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.)
Continue reading “Saturday’s shooty goodness, in photos”

Followup: Reduced-recoil ammo works

Just got back from the shooty goodness this afternoon (pics and a write-up to come later).
Remington’s marketing department isn’t lying: reduced recoil 12ga shotshells (both slugs and 00 buckshot) are much more pleasant to shoot.
Sure, full-power loads are great, but for recreational, closer-range shooting, the reduced-recoil rounds make it much more fun. Now, if only they were less expensive…

Midway Order

I’m going to be putting in an order for some AR magazines from Midway in the next week, and was wondering if anyone else local in Tucson wanted to get in on a group order.
As a C&R holder, I get dealer pricing from Midway, so you can save a goodly amount of money on high-margin things like optics. Ammo and other low-margin stuff doesn’t usually get much savings at all.
I don’t really charge a markup, but if you want to buy me a beer or throw in a box of ammo as a tip, I won’t object. 🙂
If you’re interested, send me an email.

Tucson Shooty Goodness

For any readers in the Tucson area, myself and several other folks from the physics and astronomy departments will be at the Tucson Rifle Club on Saturday probably from about 1pm-5pm. Afterwards, we’ll probably retire back to a pizzeria near the university for tasty foodage.
If you want to meet us at the range, feel free to stop by. You’ll likely recognize us due to our extreme paleness.
If you want more details, send me an email.
(To those not in the area, there will be pictures posted.)

Need bullets? Get them from River Valley Ordnance Works.

I’m not a fanboy, and so don’t usually give unsolicited endorsements of commercial vendors, but in this particular case I’m going to make an exception: for plinking-at-the-range bullets, it’s hard to beat the folks at River Valley Ordnance Works.
I was recently looking for some .223 Rem. bullets for plinking. Price, not high accuracy, was the main concern. All I could find with my regular sources (Midway, some local shops, etc.) was new-production bullets, which are reasonably priced, but still more expensive than I’d like.
A year or two ago, I stumbled across the RVOW site, was seriously tempted by their USGI surplus bullets and cases, but was short on money as so didn’t place an order. However, I bookmarked their site, and made a note to come back later when I wanted to order.
A month ago, I placed an order for 2,000 “light marks” machine-pulled M855 5.56mm bullets. It just arrived today, and a friend and I loaded 420 rounds* in a few hours on my single-stage press**.
Normally, I’d be peeved about it taking a month for an order to arrive, and I called once or twice to politely inquire as to the status of my order. They explained that they were quite busy shipping orders, mostly due to the upcoming election (that’s the reason most customers gave them for ordering), and apologized profusely for the delay. When my box arrived, there was a handwritten note inside apologizing for the delay, and explaining that they’re a bit short-handed due to the proprietor’s husband recently passing away from cancer — my frustration evaporated at once.
In normal situations, a month delay would be greatly annoying…but I can absolutely forgive a delay due to such tragic circumstances. My sincerest condolences go out to the friends and family of the proprietress’ husband.
If you do end up ordering from RVOW, there’s just a couple things to be aware of:

  • Call them instead of emailing them. I made a few inquiries by email, but they were never answered. I’m not sure if Tom, the person listed as the point of contact, is the recently-deceased husband, but it would make explain why emails weren’t being answered.
  • When you do call, you’ll likely get their voicemail. Leave your name, number, and a message briefly explaining what you wish to order, and they’ll get back to you in a day or so.
  • Their prices are different than what are listed on their website, as the site hasn’t been updated for a while. Call for the most up to date prices. For example, their site lists “small marks” M855 bullets as $35.00/1,000, but they’re selling now for $45/1,000.

I quite like supporting small businesses, particularly those involved with the shooting sports, and RVOW will definitely be getting some more orders for M855 and M2 Ball ammo from me in the future. I’m going to give them a quick call tomorrow to offer my condolences, and to offer my services (at no cost, of course) to help revamp their website to be a bit easier to navigate and have updated prices.
I have no connection with RVOW other than being a satisfied customer. I highly recommend them, as they’re good folks selling good products at good prices. What more could one ask for?
* That fills all of my AR-15 magazines. Clearly, I need more mags.
** Note to self: a primer pocket swager would be a fine investment, as my thumbs are killing me from using a deburring tool to try to remove military crimps on most of my once-fired brass.