Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Kim du Toit and Twenty Questions

Kim du Toit says he’s going to stop blogging except for occasional posts. He has said so before and he has come back to his computer. His is a necessary and valuable voice in the gun rights movement and he will be missed if he does not return to blogging.

He, and others as well, has suffered for his right of self expression. He lost investors in a software project because of his blog, he has had to put up with comments that attack him, and he has put a lot of time and money into his site.

I can understand his frustration with blogging although I am not in his league. Partially because Bill and I choose anonymous (at least to our last name) we haven’t suffered for our blog and we haven’t put as much effort or money into our site as Kim and his wife have done with theirs.

Still, we’ve put some sweat equity into this blog. It’s sometimes hard to come up with a post even though Bill and I have a lot to say. Other times, particularly because of a new project at work, I come home with my brain fried and all I want to do is watch poker on television.

There’s also a fair amount of administrative work. I find it hard to keep up with e-mail partially because I have two work accounts and several personal accounts. Sometimes I just don’t click on my personal and blog accounts since I don’t want to read or write another word.

That’s enough of the blogger’s blues. There are many rewards. I get to express my thoughts to readers from far away who have read my work. I have electronically met many people I would never have met otherwise. Frequent commenters like blueeyes, Drew, Seth from Massachusetts, and others have enriched my life by challenging me to think a little harder and giving me valuable information in return.

In honor of Kim, I'm going to answer his Twenty Things a Man Should Do only I took the liberty of editing them for a woman.

1. Shoot a gun larger than a .22. Done. I’ve fired up to a .45-70 and I plan to shoot a .50 cal someday. Of course, I've also shot shotguns include a 10 gauge.

2. Teach a kid to shoot. Done. I’ve taught several kids some of whom have grown up and now own guns.

3. Cook a meal out in the open (and I don’t mean a backyard BBQ). Done. I’ve cooked on camping and hunting trips.

4. Kill an animal which can kill you. Not Done (except deer, but they don’t really count in this case and I guess ducks could have killed me, but let’s not stretch it that far).

5. Taste a good brandy (no French cognacs need apply) and a fine single malt Scotch. Done and Done.

6. Visit at least eight countries outside your own continent, none of which speak your home language. Partially Done. I’ve visited France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands. If Wales counts, I’ve been there too. I’m not answering for Bill, but he could add several other countries to the list courtesy of the Air Force.

7. Read any six Shakespeare plays. Done. I read them while in school and read several afterwards for pleasure.

8. Win a solo sporting competition—anything that involves physical exercise. Done. That is, if you count shooting sports, c'mon there’s exercise involved.

9. Be part of a winning sports team. Not Done, and probably never will get it done.

10. Make love with a woman in a forbidden place. Done. No comment.

11. Have a strange woman invite you home with her him; and refuse her him, because you’re married. Done sort of. I’ve been married twice and while I have had this opportunity, I didn’t create it to take it.

12. Build something tangible—out of wood, steel, brick, whatever. Done. Bill and I have built bookcases, china hutches, and other furniture. I’ve built bookcases all by myself too for any purists out there.

13. Sit up all night comforting a sick child. Not Done.

14. Tell the truth, where a lie would both be undiscoverable, and keep you out of trouble. Done.

15. Watch at least one real virtuoso play a musical instrument—in any kind of music. Done. Including YoYo Ma and others.

16. Perform on stage (music, theater, whatever), to a large (500+) audience. Done (sort of). I’ve given lectures and presentations to groups larger than 500. There’s a certain degree of performance involved in giving a lecture to a large group.

17. Play at least one musical instrument competently. Done. I played clarinet and saxophone in high school and can futz around on a piano and guitar.

18. Make love to a woman at least ten years older younger than you are. Done. I turned it around for a woman’s perspective.

19. Tell a government bureaucrat to fuck off. Done. In so many ways.

20. And finally: tell a true story to your grandchildren. Not done. No grandchildren.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

ATF and Irresponsibility

I was skeptical about a story that broke around two weeks ago claiming Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) did “residency checks” at a Virginia gun show. The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) reported that ATF and sent Henrico County deputies and Richmond, Virginia police to prospective gun buyers’ homes. Officers asked people there if they knew their husband, wife, son was buying a gun and how they felt about that. If no one was home, they asked neighbors if they knew their neighbor was buying a gun and how they felt about it.

Something didn’t seem right so I didn’t write about it. I wasn’t alone in my feelings of unease. Kim du Toit posted about it, but also thought it seemed a little fishy. A follow up on his site cast more doubt on VCDL’s report although it included a VDCL statement that outlined how ATF could have gotten buyer information at the show. Still I had doubts and didn’t write about it. Further, a number of bloggers covered the story and I didn’t have anything to add and didn’t want to provide a faint echo.

Yesterday, Ravenwood’s Universe provided information that erased my doubts. Ravenwood reports that the VCDL obtained records (pdf) with a Freedom of Information request that outlined the operation, its planning, and previous similar operations.

Reading the records, ATF/ police action was designed to ensure a prospective gun buyer lived at the address he or she put down on the Form 4473 and a Virginia State Police form in an effort to identify straw purchasers. Only buyers living in certain areas of the city and county were targeted.

A table tells us that there were four such gun show checks beginning in July 2004 with the last recorded in January 2005. The table doesn’t include data from the most recent show.

There were 189 residency checks and 68 interviews. I’m not sure how “residency checks” and “interviews” are defined. It’s possible that authorities checked other records like phone books and cleared 121 or perhaps all “residency check” buyers without sending officers to their homes. However, 68 unverifiable addresses seem high because police departments have access to unlisted phone numbers and other information. It’s also possible that authorities chose 68 different people either randomly or for another purpose (length of residency, whatever).

The table shows limited law enforcement success. There were thirteen charges of making false claims on gun forms and thirteen charges with attempting to make straw purchases (the sum is the same, but column entries differ). Charges are not arrest numbers and people may face multiple charges, so it's impossible to know who many people the table represents. Chances are good though that many charged with false claims were also charged with making straw purchases.

These charges include all law enforcement at the gun shows and not just results of interviews or residency checks. They could include people who were charged for making a false claim at the show itself or for something that occurred in the parking lot.

Here's the problem. It’s bad enough that we have to jump through hoops to buy a legal product in a free country. It’s worse that authorities are doing “residency checks” using public records if that’s what they were doing. Worst still are those interviews.

So long as we have gun laws on the books, cops and ATF must enforce them. So long as we have enforcement, we’ll have abuse. Make no mistake, this is abuse. Very few gun show attendees make straw purchases. ATF violated the privacy of 68 people and subjected their families or neighbors to obtrusive interrogations--who knows what they did with information from 189 others.

Giving it the most pro-ATF interpretation, only thirteen or so attendees of four gun shows were guilty of attempting to make a straw purchase. We have no way of knowing if any of these were arrested solely because of these interviews, but if such is the case then 55 interviewees were innocent. If you use residency checks as your measure the abuse is even worse, 189 checks to find thirteen or so criminals. Let's stick with 55 interviewees, what other enforcement operation would accept an almost five violations of rights for one charge? While these examples are not directly analogous: Do we check every fifth car for suspended license violations? Do we pat down every fifth pedestrian for drugs?

That’s why I didn’t believe the story at first. I didn’t believe that responsible law enforcement officials in a free country would act so irresponsibly. Sad to say, I was wrong.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fisher Cat Blogging

The Ten Ring, almost by its own volition, has partially evolved into a coyote blog. However, the Ten Ring is still a gun blog, and there’s a gun connection here because it’s foolish to go out into a potentially dangerous world armed with only fingernails, teeth, and things we can pick up like coolers.

Predators have made a comeback in our forests and fields. They’re reproducing fast enough, and staying alive long enough that their ranges are spreading. They are moving back into areas where predators had once been exterminated. It’s a sign of a healthy ecosystem. They move into suburbs and urban areas because that’s where they easily find food and shelter. They're getting used to humans and seem to have little fear of us anymore.

Healthy urban predators present little threat to adult humans, but they do present some threat to our children and certainly to our pets. The animals aren’t to blame. They’re just being animals when they don’t consider a child or a pet as too very different from a rabbit or squirrel.

It fascinates me that urban animal predators are gaining a foothold in Massachusetts of all places. The state has done everything it can to disarm its citizens short of house to house searches. It can take about 100 days to get state permission to buy a gun. You think chemical defense is an option? You must get a firearms license to buy pepper spray even if you don’t want to touch a gun.

Meanwhile Massachusetts citizens are confronted by growing numbers of animal predators sometimes in their own back yards where we fend off animals with lumber. In the linked case, the coyote was rabid, but that underscores the need for effective self-defense.

It’s true that we have much more to fear from human predators than we do animal predators, but here again, it’s foolish to abolish weaponry. We humans invented tools to protect ourselves from hungry predators and to feed ourselves and to defend ourselves against hostile humans. Massachusetts and other governments are willing to give up the one advantage we humans have in nature, our tool-making ability.

That said; the newest urban or rather suburban predator that has shrieked into public consciousness is the fisher (called “fisher cat” in Massachusetts). The fisher is known for a scream that makes you swear you walked in on a child’s murder. Fishers have been sighted and heard in Boston’s northern suburbs and one was found in Brookline which is quite near Boston.

Fishers are large weasels in the same family as wolverines. They were almost extinct in New England because they’re forest dwellers. New England was once almost all cleared farmland, but has become reforested. As that happened, fisher populations rose and they’re finding homes in our suburbs.

Fishers are too small to be a threat to humans except maybe babies. To the best of my knowledge they don't attack humans, but are known as very efficient carnivores. They’re one of few animals that can attack and kill a porcupine. Fishers seem to have a special appetite for nice, juicy house cats and have been known to snatch them out of open windows.

So, fishers are one more urban predator to worry about. I keep my cat indoors and not just because of fishers, coyotes, dogs, and autos. My cat is also a predator and I don’t want him out killing birds (and if you’ve ever watched a cat kill a mouse, you’ll understand that humans aren’t the only species that sometimes kill for fun). I do know that if my cat was threatened by a predator, I would do everything I could to save him. That doesn’t mean I'll be grabbing a cooler or a piece of lumber to fight off a predator.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

How Much Safety is too Much?

Have we as a society gotten so safety conscious that we’ve made it impossible to enjoy simple activities like shooting? Yes, shooting has certain dangers, but millions enjoy safe shooting without elaborate safety precautions.

Let me explain what started my rant. I’m a member of a gun club that’s only a three minute drive from home. It’s located in a broad expanse of land and its rifle/handgun ranges have tall berms and behind those is a tall hill. Beyond the hill is a business. No one at that business has ever complained that a round has entered their buildings and parking lots.

The club has become proactive in order to prevent a round from ever leaving a range. Its officers want to be good neighbors and good citizens. That’s a good thing, but any good thing can be taken too far.

Bill and I went shooting on Sunday. Our two goals were to shoot Mr. Completely’s new Postal Match (I’ll post results soon) and to certify on the rifle/handgun range. Once certified we’ll have full access to the range—including a key to open a gate in the fence that secures the range.

Certification meant that we had to take a test and then do a shooting proficiency test (shoot ten rounds on a target, do it safely, and keep them on the paper). That wasn’t so bad. The test was based on the club’s rule book and the range officers wanted to ensure that you knew how to handle a gun safely.

But the officers (well-meaning, capable people and all with a love of shooting) have placed many limitations on the range to make it “safe.” First, all shooting must take place at 25, 50 or 100 yards. If you want to shoot closer, there’s a small range elsewhere that has its own set of rules, and safety features. On the rifle/handgun range you must use provided target stands and your targets must fit inside the wooden frames. The usual IPSC/law enforcement type targets won’t fit the frames limiting you to basic bullseye targets and little else.

There’s no shooting at anything other than paper or cardboard. That means no steel plates or silhouettes. There’s no tactical shooting--you cannot draw from a holster and shoot. Each lane and target frame is numbered and no one can shoot at any target other than the one corresponding to your lane making it impossible to practice El Presidente or other practical gun drills. The club has no “tactical” range elsewhere.

The shooting lanes (about fifteen) are purpose built for your shooting position. If you want to shoot prone, you have to move to a prone position. The same goes for bench rest, sitting, etc. Each shooting “window” is built at a given height depending on shooting position. Each window has a steel baffle that extends four to five feet out in front of it. Your gun must remain under the baffle.

The range walls are filled with crushed rock capable of stopping rifle bullets. In other words, the place is a fort. If there’s ever a zombie attack, I know where I’m heading to make my stand.

I can list more details, but you’re getting the idea. At the range, one must shoot only one way or you take the highway. I’m all for safety, but the range “armor” doesn’t stop an idiot from shooting in a way that a round could leave the range. Granted, it would give the club a legal leg to stand on.

So, here are a few questions for debate: Are we so proactive in making shooting safe that we’re going overboard? Are we limiting gun sports to the point where people are just going into the woods and doing whatever they want? Is this more dangerous than having reasonable rules in place at a dedicated range? Do we risk driving people away from shooting by having such strict rules, certifications, fences, that prevents legitimate gun uses such as any action shooting? Have we really gotten so safety conscious that no risk is the only acceptable choice?

I will continue shooting here and supporting the club, but these limitations make it impossible to hone practical shooting and other skills. I plan to lobby club officers for a safe range where one can shoot action games, use steel plates, and other legitimate gun games.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Little Travel Nostalgia

Yesterday, Kim du Toit posted about his wife's urge to travel again. He included five wonderful pictures of Europe. Yosemite Sam and I have gone there several times. We've visited France, Great Britain (Wales and England), Germany, the Netherlands, and a few other countries. Each time, we've rented cars and got off the beaten path. We wish we could go again soon, but not yet.

One reason we don't want to go is that Europe has sunk into anti-American assclownery; France especially. We never had any trouble with French people partly because I speak French (not fluently, but well enough to carry on most conversations). Still, we don't want to give any more of our hard-earned money to a government that stabs its friends in the back while being cozy with its enemies. A very strange state of affairs.

Further, Bill lived in England about fifteen years ago when he was in the Air Force. He spent a lot of free time off base and learned to love the English. He's enjoyed his visits but is sick about what's happened to the English people in the last few years. He says, "they've become gormless." A sad state of affairs.

Finally, the Europeans except for Switzerland and Finland make civilian ownership of guns difficult if not impossible. A sad and strange state of affairs.

Despite socialism, anti-gun attitudes, diplomatic and political crap, we would still like to go back for a visit. It's not just the pretty buildings, its eating wonderful food (like Restaurant Paul Bocuse in Lyons), meeting new people, and seeing a land that was ancient when Columbus sailed. Here's a few pictures to drool over.

The Louvre at Night, Paris

Interior of Notre Dame, Paris

Tintern Abbey in the Rain, Wales

Big Ben and Parliament, London

Stonehenge at Sunset, England

(Note all pictures taken by Bill or Denise of the Ten Ring and are copyrighted.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Policial Correctness Nuttery

Well, once again I have to apologize for sporadic posting. It’s work pressure. My supervisors placed me on a project that requires much mental gymnastics, writing, and thinking. I haven’t had the time to read other guns blogs, media, etc. And, I haven’t been too eager to write after spending work hours pounding keyboards. Oh well, enough whining.

One update, my co-worker was not able to go shooting this past weekend. He was “volunteered” to man a display at work on Saturday and couldn’t go shooting on Sunday. We are aiming (no pun intended) for this weekend. I’ll keep you updated.

Recently a little thought kept nudging me in the back of my head. In Stalin’s Soviet Union when Stalin purged a party leader (sent to Siberia or "given" a bullet), his propaganda ministry would carefully retouch historic photos that included the now-purged party leader. Soon, the exiled or dead party leader would disappear from history.

It’s possible that politically correct (PC) minded people are trying to do it with guns. If you can make guns disappear, eventually “gun culture” will disappear. It may take a few generations, but perhaps one day a person will see a picture of a gun that a PC propagandist missed and won’t know what it is.

Look at how images and mentions of guns are disappearing. John Lott reports that Disney used Steppenwolf “Born to be Wild” in a recent movie and rewrote the lyrics changing “fire all of your guns at once” to “fire all your engines at once.” (Hat tip to Alphecca).

New Mexico State University’s mascot was “Pistol Pete.” This summer they took his pistol away and gave him a lasso. Similarly, the annual “Red River Shootout” football fame between Texas and Oklahoma is now the “Red River Rivalry.” If you want an older one showing a trend, in 2003 a principal at a Louisiana junior high dropped a shotgun toting mascot. And, we’re talking about anti-gun PC in red states.

There are other examples I could give, but one from a blue state came right out of a team’s anti-violence campaign. Washington D.C.’s professional basketball team is the Washington Wizards formerly the Washington (and earlier Baltimore) Bullets. Team owner Abe Pollin deliberately renamed the team as an ant-violence symbol.

Now, a few examples don’t make a conspiracy, but anti-gunnies are losing politically and culturally while gunnies are winning battles in Congress. Also, more people own guns than five years ago. If they can’t win any other way, gun banners will try to win intellectual battles. PC anti-gun nuttery needs watching.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Glocks and Cops

Sorry for sporadic posting lately. I’ve been assigned to a new project at work. It involves a lot of analysis and then writing long reports. The analysis is interesting and a welcome change from the same old, but I write a lot at work and now I’m doing nothing but writing. Between reports, e-mail, and the blog I sometimes feel like my fingers are sloughing off. Something had to give the last few work days and unfortunately it was the blog. Sorry.

James Rummel of Hell in a Handbasket posted about Glocks on Friday (be sure to check comments for further points from him and his loyal readers). He also talked about police proficiency with guns. Both are subjects I know a little about and following is a discursive essay about both—but you already knew that was coming.

Bill “Yosemite Sam” owns a Glock Model 19. It’s a reliable, efficient gun, but I don’t particular like it. For one thing, its lower frame feels like a toy and the gun as a whole looks like a child carved it out of a bar of black soap. Its metal parts have a finish that only a nihilist could love—that is no real finish, just a sort of dull-black coating. Let’s not forget I’m a gun traditionalist.

James mentions “Glock leg.” The phenomenon of supposedly well trained officers shooting their own leg with their Glock. James feels Glock leg stems from the gun’s lack of external controls such as safety and other levers. He has a point, but I think there’s more to Glock leg. It’s a case of too many repetitions of handling a gun and then having to pull the trigger to decock for cleaning.

With a Glock you need to pull the trigger before you dissemble it. There’s no decocking mechanism, no hammer to lower slowly and carefully. You just have to stick your bugger hook into the trigger guard and pull that bang switch.

Someone like a cop or armed citizen who carries a Glock gets used to constantly holstering then drawing if only when going home or coming to work. Eventually the owner has to clean the gun. It’s a simple matter for a person to un-holster, drop the magazine, get distracted, and pull the trigger to decock for cleaning. Suddenly, he's got a case of Glock wall at best, Glock leg, or worse. Glock and other striker-fired pistol makers need to rethink their designs and add a way to decock that sucker.

Here’s something else about a Glock. Since it has no external safety, it must be re-holstered cocked (just like a revolver). I’ve known plenty of cops in one of my two primary careers. One older officer had a case of “revolver toe and floor” he earned while re-holstering.

It’s easy for a cop or an armed citizen for that matter to not remove the finger from the trigger while holstering (particularly after an adrenalin-producing event). The finger strikes the top of the holster and suddenly you need new underwear. A safety lever wouldn’t be a solution since many officers won’t carry a double action semi-auto with an engaged safety, which might be forgotten in an emergency. Here again a decocker is a partial solution.

James mentions that cops aren’t as proficient as many gun bloggers and other gunnies out there. That’s true although there are many exceptions. Most cops have too many things to learn and do. Many police academies have only a week or two devoted to guns including class room instruction. The rest of the three to six months is devoted to physical conditioning, defensive tactics, accident investigation, First Aid or First Responder training, and more topics than I can list here.

Once out of the academy, an officer has many refresher courses and schools to attend. Shooting becomes another work-related chore. Also, many cops in big cities don’t have a history of shooting as kids. They come to it late in life and as part of a job. They don’t develop a love of shooting that many civilian shooters have. A handful may view their gun as an unwelcome reminder of the danger inherent in the job.

I love to shoot and have done so since I was eight years old. I carry a gun frequently, but I don’t carry a gun that I can’t decock before holstering it or cleaning it—and I don’t mean by pulling the trigger, a silly idea at best. Of course, you need to understand that Glocks aren’t my favorite guns in the gun world, so read my opinions with that in mind.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

One From the Vault

Colt Model 1903 Pocket Pistol

It’s been a while since I posted a “One From the Vault.” In my last one I discussed a Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket Pistol. Well, the 1908 had a big brother, Colt Model 1903 Pocket Pistol.

Model 1903s are clean looking guns--they’re slab-sided and well designed. Colt introduced it in .32 ACP, but military officers wanted a harder hitting round and Colt came out with a .380 ACP version in 1908. General George S. Patton carried one. While he carried his signature Colts in his gun belt, he kept a Pocket Pistol in his waistband.

Model 1903s live up to their name: “Pocket Pistols.” They're quite concealable in a jacket pocket or even a deep pants pocket. I don’t carry mine because I have newer guns for that purpose, but it would be cinch to carry. It’s flat, it weighs a little less than a pound and a half and there’s nothing to catch on clothing. There’s no hammer, no protruding safety, no slide release, and no take-down lever. Like I said, it’s a remarkably clean and neat design.

These guns have two safeties. One is a slide lock safety that can only be engaged when the gun is cocked. It locks up the trigger assembly. The other is a grip safety. There’s no magazine disconnect, at least in my gun. The magazine release is a butt toggle—European style.

Here is a photo so you’ll know what I mean (I’m trying to improve my photographs here so bear with me).

You’ll note in the picture that the magazine’s top is left “in the white.” Colt typically didn't blue magazine tops. I’m sure they had a good reason, but I don’t know what that might be. I’ll take a non-authoritative guess so don’t quote me. Colt engineers might have thought that an unblued magazine top would slide home with less friction.

My gun is the original .32 ACP model. I’ve shot it and it’s surprisingly accurate. The sights are small consisting of a thumbnail style front sight and a notch rear sight. You have to take your time and line up the sights exactly right. My gun tended to shoot to the right so I had to aim about 8 o’clock on the target. Once I did that, I was hitting the ten ring all the time. When I dry-fired it with a snap cap, I noticed that I was pulling it a little to the right. It must be a quirk of how the gun fits my hand.

I had no failure to feeds, no failures to eject, and no failures of any kind. Not bad for a gun that was designed over 100 years ago. It’s a testament to Colt’s engineers, and craftsmen. And, lest we forget, the inventor of Model 1903s is none other than John Moses Browning, a true genius and one must speak of him in hushed tones. If you're really interested here is the patent for Model 1903.

Speaking of testaments, the finish is wonderful. Before World War II, Colt developed a bluing process that is simply beautiful. Take a good look at the picture. The blue is almost black and so deep your reflection can swim in it.

While Browning hit a home run with this gun, his disassembly design is not intuitive. You might note a little arrow and line near the muzzle. After removing the magazine, you hold the gun a certain way, stick your tongue out of your mouth at just the right angle, pull the slide back so that the line aligns with the frame, and turn the barrel to the left. If everything is perfectly in line, you’ll be able to pull the slide off and clean your gun.

My gun has some finish wear on the edges, along the front of the grip, and the grip safety. It’s rifling is sharp and clear and overall a nice gun. Based on the serial number, 36xxxx, it was made in 1920. I can imagine F. Scott Fitzgerald or one of his contemporaries ambling into a hardware or department store. The deep blue of a well-designed Pocket Pistol catches his eye. He must buy it and carries it from the store in his coat pocket.

In my mind’s eye, I can see that store’s gun display. There’s a couple of 1911s that soldiers brought home from World War I. The oak case holds other handguns. A few shotguns, and a handful of rifles line the wall behind the counter. For a discriminating customer, there’s a Thompson submachine gun. Paperwork consists of passing cash across the counter and then wrapping your purchase in day-old newspaper. Like its little brother, the Vest Pocket Pistol, my gun comes from a different, simpler and more civilized time.

(Note: I've added previous "One From the Vaults" to the right hand column. If they aren't showing, refresh your cache.)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Odds and Ends (and New Postal Match)

Today’s post will tidy things up a bit. You know, follow up on old posts and write in a meandering fashion.

We bought Bill an AK clone for his birthday. We were planning to take it out this weekend, but he ended up feeling really under the weather. We didn’t get out, but there’s always this coming weekend. If we get a chance to shoot it, a range report will follow. Like I said, I’m new to AK clones, so shooting it will be new to me.

Speaking of this coming weekend, I will be taking a co-worker to the range as I posted Friday. He hasn’t shot anything before, but he’s a history buff. My post garnered two comments with excellent advice. One was from frequent commenter “blueeyes” and the other from ZendoDeb of .357 Magnum.

ZendoDeb recommends starting someone small so that fear and recoil is less an issue. That's an excellent idea. Recoil doesn’t bother me, but it could bother him. I’ll be on the look-out for that. I'll start off with a .22 rifle and we’ll move up to battle rifles. As a history buff with a significant interest in World War II, he really wants to handle and shoot the old rifles. Also, I'll be stressing safety. I’ve taught others to shoot (I'm an NRA Certified Range Safety Officer and I've been a certified handgun instructor). Safety must come first.

Random Nuclear Strikes has a new Postal Match. This time it’s with rifles and you can use scopes. Go take a look. If Bill and I can work around our schedules,we’ll get busy and shoot this one.

We did shoot Mr. Completely’s diabolical Flyswatter match. I didn’t do as well as I thought I would given that it was a deceptively simple task that turned into a fiendishly hard exercise in frustration.

Postal Matches are a good way to get out and shoot in a way you ordinarily wouldn’t try. Go out and give one a whirl.

Well, that’s all for now, more content tomorrow.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A Co-Worker Wants to Go Shooting

I'm writing this, because today a co-worker asked me to take him shooting and I hope to have a story like like the one Countertop Chronicles posted.

Countertop tells us he converted one or more people to gunniehood. If anything makes me think we are winning back our gun rights, it is the growing number of people who are buying and shooting guns. These people overcome the many impediments that stand in the way of any new gunnie. Let's look at a few of those impediments:

Federal Law: Federal laws on gun ownership are onerous. Just the fear of breaking a law accidentally may be enough to convince people to stay away from guns.

State Law: State laws vary from lax to incredibly strict and one must take lawyer-like care to not break any of them. Bruce of mASSBackwards has been waiting 100 days for a gun license that Massachusetts state law declares is to be given in 40 days.

Society: Too many people see gun ownership as anti-social if not down right creepy.

Media: Though part of societal opprobrium, the media demonizes guns at every turn. Every Tuesday Alphecca assembles a "Weekly Check on the Bias" post. He includes positive stories, but anti-gun stories far outweigh the positive.

Places to Shoot: As we've become more urbanized, there are fewer places to shoot. Gun clubs are hard to find and sometimes harder to join. Public ranges are expensive and there are too few.

Cost: Jeez, this is a big one. Guns aren't cheap and ammo costs more than it should. If I were getting into guns now, I would think twice about paying $500.00 for a quality handgun and $10.00 to $15.00 per box for practice ammo (if I were buying a self-defense gun and not a plinker).

The fact that so many people hurdle these impediments is heartening.

I work in Massachusetts, and almost all of my co-workers are gun fearing liberals of the first order. The guy whose going to the range with Bill and me is a history buff and a bit conservative--at least compared to the rest of the office. He knows I collect historical military arms and he's always wanted to handle and shoot these weapons. Now he will have his chance.

I'm debating what to take. I have an M1 Garand that’s a must for him--he specifically asked if I had one. Bill has a 1903 Springfield that'll probably go. Perhaps, we’ll do a World War II theme and include my K-98, and my Mosin-Nagant. Then there’re handguns to consider. Oh the decisions, the decisions.

I hope my co-worker enjoys his shooting time. My ulterior motive is to get to join the Nation of Riflemen. I’ll even help him wend his way through getting a Massachusetts gun license (shudder). I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Cougar Blogging

Hat tip to ZendoDeb at .357 Magnum.

I may be at risk for being considered a predator blogger because of the times I've discussed coyotes and bears in the Boston area. Well here is a story out of Canada that really struck me.

A child, a four-year old girl, was walking with her mother near a village on Vancouver Island. They were on a trail in a forest. Reports are that 400 cougars live on the island and there have been increasing number of attacks on humans.

A young cougar attacked the child and her mother beat the cat off with a cooler. Authorities think the girl and her mother weren't being stalked. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The girl went to the hospital with scalp wounds.

The article ended with an amazing statement, "Wildlife experts say people who are attacked by cougars should fight back rather than attempt to flee."

That's what struck me. How do humans fight back? We have inadequate teeth and nails. We're not as strong as most large mammals. We can't even run as fast as them if we do attempt to flee. We humans have one thing that the animals don't. We're smarter than them. We make weapons that enable us to fight predators. Our weapons caused predators to respect us, perhaps to fear us.

And, so what do we do? We use our superior brain power to disarm ourselves while still going among the animals. Even if we stay in our cities, we find animals like coyotes visiting us on what seems to be our turf.

The ridiculous thought that humans should be disarmed led to a panicked mother beating a cougar with a cooler. It led to a child suffering scalp wounds. She will have nightmares that I'm glad I will never share.

What is wrong with going armed in a world that contains hostile animals and predatory humans? Why should we give up the one thing that allowed humans to raise above the animals and create a civilization. Something that perhaps prevented our extinction as prey.

The thought that we should go into the world armed only with coolers, tree branches, etc. is silly. Especially when we've invented the most effective self-defense tools ever--guns. It is a ridiculous idea and I refuse to go unarmed into a hostile world.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Postal Match - Flyswatter

Well, last Saturday Bill and i finally got out to a shooting range. We shot Mr. Completely's Flyswatter pistol challenge. I don't mind telling you it was a royal pain-in-the-neck challenge. Bill and I followed Mr. Completely's rules to the letter. But, I think if I could have shot five or six more targets I would've got the knack, but that would be cheating. Without further ado, here is my Flyswatter target. My swatted flies are circled.

This is the second of the two allowed targets. I got three on the first one, and on this one I managed to swat seven of the miserable things. It's a lot harder than it looks.

For one thing, the target is on 8.5" x 11" paper. Let me tell you at ten yards these little flies are hard to see with fifty year old eyes. Also, as you can see, the flies aren't lined up in a nice little row. You can't just move the gun over, you have to move it up or down as well. When I shot the first target I made the mistake of going too fast and not moving the gun quite right.

I had a couple of throwers and a couple of near misses, but given the complexity of the task, I'm pleased I swatted seven. I used my semi-automatic Sig Trailside in .22 long rifle firing CCI Standard Velocity ammo.

Bill refused to put up his target. He was frustrated, but he got a few of them. I told him not to worry about it, but you know how Yosemite Sam can be.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Yosemite Sam Gets A Birthday Gift

Ever had that problem of giving the perfect gift? Well, Bill (Yosemite Sam) and I never have that problem. You see we’re gun nuts.

Bill’s birthday is today and what does a gun nut give another gun nut for his birthday? How about a WASR AK-47 clone? This weekend, we went to our favorite gun store, State Line, and we bought it for him. It’s a post-ban model from Century Arms and comes with a post-production bayonet lug, a few American made parts to make it import legal, and a full range of accessories.

I understand that a Romanian factory is geared up to produce guns that meet requirements of the now deceased Assault Weapons Ban. Hence, the guns have no bayonet lug, are made to accept a ten round magazine, and has no threaded barrel for a compensator. Now that the ban is dead, Century Arms takes their imports and adds the bayonet lug, re-machines the magazine well to accept all AK magazines, and takes other steps while ensuring no laws are broken.

The accessories are Soviet-type military issue and include a round oil bottle, sling, a magazine pouch, a bayonet, etc. We found the bayonet was incredibly hard to put on. We finally forced it on although it came off easily. I think its lug is a bit off-size or ever so slightly off center. It may wear in over time, but I doubt we'll put it on too often.

I had a little trepidation about buying an AK clone even as a birthday present. You see, I’m a gun curmudgeon. Ccan a woman truly be a curmudgeon or is there another word? Maybe I should say I'm a gun traditionalist. I like guns that sport fine wood and have excellent finishes. This Romanian AK clone is made of an East European semi- hard wood, probably beech, with a finish that lacks something in, well, the finish department. Even my Krag-Jorgenson has a walnut stock with a military oil finish that is beautiful.

I also like guns with a fine blued finish. Stainless steel is way too garish for me, although I own a few guns in stainless steel or with a nickel finish. Some of my military guns have a dull phosphate finish, but I find beauty even in that. The AK clone’s metal is finished, but it looks like factory workers gave it a final polish with a ball peen hammer. Much of Bill's gun is made of stamped sheet metal. I prefer machined steel such as found in my M1 Garand.

I’ve never owned an AK clone before (I still don’t, but since we’re married now…) and have never field stripped one. When we took it apart I found a very interesting mechanism. Everything is robust and simple. There’s no parts puzzle like one finds in a Broomhandle Mauser or even in an AR-15. I can understand why the AK and its semi-auto cousins are such reliable weapons. There’s so little to break or jam. Also, reassembly is intuitive. While there are a couple of little quirks, there’s really no little part that you can lose or forget to put back in like a retaining pin or spring.

So that’s what a gunnie gives another gunnie for his birthday. It’s something that Bill has wanted for awhile and it adds a lot to our collection. We should have bought one a long time ago, but we finally corrected our oversight. When we have a chance to get to the range and shoot it, we’ll post a range report on it.