First Rule of Piracy

I actually have no idea if there are rules of piracy, but the first one should be “Don’t attack US-flagged ships.”

The second one should be “Don’t attack the same US-flagged ship that similar pirates did a few months ago, which resulted in said pirates getting their asses handed to them by US Navy SEALs.”

The third one should be “Don’t attack French-flagged ships.” The French don’t mess around with this kind of stuff.

At the risk of pissing off the AP, I’m going to quote some bits of the article:

Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday for the second time in seven months and were thwarted by private guards on board the U.S.-flagged ship who fired off guns and a high-decibel noise device.

[...]

An on-board security team repelled the attack by using evasive maneuvers, small-arms fire and a Long Range Acoustic Device, which can beam earsplitting alarm tones, the fleet said.

By Jove! Using firearms to defend oneself against armed attackers actually works!

Indeed, I’d go so far as to suggest that having an armed crew/team on a ship is more effective at self-defense than being personally armed in public (i.e. CCW), because one has less “noise” to deal with (there’s a lot of people walking around in cities who aren’t criminals, there’s not many small boats with armed Somalis cruising around major shipping lanes that aren’t up to no good), there’s advanced notice (you can spot the boats from a good distance away), you can design the ship to make it difficult to board (particularly if it’s an enormous cargo vessel), and once the balloon goes up you have at least several minutes to prepare (as opposed to a few seconds in a personal self-defense scenario).

Vice Adm. Bill Gortney of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said the Maersk Alabama had followed the maritime industry’s “best practices” in having a security team on board.

“This is a great example of how merchant mariners can take proactive action to prevent being attacked and why we recommend that ships follow industry best practices if they’re in high-risk areas,” Gortney said in a statement.

Good.

However, Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said the international maritime community was still “solidly against” armed guards aboard vessels at sea, but that American ships have taken a different line than the rest of the international community.

Shipping companies are still pretty much overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of armed guards,” Middleton said. “Lots of private security companies employee people who don’t have maritime experience. Also, there’s the idea that it’s the responsibility of states and navies to provide security. I would think it’s a step backward if we start privatizing security of the shipping trade.”

It doesn’t surprise me that this gentleman is in London and feels this way.

I fail to see how it’d be anything but positive to have private security (be it an armed crew, or an armed security detail) on commercial shipping vessels. Even if there are navy vessels in the general area, they’re often a fair distance away and aren’t all that fast. Even aircraft cannot arrive instantly, and are likely to arrive after the incident is concluded, for better or for worse. The only two parties who are assured of being at the scene of the attempted hijacking are the pirates and the intended victim. The pirates are already armed. Why shouldn’t the would-be victims be permitted to have effective means of self-defense?

Mr. Middleton’s mindset makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Somali pirates understand one thing and only one thing, and that’s force,” said Capt. Joseph Murphy, who teaches maritime security at the school. “They analyze risk very carefully, and when the risk is too high they are going to step back. They are not going to jeopardize themselves.”

I’m not sure about how much risk analysis the Somali pirates do, but I’ll leave that in Capt. Murphy’s hands as it’s clearly a subject he knows more about than I do. Nevertheless, I agree wholeheartedly with the first sentence.

The wife of the Maersk Alabama’s captain, Paul Rochford, told WBZ-AM radio in Boston that she was “really happy” there were weapons on board for this attack.

“It probably surprised the pirates. They were probably shocked,” Kimberly Rochford. “I’m really happy at least it didn’t turn out like the last time.”

A self-proclaimed pirate told The Associated Press from the Somali pirate town of Haradhere that colleagues out at sea had called around 9 a.m. — 2 1/2 hours after the attack.

“They told us that they got in trouble with an American ship, then we lost them. We have been trying to locate them since,” said a self-described pirate who gave his name as Abdi Nor.

Awesome.

Underscoring the danger, a self-proclaimed pirate said Wednesday that the captain of a ship hijacked Monday had died of wounds suffered during the ship’s hijacking. The pirate, Sa’id, who gave only one name for fear of reprisals, said the captain died Tuesday night from internal bleeding.

The EU Naval Force has said the Virgin Islands-owned chemical tanker the Theresa was taken Monday with 28 North Korean crew.

I bet that ship followed Mr. Middleton’s advice and didn’t have any weapons on board, nor anyone trained in using them. Result: the ship was hijacked, the captain killed, and the ship and crew are likely to be held for ransom.

When will people learn that you cannot stop criminals from committing crimes by keeping the intended victims disarmed and helpless?

Observation

Mobil 1 10W-30 motor oil seems to work quite well as a gun oil, as well as being rather inexpensive. After a few hundred rounds through my DPMS M4gery, I had zero lubrication-related failures1 and there’s still some visible oil left on moving parts. Even the parts without visible oil are slippery and oily to the touch.

Considering the small amount of oil used in normal gun maintenance, I’m not sure that using motor oil would be a considerable cost savings compared to more expensive, gun-specific oils like CLP, Militec, etc. That said, it does seem to work well enough. It doesn’t seem to have the same cleaning properties as gun-cleaning solvents and oils like Hoppes #9, CLP, and so on, but it seems to make a great lubricant. Certainly good enough for emergency use, though reading various forums online seem to indicate that there’s lots of people who use it as their main gun oil.

  1. I had one due to a magazine failure. Be sure to test your gear! []

Questions

Hey folks, quick questions:

  1. Anyone know a place in the greater Tucson or Chandler area where one can get a pistol barrel threaded? I have a Ruger MkIII 22/45 and wish to mount my GemTech Outback II suppressor on it. The barrel did not come pre-threaded. Hoping for a total cost of <$100, including a thread protector.
  2. I’m a big fan of Hogue grips, particularly for pistols. The regular Ruger MkII or MkIII can use model-specific Hogue grips, but as far as I know, the 22/45 cannot. Am I incorrect?

Random note: suppressed .22 pistols are almost as much fun as suppressed .22 rifles.

Upcoming New Shooters

Having Wednesday off due to Veteran’s Day, I’ll be taking a few new shooters to the range.

One of them is a native Texan who, for some unknown reason, never handled firearms during her upbringing. She’s since moved to New Zealand, and doesn’t have much of an opportunity to shoot there. She’s vacationing in the US and has come back to Arizona (where she went to college) for a few weeks to spend time with friends (including me!).

The other is a native New Zealander, also vacationing in the US. She is a friend of the first new shooter (I’m still waiting on permission to use their names), traveled here with her, and has neither been to the US nor handled firearms before.

Hopefully the mild weather holds. Pictures will be posted when I get them.

Gun Free Zones

From the Brady Campaign:

America has seen an epidemic of horrific gun violence at churches and synagogues, workplaces, health clubs, high schools, universities, police stations and now Army bases.  This latest tragedy, at a heavily fortified army base, ought to convince more Americans to reject the argument that the solution to gun violence is to arm more people with more guns in more places.  Enough is enough.

Take a look at that list of places. Notice a common “feature” of these places?

  • Churches, synagogues, and other places of worship are almost always listed as “gun free zones” in firearm-related legislation, overriding the choices of the individual attendees, the congregation as a whole, and the leader of that particular place.
  • The majority of workplaces prohibit employees from possessing firearms on their property, under penalty of being fired.
  • Health clubs, while perhaps not prohibiting firearms, are essentially “gun free zones” as people are more focused on exercise and carrying a gun while lifting weights or doing cardio can be impractical, if not dangerous.
  • High schools and universities are near-universally declared, either in law or policy, to be “gun free zones”.
  • It’s often illegal to carry a loaded firearm in a police station.
  • The carriage of loaded arms on military bases is prohibited, except in very limited situations (e.g. MPs, soldiers undergoing training [and then, the guns are only loaded while at the range and soldiers are searched for ammo and brass prior to leaving the range], etc.). CCW is strictly prohibited.

Basically, all of the places where such horrific violence has taken place are places where it’s prohibited or extremely impractical for ordinary people to possess firearms for self-defense.

I noted the decided lack of violent crime at the NRA Annual Meeting, even though thousands of people were carrying guns. Violence at gun shows is essentially unheard of; I think there may actually be more violent crimes committed in courthouses than there are at gun shows.

Even so, violent crime can occur anywhere. Fortunately, a prepared person can fight back and defend oneself, even if they don’t end up firing their gun. An unarmed, unprepared person cannot.

To summarize,

  1. Be prepared. No need to be paranoid, but being wary and prepared is key to staying safe.
  2. So-called “gun free zones” are completely ineffective at stopping criminals. To put it bluntly, they Do. Not. Work.

Fortunately, I think that more people are catching on to the fact that gun control doesn’t affect criminals and helps enable these terrible massacres. When the only examples of terrible violence that the Brady Campaign can list are places where guns are already prohibited by lawful people, that says a lot about the effectiveness of their proposals.

Old Ironsides’ Cannons

The USS Constitution is the nation’s oldest commissioned warship that’s still afloat.

While admittedly a bit of a tourist magnet, the ship is soaked in history (and whatever else happens to be floating around).

One of those bits of history is that the ship fires a cannon at 8am and at sunset.

Now, some of the nearby neighbors are complaining, and want to either have the firing stopped or the charges reduced. While I can see their point1, the ship has been there for longer than they have, and while they can ask that the ship accommodate their wishes (free speech and all), they have no real standing; the ship was there first.

As a commenter on Fark said, “Perhaps they should stop firing blanks.”

  1. My apartment complex has gardeners come by with gas-powered leaf blowers every weekend at 7am and they love to sit outside my window with the motors running. []

Crimes Committed With Machine Guns

The topic of machine guns used in crime came up in a conversation I had today. Specifically, the other person was saying that guns like the Glock 191, the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, and the G36 “enable these sorts of rampages” where “these sorts” evidently referred to the Ft. Hood and Florida shooting sprees.

I’m able to point out, from memory, the two cases since 1934 where a legally-owned machine gun was used in a crime. However, I’m not able to think of any noteworthy crimes committed with illegally-owned machine guns in recent history other than the North Hollywood shootout. Most references to machine guns used in crimes seem to relate to the prohibition era.

Anyone know of any more recent uses of machine guns, legally owned or not, in crime in the US?

  1. I had no idea why they included this common pistol as an example. []

Busy

Sorry folks, writing’s been light recently. Swamped with homework, graduate school applications, and tests.

Stay tuned.

Update: Did pretty well on the general. Next up, the physics exam.

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