Mason County News
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Dear Abby
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 • Posted April 20, 2011

A long time ago someone, we’ll call her Bertha, wrote a letter to Abigail van Buren that said she should let her readers know that a gun could still have a chambered round in it after the ‘clip’ was removed. If you missed it, you’ll definitely want to head straight for the attic, or cellar, or wherever you keep your old newspapers, and see if you can find it. It was a doozie.The gist of the story was that Bertha had decided to buy a pistol for personal protection, but had only a vague idea of which end the bullets would be coming out, if in fact she ever managed to get it to go off. She was raised in the city, and the closest she had been to firearms was when she watched the Beverly Hillbillies on television, and Uncle Jed cleaned his old rifle. Bertha started carrying this gun around in her purse.While she was driving somewhere with a friend and the friend’s 12-year-old son, the friend found out Bertha had the pistol, and was definitely not comfortable about it. She wanted Bertha to unload the pistol, so she removed the magazine, which she called the clip, which is wrong, but there you go. Whereupon the boy piped up and said the gun could still be loaded, and Bertha said no, it couldn’t, because there was no clip in it. The boy insisted, so Bertha ‘opened the gun,’ meaning she moved the slide to the rear, and lo and behold, out popped a cartridge, which she called a bullet.Bertha was appalled. She had no idea there could still be a round in the pistol, even though, without doubt, she had been the one to put it there. The part I thought was really funny was that she was so surprised about it she felt compelled to write Dear Abby, so others would know about this profound fact she’d learned. She seemed oblivious that other people might know anything about this dangerous situation. I would not be surprised if she had written the manufacturer, to make sure they were aware of what was going on.Just to make sure my readers all have a firm grasp of the obvious, I thought it would be a good idea to define a few of the most misunderstood gun related terms here. This may actually help someone who is firearms challenged, and it will definitely keep this column from fizzling out after 500 words or so.Assault weapon – This is a weapon used to assault someone. It could be a Barrett .50 caliber rifle, a muzzle loader, a BB gun, or a pair of scissors. It could even be a Barbie doll. The fact is that there is no such thing as a particular type of weapon designated as an assault weapon. Assault is a verb, an action, something someone does. It is not a noun, which would be an object. So anything used to inflict harm is an assault weapon. My brother once assaulted me pretty good with one of those toys where you try to swing a barrel-shaped piece of wood on a string, and catch it on a stick, but that’s another story.Magazine – This is a place where ammunition is stored. There was one at the Alamo, when Davy Crocket and Colonel Travis were still vertical. There is a great big one on every ship in the United States Naval fleet. Cave men probably had them – places in their caves where they kept their clubs and sharp sticks.When repeating firearms were invented, the part of the gun that holds the ammo inherited the name, whether it came loose from the gun or not. A magazine doesn’t make a gun any more dangerous, it just holds ammo.Clip – Some guns, such as the M1 Garand, have built-in magazines which can be loaded by placing a small metal device, which holds cartridges by the heads (back ends) into a slot, and then pushing down on the cartridges so they slide into the magazine. These are usually called stripper clips, because the ammo is stripped from them. The term is often used to mean ‘magazine,’ which it doesn’t.There is a fresh attack by the Brady Bunch going on now which targets ‘clips,’ by which they mean magazines. Sometimes it seems the gun-haters don’t really hate guns, they just hate certain parts of them. Magazines are one part. Two others are:Pistol grip and collapsible stock – These are pretty self-explanatory, but they don’t enhance the performance of a weapon in the least. Still, the Brady Bunch doesn’t like them, because a lot of the guns they call ‘assault weapons’ have them.It says a lot about peoples’ position when they don’t know enough about their cause to even use correct terms. We are usually afraid of things we don’t understand. I think if the Brady Bunch knew anything at all about guns they wouldn’t be so opposed to them. After all, their right to protest gun ownership was bought for them by people using guns. And not just any guns, but ‘assault weapons,’ with ‘pistol grips,’ ‘collapsible stocks,’ and ‘clips’ that held a lot of ‘bullets.’It’s no wonder people like that have to write to Dear Abby for advice . . .Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who always checks the chamber after removing the magazine. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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