Tonight is another LIVE episode of The Gun Nation Podcast! I’ll be joining Doc Wesson and Average Joe to talk about guns, shooting, and everything related.
This episode we’re going to have a special guest: Ian McCollum, the brains behind the Forgotten Weapons blog. If you’ve never been to his site, you’re not much of a gun nut! Ian looks at rare, unusual, and downright fascinating guns and goes into detail you won’t find anywhere else. We’ve got a lot of questions for him, and I predict this is going to be a SUPERB show!
When it comes to the Second Amendment, there are idealists and realists. I’m a little of both.
The idealist in me says that the Amendment is quite clear, and that it should be sufficient in and of itself. “Keep and bear arms” should mean that we would not be prevented from possessing and carrying personal arms (as opposed to ordnance; I believe the founder’s use of the word ‘arms’ was specific for a reason, like everything else they put there.) Any restriction on that ability would seem to be an infringement of the type the founders specifically disallowed.
At the same time the realist in me understands that the courts have generally upheld the concept of ‘time, place, and manner’ restrictions on some enumerated rights. In general, as long as those restrictions were ‘reasonable’ and ‘nondiscriminatory’ they have been allowed to stand. This is probably why we have concealed carry permit laws instead of nationwide so-called constitutional carry: many people see asking permission to exercise what is supposed to be a right as reasonable.
It’s in this chasm between what the Second Amendment says and what the courts have interpreted that our fights happen. We in the shooting community generally believe that the time, place and manner restrictions in place already go further than necessary, to the point of infringement of our rights, while the gun prohibitionists believe they don’t go nearly far enough and aren’t infringements because they are both reasonable and non-discriminatory.
Do I believe we’ve actually been infringed? Yes, I do. The rights of gun owners have been infringed since at least 1934, and those infringements have almost always been allowed by the courts. Do I believe restrictions have always been reasonable? No, I don’t. Do I believe they’ve always been non-discriminatory? Most certainly not!
This is where pragmatism comes in: I’m deeply supportive of the meaning behind the Amendment, but smart enough to understand that there are political realities with which we must contend even if we don’t like them. While wild-eyed idealism is emotionally gratifying, it doesn’t always (in fact, rarely seems to) produce the results it seeks.
We have to deal with time, place and manner restrictions because they’re part of the legal system; with legislation of responsibilities, not necessarily because we always do something to deserve it but simply because the American people are used to it in all areas of life; and with a general disregard for the language and intent of the Founders, because no one these days really seems to care what they thought!
Whether we like it or not, we live in a political playground and our rights (all of them, not just the Second Amendment) are fodder for all manner of legislation and restriction — some proper, most not. In this environment, absolutists lose.
This is why my personal belief with regard to the Second Amendment has become “net zero”: for any attempted infringement that occurs, we should attempt to eliminate another. The reality is that infringements are here, and at some level they’re here to stay; I can’t imagine anyone really believing that we’ll ever be able to roll back the Gun Control Act of 1968, let alone the National Firearms Act of 1934. If we can chip away at them, however, at least we won’t lose in the aggregate.
This idea of net zero is not compromise! Compromise occurs when two entities have incompatible positions, and agree to modify their positions in order to reach a mutually desired goal. When we’re dealing with gun prohibitionists, their goal is to restrict or eliminate legal gun ownership; that’s certainly not a goal I share with them! My position is simple: the Second Amendment says certain things, and I want that to be respected today even if it wasn’t yesterday.
That doesn’t mean we should happily accept equilibrium with the prohibitionists, of course! If we have a position of strength, if we’re in a position to get something without any bargaining, we should use that opportunity to use incrementalism in our favor. The great thing is that when we make a gain, we have a new, better baseline for those times when we can only achieve net zero. Over time, using both gain when we can and net zero when we can’t, we’ll make positive progress.
This is what the gun prohibitionists have been doing to us for years, and we should do the same thing to them. We can’t, though, if we stick our heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge the social and political landscape. (More gun owners need to read Saul Alinsky.)
That’s the pragmatic view of the Second Amendment: it shouldn’t be infringed but it has been, and the likelihood is that it will continue to be unless we take an active role and play the political game to win - or at least to not lose. I don’t believe in just yelling ‘Molon Labe!’ and hoping that will impress someone, and I don’t believe in shirking the responsibilities that always accompany a right in order to make some misguided sociopolitical statement. I want us to win, and understand that in order to do so we have to play the game.
Does this make me less of a Second Amendment supporter than the absolutists? Hardly! My dream would be to take the Second back to the pure meaning the Founders intended — but I also know that it’s just a dream. I’ve got the dreams of the idealist, but understand that it’s the realists who will actually make progress in the direction I want to go.
A long time ago someone told me that you either acknowledge reality and use it to your advantage, or it will automatically work against you. I’ve seen that validated more times than I can possibly count. The more victories the realists make, the closer the idealists get to their goal. This is what works, as even a superficial reading of recent history will show.
The latest (December) issue of Guns & Ammo magazine started hitting mailboxes last week, and attention has quickly turned to an astonishingly disappointing article written by its editor, Dick Metcalf.
In an article titled “Let’s Talk Limits”, Metcalf parrots one of the central ideas of the anti-gun crowd: that the Second Amendment’s “well regulated” language means it’s acceptable to make regulations (laws) which infringe on the application and practice of the Amendment. This flies in the face of current interpretation which says “a well regulated militia” (the full clause) means that the body - the militia - is well drilled, practiced, and maintained. American English has changed over the years to the point that this meaning of the word regulated has fallen out of common use, but you can still find it in the dictionary. In the time when the Constitution was drafted, that was the common definition and it was well understood. Modern scholarship has confirmed this.
To be well regulated, the militia (which was comprised of all able-bodied males) required the availability of and access to the weapons they would need in order to maintain their proficiency. That’s why the Amendment was written: to maintain access to personal defensive arms for the people so that they could protect themselves and, by extension, their country.
Metcalf’s article buys into the idea that regulated means legislated, and then — inexplicably for someone who calls himself an expert on Constitutional law — uses his misunderstanding to say, in essence, that all legislated infringements are perfectly acceptable because they’re just the regulations that the Amendment allows.
This is, obviously, nonsense.
This lack of understanding of the language and historical background of the Second Amendment leads Metcalf to regurgitate a number of prohibitionist talking points, including the ridiculous comparisons to automobiles and driver’s licenses. He ends by defending government-required training (he thinks a mandatory sixteen hour class is reasonable) for people who wish to carry their gun, concealed, in public. If you want to see the whole sorry apologist screed, you can download the PDF of his article and judge for yourself.
This call for more gun control from an industry veteran, under a poor understanding of the Amendment he claims to support, is a sad day for the shooting fraternity. As a community we’ve worked hard to educate the American gun owner about the Second Amendment, and we’ve made information about the anti-gunner’s talking points, and how to counter them, readily available. Mr. Metcalf’s article read as though he wasn’t aware any of that has happened.
Remember RECOIL magazine and its editor, Jerry Tsai? He made less inflammatory statements in a relatively niche publication. Metcalf and Guns & Ammo are in another league altogether in terms of their visibility; this is a major, mainstream industry magazine, one read by a big percentage of the gun owning public. Its prominent editor has given a large amount of space (not to mention credibility) to agree with some of the most common anti-gun talking points. Make no mistake: This is a big win for the prohibitionist forces, as it confirms in their minds the beliefs they’ve been promulgating for decades. We will see this used against us.
Should they be held to a different standard than RECOIL and Tsai just because they’re bigger? I don’t think so.
At the very real risk of my being blacklisted with his employer: Guns & Ammo needs to apologize for allowing this tripe to be printed in their magazine. They should start to repair the damage to the community by immediately and clearly distancing themselves from the opinions expressed and reaffirming their support for the Second Amendment. If they can’t bring themselves to do so, then they (and their advertisers) deserve to be relieved of their reader’s financial support.
(Let me be clear: I don’t know Metcalf, never met him, and have no reason to wish him any personal ill will. At the same time, he’s done something that gives aid and perhaps some comfort to those who seek to eliminate my rights to self protection as guaranteed by the Second Amendment. He shouldn’t be given a pass for doing this to me and to every other member of the shooting community.)
It occurs to me that my own my point of view regarding gun ownership rights may not be completely clear to everyone, so on Wednesday I’ll tell you what I believe about the Second Amendment and RTKBA activism in the current age. Can idealism and pragmatism co-exist where the Second Amendment is concerned? Tune in Wednesday and find out.
I'm scheduled to appear on Gun Talk Radio with Tom Gresham this Sunday at 3:05 Eastern/12:05 Pacific to discuss the Starbucks fiasco (though I'm sure a few other things will come up as well!) Check their website for a station near you, or listen online.
In case you missed the news yesterday, the President/CEO of Starbucks finally got fed up with conflict stirred up by the open carry faction of the shooting community and said, in effect, "no more." In a statement on the company's blog he posted a note (which you need to read to understand clearly what this is all about) which asked people to leave their guns at home when visiting any of his stores.
This all happened because Starbucks once said that they will respect local laws in regard to firearms. When the strongest proponents of civilian disarmament were pushing them to ban the concealed carry of guns in their stores, Starbucks took the the position that they didn't want to get involved, that they would simply follow the law in their locality. I thought that was an enlightened and appropriate way for a large company to approach the issue.
Unfortunately too many people on our side of the fence took that to mean that Starbucks was pro-gun and that they needed our support. Further, that support had to be in the form of in-your-face open carry, and even further that it needed to be done in an organized manner on pre-arranged days so that Starbucks would get the message.
They got it, they didn't like the consequences of it, and now they've said so in plain English.
You see, those misguided events put them squarely in the firing line between us the people like Dianne Feinstein and Michael Bloomberg. They didn't want to be there; they had taken what they thought was a neutral position, but we couldn't leave well enough alone. We had to push the envelope, and they finally -- predictably -- pushed back.
This happened because our side doesn't take the "responsible" part of "responsible gun ownership" very seriously. As a community we don't police our own very well, and we don't consider the consequences of our/their actions. The rabid open carriers who organized the ill-considered Starbucks Appreciation Days weren't being responsible by forcing a conflict on an innocent (and surprisingly tolerant, given what they've had to endure) third party; neither were the open carriers who participated in them, nor the rest of us who didn't step up and remind the others what responsibility actually means.
It's one thing to go out and antagonize cops for the purposes of getting YouTube hits; it's another to take advantage of the accepting nature of someone else and use it for political gain. That's what we did with Starbucks, it was wrong, and it's time for the rest of us to set things right.
The most amazing thing is that today, based on what I'm seeing on blogs and social media, a large number of gun owners are inexplicably mad. They're posting that they'll never do business with Starbucks again because the company "sided" with the gun prohibitionists.
That's not only shortsighted, it's ignorant.
Starbucks have simply said that they no longer want to be a proxy in our war, thankyouverymuch, and to please just leave them out of it. They're not saying that they oppose gun ownership, lawful concealed carry, self defense, or anything else. They just don't want us to use them as a political football any more. They're not our enemies, but only because they apparently have more tolerance for us than we do for them.
Instead of arrogant declarations of indignation ("how dare you assert your right to be left alone!"), I think it's time all of the RESPONSIBLE gun owners patronize Starbucks. Politely, with completely concealed firearms and without calling any attention to ourselves in any manner, and just enjoying the fact that Starbucks hasn't gone down the road of rejecting the shooting community completely.
At least, not yet. If it happens it won't be because of the gun grabbers; it will be due to a small faction of our community that insists on carrying guns for political purposes and using others as political footballs. That's irresponsible, and it's time for the rest of us to tell them so. -=[ Grant ]=- P.S.: the Starbucks servers have apparently crashed this morning. Here is the statement in its entirety:
Posted by Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer
Dear Fellow Americans,
Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.
From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a “third place” between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community. Our values have always centered on building community rather than dividing people, and our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.
We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws, and we recognize the deep passion for and against the “open carry” laws adopted by many states. (In the United States, “open carry” is the term used for openly carrying a firearm in public.) For years we have listened carefully to input from our customers, partners, community leaders and voices on both sides of this complicated, highly charged issue.
Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement—not by Starbucks and our store partners.
Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.
For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.
I would like to clarify two points. First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on. Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.
I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.
I’ve avoided discussing this until the trial was finished, as I knew that we’d not gotten all the facts in the matter. Today we at least know that the jury saw no reason to convict him of a crime, and at this point he is a free man. That may change, as the federal government is making noises about a civil rights indictment, but so far it’s just saber rattling.
There are three aspects of the case which interest me, because they have a direct impact on the legally armed citizen. The first concerns the myth of the “clean shoot”; second, the realities of political-motivated prosecutions; and finally, how our legitimate and legal activities might contribute to such an incident.
I’ve written many times about the idea of the “clean shoot”, and each time I’ve said that there is no such thing. This case is yet another example. Many internet forums promote the idea that if the shoot is “clean”, nothing else matters. According to this myth the gun you use, the ammunition in it, your demeanor, your previous actions and comments don’t matter. All that matters is if the shoot is a “good” one.
As I’ve also said, it’s not up to you, me or the keyboard commando hiding behind a pseudonym in the forum who gets to decide that. Ultimately someone else will, and that person is likely to be a judge or, collectively, a jury. How they decide whether it is justifiable may hinge on their perceptions of your personality - and they may be antagonistic to you or your exercise of your right of self defense.
Everything related to a shooting is fair game in the courtroom, whether you think it should be or not. Again, there is no such thing as a clean shoot until it’s judged that way by someone else, and everything related to it will impact that judgement. The prosecution did everything they could to implicate all of Zimmerman’s pre-incident activity, to try to prove that he was an inherently evil individual who was simply frothing at the mouth to kill someone. If you watched any of the trial, you saw those prosecutorial antics — and they should give you serious pause.
Carry extra-hot handloads with competition-light triggers and put Punisher emblems on your gun’s grips if you want, but I certainly wouldn’t want to try to explain those in the kind of courtroom Zimmerman faced! At best they’re unnecessary distractions, and at worst they might just push a juror over the edge to vote ‘guilty’.
I can hear the refrain already: “they can use anything against you, so why worry about it?” My position is the opposite: why give them additional ammunition that you don’t need to, especially when it might be the one little thing which cements your presumed guilt? A trial is never just about objective, unemotional facts; you’re dealing with the perceptions, preconceptions, prejudices, and personalities of other people. How they view things is likely to be very different than how you do.
This will be especially true if, like Zimmerman, you face a politically motivated prosecution. It doesn’t happen only with nationally reported cases, either! If your local DA is wrangling for a higher office, he or she might bring cases to trial in an effort to curry favor with the voters. (They may also bring certain cases in an attempt to silence certain segments of the public. It happens.)
This case should be a sobering lesson to all of us. Even if you do everything right, even if your response was as clean as the driven snow, you can still become a victim of political pressure. We’ve learned from the former police chief in Zimmerman’s town that when he refused to arrest Zimmerman (due to lack of evidence), he came under intense pressure from the powers-that-be. He was ultimately fired for refusing to subordinate justice to public opinion. The case was taken from the local DA and given to the state’s “special prosecutor” because of the political pressure to get a conviction. Lots of people in high places wanted a conviction at any cost, regardless of Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence, and they nearly got their wish.
When you have a prosecutor who wants to climb the political ladder combined with national political pressure and a frenzied public, an unmeritorious prosecution is bound to occur. Anyone can become a scapegoat if the sociopolitical stars are aligned in just the right way, and small imperfections in the case can become the fissures under which justice crumbles.
Should this keep you from carrying or owning a firearm for protection? Certainly not, but it should cause you to pause and consider your habits and training. Aside from knowing how to defend yourself (using tools or hands), you also need to know how to navigate the legal system should you find yourself having to use lethal force.
I strongly urge everyone to do two things: first, take MAG-20 from Massad Ayoob. That class is truly the gold standard for judicious use of lethal force, and had Zimmerman taken that class I’m confident he would have handled the incident very differently. It wouldn’t have forestalled the political prosecution, mind you, but it would have left them with even less evidence than they actually had. MAG-20 is one of the very few classes that I think you should consider as being mandatory.
The second thing is to back that education up with a membership in the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. This organization serves to both educate and protect the rights of the person who is forced to use a gun in self defense. Check out their benefits, and then hit the “join” button.
Finally, there has been a lot of discussion about Zimmerman’s culpability in the incident. This discussion invariably revolves around how he could have prevented the shooting, and usually concludes that had Zimmerman not gotten out of his car to keep tabs on Martin he wouldn’t have been attacked and forced to shoot.
I acknowledge that the statement is likely true, but it would also be true to say he could have avoided the entire incident — and all plausible variations — by not getting out of bed that morning. Silly? Yes, but I hope it makes something clear: sometimes even the most innocuous things lead to horrendous results.
Was it reasonable for Zimmerman to have gotten out of his car to get an address and continue his surveillance of a suspicious person? Given participation in his neighborhood watch program, his course of action was likely completely reasonable: watch and report, which is apparently what he was doing.
Did he expose himself to danger? In retrospect, yes. Was that foreseeable? I’m not as sure.
Let’s say I live in a two-story house (I don’t, but I did grow up in one.) If I hear a noise downstairs, I have two choices: investigate, or barricade, arm and call the police. If I chose the latter course of action it wouldn’t be long before the police refused to answer my calls. Why? Because suspicious things happen constantly, and the vast, overwhelming amount of the time they turn out to be nothing. It’s a very small numbers of incidents where something dangerous occurs.
Fact is, if I were in that position I’d more than likely do downstairs and find out what the noise is. The majority of time it’s going to be one of the kids in the refrigerator, or the cat knocking something over, or the wind blowing an open screen door shut, or something else just as common and just as harmless. In fact, I might go my whole life doing that and never finding anything sinister.
In the case of someone on a neighborhood watch committee, I suspect the same thing is true: the majority of the times they observe someone, it turns out to be nothing sinister. (I realize that this varies from place to place, and perhaps in that neighborhood violence was more common.) Getting out of a car, in an effort to keep an eye on someone, is likely (according to what I know about such watch programs) a completely reasonable course of action.
I acknowledge that staying in his car would have prevented the incident, but I’m not so presumptuous as to say that’s always the best course of action. It’s not just because of the waste of scarce police resources, either. In the macro sense, we see what happens when people hide behind their locked doors and wait for someone else to do something: dilapidated, crime infested neighborhoods (sometimes entire towns.) The people who live in such places need to be invested in their own security, need to take ownership of it, if they are to keep their neighborhoods fit places to live. Relying exclusively on a police presence that may never appear (ask anyone who lives in an unincorporated area, or in Detroit) means that the criminal element ultimately has free reign to commit its crimes.
If one lives in a community with good police response, it’s very easy to say that he should have simply waited in his car for the good guys to arrive. I don’t know what his community is like in that regard, and so I’m unwilling to make a blanket statement about what he should have done without knowing a lot more about what he and his fellow citizens were facing.
I have, admittedly, a slightly different perspective on this than many others in the training business. A county in my own state recently made news (on which I’ve commented) because their Sheriffs Office no longer has the money to do regular patrols. Those people don’t have the luxury of waiting in their cars until the boys (and girls) in blue arrive to take charge of the scene. If there’s a suspicious person, those residents are forced to deal with the situation themselves. The alternative is to let their county be overrun with crime. They need the tools (training and knowledge) to know how to deal with the situations they face and any potential aftermath.
That, I think, is really where Zimmerman failed. He didn’t have the skills or the knowledge to competently handle what he was doing, the incident itself, or what followed. To me, this is the most important lesson: if you’re going to carry a gun, get educated. Now would be a very good time!
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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.
Yesterday was the first day of SHOT Show (Monday was Media Day At The Range; the actual show opened on Tuesday.) I'll talk about the hardware on my Facebook page, so please hit the Facebook button to your right to see that stuff.
Today I'd like to talk about the general tone of the show. Yesterday, before the news about our President's impending press conference came out, I'd describe the show as upbeat. Ammunition makers didn't want to talk about supply issues, the AR-15 manufacturers would only smile if you asked them what the delivery times would be, and generally people were very happy with the state of the industry.
This morning, as we wait for the press conference, there is a feeling of unease in the air. There are people here who are genuinely concerned that they'll essentially be put out of business by executive fiat about 11:45 Eastern time. The new legislation in New York, and pending bills in Maryland and points west also have everyone worried - and for good reason.
We've made great strides in the past couple of decades, only to see the possibility of having our progress wiped out in a very short period of time. We haven't been helped by people in our own camp who insist on reinforcing every negative stereotype of the "dangerous gun nut", nor by politicians who stand on polling data rather than principle.
We have a lot of work to do now, and it's going to take everyone being on the same page. It's going to take some political activism, and to that end I'd ask you to go back and read my piece about contacting your elected representatives (both local and national.) Join the NRA (if you haven't already.) Tell the idiots and grandstanders in our own fraternity to shut the hell up. Make sure that your local elected law enforcement (Sheriffs in most places, Chiefs of Police in a few) get the same message as your Congresscritter: that you will not accept any infringement on the rights protected by the Second Amendment.
If we don't do those things, in a few short years there may not be a whole lot of need for a SHOT Show.
Words are powerful things. This is a fact with which I constantly struggle; I've learned, sometimes the hard way, that what I write - the words that I use - can have a marked effect on other people. This realization has been both empowering and chastening and has certainly changed how, and sometimes even what, I write.
Certain combinations of words carry more weight than others, and as I watch what passes for news I see that reality being used to bludgeon us over our exercise of our freedom. Sometimes the manipulation is obvious, sometimes it's subtle, but it's always there.
From Amidst The Noise comes this great video exploring how words are being used to divide us as a nation and even as Second Amendment advocates. Please watch it and share it with others.
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 "email@example.com". 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!
I can't begin to describe my sorrow after the events of last week. We dealt with our own Mall attack here in Oregon, only to turn around and witness the same event - only with more horrific results - in a Connecticut school. My heart grieves for the families, friends, and community of Hook Elementary School.
There is a lot of activity swirling around this event, and frankly it would take me weeks to write enough to cover it all completely, so I'll limit myself to some brief commentary about various aspects.
- There seem to be a lot of British busybodies filling the comments on news sites and Facebook with their sanctimonious hand-wringing. Myopia appears to be even more endemic to their country than poor dental hygiene, and it's ironic that those who chide us for being ignorant about the rest of the world are themselves incredibly ignorant about the gigantic failures of gun control in their own little island cesspool.
- It came out last week that our Mall killer here in Oregon broke off his attack because a licensed concealed carrier drew his own gun in response. The bad guy made eye contact, saw a good guy's gun pointed at him, and ran like the coward he was.(*) I think this stands in stark contrast to the killings in Connecticut, where the school staff could not avail themselves of efficient protection. The drastically different outcomes are of course due to many factors, but it's plausible - and even likely - that a legally armed teacher could have done what Mr. Meli did in Clackamas Town Center. This is a story you need to share, because the mainstream media is “conveniently” ignoring it.
- After any such attack there are always emotional appeals for more gun control. I'm seeing a lot of people on news sites and Facebook arguing the topic, and I'd like all of those who support the Second Amendment to tone it down. When you're dealing with someone whose opinion is based on emotion, arguing with them - either from an emotional or an intellectual basis - usually results in a strengthening of their resolve. However, I've also found over the years that most people become more rational after time has passed as long as they haven't cemented their initial emotional reactions into a decision. In other words, if you argue with them now, when their heads are hot, you won't be able to change their minds later. Let them vent now, and once tempers have cooled you can go back with the rational arguments and stand a better chance of making a change in their opinions.
- When the teleprompter readers in the media go off-script it's painful. I've heard too many comments from on-air bimbos of (both sexes) about mass murders becoming "more common these days" - comments which are repeated by their viewers and listeners across the country. As it happens they are most assuredly becoming neither more common, nor more deadly. A story in National Review debunks the idea.
- Some sort of draconian gun control measure will definitely be introduced in Congress, and will probably make it through the Senate (the House is another story.) Remember what I've been saying over the last few months about welcoming shooters who don't necessarily tow your party's line? Remember what I said about having Democratic friends of the Second Amendment in Congress, and how important they might be if we got into a serious fight for our rights? In light of what we're going to face come January, don't you think today might be a damn good time to tell divisive people like Cope Reynolds, the owner of Southwest Shooting Authority in Pinetop, Arizona to shut the hell up?
- There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, but ultimately we have to remember this: when people have free will, sometimes they will choose to do something bad. That's the other side of freedom of choice, and if you want to have a free society you can't eliminate all risk. This is a truth which seems to be lost on so many people (particularly our British friends.)
-=[ Grant ]=-
( * - I suspected this was the case when I listened to a Deputy Sheriff answer some questions in a news conference right after the incident. It wasn't what he said, it was how he said it that made me believe this had happened. I shared this information privately with a few people, and was gratified to find that I was right!)
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.
I'm on record, going back at least a couple of years, of not being a fan of open carry for political purposes. My stand is simple: you cannot open carry in an area where it's legal to "fight for your rights", because the right already exists. If it already exists, then it comes under the principle of exercising the right responsibly.
The rabid open carry advocates, those who carry with video cameras and actively seek conflicts with police officers, are not exercising their rights responsibly. I believe it's up to the rest of us to call them on their bad behavior, and not fall victim to some misplaced notion of brotherhood.
Rob Pincus is of like mind, and is calling on the normal, responsible, non-attention-seeking open carry practitioners to stand up and be counted. He asked me if he could post a short plea on my blog. Here's Rob:
Irresponsible Open Carry Activism Jeopardizes The RKBA
Guns should be carried for personal defense, not Activism. The best way to do that 99% of the time is Concealed Carry.
Even if people do choose to Open Carry, they shouldn't do it to provoke confrontation nor be uncooperative with the police while doing it. It makes gun owners look bad, turns cops against us, wastes their valuable time and certainly isn't going to make it more likely that people will think "oh, gun owners are normal people, not trouble makers."
Spread the Word. Most people have realized that the time for "solidarity" through tolerance of the guys carrying guns with video cameras has come and gone. Their bravado is jeopardizing our RKBA and should be seen as an embarrassment to responsible gun owners. When the OC Movement started, people carrying while going about their daily business to show responsibly armed people are part of everyday life, it made some sense... but, the extremists have spun out of control. Let's make sure that the firearms community is condemning this behavior.
I am not calling for a change in laws or for us to ostracize people who carry openly in a responsible, civil manner. Perhaps responsible OCers should be most concerned and the most openly critical of those who are using their guns to get (inevitably negative) attention?
Obviously, I am a proponent of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and do not want to to see OC made illegal, but I fear that will happen more and more often, in more and more places (as it already has it one state), if the confrontational actions of a very few reckless people continue.
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.
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 623-582-9635 www.mcmillanusa.com
If you have accounts with BofA, may I suggest that you close them?
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".
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.
On Monday, Rob Pincus posted a note on the I.C.E. Training Facebook page about his opposition to open carry (OC). This is one of Rob's personal 'hot button' issues, and he doesn't shy away from the debate. (Rob doesn't shy away from much, actually, but particularly so with regards to this topic.) It garnered a lot of attention, making the cut at both Gunnuts and Say Uncle (amongst others.)
Given my association with Rob and I.C.E., it wasn't terribly surprising that I should receive an email asking, in essence, if I agree with everything he says. Sometimes yes, sometimes a little less so, but not for the reasons you might think.
On the self defense aspects, I think OC when concealed carry (CC) is available (which is darned near all of the country these days) is silly. I won't debate that point of view at this time, but for now I'll just say that I don't believe OC has any advantage over CC from a tactical standpoint.
On the social and political fronts the situation is a little less clear. I often wonder if the civil rights activists of the 1960s and the gay rights activists of more recent memory would have made the gains they did without their open and sometimes controversial exercise of their rights. Just fifty years ago restaurants and theaters were routinely segregated; thanks to the confrontational activities of civil rights advocates, today integration is so normal that we don't even think about it. The same could be said for abortions and being openly gay.
Whether you agree or disagree with those subjects isn't important to this discussion - what is important is that what was normal was changed, thanks to people who were willing to stand up for their rights and risk ridicule and arrest to mold society's opinions.
To say that such activity was acceptable for them, but not for Second Amendment advocates, seems on the surface to be a little inconsistent.
OC activists insist they're doing the same things for the same reasons, and it would seem to be a hard argument to dismiss. I do think, however, that there is a big difference between open carriers and civil rights marchers: the rights being defended here are already well established (if not in fashion), and are subject to a different standard of comportment. It's called "just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
Rosa Parks was doing something that the law said she couldn't. Open carriers are doing something that the law already says they can. That doesn't seem like a huge difference, but it is.
If OC advocates were carrying guns in areas where laws unjustly say they can't, then I'd support them fully. The problem is they're not, and in my opinion that removes the civil rights rationale from their argument. Carrying a gun openly in a city like Portland, where it is against the law, is advocating for change and pushing people to recognize other's civil rights. Doing it in an area where it's allowed, even if uncommon and misunderstood, is usually just grandstanding.
I understand the argument that rights which are not exercised are ripe for abrogation, and that OC is a strong exercise of Second Amendment rights. That doesn't mean one needs to do so from a posture of defiant confrontation, which seems to be the norm for open carriers. We already possess those rights, and it's incumbent upon us to exercise them responsibly and intelligently. Like it or not, that means not scaring the public.
Yes, people who are scared of the sight of guns are irrational. I agree. Yes, cops who don't know the nuances of the law are ignorant. I agree. Getting belligerent in public isn't going to change either of those. Want to advocate for actual social change? Open carry in a city where it's illegal; get arrested like the civil right marchers did, then use that to help publicize your case for the repeal of unjust and unconstitutional laws.
That's real political activism. Being a contentious loudmouth on YouTube isn’t.
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.
I've been collecting conspiracy theories for the ammo shortage, and I recently heard a great one that supposedly came from a local gun store: FEMA has been buying ammunition companies, then shutting them down to eliminate all civilian ammunition sources.
One needs an awful lot of foil for a tin hat that big...
Uncle and I have something in common: here in Oregon, our legislature also passed a "no texting" law. We went further, though - we added that you couldn't use a handheld cel phone at all. Then we enacted $2 billion of new taxes and spending in the state with the second-highest unemployment in the nation. We're number 49! We're number 49! Go team!
If it's as accurate as expected, I may have to own one. (Sure, I could build one myself, but I'm too busy doing guns for other people. Remember the parable about the shoemaker's children?)
Now, if we could just get them to cease doing business with H-S Precision...
Dr. Helen brings us the story of a woman who fought back against her knife-wielding rapist. Read the comments - some insightful, and some very amusing (in a train wreck sort of way.)
From the Irish Times comes news that the powers-that-be want to ban "practical" shooting (i.e. IPSC, IDPA.) The Irish Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, had this to say:
“It’s simply not in the public interest to tolerate the development of a subculture predicated on a shooting activity which by the liberal standards of the US is regarded as an extreme shooting activity." He said any cursory research on the internet showed that these activities were marketed as being at the “extreme end” of handgun ownership and were “anathema to the tradition of Irish sporting clubs”.
David Kopel at the Independence Institute has a new research paper forthcoming in the Connecticut Law Review. Titled "Pretend 'Gun-Free' School Zones: A Deadly Legal Fiction", it deals with the subject of concealed firearms carry on school campuses. From the abstract:
Most states issue permits to carry a concealed handgun for lawful protection to an applicant who is over 21 years of age, and who passes a fingerprint-based background check and a safety class. These permits allow the person to carry a concealed defensive handgun almost everywhere in the state. Should professors, school teachers, or adult college and graduate students who have such permits be allowed to carry firearms on campus?
In the last two years, many state legislatures have debated the topic. School boards, regents, and administrators are likewise faced with decisions about whether to change campus firearms policies.
This Paper is the first to provide a thorough analysis of the empirical evidence and policy arguments regarding licensed campus carry. Whether a reader agrees or disagrees with the Paper's policy recommendations, the Paper can lay the foundation for a better-informed debate, and a more realistic analysis of the issue.
Sitrep: gunshow vendors tell me that any autoloading rifle is like gold these days (while they can't give away bolt-action hunting rifles.) Concealed handgun licensing is at an all-time high here in Oregon (and a large percentage of applicants are from what is often referred to as the "left" of the political spectrum.) Ammunition shortages continue, as well as components such as bullets and primers.
If I didn't know better, I'd say a lot of people have joined the ranks of "clingers."
Someone recently asked if I still had the same opinion of Taurus revolvers that I did back in 2006. Given my recent experience with the brand-new 856 model, I'd have to say yes. Nothing at Taurus has changed, as near as I can tell.
Late last year, the ProArms Podcast broke the news that Federal was bringing back .38 Special NyClad ammunition. This load was for many years the best standard-pressure .38 Special available. The NyClad is a soft lead hollowpoint of 125 grains, coated in a nylon compound to prevent barrel leading. It is just the ticket for the recoil sensitive, and especially for the new crop of uber-light "J" frame revolvers.
My sources tell me that Federal planned to do an initial run of the NyClad in March, so it should be available soon (if it isn't already.) Unless your local dealer is particularly astute, he probably won't be carrying it - you'll probably have to special order some.
I wish I had time to write a political/economic blog - between Washington and Wall Street, there is a huge amount of material coming down the pipes daily. (The passing reference to waste plumbing is intentional.)
Xavier recently posted a letter from - and his response to - one of his readers. The exchange (and the comments that follow) bring up important issues in the area of Second Amendment activism. It isn't always black-and-white.
When you've finished reading Xavier, pop over to Breda's place and read this related article she posted about a month ago. (I realize it's a bit late, and I'd meant to bring it up earlier, but just kept forgetting.)
Rob Pincus is one of the more thoughtful trainers working today. He's got a great post up on the Breach-Bang-Clear blog about putting techniques on pedestals. Highly recommended read.
Not just techniques get put on pedestals; equipment does too. There are the 1911 people, the Glock folks, the "any caliber as long as it begins with '4' " crowd, and so on. I suppose one could accuse me of doing the same thing with wheelguns (retro pedestal?), but I'm on record as saying - more than once - that the revolver isn't the perfect tool for everyone and every purpose.
For example, a number of years ago I was engaged in an activity of some risk. For that, I forsook my beloved revolver for a Glock and all the high capacity magazines I could fit under a suit coat. I believe in picking the right tool for the job; it just so happens that, for some jobs, the revolver is at least one of the right tools.
I'm gratified - and somewhat surprised - at the tremendous response to last week's post "Risk assessment, or lack thereof." One of the difficulties I've found with this whole blog adventure is predicting what will resonate with my readers. In some cases I've been deliberatively provocative in order to get people to think outside of their comfort zone, while in others I've tried to deliver solid technical information not readily available in the swamp that is the internet.
On occasion (as with the article under consideration) I worry about whether I'm talking over my audience, that the subject might be a bit too abstract. I'm happy to find that my readers are significantly more discerning than average.
One complaint about the Bianchi SpeedStrips is that they're not available in calibers other than .38/.357. I'm surprised that, until tipped off by a reader, I didn't know about Quick Strips from Tuff Products. They appear to be a clone of the Bianchi product, but are available in a wide range of calibers. Check 'em out.
You may have heard that the U.S. Attorney General called (not surprisingly) for reinstating the infamous Assault Weapons Ban. What was surprising was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's adamant refusal to consider such legislation. Mr. Obama's administration may find their road tougher sledding than they'd originally anticipated. All the better for us!
A while back I wrote about the iPhone/iTouch ballistics application iSnipe. While it worked well, it was pretty basic; as I explained to the author, it needed some features added to enhance utility for the serious long-range shooter.
It didn't take long for competition to appear: Ballistic FTE has everything I ever wanted, and then some. It is superb in every respect; you must see the target recording function! It even has a calculator to help with rangefinding (mil-dot) reticle use. Ballistic FTE is a bargain at $9.99.
At first, I wasn't going to comment on the sad crime perpetrated on the campus of Virginia Tech this week. I figured that everyone, everywhere, was going to do so (with varying degrees of erudition and insight.) I decided there wasn't anything I could add. Until...
Listening to the news on the radio, I heard an interview with two students who said that they were in "the room where he was shooting." According to these people, students and faculty were hiding under and behind anything in the room that they felt would provide them some protection, or flat on the floor in the absence of same.
It's what they said next that prompted me to comment: as the gunman shot, he naturally ran out of ammunition, and had to stop to refill his magazines. After taking the time to refill then reload his weapon, he continued his unfettered spree.
He was out of ammunition, and had stopped to reload - why didn't someone, anyone, in the room take that golden opportunity to tackle the murderer? At that point the criminal couldn't shoot anyone, and the risk even to the person who would choose that course of action would have been relatively minor compared to letting him get his firearm back up and running.
The answer is as obvious as it is sad: our society has fully inculcated the victimhood and helplessness mentalities into the last several generations of people. They didn't do anything because they have been taught their entire lives to rely on someone - anyone - else for their safety and well being.
This is what the nanny state has given us. This is what our Founding Fathers, I think, understood when they listed the natural right to keep and bear arms in their Constitution: yes, it's about the ability to resist tyrannical governments. More importantly, though, is the choice inherent in the right.
You see, it's not the exercise of the right in and of itself that matters; it's the existence of the choice to exercise the right that is so very important. Even if one chooses not to exercise the right, in making the choice one has experienced the self-actualization that leads to great inner strength and a heightened sense of self-worth. The very personal decision - no matter what the decision itself is - is what makes for citizens who are self reliant, who can think for themselves, and cannot be corralled like sheep.
When the "transaction cost" of the individual choice is raised - when the ability to decide for oneself is restricted or controlled in any manner - the choice is made not by the individual, but by someone else. The benefits of making the decision are denied the individual, and he/she learns (bit by bit) how to be a subject rather than a sovereign individual. Given long enough, an entire people is conditioned to be subordinate themselves to authority figures; when the "badge" of "authority" is the firearm, the people will prostrate themselves to anyone who wields one. Even a crazed killer.
"For what it's worth, I don't carry a gun to protect me from muggers at the mall. I don't even carry a gun to protect me, period. I carry a gun every day despite living in an area where I'm more likely to be hit by an asteroid than attacked by a mugger as a symbol of my refusal to buy into this culture of teat-sucking victimhood for one day longer. I carry it because I can."
Recite this, word for word, next time some busybody asks (with the inevitable sneer) why you need to carry a gun.