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.

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

There has been much talk in the anti-gun-rights camp about how, in the wake of the shooting in Tucson, there needs to be more gun control.
I respectfully disagree. If anything, it shows the need for people to communicate better with others, particularly when it comes to mental health.
Arizona has laws in place that make it relatively easy for people to petition a court to order mandatory mental health evaluations and, in some cases, involuntary commitment. Had family, friends, coworkers, or faculty gone through this process, the alleged shooter could have received the care he evidently needed. As a side effect, he would also have been added to the NICS prohibited persons list and wouldn’t have been able to buy the gun.
The NICS system works as designed, but they can’t block people with mental health issues if they don’t know about the issues. That’s where the courts and due process come into play.
If we can provide mental health services to those who need it, adding people to the NICS list (both with legal oversight and due process, naturally) where needed, that’d likely make a bigger dent in violent crime committed by the mentally ill than more restrictive gun control that overwhelmingly affects ordinary people and doesn’t have much of a success record.

Stolen

Sometime last night, my car was broken into (note: window tinting is not too effective at stopping criminals from breaking through glass).
The thieves stole my Dell Inspiron 1521 laptop (old, crappy, and heavily encrypted). Dell service tag/serial number HQN87F1 with a StuffBak asset tag of 000KHNC. Not a big deal; it’s just hardware. The data is encrypted and backed up.
However, they also stole my Glock 19 pistol (9mm, serial MLV023). It had a full magazine of Federal HST JHPs.
I normally take both the computer and gun inside at night, but I was going to have a drink or two with friends last night so I left it in the car to be responsible. That seems to have been not a good idea in this particular case.
The police and insurance have been notified, but I’d appreciate it if folks online and in Tucson are aware.
Fortunately, I keep detailed records of all my guns, and so was able to give them all the useful information. Google Docs is a good thing.
Update: I may not have been clear in the original post: I wasn’t at a bar, I was staying at a friend’s house for the week (I work in Tucson and live near Phoenix, so rather than commute ~2 hours every week, I stay down here during the week with friends) and the drinking was taking place in the house.
Since they were kind enough to let me stay for the week, I try to keep things clean by keeping my things in the car. Normally I also bring the laptop bag and gun inside, but it seemed more sensible to keep them locked in the car to keep the computer and gun away from potentially drunk people for that night. I was evidently wrong.

UK Police Searching for Smuggled Guns

Police in Britain are searching for guns smuggled from the US, according to the BBC.
The alleged smuggler, who is in custody in the US, is accused of smuggling 62 guns into the UK.
The last paragraph, however, stood out to me:

Former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism chief Andy Hayman said details of the case were “genuinely shocking”.
Writing in The Times, he said: “This makes a mockery of the stringent checks we all endure at US airports, such as removing our shoes and belts, having our toothpaste confiscated and all the other irritants.
“Steven Greenoe’s guns could just have easily been bombs.”

Mr. Hayman clearly is not familiar with how things are done in the US when it comes to firearms and air travel. There are clear rules and procedures for traveling with checked firearms. In general, the firearms must be unloaded, kept in a locked case, be in checked baggage (there are certain exceptions for police officers that allow them, in certain situations, to fly with weapons on their person), and be screened by the TSA.
Since Mr. Greenoe’s firearms were in his checked luggage, they were inaccessible to himself or others during the flight. This is in accordance with US travel laws, as well as my understanding of UK laws relating to traveling with firearms. Thus, Mr. Hayman’s comments about this incident making a “mockery” of the searches of passengers and their effects is not relevant. Don’t get me wrong, I think the current passenger screening policies are absurd and well deserving of mockery, they have nothing to do with the carriage of firearms in checked luggage. While his luggage may have contained bombs, one can hope that current screening methods for checked luggage would have detected them. In addition, bombs are inherently dangerous (for example, they could explode by themselves if mishandled or if constructed incorrectly), while disassembled firearms are simply inert pieces of metal. There’s quite a difference.

Cold Feet

I was in MA for Christmas with the in-laws.
It blizzarded (( That is now a verb. )).
Evidently standard socks and Doc Marten shoes don’t count for much when it comes to insulation. Brr.
Observe my frigid wife:

Also related, wool hats are made in hilarious fashions:

In related news, my father-in-law is an Environmental Police Officer, and so gets some fun toys ((Nearly all stuff confiscated from law-breakers and the like, though some of his own things.)) until they go off to evidence ((He works mostly from home, and takes stuff down to the station every week or so.)). Lots of old Mausers and the like. Way cool.