Friday, February 22, 2013

In Montana Town’s Hands, Guns Mean Cultural Security

Jerry Fisher’s big and careful arms cradled a polished cutout of English walnut, which was aging in his workroom like a fine wine. The slight tapering along one edge gave a ghostly hint of its future as the stock of a handmade hunting rifle. His eyebrows lifted as he explained the properties of this piece of walnut. “This wood will assume the moisture content of the atmosphere you store it in,” he said. “It takes five or six years to dry it.” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. may feel, as he said Tuesday, that people who want to protect their homes would do best with a simple shotgun. But Mr. Fisher, 82, is aiming at a higher target. A gunsmith whose exquisite firearms, some decorated with designs by fine artists, have attracted customers from around the world, Mr. Fisher built on the work of older gunsmiths in the region, just as younger ones hope to learn from him. He epitomizes the values of the Flathead Valley of northwestern Montana, where people grow up with, relax with and live around guns. Since the 19th century, hunting has been a pastime in the forests that climb up the tiara of rocky peaks around Flathead Lake. Members of the growing group of high-end gunsmiths say it is the mountains, the air and the game that draw them, not the presence of other artisans. But the area’s reputation for this kind of gunsmithing has also made it a growing destination for more prosaic manufacturing of gun parts and guns — including high-end semiautomatic rifles and military weapons. In Kalispell, the seat of Flathead County, 250 people earn a living making guns or gun parts, a tenfold increase since 2005. That growth helped mitigate the effects of the recession, which was a body blow to construction, a major local employer. Another longtime industry, logging, has also withered. Homicides with guns are relatively rare in the area. There have been three in Kalispell, a city of 20,000 people, out of six murders total in the past 12 years, said Roger Nasset, the local police chief. His officers are never surprised to find a gun inside a car they stop for a traffic violation — and seldom bother to discuss it, much less confiscate it. Montana’s laws on gun possession are among the least restrictive in the nation...more


Anonymous said...

My guess would be that Montana's gun laws are among the least restrictive because people there really know what guns are for....hunting, protecting livestock, or for sport shooting. People in larger urban areas have forgotten that and their children often don't understand what guns are for or even how to hold one properly.

I with the NRA would do more education and outreach on teaching people about how to use guns and have a healthy respect for them....instead of just opposing gun laws...they could do sooooo much more with their power...with power comes great responsibility.

Just some food for thought.

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