There Ought to be a Law

June 11, 2009 at 2:50 pm (Guns)

A reportedly insane (by his sister) 88 year old man shot and killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC this afternoon.

Maybe a law to keep people from having loaded rifles would have helped – or not.

Or maybe if a convicted felon (he once tried to kidnap the Federal Reserve board) were prohibited from owning guns – but wait, they are.

Is there any way to prevent this kind of incident?

Sure, but that’s not a price I’m willing to pay.  All that would be required would be to find all the crazy, hateful people, and lock them up (or dispose of them in other ways).  The Chinese have occasional success with it, and the Nazi’s that he idolized were quite good at it as well.  That’s a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

So, what does this unfortunate incident show?

Crazy people, especially hateful ones, will do crazy and hateful things – up to and including killing people.  Laws to prevent them from doing so just aren’t effective, since they aren’t interested in following them.

In this case, the best possible thing happened.   An armed man at the scene prevented him from injuring or killing a whole lot more people.  It is obvious that his intention was to cause as much death & destruction as possible.  This differs from other ‘active shooter’ incidents in that the gun used to stop him was already at the scene.  If it hadn’t been, the police would have taken at least minutes to respond.   It’s uncomfortable to think about the amount of damage that he could have done in those minutes as the only armed person among thousands of unarmed people.  There is an appropriate quote at the Holocaust Museum’s website, ‘At that time, a gun and a million dollars, the gun was worth more than a million dollars.’

All you need to do is compare the outcome of the Virginia Tech and the Binghamton Immigrant Center with the ones at New Life Church and the Holocaust Museum.  The difference is clear.

What if he had picked a different place, one without armed guards?

Some place like a shopping center, school, library, swimming pool, or mall?  We’ve already seen examples of those.  The shooter will kill and continue to do so until they are confronted.  If the gun used to confront him has to be brought from somewhere else by a police officer, then the casualty list is long.  If it’s already there, then the list is shorter.

But why were all the other people unarmed?  Because THEY aren’t crazy, and followed the law.  So the effect of the laws exclusively keep NON-CRIMINALS disarmed.

Why didn’t the laws work?

But they did.  And do, just not the way they were intended.  The laws were 100% effective at keeping HONEST, LAW ABIDING people from breaking the laws.  In short, people that weren’t inclined to be violent were prevented from having defensive tools, while the violent, crazy man didn’t bother obeying the law.

What can be done?

If we aren’t going to eliminate or isolate all the violent crazy people, including potential ones, then incidents like these will continue.  You can’t legislate sanity.  The only practical thing is to minimize the damage caused by them.  And the best way to do that is to make sure that as many non-crazy people as possible have the means to stop an attack as soon as it starts.  Since it isn’t possible for everyone to have an armed escort, the next best thing would be to be your own armed escort.  Remember that the guard that stopped the Holocaust Memorial shooter wasn’t a cop, but an employee of a private security firm.  The Holocaust Memorial delegated the job of protecting them to the security firm.  Each indivicual has the right to defend themselves, and hiring a bodyguard for that purpose is merely delegating that job to someone else.  It’s a common misconception that the police are there for that purpose, but numerous court rulings, including one from the Supreme Court show otherwise.  The police have a general responsibility to the public as a whole, not to any individual.

Your safety is entirely your responsibility.  I’d suggest that you act accordingly.

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Analysis of 20/20’s ‘If You Only Had A Gun’

April 14, 2009 at 9:07 pm (Guns)

20/20 recently aired a show called ‘If You Only Had A Gun’.  If you’re interested in watching it, it is available in two parts on Youtube.  Part 1, and Part 2.

The segment shows the predictable results of what ‘would’ happen if a minimally trained student were in posession of a gun when a mass shooter stormed into their classroom.  Underwhelming, to say the least.

The ‘armed’ students were supplied with a firearm and holster that they were completely unfamiliar with.  The segment didn’t say, but I would be surprised if they actually drew their handgun from the holster more than three times.

It is my opinion that this ‘test’ was specifically configured to yield the results that it did for the following reasons:

  • The ‘cover’ garment supplied, an extra-long t-shirt was specifically chosen to make the firearm more difficult to remove from the holster.
  • The student was equipped with necessary, but restrictive safety gear – helmet, neck guard, and most importantly, cumbersome gloves.  At least two of the students appeared to be having trouble deploying their firearm because of their gloves.
  • The ‘armed’ student was always placed in the same seat in the room.  The shooter shot the instructor, then immediately turned on the armed student, regardless of if they had presented the firearm or not.  Historically, active shooters shot the people closest to them first.

While this type of ‘scenario’ will be used to show that the ‘best’ response is to run or hide, they failed to take several things into account.

  • The 20/20 scenario ONLY has any meaning if it occurs in the first classroom where a shooting occurs.  Many VA Tech students had enough time to try to barricade their classrooms.  In that situation, the results would be very different.
  • The shooter doesn’t know where an armed student will be sitting, or even if there is an armed student at all.  The armed student, given the extra second or two that the chaos in the room would provide, would have had much better results.
  • No mention is made that even by unsuccessfully engaging the shooter, the armed student would have enabled several other students to escape uninjured.

My offer to 20/20, give me those students for ONE hour, let them choose their own seat, and have the shooter engage all the students in the room.  I’ll guarantee significantly better results.  Especially compared to a trial where there are NO armed students.

For anyone interested in practicing for ‘real life’ situations, IDPA or USPSA matches are a great way to do it.

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Squib Loads

April 5, 2009 at 5:25 pm (Guns)

As with any tool, firearms are occasionally subject to malfunctions.  Some are mechanical problems, some can be attributed to operator error, while others are directly the fault of the ammunition.  Good maintenance goes a long way in preventing mechanical problems, and modern firearms are extremely reliable.

Even so, it is important to know how the gun you are shooting feels normally.  Anything abnormal should immediately be checked.  Heavier or lighter recoil than normal, a different sound, or even smell, can indicate a problem.  Ignoring the first sign that something unusual has occurred can have catastrophic consequences.

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Novice Shooters

March 29, 2009 at 2:20 am (Guns)

Two of my wife’s friends were interested in going to the range, so we scheduled it for early this afternoon.

The first had taken the NRA Basic Pistol course a few years ago, and hadn’t been shooting since.  She was excited, and hopes to get a suitable defensive gun and concealed carry permit in the near future.

The  other had only fired one shot from her former husband’s rifle, which left her bruised for a week.  She wanted to go, but is VERY nervous around guns.  She was expecting to fire a few shots, not like it, and retreat to the ‘safety’ of the car while we finished shooting.

I gave them about 10 minutes of safety & basics before we headed out.  It consisted of the NRA’s three rules, and basics on grip, stance, trigger control, and sight alignment.  I took an old broken Marksman bb pistol that I’ve painted red to use as a training aid.

The first remembered most of her prior training, but wasn’t clear on if she should be using the Weaver or Iscocoles stance.  I spent a few minutes with each of them and we worked out a comfortable two-handed stance for both.  This led to a discussion on the drive to the range about stances, which I explained are a very personal matter.  Physiology and strength play a large part, and very few people use a textbook one.

Since these were novice shooters, I went over my other two rules.  If something is wrong, I’ll tap their shoulder, at which point they are to remove their finger from the trigger guard.  This allows me to correct errors without them removing their grip or sights while they are still occurring.  My other is that if anything unexpected or troubling happens, the gun is to be laid down on the bench pointing downrange.  As these are novice shooters, any malfunctions they experience are beyond their ability, so I correct them at that point.

Once at the range, after a brief wait for a lane, we finally got down to shooting.  The least experienced goes first.  As I always do, the first magazine is only loaded with one round so that the gun is empty in case they don’t manage the recoil well or (gasp) turn around.  The next two magazines are loaded with two each, and if they are comfortable we then move up to five.

From then on, we shoot 5 magazines of five rounds between target changes.  I stand behind them and reload so they have a fresh magazine by the time they’ve run the last one dry.  I also keep an eye out to correct any problems they have as soon as they appear.  It’s easy to avoid bad habbits if you never get into the habit in the first place.

Both of the new shooters ended up firing about 75 rounds, with groupings about 8 to 10 inches from 30 feet.

Then my wife wanted to shoot her .45.  Apparently two Marines who were firing in the lane next to ours had made some comment about the ‘wimpy’ .22 that we were using.  They were shooting a .40 glock or sig at the 20 foot line, and patterning like a short-barreled shotgun.  (Grouping at that distance shouldn’t be measured in feet, guys.)   So she sends her special VisiShot target out to the 30 foot line and proceeds to put 20 rounds in an 8 inch group.  We change targets, and she’s not quite done showing off yet, so she fires two more magazines one-handed.  Her friends, and the Marines were suitably impressed.  As was I, because she’s really only been shooting for about three months.

On the plus side for the day, two novices have a bit more experience.  A person who ‘didn’t like guns’ had a really good time shooting, and my wife’s flinch with her .45 seems to be gone.  The only downside was that of the 100 rounds of .45 that we shot, I only brought home 80 spent cases to reload.

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Tennessee Paper Publishes Concealed Handgun Permit List

March 4, 2009 at 10:15 pm (Guns, Politics)

Well, another newspaper has decided it would be a good idea to provide a searchable database of all the concealed handgun permit holders in their state.  This time it’s the ‘Comercial Appeal’ in Tennessee.  They try to justify it at http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2009/feb/15/inside-the-newsroom-case-for-gun-permit-listings/ (No links for them, sorry)

The list can be found at http://www.commercialappeal.com/data/gunpermits/ (No, I’m not linking it, copy & paste it if you want)

Feel free to express your displeasure with their decision to make the data available by calling them at 8OO 444 6397 or by their online feedback form at http://www.commercialappeal.com/feedback/

If you do, please be polite.  No sense ranting at them, it will just perpetuate the stereotype.

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Range Report – Taurus PT1911

February 28, 2009 at 1:58 am (Guns)

I got my wife a new Taurus PT1911 as a belated Valentines day present, and we took it to the range the following day.

I’ve always liked the 1911 model .45s, and this is one of the best I’ve seen straight out of the box.  And that doesn’t include the gold-plated hammer, grip safety, ambidextrous safety, magazine release, trigger, and barrell bushing.  Not that the bling was the deciding factor.  We were also looking at a new Rock Island and a used Thompson in about the same price range.  Neither were stainless, so it was an easy choice.

This gun had, from the factory, a match grade trigger which is slightly lighter and just as crisp as the one on my gun – and I paid a master-armorer to do my trigger job.  The slide to frame mating was at least as good as mine, as was the ‘fluff and buff’.  The feed ramp and throat were smooth and mirror polished.

At the range, I was expecting a few malfunctions (failure to feed, failure to extract, etc) as is typically common with the 1911s until they are broken in.  This is usually more noticeable with lighter loads, so the first box fired was FMJ.  After that, we (read my wife) went through three boxes of relatively light SWCs.  There were a few stovepipes with this, but they occurred when my wife’s was not providing a sufficiently stable base for the recoil to do it’s job.  The only other malfunction was caused by one of the magazines that didn’t always lock the slide back on empty.  Some of the earlier models seem to have had some problems with the extractor tension being too tight, but that seems to have been resolved – or at least not a problem with this gun.

Other than the questionable magazine, the Taurus is an excellent gun.  With it, you get more than you pay for.

The only disappointing thing was that the CrimsonTrace laser grips that we bought for it don’t fit with the ambidextrous safety.  My wife’s just going to have to live with the simulated pearl ones that it came with.

P.S.

I’ve been asked about the selection process, etc. so here goes.

My wife fired a few other guns, and liked the heavy 1911 the best.  The aluminum framed ones were uncomfortable for her to deal with the recoil, so a polymer frame was definately out.  “Ol Slab Sides” also has a slightly narrower grip than the double-stack 9’s, and the recoil impulse of the 9 is sharper than that of the .45.

She picked out the gun herself, including filling out the forms.  Ownership is more than just paperwork, but the entire process focused on what she wanted.  There’s a significant emotional difference between ‘mine’ and ‘one of yours’.  This gun is hers.

Read that last sentence again.  It’s important.  An entire post might be in order about the difference ownership makes.

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There’s A Bad Moon On The Rise…

January 27, 2009 at 9:04 pm (Family Life, Guns, Religion)

I’ve had this feeling that things are going to get bad. I’m not sure how bad here, but elsewhere I would expect really bad.

And it has nothing to do with our new president. The economic problems that we are running full-steam into are beyond government’s ability to fix now. They’ve been coming for quite a while, and we have been pushing the problems off into the future.   Paying one credit card bill with another, so to speak.  Well, the future is here now.

The Federal reserve is basically printing money, as the interest rate it charges is now at or nearly zero. This will have the effect of ‘flooding’ the market with money, making inflation rise sharply.  To give you an idea, here is the Federal Reserve’s own chart.  That vertical line on the right is NOW.

Combine that with China no longer buying US Treasury debt, and that sets up quite a problem. An insufficient number of treasury bills will be sold, so to sell more, we will have to promise a higher interest rate, which means that the debt of the government will increase faster. And it’s not just in the U.S. either. The Bank of England recently lowered their interest rate to the lowest it has ever been.   The value of anything drops when supplies are drastically increased, and the U.S. dollar is no different.  So, while the governments flood the economy with money, some companies realize that the value of money in the future will be much lower than it is now. If we’re lucky, we won’t have to take a wheelbarrow full of money to go grocery shopping.

The economic mess is truly a global problem, causing the government of Iceland to fail, just weeks after the state bank failed.  They’re the first.  I doubt they will be the last.  Argentina’s solution to their financial problems was to steal all the retirement savings.  We’re at least a few years away from having all our IRAs and 401Ks ‘reinvested’ in the social security ponzi scheme.

Add to that a record pace for unemployment growth, and you get a really bad scene. Tons of excess inventory will idle production worldwide as people finally realize that their spending sprees of the last ten years are over.

Food prices will rise drastically, partially due to the lowered value of the dollar. If we have another bad year for food production, prices will rise drastically.  Last year also saw the spread of more virulent forms of wheat rust, which is expected to hit the entire middle East and Asia this year.  Fresh foods, especially those grown in California, will be scarce and expensive.  Food banks, which were strained last year will fail miserably. And I’m not the only one concerned about it. Hopefully rat-farming will remain an exclusively overseas thing.

Last year also saw dramatic shortages of fertilizer. Not so much in the U.S., but overseas. And since we’re in a global market, a shortage elsewhere increases prices here, but at least the materials are still available.  But only for those that can afford them.  People will have to choose between keeping the heat on and eating.  And it has already started.

There is a general sense of unease running through people.  Munchkinwrangler and Crankyprof are two good examples.

Now, I’m not predicting a Mad-Max type scenario, but I’m not entirely ruling it out, either.  I doubt it will be a drastic crash, I expect more like a steep downward spiral.

What I will guarantee is crime, and lots of it.  The last time the economy was this bad was in the 70’s.  I wasn’t old enough to realize just how bad the economy and crime were then, but what I do remember were the movies.  Movies like ‘Mad Max’, ‘Death Wish’, and ‘Dirty Harry’.  If art imitates life (or makes it a caricature) then things don’t bode well for our immediate future.  Again, I am not alone in this thinking.

And if you have the same feeling, now would be a good time to prepare.  Non perishable food & water for a week or so would be a good start.  And since you don’t really posess anything you are unable to keep, get a gun.  A shotgun for home is a good choice, but probably not the best one.  A better choice would be a handgun with training.  You shold find a comfortable holster and wear the handgun all the time.   Most robbers won’t call and warn you, and unauthorized people or children will find it difficult to misuse if it is attached to your body.  A concealed carry permit should be next, to allow you to protect yourself and your family while away from home.  The most important thing is to practice with it, and carry it everywhere you are allowed.  It should be as comfortable as a pair of broken-in shoes.

And to any believers out there who expect to be raptured (as I do), we are promised that we will avoid GOD’s wrath poured out on the world.  We are NOT guaranteed to escape tragedies and hardships caused by man.  How much will God allow us to go through?  Look no further than the unrest after Katrina, or the Janjaweed militias.

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Home-made pellet trap

September 14, 2008 at 9:01 pm (Family Life, Guns)

I’ve been planning on building this all summer so that my kids will have a safe backstop for target shooting. I constructed this pellet trap out of an old computer case, some scrap 2×4, and 3/4″ plywood – mostly because that’s what I had laying around.

Please note, this pellet trap is safe for relatively slow (400 feet/second) pellets, such as would be fired from a pellet pistol or single-pump pellet rifle. This type of trap is NOT safe for use with BBs at any speed, because BBs don’t flatten when they impact, and are much more likely to bounce out.

As always, ALWAYS wear eye protection when shooting.

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More from my visit to the Supreme Court

March 20, 2008 at 7:32 pm (Guns, Politics)

 I’ve found some people with pictures. Clayton Cramer has a few from the night before, as well as the day of the hearing. Unfortunately none of those pix have me in them.

The guy who was FIRST in line blogged it – also with lots of pictures.

I did find one at the Brady Bunch. I refuse to link to them, but if you go to bradycampaign.org, the slideshow on the left has me in the 3rd frame.

I emailed them to see if I could get a better picture – we’ll see.

I copied out just that frame – I’m the 7th person from the left in the black suit & tie.

Edit: – Odds are available (and favorable) at INTRADE.

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DC V. Heller – debriefing

March 18, 2008 at 6:25 pm (Guns, Politics)

Well, I went. I got up early, caught the very first bus available, and arrived at the steps of the Supreme Court promptly at 6:00 this morning. I thought it looked promising, because the only people I could see were the news crews (5 of them) on the right side of the stairs to the plaza. I asked one of the guards where to go for the full session, and he pointed me to the line that was behind the news people. It was worse than Best Buy on Thanksgiving. As I walked down the block and around the corner, I guessed that I passed about 150 people. Apparently I’m not the only person interested enough to get there early. These people had been in line since Sunday night!

So, I got in line. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to view the entire hearing, I got in line. It was cold, but not too bad, as there was a construction barrier on the other side of the sidewalk that blocked the wind. One lady (who had been camping up front – from IL or IA if I remember correctly) walked back and was asking people their views. According to her, there weren’t more than 2 or 3 people in line that sided with DC.

About 7, security moved the front of the line from where the news crews were to the base of the steps leading from the plaza to the court building. That shifted my place from East Capitol Street to First street, next to the news crews. There were now 7 of them. That pleased the head of security for a little while, and then they shifted the entire tail end of the line from East Capitol St. to Maryland Ave. At this point, there were about 75 people in line behind me. This wasn’t a good choice, because the wind had picked up, and it was quite cold without the barrier blocking it. A single guy with a sign (actually several that he flipped through) was there. One of his signs was:

Gun Murders
1900-2000 = 500,000
2000-2100 = 1.3 million

Feel free to critique on your own…

While I was standing literally on the corner of Maryland and First St, the grounds crew was cleaning trash. One of them in a Cushman drove up and honked at the other, who was on the sidewalk. Apparently he had found a half-full bottle of Jack Daniels. Both of them had a good laugh, and then dumped it down the storm drain before throwing the empty bottle away. I assume that it came from the hedges where the overnight camping had taken place.

About now, a lot more security became apparent. The number of officers tripled to about 15. The move to Maryland Ave only lasted a little while. About 30 more people had shown up, and it was obvious that the line would quickly block the employee entrance to the court. We were shifted around one more time, and I ended up back near the news crews again.

By now, another guy with a sign was there – his sign said

McCain says Guns for DC – But No Vote

I think (from a conversation he had later) that he thought that DC should have a vote, but still no guns.

About 8:45, the 2nd Amendment Sisters unfurled their banner. They had been joined by a group Maryland Shall Issue, who were easily spotted by their distinctive blue hats. Shortly after that, 8 DC police cars pulled up across the street, and remained there throughout the morning. There were two new guys with a signs, which were:

Criminals Prefer Unarmed Victims

and

Don’t Kill DCs Gun Ban

About 9, the Brady bunch showed up with 5 or 6 people. One of them had a canvas bag with 30-40 of their placards. Shortly after they showed up, another guy with a jacket with ‘Tyrany Response Team‘ and a sign that read ‘Ban the leaders in Washington, Not Guns!’.

About 9:30, I thought that the rest of the Brady bunch had arrived, as the guy was passing out placards, but it appears that it was just a tour group passing by, leaving only about 6 with signs there.

About 9:45, another group (sorry, didn’t get the name) showed up with a banner and had a discussion with security about the use of the boards & PVC pipe for their sign supports. Their sign read:

Firearms = Safety, Security, Freedom

The first group, which was seated for the entire session, was about 70 people. Fortunately everyone who had camped out overnight was in that group. That moved me up to about halfway to the door – on the plaza. About 20 minutes later, a second group of about 40 was taken in for 5 minutes in the gallery. Another 15 minutes, I was # 34 of the next group of 40 and I was inside the atrium to the Court. It was WARM (Yay!). The guard gave us a brief lecture on what happened next, where the lockers & coat check were, and then we went through the first security check. I dumped everything in a locker (no cell phones, cameras, pagers, etc) allowed in the courtroom, and then got in line to go through the second security check to go into the courtroom.

I was seated in the gallery at about 18 minutes into the hearing. When Chief Justice Roberts was questioning Mr Dellinger about how a total ban can be considered ‘reasonable regulation’. The seat gave me a view of Chief Justice Roberts and everyone on his right.

The transcript of the oral arguments is available from the Supreme Court in PDF format. An video version with slideshow is available from c-span.org (RealPlayer)  For the extra scholarly (or if you just have trouble sleeping) the NRA has made all of the amicus briefs in the case available at http://www.nraila.org/heller/.

I really must commend the Supreme Court staff, who obviously went to extreme lengths to seat as many people in both the observer’s gallery and the temporary gallery. It appeared that extra chairs were in the regular gallery, and it looked like they had to scavenge other offices to find chairs to put in the temporary gallery.

When my time was up, I went downstairs to the museum and giftshop. After I left the building, I talked briefly with a few of the Maryland Shall Issue, and then headed home.

I was surprised that I didn’t see any obvious representatives of the NRA, GOA, SAF, JPFO, PinkPistols, or anyone else there.

If you were there and noticed a man in a black suit and tie, wearing a red-white-and-blue tie-die button down shirt, that was me.

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