Still not used to it

Even after living here for months, I’m still not quite used to seeing people with SIG SG 550s walking around. I’ll be sitting there at the train station watching people get off the train: regular guy, lady with a newspaper, young parents with a stroller, guy with an assault rifle, man with a briefcase, and so on. It’s a bit odd.
In gun-friendly Arizona, people carried pistols (usually concealed, but sometimes openly) and nobody paid anyone any mind. It was simply how things were done. However, the open carriage of rifles in urban areas was highly unusual. Here, it’s just another day at the train station.
When I was in Paris’ Gare du Nord in 2008, there were three-men patrols of soldiers (military police? I don’t know.) with FAMAS rifles that would walk around the station. This is not uncommon in France or in other places in Europe, and since they were in uniform it was not disconcerting at all. However, seeing non-uniformed, ordinary citizens carrying rifles around Bern is a bit odd. Not bad, just a bit odd.

NPR: How The Glock Became America’s Weapon Of Choice

NPR has an interesting article?on the rise of the Glock pistol in the United States and?Paul Barrett’s book?Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun which presumably goes into more detail.
It basically boils down to “reliable, accurate, simple, durable, high capacity, and good timing”. I think if you look up the dictionary definition of those words, the dictionary will have a picture of the Glock pistol. It’s no surprise they’re popular — I’ve owned three over the years.

Relocation Update

Greetings from Bern!
My wife and I moved out here two weeks ago and are in our temporary apartment in Bern while we search for more permanent housing. So far, so good.
It’s rather amusing to see off-duty soldiers (both in uniform and out) carrying slung SIG SG 550 rifles on the bus as they head home. It’s evidently such an ingrained part of Swiss cuture that nobody so much as bats an eye.
More updates as they happen.

Arizona Silencer Laws

I’ve noticed a large increase in the number of visitors to my snarky Silencers are also Illegal?post that I made way back in 2008.
In the hopes of clarifying Arizona law as it relates to suppressors with less snark than that previous post, I direct readers to the Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3101?which state, in part:

A. In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
8. “Prohibited weapon”:
(a) Includes the following:
(i) An item that is a bomb, grenade, rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces or mine and that is explosive, incendiary or poison gas.
(ii) A device that is designed, made or adapted to muffle the report of a firearm.
(iii) A firearm that is capable of shooting more than one shot automatically, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.
(iv) A rifle with a barrel length of less than sixteen inches, or shotgun with a barrel length of less than eighteen inches, or any firearm that is made from a rifle or shotgun and that, as modified, has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.
(v) An instrument, including a nunchaku, that consists of two or more sticks, clubs, bars or rods to be used as handles, connected by a rope, cord, wire or chain, in the design of a weapon used in connection with the practice of a system of self-defense.
(vi) A breakable container that contains a flammable liquid with a flash point of one hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit or less and that has a wick or similar device capable of being ignited.
(vii) A chemical or combination of chemicals, compounds or materials, including dry ice, that is possessed or manufactured for the purpose of generating a gas to cause a mechanical failure, rupture or bursting or an explosion or detonation of the chemical or combination of chemicals, compounds or materials.
(viii) An improvised explosive device.
(ix) Any combination of parts or materials that is designed and intended for use in making or converting a device into an item set forth in item (i), (vi) or (viii) of this subdivision.
(b) Does not include:
(i) Any fireworks that are imported, distributed or used in compliance with state laws or local ordinances.
(ii) Any propellant, propellant actuated devices or propellant actuated industrial tools that are manufactured, imported or distributed for their intended purposes.
(iii) A device that is commercially manufactured primarily for the purpose of illumination.
B. The items set forth in subsection A, paragraph 8, subdivision (a), items (i), (ii), (iii) and (iv) of this section do not include any firearms or devices that are registered in the national firearms registry and transfer records of the United States treasury department or any firearm that has been classified as a curio or relic by the United States treasury department.

Emphasis mine.
In short, so long as one complies with the National Firearms Act of 1934?(the NFA)?and other relevant Federal laws NFA items, including suppressors, are not restricted or otherwise regulated by the state of Arizona. Simple.
If one doesn’t?comply with the NFA and other relevant Federal law relating to NFA weapons, then one is in violation of both Federal law and state law and in for a world of hurt. The ATF does not like it when people break the NFA, and penalties can include a felony conviction, 10 years in jail, and a $250,000 fine. Not fun.
When I got my suppressor a few years ago, my ATF Form 4 was processed and approved in about a month. Fees (not including the purchase price of the suppressor itself) were about $250 — the $200 NFA tax, about $10 for fingerprints, and the remainder as a tip to my dealer (who walked me through the process in detail, answered my numerous questions, and made sure I didn’t screw up). All in all, not bad.

New Rifle & Camera

As I have been getting ready to move in August, I’ve been selling off or donating most of my non-essential personal possessions. Old clothing and shoes have gone to Goodwill, along with some old electronics. It’s amazing how little cruft I had accumulated over the years.
Some things, however, are staying in the US: several of our wedding presents (for example a waffle iron, a new blender, and so on) are electric and only work on 120V 60Hz power, and so won’t work in Europe (where 240V 50Hz power is the norm). Others, like our nice crystal glassware, are fragile and valuable, and we don’t want to risk shipping them. While the Swiss will allow us to import essentially all of my firearms (with some paperwork, naturally), we’re not going to take them over right away: they’re bulky, heavy, require secure transport, and we have higher-priority stuff that needs to go first.
With all this paring down, it may seem odd that I would be purchasing new things. Some things, such as updating my wardrobe, make sense as clothing is quite expensive in Switzerland (a $40 pair of Levi’s jeans here in Arizona is about $180 in Bern), but I’ve also added a new camera and rifle to my stable.
My friend Louis had recently upgraded from his Nikon D40 to a D7000 and was looking at selling his camera, an 18-55mm lens, a 55-200mm VR lens, and some filters for a great price. I’ve been looking for a decent D-SLR for a while, and the offer was something I couldn’t refuse. Having a decent camera seems to go quite well with moving to a very photogenic country.
I have also been looking at getting a Swiss K31 rifle for some time (coincidentally the same country I’m moving to for graduate school), as they’re modestly priced, well-made, and extremely accurate. My friend Nathan had one and doesn’t shoot it much, so he made me a good offer and I’ll be picking it up next week. While it’s likely going to stay here in the US with my other firearms, I may see about taking it to Switzerland after we move (e.g. if we come back to the US for the holidays, I could take it back then). The Swiss don’t make much of a hassle about importing firearms, and I seriously doubt they’d make a fuss about bringing a Swiss-made rifle back to its country of origin. If I do bring it to the country, it’s likely that I can get ammo for cheap, which is good. 🙂

Gov. Brewer Vetoes SB 1467

The Arizona Republic reports that Governor Brewer has vetoed SB 1467, citing vagueness in defining “public right-of-way”.
That said, the definition is somewhat vague. A.R.S. ? 9-461 defines “right-of-way” as “any public right-of-way and includes any area required for public use pursuant to any general or specific plan”. Somewhat circular reasoning.
Naturally, all the anti-rights folks (both on-campus and off) are focusing on unexplained statements (( For example, “Guns have no place in school!”, without explaining how it’s fine for people to carry guns on a public sidewalk on any non-campus street in the state, but is somehow worse to have the same people carrying the same guns on a public sidewalk on-campus. )), emotional claims, and irrelevant refererences to the incident where Congresswoman Giffords and others were shot (( It’s already illegal to commit murder and attempted murder, yet that law didn’t seem to stop the shooter. How are stickers declaring a campus to be a “weapon free zone” going to be any better? Criminals would ignore them; only the law-abiding would obey those rules.)) as that incident and empowering the law-abiding to lawfully carry, if they choose, on public areas of a campus have essentially nothing to do with each other. Go figure.
The Arizona Republic also provided some interesting information:

Brewer’s office was inundated with calls about the bill.
Between April 7 and April 13, the Governor’s Office of Constituent Services received 904 calls, letters and faxes in support of SB 1467 and 951 in opposition to it, a Brewer spokeswoman said.

It’s rare to get actual quantitative information about support/opposition to a bill. While it’s unlikely that the absolute number of support/opposition letters had any direct bearing on the governor’s decision, it’s still nice to get some numbers of what was received by her office. Although I oppose the governor’s veto, the fact that this information was released is a good thing. Well done!
In addition, the governor vetoed the absurd “birther” bill that the legislature sent to her desk. Again, well done. The fact that such a bill was not only proposed, but actually passed out of the legislature is quite embarrassing and reflects poorly on the state and the legislature.

More SB 1467 Information

I’ve been getting a lot of traffic recently to my post about SB 1467 so I thought it would be prudent to do a follow-up with some (hopefully) useful information.
First off, while the bill is often publicized as allowing “guns in the classroom”, that is not the case. Rather, the bill simply adds a section to the existing law which says:

Notwithstanding subsection D of this section and section 15?341, the governing board of an educational institution shall not adopt or enforce any policy or rule that prohibits the lawful possession or carrying of a weapon on a public right-of-way.

In short, if one can legally possess or carry a firearm off-campus, one would then be able to possess or carry a firearm on a sidewalk, street, or other public place on-campus. Possession of firearms in the classroom would continue to be prohibited.
According to the Arizona State Legislature’s fact sheet about the bill, there are two caveats:

  1. The bill does not “preclude school districts from conducting approved gun safety programs on school campuses” which would presumably be held in classrooms and presumably involve the presence of actual (albeit unloaded) firearms.
  2. The bill does not “apply to private universities, colleges, high schools or common schools or other private educational institutions (A.R.S. ? 13-2911).”

Honestly, I can’t really see how this would be remotely controversial — law-abiding people can already carry in public places in Arizona, why should they be prohibited from carrying in a public place on campus? If one can legally walk down a sidewalk on a public street while discretely armed, why can’t one do the same on a sidewalk on a public university? It makes no sense for the same action to be legal on one side of a street, but illegal on the other side.
All the official information about the bill itself can be found at the Arizona State Legislature website for the bill.

Arizona Regents Professors on SB 1467

I received the following email today at my university email:

The Regents Professors (RPs) at the UofA, ASU, and NAU have launched a campaign to signal to ABOR (and the state’s legislature and governor as well) our deep concern about, and fervent opposition to, the pending legislation that would permit the carrying of concealed handguns on our campuses and prohibit the Universities from limiting that right. See attached a recent editorial in the Arizona Republic regarding SB 1467 as well as the key provision of the bill itself.
We believe that guns have no place in an academic setting and fear that passage of this ill-conceived legislation would result in great and lasting damage to our Universities. We believe that we must act to try to prevent our Universities from becoming armed camps where all of us would be less safe and secure, less willing to engage in open and honest discourse, and less able to do our work and therefore less likely to continue to work and study.
As a first step, the tri-University RPs have produced a “Gun Safety Charter” that now is online and available for affirmation or rejection by all University faculty, students, and staff.

There is a link to a survey for university-affiliated persons (and I won’t post the link, as that would skew the results which are already non-scientific as they are and don’t need the whole internet involved) that describes the “charter”. The charter is included below in its entirety:

We affirm that no student should be obligated to be in the presence of an armed faculty or staff member, and no faculty or staff member should be obligated to be in the presence of an armed student on the university campuses of Arizona. In the event that SB 1467 is enacted into law, we request action by the Arizona Board of Regents to segregate the campuses into armed and weapons-free communities. When such segregation cannot be enforced, protective action should include the provision of police protection, the substitution of electronic communication for personal interaction, and the cancelation of classes as a last resort.

So, professors are encouraging the state to segregate campuses because of people wanting to exercise their rights? Would these segregated facilities also be “separate but equal”? (( I’m extremely reluctant to compare the gun rights movement with the civil rights movement, as the civil rights movement encompassed numerous rights that were being actively denied to large numbers of Americans, as well as violence committed against many people. The gun rights movement is nowhere near as pivotal or important as the civil rights movement, and I’m hesitant to mention them together in the same article lest people get the idea that I consider them to be on the same level of importance. While gun rights are a key freedom in the US, putting the two movements on equal standing would be grossly unfair to the civil rights movement. Still, there are troubling similarities nonetheless. ))

Insurance and Depreciation

So, our homeowner’s insurance is covering the loss from the theft (less the deductible, of course).
Evidently pistols depreciate very little, while laptops depreciate rapidly. Not surprising.
Now, I need to file a claim with the NRA ArmsCare insurance. They may cover the deductible on my homeowner’s insurance.
Advice: see if you can get a “scheduled” insurance policy (individually listing each item) for your guns. It’s not that expensive, covers more than the basic insurance, and most insurers waive the deductible on scheduled items. Also useful for jewelry and the like.
Lastly, make copies of purchase receipts for your guns. Have detailed information (e.g. photos, make, model, serial, caliber, date and location of purchase, etc.) for them as well. I keep mine in a fire resistant chest (though a safe deposit box at the bank also works), as well as scanned copies on my computer and in encrypted, off-site backups.
Many gunny people are worried about “big” threats, like the government coming for their guns or acquiring a copy of a Google Docs spreadsheet containing details of their guns. It’s far more likely that one will face a more mundane threat like a criminal stealing their guns, computer, or documents. Keep your information private but accessible, and worry more about the small stuff: secure your guns, encrypt your laptop (Windows login passwords offer zero protection) or at least use the password protection feature on the hard disk, and keep backups of all your data.