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Machine-gun shortage rattles NRA

September 7, 1986

Some deeply disturbing news from our ever-vigilant friends at the National Rifle Association: America is in the throes of a serious machine-gun shortage. Hard to believe, but apparently true. If you've tried to buy a new machine gun lately or just trade in that rusty old family favorite, you got quite a shock.

That darned liberal Congress has passed a law banning the sale of all new machine guns. Incredibly, President Reagan signed it. The emasculatory effect was to limit the number of machine guns in nationwide circulation to a measly 127,000, most of which are probably in Hialeah. The NRA, whose aim is to guarantee enough guns for every maniac in the country, has launched a new lobbying campaign to persuade Congress to repeal the machine-gun legislation. The effort couldn't be more timely, following the recent slaughter of 14 innocent persons in Oklahoma by a lunatic using three handguns. To think he could have done the whole job with a single Thompson.

Many of you probably hadn't heard about the machine-gun shortage until now, but South Floridians have a special stake in solving the problem.

In recent times the machine gun has become a vibrant and inextricable part of our culture, lending spice and spontaneity to an otherwise dreary drug scene. Thanks to films such as Scarface and TV programs such as Miami Vice, the Ingram MAC-10 is now as indelible a part of South Florida's image as the palm tree. Are we going to sit still while a bunch of pencil-necks in Washington spoil it? Think of tradition. Remember how the legendary El Loco (the original El LocoDade County is probably the only place with more than one) hung from a speeding sedan on the Turnpike and fired away at a drug rival. And who could forget the photograph of the Colombian traveler machine-gunned to death in his wheelchair at Miami International.

Miami just wouldn't be the same without its rat-tat-tat.

True, plenty of machine guns are still out on the streets, but they're getting worn out and junky. We all know what happens when you leave your Gustav M45 lying in the backyardone lousy rainstorm and the muzzle corrodes, the trigger starts to jam, you name it.

The urgent need for new guns was illustrated a few days ago when police raided a crack house in Broward County. Along with cocaine and the usual cache of handguns, two machine guns were seized in the arrest. Believe me, these were the worst looking machine guns you ever saw; they might as well have been held together with paper clips and masking tape.

I'm sure the coke dealers were embarrassed to be caught with such decrepit weapons, but what choice did they have? Thanks to Congress, no new ones are being produced for the U.S. market. They can blame Rep. Larry Smith of Hollywood, who wrote the offending law. Smith says there's no good reason for private citizens to have machine guns, and challenges the gun lobby to come up with any legitimate uses for the deadly automatic weapon. An obvious answer is hunting. What could match the thrill of bringing down a buck with 96 rounds of Parabellum fire at 100 meters? Saves you the trouble of skinning it, too.

So you're not a sportsman? Fine. The machine gun is still an invaluable urban companion. Next time some jerk sneaks in and steals your parking space, feed him a MAC-10 Popsicle and just watch how fast he backs out. Finally, try to imagine what would add more excitement and variety to a police officer's day than knowing that any two-bit creep could have a loaded Tommy gun under his front seat.

So as the NRA pursues its latest quest, all South Florida awaits the day when it's once again possible to gift wrap a shiny new Uzi for that someone special. Maybe even in time for Christmas.

Gunman, shot 12 times, wouldn quit August 6, 1986 | Kick Ass: Selected Columns of Carl Hiaasen | Miami, a city beset by gun problems? Read on! March 7, 1988