To Save One Species of Brown Owl, the Feds Want to Shoot Hundreds of Thousands of a More Adaptable Similar-Looking Species of Brown Owl

Isn’t it interesting that many in the Pacific Northwest and in the federal government want to take guns away from self-defending citizens at the same time that they want to use large-bore shotguns to shoot hundreds of thousands of barred owls whose only sin is that, unlike the spotted owls who they resemble, they are not picky eaters?

(p. D1) In the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest, the northern spotted owl, a rare and fragile subspecies of spotted owl, is being muscled out of its limited habitat by the barred owl, its larger and more ornery northeastern cousin. The opportunistic barred owl has been moving in on spotted owl turf for more than half a century, competing with the locals for food and space, outnumbering, out-reproducing and inevitably chasing them out of their nesting spots. Barred owls have also emerged as a threat to the California spotted owl, a closely related subspecies in the Sierra Nevada and the mountains of coastal and Southern California.

. . .

(p. D5) In a last-ditch effort to rescue the northern spotted owl from oblivion and protect the California spotted owl population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed culling a staggering number of barred owls across a swath of 11 to 14 million acres in Washington, Oregon and Northern California, where barred owls — which the agency regards as invasive — are encroaching. The lethal management plan calls for eradicating up to half a million barred owls over the next 30 years, or 30 percent of the population over that time frame. The owls would be dispatched using the cheapest and most efficient methods, from large-bore shotguns with night scopes to capture and euthanasia.

. . .

The agency’s plan, outlined last fall in a draft report assessing its environmental impact that is due for final review this summer, has pitted conservationists, who say it will benefit both species, against animal supporters, who consider the proposed scale, scope and timeline unsustainable.

Last month, a coalition of 75 wildlife protection and animal welfare organizations sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland urging her to scrap what they called a “colossally reckless action” that would necessitate a perpetual killing program to keep the number of barred owls in check. Wayne Pacelle, the president of Animal Wellness Action and an author of the statement, said it was dangerous for the government to start managing competition and social interaction among North American species, including ones that have expanded their range as a partial effect of “human perturbations” of the environment. “I cannot see how this succeeds politically, because of its price tag and its sweeping ambitions,” he said in an email.

Mr. Pacelle questions whether barred owls, which are indigenous to North America, truly meet the criteria for an invasive species. “This ‘invasive’ language rings familiar to me in our current political debates,” he said. “Demonize the migrants, and the harsh policy options become much easier from a moral perspective.”

The signatories argued that the current predicament warranted nonlethal control, and that the agency’s approach would lead to the wrong owls being shot and to the death of thousands of eagles, hawks and other creatures from lead poisoning. “Implementing a decades-long plan to unleash untold numbers of ‘hunters’ in sensitive forest ecosystems is a case of single-species myopia regarding wildlife control,” the letter said.

. . .

At first sight, it’s easy to mistake a spotted for a barred: Both have tuftless rounded heads, teddy bear eyes and bodies mottled brown and white. They can interbreed to produce chicks called sparred owls. But they differ in their habitat requirements. Up to four pairs of barred owls can occupy the three-to-12 square miles that one spotted couple needs, and barred owls aggressively defend their terrain. “The closer spotted owls live to barred owls, the less likely the spotted owls are to have offspring,” Dr. Wiens said. Barred owls also produce four times as many young.

Spotted owls are extremely picky eaters: In California, they eat only flying squirrels and wood rats. “Barred owls devour anything and everything,” Ms. Bloem said, . . .

For the full story see:

Franz Lidz. “The Lethal Cost of a Rescue.” The New York Times (Tuesday, April 30, 2024): D1 & D5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 29, 2024, and has the title “They Shoot Owls in California, Don’t They?” Where there is a difference in wording between the versions, the passages quoted above follow the online version.)

Bystander With Pistol Kills Heavily Armed Mall Shooter: “Nothing Short of Heroic”

(p. A1) It was an act of pluck and composure worthy of a scene in the movies. But this was real life: A heavily armed man emerged from the bathroom in a Greenwood, Ind., shopping mall on Sunday evening [July 17, 2022] and began shooting — until he was killed by an armed bystander.

Mike Wright, manager of the Luca Pizza di Roma in the mall’s food court, remembers taking shelter when the firing started and then emerging when it stopped to see the bystander behind a low-slung wall with his handgun trained on the assailant he had shot to death.

“He stood there maybe 25 or 30 feet from the body and held that pistol pointed at him until law enforcement arrived,” Mr. Wright remembered on Tuesday. “The good Samaritan guy seemed poised and under control. He appeared to be very disciplined.” Jim Ison, the local police chief, went further, saying that his engagement with the gunman, who had killed three people, was “nothing short of heroic.”

. . .

In a discussion about the Indiana shooting on Fox News, Brandon Tatum, a conservative commentator and former police officer, echoed the N.R.A.’s position that armed bystanders could make an important contribution to peacekeeping. “I think good gun owners, or at least legal gun owners, are the recipe for success against people who do not want to follow the law,” Mr. Tatum said.

This week in The Federalist, a conservative website, the senior editor David Harsanyi noted a number of recent incidents in which armed people were able to stop people with bad intentions from committing acts of violence.

For the full story, see:

Richard Fausset, Eliza Fawcett and Serge F. Kovaleski. “Lifesaving Act in Indiana Mall Renews Debate on Gun Access.” The New York Times (Wednesday, July 20, 2022 [sic]): A1 & A19.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 19, 2022 [sic], and has the title “After Indiana Mall Shooting, One Hero but No Lasting Solution.”)

As Threats Increase, Jewish New Yorkers Embrace “Their Right to Self-Defense”

(p. A17) It’s Sunday morning at Manhattan’s Westside Rifle & Pistol Range, where I’ve come for a safety class as part of my application for a license to carry a concealed firearm. I’m one of at least 10 Jewish men in the class, many wearing yarmulkes. Some wouldn’t have dreamed of setting foot in this place a year ago.

“I was born and raised a Jew, and I’ve lived in Brooklyn and Manhattan my whole life,” says Yoni Ben Ami, who declines to give his age or profession but looks to be around 30. “I’ve never been uncomfortable going around town being visibly Jewish until Oct. 7 [2023] and its aftermath.” Darren Leung, owner of the Westside range, says he’s seen an “exponential” increase in Jewish permit-seekers and members.

We’re thousands of miles from Gaza, but the FBI has warned that threats to American Jews are at an all-time high. Anti-Israel protesters regularly march through the streets, and some commit acts of intimidation and vandalism.

. . .

Minorities of all sorts have availed themselves of the Constitution’s guarantee of self-defense. The Pink Pistols, a gay gun-rights organization, was founded in 2000; the National African American Gun Association in 2015.

. . .

. . . Jewish New Yorkers have come to appreciate how fortunate they are to live in a country that protects their right to self-defense.

For the full commentary, see:

Max Raskin. “New York Jews Embrace Gun Rights.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023): A17.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date November 14, 2023, and has the same title as the print version.)

Outnumbered Kibbutz Volunteers with M16 Rifles Defended Their Families Against Hamas Terror

(p. A1) At 6:56 a.m. on Oct. 7, [2023] Moshe Kaplan sent an urgent alert to his volunteer security force in Mefalsim, a kibbutz of 1,000 men, women and children in southern Israel where he served as security chief.

“There’s a shooting in the village from the gate!” he texted after militants fired at his car as he drove past the main entrance. Attackers later blew open a pedestrian gate nearby with explosives and flooded into the kibbutz.

Kaplan rushed home to grab his armored vest, helmet and M16 rifle, then drove off to check another gate on the northwest corner. There he found armed men were already inside the razor-wire security fence that encircled the community.

“Terrorists in the kibbutz! Terrorists in the kibbutz!” he yelled in a second, panicked voice text, begging his men to hurry. Gunshots sounded in the background. He had trained a dozen men for this moment, a surprise attack from nearby Gaza.

. . .

(p. A10) Mefalsim was one place that day where nothing for the Hamas attackers went according to plan.

Soon after Kaplan’s call for help, his volunteers rushed from their homes in helmets and protective vests worn over the T-shirts they had slept in, toting M16 rifles. Outnumbered and fighting alone or in pairs, the men mounted a life-or-death stand, communicating via walkie-talkie and WhatsApp texts to track the militants and send each other help.

They believed they had to hold off the insurgents long enough for the Israeli army to arrive. At first, they hoped the soldiers would be there quickly. But as minutes passed, and the fighting grew worse, they realized they would have to fight alone.

. . .

Palestinian gunmen who flooded out of Gaza killed 1,400 Israelis and took close to 200 hostages, terrorizing and shooting people at more than 20 Israeli towns and military bases and thousands at an all-night music festival not far from Mefalsim.

In town after town, attackers blasted through security fences that encircled Israeli villages near Gaza, gunning down residents, burning houses with families inside and taking hostages.

. . .

Video from a security camera at the main gate of Mefalsim captured some of the carnage that took place outside the main gate of the kibbutz as people fled the outdoor music festival and tried desperately to get inside, pursued by militants. A man in a white shirt was shot as he ran toward the entrance. He grabbed his right arm and dropped to the pavement, blood spilling from around his head.

Armed fighters emerged from a wooded area minutes later. Several ran to the fallen man and shot him again. Drivers who abandoned cars to hide in the bushes were attacked with grenades. A person pulled from the bushes was shot and bludgeoned with a rifle butt. The video was posted by South First Responders, a group of emergency personnel working in southern Israel, and verified by The Wall Street Journal.

. . .

Over the next hour, there were several gunfights. Security volunteers hunted for the militants who were moving alone and in pairs on residential streets. Two attackers were killed in the garden of a house by four Israeli soldiers who were home on a weekend leave. Two of the soldiers suffered minor wounds from grenade fragments.

Reskin, the landscape architect, came within sight of the main gate and saw a large group of attackers exchanging what looked like congratulations. He fired and they scattered. He next went into a nearby residential neighborhood and joined Idan Mayrovich, the team’s medic. As they walked, they saw Idan Kadosh, a resident, shooting with a handgun from his window, and he joined their patrol.

. . .

No Mefalsim residents were killed or taken hostage, protected by a dozen residents, many of them former Israeli soldiers, who had prepared for years to defend the kibbutz.

Mefalsim also got lucky. Although the defenders didn’t know exactly how many attackers infiltrated the kibbutz, they estimated it was probably around 25 to 30, a group smaller than those that attacked other local communities, which suffered far more casualties.

. . .

“There is a feeling of discomfort that we survived, and others did not,” security chief Kaplan said.

But Mefalsim, at least, had survived.

For the full story, see:

David S. Cloud and Anat Peled. “A Kibbutz Defeated Hamas Attack.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipses and bracketed year added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date October 17, 2023, and has the title “When Hamas Attacked, This Israeli Kibbutz Fought Back and Won.”)

Israeli Who Identifies as “Peaceful Hippie” Applies for Gun License; Minister of National Security Says “Weapons in the Right Hands Save Lives”

(p. A8) GIV’AT ADA, Israel—Since the Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel, Liran Kaminer has been sleeping with an ax, a knife and a first-aid kit within arm’s reach. He has stashed away empty beer bottles and gasoline for Molotov cocktails. And he has applied for a gun license.

“I am a hippie. I am peaceful, I don’t like this whole gun thing,” said Kaminer, 50, who lives near the village of Giv’at Ada in the coastal plains of central Israel. “But if the army cannot protect me, I have to protect myself.”

Many Israelis who never thought about owning a weapon are now applying for one. Israel’s right-wing government is encouraging civilians to arm themselves and relaxing rules to make it easier to own one. Across the country, volunteers are forming self-defense units after the Hamas attacks killed 1,200 Israelis in communities along its southern border, took the army by surprise and left civilians helpless for hours.

Applications for a gun license have gone up 600% since the attack, a huge increase in a country where there are strict gun-control laws. It is a trend that reflects the deep anxiety over personal safety in the wake of the attacks and of the army’s failure to protect Israeli civilians that day.

“Weapons in the right hands save lives,” said Itamar Ben-Gvir, the country’s minister of national security, who has made the arming of Israeli Jews his flagship policy.

. . .

Since Oct. 7, the government has relaxed gun-ownership rules, sped up the application process for new licenses and supplied military-style rifles to new, rapid-response units staffed by local volunteers. It has also expanded the criteria for who can carry private firearms, including residents in additional geographical areas and people who received basic-combat military training.

According to government data, over 265,000 Israelis applied for a gun license between Oct. 7 and early December [2023], compared with around 36,000 earlier in the year. Around 85,000 licenses and conditional permits have been issued in the recent period.

. . .

In Kibbutz Regavim—a farming community in central Israel where residents share child care and volunteer in a communal avocado plantation—keeping residents safe became the priority after the Hamas attacks. Around 30 residents volunteered to set up a rapid-response unit, whose members staff the entrance gate and go on patrols inside and outside the kibbutz. The perimeter fence was reinforced, and broken closed-circuit cameras fixed.

“People felt that what happened in the kibbutzim in the south could happen to our kibbutz, and started getting weapons,” said Shahar Butbul, a resident who helped set up the armed unit.
Members of the unit are mostly men who have completed their mandatory military service and reserve duty, such as 66-year-old Eyal Nabet, a former truck driver.

For the full story, see:

Margherita Stancati. “Security Fears Spur Israelis To Buy Guns.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, December 12, 2023): A8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date December 11, 2023, and has the title “Israelis Flock to Buy Guns as Sense of Security Shatters.”)

Californians Prepare for “Calamity” by Learning Military Tactics and Firing Guns

(p. 8) In the chilly dusk on a recent Saturday, nine people were creeping through the California hills. Their faces were painted in shades of green, yellow, brown and black, so that they blended into their surroundings. Moving uphill through thickets of trees, they tried to be silent, as if not to draw the attention of some unseen enemy. They were conscious of every breath, every dry leaf that crunched underfoot, every snapped twig.

These people were not military personnel. They were just civilians — biotech workers, a masseuse, an entrepreneur — who had decided to spend a weekend preparing themselves for a war, societal collapse or some other calamity.

A booming voice broke the silence: “Camo! Five, four, three, two, one!”

The person giving the order was Jessie Krebs, a wilderness expert who has trained hundreds of U.S. Air Force officers in how to stay alive behind enemy lines through an intensive course called Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE.

. . .

Outdoor education programs, survival courses and military simulations have been in high demand as wars abroad intensify and prospective voters in the 2024 presidential election tell pollsters and journalists about their fears of a civil war or even World War III.

. . .

Mr. Yu said his interest in survivalism germinated after reading “Emergency,” a 2009 book by Neil Strauss on his transformation from “helpless urbanite” to independent survivalist. “The coolest thing to do is to develop a skill set like James Bond,” Mr. Yu said. Of late, he said, he had taken up flying lessons, despite a fear of heights; learned to pick locks; and fired guns.

For the full story, see:

Will Higginbotham and Marlena Sloss. “Getting Ready for the Worst. Just in Case.” The New York Times, SundayStyles Section (Sunday, January 21, 2024): 8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Jan. 19, 2024, and has the same title as the print version.)

“If Something Similar Happens Here, I Want to Know That I Have a Firearm”

(p. A1) Two weeks ago, Zvika Arran reluctantly drew a gun at an Israeli state-run shooting class for those seeking firearms licenses, part of a massive spike in applications since the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7 [2023].

Mr. Arran said he was repelled by the idea of owning the pistol that now sits in a safe in his house. But his sense of security, like that of so many Israelis, was shattered when Hamas fighters overran communities near the Gaza Strip, killing an estimated 1,200 people and abducting more than 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

“God forbid, if something similar happens here, I want to know that I have a firearm,” said Mr. Arran, 48, who lives in Eliav, a small town that borders the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

. . .

(p. A6) Another resident of Eliav, Maayan Rosenberg-Schatz, said that like so many other Israelis, she no longer believed the Israeli military — which took hours to arrive at some embattled communities on Oct. 7 — would reach them in time in a crisis.

Two days after the attacks, she sat down with two of her young children to plan how to escape should Palestinian attackers invade their home.

“We talked about trying to flee to the roof, maybe escaping from there,” said Ms. Rosenberg-Schatz, 42, who applied for a gun license along with her husband. “But in the end, there’s no replacement for having a weapon.”

Ms. Rosenberg-Schatz, who described herself as politically center-left, said she was concerned that proliferating guns might fall into the wrong hands.

“Everyone tells you they’re worried about that — but they still feel unsafe” without a gun, she added. “Suddenly, we feel this fear deep down in our guts, and it’s really difficult to argue with that.”

For the full story, see:

Aaron Boxerman and Talya Minsberg. “Galvanized by Fear, Israelis Arm Themselves.” The New York Times (Saturday, December 16, 2023): A1 & A6.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 15, 2023, and has the title “Private Gun Ownership in Israel Spikes After Hamas Attacks.”)

A.C.L.U. Defends the N.R.A.’s Free Speech

(p. 23) The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association agree about very little. They are often on opposite sides in major cases, and they certainly have starkly different views about gun rights.

But when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the N.R.A.’s free-speech challenge to what it said were a New York official’s efforts to blacklist it, one of its lawyers had a bold idea. Why not ask the A.C.L.U. to represent it before the justices?

. . .

David Cole, the civil liberties group’s national legal director, said the request in one sense posed a hard question.

“It’s never easy to defend those with whom you disagree,” he said. “But the A.C.L.U. has long stood for the proposition that we may disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Mr. Cole’s group has been subject to occasional criticism that it has become less attentive to free-speech principles and more devoted to values rooted in equality in recent years. He rejected that critique, even as he acknowledged that the decision to represent the N.R.A. would not meet with universal praise.

. . .

“It will be controversial, within and outside the A.C.L.U.,” Mr. Cole said. “But if it was easy, it wouldn’t mean as much.”

He added: “In this hyper-polarized environment, where few are willing to cross the aisle on anything, the fact that the A.C.L.U. is defending the N.R.A. here only underscores the importance of the free speech principle at stake.”

In a statement, the civil liberties group drew a distinction.

“The A.C.L.U. does not support the N.R.A. or its mission,” the statement said. “We signed on as co-counsel because public officials shouldn’t be allowed to abuse the powers of the office to blacklist an organization just because they oppose an organization’s political views.”

For the full commentary, see:

Adam Liptak. “A.C.L.U. to Represent N.R.A. in Supreme Court.” The New York Times, First Section (Sunday, December 10, 2023): 23.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 9, 2023, and has the title “The A.C.L.U. Has a New Client: The National Rifle Association.”)

60-Year-Old Retired Musician Says She Will “Fetch a Gun” to Defend Taiwan’s Freedom

(p. A1) TAIPEI, Taiwan—People in Taiwan have been following every twist of the war in Ukraine. But, while their sympathy for the Ukrainian cause is near-universal, the conclusions for the island’s own future widely diverge.

To some, the takeaway is that even a seemingly invincible foe can be defeated if a society stands firm, an inspiration for Taiwan’s own effort to resist a feared invasion by China. Others draw the opposite lesson from the images of smoldering Ukrainian cities. Anything is better than war, they say, and Taiwan should do all it can to avoid provoking Beijing’s wrath, even if that means painful compromises.

. . .

(p. A8) “The young people are the ones who don’t want unification with China,” said ret. Lt. Gen. Chang Yan-ting, a former deputy commander of Taiwan’s air force. “But if you want independence, you need to fight, and they also don’t want to fight. Therein is the conflict.”

Yi-hao, a student in Taiwan’s National Defense University, was an exception. “Before the war in Ukraine, we were taught that Russia’s military power is stronger than China’s, and Taiwan’s military was stronger than Ukraine’s,” he said. “If they were able to resist this long, Taiwan will definitely be able to hold out.” He didn’t want his surname used because he wasn’t authorized by the military to speak.

Lai Yi-chi, who became a lieutenant after graduating from the Naval Academy in June [2023], said that she had been inspired by the bravery and resilience of Ukrainian soldiers, something often discussed in her classes. “We should also embody such spirit and determination,” she said.

Bypassing the official armed forces, some volunteer groups have decided to act on their own, preparing fellow citizens for a possible war. One such group is Kuma Academy, which received a $100 million donation from Robert Tsao, the founder of the United Microelectronics, one of the world’s biggest semiconductor companies.

“We don’t intend to build up a private army,” Tsao said. “But I think their effort will probably increase the resilience of Taiwan’s society. If we know how to hide, how to help each other, how to retain communication, we can pretty much reduce the damage in wartime.” Some of the students also like to learn more martial skills, such as shooting, Tsao said, but Taiwan’s strict gun laws make it difficult. Some 25,000 Taiwanese have been trained at Kuma.

Nico Li, a 60-year-old retired musician attending a Kuma class, said she was unnerved by growing risks coming from China, and wanted to arm herself to avoid being a burden to her children. “Taiwan is an island of treasure. I don’t want to hand it over to others without a fight,” Li said, referring to what she sees as the Taiwanese values of freedom and democracy. “If I have the ability, I would even go and fetch a gun if necessary.”

At another training session, run by the Forward Alliance, dozens of Taiwanese practiced how to stop arterial bleeding with tourniquets and stabilize major wounds. “There is a sense of impending doom, of feeling very hopeless,” said one of the students, Eric Lin. “So, instead of sitting at home and browsing the negative news, I wanted to come here—so that I would be able to do something.”

For the full story, see:

Yaroslav Trofimov and Joyu Wang. “Taiwan’s Impossible Choice: Be Ukraine or Hong Kong.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, July 6, 2023): A1 & A8.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 5, 2023, and has the same title as the print version.)

Environmentalists Want “Shooters in Helicopters” to “Gun Down” Free Range Cows

(p. A13) For the second year in a row, shooters in helicopters will gun down an estimated 150 feral cattle that are trampling habitats in the Gila Wilderness, a sprawling undeveloped area of more than a half million acres within the Gila National Forest in New Mexico.

. . .

Lethal removal of cattle in the Gila Wilderness has long been a divisive issue, with environmentalists and ranchers firmly at odds.

Cattle growers in New Mexico have unsuccessfully sued the Forest Service over the aerial shooting, claiming that the method imperils their privately owned cattle. The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, a coalition of more than 1,000 ranchers, has previously challenged the Forest Service over cattle removal and maintains that shooting cattle from a helicopter violates state and federal laws and regulations.

. . .

The plaintiffs say that if their privately owned cattle are killed, it would be “nearly impossible” to know because the agencies intend to let the carcasses decompose where they die.

Loren Patterson, the association’s president, said he wished the authorities would address the cause of the growing feral cattle population by taking measures such as repairing shoddy fences that allow cattle to enter the Gila Wilderness.

“They are not looking at solving the reason the cattle is there,” Mr. Patterson said, adding that for two consecutive years, federal authorities were instead opting for lethal removal as quick fixes.

For the full story, see:

Christine Chung. “Feral Cattle Will Be Shot From Above to Cull Herd.” The New York Times (Thursday, February 23, 2023): A13.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 22, 2023, and has the title “Feral Cattle in New Mexico Will Be Shot From Helicopters.” The version quoted above omits a sentence that appears in the online, but not the print, version of the article.)

Gun Inventors Were “Inveterate Tinkerers”

(p. A17) Whenever I hear the name Smith & Wesson, I think of the scene in the film “Sudden Impact” when Clint Eastwood’s Inspector Harry Callahan confronts a group of would-be robbers. “We’re not just gonna let you walk out of here,” Callahan tells them. When one of the crooks asks, “Who’s we, sucker?” Callahan responds, in classic Dirty Harry fashion: “Smith, and Wesson, and me.”

In “Gun Barons: The Weapons That Transformed America and the Men Who Invented Them,” John Bainbridge Jr. chronicles the rise of America’s greatest gunmakers—among them Colt, Remington, Winchester and, yes, Smith and Wesson. Many of these American armorers began as inveterate tinkerers in small workshops along the Connecticut River during the mid-19th century, in a region that could be called early industrial America’s fertile crescent. While some of these inventors were focused on rifles and others on handguns, they all shared the same goal: to design a repeating firearm and a reliable, waterproof cartridge containing bullet, gunpowder and ignition device, making it possible to fire shot after shot without needing to reload.

. . .

. . . there was the Volition Repeater, invented in 1847 by Walter Hunt, the creator of the household safety pin. Hunt’s rifle, in theory, could be loaded with up to a dozen cartridges underneath its long barrel. But the complex loading mechanism “never worked quite right,” so Hunt sold his patent and left it to others to perfect his idea. “With this would-be firearm, Walter Hunt had made the nation’s future but not his own,” Mr. Bainbridge tells us. “Among those who benefited from Walter Hunt’s genius were Oliver Winchester, Horace Smith, and Daniel Baird Wesson. None of these gun barons possessed the broadly inventive mind of Walter Hunt, yet all would eclipse Hunt while taking advantage of his pioneering work in weaponry.”

For the full review, see:

Mark Yost. “BOOKSHELF; Repeat Inventors.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, May 19, 2022): A17.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the essay has the date May 18, 2022, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘Gun Barons’ Review: Repeat Inventors.”)

The book under review is:

Bainbridge, John, Jr. Gun Barons: The Weapons That Transformed America and the Men Who Invented Them. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2022.