Hayes Otoupalik’s ad in the Missoulian’s Hunting/Firearms classified section last weekend offered something the well-known gun collector doesn’t typically deal in.
It read: “Neanderthal’s AKr47 (Assault Komposite Rocks 4”x7”) Up for sale are assault rocks: rugged, crude, heavy, not accurate at long range, but they pack a heck of a punch. They are reliable & easy to use ... even a Neanderthal can use them. Keep in mind that Neanderthals did not have measuring tools, so the measurements are slightly off. The Rock of both Freedom and Oppression. Used condition. $50 All proceeds will be donated to the NRA ... (sold for decorative purposes only).”
“The liberals won’t figure it out, and the gun owners will get a laugh,” Otoupalik said of his joke on Monday. “If I got any money from it, I’d send it on to the NRA. But everybody can get a free rock, and most people contribute their money to the NRA directly.”
Otoupalik has organized the Missoula Gun Show for the past 45 years, and has long experience dealing with military memorabilia. He said he saw the assault-rock gag on an Internet auction site earlier this month and decided to run a local version.
An eBay auction with a similar posting got 51 bids before being taken down with a top offer of $71.
Internet discussion of other AKr47 postings included the question whether such a device could be considered a “basalt weapon” (the poster apologized for the geology humor), and if the rock came with a stick option (answer: no, mounting a stick to it would make it a hammer).
“It was done for the humor of it, but this is serious,” Otoupalik said. “Here’s people with baseball bats beating to rob a guy in Missoula (referring to a recent convenience story robbery) and then there was that guy with his picture in the paper destroying his shotgun. He said he was going to take the gun parts to make a knife, and here a guy gets knifed to death in Dixon, Montana.”
Otoupalik said he believes legislation on gun ownership wouldn’t stop evil people from doing evil things. He supports the NRA’s call to arm teachers as a way of preventing future shootings like the Newtown, Conn., massacre, where a single gunman killed 20 children and six adults before shooting himself. But he added even that would have limited effect.
“If they put a Taser pistol on everybody’s belt in school, the person of ill-will will get a scope on a high-power rifle, climb up in a bell tower, and kill people at a distance until they get blown out of the tower. Evil people – you can’t stop them. In every society, they’re there.”
Since the Newtown shooting, momentum for new gun control laws has grown across the country. President Barack Obama referred to it in his second inauguration speech on Monday, saying, “Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.”
While the NRA has been raising money in a nationwide campaign to challenge state and congressional gun control efforts, Otoupalik said his ad was only a gag and not connected to the organization.
As for the list of other ads from people buying and selling military-style rifles, Otoupalik said the gun market looks to him like the market for liquor must have been just before Prohibition was enacted. But he worries that gun control laws could ruin the market for legitimate gun collectors whose weapons rarely come out of a display case.
“I have a Thompson machine gun and a 100-round Thompson magazine,” he said of his collection. “That’s a $7,500 magazine – very few people have one. And I don’t think my Thompson magazine has hurt a person in my life. There’s been no legal machine guns used in crime.”
Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at email@example.com.