OFFBEAT OREGON HISTORY: A weekly newspaper column that has evolved into a suite of public-history resources, including:

  • ... a daily podcast
  • ... a weekly RSS feed
  • ... a Facebook page
  • ... a Tumblr feed
  • ... a calendar of live history shows in pubs
  • ... a browsable Web archive (352 columns, at last count)

It's accessed through an anchor page, linked here.



WICKED PORTLAND: A book about the late-1800s underworld of Portland, Oregon, including ...

  • ... Rascally politicians
  • ... Saloons and gambling dens
  • ... Naughty ladies of every description
  • ... Shanghai artists and their victims (and would-be victims)
  • ... Corrupt cops and mayors
  • ... The world's dumbest-ever drug smugglers

Published by The History Press in June 2012. Here's a link to the "lost chapter" (cut from the book for lack of space); the main web site for the book is here.



PULP-LIT PRODUCTIONS is a publishing house in which I am principal partner. It specializes in annotated editions of pulp-fiction classics. Titles published to date include The John Carter of Mars Trilogy by Edgar Rice Burroughs and The Hour of the Dragon by Robert E. Howard. Upcoming projects include The Tarzan of the Apes Duology (October 2015) and The Lost Continent (December 2015), both by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and The Novels and Novellas of H.P. Lovecraft (March 2016).

The details are here.



MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS: Some published, some not, accessed through a table of contents, here.

The airplane pictured above, by the way, is the one featured in this story, which is one of the best things I've ever written. Do check it out.



ABOUT ME: Everything you need to know, and a bunch of extra stuff you don't, about Yours Truly.



An AR-15 shooter argues for gun control

Dear fellow shooting-sports enthusiasts and gun owners:

nous sommes tous japonais
The New York Post, a newspaper not known for pulling punches,
was very critical about NRA chief Wayne LaPierre's position in
the wake of the Newtown shooting. (Image: New York Post ,
Fair Use)
By Finn J.D. John

I’m gonna give this to you straight: Either we come up with a gun-control solution that we can live with, or one will be imposed on us. By force. Within three years.

Here’s why:

As you know, there is a problem with people who should not have guns getting their hands on them and using them in horrifying ways. It’s rapidly reaching a point where it’s a top-of-mind issue for almost the entire country.

Anti-gun activists, of course, see this primarily as a gun problem. Their preferred solution, of course, is a gun ban. And, well, right now it’s the only actual solution on the table.

Everyday people have, in the past, not been sympathetic to gun bans. But that’s beginning to change. Have you noticed this? I have. And you can’t blame them. Here’s what they’re seeing after every one of these mass shootings:

Anti-gun activists take to social media to call for various types of guns to be banned, and to wonder how many more must die before the public sees the light and does so. Their message is clear, coherent and actionable, and enhanced by their moral outrage.

And on our side – the gun-rights side? We see Wayne LaPierre and the other NRA stooges trying shift all the blame onto video games as they spout shockingly irresponsible nonsense about good guys with guns and pistol-packing grade-school janitors. The few specific suggestions they’re making are ideas that would send any responsible gun-safety instructor straight into an apoplectic fit (if you’re not clear on why that is, Google “CDC accidental discharge statistics”).

So, to recap: Anti-gun message is clean, easy and do-able. Pro-gun message is reactive, disingenuous and irresponsible. These are the two sides that are vying to set public policy on guns.

Now add to that the growing conviction of the public at large that something needs to be done. Some kind of positive step has to be taken to curtail this relentless drumbeat of killings. What will it be?

If that step were to be taken now, there would be two alternatives on the table: a clean, elegant ban favored by anti-gun activists, versus the NRA’s incoherent finger-pointing.

If we in the shooting-sports world don’t get behind some kind of sensible gun control, we will instead get gun prohibition – if not prohibition of all guns, at least of some of the “sexier” ones.

Effective, non-intrusive gun control doesn't have to reduce the freedom of law-abiding citizens to have, collect and shoot whatever they please. Obviously, background checks are the lowest-hanging fruit, and the NRA has hemorrhaged moral authority by opposing them. I, personally, would be in support of an actual gun handler’s license being required, with background checks and education requirements. (I’d draw the line at registering the guns themselves, but I don’t see a handler’s license as any more of a brake on freedom than concealed-carry permits are).

That proposal may not work for you. That’s fine; but now, let’s hear yours. If all you want to say is “no,” then you’ll have yourself to blame when the guns are banned.

This is our problem – the shooting community’s problem. We must solve it. If we continue to be unwilling to solve it, others will solve it for us.