Fun With The American Rifleman from December 1967

I randomly pulled a back issue of The American Rifleman from my stack earlier this week to do a little night time reading. This one was from 1967, which makes is close to 50 years old now. Like most things 50 years old, alot of interesting curiosities caught my eye, like this story about the best way to get new shooters started.


Of course, what immediately caught my eye was that the new shooters were girls, high school seniors in fact, from the National Gardens Baptist Church Sunday School in Falls Church, Virginia.

Also striking was the photo captions, e.g., as can be seen in the photo above: “NRA Staffman Dave Harding instructs LOVELY Linda Rosser. . .” In another photo we learn that “PERKY Alyce Hylton finds the bullseye from the prone position.”

The more serious point of the story was the benefit of learning to shoot seated at  a bench rest rather than prone. “Women, especially . . . would be more attracted to the sport if its initial steps didn’t involve a change of clothing, strapping into slings, and other bothersome preparations for settling oneself on a floor mat.” Because men enjoy those sorts of things?

Perhaps I am well ahead of my time in the world of gun training, despite being a neophyte in the gun culture, but when I took my pre-teen kids shooting for the first time I naturally thought to have them shoot from a bench rest rather than prone. None of us wanted to get down on the ground, young or old, men or women, boys or girls.


I am also always looking for material on concealed carry in these old magazines. As is often the case in these older issues, I had to look pretty hard. But I found a small ad near the back of the magazine for Safariland Holsters. The Model 14 (on the far left in the picture above) is an inside the waistband holster for small frame revolvers and autos and comes with the “A&R Hideaway Clip” — whatever A&R means. Access and retention? If anyone knows, please let me know.

Also on the concealed carry front was a story titled, “Gun Permit Renewal Takes Two Years.” It concerns one Robert Pemberton of the well-to-do Philadelphia neighborhood of Chestnut Hill. For 40 years Pemberton had a license to carry a pistol under Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act, a may-issue law that required applicants to have “good reason to fear an injury to his person or property.” After a “drastic gun control ordinance” was passed by the City of Philadelphia in 1965, Pemberton’s permit to carry was not renewed by the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections after the Philadelphia Police Department disapproved his application because he had not proven he had good reason to fear injury. According to the Philadelphia PD, Pemberton had “never been assaulted, threatened, or robbed.”

“Pemberton, like any other Philadelphian owning a pistol, could still keep the revolver in his home, but he couldn’t legally carry it on his person. For the average citizen, the matter would have ended right there. It takes money to fight City Hall.” Pemberton, however,  had the time and resources to take his case to court, and two years and several thousand dollars (real money in the mid-1960s!) later he won his case.

To add insult to injury, when Pemberton won his appeal in 1967, his application for a carry permit was approved for 1966 and he was told by the Department of Licenses and Inspections that the permit was already expired! His attorneys countered that permits were “effective one year from the date of issue, not from the date of application.” This argument won the day and Pemberton finally received his permit in October 1967.

What would come of Pemberton’s renewal application in 1968? Who knows? But the article concluded that “it is obvious that Philadelphia police want to drastically curtail the number of private citizens legally entitled to carry a pistol. And most citizens don’t have the means or willpower to lick City Hall.” True that.

The moral of the story according to the magazine’s editor, Ashley Halsey, was this: “This case reveals how bureaucrats can arbitrarily deny the right to bear arms under firearms licensing. This trend is growing. Connecticut, by contrast, recently set up a State review board to safeguard the right.”

It is interesting that Halsey looked favorably upon Connecticut’s apparently fairer may-issue regulatory scheme instead of looking to Washington State, for example, with its shall-issue approach to permitting.

Concluding note: Pennsylvania became shall-issue in 1989.



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