NPR, polls: Millennials like guns too, think AWBs are stupid

Considering how much the media has been pushing the gun-control narrative, I was a bit surprised to see this article from NPR. Though, on further consideration, I’m not really all that surprised: NPR does at least try to report things factually, and to confront their internalized bias much more so than other major media outlets.

Some choice quotes:

Some have called [high school students -AZR] the “voice of a generation on gun control” that may be able to turn the tide of a long-simmering debate.

But past polling suggests that people under 30 in the U.S. are no more liberal on gun control than their parents or grandparents — despite diverging from their elders on the legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage and other social issues.

This doesn’t surprise me me: young people have access to a vast amount of information, social networking, etc. This allows them to network with other like-minded people even if they’re physically distant. Online forums, blogs, discussion boards, YouTube videos, Facebook groups, etc. allow for those interested in gun rights to meet and discuss guns without many downsides.

Plus, there’s a lot more information about there showing people having fun with guns in safe, responsible ways, from hunting to competition to plinking. Guns aren’t some mystery hidden away that nobody in certain social groups ever sees or interacts with, as they were when I grew up in the 80s and early 90s, but something that one can easily learn about, experience, and communicate with without leaving the comfort of one’s own home.

Over the past three years, [polling organization Gallup -AZR] asked the under-30 crowd if gun laws in the U.S. should be made more strict, less strict or kept as they are now. On average, people between the ages of 18 and 29 were one percentage point more likely to say gun laws should be more strict than the overall national average of 57 percent.

[…]

Polling by the Pew Research Center last year came to similar conclusions: 50 percent of millennials, between the ages of 18 and 36, said that gun laws in the U.S. should be more strict. That share was almost identical among the general public, according to Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew.

Sounds about right.

I thought this bit was really interesting:

Pew did find significant differences between millennials and older generations on two gun control proposals — banning assault-style weapons and banning high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The results showed that a greater share of millennials — both Republicans and Democrats — are more conservative when it comes to those bans compared to Generation X-ers, Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation.

“What we’re hearing now in the immediate aftermath of Parkland might not be representative of what a whole generation feels,” Parker says.

That’s great news, and again unsurprising: the older generation of gun owners (“Gun Culture 1.0”) tends to be more interested in hunting, sporting clays, and other sporting usages of guns, while the younger shooters are more interested in self-defense, competition, and modern weapons.

Still, there’s a question mark about the future:

The teenaged high school activists who have been organizing since the Florida shooting, they say, are part of a separate group some call “Generation Z.” Pollsters generally don’t count the views of those under 18, so there probably won’t be national polling on this group until more of these young people are officially adults.

Hopefully we can bring these young people into the fold. I know I’ll try with my kids.

Still, for 19-year-old Abigail Kaye, who considers herself a millennial, these polling results about her peers come as a shock.

“I think that’s surprising because I feel like we’re a more progressive generation,” says Kaye, who attends the University of Delaware.

I don’t doubt she feels that way, since she grew up in Rhode Island and lives in Delaware. She’s living in a small anti-gun bubble that’s essentially the gun-related version of “How could Nixon have won? Nobody I know voted for him!”

Unfortunately, not all the young people interviewed are familiar with guns. Or physics, really:

Sitting outside a student center on the University of Delaware’s campus, Cahlil Evans of Smyrna, Del., 20, says while he doesn’t need a gun, he can understand why people would want hunting rifles and handguns. He draws the line, though, for assault-style rifles.

“There’s no need for these high-caliber rifles that pierce through walls,” Evans says. “People can say they use them for hunting or whatever, but why do you need a weapon with such high caliber that it would pierce through the animal and like eight trees behind it?”

It appears the gun controller’s efforts to depict common semi-auto rifles as extremely high-powered death machines have met with some receptive minds. We, as the gun owning community, really need to do more outreach to correct these misconceptions.

The article ends on a high note, which inspires some optimism in these turbulent times:

Still, 22-year-old Jeremy Grunden of Harrington, Del., says he’s encouraged to hear that millennials are less likely to support banning assault-style weapons.

“I base what we need off of what the military has,” says Grunden, who is president of Students for the Second Amendment at the University of Delaware. “When it comes to … the Second Amendment, we’re supposed to be a well-armed and well-maintained militia and all that. Quite frankly, we need that and plus more.”

Nicely done Mr. Grunden. Keep up the good work.

Personally, I’m disappointed that NPR consider gun control to be a “liberal” thing and gun rights to be a “conservative” thing. Sure, people and positions have become more polarized and ossified in recent years, but I like to think of gun rights as a “liberty” thing that is independent of political sides. I may be alone in that viewpoint, however, and I think that it’ll be a problem for gun rights going forward. Sure, millennials may have similarly pro-gun-rights positions as us somewhat older folks (says the guy from the “Oregon Trail generation” of the early 80s), but if their other political positions (e.g., those on gay rights, abortion, health care, Trump, etc.) align more with the Democrats (who are decidedly anti-gun), their interest and support for gun rights won’t amount to much.

On a related note, one aspect of the NRA’s media strategy over the last few years has irked me greatly. They’ve really been pushing this whole “cultural bundling”, “anti-liberal” thing of late, and that’s been incredibly off-putting to both young people, liberals (yes, there are gun-owning liberals), libertarians, etc. Yes, the NRA needs to be outspoken about gun rights and opposing gun control, but I’d really love to see them be a bit less divisive and more appealing to non-conservatives. Same goes for other major groups like the GOA (which is very right-wing).

Heading back behind enemy lines.

I’ve mentioned it a few times here and there but, blog title notwithstanding, I’m not actually an Arizona native. I actually was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. How I got into shooting is a long story, but it involved a few locals, Oleg Volk, The High Road forum, and a few other online resources back in the day. I had moved to Arizona to go to university (Bear Down!), continued my interest in shooting, and started blogging, hence the name of this blog. Later, I ended up moving to Switzerland for grad school, but always planned on returning to the US (ideally to a free state) to settle down, work, etc.

Now, a decade later, I’ve got a bit more gray in my beard and a PhD hanging on my wall, and life is taking me back to the Bay Area for a new job (a postdoc), which I start in a few months. Although the job is fantastic and offers significant upward career mobility, benefits, the opportunity to be close to family and old friends, etc., the fact that it’s (a) in California and (b) in the Bay Area is a major downside in terms of gun stuff.

Things have really gone downhill on that front since I left years ago. Some things, like the absurd AWB, are still in place and haven’t really changed much (Banning “bullet button” guns? Really?), but other new things are really onerous (background checks for ammo purchases, no online ammo sales, soon state registration of each ammo purchase, etc.) and I’m not looking forward to that.

It’s likely that I’ll end up living in either San Mateo or Alameda counties, both of which are decidedly hostile to gun rights (though they have decent public ranges, shops, etc., but a CCW permit is essentially off the table), which is problematic. There’s also the possibility of living in San Joaquin county, which is a bit more CCW friendly (it’s not completely off the table). Cost of living in San Joaquin county is also significantly less, which is a plus.

The postdoc contract is only for two years, but many people are offered permanent positions upon completion of the postdoc, so I may consider it as a long-term career at the end of the contract. Who knows? I need to weigh many options, including career-related things, cost of living, family-friendliness, gun rights, etc. over the course of my time there to figure out what to do.

Anyway, I’ll continue to blog as usual (though hopefully more often, as there’s more opportunity to shoot there, clubs, etc. and I’ll have more free time). Wish me luck.

Knowing so many things that aren’t so.

Ronald Reagan once said, “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

Every day proves that statement to be more and more true.

In looking over the print media coverage of the Parkland , I’ve been astounded at the number of blatantly untrue things about the NRA, guns, I’ve seen reported as fact.

Some examples that stand out to me:

  • The NRA is “pro-slaughter”. (WTF?)
  • The NRA TV channel produces dangerous, violent content. (Really? Really? Even the most controversial stuff they’ve put out explicitly condemns violence.)
  • The NRA is primarily funded by and works for the interests of gun manufacturers and industry, who are unfathomably evil and complicit in the murders of innocents.
  • Gun owners and NRA members receive “marching orders” from the NRA itself and follow them like automatons.
  • The AR-15 is a “weapon of mass destruction”. (No, it’s just a goddamn rifle.)
  • Someone armed with a “conventional” weapon (yes, the article used that term) stands no chance against a bad guy with an AR-15. No chance at all, so why bother?
  • Groups like the CSGV, VPC, Giffords, or Everytown are even remotely credible sources for information about guns, gun specifications/technology, etc. Seriously, I’ve seen newspapers quote reps from CSGV and VPC as if they are reputable, credible sources. I had to physically restrain myself from guffawing.
  • Plans to “arm teachers” mean something more than “let willing, volunteer teachers carry concealed as a last-resort against violent attack”.
  • The “armed teacher” strategy would be something other than “standard lockdown procedures, getting behind cover/concealment like a desk, and aiming a pistol at the door”, and that training requirements would be too rigorous. One particular example, to which I won’t link, stated that soldiers need tons of practice and constant training for tactical movement, coordination, communication, building clearing, etc. (all of which is true!) and implied that similar training would be necessary for teachers, and so that proposals to arm teachers are ludicrous. Ok, fair enough, the training requirements for teachers are likely to be a bit more rigorous than “aim at the door and shoot the bad guy when they come in”, but it’s by no means necessary to turn teachers into Special Forces operators or anything.
  • Armed teachers would somehow make things worse in the event of a school shooting. Honestly, I can’t think of much worse things than a deranged killer rampaging through defenseless people. Even in the terrible, exceedingly unlikely situation where an armed teacher hits an innocent person, or a cop clearing the building shoots the armed teacher, that’s almost certainly a better outcome than what would come about if the bad guy was left unchecked.

In addition, I’ve had someone in a discussion claim that it’s equally as morally and ethically repugnant to be “forcing students to be in the same room as an armed teacher” [their position] (even if the teacher is safely carrying concealed with nobody the wiser) as it is to “forcibly deny people the right to self-defense, leaving them defenseless against a deranged bad guy” [my position].

I’ve seriously wondered if something has gotten into the water, because people are losing their minds over this. These are interesting times, and it’ll be interesting to see how things play out.

In the interim, I really need to stop reading the news and stock up on antacids.

Pistols are pistols, rifles are rifles

Evidently a radiologist has discovered that rifle bullets are, in general, much more energetic than pistol bullets, and this confuses her.

Routine handgun injuries leave entry and exit wounds and linear tracks through the victim’s body that are roughly the size of the bullet. If the bullet does not directly hit something crucial like the heart or the aorta, and they do not bleed to death before being transported to our care at a trauma center, chances are, we can save the victim. The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different; they travel at higher velocity and are far more lethal. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than, and imparting more than three times the energy of, a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun.

Yes, indeed, tissue damage is a function of energy. That’s precisely why different types of guns exist for different purposes.

Also, the good doctor is a bit confused with the math: a 55gr M193 5.56mm NATO round has roughly five times (not three) the muzzle energy of a 124gr Federal FMJ 9mm bullet according to Wikipedia and some data from my reloading books.

As a doctor, I feel I have a duty to inform the public of what I have learned as I have observed these wounds and cared for these patients. It’s clear to me that AR-15 or other high-velocity weapons, especially when outfitted with a high-capacity magazine, have no place in a civilian’s gun cabinet.

Wait, so now all rifles (“other high-velocity weapons”) are bad? I always heard the gun control types talk about how handguns are bad but rifles and shotguns are “sporting” and thus fine for “responsible gun owners” to possess. Now rifles are bad and have no place in a civilian’s gun cabinet?

Hmm.

The doctor then continues on for a bit with the usual gun control tropes (“AR-15s are bad!”, “Reinstate the AWB!”, etc.). No surprise there.

While I respect the doctor for doing an unpleasant, stressful job, they clearly less of an understanding of guns and wound ballistics than someone who’s ever shot a watermelon with a pistol and a rifle. Hopefully she can educate herself, so she doesn’t make such a fool out of herself in public again.

Attempting to de-legitimize the NRA and gun rights supporters

Although the pro-gun-rights side has numbers, a real grassroots movement, political influence, court cases, and intensity on our side (at least for now; who knows how our representatives will sell us out), the opposition has a substantial presence on social media and a willingness to use it. This has been made clear by a concerted effort to de-legitimize the NRA, supporters of gun rights, and millions of gun owners and sympathetic Americans.

As an example, various Hollywood stars are now calling for Amazon and other streaming service operators to remove the NRA TV channel or app from their services.

Why? Because they don’t like what they have to say and they are actively trying to make the NRA and its members seem to be not only less legitimate, but instead monstrous accomplices of mass murderers.

Certainly, Amazon and streaming services have the right, as private enterprises, to include or not include any channel or app with their services. It would be well within their rights to remove or de-list the NRA TV channel or app, but I argue that this is both a bad idea and extremely troubling. The content that NRA TV is producing is of interest to a wide audience (else they wouldn’t make it), is lawful, and does not harass, defame, or otherwise harm others. De-listing them would move Amazon and others from a mostly-neutral platform provider to an arbiter of content, which is something I very much doubt they wish to be.

Similarly, people have been pressuring a variety of companies (including Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, First National Bank of Omaha, etc.) to sever their longstanding partnerships with the NRA. I also find this troubling, but less so than the attempts at de-listing the NRA TV app. Again, private enterprises are free to partner (or not) with whomever they choose, but I don’t understand why they bend to the whim of a noisy group of activists who likely don’t use their product or service anyway. Perhaps they think it avoids bad PR and protests on social media? I have no idea: blogs aside, my only use of social media is sharing family photos and the like on Facebook with family and friends since I have a large extended family scattered all over the place. I studiously avoid Twitter like the plague it is.

But I digress: it appears that the initial attempts at de-legitimizing the NRA and gun owners, in that several companies have publicly de-partnered with the NRA (though it likely has little effect over all, and many partnerships like the NRA-branded credit card are likely to be replaced quickly by a more NRA-aligned proivder) has been moderately successful.

How could we, as the gun owning community, counter this? I’m open to suggestions.

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.