Friday, April 29, 2005

Convention Picture--Barrett

This post is a gratuitous picture from the NRA Convention. I had warned you mentioned to you that occasionally we would share a few photos we took at the convention. We'll do so in context of other happenings in the gun world, since other people's travel photos can be boring.

Publicola recently had a post about Barrett Firearms. Barrett makes fine .50 caliber rifles and other guns. In fact, Ronnie Barrett created practical .50 caliber long-range rifles for the civilian market. Police and military analysts recognized how useful the rifles were and started buying them. Now, these originally civilian rifles are demonized as "weapons of war." California banned civilian ownership of them. Barrett did not take it lying down and has refused to sell to any California government.

Here's a photo Bill took of a sign at the Barrett display at the NRA Convention. Give 'em hell Ronnie.


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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Can We Move Gun Rights Forward?

I don’t know what’s wrong with me today. Maybe it’s post vacation blues, maybe it’s because I haven’t fired a gun since our shooting clays expedition in Tunica, MS on April 13. Maybe it’s because I’m about to turn 50. I don’t know what's got me down, but today I doubt we can win back our gun rights (click here for a list of rights I want us to win back). Of course, if I could single-handily figure out a way win them back, I’d probably be earning a living working in a gun field—my ideal job by the way (any offers? No! Drat!!!).

Can we win back our gun rights through grass-roots organizations? The NRA's our most powerful pro-gun organization, but its leadership doesn't always fight for increased individual gun rights. While Gun Owners of America and Jews for Preservation of Firearms Organization are uncompromising they have little influence.

Come right down to it, most gun owners are not members of anything unless they’ve joined AARP (just got my membership invitation in the mail yesterday; it’ll be a cold day in hell before I join them or any other group that doesn’t honor my gun rights).

Why would any gunnie refuse to join a pro-gun organization? I understand why certain gunnies believe the NRA is not for them. Fine, but join something to make your voice heard. Look at these numbers, 4 million NRA members, or GOA with about 350,000 members versus 80 to 100 million gun owners. In other words, most gun owners join diddly-squat.

Don’t these gun owners know anti-gunnies want to end their gun rights as they enjoy them today? And don’t call me paranoid. There’s too much evidence pointing to anti-gunnies’ final goals. At best, they would leave us with single-shot rifles, double-barreled shotguns, and carefully designed handguns that make them impractical for any use other than certain “approved” types of target shooting. Of course, they would tell us even these arms must be stored in a police-ran arsenal. They would then have the gall to tell us, “See, we didn’t disarm you, we only wanted common-sense controls.”

What other ways of winning back our rights do we have? Courts are a possibility even though court cases are unpredictable to begin with. But, I really have a bad feeling about courts and Second Amendment rights. Most judges on higher courts (state, appeals, etc.), whether liberal or conservative, aren’t sympathetic to gunnies. It could be they’ve heard too many gun violence cases while presiding in lower courts, they are or have become urbanized and not exposed to positive gun uses, or they simply like their power too much. I believe most would not return a favorable ruling.

Take a look at the recent Supreme Court case, Small v US. Seemingly pro-gun judges like Thomas and Scalia voted against Small who was convicted in a foreign court and claimed he couldn’t own a gun. Liberal judges like Breyer, Souter, and Ginsburg voted that a conviction in a foreign court doesn’t automatically bar one from owning guns. Who could see that one coming?

I’m pessimistic about political solutions. The Republicans are less gun-grabby than Democrats, but not exactly gun-friendly either. Republicans could be an even greater danger since they seem to respect gun rights. They have come up with a formula for potentially banning guns—the Second Amendment is an individual right, but subject to government controls on who can own guns and the government can regulate guns favored by criminals. Sarah Brady eat your heart out.

So we can't really win at the ballot box. There's too many moonbats and not enough ardent gunnies. Even gun owners won't always vote in their best interests.

There’s one saving grace, America’s too divided right now for much of anything good or bad to happen. Look at the last election. Kerry was a terrible candidate and he still got 49% of the vote mainly because urbanites couldn’t stand Bush. Kerry's voters were primarily coastal elites who can foist their beliefs, including gun control, on us simply because there’s so damn many of them.

Although it's tempting, we can’t really kick blue states out of the Union. For one thing, while moonbats are concentrated in the cities many good people live in the rural/exurb parts of the blue states. I wouldn’t want to condemn them to blue-state-hell that people in Boston, New York, and Chicago would create. I’m not listing any California cities, you all live in blue-state-hell now anyway.

So what’s a sad gunnie to do? I'll continue to support gun rights organizations while holding their leaders’ to their promises as much as I can. I'll vote only for politicians who support my gun rights (although I may have to choose the lesser of two evils in close elections). I'll put pressure on my Congress Critters. I won’t follow Bill’s (Yosemite Sam) solution of “just shoot the bastards!” when it comes to moonbats. I don’t think we are there yet.

In the final analysis, I don’t think we'll lose gun rights in the next few years, but I have doubts about reversing current gun control. Oh well, one must take what one can get.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Gun Nut Book Review--IV

Armed Response by David S. Kenik
Periodically, Bill and I like to share books we've read with any interested readers. For those who aren't interested, I should warn you we picked up several gunnie books at the NRA convention.

I actually bought Kenik's book a couple of months ago. I didn't read it until I was on vacation. I should have read it earlier since it is and excellent discussion of a very important topic for those of us who carry a firearm for protection.

David Kenik has carried a firearm for over twenty years. He is a fellow New Englander hailing from Rhode Island. He has sought out training and has learned as much as he can. He has taken classes from Massad Ayoob who has written a foreword for Armed Response. Kenik is also a pro-gun activist in his home state.

Armed Response is thorough and contains much good information. For me the most accurate and important sentence in the entire book is, "The best way to win a gunfight is not to be in one." (Introduction p. X) I've never fired any of my guns in anger, but I've used a gun to save my life (or "sacred honor") twice--once with a burglar and once when two people tried to pull me into a car. One of them even fired shots at me, but I didn't fire back because the driver was already speeding away from my gun muzzle. In both cases, I couldn't avoid the fight, but I agree, avoid a gunfight anyway you can.

Still, Armed Response is not about running away, it's about responding to unavoidable situations with a gun--our best self-defense tool after our minds. The second most accurate statement sits on the same page, "Your true weapon is your mind. A person with a .22 and a plan is for more formidable than a clueless person with a .45." Armed Response helps you create that plan.

Kenik divides his book into thirty-one chapters; one is on empty-hand fighting skills written by Ralph Mroz. The first chapter talks about a subject well known in gunnie circles but ignored elsewhere, police do not protect individual citizens. The second chapter (and I promise I'm not going to dissect it chapter by chapter) requests that you ask yourself the big question, "Can you take a life?" (p 5). I am in absolute agreement with Kenik, if you don't search your soul before strapping on a gun you're a fool. If you do and your answer is "no" you have no business carrying a gun.

Kenik talks generally about laws that govern deadly force. Perforce, his coverage is very general since state laws vary so much. Still, he presents some good things to think about.

He covers situational awareness and "Body Alarm Reaction" (p 20). I experienced such a reaction in those two situations I mentioned above and Kenik's description is spot on. Under the influence of adrenaline, fear, and rage you can barely see, your fingers fumble at even simple tasks, you shake, and your mental activities seem like they are taking place in molasses in winter. In other words, we humans evolved to fight or flee not to think about how to fight, not to thumb a small safety switch on a gun, and how to focus on an enemy but not on our gun's front sight.

Armed Response takes those bodily reactions into account and discusses ways to avoid them or plan around them when these reactions clobber you. Kenik raises questions about equipment and carry methods in light of these responses. For instance, if you carry a revolver and you need to reload, can you manipulate a speed strip or a speed loader when your heart is beating hard enough to burst your chest and your fingers feel like German sausages (p 111)? If you carry a semi-auto and need to reload, he gives advice on how to place your spare magazines to avoid feeding them backwards, etc.

The book includes other matters such as ammunition choice, gun choice, safe storage, holsters, training improvements, and much more. One of the last chapters (#27) discusses what happens after a shooting. In short, get ready for some legal bills and severe emotional impacts.

A minor quibble I have is on advice given in Chapter 26. Kenik discusses how to keep your assailant at bay until police arrive if you didn't shoot him or wounded him slightly. I don't like what he tells you to tell the assailant, "If you make any fast movements, I will assume that you are going to attack me and I will shoot you." To me, and I'm not an expert, there are too many syllables and too much information for your assailant to process--remember he'll be as full of adrenaline, fear, and rage as you'll be. I think a better statement is, "Don't move unless I tell you to, or I'll shoot you."

I recommend Armed Response primarily because of his description of Body Alarm Reaction and ways to plan around it. For a little more than $20.00 (and I found it on sale for a little less at a local gun shop) you get a great deal of truly useful information. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't carry it, but here is a store that does.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

New NRA President and ABC's Article

After our trek across a large part of America, I've been catching up on e-mail at work and a little blog reading when I can get away with it. I had about 375 new work e-mails waiting for me and very little of that was spam thanks to excellent filters. I've been reading my little eyes out. Most of them were FYI and similar junk, but one has to skim it all to make sure that there's not one little action item stuck in an innocuous paragraph. So, enough of my whining. Let's talk gun news.

In one of my all too brief dips into gun blogs today, I found this curious article linked in Bitter's post on the Bitch Girls. Bitter pointed out that ABC News named Sandra Froman their "Person of the Week" even though we had a new Pope elected. Ms. Froman was just elected president of the National Rifle Association.

That ABC News chose Ms. Froman over the Pope is curious enough. So let's compare, a lifetime appointment versus a two year term--head of a 1.1 billion member church versus head of a 4 million member organization. I could speculate that ABC News didn't want to glorify a staunchly conservative Pope and turned their back on him in favor of Ms. Froman. I could so speculate, but I would probably be wrong.

Still, the article is curious in other ways and I wonder if certain points are made in ignorance or through malice. Let's take a closer look shall we.

The first paragraph after the slug reads:
The nations' 4 million gun owners, represented by the powerful NRA, believe their constitutional right to bear arms is constantly being threatened. The NRA is one of the biggest lobbying groups in the country, and Froman speaks their language.
In the first place, there are one hell of a lot more gun owners in America than 4 million. I've seen estimates ranging from 80 million to 100 million--that's only an underestimate by a factor of 20 to 25.

Also, not all gun owners are represented by or are members of the NRA. We have gun owners who think the NRA is too political and too conservative. We have gunnies who think it is too compromising and too liberal. Others think joining anything is anathema. Then there is a big fuzzy hard-to-define group of gun owners who rarely shoot. They might have bought a gun when they heard a bump in the night, inherited one, or bought one to look cool in a mirror when they play quick draw or play Travis Bickel. The NRA certainly doesn't speak for all of these gun owners.

The same paragraph includes a statement that NRA members believe their constitutional right (do they admit it is a right?) to bear arms is under threat. Maybe, I'm being over-sensitive here, but it sounds like they think these 4 million members are all paranoid. We know people want to take guns away from us and "you ain't paranoid if you're right."

The rest of the article is relatively neutral and quotes Froman saying positive things about gun ownership for women. I liked when she said, "[Carrying a concealed gun] feels as natural as carrying a Palm Pilot or cell phone — for me at least." I carry often, and for me too it feels really natural.

Evidently, Froman bought a gun when a would be burglar woke her one night. She has since become an ardent shooter and hunter and a gun rights advocate. The article points out, she had a misstep when she seemed to claim that teachers should carry guns, but then she claimed she was misquoted. Now, I think she was right and she should stick to her guns unless she truly was misquoted. Teachers, if they are willing and can legally own a gun, should be able to carry guns in schools or anywhere else.

Froman recognizes evil exists and we need to defend ourselves from criminals. In her words,
I believe there is evil in the world.... And I think that good people need to protect themselves from harm, from criminals who seek to deprive them of their life or their liberty.
I think Froman is a fine choice for NRA president. Women are an untapped resource in the gun world and she may be able to bring more of them into shooting and gun ownership. We'll have to see how she does.

I've said before, I'm an NRA member not because I always believe in their choices, but because I believe it is the strongest gun rights organization we have and we need to ensure it doesn't become full of "guns are only for hunting" types. I welcome Ms. Froman as my organization's president.

Monday, April 25, 2005

BAG Day Report and One From the Vault

Now that Bill and I are back from vacation, I have to keep promises I made while we were traveling. One of my goals was to visit Collectors Firearms in Houston, TX. We went there on April 15 (BAG Day). We've visited Collectors Firearms before, but neither of us ever bought a gun there and we were determined that this would change.

Before leaving home, I searched their website and found a gun I've always wanted to own, a Broomhandle Mauser. And, now I do own one, in fact it is pictured here.

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The Broomhandle is known by several different names: Broomhandle because of its round grips, C96 (C= Construktion in German), M96, and "Mauser Military Pistol." Paul Mauser didn't invent his namesake pistol in 1896. Its inventors were three brothers Fidel, Friederich, and Josef Feederle all of whom worked for Mauser. Oh, and "Feederle pistol" is one more name for Broomhandles.

The so-called Broomhandle is a neat weapon. It is antique and futuristic all at once. It has appeared in many different movies: Lawrence of Arabia, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and all three Star Wars movies featuring Han Solo. Solo's blaster was a heavily modified Broomhandle. It made a brief appearance in Fifth Element and appropriately in Young Winston, a movie about Winston Churchill who owned a Broomhandle Mauser.

Despite appearing in many war picture, Broomhandle Mausers never caught on as military pistols. They are heavy and ungainly. A few countries bought limited numbers of Broomhandles and soldiers, such as Churchill, sometimes bought them as their personal weapon. Interestingly, Churchill may have been the first military user when he killed three attackers in the Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan in 1898 (at least according to him).

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Its military features and purposes explain certain design quirks. The safety level sticks out (see top picture, the safety lever is visible just below and at a right angle to the hammer) and seems to be awkward. However, its makers designed it that way so that a cavalry soldier wearing gloves could operate it. It came with a shoulder stock that locked into a groove in the back of its grip thus making a carbine. The wooden stock also served as a holster. It is fed from above by stripper clips that held ten rounds of 7.63 x 25mm ammunition (.30 Mauser). Mauser produced a machine pistol, magazine-fed version called a Schnellfeuerpistole.

If 7.63 x 25mm rings a bell its because, its ammunition is very similar to that used in CZ-52s and other Eastern Bloc weapons. Russian revolutionaries in 1917 loved Broomhandles. They loved them so much they kept its ammunition, although a little modified, even when C96s were deemed obsolete. I wouldn't shoot modern 7.62 x 25mm Tokarev cartridges out of my gun because it is a hot load. The Chinese also liked the gun and made a fully automatic version in .45 caliber.

My gun is a "Bolo" model. Bolos have a shorter barrel and smaller grips than original Broomhandles. After World War I, the Versailles Treaty micro-managed German armaments and Mauser had to shorten barrels to satisfy a nameless bureaucrat. So far as I can tell, my Broomhandle was built in the early 1920s.

Broomhandles are reliable, well-made weapons. I've been looking for one for a long time, and I've seen them with barrels worn smooth, but with sound mechanisms. The strong mechanism is notable. It's actually made with only one screw and that holds the grip panels on. It comes apart and goes back together again like a jigsaw puzzle.

I haven't shot my Bolo yet. My gun has all matching serial numbers, about 75% of its blue, a bright bore with little wear, and it is all original--everything a collector like myself loves. Shooting it is a risk since I could break a numbered part and see a serious reduction in value. Still, I'll get a gunsmith to take a quick look at it and I'll use light loads. I shoot all of my firearms because that's what guns are made to do. Besides, I've heard Broomhandles are accurate. Its rear sight is calibrated to 1000 yards. Somehow, I don't think I'll try it at that distance.

So, that's my newest firearm and a little of its fascinating history. Hope you like my BAG Day purchase.

Update: 04/29/05 added the following links for easy navigation to other "One From the Vault" posts:

Introduction
Smith & Wesson 340PD
Trapdoor Springfield
Beretta 21A
Winchester 101

At Home Finally

Bill and I are finally home now. We got here much later than we planned thanks to April snowstorms in southern Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. There was also that stop at Cabela's near Hamburg PA that took so much longer than we expected (ahem). We arrived home last night about 11:30. We took our new treasures out of the car, but that's all we did.

I'm going to work late and I am typing this while waiting for a load of laundry to dry--I refused to go to work in travel dirtied clothes. I'm sure my office-mates appreciate it. As soon as they are dry, off I go to the Post Office to take care of our mail and then work. Vacation over.

I will be posting again after work. So many things to write about now. Talk at you then.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Last Post from the Road

Well unless we are startingly unlucky this will be our last post from the road. We are now in St. Clairsville, Ohio near Wheeling, West Virginia. It is snowing here if you can believe it. This is not just a pissy little wintry mix, this is real snow. We will need to dig out the snow brush from under our many fine purchases and sweep off our car. "Oh the pain, the pain," to channel Dr. Smith of Lost in Space.

We did a gunnie thing yesterday. We visited the Frazier Museum of Historical Arms (if we have the name right, we packed the brochures) in Louisville, Kentucky. We spent too much time there, but what a collection. They are exhibiting artifacts from the British armament museums, as well as collections of many other fine weapons. Their dioramas are startingly lifelike and we will post a picture of one or two of them soon. In fact, we will blog the museum later. If you live in or are visiting the Louisville area, be sure to check it out. It is on Main Street across from the Louisville slugger baseball bat factory.

Thanks for bearing with us while we were on vacation. Our trip taught us one thing: we need to buy a laptop with a wireless card. This blogging from motel lobbies, Internet cafes, etc., does not work out all that well. Thanks again.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Explanation for Last Post

Yesterday, I made a post from the road at an Internet kiosk in a truck stop somewhere in central Missouri. I made a very brief post and found this afternoon that either Blogger or the kiosk had stripped the post, but published its title. It was a very brief post indeed.

Bill and I are still on vacation, but heading back to New Hampshire and work. Yesterday, we toured the Harry S Truman home and library. I like Truman as a president and a politician. He said what he thought and did not pull punches. The only politician I know today like that is Zell Miller whom Bill and I respect.

Today, we toured the Mark Twain boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri. I am at an Internet cafe there and will need to leave soon. Twain is Bill's favorite author so he was happy as a clam today. We will have to cover some miles in the next few days if we are to get home on Sunday.

We haven't done anything gunnie related the last few days, but we will keep you posted next time I can find a computer. See you all later.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

On the Road Again...

And Final Convention Memories

Bill and I are leaving his parent's place and hitting the road in about one hour--on to the next leg of our vacation. We will return home Sunday, but we will try to post before then. As we download our photos, we will post our best ones and discuss the NRA convention a little more in context with our photos. I also need to post a photo of my BAG Day purchase, a Mauser Broomhandle "Bolo" pistol.

Beyond a few photos and their context, here is our last post on the NRA Convention.

We are very happy we went. We attended Ted Nugent's talk and listened to him praise the NRA and Gun Owners of America and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. He challenged gunowners to join the NRA and then get other gunowners to join. He wants to see a 40 million member organization.

You know my feelings on the NRA. It has compromised and it has made mistakes, but nothing is perfect. Also, there are compromises that are actually strategic steps forward. If you accept one bad thing, but gain ten good things, you have moved forward. Later, perhaps you can get rid of that one bad thing. This is exactly how anti-gunnies have moved their agenda. They know they can't ban guns yet, but they can chip away at our gun rights to where we no longer enjoy what we have today let alone freedoms my grandfather enjoyed.

I've also said the NRA has more power than all other gun organizations combined. It is second only to AARP in its lobbying clout. I agree with Nugent, gunnies should join. Besides, joining is an excellent way to tell its officers what grass-roots gunnies want. So, I encourage your membership. Still, I hedge my bets by sending money to GOA and JPFO and I will join one or both soon.

Another thing we liked about the convention was getting to meet and briefly talk to gun "celebrities." I talked to Todd Jarrett about ways to improve my shooting. I talked to Zell Miller about my change from a Democrat to a Republican-voting Independent and how my parents are now full-fledged Republicans.

I met Kim Rhodes and hefted her three Olympic woman's double-trapshooting medals. She won a Gold medal the first time her sport was shot in Olympics and she won gold the last time it will ever be shot in Olympic competition.

I met Tom Knapp and talked to him about what it is like to travel the country and get paid for shooting. Likewise, I heard Rob Leatham talk about the same thing. I let Michael Bane know how much I envy him his job.

Finally, Bill and I roamed through "five acres of guns n' gear." I examined more guns, scopes, targets, video games, cleaning equipment, and stuff than I'll do in six months and scored more catalogs and brochures than I'll have time to read. So, time to go since Bill is getting ready to roll--on the road we go.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Guns, Bias and Texas Reporters

As you all might guess, Bill and I are still on vacation. The NRA Convention is over and we will be hitting the road in a couple of days. Bill is getting acquainted with a fairly brand-new nephew. I'm still getting over my exhibit floor sensory overload. We roamed the floor for three days. The smell of Hoppes and Break-Free, the sound of hundreds of exhibited guns being dry-fired, the roar of thousands of gun-loving people all made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside it is indescribable.

But, but not all the visitors were there to celebrate their gun freedoms. No, the media was there too. They came to spin and castigate me and my fellow gunnies. On a different matter, I quoted T. Bubba Becthol when he said, "That ain't Texas." Yesterday (Sunday), the Houston Chronicle had a front page story on the NRA Convention. Was it "above the fold" you ask? Nope, it was below the fold, but still the front page.

The article wasn't Texas either. It looks at the NRA's stand on terrorist watch lists and as you know this topic is a sore point for me. I've written before on liberals' new-found support for terrorist watch lists. Last summer, they were falling all over themselves in their haste to condemn "no-fly" lists. They rightly pointed out that no one knows how someone is added to the list, there is no forthright procedure to get your name off lists, and those listed are suspects or, like Ted Kennedy, have names similar to someone on a list.

Liberals are right to criticize these lists. But, all of a sudden, they find out that listed people bought guns and they start supporting lists. From the article is a quote by Brady Campaign spokesman Peter Hamm,
Innocent people are getting disenfranchised from their right to get on an airplane or get on a cruise ship....I will not lose any sleep thinking that some poor slob won't be able to buy a gun because he's on the terrorism watch list.
C'mon Hamm is that hypocrisy I smell or did you and reporter Rachel Graves poot out a joint fart? "Innocent people" can't get on a plane. Well, Peter weren't planes used as weapons a few years ago? And, isn't that "poor slob" innocent as well?

Buying and owning guns is a right and if someone must be barred from exercising their right it should not be done through an arbitrary list. If a person is so dangerous that society must bar him or her from buying a gun or boarding an airplane, then throw the SOB in jail. What, they haven't done anything you say, they are "innocent people" and only suspects? Then watch them, but get rid of these lists.

To be fair, Rachel Graves' article quotes Wayne LaPierre,
Nobody really knows who gets on this list....This is a list that somebody has just put a name on. These people haven't been indicted for anything; they haven't been convicted of anything. Ted Kennedy was on the terrorism watch list.
Of course, she has to spin her story some more. She goes on to argue that NRA influence is making it harder for ATF and others to get crime guns off the streets. She quotes Gerald Nunziato who was a former ATF official and is now a consultant for something called "Crime Gun Solutions."

I Googled the company name and didn't find a website, but found links to the Brady Campaign and every other gun grabbing group you can think of. Ms. Graves shifts gears when Nunziato condemns the NRA for making it difficult to compile lists of gun owners so they can better trace crime guns. She throws in another quote from Ron Schuman another Crime Gun Solutions former ATF official slamming the NRA for its support of lawsuit protection laws. Maybe, Ms. Graves could throw in the kitchen sink and make sure she hits every anti-gun shibboleth.

Oops, I guess she does hit them all. She quotes Hamm again about "gun show loopholes" and "terrorists" who have supplied guns to people overseas in contravention to many gun laws already on the books. She doesn't question these sources or attempt to balance them in any way. For her, the "gun show loophole" is written in stone. One person claimed in a 60 Minutes story that he bought guns to send to Kosovo and describes buying rifles used by US soldiers in gun stores. She takes this on face value. Were these World War II weapons, were they fully-automatic, were they just a figment of someone's overactive imagination? No questions for anti-gunnies, but plenty for Mr. LaPierre.

Ms. Graves' article is incredibly biased. It is really a Brady campaign press release disguised as an article in a Texas paper. It looks favorably at every solution that would grow government at the expense of gunnies. It supports barring "innocent people" from gun ownership because they are named in secret lists. It supports listing gun purchases, it supports about everything Sarah Brady dreams.

One other thing Ms. Graves and the Brady Campaign support; breaking the law when it comes to guns. One final quote,
The FBI, in reaction to the GAO report, recently began keeping track of terror suspects' weapons purchases instead of destroying the records after 24 hours as required. "They're violating the existing law," the Brady Campaign's Hamm said, "and I'm sure glad that they're doing so."
I used to live in Texas. For awhile I lived in Houston, but lived longer in Austin. Bill was born in Houston. This incredibly biased article ain't Texas. It ain't even America.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

NRA Banquet Thoughts

Bill and I attended last night's NRA Banquet and we had a blast. If you're an NRA member and you haven't been to one of the banquets, you need to go. If you're not an NRA member and love guns, join for a year and go to the banquet. If you're an anti-gunnie go attend one of your banquets and argue over who gets tofu turkey or the vegetarian plate.

Let me tell you, the NRA Banquet was actually fun. They do very little business there. Wayne LaPierre served as Master of Ceremonies and kept the show running. First there was a reception with cash bar followed by dinner. A comedian, T. Bubba Bechtol later riffed on the fancy salad that started dinner.

I'm not trying to steal Bubba's riff. I couldn't do it anyway, but this was not a salad I'm familiar with. Bill and I think iceberg lettuce with shredded carrots and spinach leaves is one fancy salad. No, the Banquet salad was beyond our definition of fancy. To quote the menu we ate, "Mesclun Greens Green Leaves in a Cucumber Ring with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts with Orange Thyme Vinaigrette." As Bubba said, "that ain't Texas."

The cook settled down and we tucked into steak; a real grilled sirloin. I didn't expect steak when we planned on attending the convention and Banquet. I expected rubber chicken with a bit of yellow sauce poured on it. I travel a lot for work and get a rubber chicken treatment too often. That's why I'm telling you about steak. Another thing that was refreshing; there was no business with waiters trying to figure out who got the vegetarian plates. To the best of my knowledge, no one got a vegetarian plate. Hallelujah I found myself among carnivores!

Enough about food now. Tom DeLay was the guest speaker. I'm not overly fond of Tom thanks to his recent ethic problems. I know Democrats are out to get him and they are blowing some of his acts out of proportion, but that's my point. A man in his position should know his enemies want to get him and know that you don't give them ammunition to get you with. He practically handled them an arsenal.

That's my final rant on Tom DeLay. He gave his speech and received a Flintlock musket. He held it over his head, ala Charlton Heston, but I couldn't hear if he said, "From my Cold Dead Hands." Contrast this moment with an earlier Ted Nugent session we attended, When Shemane Nugent introduced her husband, she lofted up a full-fledged "assault weapon" and roared, "FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS." I loved that moment.

Let's return to the Banquet. After the speeches were over, T. Bubba did his, well, Bubba routine. He was one funny comedian. He's a very large man and he directs much of his comedy to his size and his country-boy self. Bill laughed so hard he about split his sports jacket. No more harder than I was laughing. After Bubba, Hank Williams, Jr. came out and entertained us until 11:45. I'm too old to rock this late, but I loved every minute of it.

So that's the Banquet. We will be posting more on our visit to the convention even though it is closing its doors until next year when it is hard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

By the way, we caught up to Michael Bane and he is every bit as friendly and well-spoken as he is in his show Shooting Gallery. We will have more on our adventures later, but for now have a good Sunday.

Friday, April 15, 2005

BAG Day and NRA Convention

Bill and I are in Houston, Texas visiting his parents. They have a dial up Interent connection that is a little "off." I've already lost this post once when I tried to add a link, so there won't be much linkosity today.

We had a good time at the Grand Casino in Tunica, Mississippi and didn't lose too much money. We're both cheap when it comes to gambling, but like to play slots every now and again. We left Tunica Thursday morning and headed to Vicksburg, Mississippi. We toured the Civil War fortifications there and bought a couple of books. What's a vacation if you don't spend money you earned the rest of the year?

BAG Day
This morning I made my BAG (Buy a Gun) Day purchase at Collectors Firearms in Houston. I looked at several items I had preselected on their Internet site. I decided to throw financial caution completely away and bought the most expensive gun I had preselected. I am now a proud owner of a Mauser Broomhandle "Bolo."

The one I bought had most of its bluing in place, all matching serial numbers and a strong, if not perfect, bore. It's chambered in .30 Caliber Mauser and was made sometime after World War I. I've wanted one of these guns ever since I've become aware of them. Now, I did say I threw financial caution to the winds, since it cost more than most of the guns I own, a little over $1,000.00. I know, it's expensive, but c'mon all matching numbers, decent finish, and everything we collectors love. I couldn't pass it up

After my BAG Day purchase, Bill looked at some shotguns, and pretty much selected a brand and a type, but he will need to make a belated purchase. We will blog about it later. Also, we will post a picture of my BAG Day purchase when we get home in a little more than a week.

NRA Convention
We made it down to the National Rifle Association convention. Today was it's first day, but we missed the opening ceremony. Houston traffic can be a royal bitch. We roamed around the exhibit floor for several hours. We ended up with sensory overload. There were so many guns there our heards were spinning. Not only guns, but equipment, new product displays, hunting businesses, and much more.

We attended a lecture session on concealed carry offered by Thomas Marx of Blackhawk. NRA's police training bureau sponsored the talk, but Marx, a former Chicago police officer, discussed many important considerations for civilian concealed carry not the least of which was you should spend as much time researching your holster and how your body can most easily hide a gun while maintaining access as you do choosing a firearm.

We saw some gun world celebrities there. I bought a Ted Nugent book and he signed it for me. He looked a little older than his pictures, but still in the best of health. Of course, I probably looked much older than my almost 50 years due to walking around the hall for too long.

We saw Craig Boddington talking on a cell phone, R. Lee Ermey signing autographs for Glock, and Michael Bane in his Shooting Gallery TV show shirt. We went up to say hello to Mr. Bane since he has linked up on his blog, but he was talking to other people. We roamed off and came back a few minutes later, but no Mr. Bane. Maybe we will have the chance to say hello as one blogger to another (the "another" just happens to have his own TV show and a lifetime of work in gun related journalism, while we have three months blogging experience).

From the exhibit floor, Cam Edwards was broadcasting, people were buying NRA stuff, and a good time was had by all. We're going to the banquet tomorrow and we'll let you know how that was. For now, good night.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Gunnie Fun on Vacation

Bill and I are sitting in our room in the Grand Casino, Tunica, Mississippi. We went to the casino where I promptly lost about forty dollars, but Bill won about $60.00 on slots. Now, if we can just stay away from the tables and machines, we'll be about even.

Our big gunnie fun was at the Willows Sporting Clays course, part of the Grand Casino complex. Now, talk about fun. The course is well laid out with many challenging target presentations. We shot ground clays (rabbits) coming from two different directions, springing teal clays jumping almost straight up, and more.

The course provided shotguns and ammo (for a price), a golf cart, and a very knowledgeable trapper named Dale. He ran the clays for us, gave us pointers, and let us see birds from each house so we could plan our shots.

With gun rents, ammo, trap operator tip, and two courses of 50 birds, we spent a little less than $100.00 for BOTH of us. If you're ever down Tunica way, be sure to stop in and run a course of clays. It will keep you away from the tables, but that's a good thing.

One other observation, how come the fancier the hotel, the fewer free services they offer? We have found two hotels with computers guests can use for free. Now I'm typing on this little keyboard propped up on a suitcase and its communicating with the TV. All this for $9.99 and its BLURRY. What's up with that?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Another One from the Road

We found another computer in a hotel on the road. Its amazing how many hotels are setting these up for guest use. When I travel for business, I stay in Hiltons and Westins and you expect a business center. Now, even the Days Inns have a business center. Love it.

Yesterday was a slight gunnie day. We stopped at a shot tower near Austinville, VA. It was built at the end of the 18th Century or thereabouts. It was built on a hill overlooking a river and the molten lead was dropped through the bottom of the tower, then through a hole dug into the hill, and it fell into water diverted from the river. They then collected the resultant shot and sold it. It was built near area lead mines.

Moses Austin, father of Stephen F. Austin, owned a lead mine in the area. On his deathbed, he made his son swear to go to Texas and found a colony. Stephen Austin became one of the fathers of Texas. We like Texas connections here at the Ten Ring since we used to live there.

After that we visited another cave and then stayed at a Holiday Inn in Cookesville, TN. Talk to you later.

Monday, April 11, 2005

One From the Road

We are on our vacation and I managed to get to this computer at a Days Inn in Wytheville, Virginia. Unfortunately, today's post will need to be quite brief. Bill is in the car revving the engine and there's a time limit on the computer.

Saturday, Bill and I drove from our home in New Hampshire to Luray, Virgina. We took the Luray Caverns tour and drove over to Monticello. Neither of us had been to either place. The Caverns were nice and Monticello was moving. They've done a great job keeping the place up while maintainng its antiquity. Monticello, of course, was Thomas Jefferson's home. The man who wrote the Decleration of Independence also wrote that the best form of exercise was in the field with a gun--or something to that effect.

Well need to run now. Off to Tennessee.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Starting Vacation and Some Linky Goodness

Bill and I are starting are long awaited vacation. That is, we are running around the house today getting packed, forgetting half of what we need and all that kind of stuff. The running around part is especially difficult since that's what I've been doing at work all day today. I even had to work beyond my eight hours thanks to meetings, and other duties.

Our vacation will interrupt our almost daily posts. We will be traveling by car and will not have access to a computer every day. We plan to post as often as possible and when we get to Houston, we will be able to post, so keep watching this spot. On our vacation, we have plans to shoot sporting clays in Tunica, Mississippi; attend the NRA convention in Houston; and make one or more BAG Day purchases. We will write reviews of those and other adventures as soon and as often as we can.

Meanwhile, here are some posts you might want to check out:
  • The eighth Carnival of Cordite is up at Gullyborg's Resistance is Futile site. Much linky goodness awaits you.
  • Kim du Toit did not buy a handgun for his son's birthday present. Go see a picture of the un-present.
  • Hell in a Handbasket has some nice words about a recent post on The Ten Ring, then he takes issue with a comment I made on The Ten Ring. He makes some very good points so check it out and read the interesting comments that post.
  • Alphecca finds more illogic on guns in The Christian Science Monitor.
  • Michael Bane discusses very large kitties, mountain lions, in this post. And,
  • Rachel Lucas has a very funny post up on house kitties. She doesn't approve of them anymore.
So, enjoy the links and do some reading for us since we won't be able to keep up with our favorite bloggers for a few days. We'll be back soon.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

More Guns, or More Deterrence

I see from Alphecca that Josh Horwitz is at it again. Last week, I discussed a press release written by Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV). In his release, Horwitz said that we gun nuts are "running amok." Well, he's back with this editorial in the Union Leader of Manchester, New Hampshire. Now he says the NRA and other elements of a "fringe culture" want to solve gun problems by adding more guns to the mix. As Alphecca very ably says, there are millions of us who are on the "fringe."

Horwitz 's editorial is a "guest commentary" in answer to an earlier commentary by Dave Workman. Both authors start with a litany of recent gun violence incidents. But, Horwitz draws very different lessons than Workman. The latter, a senior editor of Gun Week magazine, believes armed citizens could stop violence, which so often occurs in gun-free zones.

Horwitz concentrates on the specter of more guns. He lists people and organizations that have argued for more guns as a means to prevent gun violence: Gun Owners of America, Vin Suprynowicz, and "purportedly mainstream gun rights organizations like the NRA." He states,
With somewhere around 200 million guns in private hands in the United States, our society hardly suffers from a shortage of firearms, and it is not clear why adding millions more would make us safer.
He is being disingenuous, but I'm not sure where he got his quotes. Instead of arguing quotes, let me rephrase the issue. We gunnies don't necessarily want to add more guns; we want to remove legal impediments to bearing and using guns in our own defense.

For three decades, Americans have taken an approach of banning guns from our schools, churches, and offices. By doing so, we have created gun-free areas which become an attractive killing ground to someone who wants to make a name for himself or who has a specific murder in mind.

Let's think about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who wanted infamy. They wanted to kill as many people as they could, but didn't really care who they killed. On the other hand, workplace shooters often go into a place seeking to kill a boss, or someone else, but will kill anyone who gets in their way.

These are two very different motives, but each can be prevented by the sure and certain belief that they will not succeed. Rampage shooters like Harris and Klebold can't make a name for themselves if a school teacher kills or wounds them as they draw their weapons or before they can set off their bombs (like they had at Columbine). A workplace shooter wants to kill a specific person, but if he's certain he wouldn't survive long enough to get that person, he probably wouldn't try a rampage-style attack. He might plan a more prosaic murder, though.

There's two ways of preventing such rampages: making sure no one has weapons or making sure everyone who wants one can have them and knows how to use them. Ironically, Horwitz points to Somalia or Russia with their razor wire and bodyguards and doesn't want an America like that.

I agree with him. I don't want to see an America with these conditions, but it's what we are doing right now. We are armoring every school and workplace with armed guards, razor wire, metal detectors, and anti-weapon policies.

Armoring everything hasn't worked well, since it can't. There are too many people to screen, there are too few screeners, and Americans don't want to be patted down to go to work. A person who plans to kill and then die like a terrorist or a mass shooter isn't deterred by anti-weapon policies and can pick their time and place. So, to truly deter a mass shooter we will create Horwitz's nightmarish vision of razor wire and bodyguards.

That leaves us with another alternative: Let Americans provide their own "bubble" of security by being armed. It has worked in our history. People in America before the 1960s carried guns in their cars, homes and on their persons.

My grandfather, a farmer, always carried a gun including a vest pocket gun when he went to church. Bill's mother tells a story of her father who carried a gun when traveling. During a 1950s family vacation, they had stopped at a rest area when a group of youths made comments about the picnic food, the car, the girls, and they appeared to be getting more rambunctious with each comment. Her father pulled his revolver out of his pocket and placed it on the picnic table with his hand on it. The youths became very polite.

Before the 1960s, America made mistakes about carrying weapons. Given the blatant racism of the times, black people were disarmed by those laws that are being used against gunnies today. Lynchings were a shameful result. Today, we would do better. We would recognize that all people have the right to keep and bear arms. And, civilians who decide to carry a gun should have training and range facilities to help them understand when to draw, when to shoot, and when to stand back and be a good witness.

We gunnies don't want police and armed bodyguards everywhere. We gunnies want to live freely and without violence, but to have the ability to stop violence if it comes to us. Instead, Horwitz seems to think we want to mete out justice as we see fit.

We don't want to be vigilantes. We want to deter those who feel they need to attack defenseless people. We can either continue to nonsensically fortify our schools, buildings, and churches or we can return to what has worked before. That is, allow us to provide for our common defense.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Question on Our NRA Support

I checked The Ten Ring's e-mail box and read a criticism of Bill and my vacation plans. Before I go further, I'm not a fragile flower. My e-mailer chose to be anonymous and now "a'mous" is his (or her) name. Because a'mous chose not to leave a return address, I'll address his concerns here.

A'mous is angry that we are NRA members and going to its Banquet and convention. You see a'mous is a Second Amendment absolutist. By many definitions I'm a Second Amendment absolutist too. But, I support the NRA even while I support other gun and hunting organizations too.

Do I think the NRA has always been right? No, they made compromises and mistakes that have led to gun control laws being passed in Congress and in states. For instance, NRA officers supported registering machine guns and sawn-off shotguns in 1934 and a few even talked about registering handguns. That's wrong, but I still support the NRA and I'll tell you why.

Our Congresscritters make their living by doing what they perceive to be the people's will. Is it right for Congress to infringe upon a Constitutional right? No. Was Congress going to pass anti-gun legislation in 1934 and 1968? Yes, they were; too many people had grown too tired of reading about criminal use of guns. Congress will pass any damn thing they think enough people want. If gunnies think our presidents or Courts will veto laws or declare them dead through judicial review, we have another think coming.

In my lifetime, I've never seen a President truly support our Second Amendment. Eisenhower and Kennedy did little to help or hurt it. Johnson, though a hunter and shooter, signed the 1968 Gun Control Act, which actor Charlton Heston then supported. Nixon elevated the ATF and broadened its powers. Ford wasn't in office long enough to do much of anything. Carter, well....'nuff said. Ronald Reagan supported the Firearms Owner Protection Act of 1986 which did soften more odious parts of the 1968 Gun Control Act. The NRA supported him then, but to get the bill into law neither fought the Hughes Amendment making it impossible for civilians to buy new machine guns.

George Herbert Walker Bush approved import bans on many different "assault weapons" and supported banning their manufacture in the United States. The NRA supported Bush in 1988 because he seemed so much better than Dukakis on gun issues and he was a newly-minted NRA life member. Clinton opposed many gun rights (i.e., "assault weapons" ban, Brady Bill, etc.) and Bush hasn't pushed for many reforms, although he seems the best of the bunch except maybe Reagan.

Our Courts are more problematic than our presidents on gun rights and I'm not going spend any pixels on them.

I've come to the conclusion that we have to support an organization that makes Congress listen. The only pro-gun organization that comes close to that is the NRA, with its proven lobbying clout. Gunnies can't give up that lobbying clout, but we have to let it know we are not happy about its past compromises and mistakes.

Like it or not the NRA is the only gun organization that makes Congress and presidents listen to us. Until we have a better organization, Bill and I are going to enjoy the banquet and know that our membership dues are going to gun training, pro-gun lobbying, and gun sports.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

More Massachusetts Insanity

I was reading mASSBackwards' post on an "accidental" shooting in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He mentioned the Massachusetts Gun Roster. That caused me to flashback to my four years living and being a gun nut in Massachusetts. That flashback caused me to have a Kim du Toit style Red Curtain of Blood moment.

The roster and Attorney General Tom Reilly's interpretation make a truly horrendous situation for Massachusetts gunnies. The Executive Office of Public Safety (EOPS) sponsors tests of handguns. Independent labs subject firearms to drop tests, melting point test, and other tests. If a handgun passes, it's listed on the EOPS roster. Here is the most recent roster I could find. It says that for more recent listings you should go here. Of course, that link leads to another link, which eventually leads you here in a big ugly circle. In other words you can't get here from here.

Lets look at the roster we have. It lists a number of fine guns with Smith & Wesson, a Massachusetts company, well represented. You'll note each company lists models which are in turn broken down by submodels (i.e., stainless steel as opposed to steel). Each entry represents an investment a company made since they have to submit several guns of each model for damaging tests.

You'll note that cheaper guns and some small ones and not on the list. For instance, we see Berettas, but no Beretta Bobcats. We don't see Taurus. We can't find single-action revolvers made by Uberti. If they're not here, you can't sell them in Massachusetts.

You see, the state wants to protect you from poorly made and unsafe guns. That's why you can't buy Les Baer or Kimber 1911s. That's why you can't buy Sig Trailside or Pardini competition .22 pistols. Massachusetts is looking out for you.

Now, bear with me, because it gets even more complicated. EOPS created its list and then Attorney General Reilly decided that its list does not meet all of his requirements. Based on his reading of state consumer protection law, he declares that all guns sold in Massachusetts must have child safety features, load indicators, magazine safety disconnects for semi-autos, and tamper-resistant serial numbers. Not all guns on EOPS' roster have these features and therefore can't be sold in Massachusetts.

You have a list, but you really don't have a list. And, you have more questions. What is a child safety feature in Tom Reilly's eyes? What is a tamper-resistant serial number? By the way, Tom Reilly may run for and could become Massachusetts' next governor. Oh, the humanity.

What does this do for gunnies? Read this page from Four Seasons Guns in Woburn, MA for a nightmare about selling Glocks in Massachusetts. Here is their list (complete with gun p0rn) of new guns they can't sell in Massachusetts. You see Kahr listed on Four Season's page? What you say, Kahr is on EOPS' roster, sorry Attorney General Reilly says, "NO! You can't have it."

So, what's a gunnie to do? Bill and I moved out of Massachusetts to New Hampshire. We figured we would run afoul of an obscure state gun law and lose our gun rights forever. We applaud those like Jay G, mASSBackwards, and others who continue to fight. Meanwhile we will support gun rights in New Hampshire and elsewhere as we enjoy shooting our Sig Trailside, Springfield Armory 1911, and other handguns. Of course we face a 45 minute commute each way and we still pay Massachusetts taxes (grrrrrrrr) because we still work there. Beyond that, freedom feels so good.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Statistics in Context

Sorry for this late post. I was writing a post at lunch today sitting in my office. I got up to get a soda, and when I came back it was gone, into the ether, hit the ole bit bucket, and I'm not sure why. Teach me not to save early and often. Here is a post on a different subject and I'll try to redo today's post for tomorrow.

The Brady Bunch and other gun grabbers like to beat us gunnies over the head with statistics. One of their favorites is how many people are killed per year by guns. Around half of that number are suicides. Each year this number hovers around 15,000--sometimes more, sometimes less. That's a lot of people and each one represents despair and madness most of us will never feel. I've known people who have checked out early as I call it. I don't understand it, but I know survivors of suicide victims are sensitive about what happened. I will only be looking at statistics, so bear with me.

Gun grabbers blame guns for suicides and beat us up with their facts and figures. We've all heard them so don't make me go to the Brady Campaign's site. All right, you made me do it, here are their statistics, but these have no context. Let's look at another interesting set of statistics shall we.

The World Health Organization (WHO), a United Nations organization, is hardly a gun-friendly organization. They have suicide prevention programs and they keep statistics. Their information is based on most recent data and not all countries reported each year. Still, they have data that gun grabbers won't like.

Since America is a very gun friendly country, you'd think we would have an extremely high suicide rate--after all, anti-gunnie propaganda would have you believe a gun is the only way to shuffle off the mortal coil prematurely. The United State's suicide rate was 17.1 per 100,000 people for males and 4.0 per 100,000 for women in 2000. Note: from here on in all statistics will be "per 100,000," because I'm tired of typing zeros.

Japan is very unfriendly to gun ownership. Basically, there are a small handful of privately owned guns of all types in Japan and these are heavily regulated. Japan's suicide rate was 35.2 for males and 13.4 for females in 2000. That is, twice as many men in Japan kill themselves than in America and more than three times as many women commit the ultimate act. And, they do it without guns. Of course, Japan had a tradition of ritual suicide so we better take a look at another gun-fearing country.

Let's visit Belgium. While this tiny country was legendary gunmaker John Moses Browning's home for awhile, it's not known for widespread gun ownership. Its 1996 suicide rate was 31.2 for males and 11.4 for women. Not much different from Japan's.

Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine told us how much more peaceful Canada is than the United States even though many people there own guns. Its suicide rate is 18.4 for men and 5.2 for women. That's not much higher than in the United States, but higher is higher.

You can refer to more figures if you want. To me, suicidal thought causes suicide not guns. I've read gun-grabber propaganda that says that having a gun nearby can cause a depressed person to commit suicide impulsively. There may be a modicum of truth to the statement, but one can impulsively commit suicide while standing on a subway platform waiting for a train, or looking out a window in a high-rise building, or walking over a bridge, or using a knife.

So, next time a gun-grabber starts spewing statistics like an unruly fire hydrant, remind them that America is a gun-loving country, but guns don't cause suicide and here's the facts.

Someone at work, knowing my interests, told me he saw these statistics on a liberal site. He reads a lot of liberal sites and was not sure where he saw it. If I owe someone a hat-tip, let me know.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Carnival of Cordite #7 is Up

The seventh edition of Carnival of Cordite is up. Be sure to click over there and give it a read. Lots and lots of good stuff there.

Bill and I were out and about today running errands and doing household chores. Not always fun, but necessary. We both still have traces of a bronchial gunge from hell. Bill still sounds a little froggy and I've been sneezing at the most inopportune times (such as when I forget a Kleenex). What! Is this more than you want to know?

We are getting ready for our BAG (Buy a Gun) Day trip. We will post as usual through the coming week. Starting Saturday, we will post whenever we can. We should have a lot to tell you about including;
  • our visit to a Sporting Clays course at the Grand Casino in Tunica, Mississippi;
  • attending the NRA Convention and Banquet in Houston;
  • our BAG Day purchases, and;
  • any other gun nut adventures we have on the way.

So, wish us a good trip.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Democrats Getting Rid of Gun Control?

Someone at work pointed out an article in The Nation to me. He knows my gunnie interests and doesn't agree with them. But, I give him credit because he is a live and let live liberal.

Bill (Yosemite Sam) didn't want me to open the article on our computer. He thought its cooties electrons would turn our screen pink-o. I haven't noticed that happening, but I will take that risk and discuss the article with you. It won't be a fisk since the article is too long, but I'll hit high and low points.

There are surprising things in The Nation's article written by Sasha Abramsky. It discusses guns in New Mexico and their political impact on the Democrat party. The author is a gun-banner, make no mistake, but her conclusion is that Democrats need another strategy on guns. She believes Democrats need to abandon gun control and perhaps pick up two to four Western states. She points out that New Mexico and Nevada were narrow wins for Bush in 2004, and New Mexico went for Gore in 2000.

Points That Are Good
The article starts with an interview with Democratic State Senator Shannon Robinson. Robinson is an ardent foe of gun control and votes his hunting, outdoors, and gun interests. He also sponsored New Mexico's recently successful concealed carry bill. Yet he supports most of his party's other stands.

She interviews Democratic Governor Bill Richardson who tells her,
The Bush Administration is scaring off recreationists, hunters and fishermen because of their extreme anti-environmental policies. It's important to build alliances with these ranchers and fishermen and broaden the dialogue. The West is becoming more fertile Democratic territory. It's important for Democrats on the East Coast not to make the gun issue a litmus test.
She moves on to anti-gunnies (p. 2) and it's time to bring out hankies since there's a lot of tearful admissions that gun-controllers have lost in New Mexico.

On the same page, Abramsky makes a very realistic assessment of how difficult, if not impossible, it would be to disarm America. She includes discussion of the number of guns in America, that to find even most of them would require forced confiscation (she doesn't say if she thinks that's a bad thing), and a black market would grow unchecked. She even dismisses the "assault weapons" ban albeit reluctantly.

Starting on page 3, there is a statement that more and more Democrat politicians are making a realpolitik calculation and are thinking of dumping gun control. An unnamed senior Democrat strategist in Washington, D.C. said,
To the extent that Democrats are saying 'being a member of the NRA puts you out of moral bounds,' that's a problem. To my way of thinking, there is a fundamental question of cultural fit. People in Western states are not going to elect someone who doesn't fit the culture.
Points That Are Bad
On page 2, she states that certain gun control laws have worked to decrease violence. She cites the Brady Bill. Then, she can't resist it; she has to contradict herself and say that any law that removes "assault weapons" from American hands must be a good thing. She describes these guns as "deadly carnage-machines." I'd never seen that description before.

Abramsky can't quite let go of gun control too fast. On page 3, she says that a realpolitik decision to dump gun-control could harm the soul of the party. She wonders where that would end--dump gay rights, abortion, etc? Then, she answers her own point by saying that dumping gun control would be "morally less toxic" than alternatives.

One really bad thing is her interviews with two Cowboy Action shooters. One shooter argued that he supported gun control laws such as Brady Bill, and Child Access Prevention laws (p.3), the other said we didn't need fancy "assault weapons" (p. 4). With friends like these....

She admits that using a partial pro-gun strategy "...Democrats will never win, and probably wouldn't want, the support of hard-core Second Amendment literalists...." But, they might win enough of these soft-core shooters to win elections. She states if Democrats can win New Mexico and a couple of other states, such as Colorado and Montana, they could win national elections again.

Finally, the big thing that she believes would come out of a pro-gun stance is the Democrats can actually pass legislation reflecting their core values--health care, economic opportunity, etc. (in other words higher taxes, socialized medicine, etc.).

Summary
Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), people like Abramsky are not our friends. If we fall for a pro-gun stance, they could change their colors someday and go back into full gun banning mode. I don't trust them.

Still, while they are in a faux pro-gun stance, we will have opportunities to erase a few gun control laws particularly at the state level. Make hay while the sun is shining.

Finally, certain gunnies are not actually friends of "hard-core Second Amendment" types. We are only hearing the voices of two Cowboy Action Shooters who support some gun control. She may have talked to many more before she found her money quotes. However, I've met a number of shooters at skeet and trap ranges who support bans on black rifles. I don't understand them.

So, I better run. It's going to take me a while to get these cooties out of here. I think the screen is taking an alarming tinge of red. Wish me luck.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Republicans and Gun Control

Bill recently posted on Democrats and gun control. Bill has always been a Republican, but I was raised a Democrat. I describe myself as a recovering liberal, and when I voted in November, I changed my party affiliation from Democrat to nothing.

I didn’t enroll as a Republican since I love small government. While the Democrats left that principle a long time ago, Republicans don’t seem to embrace it when they’re in power. It’s said that Democrats stick their noses in your wallet while Republicans stick their noses in your bedroom. I don’t want anyone’s’ nose in my wallet or my bedroom, but lately Republicans seem to be in my wallet (how else are we going to pay for a new Medicare benefit). I don’t know if they’re in my bedroom yet, unless that blinking light on that brand-new smoke detector is a clue.

Republicans, however, are much better than Democrats about gun rights. But, three years ago Republicans may have started us on an insidious form of gun control. They may have created a loophole in the Second Amendment that they or “progressives” could use to seriously harm us gunnies.

In 2002, two Justice Department briefs to the Supreme Court declared that the Second Amendment actually protects an individual right. Finally, they recognize what we always knew.

You’d think I’d be happy with that. I am, but the brief included another part. Gun rights are “…subject to reasonable restrictions designed to prevent possession by unfit persons or to restrict the possession of types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse." Legislators and bureaucrats will decide who unfit persons are or what firearms are misused by criminals.

You might think that the Second Amendment’s plain meaning is enough to restrain these legislators or bureaucrats. The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Nope, here is that insidious loophole I mentioned. If Congresscritters actually acknowledge the right of the people to keep and bear arms, they can say they want to better regulate the militia. They could pass laws that would determine who is “militia” and who is “people.” Then they would determine what firearms are suited for militia use and what guns are suited to people use. One example; Congress could limit militia membership to owners of large tracts of land (similar to how our founding fathers defined the people) and then define people as everyone else. The militia could have any firearms while those people not barred by felony convictions, etc. would be limited to long-barreled shotguns since criminals misuse everything else.

Now, you might be thinking that “shall not be infringed” would close the loophole I described here. I don’t think it would. Congress and friendly courts could define “infringe” anyway they choose. I can imagine a Senator saying, “These laws don’t actually infringe since the people can own arms suitable for them.”

Democrats and gun grabbers (not all are Democrats) concentrated on tactics instead of strategy. They tried to ban types of guns for everyone; “Saturday Night Specials,” “Assault Weapons,” etc. If they had recognized an individual right to own guns, they would have faced less resistance when they defined who could own what. We would probably have lost our gun rights as we know them now.

I’m not saying Republicans want to go where their loophole leads. They may have created it by accident—wanting to recognize individual gun rights while still maintaining power. But, I think it gives them or others a way to change gun ownership in America. Be sure to keep your eye out for any legislation that changes the current definition of militia or tries to class certain firearms as “crime guns.” It could come from either party. Or maybe I’m just paranoid—hmmmm….I don’t remember putting that smoke detector in my bedroom.