Handgun buyers living in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. or California must choose their new gat from a state-approved list. Like to keep up with modern handgun design, safety and innovation? California’s added exactly one handgun to their buyers’ list since 2006 (Chris Dumm’s preview to follow.) If the cops catch you with the “wrong” gun you’re going down. In terms of long guns, the Golden State has all sorts of arbitrary and inconsistent rules about “assault rifles.” One thing’s for sure: no .50 caliber rifle for you Dude. Fortunately, the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA) is out there, somewhere . . .
I caught up with jefe Reid Woodward [above] at SHOT. Reid defended the “sporting aspects of the .50 BMG cartridge.” The FCSA works to protect their members’ passion for shooting the big-ass bullet at targets that are a long, long way away. Preferably 1000 yards. It’s a small group that’s grown in fits and starts.
“We got between 3600 to 4500 people,” Ried told TTAG in an Arkansas drawl thicker than a pair of Glocks strapped to the side of a doublewide. The overall pool of potential members is “gittin’ bigger. Whenever the government takes a run at the fifty, people start buyin’ ’em. They know it’s the tip of the spear . . .
“When California banned the .50 we had a mad rush. People coming in that would say, ‘I don’t own a fifty, but I want to stop them taking it away from people . . . After the ban, the FSCA came in with the .50 DTC to get around the laws.”
[Wikipedia: The .510 DTC Europ uses the same bullet, but has slightly different case dimensions. The new round has almost identical ballistics, but because of the different dimensions, rifles chambered for .50 BMG cannot fire the .510 DTC, and therefore rifles chambered for .510 DTC do not fall under many of the same legal prohibitions.]
When I mentioned the connection between the .50 and Mexican drug lords (the purchase of which was enabled by our friends at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), Reid didn’t want to go there. “I’m more afraid of being shot by a .22,” the transplanted Arizonan admitted, sensibly enough.
Citizens who fall afoul of the law in Maryland may not be so sanguine. hometownannapolis.com reveals that state police are “investing” taxpayer’s money in
a new range toy an “anti-terrorist” .50 caliber rifle.
After some finagling last year, the county Police Department cobbled together a .50-caliber Zel Custom Manufacturing sniper rifle for $2,723.
“We are here to prepare for the worst,” said Capt. Frederick Plitt, the commander of the department’s Special Operations Division, which includes the county’s SWAT teams.
Only one other police department in Maryland appears to have a .50-caliber rifle in its arsenal: the Maryland State Police. According to a spokesman, the state purchased two Barrett M95 rifles in 2007 for its SWAT team, officially referred to as the Special Tactical Assault Team Element. The pair cost $9,800.
“They are used in high-risk situations,” said Elena Russo, a spokesman for the state Police Department. “They can defeat a lot of barriers other ammunition cannot.”
The problem, Plitt explained, was that the department had few options if a terrorist tried to drive a truck bomb into a local building. County snipers – there are about a dozen – routinely carry .308-caliber rifles. The guns are powerful and accurate, but not great at stopping a runaway truck.
One shot from a .50-caliber rifle, however, can take out a vehicle’s engine, according to Sgt. Jim Phillips, a leader of one of the county’s Quick Response Teams.
“You’ve got a little league pitcher and a major league pitcher,” said Phillips, comparing a .308 rifle to a .50-caliber rifle.
Plitt stressed last week the gun would only be pulled out for “extraordinary police events” – like a terrorist attack. It will not be deployed for more routine hostage stand-offs and bank robberies.
“It’s not an anti-personnel gun,” he said.
Hey California! Did you hear that? The fiddy ain’t no damn good for shootin’ people. (If nothing else, concealed carry is a bitch.)
Meanwhile, people, do the right thing: buy a .50 caliber rifle ASAP. Our friends at ArmaLite await your call. [h/t/ to David Brown for the news link]