Once again, I indulged in my hobby of confronting less than accurate media reports. This one turned out considerably better than some, and Ed Palm deserves some kudos. I think I taught him something, but he set me straight on something, too.
The ingratitude of the NRA
Along the same lines, I’m sure it’s fun to play with a “bump stock” — a device I hadn’t even heard of before Stephen Paddock used a few of them to kill 58 people and wound 546 more in Las Vegas on October 1. Soon after that senseless slaughter, we all learned that a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock can simulate fully automatic fire.
Such was my experience in 1967, when I was in Vietnam. The Marine Corps had just transitioned from the semiautomatic M14 to the new M16. Unlike the M14, all M16s featured a selector switch, allowing for semi- or fully automatic fire.
Regarding the first bump-fire point, I noted that: “Nope. A bump-fire stock is training wheels for people who have trouble pulling the trigger quickly. It’s inaccurate, and bump-fired rifles are prone to malfunctions. There’s a reason that police and military don’t use them, despite being far cheaper than automatic weapons. (And since LE sources reported the Mandalay Bay shooter had at least one rifle converted to full auto as well as bump-fire stocked rifles, and the sheriff claims the asshole fired over 1100 round s in 9 minutes — more than two rounds per second, even with weapon and magazine swaps — I wonder how many of the rounds came from bump-fired rifles.)”
Major Palm still had doubts:
“My understanding is that a bump stock will enable an AR15 to cycle more rapidly than by just pulling the trigger.”
To which I replied: “No. A bump-fire stock is a purely passive device in which the receiver slides freely, back and forth. It in no way changes the action of the rifle. For a somewhat more detailed description, written for someone who admitted knowing nothing about firearm so excuse the simplistic language, see “Training Wheels,” at the The Zelman Partisans (a Jewish pro-RKBA group).
“In fact, some rifles are less reliable when bump-fired, because the weapon is not properly supported; rather like limp-wristing a 1911. Add in the loss of accuracy, and I think they’re silly.”
He thanked me for the information. Score one for me, I hope. It may not change his mind, but he strikes me as honest enough to consider the point, unlike most to whom I’ve reached out.
Where I blew it was on the M14: “Since the M14 is actually a selective-fire rifle like the M-16, I find myself a bit dubious regarding your firearms knowledge. And military experience. It seems unlikely that your Vietnam combat unit had all been issued the M14M “developed for use in civilian rifle marksmanship activities such as the Civilian Marksmanship Program.” Or the M14 SMUD, unless yours was an EOD unit.”
And there I made my mistake. While I knew there were (and still are) semiauto variants, I didn’t think they were all that commonly issued in Vietnam. Obviously I’m a little too young to have been sent there to fight, so my impression was anecdotal, based on conversations with VN vets who had carried M14s. For whatever reason, each one I spoke to described a select-fire weapon (one with an amusing tale of a lost front sight).
(And yes, I was unnecessarily rude. I apologize for that, too.)
Major Palm set me straight:
“I take it that you have limited knowledge of the deployment of the M14 in the Marine Corps. The M14 selector-switch is a modification that the great majority of Marine Corps M14s didn’t have. When I was stateside, and when I was in the rear with the gear in Vietnam, my M14 didn’t have a selector switch. Before the M16, the Table of organization called for one man out of each four-man fire team to have a selector switch and to be able to fire fully automatic. Whether that was really the case in infantry units, I don’t know.”
In fact, he checked with some other vets and found that one select-fire in twelve was more common than the TO 1:4
Major Palm is the first person I spoke to who admitted to having a semi M14 in Vietnam. Whether by chance I had previously happened on the one-in-four (or twelve), or they had original issue rifles before the need for the semiauto modification became clear, I don’t know. Maybe some of them were even blowing smoke up my… where ever.
Point is, I took tales for fact, and hadn’t checked it for myself. So I was wrong.
And this is one reason I continue contacting folks write on gun control. Sometimes it’s possible to get correct information across. And sometimes they can teach me something.
Thank you, Major Palm.