Full Auto Fun

In 2007, my Class III dealer friend Mike and his Class II manufacturer friend Rob went out for a day of full-auto fun in the National Forest.
While the video is over a year old, I still think it’s fun. Unfortunately, it contributes to my indecision over which machine gun to buy, as all of the guns pictured therein (M16s and Uzis) are incredibly fun to shoot. Alas, the full-auto switch for the Glock (which Rob makes for a living) is a post-86 machine gun, and thus not legal for me to buy. Curses!

For reference, I’m the guy in blue jeans, the green Peace Through Superior Firepower shirt, and the baseball hat. And yes, I’m left-handed.

Hunting in Arizona

I’ve been a shooter for about 5 years now (give me a break — I grew up in the SF Bay Area!), and so far have only shot targets of various kinds.
I’ve been wanting to learn how to hunt for some time, but have no experience whatsoever. Somehow, hunting doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that one merely takes the state-mandated Hunter Education course for. Rather, it seems like it’s the sort of thing that’s taught by some sort of mentor.
The only hunting-related equipment I have at present are boots and rifles (the two most suitable ones would probably be my Remington 700 and Marlin 336, in .30-06 and .30-30 respectively). My Mossberg 500 shotgun is in a “riotgun” configuration, and so probably wouldn’t be suitable.
Is there anyone in the Tucson or Phoenix metro areas who might be willing to instruct and accompany me?
If so, I’d appreciate it you could contact me.

Tucson PD Nails Another Bad Guy

From the Arizona Daily Star:

Monday’s shooting occurred about 12:45 p.m. when a person called 911 and said a man was driving a dune buggy in a dirt lot near North Oracle and West Grant roads and was firing in the direction of a Circle K store.
“Numerous people were in the line of fire,” Pacheco said. No bystanders were injured.
Police don’t know why Burdon started firing at people from the dirt lot, Pacheco said.

According to the news, the shooter “had pulled into his dune buggy into the dirt lot about 10:15 a.m. and about two hours later he began driving around the lot pointing his gun at people and shooting.” His motive has not yet been ascertained.

One officer arrived and positioned his patrol car east of the dirt lot on West Sahuaro and Burdon fired at him, Pacheco said. Meanwhile another officer, Luis Campos, who is part of the SWAT team approached Burdon moving south on North 11th Avenue from Grant Road.
When Burdon refused to obey commands to drop his firearm, Campos “observed the threat to citizens and the officer and fired at the suspect, striking and killing him,” according to a TPD news release.
Campos, an 8-year-veteran, used a rifle to kill the gunman.

Sounds like a clear-cut “good shoot” to me.
Being that this is Arizona, I’m surprised that there wasn’t any return fire from private citizens. Oh well.
Since inquiring minds will no doubt want to know, according to this page, TPD SWAT gets issued Steyr AUG A1s, but I have no idea how up-to-date that information is. Non-SWAT officers do not seem to be issued rifles. There are no details on the range from the bad guy to the store, or from the police officer to the bad guy.
Officer Campos deserves a hearty “attaboy” for his actions. Hopefully he doesn’t lose a wink of sleep over the incident, as he was entirely justified in his actions.
This brings the number of bad guys shot by TPD this year to 5.
UPDATE: The Arizona Daily Star has released new information:

Police don’t know what prompted Burdon to start firing his gun in the dirt lot, but Sgt. Mark Robinson, a Tucson Police Department spokesman, said his family said he was insulin-dependent.
Investigators will not know if that was a factor until an autopsy’s toxicology reports are complete, and that can take six to eight weeks, Robinson said. “If those are inconclusive, we may never know,” Robinson said.

More information as I get it.
Update: The Tucson Citizen has yet more information.

Which machine gun?

I’m putting away some money for a machine gun in the next year or two, but am having trouble deciding which one I should end up getting. I’m looking at either subguns or automatic rifles, as most rifle-caliber MGs (M1919, M2, etc.) are expensive to buy and expensive to feed. No miniguns for me.
Here’s my current list:

  • Uzi. 9mm is relatively inexpensive. Can fire both semi- and full-auto. Simple operating mechanism (less to go wrong). Parts and magazines are widely available and inexpensive. Only downside: controls are not ambidextrous/lefty-friendly, but not a big problem (I’ve fired Uzis, and it works pretty well even though I’m a lefty.) Cost: between $6,000 and $8,000.
  • Ruger AC-556. Factory chambering in .223, but one can also fire .22LR easily with a simple conversion kit. Parts are widely available. Ruger still provides free warranty service. Can fire semi-auto, full-auto, or three round burst. Uses Garand-style operating mechanism for strength and reliability. Available in both stainless or blued steel. It also doesn’t look terribly scary, and so wouldn’t stand out much unless I switch it to one of the “fun” positions. Cost: between $6,000 and $8,000. Lefty-friendly.
  • M16. Chambered in .223, but one can equip any number of uppers, conversion kits, etc. to change calibers to just about anything. Truly the “lego set” of guns. I’d probably get a DIAS, as I’d be afraid of damaging a registered receiver. Lightning links are also an option, but their fragility troubles me. Cost: around $12,000. Lefty-friendly.
  • MP5. Everyone wants one, so prices are crazy — about $15,000. Registered sears can be easily moved to other HK guns, giving one some flexibility. Long-term durability is somewhat iffy (they’re not as durable as, say, Uzis). Parts and mags are widely available, but not the cheapest thing around. Pretty lefty-friendly.

The warranty service on the AC-556 is a perk, but the relatively thin barrel does heat up fast, so lots of full-mag dumps probably won’t be a good thing. It’s non-scary appearance may be handy in some situations.
M16s are expensive, but have wide industry support. The potential for a future “assault weapons ban” not including machine guns could still affect me, as it would freeze the supply of magazines and possibly other stuff (uppers, barrels, etc.). Troubling.
The MP5 is a fine subgun, but everyone seems to want one, so prices are stupidly high. The Uzi has a much more “crude” appearance (but is perfectly functional), and is about half the price.
I’m not looking for a “safe queen”, so “new in box” guns are probably not a good idea. I intend to shoot such a gun on a regular basis and keep it in good repair, rather than keep it as an investment or collector’s item.
Any thoughts or input?

AZCDL Update

HB 2629, an AzCDL requested bill that clarifies when a defensive display of a firearm is justified, passed in the Senate Third Read on Monday, May 12, 2008 by a vote of 19-7 with 4 Senators not voting. From here, HB 2629 will go back to the House for concurrence before being sent to the Governor.

Having clarification on such an issue is important. My compliments to the AZCDL for their hard work.

Number Of Guns

I came to a troubling realization today: I lost track of how many guns I own.
It’s not that I own a huge amount (it turns out to be 7 guns and a silencer), but just that I don’t really think of them as individual items. They’re “my guns”, and I’ll use them more or less interchangeably as my fancy strikes.
Clearly, the solution is to buy more guns until I truly am unable to remember how many I own. 🙂

Should Doctors Have Guns?

JC, MD asks that very question.
My response: “Of course.”
Every person has a right to life, which implies that every person has a right to defend his or her life from harm.
One of the principles of a physician is “first, do no harm“. In my (non-medical) opinion, this is limited to the context of practicing medicine. A doctor should not perform treatment that harms his patients. Seems clear enough.
Outside the practice of medicine, this does not apply — a doctor (like anyone else) would be justified in causing harm (by means of the lawful use of force) in legitimate self-defense
I have no problems with doctors possessing guns, as they have just as much right to protect themselves as does anyone else. In fact, I don’t see why this question should be raised at all, as it’s answer is so self-evident.
The only concerns I might have would be technical ones, like having a gun too near an MRI machine
(PDF), resting on a hot autoclave, or other such things. Of course, incidents of that nature are extremely rare (even with non-gun objects), so it’s quite unlikely that it would occur with guns.

Range Visit: Elsy Pearson

Last weekend I took part in a Fark Party, an event where members of the website Fark.com get together in person.
In this case, we decided to visit the Elsy Pearson range in Casa Grande, AZ. The aerial photograph is a little old, as there is now a range in the upper left where there appears to be cars parked, as well as a range in the lower-right. There’s also a chain-link fence. According to the range description on file with the NRA, it has a 250 yard rifle and pistol line. I eyeballed our range at 150 yards, but I could be mistaken. There was a few other ranges in the complex that may have been longer, but we left to get food before I could investigate further. There was also a shorter (maybe 50 yard) range where a bunch of NFA folks were shooting.
It’s an unsupervised range, with no safety officers. The rules are printed on a big metal sign — there was about six rules, all basically saying “be safe, don’t be an idiot”.
The range is run by the Casa Grande Parks & Recreation Department and is free for public use (having grown up in the San Francisco suburbs, this is nearly unheard of for me!). There’s a nearby range for police use only, but it was much the same as the public range. There is also the Casa Grande Trap Club about a quarter-mile north, for those who prefer shotguns.
The public rifle range is simple and spartan (metal roof, concrete benches, and not much else), but well-maintained. Large berms serve as backstops, and there’s a Big Honking Hill beyond the berms to catch any stray bullets. Unfortunately, air moving down the hill created some gusty winds at times, but not much cross breezes, so it didn’t really affect accuracy.
I didn’t look closely, but the range doesn’t seem to have any “facilities” — no bathrooms, no soda machines, etc. I don’t know if the range even has electricity running to it, but I doubt it.
There doesn’t appear to be any restrictions on the type of firearms used (though I wouldn’t be surprised if they restricted tracers and incendiary rounds for obvious fire safety reasons) — there was a bunch of folks with full-auto at range just north of us. From the look of things, it was a bunch of NFA owners having fun on a Sunday afternoon, rather than a match. No police cars were evident and a variety of guns (from heavy machine guns to MP5SDs) were being fired, so it didn’t seem to be cops either. It was refreshing to see so many NFA owners out there.
It’s a bit out of the way, but if you go South on South Isom Road from the intersection of West Arcia Road for about a half mile, it’ll be on your left. The Google Maps are accurate, as was the GPS (Garmin StreetPilot c330 — a device worth its weight in gold!) directions taking me to that intersection. Both Isom and Arcia are unpaved roads, but are smooth and well-maintained. My Toyota Camry had no trouble, nor did the Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Tiburon belonging to other members of the party.
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Casa Grande, the Elsy Pearson range is a well-maintained, clean, and free place to shoot. It’s nothing fancy, but ranges don’t need to be.

NRA and Brady Finances

Sebastian analyzes the difference in donations and spending between the NRA Political Victory Fund and Brady Campaign “Voter Education Fund”.
Here’s a brief summary:
Total Receipts
Brady: $73
NRA: $8.4 million
Total Spent
Brady: $3,000
NRA: $3.7 million
Total Contributed to Federal Candidates
Brady: $500
NRA: $413,000
Total Received From Individual Donors >$200
Brady: $0
NRA: $205,000
It sure looks like the pro-rights side is actually composed of real people.
And people why the NRA (and by extension the pro-rights side) has so much clout with legislators…

PA Gov. Rendell Stays Classy

From KYW Radio:

Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell made another pitch for gun control legislation outside the state capitol on Monday, during the annual ceremony honoring falling police officers.
Rendell says the gun that cut down Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski (see related story) was a Chinese assault weapon, and he says that there used to be a ban on importing assault weapons:
?And yet in 2004, the Congress of the United States — often some of the very same congressmen who would come and attend ceremonies like this — let the assault weapons ban lapse.?

The governor acknowledged that the gun that killed Liczbinski was brought into the country ?well before that action,? but says it?s symptomatic of the refusal of lawmakers to provide ?maximum protection? to law enforcement:

Emphasis mine. Basically, he’s saying that the 1994-2004 “assault weapons ban” would have had no effect whatsoever on this particular incident.

?If we really want to pay honor and tribute to the memory of those 703 police officers who have given their lives, we will suck it in, do the right thing, and pass laws that would give our police officers out on the street, protecting us every day, the maximum amount of protection we can.?

I know several police officers, and have nothing but the highest respect for officers who risk their lives each day to keep the peace and maintain public order.
I want them to to have the resources they need to stay safe and be able to do their job, and for the most part, the public has agreed: modern police have high-quality firearms and ammunition, body armor, tasers, batons, pepper spray, radios, in-car wireless data terminals, and a whole host of other equipment, training, and resources to help them be safer and more effective.
Even so, police work is not risk-free. When your job requires that you interact with the scum of the earth on a daily basis, there’s a not-insignificant probability that you will be involved in a violent confrontation. It’s just part of the job — no amount of laws or equipment can remove that risk entirely.
So-called “assault weapons” are common firearms that have simple cosmetic differences from more “traditional” looking, non-banned firearms. They are identical in nearly all functional aspects, and differ only in appearance. Many features on such guns exist for ergonomics and safety, but have no effect on lethality. Restricting guns with such features from ownership by lawful citizenry from 1994-2004 had essentially no effect on crime or their use in police shootings. Their use in crime is statistically insignificant.
Renewing an ineffective law is foolish. Doing so when it significantly restricts the rights of law-abiding, honest folks is malicious. Dancing in the blood of a murdered cop to push for such a renewal is abhorrent.
Hat tip to Sebastian for the link to the news article.