Oh, hell.

Address Gun Violence in Cities: As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn’t have them. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.

From here. As an aside, does it disturb anyone else that there’s already a “change.gov” website for the president-elect?
Hmm, let me see if I can sum things up:

  • Open up gun trace data for political purposes (read: lies), as police already have access to trace data for bona fide law enforcement purposes.
  • Ban on private sale of firearms. (There is no “gun show loophole”.)
  • Mandating “smart guns” that don’t exist and probably won’t work.
  • Banning scary-looking guns, permanently.

That sounds remarkably like the list of talking points at the Brady Campaign.
It looks like all my friends who claimed Obama was a friend of the Second Amendment were wrong. I hate to say “I told you so”, but…well, I told you so.
Look, I agree that violent crime is reprehensible. I agree that violent criminals should have no business owning a gun. I agree that we, as a society need to work to reduce violent crime…but putting these restrictions on law-abiding citizens has no effect on crime. California’s banned the private sale of firearms, and it’s done nothing. There was a ban on scary-looking guns for ten years, and it did nothing.
Rather than pushing for these stupid feel-good measures which have been tried over and over and over (and have inevitably resulted in no change in violent crime rates) and which only affect law-abiding citizens, why not actually try to address the root causes of violent crime?
Update: Hat tip to Sebastian. It was bad form of me to not credit him first.

T-shirt…

I really should buy this t-shirt:

Unfortunately, I’m a bit tapped out for cash. The new AR, pistol, and a bunch of new mags (I needed them anyway, and today was a good a day as any…) have left me without much money. Oh well. I’ll have to wait a bit.
(Hopefully Commander Zero doesn’t mind me hijacking his picture — it’s better than the one at the store.)

Common Misconception

Contrary to popular belief, even amongst gunny people, automatic firearms — that is, machine guns — are not necessarily illegal to own.
While some states (looking at you, California) heavily restrict or prohibit them, most states have only minor, if any, restrictions above and beyond federal law.
Sure, there are some hoops to jump through (a one-time $200 NFA tax, local police approval, ATF approval, fingerprints, background checks, interstate travel restrictions, etc.), but it’s less paperwork than buying a car…though it does take about a month for the paperwork to get approved by the ATF.
There’s not even any “license” to own them. There’s a license requirement for dealers, but private citizens simply need an approved ATF form (most seem to be on a Form 4). That’s it. You don’t give up any privacy rights: the feds can’t stop by and search your property any more than they could before, they’re not going to tap your phones.
Just thought I’d help clear this up.

My Own Buy a Gun Day

Yes, I know that Buy a Gun Day is April 15th, but I recently bought a whole bunch of 5.56mm bullets and 8lbs of powder, and so am set for National Ammo Day. Thus, I decided that I’d buy some new guns.
My very first gun was a Glock 19 pistol in 9mm. I bought it when I lived in California, and thus it was registered to me in accordance with the laws (*spit*) of the state. Even though I am now an Arizona resident, California refused to de-register the gun. Thus, when money was tight and bills needed to be paid, I ended up selling it in a private sale here in Arizona to a gentleman whose name I do not recall. While giving the metaphorical finger to California was nice, I miss the G19’s simplicity, light weight, and freakish reliability. I knew I’d get one again, and so I ended up buying about 1,500 rounds of 9mm a year or two ago (at the time, I had no gun chambered in that caliber) as it was on sale. With the price of ammo these days, I’m certainly not regretting that decision.
Well, today I bought a new G19. As expected, it’s exactly the same as my old one (though the springs are a bit stiffer). Sure, it’s ugly and built like I could use it to hammer nails, but it shoots well and Just Works.
I also picked up a DPMS AP4 M4gery. I was seriously tempted by the Bushmaster offerings (and I admit to being partial to Bushmaster ARs — my 20″ A3-style AR is a Bushy), but the Bushmaster rifle had the 14.5″ barrel with permanently-attached Izzy flash suppressor, which wasn’t my style. The DPMS one was $100 cheaper, and had the barrel profile I liked. I figured I’d pick one up now, as I rather like AR-style rifles, and who knows what the political situation (let alone my financial situation) will be in the future. Better safe than sorry, right?
I also use my AR in the course of taking new shooters to the range, and the M4gery’s adjustable stock makes it much easier to fit the rifle to the shooter. Many smaller-framed people have great difficulty handling the 20″ AR, so this should make things easier and more comfortable for them.
All in all, a pretty good day.

Sucks

This is the first newsworthy accident involving NFA firearms that I’ve ever seen.
Unfortunately, it involves an 8-year-old kid accidentally shooting himself with an UZI and later dying from his wounds. Truly tragic. My sincerest condolences go out to the family and anyone else involved with this accident.
I hope that people realize that even with a single incident being rather high-profile, accidents in the shooting sports (particularly those involving NFA items) are rare, and that no change in public policy should be needed. Alas, the comments on the article don’t leave me much hope of that.

Looking for Glass

My friend is looking at purchasing a CZ 452 rifle. I wholeheartedly support this choice, as CZ makes fantastic guns.
The only problem now is picking a scope. I tend to be partial to Leupold optics, but he doesn’t really have any bias. I’d like to get him started with a decent adjustable-zoom scope. Something of pretty good quality, so he won’t have to spend money later to upgrade.
He’s a good shot, and would likely be shooting the rifle from 25-100 yards (it’s a .22LR, so you can’t ask it to do much more than that). No need for Olympic-quality stuff, but he’d like to avoid the cheap stuff.
He’s a fellow student, so his budget is not unlimited. Ideally, he’d like the rifle and scope combined to come out to be less than $1,000. Ideally, it’d be less than $800.
Any thoughts?

Legalized = Taxed?

Whether people are talking about legalizing marijuana (which I support, even though I’ve never touched the stuff) or opening the NFA registry, it seems that everyone says, “Legalize it, then tax it.”
Personally, I’m in the “legalize it” camp, but not so much in the “tax it” camp, particularly when it comes to “sin” taxes…which I wish didn’t exist. Taxes should serve a specific purpose: I pay taxes on gasoline, and that revenue goes to maintaining roads, streetlights, and other infrastructure. I’m fine with that.
How does an NFA or marijuana tax serve anyone?
If the law requires that NFA items be registered with the ATF, I understand that it will cost a little bit of money to process each registration, and I could understand a processing fee that would cover that cost. At most, that should cost around $50. It’s essentially data entry. A re-opening of the NFA full-auto registry may prompt a spike in registrations, but even if they collect a $50 fee per item, the ATF would likely still be covering their costs (government isn’t supposed to make money).
Similarly, subject marijuana to the same sales tax, if any, that other purchases get subjected to. Same thing with alcohol and cigarettes. If the taxes are prohibitively high, then nobody will bother with paying them, and will instead buy things on the black market.
I understand the whole “legalize it” mindset, and I can understand the “regulate it” mindset (so as to ensure that products like marijuana are not adulterated with harmful chemicals, see China) to some extent, but the “tax it” mindset? I just don’t see how that benefits anyone except those who collect the tax.

UA Student Shoots Two Home Invaders

A little after midnight this morning, two men apparently chose to invade the home of a University of Arizona student.
They chose…poorly.
The 23-year-old student was not expecting anyone at that hour, and so armed himself in response to a knock at his door. The guy knocking asked for a person who didn’t live there. The student looked past the guy who was knocking and saw a masked man holding a gun. The student attempted to close the door and retreat into his house, but the men forced their way in, at which point both were shot.
[waits for thunderous applause to die down]
The student has been cooperating with the police, and did not appear to be involved in any sort of criminal activity. Pending any evidence to the contrary, I’m calling this one a “good shoot”. More details as I get them.
Some choice quotes from the article:

Ali Adelmann, a UA sophomore, just moved into the neighborhood this semester and was concerned about what happened.
“It really worries me,” the Phoenix resident said. ?All we can do is keep our doors and windows locked.?

Ali, you are aware that windows are just thin sheets of glass, right? They’re trivial to break. And you need to open your doors and windows at some point. It’s better to have an effective means of protection, like a gun, than simply relying upon a lock.

Jenny Wise also moved into the neighborhood in August. The 19-year-old sophomore said she wasn?t home at the time.
She had gone to a party and upon arriving home around 2 a.m. found her street taped off and flooded with police.
“It?s really the scariest thing,” Wise said. “I?ve lived a sheltered life. This seems like a nice little neighborhood. I don?t know what I would?ve done if two guys tried to get into my house.”

Do you have the means to protect yourself? No? Then things would probably go badly for you.
Tucson is a nice town, but that doesn’t mean that crime doesn’t exist. Maybe you should realize that not all life is like your sheltered upbringing, and that there’s a nasty underbelly to the world. You don’t need to live in fear of it, but recognize that it exists. Being prepared can save your life.
Online comments on the article at the Tucson Citizen were even more na?ve, some implying that because the student owned a gun, that he was somehow involved with criminal acts. Other comments suggested that society is going downhill because more people are choosing to arm themselves.
The moral of the story is this:

  • Having ready access to guns in your house can be a good thing.
  • Having a gun on your person when checking the door can also be a good thing — if you need it, you need it now.
  • Consider getting an intercom or speak through the door rather than opening the door at a late hour.
  • No matter how many police officers were on the beat at the time, they would be unable to help the resident. He had no time to call the police, let alone explain the situation and his location, let alone wait for the police to arrive. The responsibility for his defense was his alone.

Why?

I can understand why people in positions of power might want to disarm those who they lord over, lest the less powerful people revolt.
I can understand why victims of violent crime might think it a good thing to disarm everyone except the police and military, so they (and others) don’t get victimized again.
I can understand people who genuinely believe that “guns = violence”, and think that by lessening the number of guns, they can lessen violence.
I certainly disagree with such positions, but I can understand why someone might hold them.
What I don’t understand are people like the Brady Campaign and the VPC.
It’s not the money, as most of it seems to go toward various lobbying efforts. It’s not the fame, as they’re rarely mentioned in publications, and most people don’t seem to really care as much about them as they do about some bimbo from Hollywood. Even if they succeed, they’re not personally going to be in a position of power over others. It’s not the pursuit of truth and justice, as they intentionally make misleading claims. (When’s the last time a .50 BMG rifle shot down a commercial airliner? How often do criminals use AR-15s to commit crimes, rather than cheap, disposable, often stolen handguns? How often do criminals buy their guns over-the-counter at gun shops or gun shows?)
Why do they do it? What’s in it for them? What motivates them to wake up every morning, go into work, and try to ban guns? Assuming they succeeded and all guns were banned, what then? What would they do?
Coming from my side, I’m working to defend a right that’s rooted deep in history, a safe, fun recreational activity, a means to defend myself and my family, and, if the need is dire, to defend against tyranny. I have a day job (two, in fact, in addition to being a full-time student), and don’t work to protect my rights full-time. If the pro-gun side succeeded in their goals (not that anyone can succeed in defending a right, but let’s just assume one could for the sake of the exercise), my life would change very little. I might have a celebratory range day and maybe buy a new gun, but otherwise nothing major would change.
At the risk of tooting my own horn, I don’t consider myself to be an unintelligent man, but I honestly can’t see why they do it.

Saturday’s shooty goodness, in photos

On Saturday, several friends of mine from the physics and astronomy departments decided to go out to the range for some shooty goodness — the last few weeks have been rather busy and ultimately rather trying of our collective sanity.
As seems to be normal for the group, we invited a friend (“T” — in the interest of privacy, I’ll refer to people by their initial) and his fianc?e (“S”), neither of whom had been shooting before. S is a rather jumpy person, and often gets moderately alarmed at new things. She was a little uncomfortable with the idea of going to the range, but several of our mutual friends (including “R”, a female who’s been shooting with our group for some time, and has been integral in getting other women shooters to come to the range) got her to agree to come. In the event that she didn’t enjoy shooting, she brought some work to do in the car as a “plan B”. T had wanted to come with for some time, and so needed no encouragement.
As is our custom, we arrived at the Tucson Rifle Club, paid our dues to the rangemaster (a man with…er…substantial eyebrows), and set up our targets. We had covered range etiquette safety earlier in the day. Even though it was a glorious day, the winds were whipping from left-to-right across the range, which resulted in the paper targets blowing off the wood-and-cardboard frames, and the frames themselves blowing over:

(Click on any of the photos to enlarge.)
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