1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Lover of birds, seller of guns

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Harry Tuttle, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. Harry Tuttle

    Harry Tuttle Well-Known Member

    Doug Grow: Lover of birds, seller of guns

    Doug Grow,_ Star Tribune
    September 16, 2004

    I go through life constantly being surprised.

    Tuesday evening, for example, I stopped by Koscielski's Guns and Ammo shop on Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis, figuring there would be a big truck backed up to the door, with suddenly-legal weaponry being lugged into the store.

    I figured that everything from grenades to machine guns would be available to the gun crowd, given the fact that our stalwarts in Washington allowed the federal ban on assault weapons to bleed to death as of Monday.

    "So what can I buy here today that I couldn't buy last week?" I asked Mark Koscielski, the owner of the shop.

    (Koscielski, it should be noted, is the man who coined the phrase "Murderapolis," a label that stuck for a painfully long time after it showed up in a New York Times article about our fair city in 1996.)

    Koscielski laughed at my question about what's available. He reached for an ammunition magazine, which holds 15 rounds.

    "Last week, I could get $189 for this," Koscielski said.

    "Since the ban died?" I asked.

    "About $39," he said.

    During the decade-long ban, new magazines could not hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Gun dealers, however, were allowed to sell higher-capacity magazines that had been manufactured before the ban went into effect.

    The limited supply of the old magazines had driven up their price.

    Now magazine capacities are limitless again, meaning if you own a knockoff U.S. Army rifle, you can buy a magazine that will hold 30 or more rounds. Those rounds can fill the air as quickly as you can pull the trigger.

    "Magazine capacity is the big difference now that the ban is gone?" I said, incredulous.

    "That's it," he said.

    Our conversation was interrupted by a shrill "arrrrk!"

    "Oh, Toto, it's OK," said the gun dealer. "He's a nice man from the Star Tribune."

    This is where the serious surprises started for me.

    I had come to the store filled with perceptions about gun-shop owners. I'd also come to grill Koscielski about our country's inability to put reasonable limits on weaponry.

    But here I was, confronted with a guy kissing a bird.

    Between smooches, Koscielski explained that he defends the rights of hunters but that he's no fan of hunting.

    "Toto and I don't like hunting, do we, Toto?" cooed Koscielski.

    "Arrk," responded Toto.

    Toto, an eclectus parrot, has a lovely green head but a scrawny, featherless body.

    "No sex," said Koscielski of why his bird has no body feathers.

    Koscielski got the 12-year-old bird because its original owner had died and the parrot was going to be destroyed.

    "Why should the bird die just because the man dies?" the gun dealer asked.

    He rescued another bird, Lenny, in much the same fashion.

    Lenny's not so demanding as Toto. When not eating the egg rolls Koscielski buys from Sam's Club for the birds, Lenny likes to march up and down a ladder of spent cartridges hanging from the gun-shop ceiling.

    This was all very weird. Berettas. Smith and Wessons. Ammo. Bayonets. And birds.

    When Koscielski was not kissing the featherless Toto, Barb Bergstrom, Koscielski's assistant, was trying to get her bird, Petrie, to make the sound of gunfire.

    "Pa-shooooe," Bergstrom would say. "Come on, you can do it. Pa-shoooe!"

    Is this gun-shop woman a violent person?

    Well, she does love guns. But she dislikes hunting, despises the state's new dove season and volunteers at a wildlife rehab center.

    "I try to fix the ducks that hunters hurt," she said.

    At times, Koscielski and Bergstrom sound like they belong in PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), not a gun store.

    "These guns are for competition and self-defense," Koscielski said.

    What's post-ban America going to be like? Even more violent? More dangerous?

    Koscielski scoffed at the notion. The ban was largely meaningless, he said.

    Of course, there's another way of looking at this, said Kate Havelin, president of the Twin Cities chapter of the Million Mom March, one of the scores of organizations that unsuccessfully fought for the ban to be extended.

    Even limiting the ammo capacity of magazines was significant, she said.

    "It took so much effort to get what we had," she said. "It made a difference. But now, even that's gone."

    Clearly, the fact that not even a limited ban can survive points to the stranglehold the gun crowd has on pols.

    On the other hand, the gun crowd isn't an NRA-created monolith.

    The words I'll remember from my conversation with Koscielski came as I was leaving his store.

    "Oh, I love you, Toto," the gun-shop guy was saying to his bird as I stepped out the door.

    Doug Grow is at dgrow@startribune.com
  2. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    A breath of fresh air.
  3. Mulliga

    Mulliga Well-Known Member

    I like how Koscielski divests gun ownership from hunting. Finally a gun shop owner who understands what the 2A is really about.
  4. sumpnz

    sumpnz Well-Known Member

    I fostered a male eclectus myself. I would have adopted him, but he prefered women, and my wife isn't much of a bird person and really didn't like how he was always trying to crawl on her. That bird still had his down feathers, but had plucked the remainder of his body feathers, though zinc poinsoning from a previous situation was to blame. Ultimatly I adopted a bonded pair of a (plucked) Quaker and and Indian Ringneck.
  5. Brick

    Brick Well-Known Member


    Last time I checked, birds give you bad disease.

    But I haven't heard of a gun doing that.

    Except for lead poisoning. But the owner is responsible.:cool:
  6. Tharg

    Tharg Well-Known Member

    Heh - still laments the difference his/her ban gave him/her....

    you know - cause if one could sell em for 189 bucks legally - someone that never intended to buy it couldn't get it.

    they made a difference... in the minds of the blind, and yet - they cannot see that.

    I do understand however, that the article is fair.... just still strikes me as odd that they hold on to the notion that the AWB had any significance other than makeing someone feel better - and putting a foot in the door for further restrictions. Specially since apparently, weapons of the type restricted were never a huge factor in crime in the first place... They were just appropriatly enough "evil" =)

    but hey - who am i...

  7. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    It's also interesting (and I think the reporter didn't realize this) that magazines for military-lookalike rifles weren't really priced up by the ban, just magazines for handguns. The reason being that pretty much every AK magazine on the planet was made before 1994 and therefore freely importable; ditto for milsurp M16 magazines for AR's. I bought a couple of 30-round magazines during the ban for $9.95 each, as I recall, and 20-rounders for something like $5.99. Full-capacity mini-14 magazines went up a bit, but demand wasn't all that high to start with, so they were never much over $20.

    Glock handgun magazines, on the other hand...$100 for a Glock 19 mag in the mid-to-late '90s...
  8. mokster

    mokster Well-Known Member

    Birds dont give you diseases. i own a bird store. Its good to hear about people who dont hunt,but understand what the 2nd am. is about.
  9. sumpnz

    sumpnz Well-Known Member

    Psittacoses (aka Parrot Fever), a form of chlymidia (though not sexually transmittiable) can be contracted by humans from psittacines (parrots - including parakeets, cockatiels, macaws, amazons, cockatoos, pionus, etc). It is easily treatable today, and all of the parrots that come through the rescue organization I volunteer for are test for it.

    mokster - If you don't test the birds you get into your store you should. It doesn't cost that much, and if you do that you can use it as a marketing ploy to get people to buy from you rather than someone else. Untreated psittacoses can kill birds and make people quite sick.

    Personally I would never buy another bird from a store. There are too many waiting to be adopted from rescue organiztions. That and too many breeders are unscrupulous (not necessarilly the store, but the breeders that supply them). Same reasons I refuse to buy a dog.

    To be on topic, it would be great if such articles were more widespread so that people can see that the 2A has nothing to do with hunting.
  10. mokster

    mokster Well-Known Member

    I know about those diseases but how many people do you know that contract them.Most people actually get sicker from the dander (cockatoos etc.) and bad husbandry ( cleanliness) and we dont actually sell birds much mostly supplies and we do some boarding. We end up placing a lot of given up birds though.We also give alot of advice to help people not give up their birds.but back on topic Im glad to see a more positive article on a gun person intead of the usual para military mall ninja type
  11. Andrew Rothman

    Andrew Rothman Well-Known Member

    As I wrote on the Star Tribune's message board, Grow's column amounts to saying, "You mean, all gun guys aren't baby-eating monsters? Shocking!"

    A little background: The writer, Doug Grow, is the leftiest Lefty McLeftstein columnist at the Star Tribune.

    The shop owner, Mark Koscielski is a good guy, if a bit of a nut.

    When he lost the lease on his gun shop in Minneapolis, he found that the city's zoning was so dang tight, there was literally NO commercial property for him to move to where he could operate his gun shop. He sued the city.

    From the Star Trib, July 2003:
  12. sumpnz

    sumpnz Well-Known Member

    mokster - I don't personally know anyone that got that disease, but I know a few poeple who said (with no reason on my part to disbelieve them) their spouse/friend/co-worker/etc got psitticosis from their parrot. I agree though that allergies to dander and poor cleanliness are much bigger factors.

    /thread drift
  13. Spot77

    Spot77 Well-Known Member

    This story reminds me of a sign in a local gun shop...

    Not verbatim, but close, "The gun should be idolized as America's national symbol...I mean, who owns an eagle anyway?"
  14. mokster

    mokster Well-Known Member

    good idea, if we did that we could probably get the hypocritical Rosie Odonnel types to move to France or something
  15. AR-15Nutt

    AR-15Nutt Well-Known Member

    Military Macaw

    i have a Military Macaw that i got as an egg, he (my wife says "she") is one of the most gentle birds i have known, i kiss him regularly, his tongue is so soft & he loves to cuddle, big problem though..., he don't realize his lips are hard !!

    as for didease, my Vet tells me it is so rare that only birds in squalid conditions are suspect.
  16. feedthehogs

    feedthehogs Well-Known Member

    Hey lady, try and fix my ducks. They're all dead and either stuffed or been eatin.

    What a pair of fuit cakes.
    And some of you are applauding them as a representation of gun owners?

    Some of you don't know when someone hangs a sign on your back that says "KICK ME".
  17. MBane666

    MBane666 Well-Known Member

    As the owner (or "companion animal guardian," as Boulder city ordinance requires us to say) of 11-year old Ripley (a grey parrot whom we aquired when he was still an egg); 8-year-old Cleo, our hopelessly neurotic-but-endearing blue-and-gold macaw and the baby, 5-year-old Bishop, a HUGE greenwing macaw, I say BRAVO for a story well done!

    I, too, like a clear separation between shooting and hunting, because it 1) reflects the reality of how broad a culture we really are and 2) it allows us to throw a wider "net" in bring people into the shooting/hunting world...a goal we all should share!

  18. MBane666

    MBane666 Well-Known Member

    PS: I'm lobbying to get grey parrots the vote! heaven knows they're smarter than most people!

  19. gundam007

    gundam007 Well-Known Member

    I think she was talking about ones that were just clipped by bullets. They can survive, but live in agony. My opinion, as a bird owner (just a cockatiel and a parakeet) is that they are not crazy. I kiss my birds all the time, and even trained them to give me a kiss when I make a kissing noise :D
  20. sumpnz

    sumpnz Well-Known Member

    Well, my Indian Ringneck asks, literally, for kisses. He will say "Hi baby, gimme kiss!" One thing is, I can only trust him for about 2 or 3 kisses before it becomes likely that he'll bite my lip. And the thing about ringnecks is that they either don't bite or they bit to hurt, there's no in between.
    I agree.

Share This Page