Friday, December 28, 2012

The Gun Show Loophole

One of the things gun control advocates often call for is closing the "gun show loophole".  There isn't a gun show loophole to speak of in firearm laws, the term is used to mislead people into thinking anyone can buy anything they want at a gun show without any controls.  That's not true.

When people say they want to close the gun show loophole, it's hard to take them seriously in debate.  Using that inflammatory term shows the user is either pushing partisan propaganda or misinformed on the subject.  There's far too much emotion in today's gun control debate, so I wanted to clarify what happens at gun shows and how that applies to laws today.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The New Gun Ban

If you've been following the news, you know that President Obama has tasked Biden with heading a committee to draft a new gun ban.  As well, Diane Feinstein stated she would be introducing a new gun ban bill on the first day of the legislative session.  This shouldn't shock anyone, as she introduces gun control legislation with regular frequency.  Whether or not her bill will end up being the bill Biden recommends remains to be seen.   But today we have Feinstein releasing her bill, so we can discuss that.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Media Companies and Their Code of Honor

Since the tragic school shooting we've seen many companies react.  Cheaper Than Dirt announced it was going to stop selling firearms.  Dick's Sporting Goods have pulled self-loading rifles from shelves.  Cerberus Capital has announced it's intent to sell off the Freedom Group.  All of these are reasonable reactions to the possibility of bad press.  Whether or not I agree with the decisions, I can certainly understand the perspective from which they were made.

The Discovery Channel is dropping shows like Gun Country, American Guns and Sons of GunsCBS is dropping 3 Gun Nation, stating they are imposing:
indefinite moratorium on the broadcasting of any gun-related outdoor programming

Now, I've never seen any of those shows, mostly because I think reality TV is stupid.  Honestly, some of the crap that airs on Discovery anymore makes me glad I don't have access to it.  But as mentioned before, I'm not a fan of reality TV in general.  I can't say I'll mourn the loss of any reality gun show.

It was more CBS's announcement that caught my eye.  They are putting a hiatus on "gun-related outdoor programming", while continuing to run shows that show illegal gun use and brutal murder.  Is showing safe gun competitions really the evil thing here?  Look at the top rated shows on CBS, three of them deal with murder.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What the Assault Weapon Ban Actually Was

After we have a mass shooting in the US, there are often calls for new gun control laws.  We have created a great many gun free zones (where, incidentally, almost all of these mass shootings take place, despite the law) and many states have firearm restrictions in addition to federal law.  A common suggestion is a renewal of the Assault Weapon Ban (henceforth referred to as AWB).  In an effort to explain exactly what the AWB was I've decided to write this post.

If you want to read the full description of the AWB as it was enacted, you can do so here.  But you probably don't, so I'll instead show you pictures of guns that were and were not covered under the AWB.  I talked to some friends and came up with these pictures of various rifles that are all similar mechanically.

Inequality in Tragic Deaths of Children

This week there is a lot of discussion about how to prevent the murder of children.  This isn't surprising, tragedy often inspires people to try to make the world a better place.  It's good that we live in an open society where we can discuss topics like this, and I enjoy hearing the thoughts of my friends.  I hope we can come up with a way to positively impact the world as a result.

But something bothers me.  Everyone I know is torn up about the recent school shooting in Connecticut, and rightfully so.  But that makes me wonder why people (my friends and the American populace as a whole) don't care as deeply (or enough to take action or even talk about it)when other children are murdered. 

Our current elected officials continue to drop bombs on civilians in countries we aren't at war with, and the innocent children killed in that greatly exceed the children killed in this school shooting.  Why is that?  Do people really put politics ahead of caring for murdered children?  Why aren't people equally outraged when children are killed in Pakistan?  I'd think we should be more outraged, at least mass murderers in the US are held accountable.  How many politicians and generals will never be charged?

Or why don't we care that every day children are murdered in Mexico, many with guns our country provided?  The dead in Mexico as a byproduct of the war on drugs runs in the tens of thousands, many of those being children.  Why don't my friends care about that as deeply as they care about the recent school massacre?

Do people care just because it is in the news?  Because it's inside our borders?  Because the kids come from rich, white families and not poor brown ones?  If it's due to any of those reasons it's horrifying. 

If you care about children being murdered enough to do something about it, I encourage you to include the children in Pakistan and Mexico in those actions.  Because our government officials can have more of an impact over the murders in Pakistan and Mexico than they can to prevent domestic murder, at least in the short term.  I don't think think we should ignore school shootings or the violence problem in the US, not at all.  Only while doing that we shouldn't ignore the transgressions of our country when they involve the death of children in other countries, especially when those can be addressed easily if there is enough public outcry. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Regulating Guns Like Cars

I often hear people who support stricter gun control laws say "We need to regulate guns like cars!  It's far too easy for people to buy guns!".  They are often shocked when I agree with their first statement.  I'd support modeling firearm ownership after automobile ownership.

In this country a person with the cash or credit can buy a great many different types of automobiles.  If a 12 year old has a stack of cash, he can buy a car for that stack of cash.  That 12 year old can buy that car without a background check, and he can operate that vehicle at his whim in any manner he chooses on private property.

Wait, what?

People conflate "owning cars" with "meeting the legal requirements to operate motor vehicles on public roads".  I can own a wide variety of vehicles that don't meet the standard for public road use.  I can own and use a nitro-fueled funny car on private property, like a race track.  I can take a clunker that won't pass emissions and use it in the demolition derby.  I can turn my Jeep into a rock-crawling beast and see how far up a mountain I can get.  I can own a four-wheeler or a dirt bike and tear around on tracks or in the woods.  On private property, I can rip out my airbags and ABS.  I'm not required to license a vehicle or keep insurance.  I don't need a drivers license.  That would be thrilling if that standard was applied to guns.  That means I could own any gun I wanted, like machine guns or anti-tank guns, provided I only used them on private property, like gun ranges or my own property.  I'd be quite tickled by that.

I'd gladly trade that for more onerous restrictions when using guns in public.  I don't think passing a test to carry a gun in public is a bad idea.  Having liability insurance is probably a good idea even today, it's why many people carry a blanket policy to cover themselves above and beyond automobile and home insurance.  Having the government set safety standards for pistols that are carried in public seem reasonable- something that passes a drop test perhaps.  Maybe even stipulating ammo used offers limited penetration, that seems like a good idea.  Requiring mufflers like on cars would be awesome, the process to purchase a product to make your gun quieter today is expensive and very involved.  I'd happily trade those things for more freedom on private property by adopting a policy where guns are regulated more like cars.

School Shootings

It's awful what happened today at schools in China and the US, where two men, one with a knife and one with a gun, killed dozens of people.  It caused me to read this old blog entry, and it's a sentiment I continue to hold.  I wish I knew a fix, but sadly I do not.  Reason magazine breaks down the data and makes some suggestions on preventing mass shootings, and they seem like reasonable ideas.

My heart goes out to the families who have lost members today.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Reality TV

Turns out something I've suspected for a long time is true, I am better than people who watch reality TV.  :-)

A recent study shows people who watch reality TV are more neurotic and have lower self-esteem than people who don't.  They are also more extroverted, although if they base their ideas of normal behavior in public on reality TV, that's probably a bad thing.

Put down the remote and live your life!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Firearm Reliability and Custom Rifles

In general, modern firearms are very reliable.  It's rare for a firearm produced from a major manufacturer to have problems that aren't related to substandard ammunition or magazines.  If a firearm should encounter a problem, most manufacturers have a policy to repair at no cost to the owner, shy of perhaps shipping costs.  I've experienced this with both Smith and Wesson and Ruger in the last 5 years.  Neither resolution was speedy, but in both cases an issue was remedied to my satisfaction.  The Ruger firearm repaired was even one that I had purchased used.  It's hard to find manufacturers that stand by their products like that.

Neither of my problems were caused by the manufacturer, btw.  My issue with the Ruger Vaquero was traced to aftermarket springs installed by the former owner.  It seems one of those failed.  It's amazing that Ruger fixed it at all, much less for free.  My issue with a S&W involved an improperly sized barrel included with my pistol, a barrel provided by a vendor.  Yes, S&W failed to quality check that part, but once it was brought to their attention it was replaced without issue.

I have guns that I have thousands of rounds through and haven't needed to replace any parts.  Most firearms made today are very durable and reliable.  This thread isn't about those- it's about guns that aren't offered by manufacturers, guns that people commonly assemble themselves, AR-15's.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Where to Buy a Gun

If you are new to firearms, you may be wondering where a good place is to buy a gun.  Much like buying an automobile or a new washing machine, there are a variety of places you can get one.  I have some advice, don't go to a big box store.

By "big box" I mean places like Cabelas, Walmart, Dick's, Bass Pro Shop, Gander Mountain, Academy and other big stores that sell sporting goods.  If you aren't very familiar with firearms, those are bad places to buy a gun.  There are a variety of reasons for this.

Monday, December 10, 2012

How 22's Rock

I went to a shooting event last weekend.  It was a great time, I met new people, did some things well and realized how much improvement I need in other areas.  There was a mixture of long range shooting, close-quarters work and some timed drills, including a string of 27 targets ranging from 20 to 400 yards with a couple hundred yards of running in between stages.  That was fun!

On that drill I managed to miss the least amount of targets, but I did miss all three shots at 400 yards. That was annoying, especially since I took forever setting up for those shots and getting my breathing under control.  But it was still fun, and I got some great exercise running along with other people as the timer and score keeper.  After everyone ran that drill, people were bushed, so we slowed it down a bit and broke out the 22 rimfire guns.  While observing (and timing) people shoot I realized something.

Everyone was faster and more accurate with 22's than with centerfire handguns.

Yes, everyone.  Every person who shot that drill with a rimfire and another gun was faster and more accurate with the 22.  From the guy who is competitive at 3-gun matches to the relative newbie, every single person was both more accurate and faster on the handgun drills shooting a 22 than the centerfire pistol of their choice.  Our fastest shooter cleared 10 targets at 20 yards in less than 5 seconds with a Ruger 22 handgun.  His best time using a 9mm was 7.x seconds and he missed two of the targets.  Other people had similar results.

This is why I don't hesitate to recommend a 22 as a person's first handgun, even if it is their intent to only own one handgun.  It's the best tool to develop skills and safe habits.  It's 5x cheaper to shoot than the cheapest centerfire cartridge.  And a person is unlucky enough to have to use a firearm defensively, it's highly likely they will be able to shoot faster and more accurately than with a more powerful firearm.  In defensive use of firearms, the most important part is hitting your target, and people prove to me time and time again they do that better with 22's than with other calibers, even people who are competition level shooters.

And quite honestly, I think 3 well placed shots with a 22 will compare favorably in a defensive scenario to 2 less accurate shots with something more powerful.  I'm not suggesting a 22 is better for the purpose, only that it brings something to the table.