a people to express openly their fear of those of us who are afraid of tyranny is alarming. Fear of the state is in no sense subversive. It is, to the contrary, the healthiest political philosophy for a free people.

As our English friends continue to fuss around with racial, social and legal problems in "the new" Britain, they have now decided to legalize search without warrant. Even our old friend George III did not have the chutzpah to pull that.

"Use enough gun," said Robert Ruark, and he had a good deal of wisdom on his side. However, what is enough is a pretty subjective judgement. On our recent hunt in Montana I concluded that all three of us may have been somewhat overgunned rather than otherwise. The question, of course, is whether being overgunned is somehow unsportsmanlike or unsound. Recently our good friend Finn Aagaard blew away a chubby, little Texas deer with his trusty 30-06, and certainly no harm was done (except, of course, to the deer). Our great good friend General Denis Earp of South Africa is a one-gun man, and his is a 458. From the standpoint of the purist I suppose it is possible to say that killing deer with a 30-06 is an extravagance, but it is certainly as humane a practice as one may encounter in the essentially inhumane practice of hunting. I confess a certain affection for "neat little guns," which colleague Ross Seyfried is inclined to call "dinky little guns." As long as clean, reliable execution is achieved, the whole discussion remains essentially academic.

The general level of pistolcraft in the law enforcement establishment is certainly not helped by the proliferation of high-capacity magazines. While we were over there in California we had a fairly typical example of a law-and-order gunfight. It seems this fellow had murdered his wife and thereupon declared war upon society. When it was over, six police cars had been involved, and 48 rounds had been expended. The felon was hit twice. So much for "fire power."

Our friend the Count Randaccio-Lodi informs us that this business of "politically correct" communication has begun to affect the Italian language too. The Italian word for such talk is sinistrese, indicating its origin on the political left.
"Certain words are replaced by others giving a bad thing a nice sounding appearance (like gay for sodomite or progressive for communist). Trouble is that this game never ends since sooner or later the meaning catches up with the sound and a new word must be issued."
I know this curious affliction still afflicts the English-speaking world, despite its obvious foolishness, but I had not thought it had gone abroad just yet. We do not hear of it in German or French, but I suppose the time will come.

Recently at the airport I sat between two middle-aged and evidently well-to-do ladies waiting for our flight to be called. We exchanged notes on the quality of airline service and its continuing decline. I mentioned that service on South African Airlines continues to maintain a very high standard, and these ladies expressed surprise at the idea of touring South Africa. One mentioned to me that she had understood that Johannesburg was now the "most dangerous" big city in the world. I responded to the effect that such things are very hard to quantify, but certainly the prevalence of violent crime has increased in South Africa since the revolution. I pointed out that regardless of statistics, a nice thing about South Africa is that one is legally entitled to fight back, unlike Britain. The question hit me, "With what?" "Well, with your pistol," was my answer. "But you cannot take a pistol abroad!" they exclaimed. I had to point out that it was odd that I had never noticed that, and that taking one's personal firearms into and out of South Africa has never been a problem - at least, up til now.

Touring South Africa remains, as they put it, "the world's best kept secret."

In the previous issue I mentioned that Lindy's new book, "The Soul and the Spirit," might with luck be ready for distribution by Christmas. It was. It is now out and selling, and you will be able to see it at the SHOT Show.

The bad news is that my own piece, "The Art of the Rifle," has hit a couple of production snags and will not be ready for SHOT. We will keep pushing, however, and let you know how things develop.

In a previous issue we reported on the failure of bullet integrity in the case of the 40-caliber Hydra-Shock cartridge. We did not report, however, on its stopping effect because we did not have that information. We checked further and discovered that the subject, while seriously wounded, was not taken out of the fight. He could have returned fire had he been so inclined.

Clearly propaganda is more potent than truth. Take this matter of Guernica, for example. Pablo Picasso, one of the more significant propagandists of the left, made a very successful point in claiming that the town of Guernica had been flattened from the air by the German Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil War - this being an atrocity since the town had no strategic value. This point was accepted by the world press, and is now considered a fact, even for inclusion in encyclopedias.

For those who have access to the official records it is clear that the Condor Legion had been grounded for two weeks prior to the occupation of the city by the Nationalist forces. Moreover, the German light bombers did not have the technical capacity for "carpet bombing," as later practiced by the Allies in Europe. Most conclusive, however, was the fact that there were no bomb craters in the streets. The buildings were pretty well demolished, but this was done from inside them. It is obviously impossible to flatten a town from the air without hitting any of the streets, but now, to the amazement of the well-informed, the German government is proposing to pay an indemnity to Spain for an atrocity never committed. Such goings on!

In continuing observation of what might be called the "hoax effect," Texaco has caved in to Jesse Jackson, even after both parties have discovered that the tapes responsible for the racial uproar were fake. Jesse Jackson, himself, has claimed he does not want to be bothered by the facts.

A family member recently returned from Bolivia points out that they do not seem to have a gun problem in that country. They have what may be the ideal gun control laws - there are none. Additionally, cocaine in various forms is available on the open market, and they do not have any trouble with drug lords.

Prince William, the Queen's grandson, recently went forth and slew his first deer up in Scotland, complete with all the ceremonies of the hunt - this being a tradition of the British royal family, as well as other royal families elsewhere. As you might suppose, the uproar from the bambiists was deafening. (As if Her Majesty did not have enough troubles without that.)

As it happens, Elizabeth herself enjoyed this same right of passage in her own youth, and was completely carried away by the whole event, but that was long ago.

Did you hear about the woman who recently was rather badly bitten by a bear and is now undergoing extensive rehabilitation psychotherapy? It never occurred to us that being chewed upon by a wild beast called for the attentions of a shrink. I mean, what's to talk about?

In a previous issue I cast doubts on the rumor that the Parabellum pistol cartridge (Glock) could be effective at a distance of 20 to 30 feet underwater. Family member David Morningstar researched this matter and discovered (in "Hatcher's Notebook") that the army ran some tests back in the twenties that established that 48" of water was enough to stop the 30-06 M1 bullet, at 90° impact angle (24" at 45°). People were more honest then.

To my great delight, I have now been designated an honorary citizen of Kennesaw, Georgia, the constitutional capital of the US; where, as you all know, every householder is required by law to maintain a personal firearm in his home.

And from Kenya we hear that a lady birdwatcher was recently killed by a buffalo, and her estate is now suing the outfitter on the completely fantastic grounds that her guides had not told her that buffalo were dangerous. I cannot imagine what anybody is doing in Africa who does not know that buffalo are dangerous, but then as our culture proceeds down the drain, we are rapidly approaching that point predicted by General Krulak at which nobody knows anything about anything. The date of the Brute's computer is predicted as late fall of the year 2016.

(Incidentally, this buffalo had not been wounded. Unprovoked attacks by buffalo are rare, but they are not unheard of.)

We have been reading "Unlimited Access," by Gary Aldrich. This work is absolutely required reading for every responsible US citizen. If we accept the word of this veteran FBI agent, as we are inclined to do, the court of Caligula did not match the Clinton White House for iniquity.

Well, so much for 1996. We all noted that this was a year in which the moon was full on Christmas Eve, and that will not occur again in the lifetime of those now living. Let us record that as an excellent omen for the future, and continue on into good times.

Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal use only. Not for publication.