Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 7, No. 6           May, 1999

Storm and Stress

Indeed we live in interesting times. I cannot recall a greater outpouring of hysterical emotionalism since the Children's Crusade - and I was much younger then. We add to that a conspicuous example of the wrath of God, as displayed by the Oklahoma and Kansas twisters. And then we have these goings-on in the Balkans, which seem to avoid any possible solution. Milosevic is not about to quit pounding on the Kosovars just because we strafe him from the air, until he has eliminated every last Kosovar. And then what? Whoever is advising the man in the White House, they are advising him incorrectly. He is supposed to be in charge. If so, God help us all!

Note how important semantics are at this time of troubles. Freedom and liberty are not the same. A Republic is not the same as a Democracy, just as a clip is not a magazine. It would certainly be better for all concerned if all of us made an attempt to be careful about what we are talking about.

The NRA meeting up in Denver left us with mixed emotions. The consensus of membership, insofar as I could determine it, was that we should have done nothing about reducing the size of the operations there, but on the spot we discovered that the general ambience of the place was such as to depress any sort of social activity. The NRA demonstration inside was overwhelming. We had many more people than the hall would hold, and the vocal approval of our activities was deafening. Outside, some people marched up and down displaying one conspicuous banner which proclaimed, "Public Schools Kill Children." The newspaper claimed there were several thousand protestors. I was there, and I saw a couple of hundred. The distressing thing is that no one seems to want to establish any connection with anything. President Charlton Heston was inspiring, as usual. His presence on the podium is quite magnificent, and if his politics are not completely pure, he stands as a great force for good at this time, when bad seems to be in the ascendancy.

Let's hear it from the faithful about the utility of the Code Duelo. How many vote for the sword, and how many vote for the pistol? I would like to prepare a small study on that point.

Reports keep coming in about the success of the Steyr Scout in the hunting field. Certainly it does well, but no better than any other piece of the same caliber. What is important about the Scout is not its power, but its ergonomics. It is easier and handier to use and to pack and carry than anything else. In this it is a great leap forward. The 308 cartridge is okay, but you can get it in 7-08 for use in restricted jurisdictions, and in 376, if you think you need more muscle. What remains best about it, however, is its "shootability," and this is something you really cannot assess until you have taken it afield.

We are informed by cousin Steve Lunceford that the world-famed Blue Train between Pretoria and Cape Town has become a casualty of the revolution in South Africa. It is still running, but you will not recognize the service, which used to be its particular pride.

In reflecting back over the memorials to the Battle of Midway, I ran across the following interesting statistics. In that battle we lost the Yorktown, and additionally, we lost 26 out of 88 F4F fighters, 48 out of 128 SBD dive bombers, and 40 out of 44 TBD torpedo planes. On that same day, the Nips lost 94 out of 106 Zero fighters, 81 out of 93 Kate torpedo planes, and 72 out of 72 Val dive bombers, plus the fleet carriers Kaga, Akagi, Hiryu, and Soryu. A definite turning point in history, that was a real barn burner.

As I suppose you all noticed, it is against the law for a teacher to post the Ten Commandments in a Colorado high school.

In looking over the general state of the nation at this time, I am happy to designate myself and the Countess as "pre-modern." That may be a quaint position to occupy, but I think it makes us a lot better than "with it." Better quaint than cool.

We note with amazement that a prominent and successful female television commentator was shot dead on the street in front of her home in London. We thought that sort of thing was against the law in Britain, and particularly difficult of execution now that there are no personal firearms available in England. Whatever the laws or regulations, murder is always a black mark against the human race, but as to that, the human race is looking pretty bad just now. One of these days God in Heaven may lose patience with us entirely.

Guru say: "Anybody can get scared, but you must absolutely not let that affect your behavior. Cowardice kills."

Many years ago it was considered funny to suggest that if one broke open a fortune cookie at the end of a Chinese meal he might read: "Help, I am being held prisoner in a Chinese cookie factory." We wonder if our ambassador to China sent that line to Washington when he found his embassy surrounded by a noisy mob following our hit on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. I rather doubt it. Diplomats do not tend toward the flippant.

Let us never forget that according to the Father of Our Country personal weapons are liberty's teeth. Liberty and equality are irreconcilable opposites. The only place you can have both at once is on a desert island.

The following letter was recently addressed to the London Standard in Britain.
"The US constitution springs from a Lockean distrust of government - hence its stress upon assorted checks and balances. That distrust springs from an indifference towards social and economic inequality which, in the US, has been seen as a tolerable side effect of 'liberty' and laissez-faire. The British left, by contrast, has always seen the battle against inequality as paramount, and has consequently taken a more approving view of state intervention.

"Freeland should also be wary of Thomas Paine, whose radicalism had a libertarian, rather than egalitarian, bias. He once wrote that 'government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state it is an intolerable one'."

Richard Kelly, The Manchester Grammar School

As you know, the war cry of the French Revolution was Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. As it turned out, the Jacobins were not interested at all in liberty. They were furiously enthusiastic about equality. As to fraternity, this is now generally banned on campus.

A new law in South Africa forbids the once popular practice of giving your rifle to your professional hunter - or anyone else. We can see no reason for such legislation except pure spite. "There is no political reason for it. We just want to be nasty."

Accurate assessments of the Littleton disaster have yet to be properly evaluated, but one point stands out clearly. The only thing that could have saved the day was a qualified, armed teacher. Moral decay has brought us to this pass, and we cannot look to the state for relief. Relief must come from the populace at large, and not in the form of legislation.

How often have we heard the victim say, "He came out of nowhere!" No, he didn't. He was there all along, but you did not see him. You were in Condition White, and in that condition you are a victim. The first principle of personal defense is alertness.

This issue of the Commentaries is on the short side, since we must rush off now to Austria to attempt a bit of pioneering in the design of hunting rifle sights. We have long nursed the idea of a fixed telescope with no moving parts, riding in adjustable mounts. This was tried many years ago by Bausch & Lomb, but it did not sell. (Though I know of several examples which gave, and still give, perfect satisfaction.) It may be time to re-introduce this idea as part of the Scout Concept. The success of the radical Scout may encourage the manufacture of a radical telescope to go with it. We hope so.

The Countess and I will not be back on station until the month of June, so there will be a gap in the delivery of this paper for some weeks. I hope to resume putting out the word as soon as possible after our return.

Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal use only. Not for publication.