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30th-Nov-2008 02:08 pm - Assault Weapons Are, Like, Scary

It seems that most firearm legislation is written with little to no knowledge of how firearms actually work. While much of this is due to ignorance, a great deal is due to the deliberately confusion definitions and misinformation spewed by Carolyn McCarthy, Sarah Brady, Paul Helmke, Jackie Kuhls, the Brady Campaign, the Violence Policy Center and other politicians and politically-motivated gun-control organizations and individuals. They begin by blurring the lines between fully automatic and semi-automatic firearms using terms like "assault weapon" and "military-style", showing side-by-side pictures of full-auto and semi-auto guns, cutting video clips together to make semi-auto guns appear capable of full-auto fire and asserting that these are the weapons most often used by criminals despite numerous statistics that put the percentage of crimes committed with "assault weapons" in the single-digit range even before they were banned.

These dangerous weapons are claimed to be "designed to be spray-fired from the hip", implying fully automatic fire, and "cop-killers", implying armor-piercing capabilities. Let's lay down some facts. Any firearm that can fire more than one bullet with a single pull of the trigger has been strictly regulated since 1934 and the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Ban which Joe Biden has bragged about first drafting pertained only to semi-automatic firearms, so we aren't even talking about weapons that are "spray-fired from the hip". The ban, which Barack Obama and supporters wants to reinstate and make permanent, deals with firearms that are similar only in appearance to their military counterparts. The ability of a bullet to penetrate body armor has absolutely nothing to do with the gun it is fired from. Armor-piercing ammunition can be loaded into any firearm chambered for that caliber. Adding a pistol grip to a semi-automatic rifle does not suddenly make it fully automatic. Adding a folding or telescoping stock does not transform any ammunition into high-velocity, armor-piercing rounds.

The motivation for banning semi-automatic, civilian versions of firearms like the AK-47, M-16, MAC-10 and TEC-9 is entirely emotional or political. These look like the guns we see people using in movies and video games, blasting away in three-round bursts or full-auto. The supporters of the ban try to paint the picture that peaceful city streets will turn into war zones if people like me are allowed to own these firearms. The reality is that when legal these firearms are seen far more often at shooting ranges being used to hit paper targets than on urban streets aimed at police officers. Another misleading claim is that of the terribly destructive power of the ammunition these firearms fire. I certainly wouldn't want to be shot with any of them, but then I also wouldn't want to be stabbed with a kitchen knife. Again, reality clashes with ban-supporters' descriptions as the 7.62x39mm used by the AK-47 and 5.56x45mm (.223 Remington) used by the M-16 are commonly considered unusable for hunting animals like deer, not because they are too powerful, but because they are relatively weak compared to more conventional hunting rounds like the .30-06 Springfield and .270 Winchester.

The gaping hole in the logic of the Federal Assault Weapon Ban, which did expire in 2004 but is essentially still in effect in California, New York and other states and will likely see a revival with a Democrat majority in Congress, is that the same bullets can be fired at the same rate from weapons lacking the cosmetic features specified in the ban. This is why gun manufacturers produced "nearly identical" models after the ban was passed. This harsh reality greatly disappointed Violence Policy Center member who felt that manufacturers were violating the "spirit" of the ban. The "spirit" of the ban is based on aesthetics rather than mechanics and even if "nearly identical" post-ban models were not available criminals would have a wide selection of firearms that would serve exactly the same purpose. As I have mentioned in earlier posts criminals would think nothing of buying illegal firearms from smugglers and traffickers when they intent to use them for more serious crimes.

 There are so many people shooting their mouths off about why we should ban such dangerous weapons that it is not difficult to find quotations illustrating their ignorance. Carolyn McCarthy, House Representative from New York, during an interview with Tucker Carlson used the inaccurate term "clip" to describe a magazine and claimed that Seung-Hui Cho used "high-capacity clips" at Virgina Tech (reports state he fired 170 rounds and that 17 empty magazines were found, which makes 10 rounds per magazine) all while dodging Tucker's question of the definition of a barrel shroud (see the TEC-DC9 in the chart above, the barrel shroud is the metal cover with holes to disperse heat from the barrel and prevent burns) and why it should be banned. McCarthy finally admitted that she did not know and guessed that it was "a shoulder thing that goes up". Jackie Kuhls of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, in her series of videos on YouTube, repeats the erroneous claim that assault weapons are "designed to be spray-fired from the hip" then claims that .50 caliber assault weapons are available. By her own definition, there are .50 caliber weapons designed to be spray-fired from the hip, which can also be used to shoot down airplanes.

Possibly the most fervently deceptive organization pushing for more stringent gun-control legislation if the Violence Policy Center. Repeated several times in their various "studies" and press releases are the most widely recognized gun "facts". At one point they do make the clear distinction that fully automatic military weapons and semi-automatic civilian weapons do not operate the same, but then immediately discount their own explanation by claiming that there are "no significant differences between them". The VPC attributes the ability to "spray-fire" to "specific functional design features" such as pistol grips, high-capacity magazines and forward grips or barrel shrouds rather than the actual internal mechanics that make fully automatic fire possible. They continue to blur their own definitions by referring simply to "assault weapons" without distinguishing between fully automatic military and semi-automatic civilian models. The VPC also claims that semi-automatic "assault weapons" are more dangerous because they are more accurate than their military counterparts, conveniently disregarding the fact that the increased accuracy comes from more carefully aiming at selected targets and NOT "spray-firing from the hip". They also classify the SKS, the Russian carbine predecessor to the AK-47, as an assault rifle despite the fact that it has none of their own criteria for an "assault weapon" and is not considered by anyone with marginal knowledge of firearms to be an assault rifle.

It is much easier to get emotional and blame an inanimate object for damage than to educate yourself and learn about the mechanics that propel small pieces of metal at firing ranges, through wooded forests and across bloody battlefields. The "assault weapons" that are so frequently vilified and demonized in mainstream media are functionally no different from similarly chambered hunting rifles and common pistols. Their bark is worse than their bite. Take CNN and the New York Times' stories about the extreme danger these vicious cop-killers pose to you and your children with a grain of salt.

That's all for now, thanks for bearing with me.

25th-Nov-2008 01:36 pm - Reload! Reload!

Of all the features demonized by ignorant gun-control advocates the high-capacity magazine makes the least sense. All the other features banned in places like California would take at least a couple minutes to replace, but reloading while using 10-round magazines only takes a matter of seconds. The flawed logic behind wanting to regulate magazines that can hold more than ten rounds, as far as I can understand, is that criminals will either not be able to hurt or kill as many people (this requires that you delude yourself into thinking that either they will obey the law, want to disobey the law but not be able to find high-capacity or not think to obtain extra 10-round magazines) or that police will be able to subdue or kill criminals while they are reloading their 10-round magazines. It is worse than ridiculous to believe that criminals will not get their hands on 30-round magazines simply because they are banned from civilian sale or ownership.

There is so much misinformation and blatant lies being spouted as truth about how firearms operate that it boggles the mind. Some people seem to think that if a magazine is bigger then it must have a bigger spring which must push the bullets into the barrel harder and cause the gun to shoot faster or harder. All a higher capacity magazines does is allow you to postpone reloading the magazine until after you've fired a few more rounds. The only case in which this makes any difference is when some maniac, like Seung-Hui Cho, wants to kill a large number of people. As Cho's attack showed, using 10-round magazines does not prevent high body counts. Reports state that he fired 170 rounds of ammunition and that there were 17 empty magazines for his two pistols at the scene. You do the math. A killer does not need the legal ability to own a magazine holding more than ten rounds of ammunition to kill more than ten people.

On the other side, what happens to law-abiding citizens who can only use magazines that hold ten rounds or less? It is not difficult to envision a scenario where a group of half a dozen gang members decide to break into a house, steal whatever valuables they can and shoot any opposition they encounter. Now suppose that, unbeknownst to them, the home-owner they have decided to victimize owns a handgun, let's say a .40 S&W SIG Sauer P226. There are two standard sizes of magazines for this pistol, one that holds ten rounds of .40 S&W ammo, another that holds twelve. Let's also say that this person is not a perfect shot, but decent enough to hit a man-sized target at around 10 yards with an average of two shots. Now imagine that the home-owner lives in a state or country that limits magazine capacity to ten rounds or less and being a law-abiding citizen, they only own 10-round magazines. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. In a defensive situation the home-owner would likely only be able to shoot five of the six invaders and would not be given the opportunity to reload another 10-round magazine before being killed by their remaining assailant. If there had not been the restriction on magazine capacity, the home-owner could have bought 12-round magazines and had enough firepower to protect themselves without reloading.

Limiting magazines capacity does much more to put a law-abiding person acting in self-defense at risk than it does to prevent multiple murders. Detachable magazine capacity is the most irrelevant thing to regulate because it is the easiest to circumvent. A push of a button or lever and insertion of another magazine gives an aggressor the extra rounds while limiting the cornered, outnumbered person defending their self, their family and their home. High-capacity magazines do not transform a semi-automatic pistol into a fully automatic machine gun. They do not transform hollow-point bullets into armor-piercing bullets. They do not make handguns more concealable; exactly the opposite, high-capacity magazines make pistols more difficult to conceal. If they are so concerned about people concealing pistol why not set a minimum magazine capacity of thirty rounds?

All right, that's all for now. Thanks for bearing with me.

23rd-Nov-2008 08:29 am - News Flash: Criminals Break The Law

The biggest problem with gun-control legislation is that it does not affect the people who commit crimes. Gun laws affect law-abiding citizens like myself, not people intent on committing assault, rape, theft and murder. Criminals who commit serious crimes, especially those involving guns, do not observe gun-control laws. They illegally use high-capacity magazines; they illegally use fully automatic guns if they can get their hands on them; they illegally use silencers; they illegally use armor-piercing ammunition and they illegally use pistols grips, telescopic or folding stocks, barrel shrouds and flash suppressors in areas where any or all of these features are banned. You see, the reality is that they are flagrantly disregarding much more heavily punished laws so the penalties for violating relatively unimportant firearm regulations are beneath their notice. Do you honestly expect a bank-robber to observe speed limits while making their getaway?

Some make the argument that having fewer (legal) guns overall means that criminals will have less access to the weapons they desire. This is simply not true. Pulling guns off of law-abiding retailer's shelves and shutting down manufacturers with ridiculous requirements for production and forcing them to hire lawyers or go bankrupt from lawsuits is only going to disarm citizens who would otherwise be able to purchase firearms. Most criminals break the law to obtain the guns they have, either through theft or illegal trafficking. Redefining certain guns as being illegal will not and can not take them out of the hands of criminals. If law enforcement could track down, confiscate and destroy all illegal firearms, then we would have nothing to worry about, but they can't. Criminals do not license or register their firearms and will often file off serial numbers to avoid tracking them. The only guns that law enforcement can easily track and take are those obtained through established legal channels, like mine. It is delusional to think that more stringent gun-control legislation will cause criminals to surrender the guns they have now or prevent them from more acquiring more in future.

Another flimsy and illogical argument is that owning a gun makes you more likely to be injured or killed with that gun. Statistics about home-invasions, intentional suicides and unintentional shootings are twisted to try to convey that an inanimate object will turn on you and hurt rather than protect. What the people who spout these figures leave out is the number of murders, rapes and thefts prevented by merely brandishing a legally and privately owned gun at an assailant. They also ignore the evidence showing that when firearm suicides decrease due to lack of gun availability, suicides by other means (wrist-slitting, poisoning, electrocution, hanging, etc.) increase, sometimes more than the decrease in firearm suicides, so taking away guns does not stop people from killing themselves. That leaves deaths and injuries caused by operator negligence. This is more a matter of education and responsibility than some manufacturing defect. Follow the manufacturer's instructions about cleaning, care and storage and you will have very little to worry about the gun randomly going off. If you are a parent don't leave your loaded pistol in the sock drawer without a trigger guard, and more importantly, teach your children to respect guns and not treat them like toys. Forbidding children from handling firearms only perpetuates ignorance about them. Suppose a crackhead tosses their (stolen or illegally purchased) loaded pistol over a fence into a playground while fleeing the police. Which kid would you rather have find it, the one whose parents have kept them from touching a real gun (do you expect their prohibition to override the child's curiosity when unsupervised?) or the one whose parents have taught the child how to eject a magazine and lock the pistol slide back to ensure that it is unloaded?

Another piece of common sense that is overlooked when discussing gun-control is the factor of determent that widespread, private gun ownership poses to criminals. Someone breaking into a house if far more frightened of the occupants shooting them than of the police being called. Rapists and muggers have to consider the likelihood that their victims will pull out their own pistol and blow them away. This benefits those who choose not to own or carry a gun as well because an assailant does not know whether you've got a gun or not, unless of course you're wearing a Brady Campaign t-shirt or have a "Gun Free Zone" sign in your window. Colonel Jeff Cooper put it best:

"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."

It is not pessimistic to say that there are violent, evil people (not just males) in this world who intend to harm you and your loved ones. I appreciate the general sense of law and order that police officers create, but to rely solely on them to protect you in a desperate situation is foolish. Removing guns from the hands of law-abiding citizens merely increases the number of unarmed victims and boosts the confidence of criminals that they will not meet resistance while breaking the law.

That's all for now. Thanks for bearing with me.

22nd-Nov-2008 08:25 am - Start Big (.50 caliber)

Banning the .50 Browning Machine Gun (.50 BMG) firearms and ammunition is the most asinine piece of gun legislation to come out of the state of California. Proponents of the ban claim that rifles like the Barrett M82, which fires these .50 caliber monsters, could be used by terrorists to shoot down commercial airliners as they take-off, land, taxi, or sit parked on a runway. This argument is absurd for a number of reasons:

1) The .50 BMG has never been used in a terrorist attack. Some people, like Paul Koretz, have presented the case that Osama bin Laden (or more likely his followers) "bought" at least 25 Barrett .50 BMG rifles. The fact of the matter is that these rifles were support provided by the United States government to bin Laden's group in opposition to the now-defunct Soviet Union. As far as anyone knows they were not used by al-Qaeda in any terrorist offensive. If you recall, the airplanes were hijacked with box-cutters, not .50 caliber sniper rifles. Furthermore, this was a military transfer. Bin Laden did not walk into an East Los Angeles gun shop and emerge carrying two dozen sniper rifles.

2) Rifles chambered for .50 BMG are very expensive and unwieldy. The most widely-recognized and presented rifle chambered in .50 BMG is the Barrett Model 82A1, a big, scary-looking semi-automatic weapon. The reality of this "readily available" rifle is that the suggested retail price is over $8,500 and it weighs around 30 pounds. I have been in a number of gun stores and not once have I seen a Barrett M82A1 standing in a rack or sitting on a shelf. Most retailers do not keep these guns, or any other .50 caliber rifles, in stock because they are far too expensive for many people to buy. People who are serious about acquiring them, mostly collectors and competition target-shooters, have to special order them. The gun is four feet long and weighs about as much as a mini-fridge. This would make planning an assault on a moving target like an airplane difficult and require special accommodations, discouraging all but the most determined to use such a weapon.

3) An attack against a commercial airliner with a .50 BMG rifle would be ineffective for terrorist objectives. Radical Islamic jihadists, like those that committed the attacks on September 11, 2001, want to get the most bang for their buck. Part of their religion is to kill as many non-Muslims as possible. They believe that they will be rewarded in heaven for this, and the more infidels you kill, the greater your reward. The danger presented as support for this ban is not a selective attack on one individual, say like assassinating the president, but a multiple casualty assault that will earn them as much Jannah-credit as possible. The motives of other terrorists are similar, to cause as much death and destruction as they can. To this end, a .50 caliber rifle fired at an airplane on or close to the ground would not be very effective. Attempting to fire on passengers from outside the plane would be highly inaccurate and unlikely to produce their desired body count. Attempting to fire on the pilots or engines would be entirely ineffective while the plane was stationary and cause less damage than they would hope for during taxi, take-off or landing. The desired result of killing most or all onboard would more likely be cause by hijacking and crashing the airplane from onboard or assaulting it with rocket-propelled explosives.

The most ridiculous thing about this ban, aside from the fact that terrorists won't care if the use of .50 BMG rifles is banned while attacking airplanes, is that they are only banned in California. As Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes says, it's still available in 49 states. That means it's only banned in one. If anyone were serious about attacking aircraft with small arms they could just go to Arizona, buy the exact same rifle, after finding a supplier, paying the heavy retail price and finding transportation that can accommodate it, and bring it back into California.

The fact is that citizens of California are no safer with this legislation in place than they were before, but the anti-gun lobbyists want to expand the ban to other states and eventually the entire country. What's stopping them? People like me who support the gun lobby. What gun-grabbing politicians don't seem to realize is that they do not actually represent the majority of Americans. They make plenty of claims about everyone agreeing that these guns or those guns should be banned, but the opposition to their policies evidences the strength of pro-gun sentiment.

Some claim that it is only the gun industry's funding that keeps gun-control legislation from being passed. That is wrong. The reason that the gun lobby is so strong is because there so many, many people like me who value their Second Amendment rights and take appropriate action to protect them by supporting organizations like the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America. Even if it were the case that the gun industry funds the gun lobby, where do you think the gun industry gets it's capital? From people like me who buy and use guns.

A serious threat to the freedom of gun ownership will be sworn into office on January 20, 2009. Barack Obama is no friend of gun-owners and with a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate, we can expect to see plenty more gun-control legislation in coming years. If you want to protect your right to keep and bear arms here are a few things you can do:

1) Buy a gun. Exercising your rights is the best way to keep them. You have much less room to complain about losing a right if you never used it in the first place. Purchasing a firearm strengthens the gun industry and our country's economy as a whole. The next time you get a economic stimulus check, do what I did, use it to buy a gun.

2) Join the NRA or GOA. These are the two biggest gun rights organizations in the country. These are what the Brady Campaign and Joyce Foundation hate and fear. These are your best option for protecting your individual right to own and use a firearm.

3) Register to vote and participate in elections. We live in a representative republic. That means that while your vote isn't counted for every policy the government implements your voice does count in selecting who represents you. Voting isn't really that difficult or time-consuming. You can also contact your representatives and let them know that the issue of private gun ownership is important to you.

All right, that's all for now. Thanks for bearing with me.
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