Newton’s Third Law

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  – Newton’s Third Law of Motion

Newton’s Third Law

Isaac Newton was a physicist, not much devoted to the study of human behavior, but I find his Third Law of Motion to be more and more applicable to my social and political “opposite reactions.”  To wit: Every time I encounter a “gun rights” action by the National Rifle Association, I react by moving farther into the “gun control” camp.

The most recent action-reaction incident was precipitated by a posting – a re-posting, actually – of an illustration that I believe came from the bowels of the NRA political lobbying division.  To my dismay, this re-posting was by a former student of mine who had several gun safety and shooting lessons under my tutelage with the Luther College Shooting Sports Club a few years ago.

The illustration, at top, is a representation of a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic hunting rifle in .22 Long Rifle caliber. A common and reliable rifle for small game hunting, this illustrated 10/22 was in “factory” configuration with a standard wooden stock, open sights, and a 10-round magazine. Immediately below it was an illustration of a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic with numerous post-market devices to convert it to assault rifle appearance: pistol grip, folding butt stock, 50-round magazine, barrel shroud, laser sight, quick-release magazine lever – all in the familiar matte black color that has given the “black guns” segment of the arms industry its nickname.

The illustration has a caption: “It’s the same gun!” It then goes on to say that in both squirrel rifle and assault rifle configurations this gun is exactly the same, so of course if there are any restrictions placed on ownership of assault rifles, why your old squirrel rifle will be illegal too!

A frequent and disingenuous claim by 'gun rights' advocates is that there is virtualky no difference between a semi-automatic skeet gun (pictured here) and a semi-automatic military assault rifle. The result of this disinformation has not been more acceptance of 'black guns,' but ever growing fear and opposition to ALL guns.

A frequent and disingenuous claim by ‘gun rights’ advocates is that there is virtually no difference between a semi-automatic skeet gun (pictured here) and a semi-automatic military assault rifle. The result of this disinformation has not been more acceptance of ‘black guns,’ but ever growing fear and opposition to ALL guns.

This is a frequent and disingenuous claim of the NRA, people who allege to be small arms experts and yet insist there is no way to distinguish between, say, a Remington 1100 semi-automatic 12 gauge shotgun and an FAL semi-automatic 7.62mm military rifle. That is a blatant falsehood, but the NRA is not interested in accurate and honest discourse about responsible gun ownership and use, it is only interested in political lobbying and advocacy for firearms manufactures, who donate a lot of money to the NRA for these services.

(Actually, the NRA is interested in only one thing: the NRA. That is not my observation; it is that of Aaron Zelman, founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, a zealous “gun rights” organization.)

For those naïve enough to accept the “it’s the same gun” deceit, let me point out one significant difference (at least to me) between these two rifles:

If you come to my farm and ask to hunt, and you have a Ruger 10/22 squirrel rifle, you will be given permission to hunt.

If you come to my farm and ask to hunt, and you are carrying the assault rifle version of a 10/22, you will not be given permission to hunt. In fact, you will be immediately ordered to leave the property and not return.

That is because someone’s choice of an assault-style rifle tells me something about his values and his character.  I know immediately that this person is not a hunter, he is a shooter. Hunting is an honorable and noble venture that should be pursued with gear and guns that evidence knowledge of and respect for the sport’s history, traditions and ethic. Black guns make a mockery of the essence and ethos of hunting.

So, in my experience, do the owners of black guns, especially the one who, having failed to shoot a deer with his “home defense” shotgun, decided to use it to pulverize one of my wooden fence posts. Until that incident I was somewhat ambivalent about black gun owners. I offer him a hearty “well done!” for resolving my doubts. That equal-and-opposite-reaction law again.

I perceive that I am not alone in my loathing of black guns, weapons that have but one true purpose: to terrify and/or kill people. Despite rambling and pernicious statements by “gun rights” advocates, these guns are not appropriate for hunting or target shooting. The sole function of a black gun is to kill people; “gun rights” advocates like to refer to this as “home defense” and “self-defense.”

The tragedy for us hunters is that, thanks to the NRA, a growing majority of people are fearful of and opposed to all guns. Kudos to the black guns industry and its advocates, I suppose, for their success in convincing Americans that there is no real difference between a squirrel rifle and an assault rifle. The reaction they hoped for has gone astray, however. Their ludicrous promotion of assault rifles and handguns has not made people accept the legitimacy of ALL guns, it has made people oppose the legitimacy of ANY gun.

As a consequence, when hunters ask permission for access to land, we more frequently hear the response “We don’t allow guns on our property.” This is not much of an issue for me in my senior years. The misfortune is that my grandchildren will be denied this honorable and noble sport that has been important in my life.

Don’t bother to express your concern about this to the NRA. If you investigate, you will learn the NRA does not give a bucket of cold spit about hunting. Or even about shooting, really. Check out the number of NRA-sponsored shooting ranges in your area. You can find none? No surprise.

The NRA is only interested in promoting the interests of gun manufacturers – the sale of guns. If you have a gun safe full of them, especially black guns, they have succeeded. If you have no place to hunt or shoot, that’s not their problem.

Another thing that is not their problem? The increase in firearm homicides, virtually the only violent crime statistic that is going up every year. If you, like me, have a wife and son who teach in public schools, you live every day with the fear they and their students could be killed by someone who is an apostle of the black gun culture. Twenty-two first grade students murdered in five minutes with an assault rifle is small collateral damage, in the eyes of the “gun rights” advocates.

To convince me, someone who has owned and hunted with guns his entire adult life, to call for a ban on the sale of black guns, that reaction has required an incredible (and incredibly wrong-headed) series of actions by the NRA.

Congratulations, NRA! You have proved Mr. Newton’s theorem.


About Jerry Johnson

Curmudgeon. Bird hunter and dog trainer. Retired journalist and college public relations director. Former teacher, coach, mentor. Novelist and short story writer. Husband, father, grandfather.
This entry was posted in Hunting, Rifles, Shooting, Shotguns and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Newton’s Third Law

  1. mrain1 says:

    Amen, Jerry. Well stated, but you are pissing into the wind.

  2. uplandish says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I could not agree with you more!
    We have generation of people playing violent video games all day with no outlet for this build up of violent energy that results and we have gun and gear manufacturers pushing the black gun phenom towards them creating masses of police and military wannabe’s with nothing to do. No wonder school shootings have gone up in the only country where this happens.
    Any time someone merely suggests a solution conservative gun owners balk with an irrational, utterly predictable knee jerk reaction and say their rights are being taken away and next their guns.
    Ordinary people don’t NEED black guns ( for lack of a better all encompassing term) they don’t NEED weapons that can compete with what our police and military have in their own arsenal. Period.
    Its time for a change and all the NRA/Gun rights extremists are doing is ruining it for the rest of the sane responsible gun owners… and I am sure some will read my statements above and all they will see is someone suggesting that their guns be taken from them.
    its time for a long over due change, and hopefully all gun owners wise up and make that change happen before non gun owning /gun hating voters make it for us.

  3. uplandish says:

    And for the record I have more shotguns than I know what to do with, the odd .22 and deer rifle, a handful of pistols, and way more ammunition than I will need in 10 years of hunting and I am just as afraid of having all my toys taken away as anyone else.

  4. Dan Z. says:

    This is an excellent articulation of why I am not an NRA member (I did go through that phase), and now fall well to the left of my hunting/shooting peers. Well stated. Verve on!

  5. Pingback: Wilderness, experience, and commodity. | The Cheapskate Intellectual©

  6. Craig Cunningham says:

    Dear Jerry,
    Just read your short story, “Newton’s Third Law” and couldn’t wait to weigh in with my opinion.
    The analogy you made with the Ruger 10/22 in “squirrel rifle” trim and the same rifle tricked out with the after market bells and whistles is on point. They are not the same rifle. But, you have missed the real point entirely. The NRA does not believe that any of those writing the anti-gun legislation will ever understand the difference and they are absolutely right. They will ban both rifles with their broad brush approach to restricting the guns you can own. Let me give you an example of just how inept the anti-gun lobby is in being able to determine the difference between a a gun used for hunting and a “black gun” as you have termed them.

    My son hunts geese with a 12 gauge Benelli Black Eagle ( a gun I know you would view with disdain, but he redeems himself by hunting ducks with a 16 gauge Winchester Model 12 and grouse with a Browning Uplander 20 gauge over & under). The Benelli is his favorite for the goose blind in early season because in our home state of New Jersey we have an over abundance of Canada Geese that do not migrate south. The game commission has attempted to reduce the numbers of geese polluting the summer lakes & ponds by establishing this early season that permits removing the plug and harvesting 5 birds per day, so there is justification for using the semi-automatic to maximize the harvest, taking more birds for the table than might other wise be taken with other actions, be they double, over & under or pump.

    Okay, so much for why he hunts with a semi-automatic. The point to be made here is that this is a hunting gun, but if he were to opt for the pistol grip option that Bennelli sells as an after market option, the State of New Jersey has decided that it then becomes an assault weapon and is illegal! This is why the NRA, over zealous though they may be, continues to fight any attempt to restrict what guns we can use and I as a Life Member support them all the way. By the way Jerry, I have one of those “black guns” you claim have no place in a hunter’s gun cabinet and I hunt with it. Though it is illegal for me to hunt with it in my home state, I have carried it on many hunts in the the Hill Country of Texas where it’s light weight and long range accuracy enabled me to harvest two trophy aoudads as well as wild pigs out to 600 yards.

    And your assertion that the NRA doesn’t care “if you have not place to hunt or shoot” is also off base. I got the immediate help and co-operation of the NRA when the local planning board unceremoniously banned all hunting in our township and remedial action is pending. So, if I were you, I’d think long and hard about the NRA and what they are trying to accomplish. They need all of our support.


    Craig Cunningham

    • Craig – Thanks for your comments. I have indeed thought “long and hard about the NRA and what they are trying to accomplish,” especially since its 1977 convention and after when the NRA transformed itself from a conservative sportsmen’s organization into a radical political organization. As a result of more than 50 years of long and hard thinking about firearm issues, I refuse to support the NRA and will continue to speak (and write) against its political policies and and tactics.
      – Jerry

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