On Ignorance

I really need to stay away from reading the comments — particularly Facebook comments — on articles and posting on things about which I know a bit.

Whether it’s the flat earthers that infest the NASA Facebook comments, to suburban housewives who think silencers completely eliminate the sound of gunfire, I can only deal with so much BS in the day.

What takes the cake, though, are those that are saying that the shooting in DC will (or should) somehow be a “Come to Jesus” moment for Congress so it will pass some gun control bills which will make everyone safer. Somehow. For reasons.

On what world would they think that would be the outcome? You have legislators (one of whom had his 10-year-old son at the field), staffers, and others who were the victims of a violent madman. Had it not been for the immediate, decisive action of two armed “good guys”, they all might have helplessly perished in the time it took for the police to arrive…and you expect the lesson they learn from this event is that making more people defenseless against violent criminals will somehow make things better?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I can’t grok that at all. It’s by far the most ignorant thing I’ve read in a long time.

The correct answer is for people to take some goddamn responsibility for their own lives and safety. But that takes effort and thought of Unpleasant Things, so people won’t even consider it.

Sure, members of Congress will likely get some improved security, at least for a while, but us ordinary folks don’t have the luxury of having police or armed bodyguards to protect us. We need to be able to have the means to effectively protect ourselves wherever we are. Anything less —  and especially attempts to curtail what little we have — is simply monstrous.

Tactical Observations

Today’s shooting of Congressional members, staff, police officers, and others in DC (as well as the workplace shooting at a UPS center in San Francisco) prompted me to come out of my frantically-writing-my-PhD-thesis self-imposed eremitism and point out a few observations:

  1. The bad guy starts with the initiative. They choose the time, place, and manner of their attack. Thus, they hold all the cards when the shit hits the fan.
  2. Immediate armed resistance is crucial to taking the initiative away from the bad guy. The Capitol Police officers on protective detail responded immediately and in a coordinated way, were able to suppress the shooter, draw his attention toward them (and away from unarmed, defenseless people), and hold his attention until they were able to neutralize the threat. (“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”)
  3. Being skilled in martial arts or having short-range weapons (e.g. baseball bats) are not bad things in and of themselves, but are essentially useless when the bad guy is armed and out of your immediate reach.
  4. Being unarmed in a gunfight means you lose. You may make it out alive, but that’s a matter of luck.
  5. There’s only two types of people guaranteed to be present at a crime: the perpetrator(s) and the victim(s). Even for an extremely high-priority emergency (bad guy shooting members of Congress in broad daylight, in a public place in the DC metro area), the police are still minutes away. You need to be able to provide for yourself as best you can until they show up and, even then, they need time to evaluate the situation and act.
  6. Cover and concealment are not always available. Still, be constantly aware of where cover and concealment are, and how you can get there from where you are if the need arises.
  7. Hits from a rifle are not always lethal or incapacitating. (I’m curious if the shooter used FMJ ammo. CNN says he had an SKS, but we’ll see if that’s actually the case in the fullness of time.)
  8. Although most shootings involve only a handful of shots, not all are so lucky. You don’t need to be Rambo, but having a spare mag or two won’t hurt.
  9. A gunfight is not likely to be a stand-up, bad-guy-at-7-meters, in-open-view, with-good-lighting type of affair. Train accordingly.
  10. You or others around you may be injured in the course of a gunfight. Train accordingly (e.g. off-hand shooting, shooting while immobilized, etc.) and ensure you’re equipped and trained to effectively provide first aid.
  11. Having good training and good coordination with others (e.g. a partner, family members, etc.) is crucial.
  12. Having a gun is not a magical talisman that will protect you from being shot.
  13. Gun-free zones aren’t. Every UPS facility I’ve visited requires visitors and employees to go through metal detectors and remove anything from their pockets whenever they enter or leave the facility. This didn’t stop the bad guy and didn’t help the victims.
  14. Gun control groups are ghouls.

Suppressed guns aren’t quiet, they’re merely “less loud”

Recent media hysteria about the Hearing Protection Act and suppressors in general has, as expected, brought up overt claims and slightly-more-subtle implications that suppressors reduce the sound of gunshots to Hollywood-esque levels, and that absent the loud sound of gunshots, criminals could commit their dastardly crimes without detection.

To make it painfully clear, this is unrealistic. Unsuppressed gunshots are extremely loud, and are capable of causing hearing damage immediately with only a single shot.A suppressed .308 Winchester rifle with subsonic ammunition

A suppressed .308 Winchester rifle with subsonic ammunition meters around 121-137 dB, the quietest of which is comparable in loudness to a typical siren on an emergency vehicle (~120dB). Sirens, as you no doubt are aware, are intended to be exceedingly loud and easy to locate. Other common sound sources that produce sounds with that level of intensity are chainsaws, rock concerts, rocket engines, jackhammers, and small firecrackers. All of which are both loud and easy to locate.

Suppressed guns firing low-power, subsonic CCI Standard Velocity .22 LR ammo meter between 117 to 128 dB.

In the US, OSHA considers 140 dB to be the safety cutoff for impulsive noise (like hammering, blasting, etc., in contrast to continuous noise). One could exceed OSHA standards and cause hearing damage by firing more than a single heavily-suppressed .308 Win round per 24 hour period. Thus, even though suppressor marketing departments advertise anything with <140 dB total sound as being “hearing safe”, and firing suppressed firearms is less dangerous to hearing than firing unsuppressed, it’s still slightly damaging to hearing to fire even suppressed shots with no additional hearing protection.

To summarize:

  • Firing unsuppressed firearms without hearing protection is immediately and permanently damaging to hearing.
  • Firing suppressed firearms without hearing protection is right at the threshold of being damaging to hearing, and it’s recommended to wearing additional hearing protection when shooting anything other than .22LR or other low-power cartridges.
  • To the shooter, the loudness of suppressed firearms without the shooter wearing hearing protection is comparable to the loudness of unsuppressed firearms as heard when wearing hearing protection.
  • Suppressed firearms are still extremely loud, and provide essentially no reduction in the ability of people to detect the presence of a shooter. There are essentially no benefits for a criminal to use a suppressor, other than potentially damaging their own hearing less.
  • Suppressors are a form of hearing protection for a shooter, just like ear muffs, and serve to reduce the sound intensity at the source, thus providing benefits to everyone within earshot.
  • Those opposing suppressor ownership are misinformed at best and dishonest at worst.
  • Suppressors are fun as all hell, and their use should be strongly encouraged.

Numbers

The Women’s March on Washington claim that “over 1 million [people] in Washington” and “over 5 million [people] worldwide” marched the other day. Very cool. I’m happy to see people peacefully exercising their rights and making their voices heard.

Assuming their numbers are accurate, and I have no particular reason to doubt them, I find it interesting how these marchers are — according to both themselves and the media — are part of some mass movement that should influence public policy and to which politicians and other people of influence should particularly listen.

Yet, the NRA with its 5+ million members (not to mention other groups, like the GOA, SAF, etc. with hundreds of thousands of members) is a fringe group of cousin-humping rednecks that should be mocked, denigrated, and ignored by those in positions of authority.

Funny how numbers mean different things.

Election 2016

Well, that was interesting. I, for one, was not expecting that result.

The Republicans had been on the defensive for much of the Obama presidency, often (and usually correctly) used as scapegoats for various gridlock and other problems, and so I was expecting Trump to lose the race for the presidency and his loss to affect the down-ballot results as well. Specifically, I expected the GOP to keep the House (barely) and lose the Senate due to Trump’s antics and the fact that the Republicans were playing defense this time around.

I was feeling very uncomfortable about the future of the Supreme Court, and was thinking that maybe, perhaps, the Senate Republicans should consider confirming Judge Garland to the Supreme Court to cut our losses and prevent Clinton from (immediately) nominating a more extreme candidate.

My fears were reasonable: all the polls, all the analyses, even predictions with solid models and non-delusional (looking at you, Huffington Post, with your 343-215 prediction in Clinton’s favor) thinking from groups like FiveThirtyEight (302-235, for Clinton) all predicted an almost-certain Clinton win and the Dems being likely to pick up the Senate and maybe flip the House. I could only base my fears on what seemed to be solid, time-tested analyses and projections.

I was wrong. Mea culpa.

Instead, the Republicans swept the presidency, the Senate (barely), and the House. Wow.

The only asterisk on this sweep was Trump losing the popular vote by ~0.2%, which a lot of protestors and others have latched onto. Meh. It happens sometimes and it’s no fun for the losing side, but that’s the system for you.

Anyway, I expected the gun-control groups to all be highly energized by the (assumed) Clinton win and do their damnedest to push their agenda. Frighteningly enough, anti-rights folks would have had a pretty good shot with Clinton at the helm, a D-controlled Senate, and at least one Supreme Court nomination.

While I’m not a Republican, not a fan of Trump, and don’t support many of his policies, insofar as gun rights go I’m pleased that he and the Republicans won big. At the very least, the 5-4 balance in the Supreme Court will be restored and Heller should be reasonably safe for the foreseeable future. If other justices leave the court and are replaced during the Trump administration, gun rights should be even more solid at the Supreme Court level.

Now, let’s see what the Republicans can do while they hold the House, Senate, and Presidency. Trump promised to undo the Obama executive orders on guns. Will he? I hope so. Will the Hearing Protection Act remove suppressors from the NFA? During a Clinton presidency, no way in hell. During the Trump presidency, assuming the Republicans get their collective heads out of their collective asses, quite possibly (and that’s amazing).

Trump and the Republicans pulled off a hell of a long shot with their victory this year, so forgive me for indulging in a bit of fantasy, but I’d love to see them pass national CCW reciprocity and repeal the Hughes Amendment. I have some hope for the former but very little for the latter. However, I was surprised by the election, so I’m willing to entertain them both as possible medium and long shots.

So long as Trump doesn’t make a total ass out of himself (at least try, man) and the Republicans don’t do something completely outrageous and alienating to a lot of moderates like trying to ban abortion or gay marriage in some spasm of political delirium, I have high hopes for them keeping the legislature in the next mid-term election and possibly the presidency in 2020. We shall see.

Yet another host move, this time to self-hosted.

The web host that was hosting this site is shutting down its US hosting facility at the end of the year, so I decided to move things from that host to a system I control (a Raspberry Pi 3 by my desk at home).

For testing, I may switch between using Cloudflare to proxy elements of the site for speed and security or allowing direct connections. Right now, I’m preferring direct connections.

Naturally, SSL/TLS (this time via Let’s Encrypt) and DNSSEC are enabled. Please feel free to use the TLS-encrypted version of this site in your feed reader, browser, etc. In fact, I prefer if you use the encrypted version for your own privacy.

I’ve also taken the opportunity to do some much-needed miscellaneous housekeeping around the blog, updated the theme somewhat, etc.

From what I can tell, the transfer seems to have gone off without a hitch. If you run into any issues, please let me know.

Quote of the Day

Despite having a ridiculous amount of firearms, Americans kill Americans at a higher rate with methods OTHER THAN A FIREARM than citizens in most European countries do. Think maybe it might be more complex than guns?

Maybe a lack of social safety net, an utterly underfunded mental health system, a culture of violence, a crippling cycle of poverty and lack of options for an underclass of Americans, and the failed war on drugs might have something to do with it.

– User “Statistical”, in a comment on Ars Technica.

You think? No, it clearly must be the guns…

I’m shocked: NPR runs reasonably-balanced article about AR-15s

The media seems to be going into spasms of anti-gun hysteria, all focused on the AR-15. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started claiming that AR-15s are responsible for nails in your tires, cracks in the wall, mosquito bites, and that annoying itch on your nose that only starts once you’ve picked up something heavy.

Imagine my shock when I saw an article at NPR saying, in essence, AR-15s and similar rifles are pretty ordinary, common guns that average people own for normal, non-mass-shooty things.

They seem to love quoting anti-gun UCLA professor Adam Winkler, but even he had this to say:

“These are widely available in gun stores all across America. They’re incredibly popular firearms among hobbyists and gun enthusiasts…They’ve really caught on, just because of their military styling and because of their ease of use and customization. They’re very highly customizable. You can put on your own component parts to it, take things out and easily put new things in. So some people have likened it to the iPhone of guns.”

[…]

Despite its popularity, the AR-15 is not widely used in violent crimes. The rifle’s size makes it difficult to conceal, so most criminals tend to choose something smaller, like a handgun, Winkler says. Even most mass killings are carried out using other types of weapons such as handguns, he says.

Wow. They even quoted the Gun Owners of America website about why people like such guns.

Of course, they couldn’t help quoting the anti-gun tabloid New York Daily News, nor the ambulance-chasing attorney representing Sandy Hook parents in their lawsuit against gun manufacturers, but the bulk of the article is talking about how modern firearms are popular and normal.

Did I roll out of bed and find myself in some sort of bizarro opposite world?