Monday, June 23, 2008

A Story about the Betar Rifle & Pistol Club

In response to an inquiry at the Betar discussion list, Winkie wrote this:

as head of Betar I had to go into the city to register the 10 gund we had as part of our Rifle Club, 6 .22s and 4 .30-30s
(Chuck - right?).

Anyway, I went to a police station near my home in Queens so I could also see my parents f or a few hours - and get properly fed.

As it was summer and we were a Zionist camp, I walked into the station with 10 guns under my arms, tanned brown, longish and unkempt hair, shorts and sandals.

They thought I was invading on behalf of the Weathermen.


Barak responded:-

The big bore rifles were U.S. M1 Garand, in .30-06 Springfield caliber.

Those rifles, and the .22 rimfire training rifles were property of the U.S. Dept. of Defense, Office of Civilian Marksmanship, and were loaned to Betar. There was an annual grant of free ammunition, as well, in both calibers.

The program was run with the intention of teaching kids to shoot, and at that time, in the USA in the 1960s, there was still the military draft. The thinking was that many of the kids who learned to shoot under proper supervision and coaching, would come to the army with shooting skills and would require less training by army instructors.

I don't know if the program is still offered.

Larry Silverman was officially tasked by the U.S. government, with keeping track of the firearms and ammunition, when they came back to NYC from camp at the end summer. He would then apply for a new complement of ammunition for the following summer.

As the guns were registered to the U.S. government as their property and were on loan to Betar with official documentation, why did you have to register them again?

As to the Weathermen, (for younger members), they were a domestic U.S. terrorist group who did bombings and bank robberies all over the country during the 1960s.

Their name came from a line in a Bob Dylan anti-war protest song: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing".

"Weatherman" is a name used in some parts of the country, for a weathervane mounted on the roof of a building.

Best Regards,
Bruce Barak Koffler


and Winkie replied:-

As to why I had to register them, I can't recall. Maybe it was a simple bureacratic exercise or maybe it was other paperwork activity. Larry (Levi) wasn't around and I for sure do not recall anything about how we received our ammo. All I knew was that the guns were passed down from generation to generation.

Below is my picture that I used for the registration and three documents (in my original name) attesting to my proficiency and my membership in the NRA and the local club that served us (I am sure someone has stories about Joe Adams who lived on Holland Avenue in the Bronx).

I don't think, at that time, that we had a separate Betar Club but in any case, I don't have a membership card left over.


Chaim Fishgrund adds:-

One year, I believe it was during the 1967 - 1968 academic year, Baruch Kraus, Aaron Kinsberg and I shared an apartment in the Bronx. I remember that we had 3 of the M1 rifles in the aprtment. I have no idea how they got there and what happened to them. Aaron, Baruch - do you remember?



Anonymous said...

Sounds about right
I remember getting the same looks when I was gun custodian


Anonymous said...

I'm sure I saw your photo in the Post Office.

Something about attacking a police station in Queens.


Anonymous said...

I remember somebody-- maybe Joe Adams who was "The Betar Gunsmith" in NYC. Apparently he tested his repairs, by firing into a stack of telephone books, in his apartment!

It must have been quite noisy, because he had some hi-powered items.

He came out to camp once, in the early 1960s, with several firearms for use on the rifle range. He drove around with a trunk full.

YMedad said...

He was short and roundish, as I recall.

Shachna Waxman said...

And who could forget Al Schneider/AKA Artemis Arms who lived not far from the Manhattan Moadon. he had enouvh guns/ammo in his little apartment to start WW III. I had given him David Sprung's(?) 30/30 Lee Enfield, that I some how inherited, to sell and the next thing we here is that Al was arrested for shipping arms to the IRA and we never heard from him again


Shachna Waxman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca said...

What Does The Bee Do?
What does the bee do?

Bring home honey.

And what does Father do?

Bring home money.

And what does Mother do?

Lay out the money.

And what does baby do?

Eat up the honey.

--------- by Age Of Conan gold

Anonymous said...

I can update you about the gun club (or at least the M1's) till the mid-'70's. I inherited the mantle of head of the Betar Rifle and Pistol club (and we did have membership cards) and registered the rifles in my name. It was around 1975, The rifles, including 4 M1s, were kept chanined in a locked gun cabinet in our offices. I think. Anyway, when we were moving to new offices on 42nd st., between 5th and 6th, across from Bryant park, someone say the rifles and called the police. They came and took them away, along with Shlomi Levi (the shaliach). He was, unfortunately, released. The guns not. Anyway, I went down with Barry to Police headquarters on Centre Street to release the guns. The cops were amused and I fielded questions such as "What ya gunna do, clean up Bryant Park?". Getting out was interesting. Barry refused to carry the guns, either gun shy or simply concerned that we'd get arrested immediately for some reason. Try carrying 10 rifles and not pointing them at anyone, especially not to a cop in the middle of Police headquaters while Barry is saying, "don't point at anyone". The next day, I received a call from some army Colonel, saying that the Defense Department wants the M1s back. He wouldn't take no for an answer. So, with a heavy heart, I stripped and packed the M1s and shipped them back to the army.

Jonny Friedman

Shachna Waxman said...

Barry, gun shy - hardly!
I also remember once having the guns confiscated, from the Brooklyn Moadon on Flatbush Avenue by the police, (better not say why) and having to "bail" them out. I also remember that some of the M I ammo we had was packed in cans for submarines and were loaded with grease, and some of the bullets jammed in the rifles.
Ah, memories