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President Obama's unexpected position on guns

When Barrack Obama was elected President last November, all of us who hold dear the right to own sporting firearms for target or sport hunting fully expected a slew of new laws to be enacted that would be the beginning of the end to personal firearms ownership in the U.S.A.

Strangely, this expected control hasn't happened! Apparently, the White House strategists feel that they cannot afford to tangle with the National Rifle Association at this time. A spokesman has said, "The President supports the Second Amendment, respects the traditional ownership of firearms by responsible citizens, and he (the president) has taken steps to keep our streets safe, with $2 billion in police funding."

From week to week the safe streets edict stands on shaky grounds. Senseless killings like the one in Pittsburg last month -- with two police officers cut down and two more wounded -- well it spurs into action, law makers who want to let us have our guns, but abhor the killings by a misfit.

The killer owned a number of guns, including an AK-47, an assault weapon. Personally I abhor this and others like it, but they're legal and many enjoy owning and using them -- legally and otherwise! A Democratic Congress originally passed the AK-47 ban in 1994 but it lapsed five years ago.

Democrats Diane Feinstein (Ca.) Charles Schumer (NY) Edward Kennedy (Mass.) and many other Senators were eagerly awaiting President Obama's public support of the so-called assault weapons ban, but it now appears that it isn't coming, at least not very soon. The Senate recently passed an amendment that allows guns in checked bags on Amtrak. How strange can things get? Tragic as they are, we'll always have killers who have procured firearms through legal means, filling out the Form 4477 at a dealer's gun counter. There is no known way that anyone can predict the violent behavior of the buyer, when situations develop.

Yes, the position of President Obama surprises everyone. So does the statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on Katie Couric's news broadcast about the gun show loophole. The District of Columbia's gun laws have been overturned. Additional, more restrictive, gun control laws authored by the new administration seem to be on hold, for now. Leading Democrats aren't saying much these days. What lies ahead?

Your riflescope

That sighting device which sits atop your rifle barrel is unique indeed. It is a long way ahead of the excellent peep sights that the Lyman brothers made in their New England factory. For nearly a century, the finely constructed and fully adjustable peep sight was simplicity indeed, but it wasn't even close in efficiently when some yet unknown optician or handyman first dreamed of using curved optical glass and combining these to form an adjustable sighting device.

Many credit Bill Weaver of El Paso, Texas, with the invention. Far from it! Yes, Bill Weaver is probably the Henry Ford of scope making for the rifles of sportsman, but tinkerers centuries before had fashioned crude devices which were the fore runners of adjustable optical scopes we have today.

My first scope was the Weaver 29-S, a four power steel-tubed job I had perched atop my Winchester Model 63 semi-automatic 22 rimfire. I thought the world and all of it, and I did knock off tree squirrels and rabbits at distances which I'd never scored on before. But it wasn't until WWII when there was a need of something better for snipers to be used on Springfield 30-06 rifles, did Bill Weaver seek out optical experts and designers to complete his model 440 for use by our marksmen. It still had a ¾" steel tube and poor light gathering qualities.

That war was scarcely in the history books when sportsmen were astounded by a very light 2 ½ X scope by Weaver -- the K25.

Other optical factories weren't asleep during these times, but it was Weaver who saw a market. Soon, there were a dozen makers providing much improved scopes for rifles, but their prices were always higher than those of Weaver. For a time he had the market to himself.

Optical giant Zeiss of Germany made great scopes and binoculars. The Kollmorgen Company, Stith, Lyman and Redfield Gunsight Company offered scopes that were a joy for sportsmen hunters and marksmen to make happy choices. Variable power appeared, and the light gathering qualities improved immensely. A scope became a familiar feature on rifles in America. They became commonplace by 1975. The fierce competition for the sportsman's dollar resulted in great strides in the improvement of rifle scopes, and a new market for scopes upon handguns was soon here. The optical industry was driven to new heights.

The Leupold & Stevens Company of Portland, Ore., began the design of a new line of scopes, variable powers, fine tuned adjustments that were a good deal better than competitive makes and Leupold, which nearly everyone had been mispronouncing "Leopold." But the surveying instrument maker didn't care. It simply continued to produce superior quality scopes. This was an extensive line with a lot of models, usually more expensive, but sportsmen recognized quality and had the money to spend on it. I personally paid a visit to the antiseptic assembly and manufacturing rooms of Leupold on my visits to the northern Oregon city in Portland's suburbs. But now there are European made scopes of equal quality. Among them are Austria's Swardovsky and the Zeiss line from Germany. And there are others from Europe and America.

The 21st Century rifle or pistol scope that you buy today will be the latest in optical and engineering technology. Yes, they cost more than Grandpa's old Weaver, but they've come a long way and are improving.

Local marksman and hunter Joel Wambach is happy with the Denver based line of Burris scopes. Originally bankrolled by Dr. Paul Brabec of Perham, the Burris offerings floundered upon the untimely death of its optician and founder Bob Burris some years ago. Burris scopes are finely made, and you'll be astonished with the low prices asked for the obvious quality.