Monday, October 31, 2005
I've had to do more travel these past six months than I've had to do in the last two years. Business travel is not my cup of tea, but one has to do it when one must.
A Massachusetts Photo Essay
A Colonial Inn
Some Scenic Beauty
More Scenic Beauty
A Little Massachusetts Humor (seen near Charlemont, MA)
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Stranded in Massachusetts
Most importantly, this is in Massachusetts and I don't have a gun. Not even in my suitcase. One can't get caught here with such a useful tool. If hotel management would find it and if they called the cops, I could conceivably lose my gun rights on a Federal level. Massachusetts' laws and punishments are that draconian. It's one reason I left the stupid state.
Unfortunately, I have to work in Massachusetts and all my co-workers except one lives in this benighted state. Almost all of them are anti-gunnies and don't understand that a gun is a tool and can do nothing on its own. For these benighted people, a gun is a talisman that equates to all evil. Oh well, I need to find a job in New Hampshire. Easier said than done in my profession.
Well, I'd better run. Talk to you all later.
Monday, October 24, 2005
A Blog Meme and Weekend Fun
Seriously, this weekend Bill and I finally did some gunnie stuff. We checked out parts of southwest New Hampshire in preparation for the muzzle loading deer season. We found one spot full of deer crap, rubs, bedding areas and hoof prints. I think we might be hunting there next weekend. Unfortunately, there's only one way in and if the wind is behind us, we might see nothing more than weeds and trees.
We sighted in our muzzleloader and I was consistently putting a 300 grain .45 caliber bullet (wrapped in a sabot) in the ten ring at 100 yards. I think it's ready.
I shot my new Savage Model 11 in .308 Winchester. I'm still getting the hang of the Savage adjustable trigger. I'm getting shots in and around a 4 inch Shoot-N-See at 100 yards, but I think my rifle and scope is capable of a mono-hole. I will need to readjust its trigger. I might have it set just a little too light. At this point, it's a matter of practice and more practice, but I'm closer to having an accurate rifle than I was two weeks ago.
Finally, Bill and I shot our Mauser K-98. I bought it over six months ago and never got it to the range. It's a S/42 marked rifle built in 1937 with clear Weimar markings. It is extremely accurate and has surprisingly little recoil. I really liked shooting this gun.
I earned a sore shoulder, breathed a lot of Pyrodex smoke, jammed my hand once on the front sight while loading the muzzle loader, got cold when a front moved in, got wet with rain, but I had a glorious weekend.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Had to Listen to an Anti-Gunnie
Seriously, “This Morning” on WRKO hosted by Scott Allan Miller did a segment with John Rosenthal of Stop Handgun Violence.
They were talking about the passing (yeah) of the law that limits gun makers and gun dealers liability if a third party misuses an otherwise legally sold handgun. Rosenthal claims to be a gun owner and that he loves skeet shooting. I have no doubt that he does, although a caller disagreed. Too many gun owners think they own “good” guns while maroons own “evil” handguns, so-called assault weapons, and fifty caliber rifles.
Rosenthal certainly epitomizes such a gun owner. I can imagine him on the skeet field with his fine over/under shotgun. Yet, he’s created an organization to ban handguns. He pays for a giant billboard in Boston that calls for gun banning. With friends like this….
Miller made one mistake that led to a rancorous interchange. Miller stated he knew that you could not buy a machine gun. Rosenthal corrected him, but Miller argued with him. Later Miller corrected himself by saying that you could not walk into a gun store and then out with a fully automatic weapon. It takes a grueling licensing procedure and a lot of money.
There’s one thing that Rosenthal said that we gunnies need to look out for. He argued that guns and tobacco are the only products not regulated for public safety and that this has led to selling “dangerous” fifty caliber rifles that are advertised as being able to shoot down planes (that’s what he said, the big fibber).
Miller pointed out that guns are regulated by a host of other laws and that Rosenthal stretched the truth when he argued guns were not safety regulated. It’s true that guns are not regulated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, but such regulation is something that Rosenthal and his ilk want.
Guns are dangerous by design. They are weapons even if designed only for target or skeet shooting. There is nothing that can be done to make them “safe” in the sense that you can make a toy safer by banning small parts.
Gun banners have failed now to bankrupt the gun industry. They’ve failed in public opinion with more people buying guns than ever before. Let’s make sure they fail in trying to make guns a “consumer product.”
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Thoughts After seeing Serenity
What I will do is lament what might have been. Joss Whedon is known for creating story arcs and complicated characters. His TV show, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," had seven (actually six and a half) glorious seasons.
I enjoyed "Buffy." It was smart, funny, tender, and other good things. Most of all, its characters developed over time. Buffy started out as a teenage girl worried about little more than making a cheerleader squad.
By the end of the series, she had the world on her shoulders. You saw exactly what that meant, as she grew older. You saw the toll slaying vampires and demons took on her and those around her. But, she and her cohorts accepted their responsibilities and became better persons for them. Despite its otherworldly premise, you knew that the vampires and demons were metaphors, but Whedon never hit you over the head with allegory.
"Firefly" was supposed to be another "Buffy." It had a story arc and great characters. Fox Network never understood Whedon’s genius. They shuffled episode order making it impossible to follow the story arc. They insisted on character changes. They changed its time slots and pre-empted it for sports. They finally killed it after showing only 11 of the fourteen episodes Whedon made.
If Fox had trusted Whedon’s creation (and if fans had followed it) we would now have about 70 episodes of "Firefly." We would have seen characters change and grow. We would have seen loyalties rewarded and treachery punished. Now we have 14 episodes and Serenity, a two-hour movie. It feels like starting a long, rewarding novel and realizing that its last 50 chapters are missing.
Whedon didn’t give up on his show and fans bought "Firefly" DVDs—enough so that Universal decided to release Serenity. The movie has done okay in the box office, but not as well as one might expect with a built-in fan base. It could mean there will be no more "Firefly" or no movie sequels. Such a shame.
Where else will we see freedom-loving characters who think government only gets in the way? Where else will we see a mare’s leg Winchester used with Zoe’s grace? Where else will we see a crew of cranky libertarians on a creaky ship sticking their fingers in the government’s eye?
I’d like to see more of these characters. I told Bill I’d like to see the movie again and I might even buy an extra seat. Maybe you should too.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
NYT on Immunity Bill--A Fisking
Today’s post involves The New York Times; the Grey Lady of Herald Square, the newspaper of record, the bastion of what’s right in journalism is our subject (of course I’m being sarcastic, the Times has repeatedly revealed itself to be little more than a mouthpiece of urban, liberal, metrosexual, white, latte-sipping, elite snobs—but I digress).
On its op-ed page, the Times (NYT) put up an unsigned editorial meaning it’s the editorial board’s view. Its board is outraged that the US House of Representatives is about to pass a bill that would protect gun makers and dealers from frivolous lawsuits. In the interest of fair play, I support the bill. I’d rather live in a world where such a law wasn’t necessary, but lawyers and their anti-gun clients are out to bankrupt a necessary industry and therefore that industry must be protected.
As expected, NYT splashes the blood of innocents while obscuring truth. Here’s their opening sentence:
Three years ago, the nation's capital region lived in fear of a pair of snipers who killed 10 people and wounded three in random attacks with a Bushmaster XM-15 .223-caliber telescopic rifle - a gleaming civilian version of the Army's basic M-16 assault rifle popular with recreational shooters.Here’s what’s wrong (and I will pick a couple of nits). The Bushmaster is not gleaming. It has a matte-black finish. It’s not a telescopic rifle. They mean it’s a rifle fitted with a telescope. More seriously, it is not an M-16 assault rifle. At no point does the article point out that the Bushmaster is semi-automatic like many classic hunting rifles and not capable of full auto burst-fire like an M-16.
Then NYT states that:
In the aftermath, the rifle was traced to a shoddy gun dealer who claimed he somehow "lost" that war weapon and some 200 other guns to the underground market. Victimized families sued in grief and outrage and won $2.5 million in a settlement that most Americans - except Congress - would pronounce proper.First, a Bushmaster is not a "war weapon." Second, the settlement included Bushmaster which settled because its insurance company insisted on it. Bushmaster had done no wrong. It sold to a licensed dealer though a licensed wholesaler. It couldn’t know the dealer had inventory-retention problems. Further, I’ve seen reports that many of the 200 guns were located in the dealer’s paperwork, but that the dealer was a shoddy record keeper so it took a while to figure out what was sold and what was stolen. And, no I don’t think it was a proper lawsuit, especially where Bushmaster was concerned.
Now we move to the heart of the matter:
The House of Representatives, in callow disregard of cause and effect in the nation's harrowing gun carnage, is about to take aim at the Bushmaster settlement by voting what is expected to be final approval of a bill to grant assault-proof protection from damage suits to the gun industry, from manufacturers to dealers.
You've got to love the language sprinkled with sonorous emotion-laden words like callow, harrowing, carnage, and assault-proof. Further, who says the House is disregarding “cause and effect” of gun violence. There’s no evidence that guns by themselves cause crime. Granted, people use them in crime, but suing gun makers into oblivion won’t stop gun crime (see my last earlier earlier post about a man in China using homemade guns to shoot school children).
There’s an expected slam on the National Rifle Association of which I am a member:
This extraordinary shield, written to the diktat of the National Rifle Association, is so sweeping that it would have barred the D.C. sniper settlement and other valid negligence claims, according to legal experts stunned that any industry could ever win such blanket immunity.
Yeah, the evil NRA once again proves that it is able to deliver what its members want like protecting gun makers and dealers from silly lawsuits. The editorial also misleads. The bill limits lawsuits, but doesn’t end suits that truly deal with negligence. If a maker’s gun blows up, then one can still sue them. If a dealer sells guns illegally, he can still be sued. What it does end is novel legal theories that makers can be sued if a criminal steals a gun from a home and uses it in crime and similar inane ideas.
Now, NYT really gets rolling:
With all the critical issues on the national agenda, from the Iraq war to hurricane recovery, the House's eagerness is obscene as the gun lobby herds lawmakers from both parties behind a bill to deny victimized families their fair day in court.
First, it’s not a fair day in court. Court cases have been introduced that obviously dealt from a stacked deck. Makers of and dealers in legal products have been dragged into court for making or selling legal products even though they followed strict laws. They’ve paid exorbitant fees for lawyers to defend themselves for simply being in business. If these suits were “a fair day in court” for both sides, there would be no need for this legislation.
Let’s read another insult shall we:
The bill goes beyond barring lawsuits to shielding black-market dealers from administrative loss of their licenses without near impossible burdens of proof.
“Black-market” dealer is a contradiction in terms. No truly black-market dealer has a license. If a licensed dealer breaks the law, then he or she can be prosecuted, which is a lot more serious than an administrative loss of license. Further, I thought we were innocent until proven guilty. A dealer should not lose their livelihood unless there is proof and that should be a high test indeed.
Finally, we have a bit of Bush-bashing:
President Bush talked favorably about the assault weapons ban as a candidate but was notoriously mute when the Republican Congress let the ban expire last year. Surely he would not compound the nation's gun scourge by signing the immunity bill.
I don’t want to get into the assault-weapons ban: that’s old news. In fact, I wish Bush had simply said it was an abomination and he would never sign an extension, but that’s just me. Bush will sign this immunity bill and I’ll cheer him on—despite the other ways he’s disappointed me.
Now that I’ve cleaned out the bile, I can breathe a little easier.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Another School Shooting--But Not in America
The other day, there was another school shooting. It's the most recent violence in a long string of school stabbings and shootings. Yet our media has been silent on it. I stumbled on the story in the BBC. It happened in China.
China has had a real problem lately with people killing or injuring school children with knives. The story's sidebar mentions a horrific knife attack that left eight children dead. In two attacks on the same day one madman hurt 28 children and another hurt 24 children the same day (I don't have enough information to discuss the number of deaths).
In this latest attack, a man entered a school and began shooting children with homemade guns despite increased school security. He wounded sixteen children. A passerby helped chase the man off, although the gunman hit him with one of his homemade guns (maybe the shooter was out of ammo). The perpetrator escaped and police are looking for him.
I have several feelings about this story. First, there's the horror that anyone would attack children especially since there are so many attacks recently. Second, there's the curiosity that it would happen in a police state like China. Third, there's a realization that there's a lesson here for gun banners.
China has gun control and yet a man was able to make his own guns and carry out an attack. There's not enough detail to know how sophisticated his guns were, what kind of ammunition he used, or how he got the ammunition and raw materials. It's conceivable that his ammo was also homemade.
Gun control doesn't stop knife attacks--that almost goes without saying. Gun control doesn't prevent a lunatic from attacking school children. A corollary is simple, guns don't cause school shootings and guns don't cause knife attacks. People carry out these attacks using tools available to them.
Here's another lesson for would-be gun banners. Even if guns are banned or tightly controlled as they are in China, people will get guns. They will make them at home, or organized crime will make or smuggle them to supply a black market.
A simple gun is an easy thing to make; a nail, some tubing, a spring, and a shotgun shell is all it takes. Someone with access to machine tools and experience can make a very good firearm.
My advice for gun banners out there: give it up. Guns aren't the problem; bad people are the problem. Society needs a way to identify these people and police are necessary for security. But, even in a police state, the police cannot be there to protect you. People must be able to defend themselves when evil ones attack. The best tool for self-defense is a gun. Quite a conundrum for gun banners isn't it?
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Now That's a Gun! and Firefly/Serenity
Bill and I managed to get away from it all over Columbus Day weekend despite rain every freaking day. Bill set our agenda which included a trip to Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts where we found the largest collection of historical naval hardware in the world (that's what they say, who am I to argue).
We climbed all over a World War II destroyer, a battleship (USS Massachusetts), submarine, Soviet missile cruiser, looked at PT boats, and other ships, boats, and planes. We saw some really big guns that make a dreaded .50 caliber single-shot bolt-action rifle look like a BB gun.
I found touring the ships a glance at a culture I respect, but never shared. Bill, who served in the Air Force, understands military life better than I do, but felt awed at the "floating city" aspect of a battleship. If you ever have a chance to visit Battleship Cove or other naval displays you should take it.
We did other fun things over the weekend including losing a little money at Foxwoods Casino (only a very little and only what we budgeted--I won half my budget back after losing most of it [is that a win or an incomplete loss?]), and a visit to Mystic Aquarium to say hello to Beluga whales, penquins, and other creatures.
We are now caught up in watching Firefly. We missed it when Fox briefly showed it and prematurely cancelled it. We heard about its phenomenal DVD sales. Then we saw trailers for Serenity, the movie that continues the series. We both like science fiction and thought we'd like to see it. When various bloggers discussed its libertarian and pro-gun aspects, we knew we had to see it, but wanted to watch the series first on DVD.
We've been trying to watch one or two episodes a night and plan to see the movie this weekend. We've really enjoyed Firefly so far and hope the movie is just as good. I like the futuristic yet familiar guns used on the series. We saw "Jaynestown" last night and one character had a sawed-off pump shotgun. He racked the slide, but when he pointed it one hears an electrical whine. It makes you wonder how they work.
The series is also full of freedom-loving, and self-defense supporting messages. I particularly liked one line (best of my recollection), "If someone tries to kill you, well you just try to kill him right back." Words to live by.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
When Coyotes Attack
Well, it’s happened. Arthur Cole (click here for a longer version) is a seventy-six year old grandfather who took his four-year old grandson for a walk in suburban woods near his retirement development in Northborough, Massachusetts (just outside of Boston’s outer beltway).
Suddenly a female coyote jumped on Cole’s back. He fought the coyote possibly saving his grandson’s life. Cole sent his grandson for help. Cole’s son rushed to the scene to find his father wrestling with the coyote. Fortunately, the elder Cole had got on top of the animal and pinned her. The younger Cole tried to help, but could do little. Police and fire personnel arrived roughly fifteen minutes after the initial attack to find Cole still pinning the animal.
A fire fighter snared the coyote, but police couldn’t get an angle to shoot her since Cole’s arm was pinned under her. They strangled her to death and her body will be tested for rabies. Arthur Cole suffered a number of bite wounds, but is expected to recover. His grandson was unhurt but will always have the image of, in his words, “…a wolf got Grammy.”
Throughout Cole’s brave struggle, I’m sure he must have thought; “I wish I had a gun.” I’m sure his son wished the same thing or wished he had grabbed one on the way to the trail. Maybe they both wished they had knives, pepper spray, anything but some innate wrestling ability.
That’s the problem with a state disarming its citizens even if the citizens want the state to do so. Someday a person will need a gun and won’t have one or know how to use one. A gun is like a seatbelt or a spare tire in that you probably will not need either one on this trip, but one of these days you’ll be damn glad you had one around you or in the trunk. To take the example further, what good is the spare tire in your trunk if you don't know how to change a tire?
I’m the first to admit that even if Cole had had a gun he might not have been able to use it. If the younger Cole had grabbed a gun from home or his truck he might not have been able to use it just like the police officers couldn’t use theirs. But, are you willing to wrestle a coyote for fifteen minutes? Are you willing to suffer animal bites while you do it? Are you willing to choke an animal to death?
Let’s look at what happened to the coyote. What a terrible way for her to die. A bullet would have been a kindness compared to slow strangulation. That coyote died possibly because she was defending pups (a guess from police) or because she saw a handy meal in an old man or a child. In any event, she was doing what nature intended for her to do; protect her young or prey on the preceived weak.
We humans don’t want to remember that we’re both predators and prey. We’ve forgotten that we created clubs, knives, and guns to get food and to protect ourselves from four or two-legged predators. We’re still part of nature and nature hasn’t forgotten that fact.
You can bet I’ll have a gun on me during my next walk in the woods.
NOTE: After doing the rough draft, but before posting I saw that mAssBackwards covered the same story. Now go read his take.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
One From the Vault
Because I’m discussing two Luger P08s made over twenty years apart, I suppose I should retitle my post “Two from the Vault,” but in the interest of consistency, I’ll keep it the way it is.
Lugers are interesting guns. They certainly have one of the most recognizable shapes of any pistol partly because of its unusual toggle-action (in the picture below one gun has an open toggle). A toggle is an almost Rube Goldberg invention of hinges, slides, grooves, and pins. It’s part of what makes Lugers unique and collectible.
Lugers were invented in the early years of the 20th Century. Georg Luger invented his eponymous pistol, but he based on it a reworking of an earlier pistol, Borchardt Pistol C93. Hugo Borchardt’s pistol was the first commercially successful autoloader despite its bizarre design. Today, a Borchardt pistol in good condition sells for the price of many cars—way out of my collecting league.
Luger’s company, Loewe, asked him to redesign the Borchardt. After several tries he came up with what we can recognize as a Luger. His employers changed their company name to Deutsche Waffen und Munitionfabrik (DWM) and eventually earned Luger military contracts in Germany and Switzerland.
The German military adopted it in 1908 and gave it an official designation of P08 (Pistol 1908). It remained Germany’s sidearm until 1940 when the Walther P38 was named the official sidearm. Lugers were still made and issued to officers and other soldiers. In fact, public culture such as movies and books usually associate Lugers rather than P38s with German soldiers.
Mechanically Lugers are models of German engineering. There are almost 40 (depending on how you count them) finely machined parts. Workers machined the frame out of a solid block of steel and cut numerous grooves, holes, and channels. Lugers were expensive to make and required more than a little hand fitting to get them to work properly. That’s why most of its major parts have the last two digits of the serial number stamped on them. If an armorer had more than one gun disassembled on his bench he could identify parts by serial number and install them easily.
The complicated machining made the gun less than reliable for military use. The left side of the gun has a partially exposed sear. Dirt in this area can cause the gun to not fire. This exposed sear adds another strange fact about Lugers. If you cock the gun and then take the slide off the frame and press on a certain part of the sear, the firing pin will trip even though its trigger assembly is not connected to its slide. Here's one more reason to never leave a round chambered when working on or cleaning your guns.
Despite these flaws, the gun is reliable for target shooting and even home defense. Its distinctive grip shape makes it very pointable and comfortable when shooting. The toggle absorbs a certain amount of the recoil and it moves so fast that it’s not a distraction while aiming.
Enough generalities, let’s talk about my guns.
The upper gun was made in 1942 by Mauser. It doesn’t have the manufacturer’s name on it; instead it has a letter code “byf.” The Nazis valued never letting the right hand knowing what the left hand was doing. The Army Weapons Office, the Heereswaffenamt, assigned these and other codes. They also performed proofing and other tasks.
The Heereswaffenamt inspected guns and an inspector left proof marks on the right side of the frame. The proof marks at the time were three stick figures of the German eagle. Underneath it was a number assigned to an inspector. On my gun that number is 135. I have no idea who 135 was.
The Mauser plant that made my gun was in Oberndorf, which was given several codes such as S/42 (also seen on K98 rifles and byf was used on rifles too). Mauser used byf from 1941-1945.
During its production run (almost a half-century), Lugers had three different magazine types shown here. Original Luger magazine bases were carved from wood as seen in the picture. Makers later used plastic and aluminum (in the picture, the plastic base is in the upper gun and the aluminum is next to the holster). The bases, except for plastic ones, were numbered with the gun’s serial number and pistols were issued with two magazines, a holster, and a takedown tool. The spare magazine was also marked with a + sign showing it was the spare.
You can see the holster and takedown tool in the picture. Each is authentic. My aluminum magazine’s serial number doesn’t match my Luger. For collectors, that’s the only numbered part that doesn’t have to match because so many were separated from their guns (a gun with one or especially two matching magazines however does command a better price). All other part numbers match.
Wartime production caused certain shortcuts. While parts still fit excellently, finish was sacrificed in wartime. Holding the guns side-by-side will reveal certain small liberties taken in machining. Also, the earlier Lugers had a case-hardening process performed on various parts (trigger, safety lever, etc.) causing them to have a straw color (called strawing among collectors). The WWII Lugers parts weren’t strawed just blued.
I’ve shot this gun and though mechanically accurate its trigger pull is too heavy (about 8 pounds) for really good shooting. Personally I have a problem with Lugers and other older guns because their front sights are just too narrow and their rear sights are mere notches. My fifty-year old eyes need more generous sight pictures. But, with care I can still line them up and find a ten ring or two.
My second gun, lower in the picture with the toggle open, is a 1920 police rework. Makers took WWI pistols and rebuilt them for issue to police officers. I am not sure when the frame was built. It was made and rebuilt by Deutsche Waffen und Munitionfabrik (DWM) and bears the maker's distinctive logo on the toggle. It has all matching serial numbers (except for the wooden magazine) and has some strawing left. It shows more holster wear than my byf-marked pistol, but is at least 22 years older.
It’s more fun to shoot than my other Luger because it has a better trigger with a four-pound pull. The sights are just as small though.
Those are my two Lugers. Lugers have attracted dedicated collectors because of the wide variation of types, makers, and marks. I don’t plan on acquiring any more, but you never know what may come down the pike.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Jack and Jill Postal Match
In my previous post, I mentioned that weekend before last Bill and I shot Mr. Completely's "Jack and Jill" postal match. Part of the challenge was to ensure you have a person of the opposite sex shoot with you. That's never a challenge for Bill and I. We both used .22 target pistols. We have to get ready for our winter's bullseye league.
We did okay, but I thought I'd score higher than I did. The match had these dime-sized bulls on each corner worth 25 points apiece. When I shot from a rest I tried to get two of them. Almost got one, but I decided I was wasting my shots so went up to the larger bull and shot it. As Mr. Completely said, "These bonus bulls are definitely 'High Value -High Risk'." They were for me--risk that is. Oh well, it wouldn't be worth trying if it were easy.
Here are our scores:
Combined Total: 345
Denise Total: 171 (rest target was 79 since I missed the two high risk bulls, offhand was 92--see I should have know better)
Bill Total: 174 (rest target was 84--it had one flyer--offhand was 90).
And, without any further ado here are our targets:
Bill's from a rest
Denise's from a Rest