ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND – 13 rounds in the magazine, plus one in the chamber. You could fire this thing 14 times without needing to reload. Only problem is, there’s a shortage of bullets due to a sudden surge in demand…
A few nights ago, a colleague sent me an image of their latest acquisition: a Heckler & Koch P2000. It’s German engineering at its finest: a pistol that’s light enough in the hand to draw and aim with ease, but heavy enough to dampen the recoil and ensure that second bullet follows the first. There’s a brutal grace to its design – blocky yet compact, and with a sandy tan grip that might suit a Middle Eastern landscape… or the sunny streets of California, where my colleague lives.
And even better – it’s made with lefties in mind!
I remember learning in school how left-handed soldiers in ancient Rome were forced to train and fight right-handed. The key strength of the Legion was the ability to fight as a single unit, and they couldn’t let lefties compromise the structure of their battle formations.
I had assumed this was something left-handed soldiers in modern military forces didn’t have to deal with any more. But then Charlie Morris over at The Fleet Street Letter Wealth Builder informed me the rifle he carried as a Grenadier Guard – the SA80 platform, which remains standard issue for British Armed Forces – can only be fired right-handed. Try firing it from your left shoulder and you’ll get whacked in the face by the bolt as it flies back, and receive a face-full of hot spent cartridges for your trouble.
No such problem for civilians living in the States though, where ample supply of ambidextrous firearms meets left-handed demand. My colleague is left-handed which was a deciding factor in his choice of the H&K. There’s a magazine release, a slide release, and a decocker on both sides of the weapon.
(It’s ironic how good the Germans are at making guns when you consider how woefully underequipped their military is. It’s odd to think that this fine firearm comes from the same country which sent their soldiers to a NATO exercise with broom handles instead of machine guns a few years ago. Though considering the German government’s endless appeasement of the Chinese Communist Party though, I can’t say I mind…)
But what would drive you to buy one?
With the exception of Northern Ireland, it’s illegal to possess a handgun in the UK, and I highly doubt the Scottish government will change its mind any time soon, so I doubt I’ll be buying and brandishing an H&K of my own anytime soon.
It’s Eoin Treacy, who lives out in Los Angeles, who’s just bought one. He’s no gun-nut; he’s lived in the US for many years, but until now he never felt the need to own a firearm.
“Fires and earthquakes are a nuisance but don’t faze us. People are a different matter” he says. During the riots in the summer, rioters were threatening home invasions less than a mile away from his house. I can’t say I blame him – in fact, I imagine I’d have reached for my Second Amendment rights a lot sooner than he has if I were in his position.
It appears that he hasn’t been the only one in LA wanted to get “tooled up”. There was a shortage of hollow point bullets (banned in theatres of war by the Hague Conventions, but ideal for home defence) at the local gun store due to exceptionally high demand.
The civil unrest we’ve seen over the last year marks only the latest low in a governance slide that has gone on for years. As he detailed in a recent note:
In 2014 theft of anything less than $950 [in California] was made a misdemeanour [in the state]. It has been a bonanza for thieves. Criminality has become big business and the lockdown riots were like all their Christmases came at once. On my block four cars have had their wheels stolen in the last 18 months. There is very little the police can do. Videos are popping up everywhere of shoplifting from all kinds of stores… The shoplifting ordinance was upheld by popular vote in the recent election so there is no end in sight to this trend.
We had the opportunity to take a lease on a prime retail location in September on the corner of Hollywood & Highland. It’s ground zero for Los Angeles’ tourist area and the pandemic meant the lease was attractive. We decided to forego it, because who wants the hassle? The reality is casual crime and the risk of being sued are major impediments to many people starting brick and mortar businesses. Quasi-political social unrest adds another dimension to that. Ecommerce is not free from a version of shoplifting but it’s an easier business model overall…
Support for strong policing and zero tolerance of crime tend to move in cycles. It generally has to get bad and affect the lives of most people before they are willing to vote for “hard-on-crime” policies. Until then, the rights of the underprivileged are given priority at everyone else’s expense.
Terry Pratchett made the observation in the Discworld series that there is no crime without police. It’s a play on Berkeley’s thought experiment, “if a tree falls in the forest does it make a noise if no one hears it?” If we change the law and defund the police, crime statistics improve, but the reality of life is altered. Governance is a trend and unfortunately in the US it has been pointing lower for a while now.
Not long ago, political activists who said they represented Black Lives Matter came knocking at Eoin’s door looking to raise funds. Now to be clear – this may well have been a perfectly innocent fund-raising effort to support a worthy political cause. But the manner in which the “pitch” of these activists was conducted, led him and his wife to suspect that the goal of this door-to-door operation was not actually about raising money; it was about identifying which households in the neighbourhood support them and which do not. Eoin’s wife, who’s from mainland China, drew correlations with the Cultural Revolution.
Eoin’s tale of feeling the need to be armed amid the growing civil disorder reminded me of a quote by an investor called Daniel J Want:
When confidence collapses in the private sector, this is deflationary – when confidence collapses in the public sector, this is inflationary.
I don’t know about you, but my confidence in the UK public sector continues to plumb new lows – a bear market in faith that just doesn’t end. The bureaucratic bloat and profligacy of the government makes me feel ever more pessimistic for the purchasing power of sterling, and ever more optimistic about the purchasing power of what sterling used to be: silver.
But one wonders what kind of “inflation+” might occur were we to see a collapse in confidence in the public sector of the US driven by its citizens. As the largest economy in the world and the issuer of the global reserve currency, such inflation would not be contained within its borders…
Wishing you a good weekend,
Editor, Capital & Conflict