In 2017 I went on vacation to Marfa, TX, with Bruce and Elaine. It’s in the Chihuahuan desert; there, dropped steel has a long life on the ground. Seeing steel, and knowing I could geotag what I picked up using my phone’s camera, I started a solo scavenger hunt. It covered a campsite; a former US military base (now a part of the Chinati Foundation); the grounds of hotels, diners, galleries and museums; and the dusty streets and sidewalks of the town.
I wrote this quote down, not because it’s particularly relevant to what I’m researching, but owing to what I do, and really, who I am, it was very ‘sticky’.
P7: “Here, on the cusp of its demise, gunsmithing entered a golden age of craftsmanship. Gunmaking was similar to the high-end crafts of silversmithing and goldsmithing, clock-making and pewter works.”
That cusp was brought about by the opening of US government small arms manufacturers at Harpers Ferry and Springfield Armory (not to be confused with the much later Springfield Armory, Inc.), in the late 1700’s, which soon brought with it machine production/mass production of weapons for the US military. And as with most of the industrial revolution, mass production of small arms and ammunition spelled the end for the individual gunsmith. It’s interesting, especially in a series exploring the horrific outcomes of gun use, to think of guns before mass production and commoditization. When guns were hand made (and not always that well) for individuals, and parts were not interchangeable, making repairs as idiosyncratic as the weapons themselves.
Which, strangely, reminds me of this Beretta ad from a few years back that looks like a short film (actually, that’s how it was marketed.) I remember thinking at the time that they were really pushing hard on the craft angle to create desire for this object. I found, and still find, parts of it quite discomfiting, because of its blatant appeal to my craft/artistic sensibilities – it’s seductively produced, and the weapon is being made with great craft ability, and seemingly, great care. That said, seeing it again now only just outside of the time period in which it was produced, there are several parts that would be laugh-inducing – if not for the actual object being so carefully stage-managed through it’s “production”.
/ / / Back to the purpose of this post, and for the gun-spotters, incidents 38 – 42 netted no new guns being entered into my drawing archive today.
Tyler Matthew Balais (25) was shot with a hand gun by girlfriend Kassandra Lorrenne Imbert (22) around 12:40am on the 1st.
The pair had been drinking at a local downtown bar New Year’s Eve when they got into a fight. At one point Balais had locked Imbert out of their home at 617 High St. She later got in and was taking down Christmas decorations when he went upstairs and pulled out a pistol, threatening to kill himself, according to testimony. He and Imbert wrestled with the gun and it went off, shooting him in the head.
The bullet was found lodged in the ceiling, according to Imbert’s defense attorney, Mark Costello.
It was not the first time Balais had threatened suicide. In almost the same circumstances, he had been fighting with a former girlfriend and they had wrestled over the same gun. It went off, but no one was injured, Costello said.
In September Imbert eventually pled no contest to negligently causing his death and received a sentence of five years probation. As to reports, it was a handgun – and we’re up default Pistol 1.
Christian Rosales (21), was shot when leaving a New Years party with friends around 2am. From KSBW8:
A man approached them asking for change for a $20. When the group said they didn’t have change, the man aimed a gun and replied, “Well that’s too bad homies cause you gotta give me everything you got,” Torres said his brother recalled. “He was pointing the gun at everyone.”
Rosales attempted to overpower the gunman to protect his friends, Torres said.
Rosales was shot once in the stomach, and died at the scene. The gunman fled.
“His courage saved my brother. He’s a hero,” Torres said.
Salinas police Cmdr. Stan Cooper said no suspects have been identified in the killing, and no arrests were made. Cooper said some witnesses have come forward.
Alonzo Cortez (22) was hit by celebratory fire at about 12:15am on New Years Day. He was taken off life support at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital on Monday at 5:11pm. Officers investigating at the scene noted many people firing as well as fireworks going off well into the morning. Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office Inv. Chris Robinson said “We have no idea where it came from or what caliber.” This is our second accidental death after celebratory fire.
We’re back to Default Pistol one.
There is really little known about the next double murder, other than that father and son were shot within minutes of one another outside their dwelling, and that neighbours didn’t react as quickly to the gunfire as they might have because they were used to hearing gunshots on New Years. Lavar Edwards, 39 and Dejuan Davis, 21 were shot at about 4am, soon after which Edwards was seen running back towards his home, bleeding profusely. Both died from their wounds. DP 2
Another one from the Archive with precious little detail. The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to a call from Anacoco made around 7pm on New Years Day. They discovered Calvin Stubbs, aged 30, and Norma Ross, aged 48, both dead, who witnesses told them were shot by Derrick Ross (36), Norma’s nephew. Derrick was later found dead near the property, from what the Coroner’s Office determined was a self-inflicted gun shot wound. DP1
To pick up where I left off last Monday, I’d just mentioned that around 71% of all homicides in 2012 involved hand guns. My next self-assigned task is to find the most popular hand gun in the USA, which is a harder ask than what it might look on paper. I have found out that of hand guns, pistols are more popular than revolvers, at least nowadays (The last time the USA manufactured more revolvers than pistols is 1986). According to this, in 2015 the US made more than 3.5 million pistols, (and it made over 100,000 thousand more rifles than that), I can’t tell if these stats includes those destined for the military (I hit a paywall, one in which I may yet invest). I realise this is just manufacturing, and does not account for weapons exported, but this NBC report from 2012 says that as of 2009, the Congressional Research Service puts the numbers at “an estimated 310 million firearms in the United States (not including weapons on military bases), of which 114 million were handguns, 110 million were rifles, and 86 million were shotguns.”
“The AFMER report excludes production for the U.S. military but includes firearms purchased by domestic law enforcement agencies”
According to their data, in recent years (I’m sticking as close to 2017 as I can) imports have well outstripped exports – 2013 imports of hand guns: 3,095,528, exports in same period: 188,889 (pistols: 167,653 + revolvers: 21,236). And local manufacturing produced a combined total of 5,167,008 hand guns, the bulk of which (4,441,726) were pistols. So I think we can safely say that the 2015 figure above was not inclusive of military.
All of which proves what was intimated last week, the most popular US gun is a pistol. But what kind? No-one is handing out that data, unfortunately. When I searched I came up against a proliferation of less-than-adequate top ten lists; everyone with a vested interest, from gun store sites to news outlets (looking at you, CBS News) wants to give the curious reader a top 5, or 10, or 50. (I’m not going to run you, gentle reader, the risk of trashing your google mojo and ruining your online ad tracking data through one thoughtless click, so I’m not going to link those articles. I’ve done my utmost to protect myself, so I’ll let you know if I post anything even slightly questionable.)
Suffice to say, my top 5, culled from the #1 spot from six different most popular/best-selling gun lists, is:
01/ Kel-Tec PMR-30
01/ Colt M1911
01/ Smith & Wesson M&P Shield (this was a multiple #1 place-getter)
01/ Sturm, Ruger & Company
01/ Honor Guard 9mm
I’m sparing us all the images associated with these lists (often stills from movies; Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis are memorable repeat offenders) as well as a few other names that were repeated multiple times with similar placements in the lists.
The best list, in my own option, is the one I will finish with; a great Mother Jones top-10 which is safe for y’all to read. The subhead says it best:
“Meet the moguls making a killing from gun sales in the United States.”
Needless to say, their ten is a scorcher, and at #1 is a familiar name: Sturm Ruger. (That’s the Wikipedia link, and I recommend it over http://www.ruger-firearms.com/ any day.)
Now knowing that I simply don’t have the resources to find the biggest selling pistol of all time in the US (because, for better or worse, my search stops today. Hey, I know, surface barely scuffed, but this is just the first stage in building a collection of weapons on which to base an object work that will eventually be exhibited in a gallery, and I gots to move on…) I’m going to work with a Sturm, Ruger & Company weapon as my default pistol, thanks to this research. This may or may not be the gun used in the homicides that I will now continue to focus on, but since Ruger is based in the US, makes the most amount of hand guns domestically in a year, is on my list of all lists in taking the biggest share of gun sales, and makes the bulk of its profit from hand guns (see the Mother Jones article quoted above for most of this detail) and since Ruger features in Wikipedia’s list of Most Produced Firearms with pistols, revolvers and rifles, I think they’re as good a candidate as any.
Now to decide which model.
// coda //
Just reading the Sturm, Ruger & Co. Wikipedia link from above, and I see I need a second trigger warning.
“A Ruger AR-556 was used on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas in the mass killing of 26 churchgoers who were praying at the First Baptist Church”
Further to my last post – I’ve just found out thanks to the indomitable Harriette E-B via the lovely Sarah Holden that SNAG has a list of jewellery schools in the US and Canada [opens a PDF – allegedly only accessible if you’re a SNAG member but I wasn’t logged in when I checked…]. It’s pretty comprehensive, although a little old (it’s dated 2012 and even my untrained eye can see a few changes not marked as yet – mostly noticeable through staff movement.) But even more incredibly – (this will please you, Dr Kevin Murray 😉 ) it includes one Australian jewellery school. Design Centre, Enmore, take a bow!
The AJF twitter account did ask the pertinent question – what would the rest of the world look like? A very good question – and something I’d like to see. As is a visualisation all of the data contained in the SNAG listing, using separate layers for differing program outcomes, like certificate vs associate degree vs degree vs mfa programs, and community vs state vs private colleges. Or in Australia, Tafe vs university vs private schools. And not to forget (again!) the rest of the world.
In fact, I’m ready to appoint editors for the rest of the world. It’s pretty easy to add a layer and drop in points and type in all the relevant data. Does anyone want to take on their country? This kind of data mapped online would be an indispensable resource for students, job seekers and travellers alike. In fact as I’ve already learned the hard way once this week, it might already exist. Do you know of a map with any of this data on?
Also in the directories section of the SNAG website is links to other useful things like guilds, suppliers, photographers and the big one, galleries! Here the rest of the world, including Australia, is far better represented, though it’s harder to tell how recent it is. Lesley Craze is still listed, but then her gallery closure is only a few months old, while relative newcomer Atta Gallery (est. 2010) in Thailand is not. But then again, nor is Bilk Gallery, a stalwart of the Australian scene.
It’s great to see that SNAG has these resources, though as I have already commented elsewhere, it’s amazing that they never appeared in my numerous google searches over the years – which could be explained by the login wall (mental note, ask TurboNerd). There are, however, AJF and Metalcyberspace lists that are available (Metalcyberspace is slightly more comprehensive, so long as you’re in the northern hemisphere. AJF is only of member schools, and is very short.) And using another engine (DuckDuckGo) the Society of American Silversmiths list came up (which is even more out-of-date unfortunately), so always check your search engine since your browser may be tuned owing to google’s ‘personalised search‘.
BTW – thanks for the comments/emails, I’ll geto to adding them on my ‘housekeeping’ day 😉