Hunting with suppressors to be allowed in Louisiana

From guns.com comes this report that, effective August 1st, 2014, it will be legal to hunt game in Louisiana with suppressors, thus adding Louisiana to the list of 33 states where hunting with suppressors is legal.

Hunters in the Sportsman’s Paradise will be able to use legally-owned suppressors to both harvest game and control pests following Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signing of House Bill 186 into law Friday.

HB186 strikes the state’s ban on using National Firearms Act-registered suppressors, commonly but incorrectly referred to as “silencers,” in hunting, and replaces it with language to allow widespread use by lawful sportsmen.

The popular bill had sailed through the state Legislature, passing the Senate unanimously on May 20 with little comment by lawmakers.

“This is about mitigating the noise and preventing hearing loss,” said Rep. Cameron Henry (R-Metairie), sponsor of the legislation.

The law will allow any person who possesses an NFA-compliant and properly registered firearm suppressor to use the device to both harvest game animals as well as pests and nuisance wildlife such as beaver and nutria. However, in an apparent bid to void use by those with a history of poaching, it forbids the use of suppressed firearms by those who have been convicted of certain wildlife violations in the past five years.

As a suppressor owner and advocate, this is excellent news. I had no idea that so many states allowed hunting with suppressors.

I really should join the American Suppressor Association, as they and the NRA were instrumental in getting this bill passed.

Of course, not everyone was happy:

Only a handful of Louisiana House representatives voted against the suppressor bill when it passed through that chamber in an 82-15 vote in April. Those who did oppose it voiced concerns about the use of suppressors by criminals as well as the broad allowances to use the devices for virtually all game in the state.

“I don’t know why we need silencers to hunt birds,” said Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans). “We don’t need this bill.”

For some reason, Americans are seemingly unique in the widespread belief that suppressors are tools of assassins, hit men, secret agents, and other stealthy types. In many countries, including those that are decidedly anti-gun like the UK, the use of suppressors is considered one of being polite and neighborly: just as it’s rude and disturbing to drive a car without a muffler, shooting unsuppressed firearms can be impolite in some circumstances.

Rep. Badon is off the mark: all shooters should be able to use suppressors if they wish, and their use should be encouraged. Not only does it help reduce hearing damage for the shooter, but it minimizes the irritation of those who may be disturbed by the sound of unsuppressed shooting. Win-win for everyone.

Popularity of pro-gun and anti-gun groups on social media

Gun control groups routinely tout that they’re representing some large fraction of Americans in order to boost their claims to legitimacy. I’ve always been a bit skeptical about this, since various public records seem to show extremely low numbers of paid members among gun control groups, and high numbers of paid members of gun-rights groups.

I generally consider paid membership numbers to be more reflective of actual interest, as paid members are putting their money where their mouth is. Still, knowing how popular various groups are on the two major social media services — Facebook and Twitter — can yield some insight, particularly into how interested slightly-to-moderately motivated subset of the population is in what they say. Clicking a button to “Like” something on Facebook or “follow” them on Twitter requires basically no effort and allows one to get updates from those that they “Like” or “follow”. Since there’s essentially no barrier to entry, I’d expect that social media numbers would be a good way to measure the relative interest in what the different groups have to say.

I reviewed the numbers of Facebook “Likes” and Twitter “followers” (hereafter referred to as “subscribers”) for gun rights groups, gun companies and industry trade groups, and anti-gun groups on November 8th, 2013 at about 9:00pm UTC. Here’s what I found:

Gun Rights Groups:

  • National Rifle Association (Facebook): 2,748,839
  • National Rifle Association (Twitter): 191,692
  • Gun Owners of America (Facebook): 276,867
  • Gun Owners of America (Twitter): 22,786
  • Second Amendment Foundation (Facebook): 119,810
  • Second Amendment Foundation (Twitter): 4,962

Gun Industry:

  • National Shooting Sports Foundation (Facebook): 157,718
  • National Shooting Sports Foundation (Twitter): 21,104
  • SHOT Show – run by NNSF (Facebook): 44,573
  • SHOT Show – run by NSSF (Twitter): 23,649
  • Glock, Inc. (Facebook): 614,185
  • Glock, Inc. (Twitter): 63,336
  • Smith & Wesson (Facebook): 680,937
  • Smitth & Wesson: (Twitter): 54,447
  • Sturm, Ruger & Company (Facebook) 345,734
  • Sturm, Ruger & Company (Twitter): 18,310

Gun Control Groups:

  • Americans for Responsible Solutions (Facebook): 89,414
  • Americans for Responsible Solutions (Twitter): 210,7081
  • Mayors Against Illegal Guns (Facebook): 19,271
  • Demand Action – MAIG on Twitter (Twitter): 26,860
  • Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America (Facebook): 122,938
  • Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America (Twitter): 12,254
  • Brady Campaign (Facebook): 58,650
  • Brady Campaign (Twitter): 17,170
  • Violence Policy Center (Facebook): 20,571
  • Violence Policy Center (Twitter): 1,934
  • CSGV (Facebook): 46,314
  • CSGV (Twitter): 9,575

What does this tell us? First off, it’s noteworthy to point out that all groups except Americans for Responsible Solutions had far more subscribers on Facebook than on Twitter. Perhaps the ability to post arbitrary-length messages on Facebook is preferable to the 140-character limit imposed by Twitter?

The fact that the NRA has the largest number of subscribers is unsurprising: they are a huge organization and have ~5 million dues-paying members and a very active public outreach group. They also have a substantial number of subscribers on Twitter.

I was surprised by the number of subscribers to the Gun Owners of America Facebook account: the GOA is a no-compromise group that, while having about 300,000 dues-paying members, also has nearly that many Facebook subscribers, about 77% the number of Facebook subscribers to all the gun control groups combined.

I was also surprised at the number of subscribers to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The NSSF is the firearms industry trade group and I don’t normally think of it catering to the general public. Still, it has more Facebook subscribers than all but one of the gun control groups. The SHOT Show, an annual trade show for the shooting sports industry, is not open to the public yet still has more Facebook subscribers than the CSGV, VPC, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns and more Twitter subscribers than all but two of the gun control groups.

Glock and Smith & Wesson, both gun companies, each have roughly 2x the number of Facebook subscribers of all of the gun control groups combined. Each has more Twitter followers than all but one of the gun control groups. Ruger has roughly as many Facebook followers as all the gun control groups combined, and more Twitter subscribers than half of the gun control groups.

Even though there’s essentially no effort involved in subscribing to a group’s Facebook or Twitter feed and people can subscribe with a single click, the gun control groups have a rather poor showing: the only group to exceed 100,000 subscribers on Facebook (something achieved by every pro-gun or industry group, with the exception of the SHOT Show) was Moms Demand Gun Sense in America. They are roughly tied for subscribers as the Second Amendment Foundation, a group more normally found successfully fighting legal battles in courtrooms rather than reaching out to the public on social media. MDA has fewer Twitter followers than any individual pro-gun or industry group with the exception, again, of the SAF.

The NRA alone has more Facebook subscribers than all of the Facebook and Twitter subscribers of all of the anti-gun groups combined. Talk about the 800lb gorilla in the room.

It’s pretty clear that the pro-gun-rights side has far more popular support, not only among dues-paying members, but also among people who need only click a mouse button to register their support.

As to whether or not these levels of support hold when extended to include the general public, I leave as an exercise to the reader and the professionals.

If anyone has details on other groups, either pro- or anti-gun that you’d like me to add to the list, please let me know and I’d be happy to add them. I just picked the groups that I happened to be aware of and that had at least a moderate presence on these two social media platforms.

  1. There is no official ARS Twitter account, so this is the sum of followers for Rep. Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, as their individual accounts are mentioned specifically on the ARS website and who have 139,800 and 70,908 followers, respectively. []

On Donations

I’ve been a Life Member of the NRA for many years now and while I occasionally disagree with certain things they do1, overall I’ve been quite happy with them.

In addition to subscribing to several pro-gun blogs, twitter feeds, and mailing lists, I also subscribe to several belonging to anti-gun-rights groups just so I can keep up to date on what’s going on. In particular, I’m interested in the so-called “moderate groups” like Mark Kelly and Gabby Gifford’s Americans for Responsible Solutions which, despite their mild name and claims to being moderate, continue to promote the same tried-and-ineffective policies like bans on popular guns, limiting magazine capacity, banning private transfers, and other policies that seem to come directly from groups like the VPC and the Brady Campaign.

In the days leading up to the big Senate vote, I received several letters from ARS asking for donations and support for their cause. Instead, I donated twice the amount ARS requested to the NRA-ILA.

Budget permitting, I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future and recommend that you do too.

  1. I’m not a big fan of Wayne LaPierre and think that his constant demonizing of “liberals”, while occasionally well-deserved, is driving otherwise-sympathetic people away from the NRA and gun rights in general when our side needs them the most. []

NRA Magazines Digital Editions

The NRA offers digital versions of its various magazines online for subscribers. Every month, they send an email containing a link to the magazine.

However, they seem to make it rather difficult to access: one needs to login with one’s member information, then view the magazine via some silly browser plugin. A PDF version is available, but accessing it requires a few more clicks to download, and a few more to unzip.

Why not just provide a direct link to the PDF version? That’d seem to be considerably easier. Rather than require logins, why not just send a unique URL to each subscriber so they can ensure that only subscribers can access it? Making it a multi-step process ensures that most people will simply continue to receive paper magazines, costing more money. I’m a professional geek, and even I am a bit frustrated with them.

C’mon NRA, get with the times…

Posted in NRA

Fisking the Daily Star

The Arizona Daily Star published an article in their Sunday Edition that stood out to me when I was grocery shopping today: it had a large, above-the-fold headline entitled, “US makes it easy for gun traffickers.”

While their article is long and makes a weak attempt at appearing balanced, it has some absurdities that I really must point out. I’ve made a few statements in my response that are likely to be common knowledge to gunny folks, though I’d appreciate it if readers could point out where I might find good sources for such statements so I can cite them properly.

Also, I wrote this post rather late at night, so I’m likely to have a few spelling or grammar mistakes. Mea cupla. Continue reading

NRA Annual Meeting (May 17th, 2009)

Saturday night consisted of reviewing some of my notes from the day and getting ready for Sunday.

On Sunday, I decided to be a bit adventuresome and take the metro light rail train into downtown Phoenix, so as to avoid the high parking fees. After getting horribly lost (which included driving through a shady looking trailer park whilst looking for parking — they need better signs) for a short period, Louis and I arrived at the train station, parked, and were off to the convention center.

Once there, we met up with a few other bloggers at the NRA Press Office and went out to lunch. Going off memory, we had Sebastian and Bitter, Eric, Mike, Bradford, and a couple other folks who I seem to have forgotten (sorry guys!).

From left to right, we have Sebastian, Bitter, Eric, Mike, and myself.

After experiencing the silliness of Arizona gun laws relating to carrying in establishments that serve alcohol, we had a tasty lunch, and most of us (Jason was going back to the airport) headed back to the show.

I really wanted to ask the Ruger reps some questions about the SR-556, but they were quite busy when I first checked, so Louis and I perused the exhibit floor and managed to get our hands on some things that we didn’t get to see the previous day, including the FN SCAR:

The SCAR had some different ergonomics than the AR platform (which I’m used to), but still seemed to be reasonably lefty friendly. One notable feature was the folding stock — a simple button-press released the stock, which folded around to the right. It snapped into a notch on the brass deflector and so could be secured in the folded position. The stock didn’t end up blocking the ejection port when folded, and since no operating parts were in the stock the gun could be fired while folded. Very cool.

One booth was run by a few skilled craftsmen who made very tiny, functional pistols. The gentleman (whose name I can’t recall) from the Pennsylvania Firearm Owner’s Association who was walking around with us mentioned that on Saturday the booth had a tiny, fully working 1911 that fired itty-bitty cartridges, but that exhibitor was not present today. That would have been really interesting to see.

Finally, I saw a break at the Ruger booth and struck. Fortunately, my questions were not terribly time-consuming, and I got most of them answered in just a few minutes.

Moving on, we found some very cool rifles at the Bushmaster booth — I’m very familiar with the solid, triangular front sight post on AR-pattern rifles, and I’ve seen and used various flip-up iron sights, but I’ve never seen the two combined into a flip-up, triangular front sight post:

This sight was remarkably rigid when extended and was quite compact when folded. The only problem I could see was that there wasn’t any sort of detent that would keep the sight folded — if one were to bump or brush the front sight against something, it’s possible that the sight could flip back up. There wasn’t a detent to lower the sight, but it required force applied in a specific manner, so I don’t think it’d be likely to fold down on its own. This particular front sight post also included a bayonet lug, though they have models without the lug if one wishes.

One can buy such a front sight assembly from the manufacturer here.

The .410 Shotshell/.45 Colt Taurus Judge revolver is an impressive beast, yet still fit comfortably in my hand. I’d really like to give this revolver a spin at the range sometime.

The Glock booth was near the Taurus booth, so we handled a few of the 4th Generation pistols and spoke with some of the reps.

Louis and I then went and lusted over the shinies at the CZ booth, where I was happy to learn that I could order a left-handed CZ-452 American direct from CZ, have their custom shop replace the ordinary barrel with the 16″ pre-threaded barrel found on this model, and have it sent directly to my FFL for pickup. Basically, I’d have a lefty, 16″, pre-threaded 452. Since I love shooting my .22s suppressed and have ammo that’s just barely subsonic out of a 16″ barrel, this is excellent news indeed. They gave me a card and asked me to call in the next week or so to work out a price.

We then headed over to the Leupold booth, where we got to play with their scopes. Compared to the other optics available at the show, the Leupold ones were far and away the brighter and clearer. Louis is an astronomer, and so has developed a great eye for optical aberrations and flaws…and found none in the Leupold optics, while detecting a few minor things (mostly chromatic aberration) in scopes from other brands like Nikon.

While their scopes are made in the US, I was a bit dismayed to discover their laser rangefinders are made in China. Even so, the different models were extremely consistent when ranging to the same object (the far wall of the exhibit hall), and were within one yard of each other. Several of the models took into account the elevation angle, showing both the actual range and the range that one should set one’s sights at when shooting at that angle. Very neat.

A few of the Leupold scopes also had illuminated reticles, and several of those went to eleven1.

After Leupold, we briefly stopped by the Dillon booth and ogled their progressive presses. Alas, while we were doing so, 5:00pm rolled around, and an announcement was made that the annual meeting was over, and would people please make their way to the exits.

In conclusion, while I didn’t get to see any of the various meetings and presentations made by the NRA (with the exception of the one on Jeff Cooper, who was a truly amazing man), I did get to meet with several of the vendor reps, get some information about new products they were offering, handle many of their products, met with a bunch of gunbloggers, and generally had a great time.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make next year’s annual meeting and Blog Bash, but I’ll definitely make an effort to do so.

  1. From This is Spinal Tap. []

Liquor Licenses

For all the progessive gun laws that Arizona has1, it has a major flaw: at present, it is prohibited for a person to carry a firearm (even if they have a permit to carry concealed) into any establishment that is licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption, even if the person does not drink and even if the sale of alcoholic beverages is temporarily suspended.

While I enjoy a good drink and finely-crafted guns, I strongly believe that drinking and the carriage of firearms should not be done at the same time. Much like drinking and driving, doing so is irresponsible.

That said, I see no reason why I (or any other law-abiding person) should have to disarm simply becuase I wish to enter an establishment that serves alcohol. As the law stands now, I’m prohibited from carrying when I go to Chili’s, even if I’m just there for a burger and soda with friends. If I’m walking around armed, as is my custom, I am forbidden from entering establishments like Chipotle for a burrito simply because they offer bottled beer.

This issue was a concern for the Phoenix Convention Center, as the center has a liquor license. Fortunately, they were able to successfully petition the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control for a temporary suspension of the liquor license in most areas of the event, thus allowing private citizens to legally carry guns around the event.

Certain functions at the event, such as the member banquet, served alcohol. In these places, the NRA maintained a gun-check station and allowed people to securely stow their arms prior to entering the restricted area. However, members who wished to eat at several of the nearby restaraunts were unable to do so, as many of them served alcohol. This was an issue for myself and a few other gunbloggers when we went out for lunch on Saturday and Sunday.

I’ve written to my state officials to encourage them to change the law so that people can legally carry in restaraunts so long as they don’t drink. I urge you to do the same.

  1. Most notably the fact that open carry is legal in most places without any permit being necessary. []

4th Generation Glocks

Update: It appears as though I was incorrect about these pistols being the “4th Generation” of Glock pistols. Rather, they appear to be a somewhat modified third generation — the “Rough Texture Frame Pistol”. From what I hear, the actual 4th Gen pistols will have adjustable backstraps and a less-aggressive grip pattern than the really rough textured RTF ones shown below. My apologies for any confusion.

The crowds were slightly less at the Glock booth today, so I was able to get my hands on one of the 4th Generation “fish gill” Glock pistols and a few minutes of time from some of the Glock employees.

According to the reps, all the internals are the same. Existing replacement and aftermarket parts will fit 4th Generation pistols.

New Slide Serrations

When asked why Glock changed the rear serrations from the previous straight lines to the new, curved design, one employee answered unofficially, “it’s high-speed, low drag”1

Another employee mentioned that the previous serrations went all the way from the top of the slide to the bottom, and so the steel at the bottom of of each serration was thinner. He had personally seen two previous Glock pistols, each used by extremely heavy users (100,000+ rounds out of each), suffer failures at the base of the serrations where the slide bent outwards. The “fish gill” serrations stop a millimeter or two above the base of the slide, leaving the base of the slide thicker and thus stronger. This is obvious in the below photograph that shows both the old and new serrations:

Textured Grips

The 4th Generation pistols also sport a new texture on the grip:

This texture consists of numerous tiny polygonal2 nubs on the backstrap, sides, and finger grooves of the pistol, rather than the larger, blockier nubs found on the backstrap and finger grooves of previous generations of Glock pistols.

While previous generations had textured panels on the grips, the new texture is considerably more “aggressive”3 than the previous texture. I’m inclined to agree, but feel that the new texture is extremely uncomfortable — the grips feel extremely abrasive, and I find the gun uncomfortable to hold with a firm grip. I’m also concerned with the gun gripping clothing, making concealment more difficult. Abrasion of clothing is another concern voiced by some readers.

A member of Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association (I’m terrible with names, so I apologize for forgetting!) was walking around with Louis and I, and mentioned to the employee his concern about the possibility of the new texture irritating the skin on one’s waist when carrying the gun in an IWB holster.

It’s possible to make things “grippy” without making them feel like sandpaper: Hogue aftermarket grips are extremely comfortable and grippy without being hard on one’s hands. I doubt Glock would be able to integrate both the ordinary plastic used in their frames with Hogue-type rubber panels in a single molded piece, but I feel that’d be a better option than the new texture.

According to one of the reps, the texture becomes less “aggressive” over time, while still retaining its gripping ability.

Glock had small survey cards where they asked people’s opinion of the new serrations and texture. I indicated that I preferred the previous textures as they were more comfortable, and the previous serrations (though I wouldn’t mind if they stopped the serrations above the base of the slide, so as to strengthen it) due to their more utilitarian appearance, ease of gripping, and ease of cleaning.

Magazines

I inquired about the notch on the front of magazines shipped with current, non-4th-Generation Glock pistols. My understanding that the notch was designed to allow for an ambidextrous magazine release was confirmed, though the pistols equipped with such a release4  are not terribly popular in the US for a few reasons, most notably because many holsters fit the pistols in such a way that they depress the ambidextrous mag release.

This issue results in the magazine being released when the pistol is reholstered. According to the reps, this is a problem with the holster makers, not with Glock — the design of the pistols is such that it is not possible for Glock to include an ambidextrous magazine release that doesn’t get pushed by most current holsters. In order for them to do so, the holster manufacturers would need to slightly redesign their holsters.

Additionally, one of the new models has a standard 1913 Picatinny rail, but this fits poorly with existing holsters due to the width of the rail. The models with the proprietary “Glock Rail” do not suffer this problem as the rail is smaller, but such models are still uncommon due to the mag-dumping-when-holstered issue.

None of the models on display at the booth were the “SF” models equipped with the ambidextrous magazine release, though they were selling various items like hats, shirts, and R. Lee Ermey5 action figures. The Gunny himself was present for a few days for handshakes, autographs, and pictures, though the line to see him was quite long. In overhearing his conversations with people, he seems like a decent guy; Mr. Ermey, if you happen to be reading this post and are in the Tucson area, please allow me to treat you to a drink.

  1. In short, it’s new and shiny. People like new and shiny things. []
  2. According to the employee. []
  3. Quoting one of the reps. []
  4. The G20, 21, 29, and 30 “SF” models. []
  5. Who, among his numerous other achievements and positions, is a Glock spokesman. []

Ruger SR-556 Questions & Answers

After looking at the new Ruger SR-556 on Saturday, I went back to the booth today to ask a few questions I had and ask a few asked by readers. Unless specifically quoted, all questions and answers are paraphrased from notes.

1. The MSRP is $1995. Why so much? ARs are commonly available in the $800-$1,200 range.

Other piston-driven ARs are considerably more expensive, often starting at more than $2,500. An MSRP of less than $2,000 for a piston-driven AR from a reputable manufacturer is quite a bit more affordable than other similar guns.

The SR-556 was made to compete with HK 416s and Sig 556s, not common gas-driven ARs.

2. Do you intend to offer the SR-556 in other calibers, specifically .204 Ruger and 6.8 SPC?

Ruger is a publicly-traded company, which limits what we can disclose at this time.

3. Is the SR-556 upper and lower receivers compatible with other upper/lower receivers.

Our upper receiver will fit on mil-spec lowers, and mil-spec uppers will fit on our lower receiver. The SR-556 takes standard STANAG/M16 magazines.

4. Does Ruger intend to sell just the upper receivers to those who already have mil-spec lowers and want a piston-driven upper?

Not at the moment. Again, we’re a publicly-traded company and so cannot disclose certain things.

5. One reader mentioned that he shoots blackpowder .223 loads from his current AR. I have no idea why he does this, but he wanted to know if it was possible to do the same with the SR-556.

[hearty laugh] Honestly, I’ve never heard of anyone doing such a thing, and so cannot say if it’s possible or not.

6. Is the SR-556 compatible with registered Drop-In Auto Sears?

Not from the factory, no.

(At this point I asked him if I could look inside the lower, though he asked that we not take pictures of it. It had the standard cut-out at the rear of the lower where a DIAS would normally go, but without measuring equipment I was unable to tell if it was the proper size or not. Some machining may be required, but it doesn’t look like Ruger went out of their way to make DIAS installation difficult. Basically it looks like any ordinary lower one would buy from other manufacturers.)

7. Any plans for a longer-barreled target version?

No comment.

8. Any plans for a ban-compliant version that could be sold in California, Massachusetts, etc.?

This is something that Ruger could theoretically do, but I have no further comment on the topic at this time.

At this point, other people were clamoring for his attention and I felt like I had occupied enough of his time, so I thanked him and wished him a good day.1

  1. I feel guilty for wasting people’s time. Does this make me a bad journalist? []