Though every Englishman should hear what this particular rifle has to say about the Olympics, England and individual rights, I didn’t set out to embarrass this particular English journalist. It’s just that he had it coming.
Let’s just call him Stephen Grey, as that’s his real name. He’s not a bad sort. Grey was educated at England’s famed St. Alban’s School and studied philosophy at Oxford. He has outsized ears and somehow seems too tall for his boyish face. These features give him a look of young innocence you soon find is matched by sincerity. Then you run into his intellect and really like him. He wrote his last book, Into the Viper’s Nest, after being imbedded with soldiers in Afghanistan. He saw firsthand what the Taliban did to women. He knows all about the barbaric things al-Qaeda has done to a few of his colleagues. He knows jihadists consider civilians to be fair game. He knows about much uglier things than these. Nevertheless, he doesn’t think people should have the right to have firearms for self-defense.
Grey was seated across a table from me at a small dinner party some months ago in Washington, D.C., saying things like, “Americans need to give up their guns. They must become responsible citizens of the world.” Meanwhile, the other writers around the table—people who know my background—were glancing at me, bracing for the counterattack.
I stayed quiet as he described his utopian vision of a disarmed world like John Lennon singing “Imagine no possessions … I wonder if you can … . ” I wanted him to be fully committed before I engaged.
Minutes later, as he paused to view the effect of his anti-gun offensive on a table full of Americans, I opted for an attack he likely hadn’t encountered before. I didn’t think he’d be swayed by crime statistics. And if I cited the dramatic English history of individual rights—and the loss thereof—he’d probably quote Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil to contend there is no absolute right and wrong and therefore no real individual rights. That philosophical discussion, as interesting as it might be, would be a smokescreen for his retreat. What I needed was a way at the truth he hadn’t encountered before, so I drew him in with the true story of a particular Springfield Model 1903.
“Stephen,” I began, “I understand that a world without guns in private hands, and therefore a world where a 110-pound woman can no longer shoot down a 200-pound rapist, is appealing to you. But let me tell you about a very special rifle. Its story just might make you rethink your views.”
For the rest, see my article in American Rifleman.