Donations

I subscribe to a few anti-gun newsletters to keep tabs on what the opposition is doing. The other day I got an email from the Giffords group (formerly ARS; funny how anti-gun-rights groups keep changing names) asking for a $3 donation.

Instead, I ended up donating $25 to the NRA-ILA and $25 to the NRA-PVF (and that’s even though I’m already a Life member), plus I bought some stuff at MidwayUSA and chipped in a few bucks through their NRA RoundUp program.

Once the move to the US happens, the kids are settled in, and we figure out a household budget, I’ll need to get the wife and kids signed up as NRA Easy Pay Life members and see what budget we have for periodic donations to gun-rights groups.

NPR asks “What’s The Potential Impact Of Gun Control Ideas Following South Florida Shooting?”

Answer: Pretty much nothing.

Adam Winkler, the UCLA professor they interviewed, essentially says, “There’s very little evidence that anything will work. Still, we must do something, and the low hanging fruit is bump stocks and universal background checks. It won’t do anything though.”

We’ve come a long way since I first got into gun rights activism 15 years ago when the NPR host, Alisa Chang, asks:

CHANG: You know, as we’re talking here, I’m reminded of sort of the ultimate argument often heard on the gun rights side, and that is, someone who is intent on murdering a lot of people can easily circumvent the law no matter what laws are passed. You’ve studied this for a very long time. What’s your take? Is it still worth it to try to come up with legislative solutions?

Did you get that? NPR is asking if it’s even worthwhile to even try to address this issue legislatively. I think they see the writing on the wall that gun control, even if it’s something they feel is the right thing to do (and it isn’t), is simply impossible.

Even Adam Winkler recognizes the futility of gun control, particularly in the context of standard-capacity magazines:

The difficult thing is that California, for instance, has banned the possession of high-capacity magazines. But initial reports from law enforcement were that virtually no one has turned theirs in even though there’s probably somewhere between 7 and 10 million high-capacity magazines in California.

Excellent. Well done, California gun owners. Civil disobedience is a wonderful thing.

We shouldn’t rest on our laurels, of course, particularly now, but it’s refreshing seeing things shift so much in just the time I’ve been involved with guns to the point that gun owners are basically saying “No more. Not another inch.” while gun control advocates are even wondering if they should bother with gun control laws at all.

Dammit

In the SF Bay Area there is a limited number of good rifle ranges. There’s a few commercial  indoor pistol ranges, but they tend to be a bit spendy, but the outdoor rifle ranges open to the public tend to be run  by local authorities like the county recreation department, the sheriff’s office, etc.

One of the more pleasant, well-run ranges I’ve had the pleasure of vising was the Chabot Gun Club in the East Bay. I was really looking forward to visiting it again and shooting there, particularly on their 200 yard line, which is a rarity in the area (most rifle ranges max out at 100 yards).

Unfortunately it was not to be: the local park and recreation authority decided to play stupid politics and, even after the legal intervention of the NRA and the local state affiliate, petitions from members, etc., declined to renew their lease and so the range shut down last year. The range had been there for 50+ years.

That’ Continue reading “Dammit”

Remember when?

FedEx evidently is sticking with the NRA, at least for now, in terms of offering its members discounts on shipping. That’s good, and I hope they continue to do so.

On the other hand, they released a statement that FedEx opposes the NRA’s position on “assault rifles” and that they think they should be limited to the military. (It’s worth pointing out that true assault rifles are indeed mostly limited to the military, police, licensed dealers, and those who jumped through NFA hoops to open them.)

Anyone remember when major companies tried to avoid taking sides in major political issues? Those were the days.

Frankly, I don’t think FedEx as a company should hold or mention political positions unrelated to its business of moving packages around.

So long as the contents of the packages they transport are legal and shipped in accordance with the relevant regulations, they should deliver the  without issue or comment and stay out of unrelated political issues entirely.

Arming teachers is *optional*, not mandatory. Jeez.

Evidently there’s an enormous number of people who seem to think that proposals to arm teachers (or, more accurately, to remove the prohibitions on people carrying concealed at schools) are something that would be mandatory. That is, that teachers would be forced to carry a gun.

Take, for example, this article from the Daily Beast. The summary at the top says, “The Daily Beast asked educators what they would do if they or their colleagues were asked to carry guns in their classrooms. None supported the idea.” No shit. Nobody’s going to ask them to (let alone make them) carry guns if they don’t want to. In the states that allow for armed teachers, nobody is being forced to be armed against their will and, indeed, few people other than the armed teachers themselves and a select number of administrators know who is armed.

The vast majority of the people interviewed in that article seem to think that they’d be mandated to carry, while nothing could be further from the truth. How this misconception keeps spreading, I don’t know, but I suspect it’s intentional at this point.

One interesting response from a former teacher quoted in the article is, in part, “More guns in any equation equals more death, not less.” Does it, now? If someone kills the deranged madman murdering innocent people, the life of the murderer was lost but the lives of a multitude of innocent people would have been saved. That seems like a net-positive thing to me. In other words, not all deaths are bad.

The former teacher also states, “The number of times a teacher stops a mass murder with his gun will be dwarfed by the number of times a teacher kills a fellow staff member or student, intentionally or otherwise.” without presenting any evidence of this have occurred ever in the history of armed teachers.

An elementary school teacher is quoted as Tweeting (*sigh*), “The thought of a loaded weapon in my 1st grade classroom scares the crap out of me.” The thought of a mass murderer slaughtering me and my students while we are made defenseless by immoral laws scares me a lot more, but your mileage may vary.

A recent college professor says he’s oppose being armed for several reasons: “First, education has always been collaborative, and students knowing I was armed would undermine that relationship.” Would it? I’ve collaborated with many people while one of us or the other (or both) have been armed. No issues there. Of course, you could resolve the problem entirely by not telling anyone you’re armed. Concealed means concealed, after all.

“Second, the presence of firearms leads to an increased likelihood of accidental gun related issues/deaths… even among trained individuals.” To quote the Wikipedia, “[citation needed]”.

“Third, my wife said she would divorce me if I started carrying a gun.” To each their own, I suppose. Personally, I encourage my wife (who’s a teacher) to carry if given the chance, but ultimately it’s up to her. She’s pretty supportive of the idea.

“And fourth, perhaps most importantly, this isn’t what I signed up for. Police officers and military join knowing firearms are integral. If guns become the norm among teachers, the type of person who pursue academic careers with change. I would posit, for the worse.” I seriously doubt guns would ever become “the norm” among teachers, but I can’t really see how having academic positions filled by people who are upstanding, responsible citizens with a strong sense of self-sufficiency and a desire to protect both themselves and those in their care would be a downside. If anything, that sounds like a great plan to me.

That said, I’d like to see the lawful, concealed carriage of arms (whether guns or other arms) become a normal, everyday thing for responsible, law-abiding citizens as means of resisting criminal predation.

NPR, polls: Millennials like guns too, think AWBs are stupid

Considering how much the media has been pushing the gun-control narrative, I was a bit surprised to see this article from NPR. Though, on further consideration, I’m not really all that surprised: NPR does at least try to report things factually, and to confront their internalized bias much more so than other major media outlets.

Some choice quotes:

Some have called [high school students -AZR] the “voice of a generation on gun control” that may be able to turn the tide of a long-simmering debate.

But past polling suggests that people under 30 in the U.S. are no more liberal on gun control than their parents or grandparents — despite diverging from their elders on the legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage and other social issues.

This doesn’t surprise me me: young people have access to a vast amount of information, social networking, etc. This allows them to network with other like-minded people even if they’re physically distant. Online forums, blogs, discussion boards, YouTube videos, Facebook groups, etc. allow for those interested in gun rights to meet and discuss guns without many downsides.

Plus, there’s a lot more information about there showing people having fun with guns in safe, responsible ways, from hunting to competition to plinking. Guns aren’t some mystery hidden away that nobody in certain social groups ever sees or interacts with, as they were when I grew up in the 80s and early 90s, but something that one can easily learn about, experience, and communicate with without leaving the comfort of one’s own home.

Over the past three years, [polling organization Gallup -AZR] asked the under-30 crowd if gun laws in the U.S. should be made more strict, less strict or kept as they are now. On average, people between the ages of 18 and 29 were one percentage point more likely to say gun laws should be more strict than the overall national average of 57 percent.

[…]

Polling by the Pew Research Center last year came to similar conclusions: 50 percent of millennials, between the ages of 18 and 36, said that gun laws in the U.S. should be more strict. That share was almost identical among the general public, according to Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew.

Sounds about right.

I thought this bit was really interesting:

Pew did find significant differences between millennials and older generations on two gun control proposals — banning assault-style weapons and banning high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The results showed that a greater share of millennials — both Republicans and Democrats — are more conservative when it comes to those bans compared to Generation X-ers, Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation.

“What we’re hearing now in the immediate aftermath of Parkland might not be representative of what a whole generation feels,” Parker says.

That’s great news, and again unsurprising: the older generation of gun owners (“Gun Culture 1.0”) tends to be more interested in hunting, sporting clays, and other sporting usages of guns, while the younger shooters are more interested in self-defense, competition, and modern weapons.

Still, there’s a question mark about the future:

The teenaged high school activists who have been organizing since the Florida shooting, they say, are part of a separate group some call “Generation Z.” Pollsters generally don’t count the views of those under 18, so there probably won’t be national polling on this group until more of these young people are officially adults.

Hopefully we can bring these young people into the fold. I know I’ll try with my kids.

Still, for 19-year-old Abigail Kaye, who considers herself a millennial, these polling results about her peers come as a shock.

“I think that’s surprising because I feel like we’re a more progressive generation,” says Kaye, who attends the University of Delaware.

I don’t doubt she feels that way, since she grew up in Rhode Island and lives in Delaware. She’s living in a small anti-gun bubble that’s essentially the gun-related version of “How could Nixon have won? Nobody I know voted for him!”

Unfortunately, not all the young people interviewed are familiar with guns. Or physics, really:

Sitting outside a student center on the University of Delaware’s campus, Cahlil Evans of Smyrna, Del., 20, says while he doesn’t need a gun, he can understand why people would want hunting rifles and handguns. He draws the line, though, for assault-style rifles.

“There’s no need for these high-caliber rifles that pierce through walls,” Evans says. “People can say they use them for hunting or whatever, but why do you need a weapon with such high caliber that it would pierce through the animal and like eight trees behind it?”

It appears the gun controller’s efforts to depict common semi-auto rifles as extremely high-powered death machines have met with some receptive minds. We, as the gun owning community, really need to do more outreach to correct these misconceptions.

The article ends on a high note, which inspires some optimism in these turbulent times:

Still, 22-year-old Jeremy Grunden of Harrington, Del., says he’s encouraged to hear that millennials are less likely to support banning assault-style weapons.

“I base what we need off of what the military has,” says Grunden, who is president of Students for the Second Amendment at the University of Delaware. “When it comes to … the Second Amendment, we’re supposed to be a well-armed and well-maintained militia and all that. Quite frankly, we need that and plus more.”

Nicely done Mr. Grunden. Keep up the good work.

Personally, I’m disappointed that NPR consider gun control to be a “liberal” thing and gun rights to be a “conservative” thing. Sure, people and positions have become more polarized and ossified in recent years, but I like to think of gun rights as a “liberty” thing that is independent of political sides. I may be alone in that viewpoint, however, and I think that it’ll be a problem for gun rights going forward. Sure, millennials may have similarly pro-gun-rights positions as us somewhat older folks (says the guy from the “Oregon Trail generation” of the early 80s), but if their other political positions (e.g., those on gay rights, abortion, health care, Trump, etc.) align more with the Democrats (who are decidedly anti-gun), their interest and support for gun rights won’t amount to much.

On a related note, one aspect of the NRA’s media strategy over the last few years has irked me greatly. They’ve really been pushing this whole “cultural bundling”, “anti-liberal” thing of late, and that’s been incredibly off-putting to both young people, liberals (yes, there are gun-owning liberals), libertarians, etc. Yes, the NRA needs to be outspoken about gun rights and opposing gun control, but I’d really love to see them be a bit less divisive and more appealing to non-conservatives. Same goes for other major groups like the GOA (which is very right-wing).

Heading back behind enemy lines.

I’ve mentioned it a few times here and there but, blog title notwithstanding, I’m not actually an Arizona native. I actually was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. How I got into shooting is a long story, but it involved a few locals, Oleg Volk, The High Road forum, and a few other online resources back in the day. I had moved to Arizona to go to university (Bear Down!), continued my interest in shooting, and started blogging, hence the name of this blog. Later, I ended up moving to Switzerland for grad school, but always planned on returning to the US (ideally to a free state) to settle down, work, etc.

Now, a decade later, I’ve got a bit more gray in my beard and a PhD hanging on my wall, and life is taking me back to the Bay Area for a new job (a postdoc), which I start in a few months. Although the job is fantastic and offers significant upward career mobility, benefits, the opportunity to be close to family and old friends, etc., the fact that it’s (a) in California and (b) in the Bay Area is a major downside in terms of gun stuff.

Things have really gone downhill on that front since I left years ago. Some things, like the absurd AWB, are still in place and haven’t really changed much (Banning “bullet button” guns? Really?), but other new things are really onerous (background checks for ammo purchases, no online ammo sales, soon state registration of each ammo purchase, etc.) and I’m not looking forward to that.

It’s likely that I’ll end up living in either San Mateo or Alameda counties, both of which are decidedly hostile to gun rights (though they have decent public ranges, shops, etc., but a CCW permit is essentially off the table), which is problematic. There’s also the possibility of living in San Joaquin county, which is a bit more CCW friendly (it’s not completely off the table). Cost of living in San Joaquin county is also significantly less, which is a plus.

The postdoc contract is only for two years, but many people are offered permanent positions upon completion of the postdoc, so I may consider it as a long-term career at the end of the contract. Who knows? I need to weigh many options, including career-related things, cost of living, family-friendliness, gun rights, etc. over the course of my time there to figure out what to do.

Anyway, I’ll continue to blog as usual (though hopefully more often, as there’s more opportunity to shoot there, clubs, etc. and I’ll have more free time). Wish me luck.

Knowing so many things that aren’t so.

Ronald Reagan once said, “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

Every day proves that statement to be more and more true.

In looking over the print media coverage of the Parkland , I’ve been astounded at the number of blatantly untrue things about the NRA, guns, I’ve seen reported as fact.

Some examples that stand out to me:

  • The NRA is “pro-slaughter”. (WTF?)
  • The NRA TV channel produces dangerous, violent content. (Really? Really? Even the most controversial stuff they’ve put out explicitly condemns violence.)
  • The NRA is primarily funded by and works for the interests of gun manufacturers and industry, who are unfathomably evil and complicit in the murders of innocents.
  • Gun owners and NRA members receive “marching orders” from the NRA itself and follow them like automatons.
  • The AR-15 is a “weapon of mass destruction”. (No, it’s just a goddamn rifle.)
  • Someone armed with a “conventional” weapon (yes, the article used that term) stands no chance against a bad guy with an AR-15. No chance at all, so why bother?
  • Groups like the CSGV, VPC, Giffords, or Everytown are even remotely credible sources for information about guns, gun specifications/technology, etc. Seriously, I’ve seen newspapers quote reps from CSGV and VPC as if they are reputable, credible sources. I had to physically restrain myself from guffawing.
  • Plans to “arm teachers” mean something more than “let willing, volunteer teachers carry concealed as a last-resort against violent attack”.
  • The “armed teacher” strategy would be something other than “standard lockdown procedures, getting behind cover/concealment like a desk, and aiming a pistol at the door”, and that training requirements would be too rigorous. One particular example, to which I won’t link, stated that soldiers need tons of practice and constant training for tactical movement, coordination, communication, building clearing, etc. (all of which is true!) and implied that similar training would be necessary for teachers, and so that proposals to arm teachers are ludicrous. Ok, fair enough, the training requirements for teachers are likely to be a bit more rigorous than “aim at the door and shoot the bad guy when they come in”, but it’s by no means necessary to turn teachers into Special Forces operators or anything.
  • Armed teachers would somehow make things worse in the event of a school shooting. Honestly, I can’t think of much worse things than a deranged killer rampaging through defenseless people. Even in the terrible, exceedingly unlikely situation where an armed teacher hits an innocent person, or a cop clearing the building shoots the armed teacher, that’s almost certainly a better outcome than what would come about if the bad guy was left unchecked.

In addition, I’ve had someone in a discussion claim that it’s equally as morally and ethically repugnant to be “forcing students to be in the same room as an armed teacher” [their position] (even if the teacher is safely carrying concealed with nobody the wiser) as it is to “forcibly deny people the right to self-defense, leaving them defenseless against a deranged bad guy” [my position].

I’ve seriously wondered if something has gotten into the water, because people are losing their minds over this. These are interesting times, and it’ll be interesting to see how things play out.

In the interim, I really need to stop reading the news and stock up on antacids.

Pistols are pistols, rifles are rifles

Evidently a radiologist has discovered that rifle bullets are, in general, much more energetic than pistol bullets, and this confuses her.

Routine handgun injuries leave entry and exit wounds and linear tracks through the victim’s body that are roughly the size of the bullet. If the bullet does not directly hit something crucial like the heart or the aorta, and they do not bleed to death before being transported to our care at a trauma center, chances are, we can save the victim. The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different; they travel at higher velocity and are far more lethal. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than, and imparting more than three times the energy of, a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun.

Yes, indeed, tissue damage is a function of energy. That’s precisely why different types of guns exist for different purposes.

Also, the good doctor is a bit confused with the math: a 55gr M193 5.56mm NATO round has roughly five times (not three) the muzzle energy of a 124gr Federal FMJ 9mm bullet according to Wikipedia and some data from my reloading books.

As a doctor, I feel I have a duty to inform the public of what I have learned as I have observed these wounds and cared for these patients. It’s clear to me that AR-15 or other high-velocity weapons, especially when outfitted with a high-capacity magazine, have no place in a civilian’s gun cabinet.

Wait, so now all rifles (“other high-velocity weapons”) are bad? I always heard the gun control types talk about how handguns are bad but rifles and shotguns are “sporting” and thus fine for “responsible gun owners” to possess. Now rifles are bad and have no place in a civilian’s gun cabinet?

Hmm.

The doctor then continues on for a bit with the usual gun control tropes (“AR-15s are bad!”, “Reinstate the AWB!”, etc.). No surprise there.

While I respect the doctor for doing an unpleasant, stressful job, they clearly less of an understanding of guns and wound ballistics than someone who’s ever shot a watermelon with a pistol and a rifle. Hopefully she can educate herself, so she doesn’t make such a fool out of herself in public again.