BANG! You're Not Dead

By Kit Hayden | Jan 23, 2014

Newcastle — Many years ago, when my children were young, our family was preoccupied with the sport of swimming.  (Aside: Too much so, I now realize, but that addiction was as nothing compared to the way youngsters are programmed today. Lighten up parents.)  There were practices every night, meets every weekend, often a fair distance away. As some of you probably know, swim meets can be ossifyingly boring, especially the large ones, as heat after heat of eight or twelve year-olds churns the chlorine.  One can feign interest in other parents' children, but we are really only interested in the performance of our own progeny.

Much of the deadliness can be avoided if the chap running the show is tyrannical.  In summer league swimming he rarely is.  To ensure such efficiency, and also to relieve the tedium of the meets by participation, I decided to become a referee,  I passed the requisite requirements of U.S. Swimming, and subsequently ran all the home contests for our club.   My principal duty was to be the starter.

In those good old days, races commenced with a gun shot.  In the event of a false start the air would ring with a cacophonous volley worthy of a John Wayne western. What fun!  Nowadays, as you know, in our kinder, gentler generation we use a soothing buzzer.  We wouldn’t want to frighten the little tykes now, would we?

I purchased a starter pistol and used it for many years.  Now it serves no purpose whatever except on stage when some violence is indicated.  I have used it once in performance.  It was amazingly loud!  That woke ‘em up.  So I decided to part with my piece.  Nobody’s going to pry that gun from my cold, dead hand.  (Aside: Gun: I recall that we were not allowed to use that term when I was in army basic training.  If you did, the sergeant would have you running around a field clasping your rifle in one hand and your groin in the other shouting, “This is my rifle, this is my gun!  This is for fighting, this is for fun!"  It can get really stupid in the military.)

I listed my pistol on eBay.  My listing was yanked within minutes of posting.  I was informed of an MC999 Listing Policy Violation.  “Due to laws and regulations, the sale of most firearms, weapons and related items isn't allowed.  Certain types of weapons and related items may be listed. However, sellers must follow our guidelines…”  A starter pistol is not allowed.

I decided that this policy was ridiculous.  The barrel of a starting pistol is a solid rod, what mischief can befall?  People may be frightened, but they cannot be harmed, short of a pistol whipping.  After scratching about I found an eBay number to call and argue my case.  Amazingly, within seconds I was talking to a real person who was thoroughly conversant with eBay policy!  She explained to me that some guns that cannot be fired can be auctioned, provided their picture displays a red plug in the muzzle.  I gave up.  I’m not going to find one of these red plugs in Lincoln County, and even if I could, it would not be possible to stick it in the non-existent muzzle.

My next step was to Google model and manufacturer of my starter .22 blank revolver.  I discovered that about six months ago, a like item was posted on which, as you might expect, is less touchy-feely than eBay.  The pistol started at $90 and eventually sold for something like $128 after spirited bidding.  With reluctance (I don’t want to be known as a gun guy, because I am not) I joined the gunauction group and listed my gun (?); the auction to run for a week.  I suggested a $90 starting bid.

Nothing happened for five days, and then I received a message from Elitist, “I assume that you do not require an FFL for that starter gun.”  A Federal Firearms License for a gun without a muzzle?  In our over-regulated society I wouldn’t be surprised, but I assured Elitist that none was required, and he put in a bid.  It was the only bid I received, but better than none.

The gunauction web site asks for a voluntary contribution to the NRA.  I think not Charlton.  All that Second Amendment brouhaha bewilders me.  Now I’m delighted to be firearm free; not that it wasn’t fun to have that pistol, once, a long time ago.

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