You know what I love about the Brady Campaign?

They’re so out of touch with reality and na?ve that it’s amusing to read their press releases. It reminds me of the North Korean Central News Agency and the “articles” that they publish.
I just stumbled across this release, which has the following gems about the Holocaust Museum shooter. It was written several days ago, so the mention of “yesterday” refers to the day of the shooting itself, not yesterday relative to this post.

Yesterday, a bigot took the life of a museum security guard because he thought the Government was coming to take his weapons.? We can only wish that their guns had been taken away.

Wait, what? I read up a bit on this guy, and it seemed like his motives were “ZOMG JOOS!” and didn’t involve anything about gun control. Anyone have any confirmed info?
They continue with this:

I have to believe most Americans think that a man who spent time in prison for trying to assault the Federal Reserve Building and spread as much hate as this man did, who left a note saying ?Jews captured America?s money? and ?Jews? are America?s enemies? should indeed have had his guns taken away.

I also find it hard to believe that most Americans would believe that. Indeed, I think any reasonable person would agree that as a convicted violent criminal, he should be prohibited from owning arms. My understanding is that he was, in fact, prohibited from owning guns, and his ownership of said guns was illegal.
What do the Bradys propose? Making gun ownership by convicted criminals more illegaler ((“Illegaler” is a perfectly cromulent word.))? We might as well put them on double-secret probation for all the good it’ll do.
That said, I don’t think that he should have his right to keep and bear arms infringed simply because he’s a flaming douchebag who promotes hatred and intolerance. Last time I checked, people have a right to free speech, and so long as one is merely speaking (as opposed to acting on their hate by committing violent acts or encouraging others to do so), I see no justification for disarming them.
In the end, though, he wasn’t allowed to own guns due to his previous convictions, he did act on his hatred and intolerance,? he did commit acts of violence against the innocent, and he did end up murdering a security guard. I don’t think that making his illegal ownership and use of guns more illegal would have stopped him. The only thing that seems to have stopped him was bullets from the other security guard, yet the Bradys never seem to mention that.
Fortunately, the actions of the security guards kept him from killing others,? he is likely to survive his wounds, and will have his day in court.

Theme?

After a few minor quirks with the theme I was using, I’ve reverted back to using the previous theme here.
Any graphic/theme designers interested in designing a custom (or semi-custom) theme for me?

Thoughts on Microstamping

For many people ((Usually non-shooters.)), the idea of microstamping makes sense, at least at first: spent casings would be marked with some unique markings that would correspond to the precisely gun that fired the round, thus allowing the police to more effectively investigate crime.
Of course, such a plan as several flaws:

  1. There are lots of non-microstamped guns out there. It’s likely that criminals would be able to avoid acquiring such guns.
  2. There are plenty of guns being made in the world that would not bother microstamping. If a black market arises for non-stamped guns, I’m sure that someone will supply the market — they already smuggle illegal drugs and other contraband.
  3. Criminals are not going to purchase their firearms through legal channels, and thus associate the stamped serial number with themselves. They’re probably going to just steal the guns, much as they do already.
  4. Thoughtful criminals could acquire range brass and sprinkle it around a crime scene, thus confusing investigators. It would also open up some identity theft concerns for law-abiding shooters who don’t police all their own brass.
  5. Revolvers do not eject spent brass when fired, and so it would be simple for a criminal to use a revolver in the commission of their crime.
  6. Firearm microstamping equipment is currently produced by only a single company, is not inexpensive, would increase the workload for firearm manufacturers, and would add to the cost of new firearms.
  7. Investigators would only be able to trace the gun to its first lawful owner; if the gun was subsequently lost, stolen, or otherwise not in the possession of the original owner, it is unlikely that identifying the first owner would be of any use. (Indeed, if the gun was stolen, the lawful owner is likely to have reported that information to the police, and thus the gun would be listed in the NCIC stolen gun database — this is accessible by any police department in the country.)
  8. Parts wear out normally from ordinary use. Tiny markings are almost certainly prone to wearing out sooner.
  9. It is trivially easy to defeat firing pin microstamping: firing pins are replaceable, and thus can be removed from the gun. A few passes with an inexpensive diamond file can remove markings from even the hardest steel. One could also buy a replacement firing pin (such as this one for my Glock 19), or even make one’s own pin with only basic machine tools.

Many guns don’t require any sort of tools to disassemble, and it’s rare to require anything more than the most basic hand tools to replace the firing pin. For example, I was able to get the firing pin out of my Glock 19 using only a Bic pen in about 14 seconds:

Taking the spring cups and spacer sleeve off the firing pin takes about 5 seconds, and putting them back on takes maybe 20 seconds (stupid spring cups are tiny). Reassembly takes about as long as disassembly, but requires the blunt end of the pen in addition to the pointy end.
It should be obvious to a reasonable person that, when confronted with reality, microstamping is a non-starter. Of course, that didn’t stop California from passing a microstamping law into effect.
Additionally, California’s microstamping law specifically exempts the police, the one group for whom microstamping would be useful — microstamping departmental guns would be useful in situations where the police shoot at someone. Having police duty weapons leave unique markings on brass would probably help investigators piece together crime scenes better. Due to the small number of weapons involved in a shooting incident, it should be rather easy to figure out which brass corresponds to which gun, even if the stamp is a bit worn or certain characters are unreadable. Departmental armorers could regularly inspect and replace stamping firing pins as needed — something that would be impossible to enforce for the general public.

Restaurant Carry Passes AZ Senate

From Karen Winfield at the AZ Legislature:

SB1113 passed the Senate.
It now goes to the House where it will be scheduled in a committee for hearing next week.
We are on a very condensed schedule right now, so you can expect to see it go to the Committee (probably the Judiciary Committee), then Rules Committee, Caucus, Committee of the Whole and a Floor vote all in the same week.? It will move fast.? So, if you are so inclined, this is the time to start writing to your Representatives.
Here’s the vote on SB1113 in the Senate:
Vote Detail for Third Reading On Reconsideration
Bill Number: SB1113
Action Date: 6/16/2009
Vote Member Name
N ABOUD
Y AGUIRRE
N ALLEN C
Y ALLEN S
Y ALVAREZ
Y BURNS
N BURTON CAHILL
N CHEUVRONT
N GARCIA
Y GORMAN
Y GOULD
Y GRAY C
Y GRAY L
NV HALE
Y HARPER
Y HUPPENTHAL
N LANDRUM TAYLOR
Y LEFF
N LOPEZ
N MCCUNE DAVIS
Y MELVIN
N MIRANDA
Y NELSON
Y PATON
Y PEARCE R
Y PIERCE S
NV RIOS
N TIBSHRAENY
Y VERSCHOOR
Y WARING

Update: I can’t spell “restaurant” if my life depended on it. Also, I cleaned up some goofy formatting from the email I received from her.

No Sporting or Civilian Use

That’s what the Brady Campaign says about common guns like the AR-15 and various other features associated with common arms. The full quote from their page is as follows:

The Brady Campaign supports banning military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines. These dangerous weapons have no sporting or civilian use. Their combat features are appropriate to military, not civilian, contexts.

Of course, this position is demonstrably false: these guns and features have plenty of sporting and civilian uses. I present the following as an example:

This is Louis. Attentive readers will recognize him from previous posts as he is a regular attendee of trips to the range. The gun he is firing ((Note the brass ejecting.)) is a Glock 19, chambered in 9x19mm. It is equipped with a Glock 33-round extended magazine. One will note that Louis is demonstrating good shooting form and is displaying a smile of enjoyment. The extended magazine allows Louis to spend more time shooting and less time stopping to reload magazines.

Here is Rita, who also frequently accompanies me on trips to the range, fires the Glock 19 with the standard-capacity 15-round magazine that is one of two included with the purchase of a new pistol.
This magazine allows for 50% more capacity than the Brady-recommended 10-round low-capacity magazines while still fitting flush with the bottom of the pistol’s grip. At the range, having five fewer rounds means more changing magazines and more time spent reloading — less time having fun.
Next up, we have Danielle:

This was her first trip to the range. Here she’s firing a DPMS A-15, an AR-15 variant. It is equipped with all the standard features: a flash suppressor, bayonet lug, handguards which encircle the barrel, a 30-round standard-capacity magazine, a pistol grip, and a collapsible stock.
In this particular context, the bayonet lug is not being used, and so is no more dangerous than any other piece of metal ((The edges of the lug, however, are a bit sharp.)) on the rifle. The flash suppressor is not really relevant, as Danielle is shooting during the day and so does not need to worry about the flash from her muzzle affecting night vision — that said, the vents on the flash suppressor reduce the amount of dust kicked up from the ground, making her shooting experience a more enjoyable one.
The pistol grip and collapsible stock allow for comfortable shooting: she has adjusted the stock to a length which suits her. The ordinary fixed stock is too long and it is often uncomfortable for smaller shooters like Danielle.
The pistol grip allows for a firm, ergonomic, comfortable grip on the rifle. The forward handguards, which she is not using in this particular picture, prevent her from being burned by the hot barrel when she chooses to use her right hand to hold the gun rather than support her shooting hand.
The 30-round magazine is the standard size for AR-15 type rifles, and allows her to fire for a good period of time without needing to stand up or move around to fetch and load a new magazine. This also allows her to focus more on shooting rather than changing magazines. In this particular picture, she’s also using the magazine to support the rifle, allowing for more stable, accurate shooting.
The very features that the Brady Campaign claims are “combat features” that “facilitate the killing of human beings in battle” are being used by Danielle and tens of millions of other civilian shooters to enhance their safety (e.g. handguards that prevent burns) and comfort (e.g. ergonomic pistol grip and a stock that can adjust to be comfortable for both larger and smaller people).

Here Danielle is seen shooting a Ruger 10/22 rifle, chambered in the lowly .22 Long Rifle cartridge, which is equipped with a threaded barrel and a Gem-Tech Outback II silencer.
The Brady Campaign states that silencers “allow an assassin to shoot without making noise” — while this is true ((Partially, at least — silencers reduce the noise produced by the gun to a safe level, but do not completely eliminate it.)), I think they might be watching a few too many James Bond movies. Assassins are exceedingly uncommon outside of Hollywood films, and any actual assassin will not care about the legality of silencers. They also claim that, “silencers are illegal so there is no legitimate purpose for making it possible to put a silencer on a weapon,” a claim which is demonstrably false: the silencer on this gun is perfectly legal, and I have all the appropriate paperwork in order.
Though I’ve addressed the legality of silencers in a previous post, I want to reiterate that there are perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting to own and use a silencer: I use mine primarily for introducing new shooters to shooting, as the low recoil and noise of a silenced .22 rifle makes for a very pleasant learning experience. Additionally, the use of a silencer reduces the levels of noise produced by a gun, reducing noise pollution and hearing damage.
In conclusion, there are numerous, perfectly legitimate sporting reasons for the private ownership of “military-style semi-automatic” firearms ((Which, I’d like to point out, are functionally no different than non-“military-style” semi-automatic firearms like the Ruger Mini-14.)) and magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. There are plenty of other, non-sporting reasons (such as self-defense, collecting, etc.) for owning such firearms and accessories.
In short, the Brady Campaign is full of crap.
On a more positive note, it was a glorious, sunny day here in Tucson, and I was pleased to spend the day in the company of good friends, fine guns, and delicious food and (after the guns were put away) beer.

NRA Appeals 7th Circuit Ruling

From the NRA press release:

Today, the National Rifle Association filed a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of NRA v. Chicago. The NRA strongly disagrees with yesterday’s decision issued by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, holding that the Second Amendment does not apply to state and local governments.

Sebastian beat me to it, but I blame being at work for being slow. 🙂

Thoughts on Incorporation

First off, I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet. If I’ve seriously screwed something up, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

  1. After the 9th Circuit ruling, the Second Amendment is incorporated in some, but not all, states. One of these is California (when do the lawsuits start again?). Personally, I’d love to see the oppressive anti-rights laws there overturned, whether about guns or not.
  2. After the 7th Circuit ruling, the circuits are now split. This is evidently a Bad Thing(tm), and it’s likely that this issue will go to the Supreme Court.
  3. The pro-rights side won the Heller decision by a narrow margin: we got 5-4 for a revolver in the bedstand, but it was too close for comfort.
  4. After Heller, we’ve had the momentum on our side. The anti-rights groups are on the defensive. Let’s keep it going.
  5. If Sotomayor gets appointed to the Supreme Court, all is not lost: the overall makeup of the court would remain the same for the reasonably-foreseeable future. If we could swing Heller, it’s likely that the Supreme Court would rule similarly for incorporation, particularly when it’s pretty clear that gun control doesn’t really do much to prevent crime.

Honestly, I don’t see how one can argue against incorporation of the Second Amendment (or any other amendment, for that matter) with a straight face. I find the very notion absurd: the right to keep and bear arms extends directly from the natural ((As I’m not religious, I don’t believe in “god-given” rights.)) right to self-defense that any living organism possesses, why should it only apply to certain people living in a specific, arbitrary geographic area of the US?

Just One Question

I don’t know how I missed such a classic post for so long, but I only recently discovered Joe Huffman’s “Just One Question” post.
Rather than attempt to argue and refute the anti-rights positions (essentially all of them have been argued and refuted numerous times over the years) and fall into the trap where they define the playing field ((This is often the case when arguing with people about so-called “assault weapons” — just using the term means that they’re defining the argument.)), Joe attempts to bring such people into his field, where he asks:

Can you demonstrate one time or place, throughout all history, where the average person was made safer by restricting access to handheld weapons?

He notes that this tends to shut down such arguements quite nicely.
I’m going to have to use such a question in the future, as I’ve grown fatigued with debating anti-rights individuals, all of whom trot out the same, tired arguements. Rather, I think I’ll just offer them what I always do: a brief overview of safe gun handling, followed by an all-expenses-paid trip to the local range to try out shooting. It’s a lot more fun, less stressful, and gets me out in the fresh air.

Treasure Trove

As mentioned previously, I’m back in the San Francisco Bay Area for a bit, and have been spending some time at my parents house.
We’re having guests over for a barbecue tonight, so I was volunteered to locate, assemble, and erect the badminton net that was somewhere ((To quote my mother, “Nothing in this house gets thrown away.” Nothing important, that is — trash and whatnot is, of course, discarded, but pretty much anything of use is squirreled away somewhere.))? in the “wine cellar((A small, dark room in the basement which contains, for the most part, the plumbing connections between the house and the municipal water and sewer lines. It also has stuff like Costco-sized packages of toilet paper, cans of paint, and old Boy Scout camping gear. When I lived here, I kept a locking gun cabinet in thise room as it was probably the least likely place a thief would look for guns. To the best of my knowledge, no wine has ever been kept there. ))”
While searching for said net, I stumbled across a small treasure trove: a medium-sized cardboard box filled with .30-06 Springfield brass, mostly PS-headstamped Korean mil-surp which I used to shoot from my M1 when ammo was cheap and plentiful, and a bunch of solvents and oils used for gun maintenance. I always wondered where that gallon of Ed’s Red and the quart of Hoppes #9 went, and now I know.
Yes, it might seem odd that I equate a box of brass and some jars of chemicals with “treasure,” but that’s the type of person I am.
Alas, I’m flying back to Arizona with only carry-on bags, so the brass and chemicals will have to remain here until the next time I drive out.

On Plumbing

I’m back visiting my parents in the SF Bay Area for a few weeks, and while I’m here they asked me to repair a broken PVC sprinkler pipe in their backyard.
As with most things, it’s easier said than done. Theoretically, it would have involved cutting out the broken section of old pipe, cutting the new pipe to fit, then joining them with the appropriately-sized couplers and some PVC primer/cement.
Practically, attempting it that way resulted in me covered in mud, swearing, and having a bad time of it. The lack of flexibility in the buried pipes meant that I couldn’t effectively join the pipes, as the replacement part had to be long enough to complete the pipe, while being short enough to fit between the couplers. As I couldn’t move the pieces of pipe buried in the ground, this was remarkably difficult and time-consuming (read: several hours spent covered in mud and swearing like a sailor).
Fortunately, some bright person had invented a telescoping coupler that resolves this very issue — one cements one end of the coupler to one pipe, then extends the telescoping part such that one can then cement the other end to the other pipe. A greased o-ring seals the whole assembly and prevents leakage.
Total cost (including the telescoping coupler, primer and cement): $10.
Total time fixing the broken pipe with the telescoping coupler: 10 minutes.
I’m not a very good plumber, but as with any challenge, I learned a lot and will be able to better address such issues in the future. Issues that will likely strike a (soon to be) newly-married person living in a condo.
Also, PVC is some remarkably nifty stuff. It’s also really cheap (about $0.10/foot) and, other than having immovable pipes buried in the ground, easy to work with.