The Saga of Congressman Hoyer and the Henry Rifle

This fall being an election year, I have seen alot of my Congressman, Democratic Caucus Chairman Steny Hoyer from Maryland. At the Fall National, the most rapidly spreading rumor was that the Clinton Administrations' Crime Bill package had actually outlawed the importation of foreign manufactured Henry Rifle reproductions. Shortly after I had been exposed to that rumor, I braced Congressman Hoyer while we were attending the Huntingtown VFD Breakfast on October 15. Now, I didn't start hollerin' from across the engine bay that he was a no good so-an- so, I approached him, introduced myself, and asked if he had a minute to discuss my concern. We sat down over a couple of styrofoam coffee cups and talked for awhile about skirmishing, reenacting and my concern about a senseless ban of historically accurate reproduction arms. To his credit, Congressman Hoyer allowed as how he himself had heard of no drug crazed gangs with Henry Rifles terrorizing our inner cities, then took my name, address and phone number and promised to get back to me.

The response from the Congressmans' staff was immediate. Ms. Beverly Gilyard faxed me a copy of the "Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act." Included in the act, as Appendix A, are more then 600 weapons which are exempt from the provisions of the act. Section 110106, page 213 includes:

Uberti Henry Rifle

Navy Arms Henry Carbine

Navy Arms Henry Trapper

Navy Arms Iron Frame Henry

Navy Arms Military Henry Rifle

E.M.F. 1860 Henry Rifle

Mitchell 1858 Henry Replica

Cimarron 1860 Henry Replica

It would appear, therefore, that our fears about interference with our Second Amendment rights are misguided. Rather then tar- and-feathering our local Congresspersons (I am so politically correct since I wrote my first safety column), perhaps a few letters recognizing the wisdom of including Civil War reproduction weapons in the exclussions to the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act would alert these individuals to our constant monitoring of their actions in this arena.

It is not the purpose of this particular column to discuss how the Henry rumor was started. I would be distressed to discover that misinformation was spread purposefully in an attempt to bolster opposition to the Assault Weapon ban. Rather, I want our readers to know that, in this one instance, some forward thinking individual(s) acted responsibly by exempting reproduction Henrys from the ban consideration. It may not happen again if we don't let Congress know we support their efforts to allow responsible gun ownership. You can write your Congressperson or Senator at The Congress of the United States, Washington DC 20515.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention an occurrence at the Fall National Skirmish. My team, The Chesapeake Artillery (4th Maryland Arty., C.S.A.), is relatively new, and we have only five carbine shooters on our squad. As fate would have it, eight shooters are required to field a complete carbine team at a National Skirmish, and we were unsuccessful in finding any pick- up shooters prior to the beginning event, which is 32 clay pigeons mounted on a cardboard backer. As background to the story, guess which one of the five spent the 30 minutes prior to the commencement of activities grousing and complaining that if we couldn't filed a "full" team at a National, we should forego the event. It was pretty quiet when we walked to the line for the first relay. What transpired next filled my heart with such astonishment that I was momentarily speechless. Of the five competitors, four shoot muzzleloading carbines; the fifth shoots a Smith. Shooting with the concentration of a tiger, we cleared all 32 targets with about 5 seconds to spare. Every man on the team stepped away from the line with a new personal high on the carbine pigeon board. Even more joyful were the cheers of our fellow skirmishers on the line. They were cheering and yelling for the five of us like we were their carbine team. I'm serious when I say I was awed. There were atta-boys, smiles and pats on the back from teams at our position and up and down the line for two or three positions. The entire event served to case-harden my enjoyment of skirmishing. My teammates hitched it up a notch (I haven't mentioned not having a Carbine Team at the National since!), and together we accomplished a remarkable feat. I'm still grinning a month later.

You should be reading this at about Thanksgiving time, and I'm always thankful to live in a country which guarantees private citizens the right to keep and bear arms. I'm also thankful to be a skirmisher and reenactor, because it connects me to my past and my countrys' past. I'll be carrying that same carbine in a couple days down by the beaver pond deer hunting. After dragging out a 200 pounder last year (by myself-no thanks to my brother and so called hunting buddies!) I'm looking for a nice tender 100 pounder this year.

The period from Thanksgiving to Palm Sunday is a time for planning and building projects, and repairing and maintaining your ordnance. Make sure you have cleaned all your weapons well, and applied a liberal coat of protective oil. Winter is usually a season of dry air, but you don't want to get caught with a rusty musket at that first 1995 event! Long nights and short days should force me indoors more to finish our series on building muskets, so until the next issue, shoot safe and have fun.

(c) 1994 by Tom Kelley
return to homepage

go to Tony Beck index

go to Tom Kelley index

return to homepage

go to Tony Beck index

go to Tom Kelley index