Signs of the Times

I stopped by Sportsman’s Warehouse to pick up a Blackhawk Serpa holster for my G19 (the fact that they have a 1911 in the picture for the Glock-specific holster amuses me) and noticed the bright orange signs (note the bad pun in the headline?) everywhere saying “NO AR RIFLES OR HI-CAP MAGS — NO BACKORDERS OR SPECIAL ORDERS FOR THESE ITEMS”.
Just goes to show you: good things don’t always come to those who wait.

Silencers are also Illegal

A threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor
or silencer. A silencer is useful to assassins but clearly has no
purpose for sportsmen. Silencers are also illegal.

(Emphasis in the original.)
From Mass Produced Mayhem, a pamphlet published by the Brady Campaign saying why “assault weapons” are evil and should be banned. This particular part is located on Page 21, as part of a list of “combat features” that certain guns have that “have no sporting value”.
While the entire document is pretty much bunk, this particular bit stands out to me due to my ownership of several firearms with threaded barrels and a silencer.
Silencers are not illegal. In case the bold print wasn’t enough, let me repeat: silencers are NOT ILLEGAL. They are regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and by state laws. In a few states, ownership or use of silencers may be banned outright, or so heavily restricted that they are effectively banned. However, most states either have very light regulations or defer to federal laws.
The process to legally acquire one is the same for acquiring any other NFA-regulated item: payment of a $200 tax, addition to the NFA registry, local police approval, federal (ATF) approval, a detailed background check, a full set of fingerprints, etc. All in all, it takes about a month to get all the paperwork sorted out.
That said, what does the Brady Campaign hope to stop if they banned guns with threaded barrels? Hypothetically, if silencers were illegal, what would a ban on threads accomplish? It would already be illegal to own silencers…would making their mounting point “more illegal” somehow reduce the already extremely-rare (to the point of being unheard of outside of movies) criminal use of silencers?
Silencers have plenty of perfectly legitimate purposes, both for sportsmen and ordinary shooters. For example, a hunter could use a silencer so as not to alarm other game animals within earshot (thus being polite to other hunters by not scaring away their game). A hunter might also find a silencer useful if hunting in lands that are within earshot of communities, so as not to annoy neighbors. Not needing to carry bulky earmuffs (which reduce one’s perception of the surrounding areas, and thus limit the ability to detect game animals) is beneficial, as well as reducing the risk of hearing damage. Indeed, in many areas in Europe, the use of suppressors is encouraged for sportsmen and hunters for these very reasons.
Ordinary shooters find silencers to be quite handy as well: I find them excellent for teaching new shooters, as there is no loud noise emitted when the gun is fired. This allows new shooters to get introduced to the sport without developing flinching and other negative behaviors. Arizona gets quite hot, and earmuffs can make one’s ears quite uncomfortable (hot, sweaty, etc.), so a silencer is beneficial by making earmuffs unnecessary while keeping noise at safe levels. Many guns are extremely loud, and by using a silencer, I can reduce the noise emitted by my guns, so as not to annoy fellow shooters at the range, those living near the range (granted, the range where I shoot is extremely remote, and nobody lives around it for miles in all directions), and so on. It’s simply a matter of being neighborly.
Silencer-using assassins are all but unheard of outside of hollywood movies. Those few assassins that do exist are likely to be trained and operated by governments…governments who don’t really give a damn about (or are exempt from) US firearms laws. While high quality silencers require the use of a machine shop, the knowledge and equipment needed is minimal and an amatuer could construct a workable, durable silencer in the time of a few hours. Threading a firearm barrel is even easier. Flimsy, novelty, less effective (but by no means less regulated) silencers can be made with homemade equipment and no machine shop in an hour or two.
That said, this proposal isn’t about the legality or illegality of silencers, it’s simply about their mounting points. I’m curious if such a law, if implemented, would ban the use of quick-disconnect lugs or other non-threaded mounting devices for various muzzle accessories?

New Shooter Report

Today was a glorious day in Tucson. With a high of 79F, low winds, and a clear, sunny sky, it was a perfect day to go shooting.
L, an astrophysics student friend of mine, brought our mutual friends (more his friends, my acquantiances [though we’re rapidly becoming friendly]) J and A. The two of them are the inspiration for the “how to win over new shooters” post I recently wrote. J had never been shooting before, and was rather skittish about firearms. A had fired shotguns at clays many years ago, and got the crap beaten out of her shoulder by the gun.
We arrived at the range around 1:00pm, unloaded the car, paid our fees, and got our targets set up. The range was a bit busier than we’ve normally seen it — on previous outings to the range, we’ve normally gotten the entire bay to ourselves. Today, there were a few other people on the 100 yard line, but it was by no means crowded.
After getting situated, we briefly reviewed the safety rules (we had gone over them in much greater detail back at the house, so this was just a quick refresher), went over the basic operations of the suppressed Ruger 10/22, and started J and A off with two magazines of .22LR Winchester Dynapoints (accurate, subsonic, bulk-pack .22LR ammo). I think I had them hooked with the first magazine. 🙂
Among other things, we fired the Ruger MkIII .22LR pistol (alas, we couldn’t put the targets any closer than 25 yards — it is a rifle range, after all — so that was not nearly as satisfying as it should have been), both my 20″ and 16″ ARs, and A tried the M1 Garand, which she found fun but a little rough on the shoulder; J opted not to shoot it due to recoil concerns.
Some pictures were taken (with J doing most of the photographing), but most of the day was spent shooting, so we have a lot of pictures detailing a few very short time periods (like 37 pictures of A shooting one 8-round clip from the M1). Here’s a smattering of some pictures (hover your mouse over them for a brief description):







Once again, a fantastic day at the range.
Note to self: buy some sort of weighted felt-like material to lay on the concrete bench, so as to not have the concrete scratch the finish of the guns. Also, I should buy a few sandbags and a spotting scope.
Anyone have any advice on spotting scopes? I was looking at this one, as I’m a fan of reflector optics (one of the benefits of knowing a bunch of astrophysists who geek out about optics all the time), but I’m not sure.
I think I need to start referring to people by their first names, rather than merely their first initials. It’s not so bad if you have friends with names that start with “L” or “R”, but when they start with common one-letter words like “A”, it can get confusing.

Small World

I was at the range today with a few friends (including two new shooters — post and pictures coming soon), and when we were winding down at the end of the day, we started chatting with a few of other folks at the range.
The topic of taking new shooters to the range came up, and one of the gentlemen we were talking to said “Hey, this blog I read had a good post on getting new shooters to the range…have you heard of the Arizona Rifleman?”
I was stunned. Indeed, I felt like Obi-Wan Kenobi when Luke Skywalker asked:

Luke: You know him?
Obi-Wan: But of course I know him. He’s me.

After mentioning that I was, in fact, the blogger in question, the conversation became quite a bit more animated. It turned out that this gentleman was a reader (hi Richard!), and had emailed me about getting in on some of the group buys for AR magazines.
Perhaps it’s not really a small world, as we were both in Tucson, but for having <50 readers subscribed to the RSS feed, randomly running into one is, nevertheless, fairly unlikely. Very cool.

Note to Self

Bullets that are slightly flattened on one side by the military’s bullet-puller (used for de-milling surplus ammo) make things exciting. When the seating die is crimping the case neck around the bullet, it can make it non-circular.
This causes rather amusing chambering issues, like when I tried to load and fire my very first shot from my new DPMS AR today. Some swearing ensued. A total of three rounds (out of the ~150 fired today) were out-of-round enough to cause a stoppage.
Moral of the story: surplus bullets are great for range trips and fun, but do not depend on them for anti-zombie use.

Front Sight on Fark

As is my habit, I was perusing Fark.com this morning. For some reason, I had Adblock Plus turned off and so ads were visible.
Imagine my surprise when I saw an ad for Front Sight appear on Fark:

(No, I didn’t have a stroke while drawing the red circle. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to draw a consistent, mostly-circular line using a laptop touchpad?)
Fark is known for its snarky headlines and goofy comment threads (if you don’t get your newsNot News from Fark, you’re missing out), so I was a bit surprised to see Front Sight ads running in the Google Ad panel there. Very cool.
I think that such ads going out to the general public is a good thing: if it helps get one person trained, and saves one life (astute readers will see what I did there), then it’s worth it. I’ve been to Front Sight, and while their “Front Sight Family” stuff was a bit odd and there’s accusations about various financial-related issues, the training was solid.
I’d like to see more gunny companies advertising to the general public. I see ads for “$NAME Ford Dealership” on TV at my girlfriend’s (I don’t own a TV, nor have time for it), why can’t I see ads for “$NAME Gun Shop” or ads for Bushmaster and Remington firearms? I wonder what Glock could do in a TV ad. 🙂

Midway Magazine Price Increase

Midway just raised their dealer prices on the AR Stoner 30-round AR-15 magazines I’ve been running group buys on. Prices have increased from $10/each to $13/each, and this will be reflected with all future group orders.
I’m still selling them for my cost + shipping (I’m not marking them up at all) if people are interested. At this price, you can get essentially identical ones (AR Stoner mags are made by C Products) directly from C Products for less.

How to Win Over New Shooters

I’m a firm believer in getting non-shooters to the range. Every single new shooter I’ve taken to the range has had a safe, enjoyable time, and about 80% have been shooting with me at least once after the first time (most of those who don’t are simply acquaintances or friends-of-friends, and we don’t often spend much time together).
Most people are perfectly willing to give it a shot (pun very much intended), but there are always some tough sells: whether the person is anti-gun, gun-neutral, or nervous, it can require a bit of effort to convince them to come. I’ve come up with a few tips for interacting with these people:
Getting Non-Shooters to Come to the Range

  1. Don’t be crazy. Nothing turns non-shooters off more (and makes the rest of us look bad) than crazy people with guns. Somehow, I doubt the UN has listening devices in your walls or stealth helicopters following you around. Knock it off. Really.
  2. Don’t bring up politics. This can be a major turn-off.
  3. See rule number 2.
  4. If politics cannot possibly be avoided (such as someone asking about the 1994-2004 Federal AWB, or a particular candidate’s stance on a certain issue), be objective, be calm, and be brief. Never be the first one to bring up politics, and try to steer the conversation to a non-politicial topic as soon as practical.
  5. Know your stuff. The “AR” in “AR-15” stands for “Armalite model 15“, not “Assault Rifle”. If someone asks about “assault weapons” and you have an AR-15, be prepared to demonstrate the various features (flash hider, bayonet lug, etc.) that the now-expired ban covered. It might be good to mention that guns not mentioned by name and lacking the specific features were perfectly legal to buy during the ban, and that the banned guns were functionally identical to non-banned guns (AR vs. Mini-14, for example). Make a point of not using the term “assault weapon” when describing such firearms.
  6. Understand your audience. Last night, I spoke with two female university students about gunny stuff. Both are very intelligent (one is triple-majoring in Physics, Astronomy, and Math and has a 4.0 cumulative GPA). Both were intrigued by the various steps involved in reloading, and I explained it to them and demonstrated the process using scientific terms. If they were not scientifically-minded, I’d adjust the explanations accordingly. When we were talking about different styles of guns, I mentioned that many military-based firearms tend to be designed for people of larger body sizes (i.e. men), and guns with these dimensions can be uncomfortable for some women and smaller men; the collapsible stock allows one to adjust the rifle such that it’s comfortable for people of a wide range of body types to shoot. They both seemed to appreciate this feature.
  7. Relate to your audience. One of my female friends is a proficient shooter and scientist, and works wonders at getting women involved as she can relate to them in a variety of ways. If politics comes up (see Rules 2-4), I’ve found that my pro-rights-in-general leanings tend to go over well with most college-aged students, as well as people in most groups. Don’t do all the talking; get to know who you’re talking to, try to see things from their view, and relate to them. A friend if mine is very much interested in gay and womens rights; a mention of the Pink Pistols and Babes with Bullets proved a vital link between her interests and my own, as well as establishing that we were both concerned with rights.
  8. Avoid talking about self-defense until you understand the person better. Not everyone is comfortable with violence, even in self-defense. If the topic does come up, be objective and intelligent about it…don’t start talking about what rounds are the best for “ventiliating” bad guys.
  9. Don’t be patronizing. Shooting tends to be a male-dominated activity, and can be intimidating for many new shooters, particularly women. Many people have misconceptions about gun owners (that we’re all uneducated, unsafe, uncouth, redneck men); by being polite, knowledgeable, safe, and attentive, you can gently change their minds. Don’t be a pig.
  10. Realize that you were a new shooter once. Think of how they feel.
  11. Be sure to emphasize that shooting is a safe, fun, and enjoyable activity enjoyed by millions of people from diverse backgrounds.

At this point, the non-shooter should be interested in going to the range. If so, schedule a time that works for both of you. If possible and desired, try to arrange for a few other people (new shooters, until-recently-new-shooters, and experienced shooters) to come with. Group activities tend to be more fun.
If the non-shooter remains uninterested, not a problem. Don’t insist on anything. It’d probably be a good idea to change topics and not bring up guns at this time. Perhaps you’ll have better luck in the future.
At The Range

  1. Before your journey to the range, make sure that everyone understands the rules of gun safety and some examples where one might inadvertently violate them (e.g. if a pistol malfunctions, many people turn it sideways to examine it, sweeping the firing line — doing so violates Rule #2). If the range has specific rules, be sure to go over them with the new shooter(s).
  2. Be sure to bring food and drink, as appropriate. Also ensure that people are appropriately dressed, both in regards to clothing (open-toed shoes and low-cut shirts tend to be magnets for hot brass) and safety equipment (eye and ear protection).
  3. Start every new shooter off on a .22LR, preferably a .22 rifle. I recommend outdoor ranges, as the noise is not as intense as indoors.
  4. DO NOT START NEW SHOOTERS WITH HIGH-RECOIL FIREARMS. .357 Magnum is not an appropriate beginner’s firearm, nor is .30-06. Even a 9mm Glock 17 may not be suitable for some people. In keeping with Rule #3, I always have a .22LR rifle and pistol when I go to the range, and they make ideal guns for new shooters to start on. Recoil causes new shooters to develop bad habits like flinching, and may turn them off from the shooting sports entirely. If possible, avoid shooting lanes next to people with high-recoil/high-noise firearms…a blast from a .50 BMG’s muzzle brake will ruin your day.
  5. At first, demonstrate everything before you ask the new shooter to do it. They’re probably not familiar with the gun’s controls, how to load magazines, how to properly shoulder the gun, etc.
  6. Be sure to emphasize safety, relaxation, and shooter comfort. If they’re able to hit the target by holding the gun in a particular way, that’s fine (so long as it’s safe), even if it’s not how you hold it. Be sure that the new shooters understand that sights can be adjusted, and that being consistent is more important than where the bullets strike the target.
  7. Having reactive targets (metal gongs, plates that fall over, etc.) can be much more rewarding than simply putting holes in paper.
  8. Don’t be overbearing. Obviously, you should step in when there’s a potential safety violation, but avoid micromanaging their shooting. If you have suggestions or comments on their technique, wait until an appropriate time (say, after they’re done with the magazine).
  9. Stay away from crazy people. See Rule #1 from above. If the guy at the next lane is jabbering about black helicopters and the New World Order, ask to move to a different lane or politely ask the other person to stop. Same thing with patronizing people. You’d be surprised at how obnoxious some people can be when they see a woman shooting a gun for the first time.
  10. If you possess a variety of different guns, bring them to the range. Once the new shooter is comfortable with .22LR, introduce them to other calibers starting with the least recoil (say, .223) and eventually moving up to higher-recoil arms. I’ve often found new shooters enjoy shooting .30-06 from my M1 Garand, even on the first day…but they have to work up to it. If the new shooter is not comfortable with the ergonomics of a particular gun or the recoil of a specific caliber, do not force them to shoot it. Move on to something else.
  11. Same thing with different optics, if you have them. I’ve found a red-dot sight to be ideal for new shooters to start with (“Put the red dot on the target you wish to shoot, then squeeze the trigger.”), but have guns with iron sights and telescopic sights handy for when they wish to try something else.
  12. Above all, be safe and have fun.

I’ve followed these simple tips for years, and have introduced over a dozen people to the shooting sports. Everyone, without exception, has enjoyed themselves and left the range with a big smile. Several have ended up buying guns of their own and nearly (with the exception of friends-of-friends who I don’t see on a regular basis) have gone back to the range with me again.
A few dollars spent in ammunition and range fees (I always pay for a new shooter’s ammo, and nearly always pay for their range fee) can go a very long way at getting new shooters exposed to the sport, correcting common misconceptions about guns, shooters, and the shooting sports, and generally improving the RKBA.
It’s also really fun!

I don’t think so…

Evidently there’s a bill pending in the Arizona Legislature to mandate some sort of microcoding of ammunition, a 1/2 cent per-round tax, registration of ammunition, etc.
Good luck with that, particularly as the bill specifies that it would apply to “handgun and assault weapon ammunition” and, of course, Arizona has no legislaton defining an “assault weapon”, and there is certainly no federal law either.
I don’t think such a law will ever pass here, and I certainly hope it won’t.