Deutsch: Georgische Reiter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is from Frank Miniter writing in Forbes read it all and then come back and we’ll talk some.
When Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) signed sweeping gun-control legislation into law last week he finished a mistake that is anti-business, that weakens an individual right and that attacks an iconic image of the self-made American, someone who stands for what was once called the “American way.”
O’Malley’s support for gun-control is certainly founded in politics in his very blue state, but it’s also based on a misunderstanding of America. First, the legislation Governor O’Malley signed will—after October 1—ban 45 specific types of commonly owned semi-automatic firearms, mandate the reporting of lost or stolen firearms and ban the sale, manufacture, purchase or transfer of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The NRA says it will go to court to argue that portions of the law are unconstitutional.
Beretta Holding, which manufactures firearms in Accokeek, Maryland, put out a press release last week that says, “The question now facing the Beretta Holding companies in Maryland is this: What effect will the passage of this law—and the efforts of Maryland government officials to support its passage—have on our willingness to remain in this State?” Beretta then hints at an answer to this question: “Prior to introduction of this legislation the three Beretta Holding companies located in Maryland were experiencing growth in revenues and jobs and had begun expansion plans in factory and other operations. The idea now of investing additional funds in Maryland and thus rewarding a Government that has insulted our customers and our products is offensive to us so we will take steps to evaluate such investments in other States.”[...]
To understand this mistake, consider the Beretta man. He has a shotgun that’s a work of art. It might be an over/under with a grainy walnut stock, blued metal and engravings of a bird dog and maybe a pheasant on its receiver. Or it might be a semi-automatic Benelli (a Beretta-owned company) with a carbon-fiber stock and inertia-driven action. In either case, the Beretta man stands with his back straight and the shotgun in the crook of his arm. He is wearing a shooting vest and shooting glasses. He has class. He is how James Bond would look if he went skeet shooting. He’s sophisticated, but hardly a snob. He has what the Spanish call duende, a characteristic James Michener said is almost indefinable, as it means something with taste, refinement, beauty, perfection and elegance all in just the right proportion and with no showiness at all. He is what the Japanese mean when they use the word shibui, which is something a Samurai tried to embody, but only could manage in fleeting moments when life and art meet before again separating with a bad gesture or misstep.
Of course, he isn’t any more real than James Bond. But what archetype is? He’s an American icon men want to be. He’s an ideal never reached but, if you do everything right, might be you for just a manly moment when you shoot a perfect round and thereby master yourself. In that moment a Spaniard might proclaim, “Gracia.” This is another word that deals not with things but with the essence of things and so is fleeting in an empirical age that trusts science to answer everything for us while disdaining the effervescent quality of philosophy. Though now misunderstood by op-ed writers at The New York Times, even the fashion set is aware of the Beretta man. Beretta, after all, has stores in Milan, Paris, London and New York. Oh, there’s one in Dallas, too.
Of course, there is also a Beretta woman. Her lines of clothing are just as iconic. Though she doesn’t follow the modern protocol for what a woman should look like to be sexy, Beretta’s attire on a lady with an over/under shotgun can make the Beretta man forget himself more than any Kardashian ever could.
Beretta was founded in 1526, a year before Machiavelli died. Beretta is still family owned. Beretta saw Michelangelo, Casanova and Mussolini go. They actually have a castle, the Beretta Castle. They set a standard and hold onto it.
During a tour of its Maryland plant last winter Matteo Recanatini, web & social media manager for Beretta in the U.S., said to me, “The Beretta family approves every clothing design, every tweak to every firearm. They’re conscious that the Beretta image is iconic, an ideal. Everything has to perfectly fit that image and to function flawlessly.”
Matteo, an Italian, was acknowledging there is a different way of looking at guns and American gun culture than some blue-state politicians suggest. This image is what President Barack Obama tried to represent when the White House leaked a photo of him “shooting skeet” with a shotgun held too horizontal for skeet shooting and with a choke missing from the bottom barrel (it takes two for skeet)—clear signs the shot was a stunt. Instead of being the Beretta man, Obama became a laughable parody of something he doesn’t understand, but at least on some level he knows such an archetype exists.
What he doesn’t seem to grasp is that, to people who want to be a Beretta man, or a Winchester man, or a Colt man … guns aren’t a negative thing; they’re a manly a thing a real man knows how to use safely and well. And therein lies the political miscalculation of anti-gun-freedom politicians.
And that’s all true and very real but, there is more to it as well. The profile of the old Colt Single Action Army, or the Winchester lever action are iconic of the American cowboy and settler (and even Indian) all over the world. These were world-class weapons, heck they were the class of the world, anybody wanting the best arms for their people bought American, they still do. Nobody uses an AK if they can get an M-16. And in fact the Peacemaker and the Winchester were as good or better than what the Army was using at the time.
But they are icons of the America I remember, men who were real men, who did what needed doing (with a fair amount of b*tching) but never a whine. And you know what, what they had they earned, from the Stetson hat that cost a half a months pay, to the woman that they were loyal to (and was just as loyal to them). They got what they earned, good or bad, and they made of America a legend, that from Grand Duke Alexei of Russia hunting with Buffalo Bill to Kaiser Wilhelm dreaming of being a cowboy after being forced to abdicate after World War I, the movies showed it of course, with men like the Duke, but it goes back to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in the 19th century. Before that it was the legend of men like Davy Crockett, Travis and company at the Alamo, and before that the men with Kentucky rifles who told the most powerful empire in the world to go pound sand. And made it stick. And it showed the world what it was to be that special thing, an American.
But guns are special, once they became reliable, they replaced the knife in America, even the legendary Bowie knife and we never looked back. There’s a couple of things about them. Cause there is something else that appeals, at least to me, and I’ll bet a host of others. It’s the elegance of fine engineering, when you handle that Benelli Shotgun, Winchester Rifle, Colt or Beretta handgun, you are handling a finely designed, and manufactured item. The fine fit of a gun is like few things mass-produced in the world, it fits and it works, without slop, every time. Almost every gun I’ve shot over the years would put a bullet within a 1/60th of a degree of where I aimed it. And I’ve fired rifles that would do much better, good enough to win multi-state marksmanship championships. I know they did because my uncle won, beating another one of my uncles to win it.
There’s nothing in a car like it, it would be like buying a Ferrari for the price of a Ford. That’s how good a standard American gun is. And if you can find anything manufactured more beautiful than blue steel mated to American walnut, well, I haven’t seen it. American guns are just plain working works of art, which is why traditionally one of the state presents given to foreign leaders by American presidents are American guns. Mostly specially engraved Colt revolvers and Winchester rifles.
They symbolize what we are better than anything else could, beautiful, mass-produced works of art designed for and by a free people.
Are there any more American manufacturing legends than Colonel Colt, Henry Winchester, Dr. Gatling, or John Moses Browning. Not that I know of except maybe Eli Whitney who pioneered interchangeable parts on the Springfield musket of 1795 and perfected it by the model of 1815.
Bob Owens wrote about this as well at Another journalist gets it: the gun culture is America’s soul « Bob Owens.
Even more than the eagle; guns, especially civilian arms, are the icon of the free American
No wonder they want to take them away from us.