“Concealed Carry on Campus Forum” in DC tomorrow

Story here.
Interesting quote:

The conference will feature a gun-control debate between John Lott, author of “More Guns Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws” and Paul Helmke, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

This should be interesting…
Alan Gura, of Heller fame will also be there.
Alas, I’m in Arizona, have little money, and will be stuck in the lab all tomorrow, else I’d be there. Hopefully some DC-area bloggers can post some information, and hopefully some video.

Why shoot suppressed?

As many readers may know, I own a suppressor. I’d love to own more NFA items, but my wallet is a bit thin to be contemplating such things at the moment. But I digress…
One of the most common questions (after “Is it legal?”) I’m asked about my suppressor is “Why?” Specifically, people want to know why I own it.
There’s all sorts of reasons. The primary ones are pratcial:

  • Guns are noisy. While earmuffs can help reduce noise (and thus reduce hearing damage), they’re not perfect. Reducing noise at the source (i.e. with a suppressor) helps to considerably lessen the risk of hearing damage. The suppressor is even more effective at noise reduction than earmuffs, so I can shoot comfortably without muffs. If I’m going to be shooting for a while, I’ll usually wear muffs in addition to the suppressor. For shorter shooting sessions, I often use only the suppressor.
  • Guns are noisy. While the ranges where I shoot are far away from populated areas, and so free from complaints from noise-sensitive neighbors, I see no reason to purposely create noise pollution that I don’t have to.
  • Arizona is hot. Earmuffs cause one to sweat heavily around the ears. This is uncomfortable. Earplugs are uncomfortable, but not terribly hot.
  • Earmuffs interfere with a good cheek weld. Not having to worry about earmuffs is handy and more comfortable.
  • It assists greatly with new shooters. Introducing new shooters to shooting with a suppressed gun helps them be more comfortable, as there’s no loud, surprising noise to alarm them. It also means that they can ask questions and get feedback in a normal voice, rather than having to speak loudly to get through the muffs.

There’s all sorts of secondary reasons too…it’s a bit of a conversation starter, chicks dig it, etc. If it weren’t illegal to use it while hunting in Arizona, that’d be a useful reason as well.
I seem to have a very European mindset when it comes to suppressors. That is, I consider their use to be “polite” and “neighborly”, rather than the “ZOMG! Assassin!” mindset that seems to common with Americans.
Suppressors aren’t all that expensive. My Gem-Tech Outback II cost about $500…that’s including the $200 NFA tax, fingerprint fees, postage, and a $50 tip to my dealer (he spent quite some time on the phone with me working out exactly what NFA item to buy, so I figured I’d compensate him for his time and knowledge). Suppressors that are rated for more powerful cartridges or full-auto fire are more expensive, but still not terribly unreasonable.
If you live in a suppressor-friendly state, consider getting one. They’re well worth it.

Are you an NRA Member?

If you answered “yes”, are you sure?
Did they send you a little card in the mail? What magazine, if any, do you subscribe to?
Evidently it’s not uncommon for people to believe that just by buying or owning a gun, they’re automatically NRA members. This is not the case — many manufacturers include information about becoming an NRA member with every gun they sell, but simply buying a gun doesn’t make you a member.
If you’re not a member and wish to become one, you can do so here. Many gun shows have NRA booths outside, and will often give you free admission if you become a member.
One of the common complaints I hear from other members is that the NRA sends out a considerable amount of junk postal mail. This can be stopped by clicking here, entering your information (including your member ID), and requesting to be removed from their mailing lists. I did so years ago, and the only piece of mail I get from them is my monthly copy of American Rifleman magazine.

On Ambidextrous Design

Whenever I go into gun shops, I’m always confronted by huge amounts of right-handed guns. Granted, 90% of the population is right-handed, but there’s still 10% left-handers out there. That’s not to mention the number of cross-dominant shooters (those who are right handed but left-eye dominant, and so must shoot as if they were a lefty).
Is it really that hard to tell your CNC machine to flip the design over the y-axis? Maybe, I don’t know. I’m a physicist, not a machinist. If you’re a machinist or designer, I’d appreciate any commentary you might have.
Perhaps it’d be easier to implement ambidextrous features in the design phase?
My Mossberg 500 shotgun is easily loaded by lefties or righties (the loading opening is on the centerline, on the bottom of the shotgun). The tang-mounted safety is similarly easy to operate by anyone. Sure, the spent shells eject out of the right, but that’s not been a problem.
My Bushmaster AR-15, however, is not terribly lefty-friendly. Sure, one can adapt to it, but it’s still a bit annoying. For example, the magazine release is only available on the right side, and the selector is on the left. Granted, one can buy an ambi selector ($25) and a magazine release ($95), but they’re pricey and are just hacks to make things work. Yes, I know Stag Arms makes lefty ARs, but they’re still just a hack on the existing design, rather than something easily workable for both lefties and righties.
There’s a lot of ways to improve the current situation:

  • Ambi magazines and ambi mag releases. See the Springfield XD for an example — instead of the notch on the magazine being on one side (such as on the AR), it’s on the front of the magazine. The mag release can be pressed from either side to disengage the catch. Smart design, with no aftermarket hack needed.
  • Ambi selectors as default. Many 1911s, even inexpensive ones, have ambi safeties. Is it that hard to adapt to other guns as a factory option?
  • Mirror image controls. Is it that difficult to put an ambi slide stop on a pistol? Not really. What about all the levers (like the decocker) on a Sig? They’re way at the back of the gun and only on the left side, and so are all but impossible to use while shooting left-handed. Would it be that difficult to mirror them on the right?
  • Swappable ejection on bullpups. Some bullpup rifles are all but impossible to shoot left-handed, as they’ll eject spent brass into the shooter’s neck. Ow. Sure, many bullpups are swappable, but quite a few aren’t.
  • Ambi-friendly military weapons. Having to swap out weapons in combat (e.g. replacing your weapon with that of a stricken comrade) can be a pain, particularly with bullpups. Sure, a bullpup’s ejection side can be swapped, but that takes a few minutes and usually involves partial disassembly and tools. This is a Bad Thing. Having the rifles eject brass downwards, forwards, or in some other safe direction would be better, and allow a bit more flexibility when SHTF.

I’d imagine it’s far easier to address such issues in the design phase than after a gun is in mass production.
Self-loading guns make it even easier, as there’s no control one must operate (like the bolt handle on a bolt-action rifle) to make the gun ready to fire again.
I could understand bolt-action rifles being made in left- and right-handed versions, but self-loading guns should be a lot more symmetrical, so as to cater to all different types of shooters.
/gets off soapbox


It’s 2:20am and still 80F+ outside.
It’s expected to get around 100F tomorrow (not too hot), but up to 105F on Friday.
And that, gentle readers, is why I don’t get out to the range as often as I’d like.
That, and the fact that I have essentially no money with which to buy more ammo.

Heller sues DC

Story here. Note that it’s “Heller v. DC”, not “DC v. Heller”. Heller’s the plaintiff this time. 🙂
The article’s a bit short, but my understanding is that DC has done everything possible to not change anything, including bans on semi-automatic pistols, insisting that people keep their guns locked up and disabled (defeating the whole point of having a gun ready for self-defense), having obnoxious registration, licensing and ballistic fingerprinting requirements, and so forth.
Best of luck to Mr. Heller. More as I get it.
(Hat tip to Sebastian.)

I guess “gun free” zones don’t work…

A 22-year-old Phoenix man shot three people yesterday. Fortunately, nobody was killed and the three victims were hospitalized with non-life-threatening wounds.
The incident took place at the South Mountain Community College, a “gun free zone”.
When will people wake up and realize that laws, rules, and regulations proclaiming an area to be a “gun free zone” are barely worth the paper they’re printed on?
The only people guaranteed to be at the scene of a violent crime are the perpetrator(s) and the victim(s). Since the criminals seem to have no qualms with breaking various serious laws (for example, attempted murder) and surely would have no problem with violating a relatively minor law (for example, a prohibition against possessing guns in a certain place), it only makes sense that potential victims of crime should be allowed to possess the means to effectively defend themselves.
Of course, society should seek out and address the root causes of violent crime and work to rectify them, but that’s a long-term, utopian goal that provides little comfort or relief to someone being confronted by a violent criminal right now.
As they say, “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away”.
Hat tip to the AZCDL.

Slow Posting

Sorry for the lack of posting recently. I’ve been stuck in the lab playing with Happy Fun Radioactive Sources.
Evidently the muse is not too happy about being around radiation, even low-level sources.
In order to keep this mildly gun-related, the physics department has numerous lead bricks. I need to find out where they get them, and if they’re priced any less than lead ingots being sold at gun-related vendors. If so, it’d make bullet casting a bit less pricey. It sure beats picking up wheel weights on the road, and bricks stack really well.

US Olympic Shooting

I’ve added a link to the USA Shooting to help spread the word about our team during this year’s Olympics.
Unfortunately, my friend (who, unfortunately, I’ve been out of touch with recently) won’t be participating in the women’s shotgun event this year. Oh well. Maybe in four years?
Anyway, I’m aware the button is ugly, but such is life. After the Olympics I’ll keep the link but get rid of the image. They really need to hire a graphic designer.