Machine Gun Fun

Met up with Traction Control tonight over at Ready, Aim Fire in Bristol. He rented an MP-5 submachine gun. Got to shoot a magazine through it. The house MP-5 was in some dire need of cleaning and some fresh magazine springs, but any time I get to shoot a submachine gun I think “Man, we really need to get rid of that Hughes thing.” Full auto is a lot of fun even when it’s not running as well as it could, and sometimes submachine guns can be finicky.

Two notables tonight are that I got to shoot my Webley Mark IV for the first time, and I enjoyed it. Much less recoil than I would have thought, but that’s probably because it’s a rather heavy pistol firing a relatively anemic round. That crossbar safety has to go though. It’s rough to switch, and a general pain in the ass. It gets in the way of the enjoyment of the pistol. Eventually I think I need to find a Webley that hasn’t been mutilated for the sake of being legally importable.

I also got to shoot my Glock for the first time in a length of time I’m embarrassed to admit. I compete with air guns and .22s these days, so not much trigger time on the Glock. The problem is, my club has a lot of stupid restrictions on how many rounds you can put in your magazine, and drawing from a holster, so I can’t really practice self-defense shooting there. I don’t end up practicing self-defense shooting as much as I really need to for carrying a pistol around in public. That’s not to say I shot badly. Getting trigger time, any trigger time, keeps your skills from totally going to s**t, but I was shooting better practical pistol two years ago than I am now.

Drawing from holster, using my iPhone shot timer, I was getting somewhere between 1.5 seconds and 2.5 seconds between buzzer and aimed shot on target. At least I think. It’s hard to tell on a busy range which shot registered was yours, so it comes down to “I know I’m not that fast, but I’m pretty sure I’m not that slow.” Overall, out of the holster I’m in an area of about the size of a DVD container at 25 feet. That’s decent, but I did pull one shot pretty far off, which I’m a bit appalled by. I’m also unhappy that on about a 1/4 of my draws I had a grip that caused the slide to scrape against the web of my hand. No bloodshed from a slide cut, but not comfortable either. Whatever mojo Todd Jarrett imparted with his instruction has definitely departed due to lack of practice. That seems like it was a long time ago. Hopefully I’ll get out to a few practice shoots this season and top my skills back up.

Who knows. Maybe one day my club will come into the gun culture of the 21st century and we’ll have some practical shooting, or steel plate shooting where I can get some more practice in under time pressure and from a ready stance or from the holster.

16 thoughts on “Machine Gun Fun”

  1. The problem is, my club has a lot of stupid restrictions on how many rounds you can put in your magazine…

    Y’know, I’ve heard about this from friends in Pennsylvania a couple times. One guy I know, his father has to use custom made 3-round en bloc clips to shoot his Garand at their range. I get the holstered shooting thing. And I sorta-kinda understand why some ranges are twitchy about “rapid fire”. But what the heck is the goal behind forcing people to underload their mags?

  2. “Man, we really need to get rid of that Hughes thing.”

    Yes, we do. 922(o) has got to go. Pity people on both sides view it as a “third rail”. _Heller_ is a great template for getting it overturned, if only someone with the money would run with it. I’ve spent a _lot_ of time chewing on it…pity my wallet is empty…

  3. Wasn’t the NFA upheld on the grounds that it was a revenue measure, not a regulatory one? Wouldn’t closing the registry (precluding any possibility of making any money whatsoever) eliminate that justification, making it indefensible if tested again?

    Or do I have my legal history mixed up?

  4. 922(o) isn’t the NFA, that’s Hughes. But I don’t agree that Heller helps get rid of it. Even Gura, who is very optimistic about the prospects of winning constitutional protections pretty broadly on the Second Amendment says that machine guns will have to be fixed politically and not through the courts. At least for the foreseeable future.

  5. I was suggesting that Hughes removes the justification used to uphold the NFA back in Miller, meaning that if the NFA were to be retried, it would lack that justification.

    Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think we’d actually see the Court strike down the NFA on these grounds. The legal “technology” for justifying federal overreach has developed dramatically since the 1930s.

  6. elmo, you’re thinking of US vs. Rock Island Armory Inc., which held that absent a revenue function, the NFA is unconstitutional. Nothing ever really came of it though, since it was just a circuit court decision.

  7. No, I’m thinking of Miller:

    A duly interposed demurrer alleged: The National Firearms Act is not a revenue measure but an attempt to usurp police power reserved to the States, and is therefore unconstitutional.

    Considering Sonzinsky v. United States, 1937…the objection that the Act usurps police power reserved to the States is plainly untenable.

    Sonzinsky was an Illinois gun dealer convicted of failing to pay taxes mandated under the NFA. From the ruling in that case:

    In the exercise of its constitutional power to lay taxes, Congress may select the subjects of taxation, choosing some and omitting others…Its power extends to the imposition of exercise taxes upon the doing of business…Petitioner does not deny that Congress may tax his business as a dealer in firearms. He insists that the present levy is not a true tax, but a penalty imposed for the purpose of suppressing traffic in a certain noxious type of firearms, the local regulation of which is reserved to the states because not granted to the national government. To establish its penal and prohibitive character, he relies on the amounts of the tax imposed by section 2 on dealers, manufacturers, and importers, and of the tax imposed by section 3 on each transfer of a ‘firearm,’ payable by the transferor. The cumulative effect on the distribution of a limited class of firearms, of relatively small value, by the successive imposition of different taxes…is said to be prohibitive in effect and to disclose unmistakably the legislative purpose to regulate rather than to tax.

    Every tax is in some measure regulatory. To some extent it interposes an economic impediment to the activity taxed as compared with others not taxed. But a tax is not any the less a tax because it has a regulatory effect…and it has long been established that an Act of Congress which on its face purports to be an exercise of the taxing power is not any the less so because the tax is burdensome or tends to restrict or suppress the thing taxed.

    Inquiry into the hidden motives which may move Congress to exercise a power constitutionally conferred upon…it is beyond the competency of courts…They will not undertake, by collateral inquiry as to the measure of the regulatory effect of a tax, to ascribe to Congress an attempt, under the guise of taxation, to exercise another power denied by the Federal Constitution.

    Here the annual tax of $200 is productive of some revenue. We are not free to speculate as to the motives which moved Congress to impose it, or as to the extent to which it may operate to restrict the activities taxed. As it is not attended by an offensive regulation, and since it operates as a tax, it is within the national taxing power.

    As I read it, Miller was decided on two principles: first, that the Second Amendment only protects military weapons, and that the defendants had provided no evidence that their firearms had a military purpose (obviously; neither the defendants nor their lawyers showed up in court). Second, that, as per earlier rulings, the Court declined to judge whether any tax is being used as an unconstitutional regulation, so long as the tax is actually generating revenue.

    Set before the Court again, we could demonstrate factually that neither of those principles is valid, at least in the case of short-barreled arms and machine guns. Silencers are still probably screwed.

  8. After some more Google-fu, I see your point. What I’m saying already been argued, and won.

    In this climate, I’m not sure Hughes is untouchable in the courts. Getting rid of the NFA is probably out for the forseeable future, but opening the registry seems fairly solid, and doesn’t require Heller.

  9. Likewise, AOW/SBS/SBR aren’t exactly low-hanging fruit, but with the prop of “handguns can be specially discriminated against” kocked out, I think that ground is a little shaky.

  10. And back to the original point; I’ve been to the firing line on 3 different (open to the public) ranges and a fourth one operated by the county PD and open on sundays to the public weather permitting where I didn’t belly up to the bench; and none of them have had magazine restrictions (and the rapid-fire restrictions in most were “get permission first”).

    NRA HQ range has a strong-side-only draw restriction, IIRC. (Man, I wish I could get enough time when I’m down there to go again).

  11. NRA HQ range has a strong-side-only draw restriction, IIRC.

    That at least has a rational basis: they don’t want you covering your weak side arm when you draw. I think Zoot Shooters require all handguns to be carried and drawn without a round in the chamber for the same reason, because so many of their competitors want to use shoulder holsters.

  12. Not that I have anything I can shoot in a zoot shoot; but are there any within striking distance of NJ?

    Also, Ready, Aim, Fire is about as close to me as the Lakewood ranges. May have to check that out.

  13. Looks like there are only three clubs, the closest of which is in Massachusetts.

    They look like a blast. But I think all Thompson replicas are covered by NJ’s AWB. Because, you know, an 11 pound weapon with all the stopping power of a handgun and all the concealability of a rifle is a pretty terrifying threat to public safety.

  14. As long as it’s considered a rifle (and it should be) a semi-auto Thompson should be OK. It’s not on the named list, and it doesn’t fall under the “substantially similar” features test; having only a detachable magazine and a pistol grip (test is for detachable mag and at least 2 “evil” features.

    The resource I use is which really is a one-stop-shop for the NJ gun laws. Links to NJ 2C:39 and 2C:58 and the AG rulings.

  15. OTOH, if they decided it was a pistol for some silly reason it would be an assault weapon…

    Plus, if you can’t get limited-capacity magazines for it, no dice

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