The Right to Bear Arms: Purchasing Power — Part 2

Arms — AR-15

In response to a Facebook post by a friend of mine involving the AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle I looked up the price of such a weapon.

The closest place I know of to purchase firearms and ammunition is a Turner’s Outdoorsman store about a mile and a half from my house. I looked at their online site and found this: ATI Milsport AR-15 5.56MM Keymod / 16″ Barrel Burnt Bronze w/10 round mag = $549.99.

Including local sales tax that brings the price of the weapon to $598.11 — without ammunition — so let’s say $600 for the rifle.

A 20 round box of ammunition could cost as little as $9.99 + tax or about 50¢ per bullet.

So, for about $710 you could get a semi-automatic AR-15 and 200 rounds of ammunition.

Additional 10 round magazines sell for $14.99.

By my calculations that gives a person an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, 200 rounds of ammunition, and a sufficient number of ammunition clips to hold said ammunition for under $1,100.

And that person only needs to be 18 years old.

To own and drive an automobile a person needs to:

  • Have a driver’s license, having first passed both written and practical tests;
  • The car must be registered;
  • The car must be insured.

To own and shoot a rifle a person needs to:

  • Pass a written and practical test to have and use a rifle?
  • Register the rifle?
  • Have insurance for the rifle?

Remember the statement: guns don’t kill people; people kill people?

If this is true, why do we equip our soldiers with guns? Why don’t we, and other nations, just send the soldiers? Why equip soldiers with expensive weapons when people kill people not guns?

Could it be that nations and soldiers are not blinded by political rhetoric; that they realize the reality of the situation — that guns kill people, lots and lots of people.

Final thought: after the initial cost, what is a life worth? About 50¢ — now that’s purchasing power.

The Right to Bear Arms: Purchasing Power — Part 1


When this nation was founded in the late Eighteenth Century the predominant weapon used by an infantryman was a flintlock musket. A proficient musketeer could load and fire his weapon two or, maybe, three times in a minute. The weapon had an effective range of about 100 yards.

The American Long Rifle (Kentucky rifle, Pennsylvania rifle) was accurate — could hit a man-sized target — at a range of 200-250 yards, but was slower to reload than the musket. The slower reloading times were due to tighter tolerances required for the bullet to make use of the rifling — spiral grooves which caused the bullet/ball to spin and thus increasing its accuracy.

Pistols were also single-shot weapons requiring similar load times of the era’s muskets and rifles — the six-shooter weapons of our Western movies had not yet made an appearance on the scene.

These were the weapons in use when our “founding fathers” wrote and adopted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (including the 2nd Amendment).

There were no semi-automatic or automatic pistols and rifles capable of firing several rounds a second or hundreds of rounds a minute. And yet, deaths in battles and wars still reached into the hundreds and thousands.

These were still the basic weapons used during the American Civil War of the 1860s. The opposing armies were each made up of tens of thousands of men and boys — and casualties in a single day “often” exceeded 10,000.

It seems to me that most of the mass-shootings in the US over the last several years have occurred at close ranges; i.e., at distances of less than 50-100 yards. The shootings at schools such as Sandy Hook Elementary and Douglas High School occurred at ranges of less than 50 yards. Thus, it is not the weapon’s accuracy but its rate of fire that is important.


A large infantry platoon might contain 50 men. In the late 1700s such a group of soldiers might fire their muskets a combined 100 to 150 times in a single minute. Today, a single individual, using an AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle can fire a like number times per minute — limited only by the strength of his trigger finger and the time it takes him to reload (change ammunition clips).

How might Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton and Madison and other “founding fathers” have written the 2nd Amendment to the U. S. Constitution had the weapons of today been in existence in the 1790s?


Perhaps, just perhaps, we should visit that question again.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the 2nd Amendment should be repealed and another, better suited to the weapons of today, adopted in its place.

And perhaps, just perhaps, Mr. Trump is more right than he realizes; perhaps we need to examine the mental health of our entire society. A society which places the “right to bear arms” above the lives of its children.



Gifts for the Teacher

Teachers occasionally receive gifts from students and/or their parents. Some are useful; some are just bizarre. A coffee cup (of which I received several dozen over the decades) is useful; a scented candle — just bizarre (at least, for me).

I still have a number of unused Starbucks cards — which I keep in my car, just in case.

A friend of mine teaches elementary school in a nearby district and receives many such gifts each year.

This last Christmas one of her young ladies, Sara, brought her a basket of organic fruit — her father manages the produce section of a local market.

Timmy’s father owns a florist shop and he brought a marvelous bouquet of white roses and red carnations.

Sean, whose father and mother own and operate a wine bar frequented by my friend and her colleagues on “in-service” days, brought her a rather large and heavy box.

My friend lifted it up and noticed that it was leaking a little bit. She touched a drop of the liquid with her finger and tasted it. “Is it wine?” she guessed.

“No,” Sean replied.

She tasted another drop and asked, “Champagne?”

“No,” said Sean . . .



“It’s a puppy!”




Yesterday I was at Costco buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Donald-John, the Wonder Dog. I was stuck in a rather slow check-out line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had an elephant?

The Purina Diet

Now, I’m retired with a lot of time on my hands and few outlets for my sense of humor. A sense of humor my students thought was rather “wicked,” especially when an administrator walked into my classroom while I was telling stories. I was a History teacher, after all.

So, on impulse, I told her that no, I didn’t have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn’t, because I ended up in the hospital last time. On the positive side, however, I’d lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and the way that it works is, to load your pants pockets with Purina Nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete, certified, so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.)

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care, because the dog food poisoned me. “No,” I said. “I stopped to pee on a fire hydrant and a car hit me.”

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. Costco won’t let me shop there anymore. Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say.

Sun Bath
Sun Bath

Coffee for Me


I began drinking coffee as an undergraduate student at Cal-State Los Angeles. In those days it was a State College rather than a State University. I liked being able to schedule my classes for just two or three days a week, but that meant long days. It was “institutional” coffee that was served in the “Top of the North” cafeteria or in the Student Union, and I had to drink it with too much cream and sugar.

After graduating in December of 1971, I did my student teaching and had a concurrent internship. That meant I taught a 60% load and got paid at a 40% rate at Oak Avenue Intermediate School in Temple City, California and spent the next forty years teaching in Orange and Villa Park, California.

Forty plus years drinking teachers’ room coffee–sometimes so thick I’d cut it with a knife and drink it with a fork.

For my first several years at Yorba JHS in Orange I had breakfast most mornings at Poncho’s on Tustin Avenue. I became such a regular that as I walked into the restaurant one of the waitresses would put my cup of coffee on my “usual” table or spot at the counter. She’d keep it full until I was ready to leave. Rich always had my breakfast ready at five to seven–good coffee and strong enough to get me ready for a day full of teenagers.

One morning a new waitress complained to Rich that no one had ordered the meal he had just put up for her. He said it was mine. She looked in my direction and I confirmed it. Yum, chili and cheese omelet, hash browns and sourdough toast. Of course, that was back in the days when I ran six or more miles per day and could eat like that.

At home I had a variety of drip coffee makers over the years and usually brewed Yuban coffee. In those years when my classroom(s) was too far from the teachers’ lounge/office to get coffee between classes I’d bring a large thermos and drink from it most of the day.

I couldn’t drink coffee late in the day or I had trouble getting to sleep. This even happened with decaf. I guess my mind/body just thought coffee = caffeine stay awake and do something.

For the last ten years or so I’ve used a Cuisinart coffee maker that has an internal grinder so I could have fresh ground coffee in the morning–it made good coffee–but the grinder was difficult to clean and became more trouble than it was worth. It was easier to use my small electric grinder rather than the one in the coffee maker.

In Retirement

Most of the time since I retired in 2012 I’d drink most of a carafe and, as thrifty (cheap) as I am, I’d microwave the rest the next day. More? I’d use my wife’s electric teakettle to heat some water and make instant coffee. The same if I wanted decaf in the evening, my body having adapted to caffeine, or lack thereof, in retirement.

But, instant coffee isn’t really coffee or, at least, doesn’t taste like it is.

A buddy of mine solved a like problem with the purchase of a K-cup machine.

Hmmmm . . . too expensive (remember I’m thrifty). I didn’t like the idea of more trash (K-cups), and I still have a good coffee maker.

Decided to look for a machine which would brew both a regular pot of coffee and single cups.


Well, I found a Cuisinart that would do the job–for two hundred dollars–ouch! I also found a Hamilton Beach for eighty dollars that would brew a pot, a K-cup single and came with a K-cup sized filter for using my own ground coffee. But, remember I’m thrifty; I sat on the idea for several weeks.

Last week I shopped for the Hamilton Beach on Amazon and found it for $79

I found the same model at Target for $89. However, if I ordered it online from Target the price was $79 and another 5% off with my Red Card. So, I bought it online and picked it up at our local target.

Washed everything out last night and brewed a pot this morning — mmmmmm, delicious coffee. This evening I’ll try the single serving side with some decaf and see the result.

PS: Had a whisky instead of decaf. Sunday morning I had one cup remaining in the carafe and zapped that in the microwave to drink while I read part of the morning paper. Read the rest of the paper while sitting on the exercise bike and then fixed Charlie’s breakfast and another cup of tea.

Rather than make a full pot of coffee I decided to try the single (K-cup) side of the coffee maker. Filled my coffee cup with water, poured it into the single-cup reservoir and inserted a Trader Joe’s Medium Roast K-cup. A few minutes later I had my second cup of coffee — ahhhhhh . . .

Note: Currently, I’m drinking a blend of Trader Joe’s Medium Roast and their Kenya AA.

Another Note: Right after I graduated from CSCLA the name was chanced to CSULA (University). I was sent a letter offering a new diploma with the “University” name for a one-time payment of $50. Think I got one? Remember, I’m thrifty; No Way, Jose!

At my feet
At my feet