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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Massad Ayoob


Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Why do Latvians oil their gardens?

So their buried AK47s won’t rust before the Russians attack them again.

The joke comes to us from gun-savvy, politically wise Peter Buxtun. Oppressed nations have a long history of their citizens burying their guns. Some in the US worry that the time might be coming for them to do the same.

The January/February 2009 issue of Backwoods Home magazine has a fascinating article by Charles Wood about how he did just that. He sealed a Ruger Mini-14, suitably greased and accompanied by a quantity of ammunition and useful accessories, in PVC pipe and dug it up fifteen years later. The experiment ended with a functional semiautomatic .223 autoloading rifle in fine condition.

Mr. Wood notes, however: “…it took me several days with a shovel and a rake to locate the rifle.” Burying a gun is like burying treasure. If you have a map, you have to worry about someone else getting their hands on said map, because whoever has the map has the treasure…or in this case, the treasured gun. If I was going to your house looking for genuine criminal contraband, I’d ask the judge to sign a warrant that included GPS devices and computer hard drives so we could check places where said contraband might be hidden. If you bury stuff, you need a good memory and stable landmarks, not to mention the ability to cover the “burial site” unrecognizably, and the absolute certainty that no one watched you bury it and you never mentioned it to a soul.

They’re selling “survival guns” now with the PVC pipe to bury them included. Mossberg’s JIC (“Just In Case”?) package includes a stockless 12-gauge pump shotgun and the pipe in which to inter it. I can picture myself standing next to a customer buying one, and feeling my evil sense of humor rise, and hearing myself say loudly, “Hey, does anybody know where they sell metal detectors around here?”

If folks do come with black helicopters to take our guns, they’ll doubtless have metal-finding technology that will reach deep. I’m told that burying them vertical helps reduce their profile to metal detectors, as of course does greater depth. However, metal detection technology ain’t my side of the house, and I’ll defer to those with genuine expertise if they’d care to post comments here.

The old saying is that redress is found in four boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, the soapbox, and finally the bullet box. The ballot box has failed us this time around, but we have another crack at it coming up in a couple of years. The “jury box” has been pretty good to us, since the highest court in the land resoundingly confirmed the individual right to bear arms in SCOTUS’ Heller decision this past June. I’m on the soapbox right now, and so are a lot of us. The bullet box is a LONG way off.

And I don’t think we need to bury it yet.

At the same time, it wouldn’t hurt to keep your Jan/Feb ’09 issue of Backwoods Home handy, where you can review Charles Wood’s good advice if in case it turns out that I have been overly optimistic.

13 Responses to “BURYING GUNS?”

  1. Mitch Gurowitz Says:

    I can offer my back yard for burial of decent guns, but I can’t fully guarantee that i won’t dig them up myself. 😉

    Just wanted to wish you and Gail a Very Merry Christmas Mas. (or should that be ChristMas?)


  2. Danny Says:

    I’ll just keep mine in a bank deposit safe.

  3. Matt Says:


    There are various contermeasures that could be used for hiding/disguising buried guns from a metal detector. However, an experienced operator and/or high quality system would pick them up. If the metal detector rings, start to dig. It also wouldn’t work with ground penetrating radar that would likely be used by authorities.

    Burying guns/ammunition is a decent way to store them long term if you don’t need to access them rapidly, nobody else knows where they are and you don’t have to move or evacuate rapidly. I can think of many places that burying firearms or ammuniton wouldn’t be the greatest idea. Places with high water tables, unstable soil, thin soil etc might not be the best. Hiding weapons within ceilings, walls, floors etc of a building might be better, but again quality metal dectors/radar might make it pointless.

    That said, most of the caches discovered during the current war have been because of someone revealing it, or the ground disturbance/subsidence making it stand out to searchers.

    I’d suggest placing a cache at a location not immediately associated with yourself. Public places would be dicey, but the old family homestead, hunting retreat/fishing camp, etc. Maybe in an old travel trailer parked somewhere safe but not on premises etc…

    Sorry for the long post, but it is an intriguing topic.

  4. Tom Young Says:

    I have bought a few rifles listed in the news paper over the last decade or so. Specifically because there weren’t required to be transfered through a FFL since they were rifles. Have always paid cash when buying ammo for them as well. I think one day we will experience a gun turn in / confiscation. Hopefully it’s still a long time off.

    Yes, I began to think this way once the initial “non” registration NICS checks were required, guess I’m not a very trusting soul.

  5. Joe Says:

    Mr. Ayoob,
    A countermeasure to use if you anticipate people looking for a buried gun is to bury some useless junk, such as old car parts, in the area. You could also place the container in such a way that it appears to be part of another structure, such as a septic line. if the metal detector only beeps at a certain place in the yard, or the ground penetrating radar only shows a single cylinder, they know where to dig. But if the metal detector beeps everywhere and the ground penetrating radar shows objects everywhere, who can say whether that cylindrical thing is a gun case or just another peice of trash?

  6. Shawn Says:

    Mr. Ayoob,

    I live in Canada. Many years ago we also thought that the time to bury our “tools” was a long way off. Today I am not so sure. We have already had weapons confiscated, with more expected in the future. It is never too early to be prepared!

  7. newjerseybt Says:

    Unfortunately all “legal” guns purchased these days have a paper trail. A hypothetical rogue government has unlimited resources to track you down. It doesn’t need to find your weapon. A Stalin type tyrant will not think it is cute to hear from folks “Umm…can’t think where I last placed my gun…I must have lost it”. Such a government will deal with cute answers in ways that will make you wish you never buried your gun in the first place. Our current system of checks should prevent this from happening though as all States would have a say in an attempt to repeal the 2nd amendment. Lots of Dems own guns too.

  8. Dick Says:

    There are plenty of instances where firearm transfers between individuals are completely legal, and thus interrupt the “paper trail”. Do your homework to be certain you are aware of the pertinent regulations. This is not a blanket, one-size-fits-all situation.

  9. Chris Says:

    In Oregon we can legally sell any firearm to another Oregon resident
    without any paper work. I have a paper trail that says I sold all my guns!

  10. easchlottke Says:

    Northern Wi. is full of old logging camps,CCC. camps and
    Abandoned farms.Metal detectors might have a real problem
    in this area.I have one[metal detector] use it a lot and find ton’s of junk.

  11. Jeff Says:

    Reading the old post and realizing that they may indeed be coming for guns. In some states anyway… Really need to plan now.

  12. rich d Says:

    when you bury it cover it or wrap it with asbestos sheets, if you can get any. metal detectors wont pick it up

  13. glen Says:

    the reason to go underground is not just because of the us government may be accused falsely by a ex wife ..ex girlfriend of something you didn’t may have a protection order placed against you based on a false complaint ..perhaps someone took a swing at you and you hit him in self defense!! ALL of these scenarios are possible (the false restraining order happened to a friend of mine) and depending on your local/state laws can lead to state/local police confiscating your guns & ammo !! it may not be the feds you have to worry about. PS.. here in C.T. many gun owners are not complying with C.T.s new draconian gun laws for hi-cap mags & bushmaster type rifles they believe C.T. will use the list in the future for banning & confiscating thier guns/mags.

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