On not being a gun owner

What in the world is this!??!

I was compiling my database of all my firearms, pictures of them and their serial numbers when at the end of my cataloging, I realized I had 18 guns. That’s not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things to do with collecting but it is alot for me. More importantly I was very vividly drawn back to a time when I couldn’t have any firearms at all because of the political circumstances I was in. And that is what this post is for. This is for those TFB readers out there who can’t own firearms legally, who aren’t able to pop down to their local shop to pick out a new gun, browse for ammunition online, and can’t maintain a family heirloom or even pass one of their own down to their friends or family. In addition I want this post to humble the gun owners who read this, so that they can better appreciate their own collections. Bear in mind this also isn’t just for American gun owners, but international gun owners as well.


The best compiled firearms reference site on the internet is owned by a Russian firearms expert, Maxim Popenker. There isn’t an equivalent site that even comes close to the breadth of knowledge and diversity that each category has.

Although this post might come off as somewhat political because it is on the topic of firearms or non firearms ownership, it isn’t and here is why. Having a passion for small arms is a universal hobby that transcends international law and culture. Either with men or with women, people all over the world are drawn to firearms for a variety of reasons regardless of the fact that they can’t physically own them in their own countries. Most of the time it is purely political, because many countries have sweeping gun control laws that make it literally impossible to be a lawful firearms owner. Other times countries are simply dictatorships that outright outlaw any firearms possession unless you’re a wealthy crony who snuggles up to the military junta at night. But despite these boundaries, people all over the world still find ways to fuel their passion for firearms as we’ll look at in the context of this post. Many of these people probably read this blog, and that’s why this piece is particularly for them.


Firearms enthusiasm in Australia, despite some of the countries laws. In fact the foremost expert on the Lee Enfield rifle, Ian Skennerton comes from Australia.

My own personal story of non firearms ownership will serve as the first and most detailed example. For the first 16 years of my childhood I grew up in South East Asia, and the last 2 in a boarding school in the United States. Thailand, Burma, and Malaysia are where I called home. Burma is still controlled by a ruthless and incompetent military dictatorship, Malaysia was similarly controlled by a dictator at the time I was living there, and Thailand was and is a pretty free democratic country despite it’s ebb and flow in the years since. Out of the three, Thailand was the only country where a Thai national could even hope to own a firearm legally, was and is pretty hard to jump through alot of legal hoops and restrictions.

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A popular African firearms magazine called Gun Africa. It’s based in South Africa and seems to mostly revolve around that country.


So what do you do when you’re passionate about firearms, but can’t actually have anything to do with them? Anything you can is the answer. This is where Airsoft has made a huge splash down in different parts of Asia, especially in Japan where it has really taken off, and in fact even has most of its origins from. There entire industries have been built up around the sport, including a friendly paintball like park in Tokyo. I’m not too far from the truth in saying that Airsoft as a sport is a type of interest in firearms because it is the closest people can get to a firearm without actually owning one. I’d absolutely wager a bet that most of the adult Japanese Airsoft community (one of the more active Airsoft communities) would be gunowners if the restrictions on firearms weren’t so strict in Japan. I was a huge airsoft enthusiast, I owned over sixty springers and AEGs, had an entire work desk devoted to cleaning and fixing them, and arranged “bb wars” or airsoft skirmishes just about every other weekend. Why? Because I couldn’t be around legitimate firearms so I had to settle for airsoft.

We tend to think that in the United States, we’re gun publication central. We’ve got magazines, blogs, and books galore. And for the most part that is somewhat true, we do probably have the largest variety of firearms related periodical publications. But there are plenty of countries outside of the U.S. that have periodicals that are published on a routine basis. There’s an entire forum for Thai Glock enthusiasts in addition to several Thai print magazines, a Chinese blogger devotes a portion of his trips to the United States simply for shooting at rental ranges. While we’re on the topic of Thais liking guns, heres an article detailing ownership regulations and laws in Thailand. An article over in Wall Street Journal had this to say-

Gun buffs [in China] can turn to Small Arms, a twice-monthly glossy magazine that claims 60,000 subscribers. The Beretta M9 semiautomatic pistol “is classic,” said Zheng Zhoujian, an 18-year-old reader. “I envy people in other countries where guns are legal.

Although this pales in comparison to a figure from a Forbes article which shows Recoil as having over 225,000 copies in circulation, 60,000 subscribers is a huge amount of people considering legal civilian firearm ownership in China is pretty low. (By the way, this particular Chinese magazine lifted one of my articles that I had written for the American Small Arms Review periodical and published it as their own. The only reason I know this is because I randomly picked up one of their copies at a magazine stand in Beijing and my article was inside it, word for word, translated into Chinese. I’m not sure how American and Chinese copyright laws work, but I’m the one who gets to say I’m internationally published!)


A page from one of the Chinese small arms magazines. When you can’t actually get your hands on them, you look at other ways you can be interested in them, such as in this photo with a round taken apart. It’s interesting to Chinese readers because they don’t even get to handle ammunition, whereas with American shooters something like the inside of a round isn’t as interesting as just examining the firearm being field stripped.

Rental ranges play a huge part in a firearm hobbyist’s life, because they become one of the few places anyone can legally handle firearms in countries ripe with gun control laws. Rental range tourism is humongous among Japanese tourists who visit countries outside of Japan, and is even included on large groups of tourist venues. This is such a selling point that places like Guam and Hawaii have entire shooting ranges devoted to just tourists. Even in Third World, recovering from the Khmer Rouge/ millions of land mines Cambodia, there’s a range that caters to all sorts of tourists and Cambodians. From the Forbes article-

In fact, as you walk down Kalakaua, you’ll see guys holding signs for shooting ranges and wearing T-shirts with targets on them. It’s their job to bring tourists to the smattering of shooting ranges in the area. One flyer offered “REAL GUNS” and “FACTORY AMMO” at the SWAT Gun Club. Another displayed the different firearms — from a 9-mm Beretta to an AK-47 — you could shoot at the Hawaii Gun Club.


A customer at the China North International Shooting Range. There’s always an attendant with you and all the guns are locked via a pad lock to a pivot mount.

When I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand as a child in elementary school my dad would take me out to one of the more popular public shooting ranges just about every weekend. I distinctly remember an entire group of Japanese tourists there one time, shooting a Glock 17. To rent a handgun and 50 rounds was something like fifty bucks or so and the group had a good amount of people. So they had to split it so that each person was getting to shoot 2 rounds so everyone could have equal time on the gun. And they were loving it! All two rounds each person got! As pathetic as this sounds, this is what people do when they finally get around the real thing. In China, outside of Beijing, there’s a range called China North International Shooting Range where they’ve got an entire full room of stuff to shoot, from handguns to machine guns (although the description page lists mortars as well, I’m doubtful, when I went there I didn’t see the mortar option listed). Unfortunately here, some of the laws come into play and what range staff does is they bolt the firearms to a pivot mount so you shoot them, and then walk away. They’re literally locked within a small range of motion for shooting.


Thai forum posters are posting things about firearms in the same way that American gun owners post on our own forums.

An important avenue for gun owners to understand about non gun owners is that without handling firearms and really getting into the murky details of their operation. It’s difficult for someone to see how a gas piston system works, or why a bolt action rifle is so reliable. Because all you have to reference is through media you watch or read. In addition variational differences are hard to understand, because it’s difficult to visualize something that you’ve never been able to take apart and examine, or relate it to something you have taken apart and examined. As an example, how the M1 Garands en bloc clip is ejected from the rifle is almost criminally simple, but until you’ve actually taken apart a Garand and look at how the clip is placed within the rifle, and how the op rod functions, it is hard to visualize it from studying pictures of the mechanism.


A page from the Olympic shooting results from the London 2012 Olympics. Romanian, Chinese, Polish, Korean, and Ukrainian shooters are all aptly portrayed, even winning medals left and right.

When all your interaction with firearms is through a screen or a book, physical objects become important and significant because you can’t have the real stuff. When I was younger I used to collect brass casings whenever I would go to ranges in the United States while on summer return trips from overseas. I had entire buckets full of brass and expended rounds (nowadays I’m realizing I should have kept more to send in for reloading credit). My dad came home one time and brought me an M16 magazine as a gift from a store he stopped off at while in Virginia. A real M16 magazine! With a working spring and follower! Complete with duct tape at the bottom to ensure a better grip while reloading! This is where my interests in collecting high capacity magazines and drums began. Because if you can’t legally own a firearm, but you can legally own magazines and drums, then by all means full steam ahead.


Some of the working wooden replicas made by Jenni Edwards in the UK. If you can’t have the real thing, then you might as well make a replica of it.

Children’s toys are universal the world over, 1:1 scale replicas of firearms that are harmless but allow kids to get their Army Game fix in have existed for the past century. Thus, the fascination with building these replicas has grown out of the childhood phase and moved into the grown adult one, with just as much enthusiasm. In Britain there was even a teacher who created wooden firearm replicas that actually loaded wooden magazines, fed wooden rounds, and ejected them. One of the teachers creations is at the Ministry of Defense Pattern Room in Leeds, UK where I came across it for the first time. I made these as well, not half as intricate, but out of paper and plastic cardboard.


On the left, is a very real M1 Garand purchased from the CMP South Store. On the right is what I made do with when I had no access to an M1, or any other firearm for that matter. Made out of cardboard and tape with a string for a sling, a working safety, and a piece of paper with the serial number written on it (dated to 1943).

Deactivated firearms are also a huge thing, especially in Europe with entire industries and collectors built up around them. The London Proof House even has a significant amount of its business geared to specifically deactivating, or certifying firearms for public consumption. What counts for deactivation is mostly welding the bolt face to a certain angle, slotting the barrel, and machining off most of the rails if a handgun. So collectors can own a legitimate Luger or Lee Enfield, but it just won’t fire at all. However, these deactivated firearms are still worth hundreds of Pounds or Euros depending on the country they are in. Another thing that has really taken off in Britain are air guns that are also worth tons of money. These are pretty intense creations too, made of wood, metal, and sometimes have quality American or German scopes on them. One of the largest historical differences between American and British gun culture is that in Britain, firearms were mostly an element of the upper class, a status symbol to go on the fox hunt. Whereas in America firearms were a frontier necessity, so every family needing to put food on the table had one, in addition to defense against Native Americans or animals. The British class difference still exists today with Holland & Holland shotguns going for over thousands of Pounds a piece in the hands of wealthy aristocrats. Regardless of class difference, there’s still lots of British citizens who are just as avid about firearms as American gun owners are, Ian Harrison is a prime example, coming over to the United States to create Recoil magazine being just one example.


Myself and my former shooting coach, U Kyaw Aye. When I lived in Burma he coached me first on 25 meter .22 short pistol competition, and then 10 meter air pistol. Kyaw Aye was as much into firearms as the most avid American collector, he’d throughly consume every magazine I would get in the mail. We would sit around after practice and talk guns for hours. His formal job was mentoring the Burmese Olympic Shooting team until he retired. Kyaw Aye passed away in January 2014 without ever having the chance to come to the States and go to things like SHOT show or the NRA museum in Fairfax.

One of the more broader messages I really want to get across, and especially to American gun owners is to 1) Realize and appreciate what we have available to us, and 2) Be friendly and reach out. Stop looking at Japanese airsoft fans as some sort of animie cult, and realize that if those guys were in the United States, they’d be right up alongside you at the range or a gun show. I run into guys who are in or around really significant examples of the world we live in and don’t even bat an eye. “Yea, I go to Knob Creek all the time but I just go there for the ammo”. Never mind that Knob Creek is still to this day the largest civilian machine gun shoot in the world, no matter how expensive ammunition is getting. The root of all this is that appreciation for firearms is everywhere, whether it be through being interested in the mechanics, history of design and production, the aesthetic value, uses in video games and movies, or just the thrill of shooting a firearm safely and responsibly. It’s not an “American” thing, but a “people” thing.


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


  • Ben Warren

    I read this whole article hoping for an answer to a simple question:

    What the Hell is that gun you’re handling up there? It looks like someone built a gun using photos of an AK-47, AR15, and Han Solo’s blaster for reference.

    • Tassiebush

      Lucusloc mentioned it’s a .22 and that prompted my strained memory to recall that it is a 22lr dressed up to appeal to a military rifle enthusiast who can’t own the real thing. it featured in an article a while back.

  • Sianmink

    What the Christ is that rifle in the first pic?
    I mean, theoretically, you could make a fully functioning AR with an AK stock (receiver extension goes inside) and AK front (the gas tube would just hide inside the piston sleeve) but gosh.

    • lucusloc

      It does not need the buffer tube, because it is a .22, so there is that.

      • Sianmink

        Dang I should have spotted that.

    • MR

      “We call it the ‘Predator’, ’cause it’s one ugly mother-“

      • guest

        shut your mouth!

    • Cymond

      I think it has been reported on at TFB in the past, and it was featured in a YouTube video. It’s nothing more than AK furniture on a rimfire AR-15.

  • lbeacham

    Bottom line………..Freedom is a human want and need, reduced or eliminated by proportional force from Government or criminals. America is the last, best hope for those that don’t have freedom. Let’s not waste it chasing more and better Socialism.

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      100 000 USD hospital bill and an AR, FREEDOM!

      Come on…

      • Kelly Jackson

        I’d rather have a 100,000 hospital bill than a 6 month wait list.

        • G0rdon_Fr33man

          Stop watching Fox News and get your facts straight.

          • Kelly Jackson

            I got that information from The Daily Mail.

            There’s an awful story from 2009 where a British solider Corporal Matthew Millington got lung transplant from a guy who died of lung cancer.

            You can imagine how well that worked out for him, he died of cancer too. What kind of stupid medical system would do that?

          • G0rdon_Fr33man

            That is medical malpractice, and I´m not from the UK so…

      • Dan

        Well since you brought it up, I spent 2 weeks in the hospital over christmas and ended up having lung surgery and a hospital bill over 100,000 dollars. Why should anyone except me be responsible for my medical expenses? I will look after myself, it’s a sad day when people think they should be taken care of and everyone should foot the bill.

        • iksnilol

          Well, why have a country if you aren’t going to cooperate?

          Entire point of a country is that people organize and cooperate to be more effective.

          • Herp

            Actually, cooperation and organization is the point of society. The point of a country is to satiate the control freaks’ desires to squash the spontaneous and effective organization of free society.

          • guest

            perhaps the dream of democracy is to allow the free society to own and run the country

          • Dan

            So that means paying for other peoples healthcare? Don’t equate out country with your country. Far too many people here would love to see us take on European Policies, and for the life of me why not just move there. I owe you nothing and you owe me nothing. I’ll pay my taxes for roads and infrastructure but I will not pay a cent to give you a band aid, Nor do I want you to pay for mine. Higher taxes to pay for added social benifits doesn’t make a country more effective, and telling people it is in the spirit of cooperation is a flat out lie. I will however support and government action to lower the cost of healthcare. Looking through my bills 1 pill cost me 48 dollars, more than the entire bottle when i got out. The price of my shots started a 300 dollars per shot then dwindled daily until they stopped at 28 dollars. Healthcare prices are out of control but requiring everyone to buy insurance or pay for others is a moronic idea

          • iksnilol

            You are looking at it the wrong way. Everyone pays for their healthcare. It is just that when a part of the taxes from everyone goes towards medical stuff the cost drops for everybody. Kinda like ten people buying a pizza versus one buying it alone. Everybody gets a slice either way but it is more economical for 10 people to buy the pizza versus one.

            Heck, I must be crazy for wanting tangible benefits from the people I fund?

          • Paladin

            I guess that makes me doubly crazy, since I’d rather fund my own interests than have my money forcibly taken from me and cross my fingers hoping it’ll be used for my benefit and not to my detriment.

          • iksnilol

            Now you are arguing against yourself.

            Since either way you pay taxes. So what’s wrong with getting a tangible and personal benefit for your contribution to society? Also, you don’t have to hope for it to be used for your benefit; You can hurt yourself on purpose too.

          • Paladin

            How am I arguing against myself? Do you even logic bro?

            I’d rather keep my money and spend it myself on things that benefit me rather than allow it to be taken from me to be used by people who quite frankly I don’t trust as far as I could throw them (and throwing politicians isn’t exactly easy these days). The whole point, which you seem to be missing in your fatalism is that I DO NOT WANT TO BE FORCED TO PAY TAXES. Nowhere have I said anything along the lines of “well, I guess they’re going to take it anyways”, that’s all on you Eeyore. You might be happy with your status as tax cattle, I am not.

            You see, this thing you’re talking about, where I spend a small amount of money and in return my healthcare needs are taken care of already exists, it’s called insurance, it’s 100% voluntary and does not in any way require taking my property without my consent, nor does it involve hanging something as important as my health on the whims of a bureaucrat.

          • norweiganwood

            stange how that the countries with the lowest poverty rates, highest education rates, happiness level, lowest crime etc all are public service social democratic countries with public education, healthcare and so on. you don’t see a connection?

          • Dan

            No I am looking at it the right way. Everyone would pay the same yet not everyone would require the same amount of medical services over their lifetime. Why should someone who sees a doctor a few times pay in the same as someone with chronic disease? My healthcare my money.

          • iksnilol

            So you are perfectly okay with people being financially punished for factors they can’t control (genetics and of course bad luck in regards to predisposition to diseases)?

            That’s messed up. What happened to to being a good Christian or Humanist/Atheist?

          • Dan

            How is being forced to pay a tax being a good christian? Why not just do it out of the kindness of your heart? But I guess most christians believe that 1 hour every sunday is all they have to do. I am finacially punished for a punctured lung im 100k in the hole for 14 days in the hospital and a surgery, and I am not asking anyone to help me out. So yes I am ok with it. I have insurance and what it doesnt cover I’ll take care of myself. You know the whole teach a man to fish rather than just give him fish. I was taught to take care of myself.

          • iksnilol

            Helping your fellow man? Forgot about that part? Also, yes, it is completely realistic that the kindness of my heart can reach around the country. In case you didn’t notice that was sarcasm.

            Also, you aren’t being forced to do anything. Paying tax is just one of the terms and conditions of living in the country, if you don’t like it you can move out. There are plenty of tax havens for people like you.

            So you are completely okay with having lost 100k due to events you couldn’t foresee?

            Last thing, why bother taking care of your country if it isn’t going to take care of you? You guys might think that the every man for himself system is efficent but it isn’t. Schools, prisons and hospitals are for profit in the US. That’s messed up, because those institutions are supposed to focus on people, making them for profit makes the people a second priority. Which leads to inhumane treatment of prisoners (which motivates them to further crime due to little/no rehabilitation help available), substandard education (because the students only need to pass those standardized tests to secure the school funding) and hospitals ignoring people in need (“forget about that guy bleeding out, he doesn’t have insurance”).

          • Dan

            Help thy fellow man? You are missing the point, giving on your free will that is helping your fellow man, giving through a tax that some politicians forced on you, probably because people wouldn’t do it on their own is not the same thing. Not all schools or prisons are for profit, I do want to be at a hospital that is for profit as I have also been in the non profit places, yea no thanks. I am fine with the 100k because I take care of myself, i have insurance, i set aside money incase of emergencies, i spend more on taking care of my family then on entertainment it’s called being responsible.
            I’m sorry you feel that to be a good citizen you need to pay a tax for everything. Take a look at the early 1900’s in the U.S. and all the charitable places in New York City alone that would almost guarantee a free meal to people who needed it. We took care of each other until some politician said “hey lets just pay a tax” but your right Jesus meant pay taxes to help your fellow man, rather than. Actually help them.

            Like i said, leave Europe over in Europe and Let the U.S. be the U.S.

          • iksnilol

            Uh, you do know that the state of the country was worse back in the “good old days”?

          • Dan

            Where in any of my posts did you cross a brain cell and think i want the government to protect me without paying for it? Roads Sure we all use them, but is it fair for people who dont pay taxes to use the road? And tell me more how my country was worse back then? Please i look forward to that.
            When neighborhoods took care of each other because that was the right thing to do, but now it’s becoming required becausw everyone is too busy to make sure the elderly couple down the street is ok, I contribute enough of my income to local charities I dont need the government to tell me to do it. So not really sure how you find me selfish when i have said over and over I take care of myself and others should make it a priority to make sure they are covered too. But My car broke down and unexpectedly perhaps the tax payers should pick up the tab.

          • iksnilol

            You don’t mind having a millitary yet you mind paying taxes.

            You are childishly naive if you think that an entire country (let alone a country big as the USA) can be run on charity from people in it.

            Also, two world wars, The Great Depression, Prohibition + the reasons for a Civil Rights Movement aren’t really the signs of a good time. Let’s not forget, that if people were so good before then why was the crime rate higher before?

          • Dan

            I pay taxes for infastructure and the defense of this nation, I pay into social security and hope it has money when I retire, but I put in more money to a retirement account, I pay into medicare yet I never plan on using it. I dont really want to contribute to some douche down the street to see a doctor when he contributes 0 to anything. I never said a country can be run entirely on charity. My governement and country are nothing like yours thankfully. Crime rate actually wasnt higher it is on a decline from a huge peak but still significantly higher.

            I dont expect to change your mind.You’re happy with your government being in charge. I’m not. I can take care of myself and my family.
            My parents both lived during the great depression and strangely they still talk fondly of the time, why do you think that is? Could it be people came out to help each other? People with the money would buy their neighbors houses and farms so the families could keep it. That is what I am talking about. When the feds start mandating charitable actions people tend to give up actually helping. Much like christians think just going to church on sunday is good enough.

            You are trying to compare the role of your government in the lives of its people to mine.

            We can go on and on with this or we can agree to disagree.

          • iksnilol

            That “douche down the street” contributes just as much as you are if he’s paying taxes.

            Also, the whole “my parents still talk fondly about that time” thing is silly and pretty normal. People remember fondly the times they survived against the world. I have a perfectly sane neighbour who remninices about the times she had to sleep in the bathtub with a kitchen knife in hand during the war. Just because she spoke fondly of that doesn’t mean that it was a good time.

            Also, yes, thankfully the US doesn’t have free education or else the people might actually learn how f**** everything is. Thankfully, the US doesn’t have one of the lowest recidivism rates. It is just like a prisoner saying his chains aren’t restraints but jewelry.

            Maybe we should just agree to disagree, before we get kicked from this blog?

          • darko

            well, he did say “Christian or Humanist/Atheist”. not just christians.

            btw. couldn’t this be apllied here:
            “ask not what your country can do for you..”

          • Dan

            In his reasoning it would end with “but what your politicians force you to do” there is a huge difference in doing something because it’s right, and doing it because it is a law.

          • Paladin

            Cooperation doesn’t need to be forced, socialism does (to the tune of around 100 million deaths in the last century).

            As a matter of fact the free market is one of the best examples of cooperation, it brings people from vastly different cultural backgrounds to work together for mutual benefit.

          • iksnilol

            What does the free market have to do with a part of your taxes going to help people instead of into politicisns pockets?

            You kinda lost me there a bit, especially when you mentioned the evulz of socialism and all.

          • Paladin

            Socialism is an attempt to force cooperation, rather than allow it to naturally occur. Tax funded healthcare is a socialist policy (that’s why they call it socialized medicine). These attempts to force such cooperation have resulted in a great many deaths, that’s a fact.

            The only true cooperation is voluntary cooperation. Socialism is by definition not voluntary since it necessitates the coercive power of the state. The free market on the other hand needs no such coercion and results in much higher level and more efficient cooperation.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, taxes are a sham. Because we all know roads, public institutions and whatnot are free (or at least, money earmarked for them grows on trees).

            Just judging by that and your username I can take a reasonable guess that this discourse won’t lead anywhere positive. Especially considering that we have probably broken TFB’s “no politics” rule a couple of times by now. So good day and all. Wish that Disqus had private messages.

          • Paladin

            I never said they were free, nor do I wish they were. My humble desire is that we stop paying for them with stolen funds, and stop ransoming our children off to debt slavery to pretend that it doesn’t need to be paid for.

            Roads and infrastructure are very necessary things, and like other necessary things they can be quite effectively handled as commodities. If I may quote Bastiat, “We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

          • iksnilol

            So you consider it theft to pay for the roads you drive on? And the ransoming children into debt slavery is caused by your for-profit education system.

          • Paladin

            I consider it theft to take another person’s property without their consent! Are you being deliberately dense? How many times do I have to repeat something this basic?

            I have no objection to paying for the things I wish to use. To borrow Bastiat’s terms, just because I don’t want to be forced to pay taxes to fund the growing of grain does not mean I object to paying for my food at the supermarket. What it does mean is that I object to a state monopoly on it. That I’d rather acquire it through the market than by forced association with the monopolistic entity known as the state.

          • iksnilol

            Well, that’s the problem. No one is forcing you. It’s sorta like the terms and conditions of living there. You want to enjoy the benefits and safety of the state and whatnot, then you pay for them.

            If not, move out, start your own state. Nobody is stopping you (maybe the US millitary might have a problem with you if you try to secede and make your own country on US soil).

          • Paladin

            Have you tried starting your own state? Have you tried seceding from a country? There is not a single scrap of habitable land on this planet that is not claimed by one of these entities. There is literally nowhere I could go to escape the theft and coercion of the state.

          • iksnilol

            I haven’t really wanted my own state… Maybe a private island that is self sufficent but that requires a deal more money.

            Believe it or not you do have some options. Antarctica, Bir Tawil, buying an island (corrupt countries are more easily swayed by money) or my favorite: literally make your own country in the ocean. International waters aren’t owned by anybody (thus the name) so you can set up shop there. Get an used oil rig or something and set up shop (you might also use ships, those can be gotten cheaper than expected if you get those that are mothballed).

            Or if you are literally made of money, then you can build an island like they are doing off the coast of Dubai (that palm shaped island is unsurprisingly manmade).

            I hope I didn’t come off as negative earlier but you must not give up on your dreams and all that. Sure, you might need to bribe or kill some people to keep your dream afloat (figuratively and/or literally) but that is a small price to pay IMO. Just know that if you mess up or set up shop close to other countries, they might want to invade you. Look what happened at the Minerva Reefs.

          • Paladin

            That last bit right there really hits home to the root of the problem. Even assuming we were able to create a stateless society it would only be a matter of time before a thuggish government decided that they needed to bring it “peace, order and democracy” in the form of war, chaos, and forced adoption of statist principles.

          • iksnilol

            That’s why you do the whole oil rig thing (or if you are lucky to find a reef far away from any country), since then you can place it in the middle of the ocean and nobody can then legitimately claim that that is their land.

            Worst part is, that this is entirely doable. Just make sure to bring friends… and that you get some shadier contacts since a wire guided missile or two won’t hurt.

          • Paladin

            The thing is I shouldn’t have to live on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean to avoid theft. Rather than continually running away from thieves their thievery should be stopped.

          • iksnilol

            I am sorry but I don’t have a “Starting a rebellion for dummies” guide.

            + you aren’t being stolen from. It is more akin to a transaction.

          • Paladin

            I’d rather they just stopped. I’d prefer if the transition to a truly free society were peaceful. A violent transition would be problematic for a whole host of reasons. That’s why I put my efforts towards the political, social and philosophical arenas. The intent is not to quit cold turkey, but to wean people off of the state.

          • iksnilol

            The country was made on violence… I don’t want to be rude, but it is in your blood. Same thing applies to Australia, there is some bad mojo in the air there. And I am not the superstitious kind.

            Only thing I can hope for is that it doesn’t spill out and affect the rest of us.

          • Paladin

            You seem to be under some misconceptions as to my nationality, American history, and it’s placing on national violent crime rankings. For starters, the country in which I was born and currently reside started peacefully and amicably. At least as far as conflict with other state powers goes. Second, the American secession was only violent as a result of the actions of the British Parliament. Third, the U.S. isn’t actually particularly violent as international rankings go, they don’t even appear in the top 100. Several states have violent crime rates low enough to make even Europeans jealous. As it happens the top of the violence charts are dominated by socialist and former socialist states, but I won’t comment on whether or not that implies anything.

          • iksnilol

            Not quite, a lot of people died so that the US could be made (and part of those who weren’t keen on seceding were forced by those who were).

            And a lot of people died every time there was a major change (as is natural). Not just the US, but society in general.

            People die. Gandhi and similar people are outliers. You shouldn’t expect change to be made their way (though you should try for moral reasons).

            I am not trying to be a knowitall but human history isn’t really a positive subject. I should know, my fellow countrymen and women tried to secede peacefully from Yugoslavia in the 90’s. I don’t have to explain what happened and why I dislike Serbs (not hate, just distrust them on principle)?

          • Paladin

            It is truly unfortunate that violence is so ingrained into our histories. I keep hoping that people will learn from it, and I keep being disappointed. But the truth is that when all other means fail violence is the last resort. Violence is not inherently necessary for change, but all to often it is made necessary, most often by those who refuse to relinquish power over others.

          • Doug73

            Paladin, I take it that when you’re old enough to collect a social security check, you’re going to decline it on principle?
            Somehow I doubt that.
            BTW, our Constitution grants the government the power to legislate for the collective welfare of the U.S. If I’m reading you correctly here, you believe our Constitution is in error?

          • Paladin

            By the time I’m old enough to collect social security it’ll be bankrupt and there won’t be anything left for me to collect. I plan to fund my own retirement, as anyone should.

            As to whether or not I’d refuse on principle, I object to the gov’t taking my money without my consent, if I can get some of that money back from them why wouldn’t I? What’s wrong with taking back what was originally taken from you?

            And finally, no I don’t think the constitution of the U.S. is a perfect document. It began with decent principles, and I agree with many of the protections it provides. Unfortunately, it has it’s flaws, eminent domain, for example, is a blatant violation of property rights. Furthermore, the U.S. gov’t has shown a pathological inability to follow it’s principles, even while it’s ink was still wet.

          • Doug73


            If free markets are ALWAYS the best solution, how come our free market healthcare has far, far worse health outcomes per dollar spent than countries where “socialized” medicine is the norm? We spend more for less.

            Free markets are great for many (most) things, but there is also such a thing as market inefficiencies. Just like fanaticism of socialism can be taken to extremes, so can fanaticism of free markets. If we had a TRULY 100% free market system in America, most of us would be serfs to those who – without any government mandates stopping them – would soon own all the nation’s wealth. In fact, in a small way that has increasingly happened over the last 35 years. As taxes for the wealthiest have been lowered, and government has let the wealthy buy politicians to set policy, America’s rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer.

            Just like I’m skeptical of people who advocate socialism, I’m equally skeptical of people who think the free market has all the answers.

          • Paladin

            “Our free market healthcare” there’s your first misconception. Healthcare in the U.S. is anything but free market. People who want treatment can’t get it from doctors who want to give it to them, why? Because of FDA regulations.

            As to this notion that free markets would reduce people to serfdom, as a matter of fact the tend has been in the opposite direction, with massive improvements in quality of life. Poor people in the U.S. today live better than rich ones did just a few generations before.

          • MarkPA

            When the people’s money is routed through politicians the politicians first take their cut. Then, what remains is largely wasted on ineffective or counter-productive programs.
            People in the US are very generous. After paying high taxes we also voluntarily contribute to charitable private organizations. Since we choose these private organizations ourselves they tend to be much better (not universally) run than government programs.
            If all government welfare programs were eliminated and replaced by private charity we would virtually eliminate poverty. That could easily be accomplished by replacing the “deduction” for charitable contributions with a “tax-credit”. That would change the incentive from about 25% to 100% (or 90% or 80%, as per the adopted tax law).

    • cantona

      you can have both
      Switzerland has got mandatory insurance, free schools and and that socialist jazz, and a machine gun in every closet

  • you cant spell art without AR

    all I can say is God bless America.

  • wetcorps

    Spot on. Thanks.

  • kevinp2

    Great article, thanks!

  • Pete Sheppard

    As I read this, my emotions ran the gamut from gratitude, through humility to flat out anger.
    I understand the interest; when I was a kid, I would spend hours perusing a copy of ‘Small Arms of the World’ and tried to make my toy guns look as real a possible–knowing that I should NEVER point them at a police officer!!!

  • Grindstone50k

    Excellent article!

  • Lance

    Good article more I hope you gun owners abroad come here and joins us on the range.

  • jamezb


  • Alex Nicolin

    I’m from Romania and I can fully relate to this article. Here the laws are very strict indeed. There’s basically a handgun ban and you have to be a certified hunter or sports shooter to own a shotgun or rifle. Any of those certifications costs upwards of 700 EUR (about 2 average monthly wages) and the required courses last 6-12 months. There’s also a certified collector option, but comes with so many strings attached that the gun basically becomes a locker jewel. Yo can’t take it out of the house without written authorization from the police, which needs to be filed for each time.

    Airguns and rubber ball pistols are a bit easier to get, but you still have to apply for a permit and the other rules are basically the same as for firearms. Psychological, medical and criminal record background checks are needed in order to get one, or renew it every 5 years. A form has to be filed for each purchase, which is usually approved in 1-3 months. You can’t privately transfer any firearm or airgun, and every purchase has to be made trough an authorized dealer. You can’t purchase ammo unless you have a valid permit stating that you own a gun that shoots the respective cartridge, and purchases are limited to 500 rounds per year.

    • Alex Nicolin

      Despite my personal dissatisfaction with such strict rules, I agree that it’s best that the law stays this way in the long term. There are way too many morons who readily get into a fight for a parking space or other traffic disputes or other casual situation. Having them armed with lethal weapons would only make things worse.

      • Diver6106

        I understand you, I guess some countries are just not ready to be free… Witness much of the Moslem world. They had an “Arab spring” and it just resulted in self destruction for some. But as a Russian, just don’t try to make that choice for Hungary in 1956, or Czechoslovakia in 1968, or Ukraine in 2014… Make it for Russia in the 1950’s and Stalin, maybe even for Putin today. America’s tradition with guns is not just air soft interest, but a Right in the foundations of our freedom and a principal of free men. I would hope that one day all Russians will come to understand that freedom is not free. Where we in America know that to be born free is an accident, to live free is a privilege, but to die free is an obligation.

      • Elitist Pigs Must Die!

        YOU would shoot and possibly KILL somebody over a parking space?


        Then why the hell do you think somebody else would? Oh, right: THEY’RE morons.

        Control thy elitism–it’s absolutely disgusting.

        • Alex Nicolin

          There is a prevailing mentality here among the less educated that if one he is violent, he is also cool. Brandishing knives or baseball bats is not uncommon. In some cases, the thugs don’t hesitate to use the rubber ball pistols to settle disputes like these. I personally wouldn’t attack anybody, because I realize I have a lot to lose, in case I get injured or arrested by the police. But I can’t vouch for the others. I’ve met my fair share of bums who are ready to attack for the most trivial of things and simply don’t care if they end up in the slammer, as they have already been there before, or they have contacts in the police. They are not necessarily poor. On the contrary, many are flashy upstarts. So I don’t see where’s the “elitism” here. Acknowledging that some people are too stupid and/or mentally unstable to own a firearm is just realistic. An unarmed idiot is dangerous, but an armed one is even more so.

  • Ralphie

    Well done miles, great read!

  • nadnerbus

    You can own an AKM clone as long as it is off list and has a bullet button or other magazine locking device. I don’t think San Francisco has any laws superseding that. If they do, move out to the east bay or some place.

    Check out City Arms in Pacifica. The guys that run the City Arms East branch out here in Pleasant Hill are nice people. Coincidentally, they are also either eastern European or Russian (never got their history), so much like the people in this article, they seem to have a pretty good appreciation for the freedom to bear arms.

  • As a French national who is trying long and hard to work towards the life dream of obtaining the US nationality (for, among other reasons, sating that need to legal, less restricted access to firearms), this article has managed to make me shed a tear, just because of how much I relate.

    Whatever few access I have to firearms, ammunition, parts, real-life experience and of course knowledge, is impossibly precious to me, and that’s for the reasons Mr. Vining mentioned. Even I had been into airsoft for a long while in the past, before financial difficulties forced me to stop that as well entirely. Ah, if I could just fly over there and call it home…

  • Tassiebush

    This is a great article. It made that important observation that the restrictions people have to contend with aren’t a reflection of their personal views or level of passion about a topic.

  • sam

    Good article! Depressing at points but that’s the nature of the beast and it’s good to know all about this topic. Sad how some people like to read about ’em and can’t own ’em. Reminds me how crummy things almost got with the 1994 AWB and subsequent demonizing of affordable and/or compact pistols. Ring of Fire junk guns, LOL… *shudder*.

  • Cameron Bissell

    Airsoft is a great unifier, it’s how myself and most of my friends started to get “into” guns. being from mass it was easier than trying to go shooting.

  • ghost

    Some people need to get a room.

  • Ouch! I’ve used it tons of times and have never gotten one, but I’ll be more cautious from now on.

  • Wow, if I had known about that before I would have added it in. World Guns.Ru is still perhaps the best English language resource on the web as an overall resource, but that site blows it away for sheer quantity of pictures.

    • Which, btw is there any effort to translate it?

  • Esh325

    Honestly, I think most of these “pro-gun” Americans who scoff at European gun laws being too “strict” don’t understand that only 76 years the European population experienced the full carnage of being shot with guns and blown to pieces with bombs, that the whole American population didn’t have to experience.

    • john huscio

      …That happened purely through their own inaction……

      • Esh325

        Whether you argue it was or wasn’t they still felt the full brunt of war.

    • Ben Rogers

      Americans also didn’t get to enjoy being disarmed by evil governments and then mass-murdered, whilst being unable to fight back… like millions of Europeans did. If that didn’t teach Europeans a lesson, they are hopeless.

      • darko

        So, what is your solution for those hopeless Europeans? Give some helpful advice, please.

  • Ben

    As someone who comes from East Aisa country. I can really relate to this article. There is no way our firearms law going to change, at least not in the foreseeable future. But like the article said, our passion for small arms is the same as yours.

  • john huscio

    Excellent read

  • john huscio

    Do you think, in that case, that large portions of that army wouldn’t abandon the government and take their weapons to the other side?

  • I let the comment go through but please be civil in expressing your opinions. The points you bring up can be made without insults.

  • Esh325

    I’m not European. I would say somebody who thinks lack of personnel ownership of firearms is the reason why Europe got invaded by Germany is a gross oversimplification of history and shows ignorance. And you seem to be rewriting history like some Captain America movie that America beat Germany all by itself while discounting the large effort of other countries like Russia. And certainly I’m not against guns or all civilian ownership, you’re putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say America didn’t contribute to WW2, what I said is that the American civilian populace as a whole didn’t experience WW2 the same way as Europe did because WW2 wasn’t waged directly on their homeland in the same way it was with Europe. And about not being invaded or conquered, the USA is still a relatively young country compared to Europe. Honestly, nobody cares or is afraid of America’s armed populace. Why do you think “enemies” of the USA like Russia and China sell weapons and ammo to them then? China is much more fearful of USA’s military technology than it’s armed populace. That’s why they steal American military tech like planes and drones.

  • darko

    wow, just wow. you are not really a credit to Americans.
    USA entered both wars only after it was itself attacked. nobody is diminishing the contribution the US made but you didn’t win both wars single-handledly.
    you probably don’t know, but comics are not quite legitimate historic sources.

    ” the United States has never been invaded and has never been conquered; can ANY European country make that claim?”

    it’s not really “never” but the British isles have last been invaded around the 17th century. and they are just next to the continental Europe. tell me, who was going to sail to the US to invade it?

  • darko

    nice reply but just one thing: Serbia wasn’t in an internal strife, it was a war between states. no fighting was inside Serbia.

    and related to your comment before, during that war volunteers succesfully fought off an invading enemy with, at first, superior equipment. all other public and not-so-public factors aside, when you have the will, difficult things can be overcome.

  • MarkPA

    Alex, you have two misconceptions here.
    Yes, granted, when the Red and Blue sects are each armed they will gather in armed groups by sect and attack each other. Conversely, when only the Red sect is armed the Blue sect is vulnerable to an outright genocide. If you are a member of the Red sect, which would you prefer? If a member of the Blue sect? If you are a bystander, which do you think is better for civil order?
    Granted, a tourist who goes to a gun range twice in his life isn’t prepared for gorilla warfare. To understand the potential for civilians to prevail over regular soldiers consider Viet Nam. Or, consider the US mainland. We have far more veterans of military service than we have in active service. We have plenty of civilians with no service who are as good or better marksmen than those in the service. Our government is unlikely to “go rogue” simply because it can’t – by any stretch of the imagination – be confident that it would prevail.

    • Tucson_Jim


      Yessir, I routinely out-shoot military and law enforcement personnel at the range, and, having: been a bouncer, security guard working with police officers, and rendered assistance in multiple accidents and confrontations… I keep my cool fairly well too.

      This is my rifle. There are many like it, but, this one is mine…

  • geraldine48

    Excellent article. Provides further empirical evidence that not only does the right to defend oneself, and by extension the right to the tools to do that (i.e. firearm) come from God, but it is also an innate part of human nature (not surprisingly since it’s in our design) – regardless of the local political situation.

  • MrApple

    I enjoyed the article. It saddens me that so many of the world’s nations don’t trust their people with firearms. But it also strengthens my resolve to fight like hell to protect my firearm rights here in the US.

  • KW6

    Airsoft started in Japan. The first exports of airsoft guns were some which were private-labeled for Daisy and shipped to the USA (I still have one of these, a spring-operated, magazine-fed replica of a S&W Model 59 that I bought back then). Some of these cost more than new guns.

    Prior to airsoft, the Japanese brought us the first mass-produced replicas. The Model Gun Corporation was shipping full-metal, moving-parts replicas of everything from Nazi PPKs to Thompson SMGs back in the early 1970s. These could be field-stripped just like the originals, and some were so detailed that they could be fully disassembled using the schematics of the original guns. Some were designed to fire blank cartridges.

  • Jarhead0369

    I worked for several years at a rental range in Las Vegas, NV and I’ve had a LOT of experience with foreign visitors. As Instructors my wife and I also worked with a TV crew from England. Your article is a good lesson for those who never think about just how grateful we should be.

    While many of the foreigners would own guns, I’ve found quite a few, including many from the less free states, who have the NIMBY attitude. They simply don’t trust other people (civilians) to have guns. They have bought into the hoplophobic media bias and are just “uncomfortable” with the idea of private gun ownership and especially public carry for personal defense. I believe this attitude is the real gun rights killer.

  • Tucson_Jim

    Your initial statement was: “In fact, the right to keep and bear arms has done little to preserve freedom. For example in most Middle East countries each household has at least one gun, usually an assault rifle.”

    You later substantiate that by quoting Wikipedia: “#3 Yemen 59/100, #6 Saudi Arabia 35/100, #7 Iraq 34/100, #17 Oman 26/100, #18 Bahrain & Kuwait 25/100, #24 UAE 22/100 and those are the legally owned firearms.”

    I’m not sure the possession of small arms by civilians in the Middle-East equates to, or represents, “The right to keep and bear arms…” Perhaps it is “permission” from the bureaucrats, at best.

    I admit that I am quibbling over the actual details, but, I do get the point of your statement. However, I would counter by saying that Civil Wars fought between people each trying to gain control over the other seldom have the same result as people united to fight against a common enemy for the purpose of liberty… I think you might agree that is the heart of the problem.

    There are also countervailing examples like: Switzerland, Sweden, and the USA, as well as others who could make it so repugnant to invaders that conquest would be unlikely… leaving their own governments as their biggest threat.

    Here in a democratically-elected representative republic, “We the People” seem to not even be able to follow our own Constitution… so, “We have met the enemy, and it is us!”

    As for the Arabic Peoples, perhaps if they followed their own proverb: “عدو عدوي هو صديقي” (‘Adu ‘Aduyi Hooweh Ssadikki – My enemy’s enemy is my friend), they would be more successful. But, this would require respect of their fellow man who does not share their beliefs, and that is a cultural issue not likely to change after 5000 years of history.