Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hijacking the language

Latest thing from the gun control crowd is to refer to their objective as "gun safety." Of course that is nonsense. Gun safety is what you do with a gun if you have one, to make sure the wrong people don't get their hands on it, and that you use it safely, so that holes end up only in the proper types of targets. If the idea is to keep people from having guns, that is properly termed "gun control."

I have been advocating for better gun safety for many years (along with a great many other people) and the influence on the accident rate is significant and downward. It has nothing to do with saying you cannot have this gun, or that magazine, or that your name belongs in another government database.

The term "gun safety" has been hijacked because it sounds good. Who could be against safety? But the word does not mean the same thing when it is spoken to deceive. Of course it does not: No word does.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Comparing outcomes of gun control measures

For the present, we have no new gun control laws at the federal level. The latest gun control flap has, though, added new laws in some states; some of these laws seem to me ill considered. New York's SAFE Act appears to be nonsensical, serving mainly to harass gun owners and invade their privacy, and we have other instances of what I regard as infringing behavior from some other states' legislatures.

The good part about this is that state laws give us a chance to compare laws side by side, by comparing outcomes in one state against those in another, something federal laws give us no chance to do. We can look at what happens and ask whether the new laws in New York, Maryland, Colorado or elsewhere actually make anyone safer than people in states without such laws. This is a very good aspect of organizing our country as a federal republic. When a state has a good idea in legislation, events will reveal that, and other states can copy what was done. Likewise, laws that fail of their purposes give other states clear examples of what not to do.

Something this new crop of state gun laws does is point us toward a question of ends and means: What is the purpose of the laws? And what is their effect? For the laws do little or nothing to thwart gun use by criminals or the criminally insane. They do, however, place new and sometimes onerous burdens on the law abiding. The question arises: Since that is the outcome of the legislation, can we say that infringement was, all along, the real purpose?

On that view of things, all the talk about public safety and criminals and lunatics was only pretext. That view may be overly suspicious, casting legislators as malice-driven who are, perhaps, only incompetent: legislating their feelings and not sound sense. We need to remember that for some people, firearms are icons of fear and dread, rather than valuable tools that need a good deal of caution and respect when we handle them. Many legislative types appear never to handle and shoot guns, themselves, and consequently they have little to go on besides their secondhand fears.

In any case, the test of practical outcomes--of real world consequences--is before us as we consider the new gun laws enacted in several states. A clear-cut contrast may be drawn between states with different laws. A pair of states that contrast very much in their gun laws are New York and Arizona. In Arizona, you may do nearly anything with a gun that does not present a danger to other people, such as carry it from place to place, load it with the magazines for which it was designed, and shoot it for appropriate reasons in appropriate settings. Arizona has more open space than New York, but New York is not without its own out of the way areas. Arizona has its dense urban centers, too: So you cannot say the cases are wholly dissimilar. People are people either place, and guns are guns. Arizona's experience suggests that most people will behave sensibly and responsibly. In both New York and Arizona there are a few people who will misuse guns, and they will do it whether the laws are strict or lax.

Other contrasts between states can be drawn that are not quite so extreme. Of course you can also compare the outcomes within one state over time: Was New York any less safe before the SAFE Act? What I am pointing to here is the need to weigh outcomes and then decide what is a sensible gun law and what isn't. That is something we hear little of from the strict gun control crowd: We hear little to justify their presumption that more and more laws, imposing greater and greater burdens on lawful possession and use, actually serve the social good. We should start insisting that they come up with such justifications, or that they try.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shocked, shocked I say...

Media outlets are reporting that the Boston Marathon bombers were not lawfully in possession of the guns they used. Is anyone besides the press surprised in the slightest? The Hill opines:

The news that the suspects were not authorized to own firearms will likely add fuel to calls for tougher gun laws – an issue that was put on the back-burner last week after the Senate blocked the central elements of a gun-control package backed by President Obama.
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/295189-report-bombing-suspects-not-licensed-to-own-guns#ixzz2RETQZqZu
I don't see how that reasonably follows. Massachusetts gun laws are decidedly strict, big on police permission slips and background checks. They are stricter than what has been proposed at the federal level. Yet here we have unauthorized persons armed with guns and bombs. To the dedicated leftist, this can only ever mean that we need still more laws, but let us pause for a moment and ask what good has been done by the laws in place.

Were the apparent  perpetrators armed illegally with guns? Yes: They were already breaking strict laws.

Were they armed illegally with bombs? It is always unlawful to set off bombs in public. Making "destructive devices" is a federal violation; at this writing I have not found an overlapping provision in Massachusetts law, though one may exist. So, yes, they had bombs illegally too.

They were already in violation of every law on the books. Would more laws have stopped them? How then does it follow that more laws are needed?

Our broad national conversation on guns and violence needs to take into account that criminals evade obedience to the law. Is there another definition of "criminal"?  It's what they do, and they are good at it. It increasingly appears  that the regimentation approach to gun control does not work. "All you law abiding people who want to own guns, line up over here for your background checks." What criminal is going to stand in that line?

The Western democracies: What's our problem, really?

The Western democracies are in an awkward era. Our economic malaise is plainly government induced. Our governments are too large and costly. We will not admit it to ourselves. We the people have emotional and political interests tied up in the idea of the welfare state and many of us receive cash or benefits from government programs. The fact that the scheme cannot work in the long run is the more loudly denied the more inescapable it becomes.

Austerity is needed. It is vehemently resisted and the need for it is denied. The economy sinks a little lower. New calls for austerity are met by new resistance and further denial. The economy sinks lower still. We would rather have the problem than the solution. Austerity measures, when imposed, are too little  too late: big enough to cause riots but not sufficient to solve the underlying problem.

Democracy gone wrong in this way cannot correct itself by democratic means. Few voters have the vision, or the courage, to vote themselves less largess from the government. Once the idea became established of buying votes with programs paid for with public funds, an irreversible trend established itself. The trouble with bribing the people with the people's own money is that they always come back for a bigger bribe. Government grows and the vitality of the private economy is vampired away.

If we won't admit what our problem is, we will not be able to solve it. Rather like a wandering drunkard who assures himself and his friends that he can quit any time, we continue to reel down a road that ends we know not where.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dry firing--and the ammo shortage

Since there isn't much ammo to be had these days, I thought I would talk a bit about dry firing. Those new to shooting may not be familiar with the idea. It is practicing your shooting, but without ammunition. It is beneficial practice; many credit it with improving their skills because they can practice everything repeatedly, making their operations of the firearm precisely correct, without the distraction of the bang and the kick. Some have found it very useful in getting over a tendency to flinch.

With the pistol, you can practice drawing, aiming and trigger pressing. With the rifle you can practice mounting the gun, aiming and pressing, and you can practice aiming and pressing in the various firing positions. You can become adept and efficient in looping up with a firing sling before you let anyone see you do it at the range.

All four gun safety rules apply at all times when you are dry firing, as of course they do at all other times.

Rule Number One is "All guns are always loaded." Of course your gun is not loaded when dry firing, that is the point of the exercise, but the plain intent of the rule is that you treat every gun as a loaded gun. That way there can be no accidents of the kind followed by a plaintive "But I didn't know it was loaded." If you always act on the basis that the gun is loaded and presume it is even when you're sure it isn't, you will never have a problem like that.

Because you are treating the gun as a loaded gun, you must--must--use a safe backstop when dry firing. That is Rule Four. "Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it." The rule speaks to the need for target identification and also the questions of backstop and danger to what is downrange. See also Rule Two, "Never allow the muzzle to cover anything you are not willing to destroy." If a shot were, somehow, to be fired from your empty gun, nothing important would be harmed. That is because we presume it is loaded.See how this gun safety stuff all works together?

My own setting for dry firing has the muzzle pointed at a cinder block basement wall, behind which is earth. It would be an annoyance if I damaged the wall, for I would have to fix it, but it would be no tragedy. I am not exactly "willing to destroy" a block in my wall but I am not unwilling either: Better that than something else.

Rule Three is "Keep your finger OFF the trigger until your sights are ON the target." Dry firing is a good opportunity to practice that one and make it instinctive. This rule, which would by itself eliminate the cause of most accidents, is justified by common sense. There is no need to fire if you are not lined up on the target, thus no need for a finger on the trigger, and careless fingers placed where they have no need to be have fired many, many unintended shots, occasionally with dreadful consequences.

The most valuable aspect of dry firing is observing your sight picture as you operate the trigger.

The sight picture should not move when the hammer drops. That is to say, it should not move any more than it does when you are holding, steady as you can, on the target. Releasing the shot without jerking, flinching or tensing is a good skill for any shooter to have and essential to anyone who wants to be an outstanding shot. The shooter who knows danged well where his sights were at the instant the striker fell is the one who knows what he is doing. Watching the sight and observing where it was when the gun clicked or the shot fired is what is known as "calling your shots." Get into the habit.

Of course to call your shots you need a target on the wall--some definite point of aim. For best results your point of aim should be rather small--not the extra-large portrait of that late uncle you never particularly liked, but something small like a Post-It or a sticky dot.

Snap caps protect your investment

Some guns are prone to damage from being snapped on an empty chamber. Others are unaffected by it. Absent the manufacturer's assurance that dry firing won't hurt anything, use snap caps, which are inert dummy cartridges, spring loaded to absorb the blow of the firing pin.

Score one for the revolver guys

A revolver operates the same way in dry fire as in live fire. That makes the old wheel gun convenient for dry fire practice because you do not have to cock or reset anything, in a way that differs from what you would do if shooting live ammo. You can't say that for most auto pistols. Just thought I'd throw that in there. While the revolver is superseded as a military sidearm and police duty weapon, I happen to think it is still extremely well suited to personal defense, and especially concealed carry. Its advantage is in its simple and consistent operation. But I suppose I'll get up on that hobby horse some other time.

Laugh at the ammo shortage

You can get in lots and lots of useful practice without expending ammunition.  When you finally get back to the range, with some ammo to spare for some serious practice shooting, you will find that dry firing practice has helped you, perhaps more than you had imagined.

Assault pot (Cartoon)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

What's wrong with universal background checks?

"Do you support background checks for people who buy guns at gun shows, or over the Internet?" Why sure. Sounds pretty good, in fact. Sounds entirely reasonable, when asked like that.

But the devil is in the details. A number of states already implement that requirement through their state gun laws. It is instructive to examine the result.

A requirement for private sale background checks creates an unenforceable law. Private, after all, is not the same as public. Those with criminal intent to buy and sell will simply do it on the quiet. The criminal underground market in guns is untouched by requiring background checks.

Law abiding citizens comply with the requirements simply out of their reflex to obey the law. If they sell a used car to a neighbor there is paperwork; why not a used gun?

In states without this requirement, there is still a moral burden, and practical problems, in selling a gun to just anybody. You would be morally culpable on some level if you sold a gun to someone who did a bad thing with it later. Further, it is already a (federal) crime to transfer a gun privately to someone you have reason to know is ineligible to own it. You know who is not eligible because of that questionnaire affidavit you filled out when you bought the gun. (All new guns and most used ones are acquired via Form 4473 and a background check. Gun owners know the drill: Not a crook, a crazy or a wife beater, illegal alien, druggie, dishonorably discharged soldier, etc...) Finally, if you bought the gun in a shop, it is traceable to you, and even if you are not legally to blame there will be questions asked if anything goes wrong. Who needs that hassle? Gun owners, like anyone else, are eager to avoid unnecessary entanglements in police investigations.

Because of the above problems, moral and legal, lots of people refuse to do private transfers, period, or only give or sell or swap guns to family members or longtime friends--people they know aren't likely to go on a rampage.

The two situations, states with universal background checks, and states without, are largely equivalent. People interested in doing the right thing do it, whether universal background checks are required or not. Notice that in both cases compliance is in a sense voluntary: People wanting to do the wrong thing can do it easily enough. Who is to know? That gets us to the big problem with universal background checks that are truly universal.

To make sure that every gun recipient is background checked every time, you would need something like omniscience. The closest the government can come to that is to institute a massive bureaucracy to whom all gun owners are known, and with whom all guns listed, 'from whom no secrets are hid.' That is something gun owners oppose very much, because it has been very onerous upon them wherever it has been tried, and illegal guns still slip through the cracks to wind up in criminal hands.

The Manchin-Toomey proposal, recently defeated in the Senate, included language forbidding the DOJ from creating such a registry. Opponents were not convinced. The language against creating a registry could be nullified by later legislation, made inconsequential by a presidential signing statement, or even sidestepped by building the registry under the aegis of another department, not the DOJ--how about DHS, or even Defense? DHS could get oversight because these days, "homeland security" is an umbrella that covers nearly anything the government cares to push under it. DOD is more of a stretch, but you could say that gun ownership has something to do with the "general militia" of armed citizens, and relates to contingency planning for military preparedness, say if the country were invaded, thus it's a military matter.

If such objections seem the expression of overwrought fears, bear in mind that the pro-gun people have been burned before by legal finagles. Because the Manchin-Toomey approach would do nothing very useful as offered, and to become useful it would require a massive registry, we opposed it. The legislation potentially set the stage for the government to revisit the matter and have an "aha!" moment, suddenly realizing (having known it all along) that the law is a paper tiger unless the government has some way of knowing who has what gun. Then they would need to add to the system to make up for the former "oversight" of omitting universal registration requirements.

As I say, the devil is in the details. I think all private gun transfers should come with some assurance that the recipient is an okay Joe, or Josephine. But we have that already in the states that have their own universal background check laws. We also have it to a degree, perhaps a similar degree, in states that do not, because of the seller's moral and legal culpability if the recipient turns out to be a rotter. That is, we have it to the degree that honest people comply with either system. Criminals, on the other hand, shrug at both. I think it would be useful to compare the results of both approaches before we, as a nation, revisit the question of background checks.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why there aren't more NRA members

Throughout this latest assault on the Second Amendment, I have been blogging about the dirty politics and the whipped up hysteria, the fake claims and the weirdly spiteful worldview of the anti-gun contingent. I feel it is important to cover that stuff. You have to go back 20 years to recall an anti-gun political storm comparable to this one, and in several ways, this one is worse. It attacks not only gun owners' choices but their privacy.

As a blogger I can push some buttons and find out about the traffic visiting my blog. I cannot tell who is visiting but I can tell when, how many they are and which articles they are reading. And I have seen something startling. Even at the height of the gun control mania, my most popular articles were about gun tech. Not the politics, but the nuts and bolts of shooting irons, sights and so forth.

It seems to me that therein is an explanation of why we have only five million NRA members carrying the political action burden for more than a hundred million gun owners, and even tinier percentages of shooters belonging to the other gun rights outfits. A whole lot of readers here would rather skip the politics. In the real world outside the blogosphere, that translates into the fellow who enjoys his guns but isn't much interested in the process by which they are kept in his possession. I suppose that if confiscation orders came down he would shrug, turn in his guns and interest himself in other toys.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is a passionate interest only among those who see what it means, and how the country would be different if that right went away. It requires some understanding of the events leading to our country's founding, or else it requires an insight into tyranny and liberty in general. People who have lived under totalitarian regimes get it. Those who have never done such a thing should give some thought to what it would be like to have your life micromanaged by bureaucrats, with little chance of bettering your life because you do not have many choices before you. Of course gun control is a cornerstone of overbearing regimes. Although gun control is only one aspect of political tyranny, it seems to be a vital one.

Of course not all countries that have strict gun control are jackboot tyrannies, but all that are, do. The rest have no sure guarantee that they will not wake up some morning to find Big Brother watching them. I dunno. I appreciate my gun tech only readers, the ones who read the nuts and bolts articles and skip the politics, for I share their keen interest in shooting hardware. I am pleased and proud that they like my articles. I would, though, like to encourage them to think beyond the neat hardware and involve themselves in the political side, join the NRA or some other gun rights group, and pick up their slack in supporting their right to own guns in the first place. But to get them to read this, I'm probably going to have to intersperse my thoughts amidst an in depth review of the Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver, or something. My stats show that readers like that don't click on articles like this one. Sheesh.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

You can't shame the shameless: Obama lashes out

The Washington Times headline says it all:  "Obama angrily denounces gun-rights groups as willful liars." Story here: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/17/obama-denounces-gun-rights-groups-willful-liars/

Wait...What? Obama is the one blowing smoke here, not the NRA, GOA or XYZ. Obama has continuously spread the lie that as many as 40% of guns are transferred without background checks, has never substantively answered the allegation that universal background checks are a Trojan horse for a national gun registry, has ignored the widespread belief that his measures do nothing about our real problems, and he has relied on wife beater polling to substantiate the claim that the American people are behind him. He has not convinced the skeptical that the bills under discussion would solve the deep problems behind the massacres at Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson or Newtown.

You see, the problem is not American citizens, the sane and law abiding great mass of us, exercising a fundamental right and wanting to do so in whatever privacy we have left. It's the crazies, stupid.

Hubris on Obama's level is not healthy either for himself or the country. He should chill. He should listen to his opposition, rather than lecturing us like retarded children. He should listen to himself. But I don't suppose he'll do any of that. Democrats are all in favor of democracy--except when it doesn't go their way.

At least, this time, it isn't Bush's fault. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Unit of fire

The unit of fire is an old military concept, a rough prediction based on prior experience, that says how much ammunition is likely to be fired from a particular weapon in one day of combat: the rounds per day needed for each weapon. At the link, see the U.S. Army's estimate from the WWII era.

A rifleman was expected to let loose 150 rounds a day. The BAR gunner's unit of fire was 750 rounds a day. These estimates were revised downward for the Marianas campaign in the Pacific, 100 for the rifle, 500 for the BAR.

What I found interesting about this is riflemen in WWII used less ammo than I had thought. Something else that caught my eye was that the unit of fire for the 12 gauge shotgun was only 25 shells per day. Reasoning this through, I suppose it makes sense if we assume that the fellow with the shotgun only fired at close targets, since buckshot is no good against distant targets, and he frequently hit what he was shooting at. Buckshot is tops for hit probability at modest range.

Perhaps these numbers will bring relief and comfort to the fellows who feel they are chronically short of ammo and are distressed by the current shortage. Target games such as trap shooting make us think that 25 shotshells are not a lot, and some rifle guys use up a hundred rounds, or more, in one or two range sessions. But in case of some sort of hypothetical disaster scenario accompanied by an armed emergency, that's actually a lot of ammo. That is to say nothing of hunting. Some deer hunters feel they are wasting money if a box of 20 rifle cartridges does not last several years. Two or three shots to confirm the zero before the season starts, one or two shots for the deer and they're done until next year.

So if you feel you are short on Zombie Apocalypse ammo, perhaps you're not at all as hard up as you think.

Paging Captain Obvious...

The reason why big-government busybodies of all parties hate and fear the Second Amendment is clear enough. Nothing else in our laws stands as starkly against the idea of an all powerful state. Since they want the government to be all in all (it is a form of worship) they hate the idea that the consent of the governed might someday be withdrawn, and by people with the means to make it stick.

Ah well. Old news. Really, really old news:

Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms.

That is all. Continue to discuss among yourselves...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

More crazy advice from Joe Biden

This guy sure doesn't want you to have an AR-15. His latest wisdom is that "it can kill your kid in the bedroom." So it can, and so can any gun. Interior walls do not reliably stop bullets, they aren't built to do that. Some exterior walls won't either. Understanding the fields of fire in your house, and beyond your house, is an essential part of becoming knowledgeable about home defense.

A bullet from the AR-15 can pose less overpentration risk in common building materials than many others. That is among the reason why many urban police departments have bought AR-15's.  It is also among the reasons why AR-15's are vastly popular for home defense. What the cops do, and savvy homeowners too,  is load their AR's with lightly constructed bullets that break up easily when they hit something. When such bullets are launched at the AR-15's high velocity, what is supposed to happen is that the first thing the light and fragile bullet hits is the last thing it hits--both overpenetration and ricochets are less likely.

Here are some informative links on the AR-15's cartridge and drywall penetration:


If you Google around, you can find lots more along the same lines.

So far as minimizing (not eliminating) overpenetration dangers, we have a winner, and the winner is...the AR-15, Joe. Not your double barrel bunny blaster.

Yes, any gun may shoot through drywall, but the AR-15 is less a problem than most. Don't fire your gun toward your kid's bedroom. That is Gun Safety Rule Number Four.

By this time in the alleged "broad national conversation" I am no longer crediting the administration's misstatements as mistakes. The discussion has been going on too long. When the President repeats that up to or as many as 40% of gun sales happen without background checks, that is no longer a misstatement, it is a lie. If he was mistaken before he has by now been shown that he is wrong--but he keeps saying it. Even his lapdog Washington Post has called him out on it. Moreover, Biden says it too.When the Vice President says the AR-15 is difficult to shoot, harder to use than a shotgun, and it will kill your children, the falsehood of that likewise goes beyond anything he can hide beneath his well cultivated crazy uncle persona. He's not looking at a different perspective or giving you the benefit of his well considered if erroneous views. He's doing what politicians do a lot of.

The AR-15 is hard to use? Compared to the double barrel shotgun Joe so warmly recommends, the AR-15's recoil is infinitesimal and its very rational buttstock design  --the stock is aligned on the barrel's axis--makes control very easy. The reason the AR-15's assault rifle cousin has continued so long in military service is that it is the easiest rifle to shoot well that we have ever issued. The ease of use of the AR over the double shotgun is further illustrated if you need a third shot. Hard to use? Say it ain't so, Joe.

I have looked into the ballistics of the various caliber choices for home defense, out of curiosity as well as practical interest. While my own conclusions are material for another blog post on another day, the AR-15's cartridge is a good sound choice for the purpose of shooting inside houses or nearby them, and millions of homeowners and numerous police departments agree. Joe, on the other hand, is trying to scare you.

If people cannot sustain their proposals while sticking to the facts, there has to be something the matter with their proposals, don't you think?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Unending litany of lies

There are small truths and great truths, noble truths and humble ones, basic truths and profound ones, but all lies are created equal.

Here we have an Illinois politician arguing against the utility of concealed carry, saying that at the Aurora movie theatre shooting in Colorado, no one shot back.


Businesses in Colorado may post their premises against the carrying of weapons, which renders the carry permit invalid on that property. The theater in question did so; it was in effect a gun free zone. Some have supposed that was why the killer chose that theater.

Robin Kelly contributes here to the endless stream of either lies or gross misunderstandings (take your pick) upon which the anti-gun position sustains itself. I don't know what we can do but keep pointing to this stuff, in the hope that the truth will out.

On the good side, Ms. Kelly is reconciled to the idea of concealed carry coming at some point to Illinois, but on the other, she wants it watered down as much as possible. That's progress over what you heard from the region's politicians even ten years ago.

To put the best face on it, and to give Ms. Kelly all the credit possible, what she said about the Colorado shooting was a lie when it was put into a packet of talking points that somebody sent her, but only a misunderstanding when she read it and repeated it. The lie did not originate with her and so she should not be charged with it. At most, she incompletely checked her facts. My hope is that the blogosphere does the public a service, and candidates as well, when we try to keep discussion on the straight and narrow.

I dunno, though. Some people are already as informed as they want to be.

(h/t to Rebel Pundit and The Truth About Guns .)

Note: When Ms. Kelly says Supreme Court she is likely thinking of the Seventh Circuit: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/13/illinois-governor-wants-appeal-concealed-carry-ruling/  I know, I know...this whole gun issue has turned more complicated than ever it should have, so complicated it's hard for anyone to keep straight. People...keep and bear... How did that get all complicated?

Friday, April 5, 2013

The madhouse congress: Diana DeGette

In the once and future swamp that is Washington, D.C., many people pursue many agendas, to do with how to wield the powers of the state. One presumes they are well intentioned, for the most part. We may think that some of them have intentions that are wrongheaded, but that is in the nature of political debate.

We can at the least expect them to be well informed. But it is not so with House of Reprehensibles member Diana DeGette (D-Colorado). She is the lead sponsor of a bill to forbid to us peons ammo magazines of normal size. Here is her explanation of why that would be a good idea: After all, there are lots of these normal magazines already around. Her response:
“I will tell you these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those know they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.”
People who have actually fired a gun before were quick to point out to Rep. DeGette that you can reuse a magazine many times. An excuse was soon forthcoming from her office:
“The Congresswoman has been working on a high-capacity assault magazine ban for years, and has been deeply involved in the issue; she simply misspoke in referring to ‘magazines’ when she should have referred to ‘clips,’ which cannot be reused because they don’t have a feeding mechanism,” Johnson said. “Quite frankly, this is just another example of opponents of common-sense gun violence prevention trying to manipulate the facts to distract from the critical issue of keeping our children safe and keeping killing machines out of the hands of disturbed individuals. It’s more political gamesmanship that stands in the way of responsible solutions.”  (Source of quotes: Denver Post)

Talk about digging yourself in deeper! Not only are clips reusable too, they last even longer, in many cases, than magazines. In my collection I have some old clips: WWI Springfield clips, M1 Garand clips from WWII, Mauser clips of a type that spanned both wars. They are still perfectly usable. So long as there is spring pressure to hold the cartridges together they are good to go.

No good can come of it if we allow gun policy to be dictated by people who make stuff up as they go along, then make up more stuff when they are caught, and try to point the finger by saying naysayers don't want to keep children safe from killing machines and disturbed individuals. Actually, I'm all for safe children. Let's get some effective security going at our schools and take a real look at the problems of those disturbed individuals.

The amount of falsehood or ignorance in this supposed "broad national conversation" is astounding. The President declared lately that the AR-15 is "fully automatic." He says they are battlefield weapons, but pray tell, what battlefield? He goes on saying that up to 40% of gun sales happen without background checks, which has been roundly debunked, even by such administration-friendly sources as the Washington Post. Vice President Biden is all for arming yourself with a double barrel shotgun, firing warning shots and shooting it through your door!

This is not a broad national conversation. This is babble in a madhouse. It is not substantively about safe children or disturbed individuals. It is about your guns and your rights, and it isn't making any sense.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Infringement is here

When the Second Amendment no longer protects the things it was proposed and ratified to safeguard, the right in view has been infringed.

The federal push for still more gun laws appears to be bogged down for the present, but several states have passed ambitious new laws purporting to make residents safer from guns.

I would like to return at this time to the question of what right the Second Amendment affirms, and in what circumstances it is infringed. When we look at the amendment itself, and its penumbra of traditionally associated rights, we find several interrelated rights and responsibilities.

  • The right to defend yourself against crime and the responsibility to do so only in narrowly defined ways that fall under the heading of justifiable self defense.
  • The responsibility to come if lawfully summoned, with your weapons, to defend civilization in time of turmoil.
  • The right and responsibility to resist tyranny foreign or domestic.

It seems clear that a gun law that makes it impossible to do any of these things, or even excessively difficult, is an infringement of what rights the amendment seeks to acknowledge and secure.

Scenario 1: Your home is invaded by multiple armed criminals. A 30 shot rifle would be a good thing for you to have. Most shots fired in real life gunfights miss, which is the real motivation for magazines that hold plenty of ammunition. The rationale is the same whether you are a policeman, a soldier or a private citizen defending home and hearth.

Because, under any sensible assumptions you can make, the criminals may be armed with guns carrying large magazines, saying the householder may not have the same reduces his ability to defend himself, presenting him with long odds: ten shots or seven, against multiple criminals with 30 shots apiece. This is an infringement because it places the home defender at a fatal disadvantage. The right to arms means efficient arms, suitable to your own defense. What is suitable is dependent upon the kinds of arms possessed by your adversaries.

Scenario 2: Society falls into anarchy and your state governor sends out the call for armed and able bodied citizens to form up in irregular light infantry units, that is, authorized state militias. It would be a good thing if your rifle, and your magazines, were at least approximately equal to the tasks of present day combat. The new laws of some states deny you such arms. This too is infringement.

Scenario 3: Through some series of unfortunate episodes, tyranny comes to America. As they always do, the tyrants seek to disarm the public and especially those people whose opinions or beliefs are at odds with the new social order. Guns--or at least the effective ones--will be unavailable. Perhaps the powers that be will allow certain rural people to have Biden shotguns, for pest control and pot hunting. But effective arms, of the kinds that might be used to enforce justice and remove tyranny, will be off limits to the hoi polloi.

That situation--of course everyone hopes we shall always avoid it--did not seem far fetched to our nation's founders, for they had seen something like it in their own times. In the years since, tyrannies have arisen in various nations abroad. We ought not be too sure that we are immune to the same happening here. What you need if it does is an effective fighting rifle, and no registration record that ties you to the specific weapon: no master list with which an oppressor may go around sweeping up the inconvenient arms owned by inconvenient people.

Of course the new, infringing laws of some states would make a tyrant's job very easy if and when he arrives:  few modern rifles or large magazines in private hands, and registration lists to assist in picking up the remaining ones. Anyone who does not see why that looks suspicious has misunderstood the history and the reasoning behind the right to keep and bear arms.

It is perhaps a hopeful sign that these infringements are proceeding state by state, rather than nationally. It will give us an opportunity to compare the practical results of the laws, by observing the states that have them alongside those that do not. Of course the laws will prove ineffective for their stated purposes, which under liberal logic is invariably a pretext for still more laws. But anyone who takes a thoughtful view of gun violence will be able to see that the real problem is thugs and crazies, far more than it can be said to consist in modern rifles and magazines.

When the infringement states find out that their laws do not deter criminals or thwart the criminally insane, but do work to reduce their citizens' ability to protect themselves against the same, then perhaps we can have a real and honest "broad national conversation" about gun violence. It is not the guns that are the problem so long as the good guys are holding them, the honest and levelheaded citizens. It is the bad guys and the lunatics who are the problem. They are less of a problem if the good guys are not outgunned.

The idea here is that the good guys will always outnumber the bad guys. That, if you think about it, is the whole idea behind democracy. The Second Amendment holds, if it means anything, that the good guys should be armed against the bad guys. Thugs, crazies, tyrannical usurpers, we should be ready for them all -- and after all, they differ only in degree not kind.

I wrote a thing or two previously about the nearly hysterical campaign of smears and lies that has accompanied the leftist push for the new gun laws. With little solid reason on their side, the anti-gun people took refuge in emotionalism and untruths. Gun owners are irresponsible to want  modern guns. Evil, and probably racist too! You don't need an AR-15 to defend yourself. You should not have one. AR-15's are machine guns, or just like machine guns, or something. The NRA is complicit in murdering children. Oh the humanity!

You cannot put the gun technology genie back in the bottle. By attempting to restrict the sane and law abiding to owning only weapons long obsolete, you weaken the defensive abilities of the very people who ought to have strong abilities to defend themselves. This is a problem in light of the Second Amendment and the reasoning, history and traditions in back of the amendment. It is infringement.