There’s been a lot of angst amongst the gun prohibitionists this week, and the latest comes from the revelation that the first firearm made entirely with a 3D printer was successfully test fired just a few days ago.
The reaction from the gun-grabbers was hardly surprising: they’re moving to make 3D printed guns illegal. Of course we all understand how meaningless such a law would be, but they have to do something, by golly!
You may not be aware of this, but making guns easily in a garage has been the goal of many gun designers over the years. Ian at Forgotten Weapons recently featured one such rare and obscure arm: the Croatian Šokac submachine gun from the 1990s.
It is not an anomaly; building a gun using primitive machine tools is often the norm in places where armed resistance is a necessity, arms are scarce, and there is no factory to supply the need.
The Šokac can be made in a garage using not much more than a medium-sized lathe and milling machine; any reasonably skilled gunsmith could construct one with the normal tools of the trade, as could many automobile mechanics or one of the tens of thousands of metalworking hobbyists who have a machine shop in their home. A high school metal shop could turn them out en masse.
The only real difference between the Šokac and the Defense Distributed “Liberator” pistol is the skill level needed to build one. When you compare the cost of the minimal hardware necessary to make a steel gun and a plastic one, the numbers are very similar - it’s the skills necessary to do so which differentiate the two. The Liberator can be made by anyone with a decent computer and the funds to acquire a 3d printer. (Wait until the machinists and the 3D printer owners get together…)
In other words, this story isn’t really news. People have been surreptitiously building firearms since the dawn of the gun, and that hasn’t changed. It’s just gotten to the point where one doesn’t get grime under their fingernails doing so.
It also underscores the futility of trying to outlaw firearms altogether, which is the overt goal of many anti-Second Amendment zealots. People will find a way to make them, right under the noses of the people who say they can’t.
-=[ Grant ]=-
You've probably heard about the Manchin-Toomey background check bill that is now winding its way through Congress. For the absolutists in the crowd it sounds like a bad idea: all sales at gun shows must go through a background check, and all internet gun sales must do so as well. (Sharp eyed readers will note that a gun bought on the 'net must already have a background check done by the dealer who delivers the gun, but don't say that too loudly!)
Now I know this is going to be hard to swallow, but I'm probably going to support this bill. Not because I like the background check nonsense, but because of all the stuff we managed to sneak in there. Here's Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation talking about what's in the bill - watch the whole video.
For those who aren't keeping score, here are the political wins in this bill:
- Prohibits any use of any background check information to establish a defacto gun registry at the federal, state, or local level; NICS information cannot be misused. We don't have this protection now, with the existing background checks being done every day. WIN.
- Civil and criminal liability protection for you if your gun is stolen and used illegally. This circumvents attempts being made at the state level to establish penalties for the misuse of guns that are taken from you. WIN.
- Prevents disarming veterans who seek treatment for PTSD through the Veterans Administration. WIN.
- More protections for people who are traveling between states and have their guns with them. WIN.
- Elimination of the prohibition against buying a handgun outside of your home state. WIN.
- and that's not all.
Here's the deal: the political winds are such that some sort of background check bill is probably going to get through Congress and onto the President's desk. That's reality. This bill, which is being heralded as a "compromise", is the first such one in which we've actually gotten a net political win (or at least not a net loss.) In every other bill we've faced, we've been in the position of trying to keep the damage to our rights at a minimum and not getting anything in return. With this bill we give up something that's really pretty inconsequential in the big picture, but it’s something we’re likely to lose anyway - at least we’ll gain some good, which is better than what we’ll have if it passes unmodified.
One great thing about this bill is that passage, even if the President didn't sign, would short-circuit the bills currently winding through my state's Legislature. Twice already the Oregon legislature has sidelined gun control proposals while they wait to see what Congress does; if Manchin-Toomey was to pass, I suspect that such legislation would die a quiet death both here and in other states.
A couple of weeks back on the Gun Rights Radio Network I suggested that I might not oppose a gun show background check bill if we could actually get something out of it, like removal of suppressors from the NFA list. We didn't get that, but we got some other stuff that together is pretty good. Naturally we’ll need to examine the actual bill carefully, but I like what I see so far.
The ironic part about this is that if it gets shot down in Congress, or if the President doesn't sign it, we can make political hay by taking the moral high road: "these people voted down a GUN CONTROL bill that we supported!" That would put the political fight squarely back in our corner, which is what we've been trying desperately to do all along.
From our point of view here's no real downside: if it passes and gets signed, it would have anyway and we have a relative win. If it fails or gets vetoed, we really win. Either way we come out on top, or at least not at the bottom, which is deft political maneuvering.
This is how the game is played, folks. We can take the absolutist position of "shall not be infringed" (which I've pointed out is a nonsensical position since we've been infringed upon regularly since 1934) and lose, or take the pragmatic view and play the game for a potential win.
I’m glad Gottlieb and company got this done.
-=[ Grant ]=-
There is a growing list of gun companies who are refusing to sell to any government agencies (police departments, etc.) in states where their products are not allowed to be owned by the general populace. I've applauded this practice, and have taken more than a little heat from both friends and enemies for my stance.
Their arguments against industry-government boycotts are generally based on efficacy: the "it won't matter, so why bother?" school of thought. I think that's short-sighted, and ignores the idea of foundational principles of which I've been writing lately.
Let's take the case of Magpul. As you may know, their home state of Colorado is banning what they refer to as "large" capacity magazines. Magpul, who built their business on the 30-round PMAG for the AR-15, has threatened (and appears to be following through on the threat) to leave the state and take their $85 million business and 250-odd direct jobs with them. I've applauded them for that action; good on them!
Unfortunately they turned around and publicly declared that they'd be more than happy to sell their PMAGs to any police officer or department in that state - despite the fact that the citizens of the state are now forbidden to buy those same items.**
Magpul, and some of the other companies which have issued public statements defending municipal sales in such areas, have said that they'll continue to sell their restricted products to the brave guys and gals who "need" them. This is also a common refrain amongst supporters of those companies, who defend the practices by invoking images of police whose operations would be severely hampered for want of a 30-round magazine.
I believe this indicates a lack of understanding of the issues involved, and one of them is an idea that we've been fighting tooth and toenail since last December: the mistaken belief that a Constitutionally protected right is subject to a test of need.
All over the country, in Congress and in the states and on the airwaves and in the forums, we've been fighting the argument that no one "needs" a "high" capacity magazine or an "assault weapon." Many of us, unfortunately, have fallen into that trap of debating "need" rather than pointing out that rights cannot be subjected to such tests. We haven't done a terribly good job of disabusing people of that notion.
The companies who enact or continue policies of selling specifically to police officers and agencies in ban areas directly support the argument of "need”, whether they recognize it or not. You see, by continuing to do business in those states which have established two legal classes, companies help to perpetuate the idea that some people do in fact "need" those "high" capacity feeding devices and some don't - the police agencies being the people who need them, and the general public the people who don't. Many of their statements, and the tepid defenses uttered by many of their supporters, say things to the effect that they don't want to deprive police officers in such states of the tools that they “need" to do their jobs.
Having a company in our industry publicly declare that they recognize need as a valid reason to sell to a specific part of the public is the next best thing to carving the concept on stone tablets and having a certain Senator from California carry them down the mount, loudly declaring "Thou Shalt NOT!"
Don't get me wrong; I understand that a Magpul boycott of a state's police agencies would be unlikely to have any effect on their lawmaker's votes. The police aren't going to lobby the Legislature for a repeal of the law because they have their exemption; there is no incentive for them to urge a repeal, and no boycott by the industry is likely to ever change that. I also recognize that a boycott won't do anything to forestall the burgeoning tiered society we're creating with such exemptions to these laws.
None of that matters. Efficacy is a poor argument; principle is not.
I don't care if a company's boycott against a state is successful. I do care about the lack of such a boycott cementing into the public's minds that some people need certain things and others don't, and that ownership of those items should be based on that need. Allowing these companies to enact, publicize, and defend policies which recognize the need argument -- or, at the very least, don’t voice any opposition to it -- lends credence to one of the prohibitionists’ main and most successful talking points.
If industry leaders like Magpul accept the argument of need in Colorado, it becomes much harder for people in Oregon and Oklahoma and Maine to counter their legislators who use need as a basis for new laws. Exercise of a fundamental right, any fundamental right, cannot be based on a requirement to show need. The companies who accept the status quo which is built on need make it harder for the rest of us to get that point across to the public.
When a business entity says that some specific group of people needs a particular thing while accepting a law that says no one else does (and is happy to profit from the situation), they've actively validated the prohibitionist position. The prohibitionists are greatly strengthened by such validation, and that's the real problem.
-=[ Grant ]=-
** - Magpul has since "clarified" their position, stating that they will sell to individual officers in ban states who will sign a promise that they won't enforce any unconstitutional laws. That alone is another discussion, but they've simply erected a minor hoop through which the people with the alleged need must now jump. Their slightly modified position has no fundamental effect on the underlying concepts.
Here in Oregon we're fighting a legislative battle again relentless prohibitionists. This situation will be familiar to those of you in places like California, Washington, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Colorado, and several more. What they can't get done in Congress they've decided to get done at the state level; they've had some success, which has emboldened them.
It's important that we keep our heads in the fight and not let them control the discussion. As you're seen by my recent posts, I'm a believer in the idea of arguing foundational principles and try not to get caught up silly arguments like justifying "need". Instead, I think it's best that we control the narrative by turning the situation back at our opponents by focusing on how their desires affect other fundamental human rights.
There was a recent article over at The Truth About Guns site which discussed the argument of body counts - and, by extension, the mantra of "if it saves just one life…" - as a justification for the abrogation of Constitutional rights. It's a good read, and I recommend that you share it!
-=[ Grant ]=-
As you may know, the United Kingdom banned possession of handguns for the general populace some time back. This action was precipitated by a spree killing at a school in Scotland, and in an incredibly strong knee-jerk reaction the UK simply declared handguns to be illegal. Confiscation and destruction followed; the loss of many historical artifacts resulted.
The law exempts muzzle-loading handguns, however, and so some enterprising souls convert double-action revolvers into muzzleloaders. The Firearms Blog has the story, along with pictures of the conversions.
Let's make sure we don't have to do the same thing here, OK?
-=[ Grant ]=-
On Sunday, I tweeted this:
If there is no such thing as "gun violence", there can be no such thing as "gun rights". Be consistent - owning a gun is a HUMAN right.
Let's delve into what that means.
I noticed that those in the shooting community bristle at the term "gun violence". It's the term used by gun control advocates and much of the media (but I repeat myself) to focus attention on the object rather than the person who wields it. The focus on the object, of course, is necessary to convince people that the object needs to be controlled. It leads people to believe that it's the unique nature of the object which makes its possessor dangerous, rather than the objectives and desires of that possessor.
Demonize the object, and you can control the object. This is why the prohibitionists constantly call for an end to "gun violence"; once they've established that it's the gun which is the root of the problem, the next logical step is to "get guns off the streets." It's a close cousin to the term "assault weapon", and works for the same reasons.
I think we, generally, understand this tactic. We object (though not strenuously enough, in my view) to the use of the term "gun violence" because we recognize the reason for its use. We can (and should, rightly) argue that guns cannot be guilty of violence, as they are inanimate objects. Violence is an action, a behavior involving physical force to achieve a purpose. Inanimate objects do not have behaviors and cannot independently engage in an action. They are, as many have pointed out, tools to be wielded; violence comes from the person who wields them.
"Gun violence", then, is an illogical term. It makes no sense other than to achieve a political aim, and thus is a legitimate target of scorn and derision. We should object whenever it is used, and have at ready hand an explanation as to why it is objectionable: because it makes no sense!
Unfortunately, we're guilty of the same silliness ourselves in the use of the term "gun rights". Rights are those fundamental freedoms possessed by humans, freedoms which they may (or may not) choose to exercise at any time they wish. The trouble with the term is that, again, guns are inanimate objects. The have no freedom, because they can neither think nor move; they have no ability to choose, let alone to exercise a freedom. Just as a gun cannot itself shoot a human being, it cannot declare itself to be free of infringement upon its thoughts or activities.
The term "gun rights" is therefore as illogical as the term "gun violence"; if you accept that the former exists, you will have to concede that the latter does. I'm not willing to do either.
If we are to insist that our opponents be logical, we must be as well. We need to purge the term "gun rights" from our vocabulary; we need to instead talk of human rights, of the inalienable freedoms we have simply because we exist. You may choose to ascribe those to a deity if you wish, but as a community we should never allow ourselves to speak in terms other than the rights of human beings. We have the right to keep and bear arms not because there is something special about guns; we have that right because the Founding Fathers understood and voiced the right to defense of oneself, family, and community, and that the freedom to use efficient tools to do that was essential to protecting that right.
Guns don't have rights; people do. Guns prohibitionists focus on the object; we should focus on the people. Be consistent, in the same way that you would insist the other side be.
-=[ Grant ]=-
I'm a bit concerned about a trend in the gun community, one borne from defending against the prohibitionists who have gotten their second wind courtesy of the Newtown tragedy. That trend is arguing 'need'.
The prohibitionists (gun-grabbers, if you prefer) like to ask the question "why do you NEED" some specific gun or feature on a gun. Whether it's a "high capacity magazine" or a "military style rifle", the question puts the onus on us to justify our desire to have the item in question. I think that's misguided, and I think we're aiding and abetting our own entrapment.
Don't get me wrong; there have been a number of superb essays on the subject by people I know and respect. In virtually every case I agreed with all the points they made. I just don't think we should be wasting our time making them.
If a prohibitionist asks why we "need" something, he is presupposing that the exercise of a fundamental right is contingent upon showing good reason to exercise that right. The idea that humans have rights simply because they exist is completely bypassed, and the concept that rights are something a government confers upon subjects is cemented in the very structure of the question. By answering, in any form or manner, the question of need we tacitly accept their premise that rights do not exist beyond what someone else is willing to allow. Even entertaining the question plays into their trap.
We need to stop doing that.
When the question of need comes up, we (as a community, let alone as a nation) shouldn't acknowledge any legitimacy to the question. To do so signals our acceptance of their base premise. Instead, we should completely bypass the question and tell them that rights - ours and theirs - are not subject to tests of need or social utility. The correct attitude is not one of educating the questioner about firearms, but rather educating about inalienable rights.
I'm even in favor of turning the question back on the questioner: "who are you to determine what I do and do not need? Who or what gives you the moral authority to force me to justify my desires to you?"
Perhaps we should ask them to lay their lives open to us for a similar examination: "why do you NEED a car that has 120 horsepower? Why do you NEED a television with a screen over 20 inches? Why do you NEED granite countertops? Why do you NEED a designer dress?"
I'll admit that this is a purist point of view, and purists are notoriously lacking in the pragmatism necessary to function efficiently in society. Still, I believe that we need to drive the discussion away from the minutiae of hardware design and back to the fundamentals of human freedom. If we keep answering their call for justification, we'll continue to battle on their terms.
-=[ Grant ]=-
I was going to present Part Two of my SHOT Show adventures today, but I think this is more important. I'll post the SHOT Show stuff tomorrow, promise!
Since the election we've been bombarded with the notion that gun owners need to present a united front against the prohibitionists who wish to restrict the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. I agree with the sentiment, but I think the idea of solidarity can be taken to an illogical extreme, and in fact has been.
When someone in our camp - like the gun store owner in Arizona who publicly declares that he doesn't want Democrats in his establishment, or the trainer who states on video that he's ready to start killing people - does something stupid, it's our responsibility to make it clear that those views are not those of the majority of gun owners. If necessary, we need to cull them from our ranks so that they can't do any more harm to our cause. I've been calling this the "Shut The Hell Up" movement; regular readers will recall several instances of late where I've called for someone to just Shut The Hell Up.
Now I've been told (and had at least two volatile discussions at SHOT on the topic) that this lack of solidarity will "embolden our enemies." Folks, make no mistake: our enemies already hate us. The fact that gun owners exist at all is what drives them; they cannot be more emboldened than they already are. They do not derive their motivation from whatever discord exists in our ranks, because discord is always present in any group of more than three people. Their focus will always be on the stupid stuff which causes the discord, because it's the stupid stuff we do (or allow to be done in our name) which gives them a political advantage.
For instance: if someone were to go on YouTube and declare that he's ready to start shooting people if his rights are infringed another inch, and the rest of the community (properly) excommunicated him for being an idiot, which action do you think the prohibitionists would derive motivation from? Which do you think they'd focus on and issue press releases about - the crazy, radical statements of the nutcase or the sane, measured opinions of the people who no longer want anything to do with him? Right: they'll focus on the former, because that's where the real damage to our cause is done. The fact that others disagree with him gives them no advantage, and in fact weakens their contention that all gun owners are just a step away from becoming maniacal killers.
Discord is in fact an advantage to our side because it shows we are responsible. It's not something we should fear but rather something we should embrace because it makes our case stronger.
The idea that the need to present a united front requires we not criticize those in our corner who do stupid things is self-destructive. Continuing a relationship with people or ideas that have damaged our public image or our political positions does far more harm than the small amount of internal angst that is generated by their exorcism. The former lasts; the latter is quickly forgotten, if it's noticed at all.
Rob Pincus wrote a very good essay on this topic a few days ago, one which largely mirrors my opinion on the subject. I wholeheartedly encourage you to read it.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Happy New Year everyone! Well, it would be if the Second Amendment community weren’t facing a major fight at the dawn of 2013. This time they’re serious, and it’s going to take some work on our parts to win.
You see, Congress goes back to work tomorrow and one of the things they'll be working on is Dianne Feinstein's new gun control bill. I'll not waste the space here detailing the provisions - you can easily look them up with a five-second Google - but she's going for broke this time: the virtual elimination of all semi-automatic rifles and handguns, and the outlawing of any gun which carries more than ten rounds (including lever action rifles.) The exact content of the bill is as yet unknown, but she's pushing for mandatory registration and perhaps even confiscation.
Normally Congress would pretty much roll their collective eyes and say “there goes Dianne again”, but with the Sandy Hook murders still relatively fresh in the public's mind and with the complicity of both Hollywood and the media her bill is sure to gain traction it otherwise mightn’t. I don't believe her bill stands much of a chance of passage but that's not the point - it's a negotiating tactic, a way to steer the public perception toward "reasonable" gun control.
If we, the shooting community, don't act immediately her little scheme might just work. That means you and I - yes, you too - need to do something within the next week, maybe even sooner, if we're to counter this horrendous attack on our civil rights.
What to do? Lots of people are blithely exhorting you to write your Congressperson, but no one ever explains just how to go about doing so effectively - if they even know themselves. The problem with writing to Congress is that if you don't do it right your message will be completely ignored, and might even embolden an anti-gun legislator. I hope today I can shed a little light on the process and give you a few guidelines to help ensure that your voice is actually heard.
Here's what I've learned from talking with elected representatives (I even have one in the family though I don’t like to admit it), people who work or have worked for them, people in the media (I have one of those in the family too), as well as reading articles by people who have worked in Congressional offices:
- The first and most important thing you need to understand is that unless he/she knows you personally, your Senator or Representative will likely never see your letter. His/her office has aides or corespondents whose job it is to read the mail, categorize each response as for or against, and file it in the appropriate place. The Congressperson checks in with the aides (who are assigned to specific issues, like gun control) on a regular basis, asking how many times they've heard from constituents on the specific issue at hand. They'll be told how many letters they've received and what the for/against percentages are, but are unlikely to get anything more specific unless they ask. If the majority of the letters are on one side, that's what they'll be told.
- Remember that aides are usually fresh out of college, idealistic, and not very well paid. Don't be rude and never insult them or their boss or your letter will go missing - from what I've been told it's a sure bet. Don't say anything about your Congressperson being a scum-sucking gun grabber even if it is true; be polite, even if it kills you.
- Don't use paper. As a security precaution all snailmail goes to a central location where it's irradiated, examined, opened, scanned (probably with OCR) into an electronic file, and then that file is delivered to your Congressperson's office. They never see the paper unless they request it specifically. This process is said to take a week at best, and if there is a huge influx of correspondence it might take two or three or more. If there is a time-sensitive issue, as this is, a paper letter will almost certainly be too late. An email gets there faster and ends up in the same place anyhow, so there is no longer a reason to put pen to paper when writing Congress. Send an email.
- Don't write a book. The aides have a ton of letters to go through, don't have a lot of time, and are easily bored. Your letter should consist of a paragraph or two at the very most: tell them what you're writing about, how you want them to vote, and why it's important to you. That's it; resist the urge to write more. Ideally you should get that done in three well-crafted sentences, and as the volume of mail goes up the greater the importance of making your letter concise.
- If you're not a constituent - yes, they check - your letter will generally be ignored. In other words, unless you're actually in Feinstein's district don't waste your time writing her office; it won't do any of us any good even if you are polite.
- How do you make sure they know you’re a constituent? Put your name and address in the letter. I get emails constantly where the only identifier of the sender is "firstname.lastname@example.org". To me it's just annoying, but it causes Congressional aides to conclude one of two things: you're either out of district or sending robomails, either of which will cause your email to go right into the electronic trashcan. If you don't want that to happen put your FULL NAME and address in the body.
- Make sure your email has a subject; those without subjects might be filtered out by their office email system. I’m told the best thing to do is to put the title/number of the actual bill in the subject line so that the reason for your letter can be quickly determined.
- The NRA (and others) will probably send you an email with links to form letters that you can send to your Congressperson: don’t waste your time unless and until you’ve done everything above. Form letters are nearly useless; when the aides are queried, one of the questions they're asked is what percentage of letters are of the form variety and which were actually written. The form letters have FAR less impact than those you send from your own keyboard (some say they are simply ignored. After all, if it was really important to you, you'd have written your own damn letter.) Again: DON'T USE FORM LETTERS. If you feel you can't make a good impression on the aides then have someone draft it for you, but don't use the prewritten missives from any group.
- If you even get a response it will almost certainly be a form letter. Deal with it. Go back to the first item: your Congressperson is NOT going to read your letter, and therefore is very unlikely to draft a personal response to you. Expect a form letter and don't go bitching on Facebook if you get one; it's just how the system works.
Now go use what you've learned, and let's see if we can head Feinstein's bill off at the pass!
-=[ Grant ]=-
I hope everyone had a great Christmas with family and friends!
There is just a ton of stuff to talk about this week, and my "ideas for the blog" bookmark list runs into the hundreds. I want to take today, however, to point out the hypocrisy of the press - and how at least one of the members of the increasingly sanctimonious Fourth Estate has learned that what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, courtesy of the emerging Fifth Estate.
The Journal-News of White Plains, NY recently published a list of gun permit holders in and around their area. After the Sandy Hook murders their staff decided (of course) that guns were the problem, but the trouble is that they can only advocate for more Second Amendment limitations. They want to do more - to make a difference, you understand.
How about intimidating gun owners? Yeah, that's something they can do! After all, intimidation works to keep people from voting - maybe it can work to keep them from buying guns!
Off to the local County Clerk's Office they go, Freedom Of Information Act request in hand, and they returned with a list of all the permitted gun owners in their area. It was a given that they'd publish the information, but dead trees don't have the social impact they once did. They moved into the 21st century and augmented the published list with an interactive map on their website. All one need do is point and click to find out which of their neighbors has guns to steal!
Now they admitted that the reporter who wrote the story, a Mr. Dwight R. Worley, owns a Smith & Wesson 686 revolver for which he has a permit. Somehow, though, his address didn't make it into the published database (surprise, surprise) nor the interactive map.
What the editor and staff at the Journal-News failed to understand, however, is that freedom of information works for regular people too. It wasn't long before someone made their own inquiry and Mr. Worley's information was made public. As near as I can tell it was the blog of Christopher Fountain, a retired lawyer, which broke the news. (If someone else actually got it out first, my apologies.) Mr. Fountain has Mr. Worley's address, telephone number, and even a picture for your viewing pleasure.
This was information the paper felt free to release about everyone else except one of their own, and when Mr. Worley's address was plastered all over the 'net the Journal-News tried to clean house. As I write this, Facebook posts that contain his information are quickly being sanitized by Facebook staff. It seems that the paper considers itself to be a step above the people they serve; kind of like politicians, no?
Have a look, share it with your friends (particularly those in New York), and do your part to let the Journal-News - and other media - know that their elitism is not appreciated by the unwashed masses.
-=[ Grant ]=-
At the SHOT Show last January I was having dinner with a group of industry people. Talk turned to politics, as it usually does with gun folk, and the discussion revolved around the race we concluded (well, more or less) last night.
At that point in time the Republicans didn't have a clear front runner, yet I confidently predicted the President would handily win re-election. The assembled group said that I couldn't possibly predict the result this far out, that there were too many variables, and that I was assuming a defeatist attitude.
None of that was true.
There was only one variable in this election: the willingness of the candidates to pander to an America that wants to be like the rest of the world, with large intrusive governments and poor fiscal responsibility. The records of the reds and the blues are little different in that respect; only the details vary.
The incumbent always has the edge in this kind of situation, controlling the treasury as he does. The challenger can only hope to be more charismatic, and on this point my prediction was ridiculously easy: none of the Republican field had nearly the charisma that President Obama does. On that alone it was a sure bet. I didn't even buy the judicial appointment argument, because there was absolutely nothing in Mr. Romney's past performance (which is the only reliable indicator of future behavior for a politician) which indicated any actual philosophical difference from the President when it came to appointing judges to the bench.
My point is that, if Mr. Romney had been elected, our status as a nation wouldn't have changed in any fundamental way. The transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street would continue unabated; the looming derivatives mess would still be looming; our interventionist foreign policy would still be the order of the day; judicial activists would still find their way to the Supreme Court; our young men and women would still be dying in third-world hellholes; and the determination of the prohibitionists to whittle away at the Second Amendment would not have been reduced.
It’s that last point this blog is concerned with. The threats we face today are the same ones we faced yesterday, and the ones we face tomorrow would not have been materially altered by electing the other side of the common coin. We still have to defend the Second Amendment, and it's high time that we get together with Second Amendment supporters from both sides of the aisle to make that happen.
Yes, there are "gun people" who don't have an 'R' after their names, and we desperately need their support. It's time to make sure that we stand united for gun rights regardless of party affiliation, and the only way we can do that is for every one to reach out and shake the hands of those gun owners who didn't vote the same way that you did yesterday - regardless of exactly what that was.
We have work to do. Let's get to it.
-=[ Grant ]=-
For the last couple of months I've been hearing rumblings about stocking up on ammunition for, well, whatever: zombie apocalypse, riots after the election, natural disasters, what have you. (I actually heard a non-gun-person refer to the "zombie apocalypse" just the other day. This is now getting out of hand.)
Rob Tackett over at the TacStrike blog has an interesting article about panic buying and hoarding of ammunition. It's worth a read, and he presents an interesting point of view.
At the same time, I think we need to consider the possible actions of the prohibitionists who may try back-door gun control via ammunition restrictions. While I don't think ammunition can be outlawed altogether, a steep tax or purchase limits - either of which would likely pass Constitutional muster - would severely hurt our ability to train or engage in any favorite shooting sports. A stash of ammunition, properly stored, serves as a sort of buffer against such artificial supply constraints.
That buffer allows us to continue our favorite activities without worrying where our next box of hollowpoints are coming from. Think of it as a pantry; we have pantries so that we don’t have to go to the store every time we want so much as a snack. (Like a food pantry, an ammunition pantry - when purchased at normal cost - is also an inflation hedge, but not so much when bought at price-gouging panic prices.)
It's all a matter of perspective and priorities. If you're hungrily stacking cases of ammo in anticipation of widespread civil unrest, ammo that you're just going to sit on and fear the expenditure of even a few rounds, that's probably not terribly rational. If, however, you're buying moderate amounts on a regular basis with an eye toward having a back stock that allows you to train and practice without worrying about running completely out, I think you have your head set squarely on your shoulders.
-=[ Grant ]=-
(If you haven't been following the erupting story about RECOIL magazine, read my recap from Monday.)
Up until now we've heard only from Jerry Tsai, the editor of RECOIL. FIrst he said that he stood behind what he wrote, but that he simply worded it unclearly. (Remember that one of the reasons he cited for the gun being unavailable to "civvies", and with which he agreed, was that it served “no sporting purpose” and was bad for cops and soldiers - both common refrains of the Sarah Brady crowd.)
When the industry started taking notice he wrote a second "apology" where he claimed that what he printed was just what HK told him. I sincerely doubt that any company the size of HK uses words like "civvies" and "scumbags"; even a first-grader can read the item and see that it wasn't written by the maker of the product. The words were Jerry's, through and through, only this time he claims they really weren't.
The exodus of advertisers was swift; I named some of them on Monday, and in the intervening days many more have jumped ship - including industry behemoth Magpul, who virtually defines the modern concept of "shooting style". If you're aiming at the twentysomething crowd, and you don't have Magpul on board, you're nothing.
Apparently that reality has yet to occur to Joe Galloway, who is the Associate Publisher of RECOIL. He sent this communique (in its entirety) to advertisers this morning:
RECOIL Magazine’s Position:
In light of some of the comments and complaints made about a paragraph in a recent article about the Heckler & Koch MP7A1, Recoil wishes to make the following points clear:
· It is simply not credible for anyone to question Recoil’s support for, and commitment to, the Second Amendment. Recoil is first and foremost a gun lifestyle magazine, aimed at the modern shooting enthusiast.
· The opinions in the paragraph in question accurately reflected those of the manufacturer, and should have been reported as direct quotes. Recoil acknowledges the way the paragraph was written has caused unnecessary confusion.
· Jerry Tsai, a passionate gun enthusiast and the visionary behind Recoil magazine, will remain as editor of Recoil.
We thank you for your support and understanding.
Quite honestly, if you read the article, it was one paragraph that was actually quoted from the manufacturer and we did not state it that way. Recoil has 26,000 likes on face book and the magazine has only been out for three issues and issue number 4 is just hitting the streets. I honestly believe that this will not hurt the magazine. I have not lost anyone as a result of this and do not expect to.
5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Assistant: Jennifer Conklin 813-675-3507
Several things stand out. FIrst, Tsai admitted writing and agreeing with what was published in his first "apology". Now his publisher says Jerry didn't write it, an assertion which directly contradicts what his editor said. Then he has the temerity to claim that the magazine "has not lost anyone", despite the number of companies who have publicly cancelled their involvement with them.
As I said on Monday, the new generation of shooters needs their own magazine. This one, bankrolled by someone whose political associations are highly suspect, may not be it. The shooting fraternity still needs a magazine like RECOIL, but it needs to be one which doesn't compromise on the Second Amendment. Could RECOIL become that magazine? I have my doubts, especially after their publisher dug in his heels to support the status quo, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt if they truly repent.
In the meantime, please read this well-reasoned counterpoint from the Breach, Bang, Clear blog.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Over the weekend a major firestorm erupted over RECOIL magazine's review of the HK MP7A1. In the article, the editor of the magazine - one Jerry Tsai - penned this:
“Like we mentioned before, the MP7A1 is unavailable to civilians and for good reason. We all know that’s technology no civies should ever get to lay their hands on. This is a purpose-built weapon with no sporting applications to speak of. It is made to put down scumbags, and that’s it. Mike Cabrera of Heckler & Koch Law Enforcement Sales and veteran law enforcement officer with SWAT unit experience points out that this is a gun that you do not want in the wrong, slimy hands.”
Sounds just like something from Sarah Brady herself, doesn't it? Of course it does, and it caused more than a few Second Amendment stalwarts to go nuclear, like in this open letter to RECOIL from Rob Pincus (who first alerted me to the debacle whan I was on the range teaching a Combat Focus Shooting course - ah, the power of the iPhone!):
“DEAR RECOIL MAGAZINE,In reference to: “Like we mentioned before, the MP7A1 is unavailable to civilians and for good reason. We all know that’s technology no civvies should ever get to lay their hands on. This is a purpose-built weapon with no sporting applications to speak of…”
To say I disagree with your thoughts on the MP7 would be a gross understatement.
In fact, the ignorance of that statement is amazing to me. In case you didn’t notice, the only reason Glocks, M&Ps, and probably most of the guns that are paying for advertising space in your rag are built is to put down bad guys.
People may find “sporting purposes” for them… but gun games aren’t why they exist. If Wired or Maxim had said what you did, I wouldn’t care. You should’ve known better.
The vast majority of firearms that have been designed and built in the history of the tool have been built for defensive or offensive use. Regardless of the intended role, military, law enforcement or civilian, the overwhelming majority of firearms on shelves in gun shops and shown in the pages of your now incredibly disappointing magazine are designed for use by people against people. While the “shooting sports” label may be a banner that has hung over our industry for political and (sometimes) marketing reasons, your young magazine hasn’t exactly catered to the waterfowl or skeet crowds.
Personally, the MP7 is one of the few guns on the planet that I would rush out and pay H&K Retail Price for, if it were ever offered for civilian sale. I’ve had the pleasure of shooting them many times and training teams that use them. It is a great tool, but didn’t possess any magical power that made it reckless, dangerous or inappropriate for any responsible firearms owner to possess…. for whatever reason they desire.
I had high hopes for your publication. Now I expect people to stop reading it, advertisers to fade away and your writers to submit their work to other publications that actually understand the industry they are covering.
-I.C.E. Training Company”
For his part, Jerry - sensing an imminent backlash from readers and advertisers alike - came back with what he perceived to be damage control on RECOIL's Facebook page:
Hey guys, this is Jerry Tsai, Editor of RECOIL. I think I need to jump in here and clarify what I wrote in the MP7A1 article. It looks like I may not have stated my point clearly enough in that line that is quoted up above. Let’s be clear, neither RECOIL nor I are taking the stance on what should or should not be made available on the commercial market although I can see how what was written can be confused as such.
Because we don’t want anything to be taken out of context, let’s complete that quote and read the entire paragraph:
“Like we mentioned before, the MP7A1 is unavailable to civilians and for good reason. We all know that’s technology no civvies should ever get to lay their hands on. This is a purpose-built weapon with no sporting applications to speak of. It is made to put down scumbags, and that’s it. Mike Cabrera of Heckler & Koch Law Enforcement Sales and veteran law enforcement officer with SWAT unit experience points out that this is a gun that you do not want in the wrong, slimy hands. It comes with semi-automatic and full-auto firing modes only. Its overall size places it between a handgun and submachine gun. Its assault rifle capabilities and small size make this a serious weapon that should not be taken lightly.”
Let’ also review why this gun should not be taken lightly. In the article it was stated that the MP7A1 is a slightly larger than handgun sized machine-gun that can be accurately fired and penetrate Soviet style body armor at more than 300 yards. In the wrong hands, that’s a bad day for the good guys.
As readers of RECOIL, we all agree that we love bad-ass hardware, there’s no question about that. I believe that in a perfect world, all of us should have access to every kind of gadget that we desire. Believe me, being a civvie myself, I’d love to be able to get my hands on an MP7A1 of my own regardless of its stated purpose, but unfortunately the reality is that it isn’t available to us. As a fellow enthusiast, I know how frustrating it is to want something only to be denied it.
Its manufacturer has not made the gun available to the general public and when we asked if it would ever come to the commercial market, they replied that it is strictly a military and law enforcement weapon, adding that there are no sporting applications for it. Is it wrong that HK decided against selling a full-auto pocket sized machine gun that can penetrate armor from hundreds of yards away? It’s their decision to make and their decision they have to live with not mine nor anybody else’s.
I accepted their answer for what it was out of respect for those serving in uniform. I believe that we as gun enthusiasts should respect our brothers in law enforcement, agency work and the military and also keep them out of harms way. Like HK, I wouldn’t want to see one of these slip into the wrong hands either. Whether or not you agree with this is fine. I am compelled to explain a point that I was trying to make that may have not been clear.
Thanks for reading,
– JT, Editor, RECOIL
Naturally, this looks-like-an-apology-but-really-isn't-when-you-actually-read-it-and-won't-someone-PLEASE-think-of-our-brave-boys-in-blue did nothing but stoke the fires, causing several prominent shooting industry partners, including Silencerco, ITS Tactical, and Panteo Productions, to publicly cancel all their ads in the magazine.
Tsai, now realizing that the survival of his emerging empire is in serious jeopardy (“Zumboed”, I believe, is the operative term) penned another apology on the RECOIL Facebook page that says he Really, Really Means It This Time:
I’d like to address the comments regarding what I wrote in the MP7A1 article in RECOIL issue 4. First and foremost, I’d like to apologize for any offense that I have caused with the article. With the benefit of hindsight, I now understand the outrage, and I am greatly saddened that it was initiated by my words. Especially since, I am an unwavering supporter of 2nd Amendment Rights. I’ve chosen to spend a significant part of both my personnel and professional life immersed in this enthusiasm, so to have my support of individuals’ rights called into doubt is extremely unfortunate. With that said, I retract what I wrote in the offending paragraph within this article. It should have had been presented with more clarity.
In the article, I stated some information that was passed on to me about why the gun is not available for civilian purchase. By no means did I intend to imply that civilians are not responsible, nor do we lack the judgment to own such weapons, if I believed anything approaching this, clearly I would lead a much different life. I also mentioned in the article that the gun had no sporting purpose. This again, was information passed on to me and reported in the article without the necessary additional context. I believe everything published in RECOIL up to this point (other than this story), demonstrates we clearly understand and completely agree that guns do not need to have a sporting purpose in order for them to be rightfully available to civilians. In retrospect, I should have presented this information in a clearer manner. Although I can understand the manufacturer’s stance on the subject, it doesn’t mean that I agree with it.
Again, I acknowledge the mistakes I made and for them I am truly sorry.
Basically, it's an "I'm not a bad guy, just horribly incompetent and lack basic reading comprehension skills" sort of passing-the-buck
Many people, including yours truly, might have bought it - except for this a little bit of information a reader over at The Truth About Guns uncovered: RECOIL is owned by Source Interlink, an investment firm bankrolled by one Ron Burkle. Burkle is described in an article at Mondotimes.com as "...a prominent Democratic party activist and fundraiser. He is a close friend of former President Bill Clinton, and investments in Yucaipa made by Clinton and his wife Senator Hillary Clinton have generated millions of dollars in income for them. “
Now it must be pointed out that I'm not a supporter of either political party; I despise all politicians equally. And, as I've reminded some of my more myopically partisan acquaintances, the "R" in "NRA" does not stand for "Republican." Still, one has to wonder about those ties.
My only knowledge of RECOIL comes from poking around on their website; the editorial direction is much too young and "extreme" for my tastes. However, I think it's important for the shooting community to have fresh outlets like this magazine to which the under-40 generations can relate. What appeals to me, as well as those before me and those just after me, is very different than what appeals to the 25-to-35 demographic. We don't need to push them away with the fuddy-duddies in Guns & Ammo or Shooting Times; they need THEIR magazines, with writers who talk to them in terms they're used to hearing. RECOIL was very obviously aimed at doing just that, and I think it's great - even if I'd never choose to read it myself. (I've got to admire their graphic sense, however!)
But at only four issues into its life, and given the nature of its ownership, I have to wonder: does the magazine really exist to get a certain demographic to think of guns not as something to aspire to owning, but rather to admire from afar in movies and videogames? Has anyone read all of their issues with a keen eye, looking for that kind of subtle editorial manipulation?
Perhaps Tsai's mistake wasn't what the magazine wrote, but rather a lack of subtlety in writing it. Discussion in the comments is encouraged, particularly because I've admitted to having never paid attention to the magazine until now. If you've read RECOIL, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
-=[ Grant ]=-
- Not sure where I got this, but it's pretty interesting: a three-barrel revolver. What will people think of next?!? (<--that’s humor, people.)
- Seems that Kim Rhode, ace Olympic shotgunner and ambassador for the shooting sports, has a blog. Hope she finds time to post more often. (Who knew she was a fan of bacon-wrapped meatloaf?)
- Speaking of Kim: I'm still a little miffed that they removed her original event - women's double trap - from the Olympics, but left the men's division. Why? No one knows for sure, but likely because some of them uppity females were beatin' the menfolk. There are lots of countries represented on the Olympic Committee, not all of them known for their enlightened attitudes regarding a woman’s place in society.
- An article in The Economist (a magazine which often displays a raw anti-American bias, yet is revered by Americans who somehow consider themselves unbiased for having read it) talks about gun ownership in the U.S. It states that while gun sales are way up, the number of households owning guns has declined steadily since 1973 - the implication that guns are being purchased only by those evil "gun nuts." Their position doesn't square with my observations, and I've yet to find any corroboration for it. Can anyone comment authoritatively on their claim?
-=[ Grant ]=-
As chronicled here on Monday, the McMillan companies were told by a VP of Bank of America that their business was no longer desired by the bank - specifically because they manufactured firearms. Several things have happened since then:
- The story went national on the Cam Edwards and Glenn Beck shows, as well as all over the internet. Everyone, it seems, is talking about this. McMillan has garnered a lot of support, much of it newfound. (I’ve never watched Glenn Beck, but he makes some very good points - particularly about the bank’s possible political motivations. Aside from his obvious partisan stance, some of the things he says about BofA makes one wonder.)
- BofA has posted a spin-doctored and unattributed statement on their Facebook page which suggests Kelly McMillan lied about the whole thing, that they really do support gun owners, and that they support our troops and hire veterans (not sure what that has to do with anything.) The feedback on their statement has been voluminous and critical, as McMillan is a company known for ethical and honest behavior, while BofA is - well, not so much.
- McMillan reports that they've had a number of banks call on them to get their business, and will be making a decision soon. Seems that there are banks which would love to do business with an upstanding manufacturer like McMillan, and they may in fact have a new problem: too many good banks to choose from!
It’s worth noting that this whole thing started on Facebook and is being played out there, which in my mind solidifies the value of social media as both a source of breaking information and a vehicle for grassroots action. I think that’s fascinating.
Oh, and don’t bank or do business with BofA.
-=[ Grant ]=-
In case you've missed the flap, last week Kelly McMillan (of the companies which bear the family name) posted to Facebook that he'd been visited by a senior VP of Bank of America, the company that's handled his company's banking needs for more than a decade. Seems that they no longer want his business because he makes evil guns. In Kelly's words (which I copied from his FB page, but I don't think he'll care):
McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, McMillan Firearms Manufacturing, McMillan Group International have been collectively banking with Bank of America for 12 years. Today Mr. Ray Fox, Senior Vice President, Market Manager, Business Banking, Global Commercial Banking came to my office. He scheduled the meeting as an “account analysis” meeting in order to evaluate the two lines of credit we have with them. He spent 5 minutes talking about how McMillan has changed in the last 5 years and have become more of a firearms manufacturer than a supplier of accessories.
At this point I interrupted him and asked “Can I possible save you some time so that you don’t waste your breath? What you are going to tell me is that because we are in the firearms manufacturing business you no longer want my business.”
“That is correct” he says.
I replied “That is okay, we will move our accounts as soon as possible. We can find a 2nd Amendment friendly bank that will be glad to have our business. You won’t mind if I tell the NRA, SCI and everyone one I know that BofA is not firearms industry friendly?”
“You have to do what you must” he said.
“So you are telling me this is a politically motivated decision, is that right?”
Mr Fox confirmed that it was. At which point I told him that the meeting was over and there was nothing let for him to say.
I think it is import for all Americans who believe in and support our 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms should know when a business does not support these rights. What you do with that knowledge is up to you. When I don’t agree with a business’ political position I can not in good conscience support them. We will soon no longer be accepting Bank of America credit cards as payment for our products.
Kelly D McMillan
Director of Operations
McMillan Group International, LLC
If you have accounts with BofA, may I suggest that you close them?
-=[ Grant ]=-
This morning I read the news that Governor Moonbeam Brown in California signed off on legislation that prohibits the open carry of handguns (even if unloaded) by the general populous. Given that some of the more vociferous proponents of OC were from CA, it would seem that their “in your face” methods may have backfired.
While I don't live in that state and thus may not be intimately familiar with the timelines involved, it seems that OC came onto the legislative radar when local news outlets got wind of the movement via confrontational videos posted on YouTube. From there it was a short step to getting lawmakers to deal with this major "problem".
Despite my general objection to the way that OC is promoted in certain circles, I take no pleasure in their predicament. It seems to me, though, that if you poke the bear hard enough sooner or later he's going to bite - and the bite is sadly predictable.
It will be interesting to see if those OC advocates who arrogantly compared themselves to Rosa Parks will actually dare to do what she did now that their opportunity is at hand.
As my Dad once told me: nothing good comes from frightening the herd. I just hope this doesn’t spread to other states. (Even as I write this I know the absurdity of that statement.)
On the opposite end of the spectrum...who would think that firearms would make an appearance on a seemingly left-leaning design blog?
Over the weekend I had a talk with a relative who was interested in the possibility of rechambering his rifle to something a little more potent than the .30-06 it currently fires. I found myself recommending the .35 Whelen. His eyebrows darted skyward, amazed that I wasn't recommending some sort of SuperTinyShortenedUltraPowerful Magnum.
Though I've never owned one, I have passing familiarity with the Whelen. It is just a good, effective caliber that's not going to beat the shooter up nor destroy half the animal being shot. Someone once told me that it was "superbly balanced", which I understood to mean that it occupied a serendipitous intersection of power, accuracy, and shootability. It's capable of taking any North American game and doing so without excessive chamber pressure or throat erosion.
(The short-action version, the .358 Winchester, shares those same attributes and is one I've wanted for a while now. Someday I'll find a Savage 99 in .358, though I'd settle for a Browning BLR.)
This is evidence that I've come full circle on rifle calibers. When I was younger and convinced that more power was the answer to everything, I thought fire-breathing Magnums were the way to go. As I've grown up and gotten some experience under my belt I've come to appreciate the cartridges that have been well tested over many years and lots of game: the .30-30 Winchester. The 6.5 Swedish Mauser. The .30-06. Yes, the .35 Whelen.
There are more, but you get the idea. As I said recently on my Facebook page: Sometimes newer is in fact better. Sometimes not. The key is knowing why.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Our illustrious legislature, in their zeal to protect all Oregonians from any perceived harm, has introduced a bill that would essentially eliminate gunsmithing in this state.
I'm hoping that by the time counsel is done with it, it will die on the floor. But given the make-up of our new legislature, heavily populated by prohibitionists of the left-wing variety (who hate guns, as opposed to prohibitionists of the right-wing variety who hate fun) it's possible that it may make it further into the machinery.
(In Oregon, the legislature is made up of committees. A committee will sponsor a bill, which can be written by a committee member or by a citizen. The bill then goes to the legislative counsel, which does the actual drafting. From there it goes to the floor, where it is officially introduced. In this case, the Senate President would assign it to a committee, which holds hearings and makes amendments and votes to send it back to the floor. Then it gets passed around, voted on, read several times, then goes to the other chamber where the process is repeated. Luckily there are enough nooks and crannies into which a bill can fall, but some weird stuff has made it through the process.)
With any luck we can derail this thing before it gets up to speed.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Someone sent me this link to a tale of a Ruger Redhawk whose barrel had parted company from the frame. It's an old story; not this particular occurrence, but the problem in general.
Seems that a certain Canadian manufacturer of simulated munitions now has some competition. I've always disliked the existing company's elitist insistence on only selling to police and military buyers, and Speer, the maker of the new product, looks to change that. Their new product, Force On Force, will be sold not just to the public sector but to "professional instructors" as well. They've even got portable enclosed shoothouses available! Cool stuff from a solid, responsible AMERICAN company. (Thanks to Fear & Loading for the tip!)
DPMS was apparently the prime sponsor for a match called the "Tri-Gun Challenge", which was recently cancelled. What's interesting isn't the match, but rather why it isn't going to happen this year. The range on which it was to be held was slapped with an order prohibiting the firing of handguns on the property. When the range/club was founded 30 years ago, they allowed all kinds of guns to be shot. In 1995 they were issued a conditional use permit for a trap and rifle range, and their neighbors apparently are alleging that the shooting of handguns violates that permit!
This is hardly unusual. My wife and I belonged to a gun club a few years back, a club which had been in existence since 1952. The conditional use permit under which we operated stated that no camping was allowed. Once a year, however, the Boy Scouts used the club facilities for a two day shooting party, with a sleepover the intervening night. The kids camped out in the classroom, but a couple of the den mothers brought camping trailers (for obvious reasons.) One particularly nosy neighbor, a recent transplant from another state, spotted the trailers and notified the county. We were hit with a similar order for violating the CUP.
People with an irrational fear of guns will always find a way to cause problems. Don't believe for an instant that because we won in the Supreme Court, the gun prohibitionists have been defeated.
-=[ Grant ]=-
The Fear And Loading blog alerted me to this story from the Charlotte Gun Rights Examiner. Seems that with the NRA Convention in town, the local Marriott decided to take conventioneer's money and then slap them in the face for the privilege. Interesting read, and it looks like the Marriott manager has bitten off more than he can chew.
(This is in stark contrast to the Virginia Beach Resort in which I stayed a few weeks back. Not only did they host the Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Development course, the staff was completely at ease with a bunch of gun guys roaming the halls. I went so far as to store a gun in one of their safe deposit boxes, and the desk clerks didn't even blink. Great place.)
-=[ Grant ]=-