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Gun World (May 1970)

"Guest Shot: James MacArthur"

James MacArthur, co-starring in CBS-TV’s police series, Hawaii Five-O, likes guns for fun and especially for self-protection. He gets in a lot of target practice during his eight months of location in the Hawaiian islands each year.

(Jim is the son of famous parents, actress Helen Hayes and the late newspaperman-playwright, Charles MacArthur. His father’s old 12-gauge shotgun is still one of his proudest possessions and the foundation piece for his small but adequate collection of firearms.

(Born in Los Angeles, he was raised in Nyack, New York, where his mother still lives in a big Victorian frame house. During school vacations and whenever time otherwise permitted, Jim performed on television as a youth, beginning at the age of 16.

(After completing two years at Harvard, the desire for an acting career took him to Hollywood and by the time he was 21 he had appeared in five movies, including Walt Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson.

(MacArthur’s armory consists of two shotguns, both of them old; a Sako .222, and a Browning 9mm handgun, his latest acquisition.)

The Sako .222 is a beautiful shooting gun and I feel it’s big enough to bring down almost anything on the North American continent. I wouldn’t want to go for bear with it, I suppose, but one could. It’s my varmint gun and out at three hundred yards, I can put them into a small circle the size of a silver dollar.

I’m kind of the average person who has a liking for guns. I enjoy using guns. I have a bunch of .30/06 ammunition left over from some practice shooting in Hawaii and I am about to buy a rifle in the same caliber. I used one in Hawaii. A fellow with an Armed Forces shooting team loaned it to me. He was a hell of a good shot and gave me some valuable lessons.

But my handgun is the best answer to the question, why do I like guns. I suppose it’s kind of atavistic instinct or urge to have a gun with the idea that you can protect yourself. I recognize these possibilities are facts and do exist. So I like to have a handgun around for the obvious reasons. You know, it’s a terrible thing to say but there is a fear lurking in everyone’s heart that a psycho will come knocking on the door. I intend to be prepared. I’m not going to get caught in my sleep.

I’m against any laws prohibiting the average citizen from having guns around. There has been all this publicity to the effect that guns might be pulled off the market. That’s why I got mine when I did. I thought I had better, before they took them away. I think that I’m fairly average in the way I feel about this -- about having guns and about attempts to pass laws against them.

If they take a gun away from me, well, okay, I have no access to illegal weapons and so I wouldn’t have anything at all. On the other hand, the criminal element is always going to be able to arm itself illegally, leaving a Joe Citizen, like myself, out of luck. Then, if someone comes into the house at night threatening my life and property, there is nothing left but the fire poker to defend myself with.

I’ve done a little hunting, but so far I’m not much the hunter. I’ve never shot a deer and don’t know whether I would. For one thing, I don’t like venison that much. If there were lobsters in the mountains, I’d be out shooting.

Actually, I have a hunting trip in view that is within the realm of the possible and it wouldn’t be for eating purposes. It’s against the law to hunt in Cambodia unless you have permission. We have permission to take tiger, panther, elephant, water buffalo and goa. But, of course, it’s finding the time.

James MacArthur

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