The year is 1981. The nation rejoices over the safe return of hostages from Iran. Ronald Reagan is our newly minted 40th president, the Oakland Raiders won the Super Bowl and even though “The Tide Is High,” Blondie is still holding on to the number-one spot on Billboard’s hit list.
But none of that matters. What matters is that the girl of your dreams, who you’ve been diligently pursuing for years, has paid you no attention. Instead of accepting this tacit rejection, you believe her cold shoulder is only because you’ve failed to make a gesture grand enough to get her to see you clearly. But that’s all about to change. You’re about to make it big, and that girl will finally notice you, because you’re about to bring your favorite movie to life for the world to see.
That movie is Taxi Driver …
That girl is actress Jodi Foster …
And your big plan to win her over? Shoot the f*cking president.
Thus begins — and ends — the story of the .22-caliber RG-14 revolver. At least insofar as mainstream pop culture is concerned. But RG Industries was the U.S.-based division of German firearms company Rohm Gessellschaft which split from its parent company Rohm GmbH in the 1950s. Said parent company was actually known for producing chucking tools before starting the Gessellschaft imprint as a diversification into firearms, which then spawned Miami-based RG Industries in 1968.
The American RG Industries specialized (if you can call it that) in producing revolvers and semi-autos in mouse gun calibers like .22LR, .25ACP, .32S&W, and .38 Special. The guns existed in relative obscurity until March of 1981 when the protagonist of our introduction, John W. Hinckley Jr. used an RG-14 revolver in an attempt to assassinate President Reagan.
As a result, police officer Thomas Delahanty (who was also shot by Hinckley) sued RG Industries. The case was thrown out, but the legal troubles and notoriety compounded with a follow-up case in 1985 involving a convenience store clerk who was also shot by an RG gun. This led to RG Industries folding in 1986. The German side of RG was sold to Umarex in 2010, to what practical end we’re not sure. But no fruits of that acquisition have made it to American shores, as best we can tell.
Fast-forward to a couple of months ago, when we came across this piece of obscure gun history in a consignment case at The Hub AZ in Tucson, Arizona. The wheelgun in question was nested between a police trade-in Glock and an STI Tactical 4.0, and we almost missed it. But as fate would have it, we wound up bringing her home for a meager adoption fee of $200.
The single-action trigger on our sample was shockingly smooth with a very consistent 4½-pound break. Other than that, and being relatively inexpensive in a market full of panic buys and indefinite back orders, this gun just doesn’t have much going for it.
Because we were so surprised by the single-action pull, and the universe seeks balance, the double-action trigger mode is exactly as awful as one would expect from a revolver of this class. Also, don’t count on reloading this gun in any kind of a hurry. The ejector rod under the 1-inch barrel isn’t an ejector at all. It’s a pin that screws into the back of the frame that must be unscrewed and completely removed for the cylinder to be popped out.
Empty cases must then be plucked out individually by fingernail and fresh rounds threaded in before the cylinder is closed and the retention screw wound back into place. Finally, the barrel is an odd two-piece design consisting of the bore itself sleeved by a shroud that includes the token front sight. Directly behind the sight blade is a hole that, apparently, is supposed to have a pin of some kind pressed into it. But the pin is missing, which means you can pluck the barrel shroud, including front sight, off the gun at will. And sometimes by accident.
Also squarely in the “awful” column is the so-called Devastator “exploding ammunition” that Hinckley used in his botched attempt to woo Ms. Foster. The rounds essentially consisted of a second primer embedded in the nose of the bullet meant to detonate on impact and cause immediate fragmentation. The rounds didn’t work as planned — although its noteworthy that, at the time, it was a big enough concern that the surgeons who removed one of these rounds from President Reagan were wearing flak jackets while they worked.
The RG-14 is a macabre-conversation-starter of a coffee table gun. When people see it in your safe, you’ll be able to tell them all about the one thing it’s known for. It has little to no redeemable value otherwise, but that’s OK. Some pistols are destined to serve as relics of history to be passed down along with their stories. While the story of the RG-14 isn’t a particularly happy one, it’s nonetheless an obscure, but important piece of Americana.
RG INDUSTRIES RG-14
Purchased From: The Hub (Tucson, AZ) // thehubaz.com
Weight Unloaded: 15.2 ounces
Capacity: 6 rounds
Length: 5 inches
Barrel: 1.5 inches
Price Paid: $200
California lawmakers will send a state excise tax on guns and ammunition to Gov. Gavin Newsom after years of failed attempts by Democratic legislators.
The Senate voted 27-9 on Thursday to approve Assembly Bill 28, which would require manufacturers, vendors and dealers to pay an 11% tax on guns and ammunition to fund violence prevention efforts. The bill passed with exactly the two-thirds threshold needed for approval of a tax.
Gun and ammunition-sellers would pay the new state tax on top of the 10 to 11% federal excise tax they already pay to fund wildlife conservation efforts.
Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills, authored the bill after former Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, failed multiple times to get excise tax bills through the Legislature.
Prior to Levine’s attempts, at least three other lawmakers had pushed similar taxes on guns and ammunition since 2013. Gabriel’s bill was the first of its kind to pass out of the Assembly.
When the assemblyman first put the bill forward, there were questions about whether it was “in the realm of possibility,” he said after the Senate vote.
“I introduced this bill at the very beginning of session,” Gabriel said. “A few weeks later, we have mass shootings in Half Moon Bay and in Monterey Park and in all these places.”
“Frankly, I think part of the reason the bill passed is the public is demanding this of us,” he added. “They are demanding that we have more solutions that will do more to protect their kids, to protect their communities.”
Lawmakers debate tax effectiveness
Many senators on Thursday cited their children and grandchildren and school safety concerns in their arguments for backing the bill. Floor debate lasted for about an hour before lawmakers voted.
Sen. Angelique Ashby, D-Sacramento, urged her colleagues to support AB 28 as a “mechanism to address gun violence.” She made her plea in the name of her school-age daughter and California children, as well as Amber Clark, a Natomas librarian who was fatally shot in 2018.
“Like so many Americans, I do hug my little daughter each morning as I drop her off at school,” Ashby said. “And as I drive away, I push out of my mind the unthinkable. Otherwise, it would be impossible for me to face the tasks I’m responsible for every day.”
But Republicans, and a handful of Democrats, said the tax would do little to prevent gun violence, and retailers would pass on the added cost on to customers. In this way, it would penalize law-abiding firearm owners, hunters and students taking part in shooting sports, they said.
“When you add another 11% on, all it’s going do is decrease the number of hunters,” said Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa. “Sooner or later, this will be like the tobacco tax. And sooner or later, this money’s going to go down, down, down.”
Gun control groups cheered AB 28’s passage and urged Newsom to sign it.
“This bill is an innovative approach in tackling gun violence and a crucial step to improve the safety of all California families,” said Cassandra Whetstone, a volunteer with the California chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, in a statement.
Gun rights advocates said they plan to sue the state over the legislation if the governor makes it law.
“The passage of this bill will be seen for what it is … an unconstitutional tax on an enumerated right,” said Rick Travis, legislative director for the California Rifle and Pistol Association, in an email.
The measure now heads to Newsom, who must sign or veto bills by Oct. 14.
(Yup, you read that right – California is going to tax one of our Constitutionally protected Rights.)