Media: reciprocity is making the sky fall!

H.R.38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, passed out of the House of Representatives yesterday and is now headed for the Senate. As expected, the media is beside itself with wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Let’s look at the New York Times’ article about it, starting a bit into the article:

Together, the measures were the first gun-related bill to pass through the chamber since two of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States, in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Tex., in the fall.

While technically true, it seems a bit misleading to conflate lawful carry with the criminal misuse of arms. Still, par for the course for the Times.

But the background check measure was not enough to win over most Democrats, nor did it persuade law enforcement officials in some of the largest cities, including New York, who say the legislation would force locales with strict gun laws to bow to places with few or no gun restrictions.

So, the Democrats are against improving the NICS system. Got it. Nice to have that on record. Ss for forcing locales with strict gun laws to “bow” to places with few or no gun restrictions, good. Those strict laws are unjust.

Democrats said the measure would jeopardize public safety and set a dangerous precedent for overriding states’ rights to determine their own laws.

States can determine their own laws, but that doesn’t mean those laws are right, just, or constitutional. Restricting honest people from effectively protecting themselves is a terrible thing.

The House bill would not force states to change their own laws, but it would treat a concealed-carry permit like a driver’s license, letting individuals allowed by one state to carry a concealed weapon with them into another state.

Seems perfectly reasonable. What’s the issue here?

It would also allow visitors to national parks, wildlife refuges and other federally administered lands to legally carry concealed guns. And it carves out a provision that would let qualified permit holders carry concealed guns in school zones.

Good.

Law enforcement officials from major cities like New York and Los Angeles, where strict gun control laws are aimed at handguns, warned that the bill would usurp states’ authority to set their own laws and effectively impose the lax laws of Southern and rural states on densely populated cities.

Excellent. Nullifying or overturning unjust laws is a good thing, whether it’s overriding laws mandating racial segregation in the South or laws that restrict good people from protecting themselves.

Treating carry permits like any other state-issued license or certificate, like a driver’s license, marriage license, etc. is only logical. If I can drive from Arizona to New York without having to get a driver’s license from each state in between — even though those states all have somewhat different traffic laws — I should be able to do the same thing with a carry permit. The fact that one has a carry permit means that one has been vetted by both state and federal background checks, and is one of the most law-abiding people in the country. These are the people who should be encouraged to carry wherever they can.

In short, all the things that the New York Times and other media are complaining about are the very things that I’m pleased to hear. Now, if only the Senate can get this passed and signed into law. One can hope.

The folly of gun control in a single picture.

Pictured above is the most expensive AR-15 I have in my possession, but also the most interesting.

It’s a Polymer80 80% lower receiver which, when purchased, is a completely unregulated piece of plastic costing $80, and which includes a one-time disposable plastic jig for making the proper cuts and holes in the correct locations, as well as the drill bits and end mill needed to make those holes. The package also included various parts that are relevant to a few non-standard aspects of the receiver, such as a square nut and screw that holds the grip on rather than the regular screw which threads directly into an aluminum receiver, and a threaded set screw instead of a roll pin for the bolt catch lever — roll pins and polymer receivers don’t really work too well.

In addition to the $80 for the receiver kit itself, I spent $70 for a Wen 4208 8″ drill press, $60 for a Wen 4″ cross-slide vise, $7.47 for an extra long 5/16″ end mill to drill out the trigger hole was worthwhile since it made a much nicer and cleaner hole than the 5/16″ drill bit that came with the kit. $68.75 for a standard AR-15 lower parts kit, conveniently available from Polymer80 as well, was also purchased. I also spent a few bucks for some bolts, nuts, and washers from the local hardware store, bringing the total cost to about $310, and that’s without the buffer tube and stock assembly or upper. Yikes.

The vise is slightly too tall to hold the jig on the press’ table while doing work, so I ended up bolting it to the base of the press using stacks of several washers (far from ideal and ugly, but functional) as spacers to lift the vise up to where the bit can reach it.

I was able to complete the lower in a few hours by using the drill press to plunge the end mill into and remove much of the fire control pocket material, then lightly abuse the drill press as a poor-man’s mill and clean up the fire control pocket with the side of the end mill. I used a hand drill, as recommended, to drill out the holes on the sides. Some light filing and sanding cleaned up some rough spots, and it was good to go.

Neglecting all the sunk costs on equipment, the polymer 80% lower is twice the cost of a forged aluminum $40 Anderson stripped lower. Why bother?

Two reasons:

  1. It’s remarkably fun to build something with one’s hands.
  2. It demonstrates the folly of gun control.

#1 should be obvious, but #2 is a nice touch. Other than the lower receiver, literally every part of the AR-15 is completely unregulated and can be purchased from a huge number of vendors, both in person and online. The 80% lower itself is, until completed, a totally unregulated piece of plastic. Once made, it’s considered a firearm, just like any other lower, so various rules apply to its ownership, transfer, or sale if one wanted to go that way.

Short of restricting basic tools available at hardware stores and pieces of plastic, there’s no way to prevent someone from making their own. If one knows how to operate a basic hand drill, can watch a YouTube video, and follow basic step-by-step directions, they can make one too. It’s easy.

So easy, in fact, that it neatly nullifies the concept of gun control as it applies to restrictions on manufacturing or transferring AR-15s. This gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Everyone should make at least one. It’s fun and helps promote liberty.

Response to Feinstein’s Proposed AWB

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) recently proposed a new “assault weapons ban” that, as expected, would do nothing to prevent crime or mass shootings. It focuses on specific guns rarely used in crime (and ignores other guns that are identical in function, if not appearance), as well as certain cosmetic features that in no way affect the lethality of those guns. Clearly, this will solve everything.

In response, I will complete an off-the-book 80% AR-15 lower receiver. You can’t stop the signal.

I’m also tempted to send a photo of it to her office along with a letter explaining why I think her proposal is foolish and unworkable, but that’s probably not worth my time.

No surprise: NY Times calls for more useless gun control

In their editorial today that should surprise nobody, the New York Times calls for more gun control. Additionally, they call out Congress for not doing anything by saying,

Still, Republicans leaders in Congress do nothing. Or, really, so far they’ve done the same thing they have always done: offered thoughts and prayers. Tomorrow, then, will surely bring warnings not to “politicize” a tragedy by debating gun controls that might prevent such mass killings from happening again.

[…]

When Republican leaders have responded to past killings, their response was to block sensible, useful gun control. They should not be allowed to delay effective legislation any longer.

They fail to mention what “sensible, useful” measures “might prevent” similar mass shootings in the future. They also fail to point out how such measures would work. Instead of being making productive suggestions, they show a bunch of live-updating clocks that display the time since several previous mass shootings, arguing that “now is the time” to have such debates. They fail to grasp that the country has already had such debates and the ideas proposed by their side have been found wanting.

I suspect their suggestions, if stated, would be similar to the standard gun-controller wishlist: banning popular guns and magazines, restrictions on ammo, banning private sales, restricting carry, licensing, registration, and insurance.

In short, useless measures that would only affect lawful gun owners and have absolutely no effect on criminals who already violate a host of laws to commit their heinous crimes. Unlike many criminal acts, these types of mass killings are usually meticulously planned, with the attackers willing to go to great lengths over long periods of time to acquire what they need.

Making an already illegal action (i.e. murder, attempted murder, assault, not to mention a host of other crimes the perpetrator no doubt committed in the course of his spree) slightly more illegal isn’t going to deter such people.

The correct course of action is not to seek to restrict tools used by bad guys (and a vast number of ordinary people), as the number of tools that can be used for bad purposes is limited only by the imagination, but rather to ensure that a rapid, armed response can be made against the bad guy. This role typically falls to the police, though the police cannot be everywhere, nor can they respond instantly to the scene of a crime, individuals should be prepared to defend themselves. Laws that restrict the lawful carriage of arms for self-defense are monstrous and should be called out as such.

In the case of Sutherland Springs, the heroic actions of an armed bystander and a passing motorist (well done, you two!) served to disrupt the attacker’s escape. It’s too bad that such a response was not available a few minutes earlier before the killer racked up such a body count.

In response to the New York Times’ call for more gun control, not to mention similar calls from various legislators, public figures, media, etc., I think I’ll complete one of the 80% AR-15 lower receivers I’ve been meaning to work on. Another AR is always fun, and it’s nice to make something that points out the folly of gun control.

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.