Open Carry Rally this Saturday in Texas [corrected]

Updated: Whoops. Turns out I didn’t check the date on the DMN article — the event was this last Saturday and has already occurred. Mea culpa. Additionally, it looks like the group didn’t have permission from Home Depot and may have violated Home Depot’s “no solicitation” policy, which might end up getting open carry banned at Home Depot. Way to go, guys.
In the army we had a name for people who screwed over their buddies: “blue falcon“. It’s fair to say that applies to these guys.
Original post continues below:
Heads up to any readers in Texas: according to the Dallas Morning News, there’ll be an open carry rally in North Richland Hills this Saturday:

Starting at 11:30 a.m. supporters will fill the back of the parking lot at the Home Depot on Precinct Line Road to listen to speakers, have an open-carry education session and hold a raffle. Prizes include revolvers, an AR 15 rifle, over 1,500 rounds of ammunition and Rangers tickets, according to the group?s Facebook page.
Rally organizer Kory Watkins, 30, wants to make it clear that Saturday?s event is not a protest.
?Protesters are angry; and we are not angry people. If you come up to us, you will see we are smiling and friendly,? he said. ?We are demonstrating, demonstrating our rights and demonstrating how the law lets you carry a long gun, but you can?t open carry a pistol.?

While I personally find the open carry of rifles in built-up areas a bit off-putting, so long as things are cool with Home Depot that sounds like a fun event and a good use of a large, otherwise-unused section of parking lot.
When you’re having a big event, it makes sense to coordinate with the property owner rather than just showing up. Doubly so when people are openly armed.
However, it’s not quite clear if that’s the case:

Watkins said his group has been meeting at the Home Depot for almost a year, and unlike other businesses and cities like Arlington who have clashed with the group, the home improvement giant has ?stayed neutral.?
?They respect the rights of the people and we realize that,? Watkins said. ?Their parking lost are always huge so we can park in the back and not bother nobody.?
A representative for the North Richland Hills Home Depot said he had no information about the rally.
?That?s not something Home Depot sponsors,? said the man, who declined to give his name. ?They are not going to on the Home Depot property.?
Stephen Holmes, Home Depot?s corporate communications director, told Forbes, ?Our feeling is that, ultimately, the voters direct the laws on gun carry issues, so we defer to the prevailing ordinances in states and communities.?

Emphasis mine.
Good for Home Depot to stay neutral, but it sounds like the group — even though they’ve met there regularly — hasn’t really coordinated with the store itself. That’d probably be a good idea.
Fortunately, they’ve let the police know ahead of time so there shouldn’t be trouble from the cops:

[A]ccording to Watkins, the North Richland Hills police have been helpful with the planned rally.
?The police department has been notified and is coordinating with us,? he said. ?Everything is legal, as always.?

Naturally, the Demanding Mommies and a few others have posted to the Home Depot Facebook page saying they’re unhappy about the situation and will not shop at the store until they change their rules.
Honestly, Texas really should just allow open carry of handguns like Arizona and other states: with few exceptions, very few people notice or care a handgun holstered on a belt but they sure as hell will notice a slung rifle. It’d benefit gun owners in Texas and take the steam out of MDA by removing a point around which they can rally support and get media time.

Observing the Swiss

Since the university where I work is right next to the main train station, most of my Swiss-watching (pun very much intended) takes place in the station. The Swiss are interesting, particularly when it comes to weapons in public.
It’s common to see guys with slung SIG SG 550’s walking around the train station as they head off to military training, the range, etc. Nobody pays these guys any mind whatsoever; it’s just part of what’s normal here.
I admit to doing a double-take when I saw a guy with a slung katana picking up some groceries in the main station, but nobody else seemed to care. “Guy with a sword getting a liter of milk and some eggs. Meh.”
Even rather unusual things, like the guy wearing a full-body ghillie suit with a rifle slung on his back buying a cup of coffee from the McDonalds, go completely unremarked-upon by anyone here. It’s amusing to think of Swiss Wookie-suiters?being a thing.

Rifle overboard!

What’s going on here?

Image from S.T.A. Training Group
Image from S.T.A. Training Group

Based on the Facebook comments people are speculating that the man works for a marine security company and is throwing this AR-pattern rifle overboard for one of two main reasons:

  1. The rifle is full-auto and was purchased outside the US (i.e. they don’t need to comply with the NFA hoops), and they’re returning to a US port and the gun would not be legal. It’s cheaper and easier to simply discard the rifle overboard and buy another one once they leave US waters than deal with the NFA.
  2. Essentially the same situation, only they’re docking in some other port where firearms are restricted regardless of if they’re full- or semi-auto.

Thoughts? Speculation? I suspect that #2 is a bit more likely.
(Apologies if this post shows up twice in your feed reader. There were some tech issues here.)

Because Vermont has such a crime problem

Supporters of increased controls over guns in Vermont accepted the fact that legislation was going nowhere in 2014.
When lawmakers declined to vote this year on gun-control charter changes passed by Burlington voters in March, gun control supporters opted against raising a ruckus.
Next year will be different, they said Tuesday.
“2015 will be the year,” Ann Braden, president of Gun Sense Vermont, at a Statehouse news conference. The group’s singular focus next legislative session will be to pass a law requiring criminal background checks for all gun transactions, she said.

Burlington Free Press, via Jeff Soyer.
Obviously, with its lax gun laws Vermont is a violence-infested hellhole. Oh, wait. It’s not. At all.
Considering the blowback that politicians get whenever they propose gun control and its unpopularity among?the public, it’s no surprise that this group wants to wait until after the midterm elections before pushing their extreme agenda.
Pretty much any group that says “Everyone loves us and the ideas we espouse, but we’re going to wait until after the election to push those ideas.” is a group you want to avoid. If it’s a good idea and you think you have public support, why put it off until later?

No surprise – Hillary Clinton dislikes freedom

Yesterday, Politico ran an article about Hillary Clinton commenting, in detail, on domestic policy. No surprise, she was pushing for more gun control:

?We have to rein in what has become [an] almost article of faith, that anybody can own a gun anywhere, anytime. And I don?t believe that,? [Hillary Clinton]?said.

Why? If people are?peaceful, non-violent people, why does it matter if they have guns or not?
Should violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill be blocked from possessing firearms? Certainly, but considering that the vast, vast majority of people are ordinary, responsible, peaceful people it seems silly to worry about them responsibly owning and carrying?arms.

Clinton, who argued it was possible to hold her position and still support the right to gun ownership, warned that unfettered access to guns could have dangerous consequences. She called the country?s approach to guns ?way out of balance,? and referred to cases in which gun violence has erupted over minor issues.

I fail to see how overturning restrictive, unconstitutional laws and restoring liberty is somehow “way out of balance”.
I’m not sure what sort of cognitive gymnastics are needed to simultaneously think that restricting the right to keep and bear arms is somehow also supporting that?right, but such a performance would be worthy of an Olympic-level gymnast.
And yes, while violence involving firearms has arisen over minor issues, overall gun violence is way,?way down since the time her husband was in office, even though the number of guns in private hands has dramatically increased and gun laws have been liberalized.

She painted a dark picture, warning that, ?At the rate we?re going, we?re going to have so many people with guns everywhere, fully licensed, fully validated, in settings where [one] could be in a movie theater, and they don?t like someone chewing gum loudly or talking on their cell phone and decide they have the perfect right to defend themselves against the gum chewer or cell phone user by shooting.?
Clinton continued, ?That?s what happens in the countries I?ve visited where there?s no rule of law.?

So people who undergo the training and checks needed to get a carry permit — that is, they’re following the law — are somehow more apt to fits of violence? Seems unlikely to me. Certainly, such incidents have happened but they are the exception rather than the rule, and the people who committed such acts are either in jail or facing criminal charges.
It’s nonsensical to compare people who obey the law, get training, background checks, and permits with people in lawless countries.

The proliferation of guns combined with few restrictions on where they can be carried can ?give someone the means to respond in the moment in a way that he wouldn?t if a few minutes passed and there was no means to inflict harm ? We really have got to get our arms around this,? she said.

I agree with her but not in the way she intends.
I wholeheartedly agree that widespread carriage of arms by the public “give[s] someone the means to respond” that they would otherwise lack if they had?”no means to inflict harm”. I think that’s a good thing, because?honest people can defend themselves from violent criminals. Without a gun, the honest person is considerably less able to offer meaningful resistance.
While it was always obvious that Mrs. Clinton was never a friend of the Second Amendment or legal gun owners, this is pretty clear-cut evidence that she’s opposed to gun rights.

Weerd on “Ask and Tell”

Weerd has some good advice for?responding to “Are there guns in the house?” questions that the antis are pushing as a “safety” measure.
While there?is a certain aspect of safety involved in such questions, in that having unsecured, loaded firearms around young children is asking for trouble, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that the antis have some sort of ulterior motive like shaming legitimate gun owners. This?is the Brady Campaign, after all.
Weerd’s advice is good, and I’ll summarize it here:

  1. Shame. Bluntly asking people about personal, private things like gun ownership, particularly if you’ve just met, is rather forward and a little bit rude.?Being affronted by their questions is reasonable.
  2. Honesty.?Although you’re affronted, don’t lie. Don’t show them your guns or security, but don’t lie.
  3. Quid Pro Quo. If they’re bold enough to ask you private questions, turn the table: do they own guns? Do they know how to store?or handle them safely?
  4. Into The Fold! This is a good learning?opportunity: see if they’re interested in learning more about guns and gun safety.
  5. Social Stigma. If the other person responds irrationally in regards to your safe and lawful firearm ownership and denies their child a friend (in the form of your child), mention that to your friends. If they react this way about safely and lawfully owned firearms, how would they react to other situations?
  6. Remember the Children. Keep in mind that the kids are innocent bystanders here and are just interested in being friends with others.?Assuming that the other parent’s home is reasonably safe?(i.e., the pool is fenced, household chemicals and knives are secured and out of reach, etc.), there’s no reason to prevent your child from playing over there, having a good time, and socializing.

Read the whole thing.
I’m a big fan of #3 — take advantage of a situation and turn it into a learning opportunity. When I was working on my bachelors degree I’d do this frequently with other students, particularly those who had no experience with firearms. It worked out really well, and everyone had a fun time (particularly at the range).
 

Bloomberg’s 5 Strategic Blunders

From Guns.com comes this excellent piece?regarding Bloomberg’s recent announcement. Here’s the quick summary and some commentary:

1. New name, same stink
You can?t polish a turd. In other words, they can call it whatever they like, but as long as Bloomberg is at the helm of the organization they?re going to encounter heavy opposition to their cause.

I genuinely think he doesn’t get that outside of the Northeast and anti-gun places like Chicago, people aren’t so keen on him. Pretty much nobody likes out-of-town billionaires telling them how they should do things.

2. Timing is everything
If it?s true that timing is everything, then one has to question why Everytown chose to announce this move approximately two weeks before the National Rifle Association?s annual show and convention, which is the gun lobby?s one weekend during the year in which they are certain to garner mainstream media coverage and reach millions of Americans.

Yeah, that’s weird.

3. The real objective to background checks
Various polls show that there is widespread public support for universal background checks yet many gun owners are opposed to a law mandating them. Why is this?
The reason gun owners object to universal background checks is not over the notion that private transfers shouldn?t be subject to background checks, but over the implementation of the measures lawmakers proposed.

The article goes on to suggest that rather than mandating that all purchases go through an FFL, where a record of sale is kept, private individuals?should have access to NICS (or at least a basic version that says “Proceed” or “Consult FFL”) in the form of a smartphone app or something otherwise easily accessible. They also mention a useful?thing that’s often overlooked: having the app be able to save and print out a receipt/record of sale, so the seller could have a record Just In Case.
I, for one, would be totally fine with a law opening up NICS as an option for private sellers, so long as (a) it’s optional and (b) that’s all the law does. No registration, no data retention, no mandated FFL transfers, etc.
If I’m going to sell a gun to a buddy I’ve known since I was a kid, there’s no need for me to do a NICS check — I know he’s good, but if I were to sell to someone from Armslist, someone who responded to a classifieds ad, or someone I met at the range?it’d be nice to check to make sure?they’re not a prohibited person. Criminals will, as usual, simply ignore the law?so it makes no sense to mandate the checks.

4. Why go to war, when compromise is possible?
It appears that Everytown is gearing up for war when it?s quite possible that they could have cut a deal with gun owners and saved Bloomberg millions of dollars.
Suppose […] Bloomberg?s being sincere in his remarks ((?Nobody is going to take anyone?s gun. Nobody is going to keep you from hunting or target practice or protecting yourself,? said Bloomberg on Wednesday during an appearance on the Today Show. ?Just making sure that a handful of people, who we all agree shouldn?t have guns, don?t get their hands on them.?)), I bet most gun owners would readily sign a deal that established national, ?shall-issue? concealed carry reciprocity laws in all 50 states and created a federal law banning?bans [AZR: emphasis mine] on ?assault weapons? and ?high capacity? magazines in exchange for an improved background check system, tougher laws cracking down on domestic abusers and increased funding for suicide prevention and the safe storage of firearms.

Easy: For Bloomberg it’s not about the guns, it’s about control. He doesn’t want a deal, he wants to win.?If he actually gave a damn about increasing public safety there’s about a zillion other things he could with $50 million that would be enormously more effective.
Lest anyone think his “nobody is going to take anyone’s gun” remarks are sincere, look at the history of gun control activists: they always say they don’t want to take anyone’s guns, then they ratchet the restrictions?tighter?when they can.
One need look no further than Sunnyvale, California, where they recently banned even the possession of grandfathered “high-capacity” magazines and require that people turn them into the police. It should be obvious that “universal background checks” is a stepping stone. Indeed, MAIG and MDA, both funded by Bloomberg, have explicitly stated that they want to ban “assault weapons” (which are, of course, the most popular guns owned by ordinary people and some of the least-likely types of guns to be used in crimes)?, restrict magazine capacities, and work to eliminate the “gun culture”.

5. All this for what?
Before one wages a $50 million war, they ought to know what they stand to gain if they win. And in this particular instance, what?s achieved by expanding background checks to cover private transfers is not quite clear, meaning that there?s no statistically significant evidence to suggest that universal background checks would have a positive effect on crime rates.

Again, Bloomberg wants to win. He knows that “universal background checks” aren’t going to do squat against criminals, and probably so do the people at MDA, the Brady Campaign, etc., unless they’ve all been drinking the kool-aid. It’s just the camel’s nose in the tent and a point of leverage for future encroachments; baby steps, if you will.
They realized that asking for the whole pie isn’t going to work, so they’re asking for just a teensy-tiny slice. Then, in the future, they’ll ask for another and another until eventually they get where they want. We have to counter them at each step lest they gain a new foothold.
Edit: Minor corrections to grammar. I really need to proofread before posting.

Ballistic Monte Carlo Methods

This is a paragraph I never thought I’d see in the academic literature:

“[W]e advocate the use of ballistic-assisted (i.e. projectile-based) random sampling methods because they are both easily accessible and parallelizable. In particular, shotgun-assisted random sampling seems very suitable becaues of the presumed abundance of shotguns in cataclysmic times and the speed at which they can generate samples.”

– Vincent Dumoulin, F?lix Thouin – “A Ballistic Monte Carlo Approximation of ?

Awesome. That’d make for an amazing grant application.
See here for a summary article that explains things for non-mathematicians.
Edit: Somehow I borked the initial post by forgetting the title and screwing up a link. I’ve now corrected these errors. If you’re still seeing those errors in your feed reader, please refresh the feed.