Spring Cleaning

‘Tis The Season For Shooting, Cleaning And Adjusting

Polished brass is one sign of spring around my house. This means I’ve
already hit the range, cleaned the guns and tumbled the empties.

Traditionally, when spring rolls around (it started March 20, just in case you missed it), it’s been my habit to head for the range and burn up a few rounds just to make up for all the time spent inside, escaping the winter weather.

It also provides an excuse to do a couple of things. First, I wind up with a lot of spent brass, which goes immediately into the tumbler for a good hot water scrub. Second, it forces me to clean and lubricate some firearms that may have been sitting idle since last fall. And finally, it is always revealing and humbling when guns I may have felt were zeroed a few months ago need a sight adjustment.

Firearms are lots of things to lots of people. They are tools, investments and personal reminders of experiences in the past; memories that can grow fonder as the months and years pass. We all have a few favorites, and some which may have been around for a while simply because they still come in handy.

Last fall, for example, I pulled a 20-gauge side-by-side double-barrel shotgun from the safe I hadn’t used in some time. It rode along on a couple of deer hunts, and we caught up on life, politics, the weather, and both of us wondered where all the grouse had gone. It is now spiffed up with a fresh wipe from an oily cloth, and the action has gotten a couple of drops of oil in the right spots.

Dave says it’s a good idea to shoot in all kinds of conditions, all times of year. Yep, that’s snow in the background, light was fading and that parka wasn’t just for laughs.

The day before writing this installment, I visited the range — located in a ravine where one could probably hang beef anytime between November and early March because direct sunshine doesn’t seem to find its way in there — for about an hour. Shooting off a rest at 25 yards, it became immediately obvious the sights on the three revolvers I was shooting needed adjustment.

It is important to practice as many times as possible, throughout the year. I’ve done stints at the outdoor range after dark, in December and January, when it was bitterly cold. I’ve been there in the March and November rain, a few times when it was snowing, and in less-than-ideal light conditions. Until the weather gods start scheduling all emergencies in mid-summer under blue skies, I’ll stick with my current strategy.

Helpful Forum Friend

One important thing happened at some point, either during my early March visit or maybe last fall when I last fired one of my most cherished sixguns, a vintage Model 57 Smith & Wesson with a 6-inch barrel.

Here’s a big “oops.” Notice the extractor pin is missing from Dave’s cylinder.
But his friends on a popular handgun forum came to the rescue.

As I was cleaning this revolver, I noticed one of the two tiny extractor pins had vanished. It wasn’t broken off, it was just gone and all that remained was the hole in which it fit. My first reflex was to check if one was available online, and that was a no-go. So, I then turned my attention to the Smith & Wesson forum, whining as best as I could muster, and within minutes, several of my sixgun comrades responded.

One guy suggested using the tail end of a small drill bit (they’re steel). Another fellow assured me the handgun will “work without it,” which it probably had been. His message was worth a chuckle: “I have replaced one and had it disappear again, so I said the hell with it. No problem for years.”

Then came a fellow named Carter, who made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: “I’ll send you a couple, .052”, .210” long.” When I asked what he was owed, his reply once again underscores how there are remarkably good people in the shooting fraternity.

“No charge,” he wrote. “I made up some extras to give to members. I’ll put them in the mail tomorrow. Plain white envelope that I damaged and re-taped on the back.”

He advised me to make sure the hole was clean and when installing the replacement, add a tiny bit of thread locker, and wipe off the excess. I certainly would have done that anyway, but my gratitude to this fellow says I owe him one.

The Capitol building in Olympia, Wash., where anti-gunners have
been trying to repeal state preemption since it became law four
decades ago. Dave was there to testify against the plan in January,
missing the SHOT Show.

Preemption Spared … Again

Anti-gun lawmakers in Washington State came up short again last month when they couldn’t pass legislation to repeal the state’s 40-year-old preemption statute.

Why is this important? If you live in a state which adopted a preemption statute sometime during the last four decades, it is likely Washington’s law was the inspiration. The gun control crowd would be happy to knock out the source statute, and then start attacking its progeny. Perhaps it was a good idea to stay home from the SHOT Show and testify against the bill in January.

This isn’t about providing local control over guns; it’s about creating a checkerboard of confusing and sometimes conflicting laws with the ultimate goal of either discouraging gun ownership at the local level or creating legal violations that may be useful to deny people their Second Amendment rights at some future date.

Still, nobody should rest easy in Washington or anywhere else while the legislature is in session. Any kooky idea thought dead could suddenly emerge from the ashes as an amendment to another bill.

Nebraska Permitless?

As this was written, lawmakers in Nebraska were locked in debate over Legislative Bill 77, which is aimed at allowing concealed carry without a permit.

It’s not technically a “constitutional carry” bill because it does not include open carry. As reported by the Nebraska Examiner, the bill’s prime sponsor, State Sen. Tom Brewer, “pointed out that it’s already legal to carry a firearm openly in Nebraska, except in businesses and other places where it is prohibited.” Presumably, there would not be much point in making that part of the bill.

As reported by the legislation would not eliminate background checks for gun purchases. One opponent contended the current training requirement would be lost if people were not required to take a course in order to obtain a permit. The Lincoln Journal Star said Sen. Brewer offered assurances to his colleagues that volunteer firearm instructors are already “preparing to offer gun safety training at no cost to gun owners throughout the state as a replacement for the current requirement which is accompanied by a fee.”

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and Lincoln Police Chief Teresa Ewins were opposing the measure at this writing. So was Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and members of the city council.

What’s at stake here is more than just a Midwest state adopting legislation allowing concealed carry without a permit. It would become symbolic for tilting a small but significant majority of states allowing carry without a license or permit, the way it was at the founding, ergo, the generic nickname “constitutional carry.”

If all the pieces fall into place, this year could see Florida, Nebraska and South Carolina joining the lineup of states where lawmakers trust the people to exercise their right to bear arms without a bunch of red tape. Watch these states. If you live in any of them, stay in touch with your state lawmaker.

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