Restaurant Carry Passes AZ Senate

From Karen Winfield at the AZ Legislature:

SB1113 passed the Senate.
It now goes to the House where it will be scheduled in a committee for hearing next week.
We are on a very condensed schedule right now, so you can expect to see it go to the Committee (probably the Judiciary Committee), then Rules Committee, Caucus, Committee of the Whole and a Floor vote all in the same week.? It will move fast.? So, if you are so inclined, this is the time to start writing to your Representatives.
Here’s the vote on SB1113 in the Senate:
Vote Detail for Third Reading On Reconsideration
Bill Number: SB1113
Action Date: 6/16/2009
Vote Member Name

Update: I can’t spell “restaurant” if my life depended on it. Also, I cleaned up some goofy formatting from the email I received from her.

On Iran

Friend: “Based on news reports, one would think that Iran is about to explode. However, it seems as though they go through this every election cycle.”
Me: “I know nothing about Iranian politics, but I’m just happy that the most recent city-engulfing riot in the US that I can recall is when the Red Sox won the World Series.”

That said, if there’s any bloggers, journalists, or other such folks in Iran who need a private, secure tunnel out to the public internet, I’m willing to provide an SSH tunnel and/or a SSL web-based proxy. Free speech and all that. Simply contact me by email for details; if privacy is a concern, my PGP key is also available on the contact information page. If you are unable to send email to that address, leave a comment and we can arrange alternate communications.

Let’s play a game…

No, not Global Thermonuclear War, but a more intellectual (and less destructive) game.
It’s commonly said that, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” — while such a sentiment tends to be viewed as somewhat macabre, I think it’s right on the money: if a person is committed to violence, they will find a way to make it happen regardless of the availability of a specific type of weapon.
Evidently the British don’t seem to understand this, and have even gone so far as to make and market an “anti-stab” knife. While the rounded tip might foil ((Hah.)) thrusting attacks, it’s still quite effective for slashing. Will they take the edge off next?
Anyway, I digress. I was talking about a game. The game is as follows: find an ordinary household object that is not generally considered a weapon and make (or describe, if you don’t wish to actually modify it) it into a weapon (practical or not) using, if required, only ordinary household items in a reasonable amount of time. Let’s assume the weapon is for use against a single opponent, and will not present undue risk to bystanders (that almost certain rules out things like gasoline).
Obviously someone with some metal and a CNC mill could make just about anything, but let’s assume that CNC mills aren’t commonly available but, say, basic hand tools (file, saw, etc.) are. Same thing with time: someone with years of time can craft just about anything. Let’s be reasonable.
Bonus points to the most absurd-yet-practical examples (e.g. anything involving rubber chickens), objects made into weapons in a brief time (say less than two minutes), and those using unexpected-yet-common household objects (e.g. popcorn kernels, cooking oil, etc.). Extra bonus points for those who provide photographs.
Here’s a few that I could think of off the top of my head:

  • The antennas on my wireless router would be rather effective at poking someone’s eyes.
  • An aluminum soda can torn in half makes a somewhat effective knife.
  • Electrical cords to my computer could make a decent garrotte, rope, or shocking weapon.
  • The flash mechanism in a Kodak (or other brand) one-time-use film camera can be employed as a makeshift shocking weapon ((I’ve done this before. It’s quite entertaining.)).
  • While perhaps a bit obvious, my Maglite flashlight could serve as a bludgeoning weapon.
  • Same thing with a padlock in a sock.
  • Spray-on whiteboard cleaner, being mostly alcohol, would make an excellent incapacitating weapon if sprayed in someone’s face.
  • CD/DVD disks, when broken, are quite sharp and could be used as knives.
  • As chocolate is slightly abrasive, one could use a chocolate candy bar to polish the concave surface on the bottom of a soda can to a mirror-like finish, then use it to focus the rays of the sun onto someone, thus dazzling and/or burning them. ((This is also a reasonably effective method of starting a fire if all one has is a soda can and a candy bar. Try it sometime!))

What can you think of? Since not all of us can be armed all the time ((I, for one, am frequently in the laboratory on campus, where weapons are prohibited.)), this game actually has a practical purpose in that the use of improvised weapons could be lifesaving.
Update: Corrected some incorrect grammar/spelling/word use. I’m an idiot.

How’s the weather in bizarro-land?

The Brady Campaign extends sympathies to the innocent victims and others affected in today’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum.? This shows that having even more guns in more places is the wrong answer to America’s gun violence problem.

– Brady Campaign Press Release
What the hell are they smoking, and where can I get some?
Sure, the nutjob had a gun, but he possessed it illegally; he served a prison sentence after taking various guns into the Federal Reserve in 1981, and thus is almost certainly prohibited from carrying guns. Furthermore, it’s illegal to murder people (like the museum security guard he killed), something he did anyway. The passage of more laws restricting the right of law-abiding citizens to own and carry private arms would not have prevented this incident.
In this case, the gunman was stopped by someone with a gun: another security guard. Clearly, having more guns (in the hands of good people, that is) was beneficial; I doubt that the shooter was interested in simply shooting a security guard and then leaving.
Of course, security guards are not everywhere, nor can they protect everyone all of the time. I trust that the lesson people will take away from this terrible incident is that no amount of laws can stop criminals from committing their heinous acts, but that an armed good guy can. To quote Breda, “Carry your gun – it’s a lighter burden than regret.”
In the aftermath of such a tragic event, I am reminded of the words of the late, great Jeff Cooper:

The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.

While not armed with rifles, I’d say that the security guards at the museum should be counted among those good men.

No Sporting or Civilian Use

That’s what the Brady Campaign says about common guns like the AR-15 and various other features associated with common arms. The full quote from their page is as follows:

The Brady Campaign supports banning military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines. These dangerous weapons have no sporting or civilian use. Their combat features are appropriate to military, not civilian, contexts.

Of course, this position is demonstrably false: these guns and features have plenty of sporting and civilian uses. I present the following as an example:

This is Louis. Attentive readers will recognize him from previous posts as he is a regular attendee of trips to the range. The gun he is firing ((Note the brass ejecting.)) is a Glock 19, chambered in 9x19mm. It is equipped with a Glock 33-round extended magazine. One will note that Louis is demonstrating good shooting form and is displaying a smile of enjoyment. The extended magazine allows Louis to spend more time shooting and less time stopping to reload magazines.

Here is Rita, who also frequently accompanies me on trips to the range, fires the Glock 19 with the standard-capacity 15-round magazine that is one of two included with the purchase of a new pistol.
This magazine allows for 50% more capacity than the Brady-recommended 10-round low-capacity magazines while still fitting flush with the bottom of the pistol’s grip. At the range, having five fewer rounds means more changing magazines and more time spent reloading — less time having fun.
Next up, we have Danielle:

This was her first trip to the range. Here she’s firing a DPMS A-15, an AR-15 variant. It is equipped with all the standard features: a flash suppressor, bayonet lug, handguards which encircle the barrel, a 30-round standard-capacity magazine, a pistol grip, and a collapsible stock.
In this particular context, the bayonet lug is not being used, and so is no more dangerous than any other piece of metal ((The edges of the lug, however, are a bit sharp.)) on the rifle. The flash suppressor is not really relevant, as Danielle is shooting during the day and so does not need to worry about the flash from her muzzle affecting night vision — that said, the vents on the flash suppressor reduce the amount of dust kicked up from the ground, making her shooting experience a more enjoyable one.
The pistol grip and collapsible stock allow for comfortable shooting: she has adjusted the stock to a length which suits her. The ordinary fixed stock is too long and it is often uncomfortable for smaller shooters like Danielle.
The pistol grip allows for a firm, ergonomic, comfortable grip on the rifle. The forward handguards, which she is not using in this particular picture, prevent her from being burned by the hot barrel when she chooses to use her right hand to hold the gun rather than support her shooting hand.
The 30-round magazine is the standard size for AR-15 type rifles, and allows her to fire for a good period of time without needing to stand up or move around to fetch and load a new magazine. This also allows her to focus more on shooting rather than changing magazines. In this particular picture, she’s also using the magazine to support the rifle, allowing for more stable, accurate shooting.
The very features that the Brady Campaign claims are “combat features” that “facilitate the killing of human beings in battle” are being used by Danielle and tens of millions of other civilian shooters to enhance their safety (e.g. handguards that prevent burns) and comfort (e.g. ergonomic pistol grip and a stock that can adjust to be comfortable for both larger and smaller people).

Here Danielle is seen shooting a Ruger 10/22 rifle, chambered in the lowly .22 Long Rifle cartridge, which is equipped with a threaded barrel and a Gem-Tech Outback II silencer.
The Brady Campaign states that silencers “allow an assassin to shoot without making noise” — while this is true ((Partially, at least — silencers reduce the noise produced by the gun to a safe level, but do not completely eliminate it.)), I think they might be watching a few too many James Bond movies. Assassins are exceedingly uncommon outside of Hollywood films, and any actual assassin will not care about the legality of silencers. They also claim that, “silencers are illegal so there is no legitimate purpose for making it possible to put a silencer on a weapon,” a claim which is demonstrably false: the silencer on this gun is perfectly legal, and I have all the appropriate paperwork in order.
Though I’ve addressed the legality of silencers in a previous post, I want to reiterate that there are perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting to own and use a silencer: I use mine primarily for introducing new shooters to shooting, as the low recoil and noise of a silenced .22 rifle makes for a very pleasant learning experience. Additionally, the use of a silencer reduces the levels of noise produced by a gun, reducing noise pollution and hearing damage.
In conclusion, there are numerous, perfectly legitimate sporting reasons for the private ownership of “military-style semi-automatic” firearms ((Which, I’d like to point out, are functionally no different than non-“military-style” semi-automatic firearms like the Ruger Mini-14.)) and magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. There are plenty of other, non-sporting reasons (such as self-defense, collecting, etc.) for owning such firearms and accessories.
In short, the Brady Campaign is full of crap.
On a more positive note, it was a glorious, sunny day here in Tucson, and I was pleased to spend the day in the company of good friends, fine guns, and delicious food and (after the guns were put away) beer.

Quote of the Day

Yesterday I was perusing the local battery store ((One of these days I will find a battery they don’t have in stock, but so far no luck.)) with my friend Louis. As is my custom, I was openly carrying my Glock 19 in a Blackhawk SERPA holster.
While we were browsing around, I had a brief conversation with the employee:
Employee: “What kind of gun is that?”
Me: “It’s a Glock 19.”
Employee: “Cool. Who makes it?”
Me: “…Glock.”
He was then a bit puzzled, as like many non-gunny folks, he was not aware of the different model numbers, and always thought that such guns were only referred to by caliber (e.g. “Glock 9,” “Glock 40,” etc.). As he seemed genuinely interested, I answered his questions about the different models.
In addition to being a useful crime deterrent, open carry also provides the opportunity to meet and hold conversations with other folks on the topics of firearms.

NRA Appeals 7th Circuit Ruling

From the NRA press release:

Today, the National Rifle Association filed a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of NRA v. Chicago. The NRA strongly disagrees with yesterday’s decision issued by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, holding that the Second Amendment does not apply to state and local governments.

Sebastian beat me to it, but I blame being at work for being slow. 🙂


I’ve recently been reading The Huffington Post ((Why? Maybe my blood pressure was too low. I dunno.)) and find it amusing how people on both sides of the political aisle view politicians on “their side” and “the other side” in much the same way.
Many of the commenters seem to believe that, on the topic of health care reform ((“The government will pay for everything.” without mentioning where the money will come from.)), the current Democrats in office are “Republicans lite.”
From my discussions with Republicans, many people believe that on many issues, Republican politicians are “Democrats lite.”
I’ve seen and heard any number of uncivil words written and spoken by members of both major parties directed against members of their opposition.
While people may disagree, sometimes vehemently, on various policy decisions, I think people need to find a bit of perspective: in the end, we’re all citizens of this great nation, and we all want what’s best for it. The Founding Fathers disagreed on many things, but they were able to work out their differences as best they could. Is it too much to ask that today’s citizenry do the same?

Thoughts on Incorporation

First off, I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet. If I’ve seriously screwed something up, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

  1. After the 9th Circuit ruling, the Second Amendment is incorporated in some, but not all, states. One of these is California (when do the lawsuits start again?). Personally, I’d love to see the oppressive anti-rights laws there overturned, whether about guns or not.
  2. After the 7th Circuit ruling, the circuits are now split. This is evidently a Bad Thing(tm), and it’s likely that this issue will go to the Supreme Court.
  3. The pro-rights side won the Heller decision by a narrow margin: we got 5-4 for a revolver in the bedstand, but it was too close for comfort.
  4. After Heller, we’ve had the momentum on our side. The anti-rights groups are on the defensive. Let’s keep it going.
  5. If Sotomayor gets appointed to the Supreme Court, all is not lost: the overall makeup of the court would remain the same for the reasonably-foreseeable future. If we could swing Heller, it’s likely that the Supreme Court would rule similarly for incorporation, particularly when it’s pretty clear that gun control doesn’t really do much to prevent crime.

Honestly, I don’t see how one can argue against incorporation of the Second Amendment (or any other amendment, for that matter) with a straight face. I find the very notion absurd: the right to keep and bear arms extends directly from the natural ((As I’m not religious, I don’t believe in “god-given” rights.)) right to self-defense that any living organism possesses, why should it only apply to certain people living in a specific, arbitrary geographic area of the US?

Electronics Repair

Knowing how to repair things is one of the more important tools a prepared person can have. While increased miniaturization and performance of electronics has resulted in many devices being cheaper to replace rather than repair, there’s quite a few things which one can do to keep ones electronics in top shape while also saving a bunch of money.
Take, for example, my Garmin StreetPilot c330 GPS unit. It’s served me well over the last three years, though after enduring a blazing Arizona summer (or two), the internal lithium-ion battery was no longer able to hold a charge.
Garmin wanted $150 for an out-of-warranty replacement of the battery, which I thought was a bit hefty, so I did a bit of research online. It turns out that the battery was an “18650” lithium-ion battery, which is available at a number of retailers, including the local BatteriesPlus store. Fortunately, the local shop also had a model (PDA-210LI) of the battery which included the necessary plug to fit the circuit board of the GPS unit. While it was a bit pricier than the bare battery, it made life quite a bit easier.
Installation was rather easy: I simply needed to de-solder where the wires from the original plug (which was permanently connected to the battery) connected to the internal speakers and solder the speaker wires from the new plug to those same points. After that, it was a trivial matter of plugging the battery in and closing everything up. The battery charged up as expected and runs the GPS just fine.
This particular problem was quite simple and required only the most basic knowledge of soldering, but it ended up saving me $120. Oftentimes problems found with electronic devices are fairly simple (blown fuses, dead batteries, worn-out wire, etc.) and can be repaired using inexpensive, off-the-shelf tools (e.g. a soldering iron) and basic knowledge.
In addition to saving money, knowledge of basic electronics (and their repair) can be quite fun.