Guns: The "Junk Gun"
Shiny custom 1911s dominate the covers of many gun magazines, but visit a store and you'll see that the big sellers are usually small, inexpensive firearms - .380s and .38 revolvers. That's because most people can't afford to drop $2000 on a pistol, no matter how well it's made. Accordingly, common handguns sell at around the $500 mark, give or take a few hundred.
The big exceptions are the so-called "junk guns," also know by the pejorative "Saturday night special." Vilified by the anti-gun crowd and sometimes criticized within the shooting community, these sub-$200 guns are noticeably inferior to firearms sold by the mainstream manufacturers. Expect subpar design, fit and finish, accuracy, and reliability.
These guns are usually safe to shoot, though, at least when new; the flood of product liability lawsuits would doom any company who tried to sell a defective gun. With enough modifications, fine-tuning, and gunsmithing, you can even turn one into a decent plinker, like this Lorcin:
More importantly, these super-cheap guns fill a niche - they allow even the poorest citizens to arm themselves. These are the people who are most likely to be the subject of a criminal attack, and the difference between a $100 Jennings and a $300 Kel-Tec may be the difference between having a gun and not having one when some crackhead breaks into your apartment at 2 in the morning.
It's also telling that as early as the 19th century, jurisdictions passed laws banning the sale of cheap firearms. In those days, it was all about keeping poor black freedmen from protecting themselves. In the 21st century, the increasingly onerous regulations in some states requiring internal locks, biometric ID scanners, and other useless paraphernalia serve a similar purpose: to make guns expensive, reducing the number of guns sold, and eventually reducing the number of gun owners.
Does that mean I recommend that you run out and buy a Lorcin .32? Of course not. Yet while everyone has a constitutionally protected right to own a gun, understand that not everyone can afford the name-brand pistol in the gun store. So the next time you see someone with an inexpensive handgun, just be thankful that we can still own 'em - believe me, they'll come after the "junk guns" first.