Tuesday, August 28, 2012

All Hail the Police State, part 7

There has been a lot of concern about the use of drone strikes on civilian populations in countries we aren't currently at war with.  It's a legitimate concern, as this sort of thing has increased under Obama's rule. 

This week we have some insight into how Romney and Ryan will run this country if they win.  If the Republican Convention is any indication, it will be a police state.  During the only large protest so far, armored police outnumbered protesters 4 to 1.  That's a great way to respect free speech!

In addition to all the cops, we have both drones and unmanned vehicles called Wraiths being deployed.  Way to suppress a population so you can bring your friends in to party!  This may end up being the most depressing presidential election ever, the candidates from the two ruling parties both really suck.

BTW, both the aerial and ground based drones are provided by United Drones.  It'll be interesting to see how many politicians have their hands in the pockets of the various companies that are providing all this hardware. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Effective Range of Your 223 or 5.56 Rifle

After having several discussions with friends I did some research on the effective range of AR-15 rifles using various types of ammunition.  In this post I'm going to discuss the maximum effective range of the most common bullet weight and type, 55gr full metal jacket (FMJ).  As many people know the standard 55gr full metal jacket projectile's primary wounding capability comes from fragmentation.  There is wounding performed by hydrostatic shock as well, and of course the path of the bullet.  If a bullet itself hits a major blood vessel or vital organ it can of course be lethal.  But when a bullet expands or fragments it greatly increases both the wound channel and the potential to damage something vital.  It's a morbid topic, but if you use a firearm for hunting or defense, you want it to be effective, so it's an important discussion.

If a person chooses 55gr .223 or 5.56 NATO ammo for use in a defensive carbine it's important to fully understand the fragmentation qualities and understand what the maximum distance is at which a bullet fired from your rifle will still possess fragmentation qualities.  This is because it takes a fair bit of velocity to give the bullet enough energy to fragment when it strikes a target.  Most experts suggest the necessary velocity to ensure reliable fragmentation is 2700 fps.  I've chosen this bullet for this discussion because by a large amount it's the most common bullet found in .223 and 5.56 ammo.

Banning Firearms on College Campuses

When laws or rules go into place banning firearms from a given geographic area, they are based on the idea that the people who inhabit those areas cannot be trusted with carrying or owning firearms that the rest of the world is trusted with.

Banning firearms from college campuses suggest that we trust a 23 year old working on their masters less than a 23 year old who works in construction, or sales, or is even chronically unemployed.  It means we trust a professor less than a manager of a construction company.  That seems foolish to me.  If our best and brightest are really being cultivated in our nations universities, then I think it's rational to allow them the same rights of people who choose to live or work in other places and quite honestly stupid to ban firearms on a university campus.

Hierarchy of Concealed Carry Choices

There are a lot of opinions about regarding what the "best" concealed carry gun is, what caliber it should be and how it should be carried.  Treat these opinions as something to inspire thought and not an edict.  The type of gun, caliber and carry position are all very personal things.  I'd like to offer some thoughts on the subject.

This post will be much like another post I've done, Hierarchy of Firearm Choices for Prepared Families.  In that I lay out a pyramid of choices that a person can look at.  The most important attributes are listed first, these are the basis that other choices build upon.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Supporting Innovation

I'm a moderator on an internet forum that gets a fair bit of firearm discussion.  As with any internet community, you get people with strong opinions who are willing to argue those opinions until they lack the breath (or in this case fingertips) to continue.  One of the opinions I see come up frequently is the one eschewing various cartridges that aren't ideal.

The beauty of the concept is many different people have different concepts of ideal.  They often struggle to see a perspective other than their own.  And listening to a bunch of guys on an internet forum tell you how much ammo you should have, how much you should spend on guns and training, or how much gun is "enough" for a given scenario is like asking a tattoo artist how many tattoos you should get or waiting for your meth dealer to tell you when you've had enough.  It's not a good idea.  :-)

There are certainly optimal cartridges for different situations.  If you shoot 2,000 rounds a year in handguns alone, the cost per round is a much more significant consideration than a person who shoots a couple boxes of ammo every 6 months.  If you are into training, or guns, or preparedness with guns you are going to have different goals and ideas of optimal than a casual gun owner.

Are You Undergunned?

In short, the answer is "yes" if you are thinking of the topic from a strictly hardware perspective.  If you have to defend yourself from a potentially deadly attack, being armed with anything less than a tank is sub-optimal.  But life is all about balancing risk vs reward and using the tools we have.  Very few of us have tanks at our disposal.

So instead we choose a firearm, as it's a tool that is powerful enough and portable enough to use day to day.  Maybe we have a small firearm we carry every day, or have available in the home, like a handgun.  Maybe we have a rifle or shotgun available at home for defensive purposes.  We each have to choose a tool that works well for our given situation and balance risk vs reward.  If we have children about, keeping guns locked up is an imperative.  What methods we have to secure firearms certainly plays into the equation.

But in this post I wanted to cover two topics.  First, criminals in general tend to be poorly armed.  The streets are awash with illegal guns and little knowledge about said guns.  Except for rare instances or organized crime, criminals tend to not have lots of ammo on hand or the most modern, durable and reliable firearms with them.  This is for a couple reasons.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Panic Buying

As we approach the fall elections it becomes time for a subset of Americans to start panic buying firearms and ammunition.  It seems that every so often people get the idea that someone in some government body is going to pass a law or write a regulation that will prevent them from buying their favorite firearm or type of ammo.  Of course, they think this because it's happened before, but I'm going to suggest that people often panic buy when there isn't actually a threat.

As mentioned, from time to time government bodies propose and even pass laws restricting goods that were allowed prior.  In 1934, 1968 and 1986 large bills were passed that banned certain types of firearms from common ownership, manufacture or purchase.  These all had very significant effects on the market.  We've had laws that have banned bullets that get the label of "armor piercing" on the state and federal level.  We've had whole classes of firearms banned from importation.  We had the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) that banned a bunch of firearms and any detachable magazine that held more than 10 cartridges to be sold new to non-government civilians.  So it's reasonable that people who remember history are a little jumpy about missing out on something that's about to be banned.  When something gets banned it freezes the supply and prices go up, if you remember your high school economics class.  So, if I want product X, I should buy it before a law or regulation restricts the supply.  It's a reasonable thought for a person who thinks ahead.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why Should People Own AR-15s?

This is a question that often gets asked after a mass shooting, and it's a reasonable time to discuss the subject.  Mass shootings would not be as impactful if the evil men that committed them were limited in what guns they have access to.  If only black powder guns were available then mass shootings would involve less casualties.  If fully automatic explosive gyrojet rifles or laser machine guns were available, then casualty counts would likely be higher.  Technology creates ever more powerful tools as time marches on, and firearms are among those.

I'd like to discuss guns, their availability and laws regulating firearms.  As any user of illegal drugs can attest, making things illegal doesn't make them go away.  It can work to restrict access by citizens who follow the law.  But many laws don't dissuade people who are devoted to breaking them.  Look at the prevalence of pot, and flagrant breaking of traffic laws by people you probably know.  Sure, the laws cut down on the activity some, but they certainly don't stop it.

That's not suggesting we shouldn't have laws.  We should.  Without laws we can't have a civilized society.  But passing laws banning or restricting access to items that are in general circulation are generally not very effective.  For a 10 year period in the US there was a ban against a newly defined class of firearms called "Assault Weapons" and the sale of any detachable magazine that held more than 10 cartridges.  Even the advocates of this law can't point out a drop in crime or a drop in crime using the weapons banned during that time period.  It was largely ineffective.

But regardless, I wanted to discuss why a civilian should want or even need to own an AR-15 style rifle.  There are lots of reasons depending on your views.  You may find you agree with one or more of the reasons listed.