Monday, February 28, 2005

Lawsuit Immunity Battle Coming

Casting about for more firearms reading (as if I truly needed more) I found a "cute" little article in the New York Times (registration required).

New York City plans to oppose a new Federal firearms lawsuit immunity bill that's up for vote before too long. The bill would prevent municipalities and others from suing firearms manufacturers for not “controlling” how guns are distributed. That is, if a criminal gets a gun and uses it in a crime, it’s the gun dealer’s and manufacturer’s fault not the criminal’s. Cities that have brought these suits claim gun violence costs them too much money and the manufacturer or the dealer should reimburse them for these costs.

A number of cities have filed such suits and none have won. Certain suits were dropped because a state government passed an immunity bill, others were dismissed on legal grounds, cities out and out lost still others, and a few are pending. It’s not a good legal theory and hasn’t been a winner for gun-grabbers. Still, they persist.

Last March, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted for their version of lawsuit immunity, but it died in the Senate. Actually, its sponsor killed it because anti-gun Senators larded it up with amendments including an extension of the “assault weapons” ban and other things poisonous to us gunnies. For while, everything and the kitchen sink seemed to be in this bill. Rather than see these amendments pass, the NRA and others urged the bill’s death and so it died.

The immunity bill is back again and this time Chuck Schumer says he’s ready to take similar action to kill it:
"I'm not sure what it will be," … "but we will add amendments to this bill that may make the sponsors less enthusiastic about passing it."
So, in other words, he plans to poison this bill too. You gotta admire Schumer’s persistence even while you want to smack him on the nose with a rolled-up New York Times while saying, “Bad Senator. Look at the mess you made. Bad Senator.” I would suspect that such amendments will include “assault weapons” bans, making .50 caliber rifles illegal, redefining armor-piercing rounds, etc.

Gunnies need to support the lawsuit immunity bill with calls and letters to their Congress Critters. I’ll admit there are questions of giving the Federal government even more power over states. A state should be able to decide to allow such suits or not. However, these suits can and have done too much evil overwhelming such objections.

For instance, while the gun industry has won so far they’ve still had to defend themselves. A successful defense costs big money. Here’s a quote from a gun company lawyer:
These types of lawsuits are expensive and unnecessary," said Lawrence S. Greenwald, a lawyer defending the Beretta U.S.A. Corporation, a gun maker that is among the defendants in the New York case. "Not one of the approximately 30 cases of this type that has been brought nationally has resulted in anything but a victory for the defendants or a dismissal.
We pay for Mr. Greenwald and other defense attorneys with each gun we buy. A gun manufacturer must pass expenses along to the consumer or go out of business. And make no mistake, Schumer and his cohorts’ ultimate goal is to close gun dealers and manufacturers doors. If there are no companies making guns, supply will dry up one day. If it costs too much in terms of liability risk to run a gun store, then stores will go out of business. Simple as that.

These suits affect every gunnie in the country. I live in New Hampshire and I don’t want to pay for any New York nonsense. Let’s pass this bill without poison pill amendments.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Follow Up on Mark Wilson Story

I posted about Mark Alan Wilson who shot at a man named Arroyo while he was shooting people in Tyler, Texas. Mr. Wilson lost his life in the attack. I am not sure why this death troubles me, but it does. Here is what I found in Tyler's paper.

Mr. Wilson's memorial service will be today at 1:30 pm in Tyler's town square. I plan on taking my own moment of silence at 2:30 my time. This is the deaths and funerals notice. Arroyo, his ex-wife, and Wilson are listed in the deaths section.

This story has eyewitness accounts. Wilson suffered a gunshot to his head. One eyewitness says police rushed to aid fallen police officers, but ignored Arroyo's ex-wife and Wilson, at least right away. There is also a schematic of the town square.

This article gives more detail about Arroyo's rampage and his eventual death at the hands of police officers. Arroyo's autopsy shows Wilson may have hit him in the groin. Body armor stopped Wilson's other bullets. There is evidence that police and Wilson hit Arroyo numerous times, but body armor stopped bullets from killing him. Warrants have been served on Arroyo's residence, but no word if other weapons were found.

Part of Arroyo's rampage was caught on tape. He started shooting inside the courthouse and fired an "untold" number of shots damaging glass, marble, and ceiling tiles. The same article said he used a "Mac-90." That should be MAK-90, which is an AK clone from Norinco Industries of China. I don't know if it had the "sporterized" thumbhole stock. The article has a truly sad picture of where Wilson fell and "HERO" is spelled out in flowers.

The crime scene is massive. It will take days to process it. Arroyo drove about two miles before police stopped him. Evidently, Arroyo fired inside the courthouse lobby, but baliffs and deputies prevented him from entering any further, otherwise the death toll could have been higher.

Another article talks about Arroyo's gun. It again misspells it as Mac-90. There are the usual quotes. Things like police officers were outgunned and gunstore owners saying it was the user not the gun. All true, and all expected. The reporter makes a serious error in his research at the website He mis-copied something when he says Arroyo's gun, " capable of firing 600 rounds per minute." A true AK-47 fires this fast, but not this semi-auto version. A (probably) police bullet damaged an area with information needed to trace the MAK-90--serial number I presume. I am not familiar with this gun and don't know if the serial number is in more than one place. The article states Arroyo had no felony convictions, but had been arrested on assault and weapons charges.

Another article puts a more human face on Arroyo. His mother's death, legal problems, a job loss, and being behind $9,000.00 in child support payments took their toll. He assaulted his wife and family during the divorce and been arrested. There was no other history of domestic violence. There is no mention of a restraining order or similar. He seemed to blame "the system" more than his ex-wife (and she was killed by him). We need more detail to determine if he held guns illegally or not. There are interviews with neighbors most of whom had no idea Arroyo could have been violent.

State Senator, Kevin Eltife, of Tyler wants to make it legal for District Attorneys to carry a concealed weapon in a courthouse. Judges can do so now. Of course, no judge or lawyer shot back at Arroyo. I don't like making separate classes of people. Anyone with a concealed carry permit should be able to carry in almost any public place. Still, Eltife called Wilson a hero and said, "Because he had his license, had his gun, got involved, stood up for what he believed in ... I think he saved some lives at the courthouse Thursday."

There is a profile of the deceased ex-wife and her relationship with Arroyo. There was some violence during the divorce, but there were no reports of violence before April 2004. Arroyo's son, the one he wounded, may have beat up his father while protecting his mother.

As I said, I am not sure why this story bothers me so much. I carry a gun often, but have no illusions about my own or other people's abilities in a firefight. Protecting yourself and others with a gun is a gamble, but so is not being armed in a sometimes violent world. Wilson lost his gamble, but he saved others and is a hero. Perhaps, if more good people had been armed, Arroyo may have died sooner. I don't know and no one does.

Bill points out that this story makes you think. It captures almost everything about guns in society. Arroyo seemed decent until he snapped then planned and carried out this shooting. How do you keep guns from him, but not people like Wilson? Then there is Wilson, a truly decent man, who tried to stop the rampage with a gun and lost his life saving others. He carried a gun and if he had not acted more people would be dead today. Rest in Peace.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

A Mild Disappointment--Internet Sales

This week Bill and I had a minor disappointment. Sigh. First, I have to set the stage for you.

The other day a blogger attended a gun show and met a firearms dealer from Amherst, New Hampshire. This dealer had a nice display of old Colts and other guns. The blogger had picked up the dealer's card, but couldn't find it and sent Ten Ring an e-mail asking for information since we live in New Hampshire.

We'd never heard of this dealer. We hit the Yellow Pages and couldn't find him. We did a Google search for gun stores in Amherst and no luck.

We were nonplussed. We've been to a lot of gun stores, but here was a dealer we'd never heard of, in a town that is a ten-minute drive from our World Headquarters. Needless to say, our surprise was immense. Could it be we'd left a stone unturned, a gun store unvisited? Perish the thought.

Then, the blogger found the dealer's address and website and e-mailed it to us. We went there and saw guns, accouterments and accessories galore. There were old guns, new guns, military guns, hunting guns, good prices, and good quality. While we scrolled through the merchandise lists we could only say, "Wow, just wow."

Don't get me wrong, some stores have more guns, some even have better prices, but here was a store named "Down East Antiques" that's only a few minutes away from us. And, on a road we've driven down a hundred times, but we've never seen it. And, they had guns that we want to add to our collection.

Hmmm...maybe we'd not found it since it had "Antiques" in the name and not "Guns." Time for a personal contact.

I called Down East Antiques. No answer. I left an e-mail on Thursday asking about store hours and impatiently waited for that friendly chime telling me a new e-mail was in my mailbox. It came yesterday. I had a frisson of anticipation as I opened and read it. "What," said I, "no store hours. Internet and gun show sales only. Aaaarrrrgghhhh." Oh, I felt crushing waves of disappointment, hurled small objects into the computer screen, and ranted spit-flecked expletives. Then, I told Bill and he experienced pains that Hamlet had not.

Okay, I'm exaggerating, but we were mildly disappointed. We'll do business with, just like we do business with other Internet gun outlets. But, its not the same.

Speaking for myself, I like walking into a store and peering at guns in their glass cases. I like to smell gun oil and that faint hint of nitrates clinging to guns. I like to pick up a gun and feel cold steel and warm wood beneath my fingers. I like to open the actions and peer into bores lit with a small light. I like to do a quick and careful field strip and look at internal parts. I like to look at nicks and scratches that are mute evidence of everyday wear and use--part of a gun's history and worthy of preservation. I like a serendipitous find where I turn to Bill and say, "Look what they have! I've been wanting one of those."

Internet sales give you variety and access to firearms, or antiques, or books, or even Beanie Babies that you'd never have otherwise. Internet sites are wonderful tools for collectors, but it's just not the same. A cold search engine reduces the chance of a purely serendipitous find. Pictures no matter how generous (and the site is very generous with pictures) can't replace physically examining a firearm. And, that feeling you get roaming down an aisle of racked military rifles can never be captured on a website.

So, that's our disappointment. Minor, but still sad. Time to curl up with a book and a teddy bear and drown my sorrows in a cup of cocoa. I'm not sure what Bill is going to do.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Carnival of Cordite # 2

The second installment of Carnival of Cordite is now up and hosted by Gullyborg. Click over there and see the many fine entries. The Smallest Minority is featured, Bill and I have one of our posts up, Critical Mastiff and Anarchangel is represented, as is Publicola, Cowboy Blob, and No Quarters. Go there to find Wadcutter's how-to lesson on creating a tiny borelight that will fit in a chamber of your revolver. So, what are you waiting for, head there NOW and click on the links for the featured articles.

A Thank You to Two Bloggers

Over the last two days, our site has had a fair amount of traffic. When we checked our referral logs, we found that many visitors came from two sites; The Smallest Minority and Kim du Toit. We want to thank Smallest Minority for a couple of nice links steering visitors here. We want to thank Kim du Toit for adding us to his blogroll. We welcome new readers and hope you like what you see.

A Hero Died & Anti-Gunnies Will Spin

A story of "gun enthusiast" Mark Allen Wilson's death is making its rounds through the blogosphere's gun section. Say Uncle, Publicola, Sheepdog, and Geek with a .45 covered it so well there is little for me to say, but it kept eating at me all morning so I decided to blog about it.

Here are links to press coverage:
Fox News
Tyler Morning Telegraph (local paper)

Briefly, a man (David Arroyo) armed with probably a semi-auto version of an AK-47 killed his wife and wounded his grown son in front of a courthouse in Tyler, Texas. Wilson interceded with his own firearm thus saving the son's life. In an exchange of gunfire, Wilson was hit and then Arroyo stood over him and killed him. A second armed citizen at the scene may also have exchanged fire. Finally, police officers rallied and killed Arroyo.

CNN's article quotes the wounded son as saying "...his father was always open about having a collection of weapons." But, police said Arroyo had a history of domestic violence and weapons violations therefore he probably owned his "collection" illegally.

The story said Wilson was a "gun enthusiast" who once owned a shooting range.

I look for gun grabbers to spin this incident in several ways.

First, Arroyo used an AK-type weapon so expect more cries supporting "assault weapon" bans.

Second, it is likely, though I'm not absolutely sure, Arroyo was barred from firearms ownership. If he could own guns legally, look for gun grabbers to call for fast ways to confiscate weapons of those with restraining orders, domestic violence convictions, etc. If he was barred, look for gun grabbers to call for tightening the Brady Act to examine gun buyers more thoroughly.

Finally, Wilson was a civilian who died helping others. Gun grabbers will argue that an armed citizen faces death when dealing with a gunman. They'll say that Wilson shouldn't have had a gun and that he died needlessly. They'll say helping others is best left to professionals.

They won't mention that Wilson saved a life and bought time for cops to get to the scene. We'll never know, but Wilson may have prevented Arroyo from shooting others who had not yet found cover and stopped a higher death count.

I carry a concealed weapon legally. I know that I could face a situation where I or others are in mortal danger. I don't know how I'd do in such a test because no one does. Even "trained professionals" freeze or are killed despite their training. There is no way to train for every scenario since each incident is different. You train as realistically as possible and respond as best you can.

Wilson interceded in a terrible situation and lost his life. He laid down his life for another person and there is no better or unselfish reason to die. A greater love hath no man....

Wilson died because he acted. Anti-defense people are against action. They want us to live like they do. Afraid of acting in our defense. Afraid of helping another person in the face of danger. They want us to say, "let police officers handle it" even as they disparage police officers as "tools of BushCo's fascist regime."

I'm tired of whiners. I'm responsible for my own defense and I believe in helping others. I would not want to die while doing so, but its a risk I believe I would take if so tested. I'd rather die fighting than die at the hands of a smirking criminal as he moved along to his next victim--especially if I knew I took a horrible bastard with me or that I saved another person's life.

Mark Allen Wilson, Rest in Peace.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Gun Laws and Gunnie Risks

Including a Retraction

I talked about risk the other day: the everyday risks we shooters are used to. There is one risk I didn’t cover, legal. Yesterday, I posted on my take on repealing laws, now I plan to talk about risks laws impose on us gun nuts.

Gun laws are arcane and easy to break accidentally. A seemingly innocent transaction can violate Federal law and put your butt in a jail cell for ten years. State laws are plentiful and carry serious penalties not the least of which can bar you from firearms ownership for life with no opportunity to restore those rights. Many are paperwork violations that involve no intent to harm another person.

Take a look at the CNN flap (this page has all the links you'll need to get up to speed on the story). The gist is that CNN might have broken one or more Federal gun laws when they did a story on .50 caliber rifles. The latest word is that CNN may have manipulated the story, but not broke any laws. The jury, so to speak, is still out and this will be an unfolding story for quite some time.

I bring it up to point out that many bloggers, including attorneys, had to parse and apply Federal gun laws to this situation. It took a certain amount of debate to determine if one or more Federal laws may have been broken based on how CNN described its transaction.

There are also many state laws that gunnies can violate. Further, an activity may be completely legal in one state, but get you busted in another. When Bill and I moved from Texas to Massachusetts, we were skating on thin ice when dealing with licensing issues in Massachusetts. State guns laws are the biggest reason we live in New Hampshire today.

Gunnies face legal risks when they buy a gun, transport one, or shoot one depending on how they do these activities. The laws are too complicated for most laymen to read with any degree of precision and yet the ATF, prosecutors, and police prosecute us on laws that are so poorly written that one wonders if they are written that way on purpose.

Here is a sample of Massachusetts state law:
(b) A Class B license shall entitle a holder thereof to purchase, rent, lease, borrow, possess and carry: (i) non-large capacity firearms and feeding devices and ammunition therefor, for all lawful purposes, subject to such restrictions relative to the possession, use or carrying of such firearm as the licensing authority deems proper; provided, however, that a Class B license shall not entitle the holder thereof to carry or possess a loaded firearm in a concealed manner in any public way or place; and provided further, that a Class B license shall not entitle the holder thereof to possess a large capacity firearm, except under a Class A club license issued under this section or under the direct supervision of a holder of a valid Class A license at an incorporated shooting club or licensed shooting range; and (ii) rifles and shotguns, including large capacity rifles and shotguns, and feeding devices and ammunition therefor, for all lawful purposes; provided, however, that the licensing authority may impose such restrictions relative to the possession, use or carrying of large capacity rifles and shotguns as he deems proper. A violation of a restriction provided under this paragraph, or a restriction imposed by the licensing authority under the provisions of this paragraph, shall be cause for suspension or revocation and shall, unless otherwise provided, be punished by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000; provided, however, that the provisions of section 10 of chapter 269 shall not apply to such violation.

Hmmm…. I can read it; I can even understand it, but wading through page after page of this text (about 18 pages in an ATF publication) and not going crazy is an admirable feat. Also, you have to know laws exist to find and read them (thank heavens for the Internet). This arcane nature of guns laws leads to two things:
1) Shooters violate laws because they do not know the law and open themselves to prosecution, and;
2) A shooter becomes “law shy” and misses out on activities that are actually legal.

Here is an example of the latter and a retraction to at least part of this post in which I talked about Massachusetts forbidding use of human-shaped targets by other than members of law enforcement in the line of duty. Many commercial ranges and gun shops don’t offer human-shaped targets for this reason.

A reliable source told me that while there is such a law in Massachusetts, the restriction on paper targets is limited only to “a licensed shooting club.” Such a club is where one member gets a Class A license and loans guns to other club members who shoot under the licensee’s supervision, among other possible activities. If you own a commercial range or gun shop and want to offer human-shaped targets, you can. Remember, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice (click here for the law—paragraph beginning “The colonel…”). If a cop demands you remove the targets, that cop probably doesn’t know the law either. Incidentally, any business dealing with guns in Massachusetts should have a lawyer on speed dial.

This example is just one problem with today’s gun laws. Other examples can be named. A small gun part like an auto-sear is legally considered the same as a machine gun. The part is smaller than a business card and incapable of doing anything other than proving gravity, but owning an unregistered one will put you in jail. Shipping a gun you bought on a hunting trip can result in a felony depending on how you do it.

Yesterday’s post (linked above) talked about repealing gun laws. I also strongly advocate the rewriting of gun laws to make them readable by laypersons. Triggerfinger has some ideas on how we could change gun laws.

It shouldn’t take three years of law school to stay out of jail. Laws shouldn’t be so plentiful and so arcane that people are scared of doing something that is completely legal. It is time for reform.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Rolling Back Gun Laws

While doing my usual daily blog surfing, I saw a Kansas City Star newspaper article on Alphecca. My antenna started quivering when I saw Saul Cornell's name. Bill and I wrote about him and his "Second Amendment Research Center" here, then a follow up here, with mentions here and here. In other words, Cornell has become our favorite academic whipping boy. I couldn't help myself. I had to register and read the entire article.

As Alphecca said, it is interesting. The basic thesis is that gun control is a losing issue for Democrats, but Republicans are not going to fight to expand gun rights. From the anti-gun side is a quote and paraphrase from Cornell,
"There's a perception that Washington is not the place to take the debate at this moment,” .... politicians on both sides see little advantage in pressing the issue.
Then another academic, George Connor says,
Republicans basically have already gotten everything they wanted. They wanted to protect the rights of gun owners and average citizens, which they've done. … I don't think they're going to push any farther than they already have.
I googled Connor and he seems to be a "go to" guy for Missouri politics sound bites. I am not sure if he is another assclown intellectual or a thoughtful balanced researcher. His university home page was no help.

One more quote and I'll get on with it, this one from the article's text:
Republicans, on the other hand, have become wary of boasting about their long and profitable alliance with the National Rifle Association, the nation's leading gun rights group.
The article's gist is that we are at a balancing point in gun rights. No one wants to disturb an uneasy national status quo. Alphecca points out certain states that propose more gun control such as .50 caliber rifle bans, while others push for more gun rights.

A possible tendency to maintain a national status quo is disturbing to me. You see, I want to repeal gun laws. We have too many gun laws now because gun people compromised and accepted almost everything gun-banners jammed down our collective throats. No one is to really to blame for this situation. In the late 1960s, gun control was going to happen because of assassinations of our leaders. Concern about crime in the 1980s to mid-1990s helped fuel other infringements. Gunnies are now ready to fight to reverse certain infringements.

I want to see certain gun laws rolled back. I am all for keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, but our definition of a criminal keeps expanding. A woman who was convicted of
a domestic violence misdemeanor because she slapped her husband is barred from ever owning a gun. A man, convicted of passing a bad check, is barred from gun ownership even if he never committed a violent act. See this article for a discussion of how difficult it is to have gun restrictions lifted once they are imposed.

So, I want to repeal the Lautenberg amendment that bans guns for people convicted of domestic violence. Domestic violence is serious, but laws defining it are too expansive to allow a permanent ban. Figure something else out for truly violent offenders (i.e., tree, batterer, rope).

I want to see Congress fund BATFE's program that can restore gun rights. Funds were cut off in 1992. Those people convicted of even non-violent felonies have no way to restore their rights to own a firearm. Let them have their rights back after a certain number of years of honest living.

I want to see the Hughes Amendment repealed. This last minute addendum to an act that restored a few gun rights (Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986) barred civilian sales of machine guns made after 1986. Subsequently, prices of collectible weapons to skyrocket because of it.

I want to see Federal reciprocity for concealed carry permits. Rights to effective self-defense should not end at a state line.

There are other laws I would be happy to see die, but I am realistic enough to know we will never got back to life as it was before 1968's Gun Control Act. We will especially never see a return to life as it was before 1934's National Firearms Act which regulated machine guns and other weapons.

I can live with Brady NICS checks and filling out Forms 4473s. I can live with regulations on owning machine guns and certain other weapons. I can live with being forced to go through a Federally licensed gun dealer to buy modern guns through interstate commerce. It doesn't mean I am happy with these and other laws, but I can shrug my shoulders and, well, live with them.

We have work to do. We must make sure Congress passes lawsuit immunity for gun makers and sellers this year. We must let our Congress Critters know we expect a reasonably rapid rollback of certain Federal gun laws. We must let our state legislators know we are tired of their shenanigans and to stop their infringements. Finally, we must be vigilant. From the Kansas City Star article again is a quote from NRA's
Andrew Arulanandam:
Anyone who claims the Second Amendment is now officially immune from attack because more folks in D.C. are getting politically savvy is off the mark in their political assessment....We've seen the Democrats suffer as a result of their support for gun control. But we've also seen the gun control movement evolve.
Let's make sure we lose no more ground simply because gun-grabbers have figured out a new way to attack us.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Keeping it Safe

(Sorry for the late post, too many things going on at work. Have to pay bills, don't you know.)

This is a great time to be a gunnie. Yes, we face threats from gun-banners, less freedom to buy guns than our grandfathers had, and a hostile media. Despite wonderful political events (Assault Weapons Ban expiration), other situations are not so rosy (gun laws in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, and New York). So, why am I prattling on about how great a time we are having?

It’s because we gunnies have identified and reduced risks involving guns. Look at the accident rate with firearms. Less than 1% of fatalities in the United States are because of gun accidents. We gunnies did that.

Life is risky, but must be lived. Like life, there are risks when shooting, but we gunnies deserve a big hand for reducing those risks. We sought training and developed and followed simple rules that reduce our risks. Bill and I have not listed gun safety rules yet so here they are as the incomparable Jeff Cooper lays them down:
  • All guns are loaded, handle accordingly;
  • Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy;
  • Keep your finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target;
  • Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
Cooper’s is not the only set of rules, but they are simple, direct, and easy to remember. I argue that gunnie-developed gun safety rules have done more to reduce accidental gun death than all the Federal and state regulations our governments have ever passed. We take care of our own.

Shooting will never be entirely risk-free. Swimming, tennis, baseball, and other sports have attendant risks too. One of the shooting’s risks comes from setting off a small explosion in your hands. There is a very slight chance that factory ammunition will be overloaded and cause a gun to fragment. Stringent quality control makes this less likely than getting hit by lightning while golfing on a sunny day (probably). Those of us who reload can buy excellent equipment and have a huge amount of information available. Load tables and books on reloading have greatly reduced risks involved with rolling our own.

One risk we have really reduced is hearing loss. When I was growing up, people never wore ear protection when shooting. As a consequence of this bad habit, I’m almost deaf in my left ear. An audiologist explained that this is common among long gun shooters who didn't wear ear protection. Somehow, clamping the gun to your right cheek (if right-handed) protects your right ear a little. Also, the way sound waves expand causes damage to the left ear more so than to the right. I now wear hearing protection religiously. Very few people today shoot without something in or over their ears. They will never experience hearing loss like mine--yet another improvement.

Likewise, shooting glasses have reduced risks to eyes. Range Safety Officers in competition matches have made gun sports among the safest of all sports. Hunting is actually a very safe sport because hunters have policed their own and trained new hunters.

There are still ignorant people who will never follow any rule no matter how simple or how necessary. I’ve been at ranges with Bill and while he is shooting I have stepped back and glanced down the line and seen muzzles looking right back at me, their owners swinging guns around like baseball bats. These folk need to learn gun safety and the range manager should call them down (they do, but not often enough). If you see this happen at your favorite commercial range talk to the owner/manager and make sure he helps these people learn to respect their guns. Then thank him.

So, handling guns is a significant responsibility. We gunnies have reduced shooting’s risks. It did not happen overnight and we must continue to be aware of gun safety. I’ve been shooting for 41 years and I’ve never put a hole in anything that I didn’t intend to. I plan on keeping that record while guarding what’s left of my hearing.

Wicked Busy

We'll be posting later this evening, but until then, be sure to go over to mAssbackwards and read the latest update about the military officer in Brookline, Ma who was denied a gun license and actually had his firearms confiscated stolen by the Brookline P.D. It seems that this may become a Federal case.

Monday, February 21, 2005

More on CNN Gun Story

Yesterday, I wrote a post as part of a blogswarm about a CNN reporter who probably broke the law when he arranged an interstate sale of a long gun without going through a licensed gun dealer. Many other bloggers started and continued the story and there are several links in my original post.

Now, there are personal reasons why the story resonates with me. I applied for and got a Federal Curio and Relics license to follow gun laws while pursuing my gun interests. They are easy to get and short of a full-fledged Federal Firearms License are a gun nut's best friend and a "stay out of jail" card if you don't try to buy modern guns with it. I didn't want to put my name on a government list, but realized that it's better to be on this list than a list of Federal prisoners.

Most gun-grabbers, except their leaders, have no idea what gun laws exist. I have had conversations with anti-gun people I work with. They complain about how easy it is to buy a gun and want more laws. I've asked them specifically what laws they would like passed. Well, they mentioned people could just buy a machine gun. I wish, but I explained the procedure and found they were confusing "assault weapons" with full-auto weapons. An understandable confusion given the way the press demonizes black rifles.

I could give other examples, but the upshot is most people do not know what gun laws exist. They clamor for laws already on the books.

I'm sure the CNN reporter and probably his producers had no idea they might be committing serious Federal felonies. They wanted to show how easy it is to buy a demonized .50 caliber rifle without paperwork. Well, it looks like the way they did it is already illegal. Want to pass another law and make it more illegal? Want to put a police officer on every corner to make sure people follow laws?

Another thing that chaps my hide is the number gun laws in general and the complexity with which they are written. Here is a "Table of Contents" to the Chapter that lists Federal firearm laws. Try to wade through and understand them. I guarantee you'll give yourself a migraine. When we gun nuts buy a gun we must make sure we follow these laws or look at a five to ten year stay in a Federal lock-up.

I don't like to see people prosecuted for gun laws, particularly if there was no intent to commit a violent crime. But, I want to see CNN get spanked if an investigation shows they committed a crime. Anti-gunnies in the media need to understand laws are in place and quit making it seem like they aren't.

If the government gives CNN a pass, then the Feds better not enforce this law against anyone or else repeal it. We do [should] not have two classes of people in this country, one that must follow laws and the other that can break any law with impunity if it is for a "good cause."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Blogswarm Over CNN Story

CNN ruined my quiet Sunday. I was reading this Internet thing, and saw a post on Smallest Minority who found it on Freedom Sight who reports that Trigger Finger is all over the story (see more links below). Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has mentioned the story. In fact, it is turning into a real blogswarm and there will be many more links by the time I hit the post button.

You see, CNN sent a reporter from Georgia to Texas to buy a .50 caliber rifle from a private person and bring it back to Georgia where they proceeded to shoot at an airplane door. In so doing, they may have broke Federal law.

Here's my take. I am a licensed Curio and Relics Collector. This license is a subset of a Federal Firearms License (FFL). It is also known as an FFL(03) and I am limited to the purchase and transfer of guns that are older than 50 years (this is the chief criteria, there are others). I got this license to avoid going to jail. I buy guns when I travel and I travel a lot.

Based on my reading of the law, I think the CNN reporter broke it. Here is what the ATF says on their site:
Nonlicensees are generally prohibited from acquiring firearms outside their State of residence or transferring firearms to nonlicensees who reside out-of-State. 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(3) and (5).
There is also an FAQ page that states:

(B2) From whom may an unlicensed person acquire a firearm under the GCA?
A person may only buy a firearm within the person's own state, except that he or she may buy a rifle or shotgun, in person, at a licensee's premises in any state, provided the sale complies with state laws applicable in the state of sale and the state where the purchaser resides. [18 U. S. C 922( a)( 3) and (5), 922( b)( 3), 27 CFR 178.29]

Here is a link to Title 18 United State Code mentioned above. And here is my plain English paraphrase: If you do not have an FFL, it is illegal for you to give or sell a firearm to anyone who you believe does not live in your state (paragraph 5) unless it is part of a bequest or a loan for legitimate sporting purposes. At the same time, it is illegal for anyone without an FFL to transport a firearm into his or her own state unless it is part of a bequest, etc. (paragraph 3).

If you make a private purchase you must make it through an FFL and have it sent to you under their license. In other words, the government wants you to fill out that Form 4473 somewhere. Also, there could be state laws in Georgia and Texas that pertain.

I think that CNN broke the law and suborned an otherwise innocent Texan into breaking the law. If they made a straw purchase, then the above sections still apply since they received the rifle from someone, but it may let the original seller off the hook.

I am not a lawyer and bloggers who are need to look at this. If CNN broke the law, that is the story not the fact that a .50 caliber rifle packs a punch or that someone who is willing to break the law can do so. Any law can be broken and CNN may well have proved it.

Other Links:
Clair Files (Originating Link)
Trigger Finger 1
Trigger Finger 2 (with conclusions similar to above)
Trigger Finger 3 (straw purchase?)
Trigger Finger 4
Trigger Finger 5 (calling for a blogswarm)
War on Guns

A Visit to a Gun Show (in Massachusetts)

Bill and I attended a gun show in Wilmington, Massachusetts yesterday. It was held in the Shriner Auditorium and sponsored by American Express Financial Services. I didn’t know American Express was into guns. One could stop and talk to their representatives about finances. Hmmm…maybe they realize that people who buy and shoot guns have disposable income.

We got to the show about 1:00; yeah we were running a little late. Trying to get Bill and me out of door on Saturday morning takes dynamite or at least a charge of blasting powder. We finally got out and drove into the People’s Republic Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We made sure we brought a bag and rifle case with locks just in case we bought a handgun or long gun. More on this lock business later.

When we arrived we had to park a bit of away from the building. Shriners “provosts” in orange vests conducted people to parking spaces. They had filled their rather large parking lot and cars were spilling onto the streets and into parking lots of closed businesses. Massachusetts is full of gun-fearing wussies, liberal gun-grabbers, pacifists, and PETA huggers. Couldn’t prove it by this show's attendance.

You see Wilmington is inside Interstate 495 and outside Interstate 95/128, both are “ring roads” around Boston. These roads are important political markers. Boston and its immediate suburbs are inside 95/128 and people here basically run the state. People living between 495 and 95/128 are a mix of conservatives and liberals. Once you get outside 495, you are hard pressed to find a gun grabber. You might find Democrats, but few will be of the anti-gun persuasion.

The show offered 500 tables. Concrete floors are hard on my feet, but the guns made up for achy feet. Let me give you a brief sample: an Allyn Conversion Trapdoor Springfield, a Broomhandle Mauser, a deeply-engraved Broomhandle Mauser carbine (here is a photo of an unengraved one) for $9,995.00, more Mosin-Nagants than you can shake a stick at. Oh oh, Bill says I need to stop talking about historical stuff. Okay, they had modern revolvers, shotguns (like a nicely priced Stoeger Ducks Unlimited Over/Under), and everything else you can think of.

Ammunition prices were too good to pass up and we didn’t. We bought a little beef jerky, and I finally added something to my collection (I’ve been on a bit of a moratorium). I’ve wanted a Nagant M1895 revolver for a while, but it had to be priced just right, be in decent condition, and have matching serial numbers. I found one for $100.00 with holster. Not the best made gun in the world, but it fills a hole in my military handguns collection and now my Mosin-Nagant carbine has company. I could buy this handgun in another state without running afoul of any Federal laws thanks to my Curio and Relics license. Here is a photo of our new addition.

Nagant Posted by Hello

Finally the lock business. Massachusetts has a law that every firearm must be sold with a trigger lock. Since I bought the gun from a non-Massachusetts dealer, they didn’t throw in a lock. One of Wilmington’s finest checked guns on the way out to make sure you really bought your new gun and were not taking a five-finger discount. He also gave us a Project Childsafe cable lock. He reminded us to put it on the gun before we put in the car’s trunk (yes, we will big brother—he was pleasant enough, but you knew not to argue with him). I told him we had a lockable bag and he gave me a thumbs up.

You see, in Massachusetts a gun must be unloaded and in a locked container or in a locked trunk. Massachusetts' law is so arcane and detailed you may also be required to have a gun lock on it if the gun is in a trunk. I am not a lawyer, but better safe than sorry, so Bill and I always bring locked containers to these things. Keep it in mind if you ever transport guns in this state.

So that was a major part of our weekend. Sorry to be such a bore about visiting gun shops and gun shows, but we are gun nuts you know. By the way, anyone need a brand new, never been used, Project Childsafe lock?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A Little Light Posting Today

Bill and I are heading off to a gun show held in Wlmington, Massachusetts. We plan to poke around a little bit, but we are unsure if Massachusetts laws will bar us from buying a firearm or ammunition even from out of state dealers. We will have more on this later.

Meanwhile, the Carnival of Cordite is up and we entered one of our posts. Check the carnival out for a lot of gun-reading goodness. See you later.

Friday, February 18, 2005

More on "Fear"

I posted recently about an excellent post on Smallest Minority in which he pointed out people actually fear gunowners. As a response to a small part of his post, I mentioned that people at my job were not amenable to my offers of range days and I expressed a doubt that taking people shooting will dramatically improve our gun rights. In a comment, Smallest Minority mentions he was not so much talking about improvement as preservation. Other bloggers posted on our two posts. Hell in a Handbasket expressed some agreement with my concern, and PosseIncitatus suggested other ways to approach anti-gun people about a range day.

I want to make sure you all understand that I believe taking people shooting is a good thing. However, we will not reach those whom we need to reach; too many have their minds made up already. Hell in a Handbasket pointed to those who have experienced gun violence in their families, including suicides. Many, like Sarah Brady and Carolyn McCarthy, become anti-gun, anti self defense, and push a “sporting test” (that to be legal, a gun must be useful in a sport that they will determine is legitimate). A probably smaller group of people in this situation become determined to increase gun and self-defense rights. Suzanne Gratia Hupp is a well-known example.

Between these two extremes lies that great mass of people who might be reached. These folks can make or break our gun rights. They are voters, they consume TV news, they read, and anti-gunnies are doing everything in their power to influence them. Gun-grabber propaganda is enhanced by crime stories in Mainstream Media. TV crime stories rarely depict a civilian use of a gun that turns out good.

If these people live in a city, they will have little or no positive contact with guns. After awhile, many become unreachable especially if they are liberal. This group is our biggest threat because they and Congress Critters they elect will simply vote our rights away.

I concede that not all of these people are completely unreachable. Smallest Minority’s post mentioned an excellent story “Guinea Get Your Gun” by Emily Yoffe. She went out shooting on a magazine assignment and enjoyed it. We need to find more of them.

There are people with an inordinate fear of guns who overcome it after they go shooting. We need to reach those whom we can, and celebrate when they discard their fears. Maybe even indulge in Kim du Toit’s patented happy dances (even if I wouldn’t want to witness him doing it, blush). One of the best ways I’ve seen to get new people into gun sports is Cowboy Action Shooting. Cowboy guns are less “threatening” than black rifles or tactical pistols, Americans have a cultural connection with idealized cowboys, and because people like to have fun.

We must reach people under the age of 25 and younger. Anti-gunnies have taken steps to prevent schools from sponsoring any gun related programs unless a program has an anti-gun message. Gun-owning parents take their children shooting, but that helps perpetuate shooting not protect it. Instead, we must reach out to the larger community and offer open houses, tours of gun clubs, and many other activities.

Sometimes it is actually hard to find a place to shoot. There aren’t enough public shooting facilities. Private clubs are, well, private. For instance, New England’s “Rod and Gun Clubs” require sponsorship from a senior member. So, to join you must already know a gunnie. We need to make membership easier or these clubs will close due to lack of members.

Even if we had plenty of places to take people, many will never make that first step because their minds are closed. For these people, we must use their usually liberal viewpoints against them and convince them that gun ownership is a human right and an individual choice.

They will fight us and yap about our responsibilities to the people killed in gun violence. They will say we should give up our guns for the community’s good. We must point out to them, that we are part of this community too, that we have made our choice, and we will not force them to own guns. We must use the newly favorable climate in Congress, White House, and perhaps the Supreme Court to pass new laws that protect ranges, gun rights, gun makers, and us. These laws will put many impediments in the way of the gun grabbers. They will eventually gain power again and we must make it difficult for them to pass their agenda.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Paper Targets in Massachusetts

Countertop Chronicles has posted a New York Times story about a human-shaped “thug” target New York police use (registration required). Surprisingly, this story is not anti-gun—at least not if a police officer holds a gun.

The story made me think of a little known facet of Massachusetts state law. But, first a word or two about Massachusetts and firearms: you must get a license to own a gun in your own home; one type of license, perversely called a License to Carry, may not actually confer “approval” for concealed carry; full firearms registration is in effect, and…well you get the idea. Massachusetts also licenses owners of “shooting clubs.” With that license, an owner or his employees can then lawfully turn a rental gun over to another person.

Now, here’s that little known law I mentioned: You cannot shoot at a human shaped target in Massachusetts unless you are a member of law enforcement and doing so in the line of duty (i.e., training). The law includes human-shaped silhouettes too and any other depiction of a human being.

The Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts tried to overturn the law on First Amendment grounds. That led to a US First Circuit Court finding that shooting at a human-shaped target could help a shooter gain proficiency at shooting human beings and thus upheld the law. An article by a law professor explains circuitously why the court was wrong—not that I would make a similar argument.

Bill and I lived in Massachusetts before and after 9/11/01. Right afterwards, one shooting range offered targets of Osama bin Laden for their customers to plink. I asked the owner about the law since we had known him for awhile. He said as I recollect, “I got cops coming in shooting at him [target], and if they tell me to I’ll stop using it.” Bill and I really enjoyed filling Mr. Paper bin Laden full of holes.

Still, the range never offered the thug target the Times article mentions; they carried no FBI style silhouettes, and no scenario-type targets (bad guy, lady with baby, guy with rolled up newspaper, guy with sawed-off shotgun). One gun shop I know of was selling an IPSC-style cardboard silhouette, which must be just within the law or that store is inviting a test case.

Everything in Massachusetts gun laws infringes on gun owners rights. Massachusetts so fears guns in the hands of its citizens that they won’t even let them shoot at paper people even if they have to violate the First Amendment to do it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Little Firearms History and Predictions

"What is Past is Prologue." These words are engraved on a statue in front of the National Archives of the United States and they came from a Shakespeare play, The Tempest. The past is the necessary foundation for the present and the future. I wonder sometimes if gun design has become all prologue and no future.

You start reading about the history of firearm development and you'll see an interesting period. It began right before the Civil War, but war needs slowed it down. Innovation actually exploded in the period from about 1866 through about 1914 (if you are a firearms historian, your years may vary).

Many gun design concepts were born or perfected; repeating guns using a revolving cylinder, lever, bolt, or pump action. John Moses Browning and others realized you could use recoil to work a gun's action and semi-automatics were born. Hiram Maxim saw that semi-automatics could easily be modified for fully automatic fire and true machine guns were born.

Cartridges replaced percussion cap, bullet, and powder. In 1857, Daniel Wesson patented what we now call a .22 Short. Over the next twenty years, cartridges evolved with new rimfires and new centerfire cartridges. Black powder gave way to smokeless powder starting in the 1880s.

So by 1914, almost everything we have today was in place. I'm not saying we haven't made advances in metallurgy, parts design, and manufacturing techniques. Everything about guns has improved, but the same basic concepts underlie improvements. Your new Kimber .45 is based on a design that is a little over 100 years old.

Take a look at a revolver. The Smith & Wesson "hand-ejector" of 1899 included a swing out cylinder. By 1905 it was perfected. Today's revolver is mechanically little different from a 1905 model. Still need convincing. Look at a Mauser rifle bolt made about 1910. Not a lot of change there either. Granted, there were some false starts particularly in cartridge design. Pin-fire, needle guns, and other ideas were weeded out.

Since 1914, we have had surprising little innovation in guns. There have been attempts to make caseless ammunition--the powder is somehow pressed or cased in a plastic film that burns away when shot. A few guns are made that electronically fire cartridges with an electronic primer. The biggest true innovations have been electronic sights. For aging eyes like mine, a red dot sight is a Godsend.

These facts lead to questions.

Have we reached the highest point of firearms development possible? If so, will the next period of innovation see the development of energy weapons like in Star Trek? Will chemical/mechanical guns become quaint and non-threatening and less regulated while governments concentrate on "modern" weapons?

If firearms, other than electronic sights, have not reached their highest development, where is conceptual innovation today? Do government regulations actually make it impossible for the next John Moses Browning or Daniel Wesson to innovate?

Will the next round of innovation include civilian shooters? Will governments control new weapons? Already, we gunnies can't own machine guns made after 1986 and the only real improvements, though not new concepts, have been made in military full autos.

Will a new period of development be good for gunnies or bad?

I don't have a crystal ball, but let me make a couple of educated guesses.

Caseless cartridges will come about because you deny an enemy in asymmetrical warfare the ability to glean cartridges from a battlefield and turn them into a military asset. New development will occur and lead to weapons other than firearms. Development will be in government hands either in their labs or in contracted company labs. New auto-fire concepts will come out, but true innovation will be energy weapons either electro-magnetic impelled projectiles or laser-type energy.

Civilians will be left out of the loop since governments will jealously guard new weapons. Any new auto-fire weapons will be guarded too. New weapons will become available on black markets and firearms will be seen as little more than antiques. Gunnies will be able to own them with little hassle, however criminals will soon find ways to acquire new weapons.

Prognostication is never accurate, so if you have any ideas, I would be glad to hear them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Irrational Fear of Gunowners

Kevin Baker of Smallest Minority wrote an article that caused me to stop and think. His post dicusses several thoughts that ate at him for awhile.

He mentions Abigail Kohn who wrote an anthropological study on gunnies called Shooters. Some of her academic colleagues thought she should reveal gun nuts as being the disgusting people they must be. The second thread revolved around an article that I reviewed here. The author basically thinks gunnies are insane. The final thread came from Representative Patrick Kennedy who claimed that anyone who would not back his bill outlawing .50 caliber rifles had to be insane.

Baker went on to say:
We call ourselves "gun nuts" - embracing the label thrust upon us by the ignorant, anti-gun bigots - but many of them really believe it. We're "potentially dangerous" because we like guns.

I think that's something most gun owners don't really grasp. I know it initially took me a while to get my mind around the idea.
I get it. I understand that anti-gun people actually fear us more than they fear guns. When I moved to Massachusetts I met people at my job who adamantly oppose my gun rights. It's not personal, they believe no one should own guns.

My co-workers actually recoiled from me when they found out I was a gun owner. They couldn't understand it. They claimed to fear me while admitting I had done nothing to earn that fear. Their belief about gun rights could be described with one phrase, “Guns are bad.”

Perhaps, these people believe this because they have no positive examples of gun ownership. I offered to take my colleagues shooting. I promised a safe environment, safe training (I have training credentials after all), no cost, and an afternoon of fun. I offered the choice of handgun, rifle, or shotgun sports. While I didn't face open hostility, no one took me up on the offer.

Near the end of his post, Kevin mentions that he and other gun bloggers will take people shooting. As of this writing, he has had three takers in the year or so I've been reading his site. Actually, that’s more success than I had and I wish him and the other bloggers well.

I used to think that if someone would just go shooting, the experience would help cure them of their unreasonable fear. Now I am not so sure. I think the primary causes of this fear of guns and gunowners are:
  • Fewer rural people. In rural areas guns are a tool and form of recreation, in the suburbs and big cities guns are seen as a threat that have no utility except for criminals and cops;
  • Mainstream Media. Press reports emphasize gun crime, but do not cover defensive uses of guns, or gun sports (ever try to watch shooting on the Olympics), etc. Everything seems geared to "guns are bad;"
  • Professionalization. This is an attitude that only a plumber can replace a washer, only AAA can replace a flat tire, only a cop can use a gun—we are witnessing the death of self-reliance.
So, how do we reach out to those who fear guns and their owners? Taking them shooting can help, if they’ll go. But, I fear most of them are willfully ignorant. They want to stuff their fists into their ears so they can’t learn. Most won’t read anything that refutes their arguments even if you throw in every rational fact possible.

It may be that the three forces I described above, and there are more forces, are too much to easily overcome. Maybe, it's too early in the morning for this, but I am depressed about the future of my avocation, even while I see encouraging signs. I will do what I can to save it, but so many people view “guns are bad” that I wonder who will win.

But, I need to tell those who willfully decide to fear guns and their owners something. I am not insane, I am not a disgusting person, I am not psychotic, I am not paranoid. I am simply making a choice in a free country that you don't like. If you can’t accept that, then leave me alone.

Monday, February 14, 2005

On Being a Gun Nut (Part VIII)

Costs of Shooting Today

One issue gun nuts face today is cost. Bill and I pay out a significant part of our disposable income for guns and gear. We buy guns, ammunition, safety equipment, ammunition, gun cases, ammunition, hunting gear, reloading equipment and components, ammunition, books and magazines, magazines that hold ammunition, and ammunition. You might be getting the idea now that ammunition is a major cost.

Arguably, it now costs more to shoot than it used to. One factor is the litigious society we live in. Firearm manufacturers have faced many frivolous suits from anti-gunners. Most of these cases have been dismissed or the courts have found gun makers blameless. Still, we pay costs for defense lawyers and related.

Gun-banners deliberately laid out a course to win in the courts what they couldn’t win through legislated regulations. On page 4 and in the Abstract of this anti-gun scholarly paper states that higher gun prices are a goal of gun litigation. In other words, they would happily price guns out of the reach of many Americans.

Up to now, the anti-gun forces have failed, but gun companies have collectively shelled out millions to fight the suits. These companies are not charities and they pass the costs to the buyer. I have no idea how much of the cost of a new gun is due to litigation (because I was not able to find anything on the Internet).

Since I am a blogger, I will make a seat of the pants estimate and say litigation from all sources (anti-gunners, labor suits, etc.) adds 5% to the price of a new gun (your estimates could be more or less). Let’s say you buy a $500.00 handgun. You are giving up $25.00 of your hard-earned cash mainly because some assclowns sued gun companies.

There is another cost to buy a handgun. The Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 adds 10% to the cost of handguns and 11% to the cost of ammunition and archery equipment. Actually, the money goes to good causes; wildlife conservation and since 1970 hunter education and target ranges, but it is more cash out of your pocket. In our handgun example, you shelled out $50.00 for the invisible to you Pittman-Robertson tax

Already you’re out $75.00 and we haven’t even touched on sales taxes, profit, labor costs, etc.

Ammunition costs Bill and me an arm and a leg. For instance, we go through a lot of .22 ammunition in the winter for Bullseye shooting. A box of 100 Standard Velocity CCI cartridges costs $5.00 each and 55 cents of that cost is Pittman-Robertson. That’s for the cheap .22 gun fodder. Buying premium-grade hunting cartridges for center-fire rifles and you are paying at a whole lot more than 55 cents.

So, what other costs do Bill and I pay? We reload. It saves money, but only about 35 cents for a box of shotgun shells. It took us about a year to pay off the reloader’s cost and we still have to buy components—gunpowder is surprisingly expensive. Cleaning supplies are yet another cost and so are other accessories such as gun cases, safes, etc.

But, range fees deserve their own paragraph. A local indoor range charges us $14.00 apiece for one hour of shooting. The owner freely admits that a large part of his cost is liability insurance—of course, he passes that on to us too. I can’t blame him, he has to make a profit and feed his family.

We are also gun collectors—the cost for this addiction hobby could be a subject for a whole other post.

Shooting costs money, but so does knitting, hiking, golf, camping, bowling, model airplanes, and any other hobby or sport you could name. I am not happy that some costs are higher than they need to be because of litigation. I support the good that the Pittman-Robertson funds do, but don’t always like paying the extra tax.

It’s our choice to shoot, but I sure wish it were either cheaper or Bill and I were richer.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Another! Visit to a Gun Store

Riley's Sport Shop

Bill and I had fun yesterday visiting a gun store. You might think that we do this every weekend. After all, we wrote about our visits last week and the weekbefore that. To be honest, we have missed some weekend visits. And, you might be getting bored reading about gun stores that may be halfway across the country from where you are sitting. Well, that's why they invented the hyperlink.

We visited Riley's Sport Shop in Hooksett, New Hampshire. I came this close to buying a Baikal Bounty Hunter II double-barreled shotgun. Only $295.00. I think I'll regret it, but I need to slow down a little on my gun purchases. Make sure my other creditors are happy. You know how it goes. We did buy some ammunition we'll use today.

Riley's has been in business about 50 years and carries a large line of merchandise. They are a little sparse on antique and military firearms. We looked at a couple of World War II Japanese Arisakas, but the chrysanthemum logos were ground off. One of these days, we plan to get one of these crude rifles, but it will have the Emperor's mum, dust cover, anti-aircraft sight, etc. We did see a sweet Swedish Mauser. We already have one, but if anyone wants it, the rifle needs a good home.

Besides these guns, Riley's carries a very large selection of handguns. We saw everything from an FN "Baby" Browning to the Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum. They often get police department trade-ins and the prices on these guns can't be beat.

The store carries many used rifles and shotguns as well as new ones. They have "assault weapons" such as AKs, CETME, ARs, and others. The hunting rifle selection is excellent, as is the shotgun selection.

Their ammunition selection is comprehensive. You want Cowboy Action loads? They got 'em. Want Eley Match .22 Rounds, they're in the alcove near the counter. What about obsolete ammo? They have some, but you'll need to ask for your particular type.

Riley's has a very good reloading department along with shooting and hunting accessories including many gun safes. Behind the store is another building that houses a law enforcement equipment division. They have a gunsmith, but we have never used his services.

The store itself is a little crowded although roomier than State Line Gun Shop. If you can't find it here, they can order it for you or it is so esoteric you won't need it anyway. The prices are good. How about $3.95 for a 20 round box of .223 ammunition? The "Baby" Browning has a $225.00 price tag.

We saw two heartening things during this visit. They had two boxes on the counters full of "high capacity" magazines. One had Smith & Wesson mags, and the other had Ruger mags. The writing on the boxes indicated that the original price was over $50.00 and now on sale for $15.00. All thanks to the end of the "Assault Weapon" Ban. The second heartening thing; the number of children shoppers had brought with them. There must have been six of seven children under the age of 10 oohing and aahing over guns. Another generation of gunnies, folks.

Problems: the staff is sometimes distant. It is a busy place and the employees seem pulled in too many directions. There is little opportunity to just schmooze about guns. As a collector, I wish they had more older weapons, but every now and again I do find something nice. Patience is rewarded here eventually. My latest reward was an Enfield Martini-Henry with bayonet, sling, muzzle cover--the works. I may talk more about this gun one of these days.

We go to this store fairly often primarily for ammo and to check for guns we want to add to the collection. Hooksett is north of Manchester. Check their website for directions since I could get lost in a paper bag in this area.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

What's It Like to Carry a Gun

Bill and I think most people reading The Ten Ring already own guns. This post will be preaching to the choir. At this point, you gunnies may want to head to another post.

Still here? This post is for anyone who has never carried a concealed gun, but is thinking about it. I am not going to discuss the legalities of carrying since state laws vary too much to cover here and I am not a lawyer. For that check this site for information about your state. Instead, I will talk about some whys and wherefores as they say.

Do you carry a concealed gun? I have carried one legally since the late 1980s. I can't carry at work and there are other times I don't carry because I get lazy. I am licensed in the State of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and have carried in several other states when I lived in them. It is a choice I make.

Why carry a gun? This is easy. The police can't be everywhere and yet criminals can and do strike in nice neighborhoods, broad daylight, dark alleys--anywhere. To me it is like putting on a seat belt. I doubt I will need the belt this trip, but you never know.

Do only "anti-social" people carry a gun? Carrying a weapon doesn't mark you as anti-social. It means that you are a responsible person and aware there is some danger in the world. You should not play up the danger, but you should not fool yourself into thinking it does not exist.

How can someone carry, knowing a gun can kill? You are carrying something that you can use to kill another human being. You have to be sure you have the right frame of mind. If you carry to scare a bad guy, knowing that you could not pull the trigger, you are inviting someone to take the gun from you and maybe shoot you with it. Look deep inside yourself. If you realize that there is no reasonable circumstance that will cause you to kill, don't carry.

Does that mean you are a killer? I have seen evil close up and its messy results. I searched myself and realized that to avoid rape or death I could kill in my own defense. I believe I could defend another person facing extreme danger. I don't want to hurt or kill anyone, but I want to enjoy life until I die in my sleep of extreme old age. Some punk with a knife and a hard-on will not take that away from me.

Have you ever shot someone? No, but I have pointed a gun at people and I have saved my life or "honor" with a gun. I thank God I have never had to shoot anyone. May that never change.

What does carrying a gun feel like? At first, you will be conscious of the gun at all times. Your senses will seem to expand as you look to meet danger around you. That feeling will recede when you realize that you are not a danger magnet just because you are more ready to handle it. If you are smart, you will never seek out danger, you will just be more confident you can handle danger if it comes to you.

Will people know I am carrying? The more self-conscious you are, the more you will touch the gun to make sure it is there and concealed. A cop or other trained observer may pick up on these almost unconscious pats and may check you out. The more confident and practiced you become, the less you will check the gun. Buy a good holster and trust it, the gun will not jump out of it. Be confident in how you conceal the gun.

Should I tell friends when I have a gun? No, you are carrying concealed and that is the point. It is not their business. Too many people may be tempted to joke about your gun. If your state won't let you carry into a restaurant or a church and you need to disarm, do it as discretely as possible.

What is it like physically? This depends on where you carry. If you carry in a purse, your purse will be much heavier. If you carry on your ankle, you will notice the weight and it might change the way you walk. It takes a while to get used to it. The easiest way is on a belt or using an inside the waistband holster. The weight is better distributed and the gun is easier to get to.

Should I carry in a purse? I prefer a waist carry, but sometimes I carry in a purse because of the type of clothing I am wearing. Remember that your gun won't be as accessible and the purse could be a thief’s target in the first place. If you carry in a purse, get one designed for that purpose. You want to keep the gun ready and you don't need a lipstick or pen slipping into the trigger guard.

Should I carry without a permit? This is controversial with some gunnies. Some point out that a permit is an infringement on your rights. True. On the other hand, you cannot enjoy your Second Amendment rights if you are locked away and later stripped of your gun rights. I advise you to get a permit and carry legally. If you want to be a test case, more power to you, but this is your decision.

Should I get training? This is never a bad idea. Some states require training before you can get a permit. You might want to seek out other firearms training, but be careful how much you get. You want to strike a balance between looking competent and responsible, while still not looking like a paranoid who trained constantly to get ready to shoot someone.

What if I shoot a bad guy? I am not a lawyer and it might be a good idea to meet with a pro-gun lawyer and discuss this with him or her. Here is some advice I got, but remember it was for me and may not work for you;

  • Holster your gun if no other threat is imminent;
  • Stay at the scene if at all possible;
  • Call the police as soon as you can;
  • Don't let anyone touch the bad guy's weapon, your gun, the bad guy except for first aid;
  • If you can offer first aid safely and competently, do it. If not, wait for the ambulance;
  • Do not collect witness statements, but get names and car tag numbers;
  • When the police arrive keep your hands in plain sight at all times;
  • Do not touch your weapon unless the police ask you to;
  • Tell the police succinctly what happened and be completely honest (it is smart to talk to your lawyer before you even describe what happened);
  • Do not answer any questions from the police without a lawyer;
  • The police will take your gun, don't argue (you will probably get it back eventually);
  • If all goes well, you will not be charged, but you could face civil action from the dirt bag or his family.

  • Your life will change, you will give a lot of money to a lawyer, but you will be alive.

    Is carrying worth the potential hassle and effort? If it keeps you alive, yes it is.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Lead Contamination and Shooting Ranges

    Ravenwood reports on the forced closing of The San Gabriel Valley Gun Club in San Gabriel, California. The club is 58 years old and 60 law enforcement officers use the facilities for training. The closing came about through rezoning efforts and closes other businesses such as a recycling center, an auto-body shop, furniture maker, and others.

    The article in the local paper does not cover all the reasons, but it includes this sentence:
    The gun club initially came under fire when neighbors complained about noise and lead contamination to the environment from bullets.

    I have read a number of articles on attempts to close gun clubs in various parts of the country (click for a typical case). Almost all have stemmed from noise complaints made by people who moved into a neighborhood that just happened to have an outdoor shooting facility. Noise seems to be the biggest factor in range closings and attempts, but lead contamination is an issue that could hurt us gunnies.

    Lead might be “next big thing” among gun-banners and unfortunately has enough merit to be worrisome. The concern has already attracted the attention of the Violence Policy Center. Shooting ranges have tried to address it with publications on lead attenuation, lead management, and other issues (see this catalog from the National Association of Shooting Ranges). The Federal government has studied it.

    The issue is not just on the horizon, it is here. Some people have called for the introduction of lead-free bullets since condors and carrion birds can ingest lead through bullets in a carcass. The military is already producing and using lead-free “green” bullets for training. Manufacturers are making lead-free “range safe” bullets even as we read this.

    It is just a matter of time before ranges are forced to clean the lead out of the range or shotgun fields and adopt only lead-free ammo. There have been court cases against ranges for lead problems. The clean up would be massive and expensive. Many ranges and gun clubs will not be able to afford it. Your local range might have to close over this problem. Public land stewards may bar the use of lead bullets.

    I am not sure if anything can be done about this issue because there is some truth to it. Unfortunately, we can’t argue that lead is not a health hazard to animals and humans—it is. We can’t argue that lead doesn’t leach into the soil—it does. We can’t even use the fact that lead is a natural element found in the ground. In nature it is locked in ore not in partially soluble pellets and bullets. I fear that gun-banners will grab that truth and twist it and exaggerate and try to use it to end sport shooting.

    The only defense I think will be to, well, bite the bullet in the near future and use lead-free ammunition. It is more expensive than regular ammunition now, but mass production will make it cheaper. We probably won’t have a choice as time passes.

    Update: 2:08 pm: While cruising the 'net, I saw David Codrea's War on Guns post on an article regarding lead contamination in condors. Basically, environmentalists wanted to ban lead bullets, and the state said no--at least until more research is completed. This is good for us.

    Codrea goes on to say that "The alleged lead hazard is more hype and hysteria than anything else." I wish I could be so positive. He cites studies that show that there is little contamination in a "...carefully designed shotgun/rifle range." This is my point exactly. Most of the ranges I have used were built some time ago and probably do not have proper lead abatement. It will be expensive to clear them of lead and then retrofit them.

    He also cites another study that says lead does not leach into the soil to an appreciable degree. Other studies say that contaminated soil can be carried in runoff to streams and rivers. I am not a scientist and can't judge whose study is right.

    I do know that if a range operator gets hauled into court, he or she will have to defend themselves against a number of scientific studies. They will need counter-studies in hand. That's the way the system works and the jury will decide which set of studies to accept.

    I agree totally with Codrea that gun-banners want to use this as a way to hinder our use of ammo. We need to fight the gun-banners, but we have to make sure our science is better than theirs and to be adaptable and flexible when we must.

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    Duchamp's Urinal was much better

    Bruce over at MassBackwards has a post about an art student who has created a diorama that has an original message. It was actually so good that it "earned the Charlestown student a silver key at the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards".

    If you haven't guessed the subject matter yet, it makes a comparison between U.S. policies under George Bush and Hitler's. Wow, what original, creative thought.

    Of course the diorama, that looks like a 6 year old cobbled it together, got an A.

    Bruce mentions in the comments that he supports the student's First Amendment rights to be an abject asshole....., but I have a somewhat different take.

    No, he doesn't have a right to exhibit this offensive, bilious garbage. He is a minor and under a society that still had a shred of sanity or honor, the student's teacher would say No, this work is not acceptable. The student would be told that he should have respect for the elected leaders of this nation and should respect the memory of those who died under Hitler's regime and who's deaths are being trivialized by this disgusting, silly display.

    Then he would be suspended for a few days and sent home to his parents who would reinforce his teacher's message by punishing him.

    This would have happened in the America I grew up in.

    Not anymore.

    The Stinking Ninth

    Recently, there has been a lot of buzz in the Blogosphere about the Professorate. I’ll take a look at some of this in a moment, but something troubles me about these so-called intellectuals. We have a professorate and academic class that seems to be actively hostile to the West and towards the United States in particular.

    Many academics also have an affection for Communist systems and some are hard-core Stalinists.

    Worse still, these scholars seem to have a problem with long established standards for scholarship and often will ignore research that conflicts with their biases. If their research doesn’t confirm their firmly held theses, they will invent new data out of whole cloth. Michael Bellesiles is a case in point.

    Here are a few more examples of these overeducated and overhyped idjits.

    Just last week, we wrote about an Associate Professor(Saul Cornell) at Ohio State University who has a somewhat revisionist take on the Second Amendment. Smallest Minority delivered a well placed smack down.

    Now we are hearing about Ward Churchill who likened the victims of the World Trade Center attacks to “Little Eichmanns” in a turn of phrase that is outrageously offensive to both the American people and victims of the Holocaust. Mr. Churchill is a tenured professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and until recently was head of the Department of Ethnic Studies. Churchill received tenure despite his rather dubious scholarship and possibly outright fraud.

    Closer to home, we have the case of David Stowell, an associate professor of history at Keene State College. Stowell’s office door is liberally covered with anti-war, anti-Bush sentiments. A student who also happens to be a veteran complained that these sentiments create a hostile learning environment for veterans. The student’s complaints were dismissed because of Stowell’s First Amendment rights. We have to wonder if the charge would be so easily dismissed if Stowell was a Conservative professor and the student was Left Wing.

    These are not atypical. They seem to represent a mindset that is fully supported and encouraged by university administrators and is often ignored by alumni and taxpayers that fund much of what goes on in the hallowed halls of academia.

    But, I’ve often wondered why intellectuals gravitate to the Left when the regimes they admire often have little love for intellectuals. During the Cultural Revolution in China, Mao divided the enemies of the State into nine classes. Intellectuals were considered the worst of the lot and were called the “Stinking Ninth”. Mao’s Red Guards tormented teachers in their classrooms and many intellectuals were sent off to work as peasants in far-flung provinces. Many were jailed for years.

    Mao was a lamb compared to Pol Pot who rounded up anyone who even looked like an intellectual (ie. people who wore glasses), herded them into Concentration Camps and slaughtered them. Pol Pot went on to die peacefully in his bed, never having to answer for his crimes. Even Pol Pot has had his defenders, among them Noam Chomsky, the beloved guru of the Leftist Intellectual.

    So we have an intellectual class that despises the system that has allowed them more freedom than any other in the history of Humanity, but admires and even loves systems of government that have little love for outspoken academics and would probably quickly dispatch a professor that created a hostile environment for veterans or attacked their own country at every opportunity.

    Maybe we can arrange a swap, their intellectuals for ours. Who knows, maybe they might realize what tyranny is really like if they had to live under its thumb. But somehow I doubt it.

    Willful Ignorance in Jersey City

    I stumbled on this article (registration required) in the New York Times this morning. It was about a foolish program known as a gun buyback. This act of lunacy happened in Jersey City and of course the “director of the Police Department” was happy that residents brought in 897 firearms yesterday.

    The guns ranged
    …from pink-handled 'Saturday night specials' to midnight-black machine guns.... More than half were handguns.
    Now, I suspect that the “machine guns” were not really machine guns. It is more likely they were semi-automatic “assault weapons” rather than full-fledged automatics. I could be wrong since I was not there, but given the ignorance of the press, this seems more likely.

    The city called the program “Operation Lifesaver.” My, what a cute name. Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and toasty inside that the cops can disarm its citizens and make them feel good about it? The problem many buybacks face is that most of the surrendered guns belong to law-abiding citizens who would not commit a crime with a gun in the first place. A widow may bring in a gun that her late husband owned, a man might bring in guns that once belonged to his father and the gun fearing wussy of a son wants to get rid of them, and…well you get the idea.

    Sometimes, a criminal might bring in a crime gun to get rid of it at a profit--did I tell you already that there were no questions asked. They offered total amnesty and I am sure that would include non-prosecution of violations of New Jersey’s notoriously harsh gun laws.

    The prices the city paid were surprisingly high for programs such as this:
    …$150 for handguns, rifles or shotguns, $250 for automatic weapons and $25 for BB guns.
    Again, the automatic weapons and again the raised eyebrow of doubt. Some of the guns doubtlessly were worth more than the offered amount; however, some were probably worth a lot less than the buyback price. It is conceivable that a few were collector’s pieces that should not be destroyed.

    What is most disturbing is the response to the buyback. So many people showed up that the police department ran out of cash and issued vouchers. They were taking in one gun about every two minutes at seven different collection centers. What is wrong with the people of Jersey City that they would voluntarily disarm themselves? Granted, a few people may have turned in an old, broken gun for the cash to buy a better gun. But, I am willing to bet that most of the participants are now disarmed.

    The attitude of Jersey City’s mayor, Jerramiah T. Healy, is galling. When questioned about the efficacy of gun buybacks he said,
    These 897 guns that we got off the street are not going to be able to threaten, injure or kill anyone here in Jersey City…So whatever those studies say, I totally disagree with it.
    Talk about willful ignorance.

    Last year, the city had 25 murders, 15 of them committed with guns. That means at least 882 of the collected firearms had killed no one that year. The city paid $115,725.00 tax dollars that could have better been spent in catching real criminals not in removing guns from the hands of its law-abiding citizens or in helping criminals make a profit from a stolen gun or one they used in a crime.

    Oh well. New Jersey is a lost cause in our fight for gun rights. The story is just more proof of this theory.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    A Gun Nut Book Review

    Last night, I finished Gunpowder by Jack Kelly. Probably for marketing, the book is subtitled twice, "Alchemy, Bombards, & Pyrotechnics: The History of the Explosive that Changed the World." Well, you can't complain that the entire title is misleading.

    The book starts with the invention of gunpowder in China, and ends when "smokeless" powder largely supplanted it. Between the beginning and the end, Kelly includes many fascinating stories about gunpowder, its use, and the guns we developed to focus its power. The Chinese, despite myths to the contrary, did use gunpowder in war (p. 8).

    Still, the Europeans refined its use. They developed huge cannons called bombards, built in the same way a cooper builds barrels. They took strips of iron, similar to barrel staves, bound them around a wooden pole, pounded until the strips meshed together, shrunk hoops around the staves for strength, and removed the pole (p. 41). Of course, every gun today has a barrel even though its made very differently from the way a keg is built.

    Bombards gave way to bored barrels that led to smaller, more maneuverable guns even as powdermen improved their product. They figured out that adding a little moisture to the dry powder helped it resist humidity and made it safer to make (less explosive fine powder collecting in the air). A once preferred liquid for the mix was the urine of wine drinkers, particularly that of bishops (p. 61) although later powdermen used distilled water. Interestingly enough, urine contains the precursor chemicals that help saltpeter (a key ingredient of gunpowder) form and the urine of drinkers contains even more of those chemicals (p. 35).

    Leonardo da Vinci designed a number of military items, including the wheellock, the ancestor of the flintlock (p. 76).

    Besides these interesting facts, the book has a couple of statements that made me stop and ponder. Kelly states that gunpowder proved to be an equalizer. Armed commoners could shoot down a noble knight (p. 77). We gunnies sometimes say that armed people are citizens and unarmed people are subjects. Gunpowder may have helped develop the concepts that led to democracy.

    A downside to the use of gunpowder was its cost and that of the weapons that used it. In order to equip and control the new armies, governments began centralizing and establishing more sophisticated means of taxation (p. 78). Always have to take the bad with the good.

    Gunpowder helped lead to modern chemistry. Early chemists like Robert Hooke found out that gunpowder can burn in a vacuum. He realized that there was something in gunpowder that supplied its own substance that allowed burning (p. 112). Old ways of thinking fell to new ways. Over the course of a century another chemist named the element oxygen (p. 167).

    Thus, without gunpowder arguably we would not have had democracy, the modern state, and modern chemistry. Tell that to your anti-gun acquaintances.

    The book discusses how new powders supplanted the old. Nitroglycerine, nitrocellulose, and "smokeless" powder almost overnight ended gunpowder's military and peaceful uses. Today, black powder shooters still use it, but its most significant use is in fireworks.

    The author is not preachy although he sometimes decries the carnage that gunpowder has wrought. It is a great addition to my firearms library and the author, also a novelist, writes well and I found the book entertaining. Of course, anything about guns is entertaining to me so your mileage may vary. I recommend it.