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?

Just One Question

I don’t know how I missed such a classic post for so long, but I only recently discovered Joe Huffman’s “Just One Question” post.
Rather than attempt to argue and refute the anti-rights positions (essentially all of them have been argued and refuted numerous times over the years) and fall into the trap where they define the playing field ((This is often the case when arguing with people about so-called “assault weapons” — just using the term means that they’re defining the argument.)), Joe attempts to bring such people into his field, where he asks:

Can you demonstrate one time or place, throughout all history, where the average person was made safer by restricting access to handheld weapons?

He notes that this tends to shut down such arguements quite nicely.
I’m going to have to use such a question in the future, as I’ve grown fatigued with debating anti-rights individuals, all of whom trot out the same, tired arguements. Rather, I think I’ll just offer them what I always do: a brief overview of safe gun handling, followed by an all-expenses-paid trip to the local range to try out shooting. It’s a lot more fun, less stressful, and gets me out in the fresh air.

Treasure Trove

As mentioned previously, I’m back in the San Francisco Bay Area for a bit, and have been spending some time at my parents house.
We’re having guests over for a barbecue tonight, so I was volunteered to locate, assemble, and erect the badminton net that was somewhere ((To quote my mother, “Nothing in this house gets thrown away.” Nothing important, that is — trash and whatnot is, of course, discarded, but pretty much anything of use is squirreled away somewhere.))? in the “wine cellar((A small, dark room in the basement which contains, for the most part, the plumbing connections between the house and the municipal water and sewer lines. It also has stuff like Costco-sized packages of toilet paper, cans of paint, and old Boy Scout camping gear. When I lived here, I kept a locking gun cabinet in thise room as it was probably the least likely place a thief would look for guns. To the best of my knowledge, no wine has ever been kept there. ))”
While searching for said net, I stumbled across a small treasure trove: a medium-sized cardboard box filled with .30-06 Springfield brass, mostly PS-headstamped Korean mil-surp which I used to shoot from my M1 when ammo was cheap and plentiful, and a bunch of solvents and oils used for gun maintenance. I always wondered where that gallon of Ed’s Red and the quart of Hoppes #9 went, and now I know.
Yes, it might seem odd that I equate a box of brass and some jars of chemicals with “treasure,” but that’s the type of person I am.
Alas, I’m flying back to Arizona with only carry-on bags, so the brass and chemicals will have to remain here until the next time I drive out.

On Plumbing

I’m back visiting my parents in the SF Bay Area for a few weeks, and while I’m here they asked me to repair a broken PVC sprinkler pipe in their backyard.
As with most things, it’s easier said than done. Theoretically, it would have involved cutting out the broken section of old pipe, cutting the new pipe to fit, then joining them with the appropriately-sized couplers and some PVC primer/cement.
Practically, attempting it that way resulted in me covered in mud, swearing, and having a bad time of it. The lack of flexibility in the buried pipes meant that I couldn’t effectively join the pipes, as the replacement part had to be long enough to complete the pipe, while being short enough to fit between the couplers. As I couldn’t move the pieces of pipe buried in the ground, this was remarkably difficult and time-consuming (read: several hours spent covered in mud and swearing like a sailor).
Fortunately, some bright person had invented a telescoping coupler that resolves this very issue — one cements one end of the coupler to one pipe, then extends the telescoping part such that one can then cement the other end to the other pipe. A greased o-ring seals the whole assembly and prevents leakage.
Total cost (including the telescoping coupler, primer and cement): $10.
Total time fixing the broken pipe with the telescoping coupler: 10 minutes.
I’m not a very good plumber, but as with any challenge, I learned a lot and will be able to better address such issues in the future. Issues that will likely strike a (soon to be) newly-married person living in a condo.
Also, PVC is some remarkably nifty stuff. It’s also really cheap (about $0.10/foot) and, other than having immovable pipes buried in the ground, easy to work with.

Liquor Licenses

For all the progessive gun laws that Arizona has (( Most notably the fact that open carry is legal in most places without any permit being necessary. )), it has a major flaw: at present, it is prohibited for a person to carry a firearm (even if they have a permit to carry concealed) into any establishment that is licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption, even if the person does not drink and even if the sale of alcoholic beverages is temporarily suspended.
While I enjoy a good drink and finely-crafted guns, I strongly believe that drinking and the carriage of firearms should not be done at the same time. Much like drinking and driving, doing so is irresponsible.
That said, I see no reason why I (or any other law-abiding person) should have to disarm simply becuase I wish to enter an establishment that serves alcohol. As the law stands now, I’m prohibited from carrying when I go to Chili’s, even if I’m just there for a burger and soda with friends. If I’m walking around armed, as is my custom, I am forbidden from entering establishments like Chipotle for a burrito simply because they offer bottled beer.
This issue was a concern for the Phoenix Convention Center, as the center has a liquor license. Fortunately, they were able to successfully petition the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control for a temporary suspension of the liquor license in most areas of the event, thus allowing private citizens to legally carry guns around the event.
Certain functions at the event, such as the member banquet, served alcohol. In these places, the NRA maintained a gun-check station and allowed people to securely stow their arms prior to entering the restricted area. However, members who wished to eat at several of the nearby restaraunts were unable to do so, as many of them served alcohol. This was an issue for myself and a few other gunbloggers when we went out for lunch on Saturday and Sunday.
I’ve written to my state officials to encourage them to change the law so that people can legally carry in restaraunts so long as they don’t drink. I urge you to do the same.

4th Generation Glocks

Update: It appears as though I was incorrect about these pistols being the “4th Generation” of Glock pistols. Rather, they appear to be a somewhat modified third generation — the “Rough Texture Frame Pistol”. From what I hear, the actual 4th Gen pistols will have adjustable backstraps and a less-aggressive grip pattern than the really rough textured RTF ones shown below. My apologies for any confusion.
The crowds were slightly less at the Glock booth today, so I was able to get my hands on one of the 4th Generation “fish gill” Glock pistols and a few minutes of time from some of the Glock employees.
According to the reps, all the internals are the same. Existing replacement and aftermarket parts will fit 4th Generation pistols.
New Slide Serrations
When asked why Glock changed the rear serrations from the previous straight lines to the new, curved design, one employee answered unofficially, “it’s high-speed, low drag” (( In short, it’s new and shiny. People like new and shiny things. ))
Another employee mentioned that the previous serrations went all the way from the top of the slide to the bottom, and so the steel at the bottom of of each serration was thinner. He had personally seen two previous Glock pistols, each used by extremely heavy users (100,000+ rounds out of each), suffer failures at the base of the serrations where the slide bent outwards. The “fish gill” serrations stop a millimeter or two above the base of the slide, leaving the base of the slide thicker and thus stronger. This is obvious in the below photograph that shows both the old and new serrations:

Textured Grips
The 4th Generation pistols also sport a new texture on the grip:

This texture consists of numerous tiny polygonal (( According to the employee. )) nubs on the backstrap, sides, and finger grooves of the pistol, rather than the larger, blockier nubs found on the backstrap and finger grooves of previous generations of Glock pistols.
While previous generations had textured panels on the grips, the new texture is considerably more “aggressive” (( Quoting one of the reps. )) than the previous texture. I’m inclined to agree, but feel that the new texture is extremely uncomfortable — the grips feel extremely abrasive, and I find the gun uncomfortable to hold with a firm grip. I’m also concerned with the gun gripping clothing, making concealment more difficult. Abrasion of clothing is another concern voiced by some readers.
A member of Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association (I’m terrible with names, so I apologize for forgetting!) was walking around with Louis and I, and mentioned to the employee his concern about the possibility of the new texture irritating the skin on one’s waist when carrying the gun in an IWB holster.
It’s possible to make things “grippy” without making them feel like sandpaper: Hogue aftermarket grips are extremely comfortable and grippy without being hard on one’s hands. I doubt Glock would be able to integrate both the ordinary plastic used in their frames with Hogue-type rubber panels in a single molded piece, but I feel that’d be a better option than the new texture.
According to one of the reps, the texture becomes less “aggressive” over time, while still retaining its gripping ability.
Glock had small survey cards where they asked people’s opinion of the new serrations and texture. I indicated that I preferred the previous textures as they were more comfortable, and the previous serrations (though I wouldn’t mind if they stopped the serrations above the base of the slide, so as to strengthen it) due to their more utilitarian appearance, ease of gripping, and ease of cleaning.
Magazines
I inquired about the notch on the front of magazines shipped with current, non-4th-Generation Glock pistols. My understanding that the notch was designed to allow for an ambidextrous magazine release was confirmed, though the pistols equipped with such a release (( The G20, 21, 29, and 30 “SF” models. ))? are not terribly popular in the US for a few reasons, most notably because many holsters fit the pistols in such a way that they depress the ambidextrous mag release.
This issue results in the magazine being released when the pistol is reholstered. According to the reps, this is a problem with the holster makers, not with Glock — the design of the pistols is such that it is not possible for Glock to include an ambidextrous magazine release that doesn’t get pushed by most current holsters. In order for them to do so, the holster manufacturers would need to slightly redesign their holsters.
Additionally, one of the new models has a standard 1913 Picatinny rail, but this fits poorly with existing holsters due to the width of the rail. The models with the proprietary “Glock Rail” do not suffer this problem as the rail is smaller, but such models are still uncommon due to the mag-dumping-when-holstered issue.
None of the models on display at the booth were the “SF” models equipped with the ambidextrous magazine release, though they were selling various items like hats, shirts, and R. Lee Ermey (( Who, among his numerous other achievements and positions, is a Glock spokesman. )) action figures. The Gunny himself was present for a few days for handshakes, autographs, and pictures, though the line to see him was quite long. In overhearing his conversations with people, he seems like a decent guy; Mr. Ermey, if you happen to be reading this post and are in the Tucson area, please allow me to treat you to a drink.

Ruger SR-556 Questions & Answers

After looking at the new Ruger SR-556 on Saturday, I went back to the booth today to ask a few questions I had and ask a few asked by readers. Unless specifically quoted, all questions and answers are paraphrased from notes.

1. The MSRP is $1995. Why so much? ARs are commonly available in the $800-$1,200 range.

Other piston-driven ARs are considerably more expensive, often starting at more than $2,500. An MSRP of less than $2,000 for a piston-driven AR from a reputable manufacturer is quite a bit more affordable than other similar guns.

The SR-556 was made to compete with HK 416s and Sig 556s, not common gas-driven ARs.

2. Do you intend to offer the SR-556 in other calibers, specifically .204 Ruger and 6.8 SPC?
Ruger is a publicly-traded company, which limits what we can disclose at this time.
3. Is the SR-556 upper and lower receivers compatible with other upper/lower receivers.
Our upper receiver will fit on mil-spec lowers, and mil-spec uppers will fit on our lower receiver. The SR-556 takes standard STANAG/M16 magazines.

4. Does Ruger intend to sell just the upper receivers to those who already have mil-spec lowers and want a piston-driven upper?
Not at the moment. Again, we’re a publicly-traded company and so cannot disclose certain things.

5. One reader mentioned that he shoots blackpowder .223 loads from his current AR. I have no idea why he does this, but he wanted to know if it was possible to do the same with the SR-556.
[hearty laugh] Honestly, I’ve never heard of anyone doing such a thing, and so cannot say if it’s possible or not.
6. Is the SR-556 compatible with registered Drop-In Auto Sears?
Not from the factory, no.
(At this point I asked him if I could look inside the lower, though he asked that we not take pictures of it. It had the standard cut-out at the rear of the lower where a DIAS would normally go, but without measuring equipment I was unable to tell if it was the proper size or not. Some machining may be required, but it doesn’t look like Ruger went out of their way to make DIAS installation difficult. Basically it looks like any ordinary lower one would buy from other manufacturers.)
7. Any plans for a longer-barreled target version?
No comment.
8. Any plans for a ban-compliant version that could be sold in California, Massachusetts, etc.?
This is something that Ruger could theoretically do, but I have no further comment on the topic at this time.
At this point, other people were clamoring for his attention and I felt like I had occupied enough of his time, so I thanked him and wished him a good day. (( I feel guilty for wasting people’s time. Does this make me a bad journalist? ))

Amusing Observation

Crimson Trace laser grips for guns have a scary “Caution – Laser Radiation Is Emitted From This Aperture” warning label next to the laser diode.
Of course, there’s no “Caution – Bullets Are Emitted From This Aperture” warnings on the barrel.
Somehow, I think the bullets are more dangerous than a Class I laser diode.

NRA Annual Meeting

Quick summary (more to come later, I’m just relaxing at The Girl(tm)’s house):

  • Met a few other gunbloggers.
  • Perused the exhibits.
  • Have sore feet from walking all bloody day.
  • Trying to convince The Girl(tm) that we should put a Barrett M82A1 on the wedding registry is surprisingly difficult. She wants stuff like dishes, bedsheets, and so on. Who knew? Maybe an AR-50? I’ll keep trying.
  • I’ve got a bunch of pictures from the day that I need to sort through. For the time being, enjoy this one:

Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse

I think we can all agree that if ignorance of the law was an excuse, we’d get a lot more people falsely claiming ignorance in order to shirk responsibility for their crimes.
However, such a policy also requires that people are, in fact, aware of the law in question.
Essentially everyone knows it’s illegal to exceed the marked speed limit on a street (though enforcement of such laws is often given a bit of wiggle room), it’s illegal to assault another, rob banks, or other such actions. Knowledge of such laws are common.
In many cases, however, people aren’t aware of specific laws — such a law may not be something that a reasonably person might expect to exist (as opposed to, for example, a law against robbing banks), or the law may have recently been changed.
For example, it’s my understanding that using lead shot while hunting waterfowl is illegal. While not exactly common knowledge outside of the waterfowling community, all the bird hunters I know are well aware of the prohibition. However, how many people are aware that the use of lead ammunition if illegal in wide swaths of California (evidently to protect condors from ingesting bullets and getting lead poisoning)? There’s a lot of people who have been shooting regular lead ammo in California for decades before the law changed — the passage of such a law is not exactly common knowledge (it wasn’t reported in the media), and many of these shooters don’t subscribe to any newsletters, blogs, publications, or other means of learning about such a law. Very few people wake up in the morning and think, “I wonder if shooting lead ammo is still legal. I should check.” Unknowningly, these people become criminals when they go out to the woods to shoot as they had for decades.
Same thing with so-called “assault weapons” in California — when the state changed the law to require registration (and eventual prohibition) of such guns, very few people complied. While I’m sure that a not-insignificant number of shooters said “Screw that.” and didn’t bother registering out of idealogical reasons, I’d imagine that most gun owners were simply unaware of the law and remain unaware to this day as nobody has made them aware of the law, and they wouldn’t ever think of checking as the concept of a ban based on cosmetic features is so non-common-sensical that the thought would simply never occur to them.
When the ATF has to split California’s gun laws into two parts because they’re so numerous, I think that exceeds some sort of threshold. The average person should not need to consult a lawyer to ensure that their everyday actions are not in violation of some law that they’ve never heard of.
While ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse, such a policy requires that the average person can reasonably be expected to know the law. With the huge amounts of laws covering the minutest aspects of one’s life, I don’t believe it’s reasonable that an average person be expected to know every single law.
What can be done? Repealing onerous, obscure, or obfuscated laws seems…unlikely. Sending citizens an annual list of laws that apply to them will simply waste money for printing and postage; even if someone did read all the laws in such a document, it’s unlikely that’d be able to read all of them before the next edition arrives. If they did manage to read them, it’s unlikely they’d understand them all or how they apply without consulting a lawyer. Any sort of simplified “Legal FAQ” is likely to leave out information that applies to some groups.
Honestly, I’m not sure how things can practically be made better without some fundamental change in the law (see the aforementioned repealing of various laws).