Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Speech or Debate or Calumny or Innuendo Clause

United States Senators and Representatives have ironclad immunity for anything they say in the course of their actions when serving as such. They can't be held to account for slander, for example.

...for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

On some level that is a good idea. It frees them from worry that they are going too far in speaking their minds, so presumably they will not hold back when something needs saying. That should help them to pursue the nation's business without fear or favor.

The Kavanaugh hearings have turned over that rock to show what scurries about underneath. Groundless allegations and innuendos have been flung at the nominee, or whispered in corners, to the keen interest of a news and social media audience that may not recognize the groundlessness. Kavanaugh's only remedy, if it can be called as much as that, is to be a terrific Supreme Court justice. For I do not think the smears will work to prevent his confirmation, but they will prejudice the public against him.

The most recent of these attacks is bizarre when you recount it. A senator says she has a letter from someone--she is not saying who, the sender wants to be anonymous--saying something bad about the nominee--no definite information on what it says--so the senator has forwarded the matter to the FBI. Anonymous accuser, unspecified allegations, but broad hinting that there is something big here. Sweet.

Okay, it was no Spartacus moment, but it was another in a parade of legless allegations that Senators have raised because...because they can, and because it serves the purposes of political grandstanding.

The original intent of the Speech or Debate Clause was to shield our legislators from reprisals for doing their jobs. Its uses, unfortunately, go beyond that to making cheap shots that would not stand if made by anyone else. There is another law that stipulates (without exceptions and exemptions for office holders) "Thou shalt not bear false witness." Perhaps the Senate thinks that court lacks jurisdiction.

Addendum: There are increasingly damaging accounts as to what the letter might say, but no letter and no author.

Additional Addendum: 9/16, The accuser has come forward. I suppose the backlash built up. Even in our far-fallen state of social decay, anonymous and indefinite allegations are still not how we do things in America.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Ballistical Correctness

YouTube is a silly place, at least when you are there looking at the channels about guns and shooting. Oh, there are some good ones here and there, but a lot of it is pompous bloviation. A case in point: A chap practically raving about how bad the Weaver stance is and why you should not use it, but use instead the competition-proven isosceles. His demonstration is a Weaver stance so bad that it amounts to a parody of the real thing. Well, if that were really what the Weaver is, I certainly would not recommend it either.

The Weaver stance, provided that it is correctly executed, is a good one for recoil control. You appreciate it more with pistols that kick hard. (I do not think any of the common self-defense rounds, when fired in full sized pistols, kick hard.) It also improves trigger control when pressing through the long heavy cycle of a double action trigger. Moreover, the Weaver's body geometry comes naturally to riflemen, so that they have less to learn or remember when operating pistols.

Clicking along to another channel, I find a fellow heaping scorn, practically sneering, at anyone who would ever load an auto pistol with a magazine of ammo, without placing a round in the chamber. His presentation fairly drips with condescension. But managing a pistol that way, racking it to make ready, has worked out satisfactorily in many cases. It is not my preferred method but it sometimes makes sense. Blanket condemnation of the practice is not borne out by the facts. I see it as no different from keeping a shotgun in "cruiser ready"; if the one is ever justified, so is the other.

A situation in which it clearly is wise to carry a pistol without a round in the chamber is when you lack a proper holster, one that positively shields the trigger from unintentional operation. I have experimented with the string holster, an old OSS dodge that gives outstanding concealment. But the trigger is left out in the breeze, and so it certainly makes good sense to carry with the chamber clear, and so I did.

The trouble with YouTube might be something very simple. Perhaps people these days are not taught in school the art of presenting balanced, reasoned, polite statements of their views. Calumny is the new proof, contempt is the new argument, and snarkiness substitutes for wit and cogency. Sad times, and YouTube reflects the times.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Jacksonville shooting in perspective

The well-written and well thought out op-ed I have linked below points out what the gun control crowd are getting wrong. They are steering their part of the debate in an unproductive direction. They are oblivious to the problems with society's first lines of defense, strict legal requirements that still fail sometimes to keep unsuitable persons from buying guns. They are hostile toward any use of that last line of defense a homicidal shooter must cross. If any of the potential victims is armed, you see, he (or she) turns from victim to a possible victor. The situation ceases to be a hopeless one. I'll take those odds.


Existing Law Didn’t Protect Victims From the Jacksonville Shooter. It Left Them Defenseless.

Amy Swearer /  /  /

. . . Court documents reveal that the suspected shooter was involuntarily committed to mental health facilities on six different occasions as a teenager, spent 97 days at a Utah facility for youth with behavioral health problems, and routinely had the police called on him by his mother. Under both Maryland and federal law, the involuntary commitments were enough to disqualify him from legally purchasing or possessing firearms. . . 
Read more: 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Strategy, again and briefly: red dots

It has been a long while since I wrote anything about strategy for personal, that is individual, self-defense shooting. I have had little new to say. In any case, few readers are interested in my take on the topic. Instead of fashionable and exciting run-and-gun my approach is more nearly described as hide-and-bide.

What I have that is new to say, or new for me anyway, is an endorsement of red dot sights on rifles. A decent quality dot sight increases your hit probability when shooting fast. To briefly recap, the points I like to raise about defensive shooting are three.
  • Fight from an ensconced defender position. Or at least, find the best cover you can.
  • Use a weapon that maximizes your hit probability. That is where the dot sight comes in. 
  • Use the advantage of surprise if at all possible.
I still endorse the shotgun as a better weapon than a rifle, for the self-defense scenarios that are most likely. Its hit probability is better. Many people, though, are of a mind to say a rifle is better, for various reasons that to me hold lesser importance. My recent experiments with riflery suggest that the red dot is fast and easy to aim with, enough so to make a difference when you are trying to shoot and hit as quickly as you can manage. If you are going to use a rifle to defend yourself, a red dot sight is the best available gunsight.

How to adjust the brightness? This trick worked well for me. Turn up the dot until it is plainly and unmistakably visible in contrast to the scenery, then turn it up one notch brighter, so that the dot is what draws your eye. (Hat tip to Erik Äs.)

Friday, August 17, 2018

Two cures for scout scope glare

Some riflemen find that the scout scope (forward-mounted scope sight) becomes a problem when the sun is low and behind them. The sun causes glare in the scope. I have two solutions, either of which solves the problem.

Put a lens hood on the back (ocular) end of the scope
Wear a broad-brimmed hat.

So much for the main objection to the forward mounting position for your optic. A lens hood is ordinarily seen on the front of an optical system, for the purpose of eliminating glare when bright light strikes the lens from an angle, but there is no reason it cannot serve the same purpose on the back end. You may need to improvise a suitable hood, but it is a simple project.

As to hats, I am comfortable in a Stetson, but if your favorite boots have shoelaces you may feel differently. A Smokey the Bear hat will work, or a felt crusher. You could rock the safari retro style and wear a pith helmet...

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

"California kneeling" rifle position

The so-called California kneeling position, known also as double kneeling,  places both of your knees on the ground. It is great for shooting using field rests (shooting supports found in the environment). You can easily adjust the height of this position to shoot over a rest such as a boulder or a fallen tree, or as easily lean your body slightly to one side to gain support from a vertical object such as a fence post or a wall. You would not ordinarily adjust by bending over backward, for bending forward is more natural and better balanced, yet the occasional situation might call for it, such as needing to shoot at an upwards angle.

If you do not have a field rest, you can gain some stability by using your rifle sling in an unorthodox way. Unhook the sling from the rear of your rifle, leaving it attached to the forward sling mount. Kneel on the tail of the sling. Then straighten up slightly to put tension on the sling. That will stabilize you in elevation. It will simplify your sway in deflection to a back-and-forth arc.

You can also shoot from California kneeling just as you would shoot offhand, because the positions are similar from the waist up, but with the advantage that sway from your legs is mostly taken out of the equation.

I am much in favor of using field rests when they may be found, so California kneeling makes good sense to me. Prone is, of course, best if you can achieve it. Where the circumstances do not permit prone, but the wretched last resort of shooting offhand can be avoided, consider California kneeling.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Red dots and bolt actions

The way I set up a lightweight bolt action sporter rifle is to mount a red dot sight, micro size, on the receiver ring. The sight is not in the way of loading the magazine, cycling the bolt, or clearing a jam. The sight picture is instantaneous when you raise the rifle. The rifle is light and well balanced in the hands, making it quicker to the first well-aimed shot than typical semi-automatics.

I do not regard backup iron sights as essential. A spare optical sight is at least as good to have instead, if it is in some sort of return-to-zero mounting and you have brought with you whatever tools are needed to install it. You should, of course, have spare batteries always on hand for electronic sights. It is best not to trust in the claim that you have years and years of battery life. It may be true, but a defective battery can make nonsense of claims like that.

For some riflemen, the backup is a conventional telescopic sight, for they reason that the scope can do some things the dot sight cannot, and vice versa. I cannot fault that reasoning, but prefer a spare dot sight, myself. A scope would, though, go along with me if my business seemed likely to involve distance shooting, beyond what can be accomplished with a dot sight and a bit of squinting.

The dot sighted bolt action is fully suitable for ranch and utility use, woods hunting and anything else where distances are moderate and high volume firepower is not needed. The best case to be made for such a rifle is one that points to the convenience the type offers. Operation, maintenance and cleaning of a bolt action rifle are simple matters. The dot is the fastest sight yet invented and the simplest to use. The gun is easy to hit with, which builds your confidence in it as you use it. In all, it is an agreeable companion afield, unlike some rifles that burden the shooter with their over-complexity, excess bulk and sighing systems that are fussier to use.