The Locally Owned Voice of the Capital Region

Buying a gun to defend freedom

Sunday, July 29, 2012
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I’m certainly glad I live in a free country, a country where I can walk into a gun store and buy a semi-automatic rifle if I feel like it, without anyone hassling me.

This occurred to me the other day when I visited Taylor & Vadney Sporting Goods at Five Corners in Rotterdam, with the large “Cash for Guns” sign facing its parking lot.

I was browsing the selection of handguns — Colt .45s, Smith & Wesson 9 mms and whatnot — when I noticed a young fellow checking out at the cash register. I approached him and learned he was buying the civilian version of the military M-16, known as an AR-15, which is the same weapon that the now-famous shooter used in Aurora, Colo., recently to mow down unsuspecting people in a movie theater, killing 12 and wounding dozens.

The military M-16 is fully automatic, meaning if you squeeze the trigger and hold it, the rifle spews out bullets till the bullets are gone, like a machine gun. With the AR-15 you have to squeeze the trigger again for each bullet — but you don’t have to do anything else. You can keep firing as fast as you can keep squeezing.

It’s a beast of weapon, with a range of half a mile, putting one in mind of Rambo chasing Communists through a Southeast Asian jungle.

I asked the young fellow at the cash register what he wanted it for, and in limited English, difficult to understand, he said something like “defense.” I pressed, and he said he lived in a “bad area.”

What area?

“Hamilton Hill,” which is the poorest and most violent part of Schenectady.

He appeared nervous, and that’s all I could get out of him. He paid his $1,296, with tax, and walked out the door with a black molded-plastic case containing his purchase.

The owner of the store, Pat Popolizio, told me all that was necessary to consummate the sale was for the customer to fill out Form 4473 provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and for him, the owner, to telephone the FBI and verify that the customer was not a “prohibited person” with a criminal record or a court-adjudicated mental illness. The whole process, beginning to end, took 20 to 30 minutes.

This customer, a Mr. Lee, was cleared without problem and was soon on his way, ready to defend himself.

You couldn’t do it in Mexico, I know that, and you couldn’t do it in much of the world, but you can do it in the U.S. of A., with our glorious freedoms.

True, at Taylor & Vadney or any other gun store in New York you cannot buy a 30-round clip for your AR-15, much less a 100-round drum of the sort employed by the shooter in Colorado. The maximum allowed by state law is 10 bullets at a time, so that is somewhat of a restriction. You can buy the larger clips and drums on the Internet, as the Colorado shooter bought his, but they cannot be shipped to New York or five other states that prohibit them.

You can also, more conveniently, pop over to Vermont or New Hampshire (“Live Free or Die”) and buy them there, since those states allow them.

The federal Assault Weapons Ban used to prohibit high-capacity magazines, but the law expired in 2004, and there has been little political interest in renewing it.

But anyway, here we had a nervous-looking (to me) young fellow, who spoke hardly any English, walking out with a high-power semi-automatic rifle legally capable of firing 10 bullets very fast and easily equipped to fire 100 bullets very fast, and freedom-lover that I am, I still couldn’t help asking the store-owner if he wasn’t worried that the fellow could be the next movie-theater shooter.

“No,” he said. “He’s been in here before. He seems OK.”

Form 4473 might not give a skeptic a lot of assurance. It earnestly inquires if the applicant takes drugs, is a fugitive from justice, is an illegal immigrant, has been committed to a mental institution or has been subject to an order of protection in a domestic matter, in addition to inquiring about felony convictions. I don’t know how much checking into the answers can be done in 20 to 30 minutes (which includes the time it takes to fill out the form), but it can’t be a whole lot.

A sign inside Taylor & Vadney says “Defend Freedom,” and Popolizio, when I first asked him, told me that is one of the reasons to purchase such a weapon. So we can see that freedom is a wonderful thing.

Carl Strock is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper's. Reach him at carlstrock@dailygazette.com.

 
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comments

July 29, 2012
6:57 a.m.
+0 votes
Gsquare says...

What? No hying over to Vermont or New Hampshire?

July 29, 2012
10:30 a.m.
+0 votes
ed186 says...

Very informative, but what is your point? Are you suggesting a national restriction such as New York? Each state have it's own laws do they not. The federal government need not interfere with states rights. Just because a guy speaks broken english is no reason to spotlight him. He was cleared to purchase a firearm by the FEDS was he not.

July 29, 2012
9:55 p.m.
+0 votes
ThePhilistine says...

First of all it is a 10 round magazine not a "clip" and the range is not 1/5 mile.

It must have been hard for your to watch someone exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights without being able to stop them and tell them how they should live.

Also sounds like your were racially profiling this guy...

July 29, 2012
11:15 p.m.
+0 votes
steveg says...

I agree with Carl that it's wonderful to be able to exercise such freedoms as owning a semi-automatic rifle and stocking up on ammunition. It's too bad New York impinges somewhat on our full ability to exercise the freedom of buying more than ten rounds at a time. Too many liberals in this damn state! It's a small price to pay, after all, that mentally disturbed people can legally arm themselves to become mass killers. I can't understand the wimpy attitude that sees anything wrong in that. Our founding fathers were tough realists who would hardly have let themselves be swayed by specious arguments concerning the public good, with their pathetic whimpering about the lives of innocent children, etc. Thanks again, Carl. Some of your readers apparently thought you were being ironic.

July 30, 2012
8:31 a.m.
+0 votes
JIMOCONNOR says...

poor job. no point . trying to cover too many bases resulted in uninfomative banality. AND your titilation was ungrounded and noncontributory. your effite side really shines here

July 30, 2012
12:59 p.m.
+0 votes
twohands says...

IMHO, the founders would be *appalled* at the current interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. What part of 'A well regulated militia' is hard to fathom?

July 30, 2012
3:26 p.m.
+0 votes
robbump says...

I wonder what "well regulated militia" that Mr. Lee, the buyer, is a member of? National Guard?

July 30, 2012
4:05 p.m.
+0 votes
wbuell says...

I think the easy availability of firearms in this country is amazing, and even more amazing is that some people, including many of those leaving comments here, don't have a problem with it. They just don't get it.

July 30, 2012
4:25 p.m.
+0 votes
wanda1948 says...

The founding fathers had no idea of the kind of technology that would be available vis-a-vis firearms. I agree, twohands, when they wrote the Second Amendment, I'm not sure this is what they meant by "a well-regulated militia." No one is asking you to give up your guns and stop hunting for recreation, or for having your guns for protection. But there is no reason whatsoever for a private citizen to have the kind of weapon that the Colorado shooter had--and the plethora of ammunition as well--unless he or she is going into military action (as in "a well-regulated militia"). Where's the "regulated" part?

July 30, 2012
4:31 p.m.
+0 votes
wmarincic says...

Wanda,
I went shooting yesterday and I went though almost 300 rounds of ammunition so what do you think a person should have for a proper amount of ammunition?

I shoot about three times per month and that is 1000 rounds, must I go to a store and buy ammunition five times per week to shoot once every week or so?

July 31, 2012
10:28 a.m.
+0 votes
ed186 says...

Will people get off the well regulated militia kick. What they meant is a person of certain age MUST be in the militia and had to supply and keep a supply of ammo,powder,flint and other equipment on hand at all times and show up for practice when requided. That is what was meant be WELL REGULATED MILITIA. It had nothing to do with gun ownership which said the (,) RIGHT TO BARE ARMS SHALL NOT BE INFINGED.

July 31, 2012
12:32 p.m.
+0 votes
wbuell says...

Ed,
I know the wording of the second amendment is a little bit awkward, but how do you read it and then suggest to people that they "get off the well regulated militia kick." That is exactly what the Founding Fathers were referring to. People should have firearms in order to form a well-regulated militia.
I think it comes down to where people want to draw the line. I don't care if somebody has a hunting rifle or a pistol. But I don't think they should be able to arm themselves and go out in public like the guy did in Colorado. Where do you draw the line? A Gatling Gun? A bazooka, a missile launcher? Sorry, my precise knowledge of gunnery is not so good.

July 31, 2012
1:41 p.m.
+0 votes
wmarincic says...

Bill,
Had other people with firearms been at that theater the outcome would have been much different.

July 31, 2012
3:40 p.m.
+0 votes
wbuell says...

What?
Maybe he would have killed only 6 and wounded 20, instead of 12 and 56 (or whatever the exact figure is). It seems like there has to be a better way than to arm everyone again and return to the days of the old Wild West. I don't want to live in a world where everyone is walking around carrying a gun.

July 31, 2012
3:44 p.m.
+0 votes
mlyle says...

I support the right to bare arms, especially in the summertime.

July 31, 2012
4:52 p.m.
+0 votes
miketomm says...

WHAT PART OF "SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED" IS UNCLEAR?

WE ARE NOT ARMED BECAUSE WE ARE FREE!!
WE ARE FREE BECAUSE WE ARE ARMED!!!!!!!!!!!

TAKE AWAY THE ARMS AND WATCH WHAT HAPPENS TO FREEDOM.

July 31, 2012
7:36 p.m.
+0 votes
ed186 says...

Bill, Gatling gun, Bazooka, Missile launcher, and those types of weapons can't be owned by a person without a FEDERAL license while is very very difficult to obtain,IF AT ALL. These types of wepons are for police and military period. If you don't want to live in a world such which is the best in the world, you could move to a place where you would feel more comfortable. I perfer the FREE U.S.A.

August 1, 2012
1:42 p.m.
+0 votes
wbuell says...

Mike,
"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."
There it is; written in 1789 by a bunch of middle-aged white men. Does that clearly mean to you that anybody should be able to walk into a store without any restrictions and buy a fully-automatic weapon with hundreds of rounds of ammunition?

August 1, 2012
4:45 p.m.
+0 votes
ed186 says...

Bill, The answer to the first half of your question is NO. The ansewer to the second half is this..first off what does White middle aged men have to do with anything? SECOND not anyone can walk into a store and buy a gun, there is a prosess one go through. And THIRD you can't purchash a fully-automatic weapon period it is against the law. I thought I explained well regulated militia in a prior post, maybe you misses it. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be INFRINGED!!! What do you not get?

August 1, 2012
10:06 p.m.
+0 votes
ThePhilistine says...

"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."

it does not say the people have to be members of a militia, its clearly states "the right of the people" thus Heller. It was written and has been ruled... deal with it hippies.

August 2, 2012
4:42 p.m.
+0 votes
miketomm says...

Carl - where did you get the 1/2 mile range data from?
It's a gross exaggeration. While under ideal conditions no one but a select few highly trained individuals could actually hit a target at that range. Those select few shooters know that the projectile has lost about 80% of its energy at 500 yds. A half mile is 880 yards. We can go on forever debating ballistics data - it's not the point. The point is someone fed you a gross exaggeration and without any research you took their word for it and perpetuated the erroneous data. The media does this all the time to serve an antigun agenda. I always thought more highly of you than that.

 

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