Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Double-Barrel (Vanished) Curiosity

(This post has been updated to reflect the fact that someone, presumably Hirst, has figured out that it is impossible to have an over-and-under single-barrel shotgun. The column has been changed online, Hirst apparently having recalled that it was a Winchester he used to tote for personal protection. The absurd claim that small children take AK-47s into the classroom remains, at least for the moment, as originally published.)


WHAT A remarkable America awaited David Hirst when he moved to there in the 1980s. According to his account of US “gun culture”

1/ Children take AK-47’s to school for show-and-tell, and teachers are more or less fine with this

2/ US cops offer guidance in how best to shoot troublesome neighbours

3/ Savvy, gun-smart American friends equipped him with a shotgun for personal defence

4/ That shotgun was a weapon the like of which no gunsmith has ever seen. On the one hand, according to Hirst, it was “an over and under”, meaning it had two barrels. In the same breath, he describes it as “single-barrelled pump-action killing machine”

5/ He was beaten up not, just by a thug but by a top-shelf Aryan Nations thug.

Oh, and one final curiosity. Early in his column, Hirst recalls being threatened with a pistol in a Carlton pub by career criminal and Pentridge hunger-striker Christopher Dale Flannery.  This happened in 1981, according to Hirst, which is very odd because Flannery had been behind bars since late in 1980, awaiting trial for the murder of bent lawyer Roger Wilson. He remained in custody until his acquittal in October of the following year, which still did not leave Flannery much time to be sporting small arms in an Elgin Street waterhole better known for artsy regulars like playwright Jack Hibberd. As Flannery left court he was immediately arrested and spirited off to Sydney to face another murder charge.

Hirst is an SBS documentarian, so it would be wrong to doubt a word he says. Wrong, but very hard not to.

UPDATE: Hirst's reference to a double-barrel shotgun with but a single barrel has been removed and the column re-written. It now reads, "A friend delivered a Winchester shotgun capable of killing close up or at a good distance."

Shouldn't Fairfax also be posting a little advisory that the text has been corrected?

UPDATE II: In a further bit of tinkering, Hirst's column is now graced by a note announcing it has been amended to correct "an incorrect description of a weapon". That is not the classroom AK-47, evidently, which remains in the copy. Readers wishing to see the improbable original will find Hirst's handiwork sealed in the aspic of ink on paper copies of The Age.

UPDATE III: A Fairfax insider writes: "Some of us hoping the redundancies will persuade editors who publish this crap to get out and get lost."   

34 comments:

  1. There's no reference in the linked article to an "over and under" now. Has that been changed?

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  2. Odd that, I lived in the States from 1977 until 1980, Washington DC of all places, and yes, it was rough and violent.

    However, no-one brought guns to schools, especially not AKs (why Aks one must ask?) and no-one paraded around with them like half rate cowboys.

    Hirst, it would seem, is simply lying to get his point across.

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    1. Agreed, the AK was a Soviet gun, and no American man, woman or child would dare be seen with a commie gun. Any child would have brought the M-16 to class, or the Desert Eagle pistol or - for the paranoid home owner - the .44 magnum, cause Dirty Harry said it was the most powerful handgun in the world. As was the fashion at the time.

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    2. There are a lot of AK-alike semiautos in the US. Many are not original AKs but manufactured in Soviet satellites, or derivative designs explicitly made for the civilian market. It is however a federal crime to possess any weapon with 1000 feet of a school, and has been for at least ten years.

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  3. A shotgun that can kill at a goodly distance.

    What are we talking about here?

    Birds? Small Vermin? by the nature of it's charge a shotgun is not a good killing machine in anything but close quarters.

    Great for nailing pigs with a large slug at less than 5 metres or birds with birdshot at shortish distances but bugger all use at "goodly distances".

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    1. Well he did say 'good' and not something like 'long'.

      I find 5m is a 'good distance' to watch my plasma screen - maybe that is how far he is talking about :P

      (on a slightly more serious note, it has been recorded in studies that most urban handgun shootouts occur at ranges under 5 metres with large degrees of missing the target completely. To be able to achieve hits out to say 10 to 15m with a shotgun, when taken in comparison to the above handgun ranges, probably 'could' be regarded as a 'good distance')

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  4. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.July 25, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    By all accounts it was pretty much obligatory in 1980's Australia to exaggerate the dangers to one's good self after any trip to the US. Additionally, these Gonzo-journalism wannabes living here in the small beer of Lotus Land had to beef up the size and dangers of the Aussie pond by claiming acquaintance with any local thug of notoriety. Explains all.

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  5. Over-under shotguns (not "over and under") are typically used in skeet shooting. Double barreled (side by side) shotguns are a bit old-fashioned but are still good for scaring off revenuers. Pump-action shotguns are indeed single-barreled but have a second "barrel" (magazine) underneath which holds the spare shells. Depending on how many shells it holds, the magazine may extend the full length of the barrel.

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  6. Point five. That isn't what he claims. He says he was stopping his car to prevent an assult on a woman at night in a small town by members (plural) of the Aryan Nation (a white racist prison gang) savagely beat him. Implausable. That simply isn't what those guys do. A group of them were assulting a woman ? If they were trying to rape her he would probably have included that, as it is more dramatic. So were a gang of them assembled to smack a chick about after dark in a country town? Has the ring of pure invention. He basicly lays out a check list of glamourous/notorious bad ass types and invents scenarios where he interacts with them. How does he know they are AN and not regular skinheads? Does he get this backgrounding "when police got involved" and he had to get a gun. Were they then out for him or was he planning on carrying his pump action killing machine about with him everywhere just in case? Even as fiction, which it clearly is, this piece fails miserably.

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  7. The Australian film 'Undead' does have examples of both three and five barreled pump action shotguns.

    And if it's in a zombie movie it MUST be true!! :)

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  8. i tried to comment on Hirst's article to let him know that Christopher Dale Flannery was otherwise disposed in 1981 and couldn't have been at the pub with him, but oddly comments are now closed on the article.

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  9. Correcty:

    "An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect description of a weapon."

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  10. Would any sane person give this man a gun,Likely to shoot himself in the foot.
    Whoops already has.

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  11. "a Winchester shotgun capable of killing close up or at a good distance."

    Well no.
    An extremely short range weapon, with steel shot a 12g 3" Magnum choked correctly is effective on ducks to 40m if you can make a 70 kph passing shot.

    Firearms attract fabulists.

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  12. Simple essplanation

    The reported incident in the Carlton pub in 1982 is simply a mistake made in (outsourced) sub-editing and type-setting at Fewfacts Meeja.
    The reference to “Christopher Dale FLANNERY (aka Mr Rent-A-Kill)” should have read "Timothy Fridtjof FLANNERY (aka Mr Rent-A-Dill)".
    Apparently a lively debate erupted in the front bar between Rent-A-Dill and Hirst about the cause of dinosaur extinction.
    Despite his renowned obtuseness, Hirst was getting the upper hand in the debate, at which point Rent-A-Dill pulled a gun.
    Rumour has it that Rent-A-Dill is still “packing heat” in the form of dodgy IPCC papers.

    I know.
    I was there in short pants selling the Sporting Globe.

    The Irish Lion

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  13. It is in artsy Adelaide that the kids bring guns to school and fire them off.

    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/schoolyard-shooter-13-escapes-conviction/story-e6frea6u-1226430929818

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  14. Typical leftie. A tragedy happens and their first thought is, 'how can I use this?' (Byron in Wahroonga)

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    1. You're right. That's what they're after.
      Josie Q.

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  15. 2 supportive comments after the article, more like footnotes really, and then "comments closed"? How very interesting. One would have hoped he, or the Age, would have been sporting minded enough to allow Americans the right of response to such inflamatory libel.

    The timing of publishing this fantasy of his is interesting as well. First, I note he certainly didn't publish that crap while he still lived in the US. Perhaps he was concerned that ass-kicking he claims he received would be become a self-fullfilling prophecy.

    Second, he apparently decided to save up all that fiction in some dark recess of his colon until the time was right to pile onto the anti-gun furor following the actions of a fellow socially distorted nutcase.

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    1. He should have proof of the arse kicking he received in the form of bills or receipts from his treating hospital.
      What?
      He didn't go to hospital?
      Not an arse kicking then.

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  16. FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN: Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.
    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN: And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you.

    Monty Python predicts the rise of SBS documentarian.

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  17. I wonder if Media Watch will be onto this.

    Whilst they're at it they might want to have a look at Martin Flanagan's fictional account of the idyllic paradise of Yuendumu.

    But am not holding my breath.

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  18. Brendan O'Neill had a piece in the Tele on the history of gun-control in America, and this para bears repeating:

    "One of the great mysteries of modern politics is how gun control came to be seen as a natural Left-wing cause. Following the horrific shootings in Aurora, Denver, the usual lineup of Left-liberal activists and commentators have pleaded, for the ten thousandth time, for America to get rid of its stupid constitutional guarantee of the right to bear arms and to clamp down on gun ownership. This is the default setting of virtually every observer who considers himself of the Left, particularly those outside of America, who love nothing more than to look down their long noses at the Wild West-style, gun-wielding, blood-spattered mess they believe modern America to be."

    Quite so.

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  19. P.S. You should try to grab a screencap of pieces like this before you point out their errors, to catch them in their post-publication stealth-editing. Yes, they belatedly mentioned that Hirst had "misremembered" the gun he'd been given, after that was pointed out, but what else did they also change?

    http://uploadscreenshot.com/ is a handy tool for capturing entire pages, or you can use a print driver that "prints" the page exactly as it stands to a .pdf file.

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    Replies
    1. Spot, you are right; I'm a slack individual at times. But in this instance there is no need for a screenshot. The over-under single-barrel miracle gun is there on ink and paper in yesterday's Age.

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    2. No worries. And even with the edits, the majority of tweets of his article are from Americans laughing at him. God bless the world-wide web. And good catch, Prof.

      Delete
  20. Brian of ThirlmereJuly 26, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Gee, imagine how delighted SBS schlockumentary watchers would be with a collaborative effort by David Hirst and Tim Dunlop? Every box ticked. All the right prejudices reinforced, and all the fashionable bigotry of the age audaciously delivered with salivating, sanctimonious outrage.

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  21. He should be referring to the "AKM", which replaced the "AK-47" in 1959.

    Cheers

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    Replies
    1. Why? There are plenty of semi-automatic AK-47s (7.62x39) and fully automatic AK-47s (even in The People's Republic of California where they were grandfathered in).

      There are also plenty of the civilian versions, like the Saiga.

      Sure, Russia and the Soviets moved on from the AK-47, there are are still plenty in the world.

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  22. It sounds like the typical wildly inaccurate view of the U.S. entertained by most people who have never actually been here. Or people who tell stories to impress people who have never been here.

    It would appear that Mr Hirst left off the part where he was chased by wild Indians and was only saved by the intervention of Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley.

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  23. He really should be careful here. He might inadvertently provoke some 'one-upmanship' from one of the Rudd brothers. When trying to establish your position in the pecking order, one needs to be very wary when encroaching on marked territory!

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  24. The AK47 were prohibited imports in the USA after the Gun Control Act of '68.
    In '86 the machine gun registry was permanently closed, so even a US manufactured AK wasn't available.
    I suppose that if the school kid was over 18 years old, lived in a state that did not ban machine guns, found a 20 year old war trophy for sale, passed a federal back ground check, had the local police chief sign off on his good character, waited six months and paid an excise tax equivalent to 60 hours work at a minimum wage job, plus the cost of the gun, then he could of taken an AK47 to show and tell.
    Seems logical. To a leftist.

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  25. I'd love to ask Mr. Firearms Expert Hirst how he pronounces "Kalashnikov". I'll give you 10 to 1 odds he gets it wrong.

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  26. If you do think guns are bad, the AK47 is probably just about the most "evil" gun that could ever exist. It can kill a man sheltering behind a brick wall. If you walked around in Kigali with one of those people would shudder. The idea that people would be walking around a primary school with one, without ill-effects, is obviously ludicrous.

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