McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Breaking News

Features

August 6, 2013

Machine guns, cannons and drones at Arizona's Big Sandy Shoot

(Continued)

MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. —

A cannon isn't technically a machine gun, since it fires one round at a time. But shooters can shoot anything at the Big Sandy Shoot, including homemade bowling ball launchers.

I join several ear-protected onlookers staring at the cannon. Someone says it was built in 1942. We're careful not to stand directly behind, in case it backfires.

The cannon guy is oblivious to the attention. He's a graceful, slender man with a cryptic smile. He looks to be in his 40s and wears a Panama hat, an immaculate sports shirt and tailored slacks, as though he'll soon be heading off to a golf game at the club. He's in a cannon-firing Zen trance, mechanically loading and shooting, loading and shooting, loading and shooting. Later, I ask him his name. He won't give it. He doesn't want to be photographed. He looks rich.

But then again, there must be a lot of rich people here. Machine guns sell for tens of thousands of dollars, thanks to Ronald Reagan. In 1986 the Republican president signed the Firearms Owners' Protection Act, which prohibited the general public from owning, buying, or selling machine guns manufactured after the 1986 law took effect. Broadly, the law says military and law enforcement officials can still own machine guns, but civilians can only own machine guns that were grandfathered in.

"Machine guns available to the public are a finite resource," Jose Wall, a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix, told me before I left for the shoot. "So what's in circulation back then [1986] is in circulation now." And that's a little less than 100,000 machine guns, Wall told me.

All of this explains why from the get-go the machine guns at the Big Sandy Shoot seem always to be giving the shooters trouble. Something about the way the shooters use wrenches and rubber hammers to coax the guns to shoot again reminds me of taxistas tinkering with ancient Fords in Havana.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
NDN Video
What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.