Europe Update

I’m in Europe (Paris, to be specific), and have some internet access courtesy of the hotel where I’m staying.
Whilst in London, I observed the Changing of the Guard ceremony in Buckingham Palace and noticed something quite interesting: Singapore had a contingent of guards at the palace (they were relieved by what appeared to be members of the British Royal Air Force). The Singaporean troops were carrying chrome- or nickel-plated M16A1s, which struck me as a bit weird.

Does anyone know if these rifles could be functional if so plated, or if they’re only suitable for parades and whatnot?

Sixty-Four Years

To all those who waded ashore, parachuted, or otherwise arrived in Normandy, thank you.
In a week or two, I will be visiting the cemeteries and paying my respects to those brave soldiers who died there.

I don’t get it…

While eating dinner with neighbors Thursday evening, we observed numerous Tucson police cars driving by with lights and sirens going. After we left, we observed the SWAT van rolling in the same direction, followed shortly thereafter by a couple more police cars and what appeared to be a mobile command unit. Since I’m no longer getting paid to run toward dangerous situations (and as our apartments are located in the opposite direction), we didn’t personally investigate the situation.
According to the Tucson Citizen, the TPD SWAT’s M113 armored personnel carrier was also summoned.
Why, you might ask?
Well, from what I can make out (information is spotty, as the police have cordoned off a large area, and won’t allow anyone, including journalists, in or out), one guy has holed up in a house. He claims to be armed, and he is known to be a “prohibited person” and is prohibited by law from owning guns. The reason for his prohibition is not yet known, nor is the reason why he decided to hole up. No shots have yet been fired.
This whole situation seems a bit unusual to me. Here’s what puzzles me:

  • It’s one guy, alone, in a town house. Why, exactly, do we need a brazillion cops, SWAT, and an APC? (One of the pictures at the Citizen shows an unhelmeted, regular cop standing in front of the APC, presumably directing its driver. SWAT officers are shown standing on top of it. Clearly, they’re not advancing under withering incoming fire.) Is this guy some sort of bionic superman?
  • Why not just surround the building, turn off the power, water, and gas and wait a few hours for him to get bored of sitting in the dark? Maybe toss in a telephone or something so he can announce when he’s ready to surrender.
  • Why are the SWAT guys wearing woodland camo uniforms? There are no forests for some distance from here, and certainly none in the middle of Tucson. Level IV armor over regular police uniforms should be perfectly suitable, if not fancy. Cheaper, too.
  • Why does TPD have an APC? It doesn’t really hold any tactical purpose, except to be a bullet magnet (and anyone shooting at it can be nailed by a police marksman) and look cool on TV. While the cops distract the bad guys up front, can’t SWAT come in from the side or back doors?

After a few years in the military, I can’t really imagine any sort of realistic (or even semi-realistic) scenario where an APC would be required by police anywhere. The only remotely possible situation that comes to mind is a rare scenario like the LA riots where an APC could provide mobile shelter for riot police, mobile storage for munitions (tear gas, rubber bullets, etc.) and supplies, and a mobile strongpoint for police to rally around as they disperse the mobs of people. Somehow, I don’t really see that happening here in Tucson…or if it did, just call in the National Guard.
Honestly, I don’t get it. The whole situation seems like a huge overreaction, particularly with the APC involved. What could an individual possible do that would warrant such a massive response?
Hopefully more information will be available on Friday.
UPDATE: According to the police (as reported by the Citizen), the suspect had a record of drugs and weapons offenses. He was evidently also a heavy meth user. The police showed up to arrest him when he barricaded himself inside. The suspect killed himself early this morning.

Scooter Purchased!

Over the last few days, I spent a considerable amount of time evaluating different means of two-wheeled transport. From little 50cc scooters up to 500+cc road hogs, I considered them all.
I ended up settling on a Kymco “Bet & Win” (who names these things?) 150. I bought it “new” from the dealer (ScootOver here in Tucson — I highly recommend them.), and it has 135km (83 miles) on the clock (mostly low-speed test-drives in the parking lot behind the shop). No previous owners. It has a 150cc liquid-cooled four-stroke single-cylinder engine, a 2.6 gallon fuel tank (at 84 miles per gallon, it can go quite a distance), front and rear hydraulic disc brakes, and ample storage space. There are no gears: it has a continuously variable transmission, which makes riding it smooth and simple.
This scooter is basically a the .22 Long Rifle of two-wheeled vehicles. It’s compact, simple, easy to learn on, fun, and has all sorts of uses. I got it up to about 50mph today (it could go faster, but I was limited by posted speed limits) and it handled smoothly and comfortably. It’s no speed demon or beauty queen, but it’s functional, has plenty of storage, and if the reviews (I read dozens of reviews on numerous websites) are to be believed, reliable and durable.
After riding it about 10 miles today, I discovered a small quirk: the engine stalls out when idling at a stop. Thus, the bike’s in the shop overnight, and they said they’d have everything adjusted and in excellent working order tomorrow morning. Of course, the adjustments would be at no charge.
Kymco was offering a fantastic offer on financing: 1.9% for 48 months, with no penalties for pre-payment. I’ve budgeted things out so I can pay it off within one year, rather than four, saving a few tens of dollars in interest.
I won’t be winning any races with it, but that’s not why I bought it. Now, to see about mounting a rifle case and open-carrying while riding…after I get back from Europe, of course.
Update: I went down to the shop to collect the scooter today. It turns out that the scooter had been sitting on display in the shop for a few months with the gas tank full. Of course, after all this time the gas had “gone bad” and gummed up the carburetor and other important parts of the fuel system. They’re going to drain the bad fuel, clean everything (and replace parts as needed), and get it back to “brand new” condition. Of course, there’s not going to be any charge for all this work. It should be done by Saturday, but by that time I’ll likely be in Phoenix and getting ready for my flight on Sunday. The shop said they’d have no problem with storing? the scooter for me until July at no charge.

Gunfight in Tucson, Police Officer Critically Wounded

Story here. The TPD officer who was shot in the head with a rifle is not doing well, and is not expected to live. Two Pima County Sheriff’s deputies also received relatively minor gunshot wounds.
This is a terrible tragedy. My sincere thoughts and best wishes go out to the wounded officer and his family.
The only good thing that can be said is that the suspect is in custody and will have his day in court, as opposed to having escaped and be at large.
Details about the specific type of weapons used in the gunfight and found in the suspect’s vehicle are not immediately available, though several news organizations suggest the primary weapon involved was an “assault rifle”. Considering the media’s lack of knowledge of firearms-related topics, this term could very well mean “any gun at all”.
More information as I get it. If anyone here was a witness to the events or has additional details, please contact me.
UPDATE: Officer Hite succumbed to his wounds at the hospital, reports the Tucson Citizen. The suspect has been re-booked on first degree murder charges. The two sheriff’s deputies who were wounded were released from the hospital today as well, so there’s some good news.

How to be…

…an Elite Team Fighter.
This guy fails as an instructor.
While some (some!) of his advice is reasonable for a beginner, simple possession of firearms and a basic knowledge does not make one an expert, nor “elite”. He might be able to try out for marching band, what with all the twirling of the rifle and shotgun like they’re batons…
And what’s with the ski mask?
(Hat tip to a few gun bloggers. Thanks, guys!)


Starting this coming weekend, I’ll be traveling around Europe (England [London], France [Paris], Germany [Munich], and Switzerland [Bern]) until mid-July.
As such, I’ll likely not be posting nearly as often as I’d like. I’ll see if I can get some photographs up here, much like how Kim du Toit posts photos of his travels.
If any of my readers live in those cities, please feel free to contact me by email. It’s quite possible that we may be able to meet up and get a drink sometime.