Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Akins Accelerator

Ryan Horsley at Red's Trading Post has shipped me another link to his blog, this time talking about Bill Akins and the Akins Accelerator.

If you have never heard of this before, you are one with The Geek. So it must be New News.

Here's the skinny:

According to the story at TMO, five years ago (give or take) Bill Akins invented a gizmo that would fit into a semi-automatic rifle (10/22) and 'simulate' Full-Auto Fire Mode. (According to Google, there is a link at ... but I can't make it work.)

In 2003, Akins sent a sample to ATF with the question: "is this legal?" ("... whether the Akins Accelerator would be considered a machine gun under the National Firearms Act [NFA] and Gun Control Act [GCA], the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] "couldn't make it work" (sounds like I'm not the only one), so they sent back a letter saying, essentially, it was NOT ILLEGAL. *("During the evaluation of this device, ATF was unable to get the device to function properly, ultimately determining that it was not a machinegun.")* That is to say, it didn't constitute a full-auto weapon, or something to that effect.

Akins mortgaged his house, his car, his honor and his first-born, and took out loans to produce and market the device, which sold like the proverbial hotcakes.

In 2006, somebody who had bought one of his devices went to the ATF and asked the question: "is this legal?" This time, the ATF testing could make it work.

So they [ATF] sent a letter to Akins, essentially a 'cease and desist' notice. He was requested and required to stop manufacturing the device, stop selling the device, send all of his stock (perhaps only the 'spring' which ATF had apparently decided was the functional crux of the mechanism ... it's not clear from the available articles) to ATF, along with a list of everyone who had bought it. Also, he had to contact all of the people who had bought the device and BUY THEM BACK ... at his own personal (or corporate expense, and then send those devices to ATF.

As you may intuit for yourself, this not only put Akins out of business but also bankrupted him.

Horsley's blog article includes a number of links which may clarify the issue to you. It seemed fairly complicated to me, but I'm just a Geek and you may make more sense of it.

The Red's Trading Post commentary and links seem to reduce it down to a simple question: has "Maximum Mike" Sullivan arbitrarily imposed a ruling designed to put a small businessman, who is subject to the bureaucratic rulings of an out-of-control Federal agency, out of business?

I don't know the answer to that question, nor do I know the answer to any of the other questions which naturally present themselves.

  • Does this device actually convert a semi-automatic rifle to "Full-Auto"?
  • What is the exact definition of "Full Auto"?
  • Does the ATF, which had originally declared the device to be "legal" and later reversed its ruling, have any obligation to the FFL holder?
  • Is this a legitimate federal action, or is it just another example of the way that Mike Sullivan is perverting the power of the ATF to meet his own political agenda ... or his own personal quest for power?
You can, and should, go to the Red's Trading Post article and follow the links to better inform yourself. I don't know if this is an abuse of powers issue. I don't know if the device should originally have been rejected until a 'working model' was submitted, and I don't know if the ATF is justified in requiring the manufacturer to foot the bill for recovering all of the devices which have been sold.

Reading the letter from Mike Sullivan (pdf) which Horsley links too, it seems to me that by the definitions cited there may be a strong case for declaring the device in violation of the GCA. I haven't read that law lately, but the definition quoted in the Letter from Mike Sullivan sounds authoritative.

Is it?

You now know everything that I know about this situation. I could research it further, and follow up on (for example) the GCA and the NFA. I could compare these laws with the decisions of ATF and Michael Sullivan. I might even come to a conclusion which I could sell to you, and you might buy.

I don't want to do that.

What I want to do is to give you the information, provide a few leads to further study, and allow you to tell me what the law is, in this case.

More, I want to give you the opportunity to decide whether the ruling of the ATF ... whether or not the Akins Accelerator is an illegal device ... is appropriate in its ruling that the manufacturer should bear all responsibility for recovering the devices which they have sold.

ATF originally ruled that the device was legal; then it reversed itself. The manufacturer (Bill Akins) established a business based on that ruling. What is the responsibility of the ATF here?

Is this the responsible administration of a Federal Agency? Or is it the unilateral ruling of a power-mad agency chief administrator?

Don't let the verbiage encourage you to rush to judgment. I really haven't decided for myself. And I'm more interested in what YOU think than I am in voicing my own opinion.

What do you think? And why do you think that?

UPDATE: December 24, 2007
Ryan Horsley kindly emailed a correction: I had spelled Bill Akins' name "Atkins", which is patently (you should excuse the expression) incorrect. It's embarrassing to spend so much time researching and writing an article, only to discover after publication that the name of the subject has been spelled wrong.

Thanks to Ryan for editing my copy. I should send all of my articles to him before publication.

Jerry the Geek

Made me smile

H/T to Andrew at

As my obligatory Salute to Christmas initial post:
Straight No Chaser (Men's A Capella choir) at Indiana University singing the traditional song "12 Days of Christmas".

Well ... sort of. More or less.

Definitely work-safe, if you don't mind your cow-orkers wondering about the reason for your Mona Lisa Smile.

(NB: 3:30 minutes - My computer is a feeling a little frisky this week, so I'm not sure how reliable this embedded link may be. If you fine that the embedded video doesn't display correctly, you can go to the original YouTube video here.)

(PS: Confused about the "Dreydl song"? Me too! See here. Or better yet, here.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Negligent Discharge - Concealed Carry

Read the article from A Keyboard And A 45.

H/T: Syd under "A Negligent Discharge Disected".

I'm with Syd. There's no such thing as an "Accidental Discharge". It's negligence, no matter how pure your intentions.

Summary of the event: guy goes to work with a .45acp 1911 in the pocket of his leather jacket. He takes the jacket off and slings it over the back of his office chair. Gun goes off, he takes a single round through both legs, and the bullet bounces around the office. Exit, not walking, but bleeding a lot. Permanent limp, criminal charges pending.

While I have no intent to vilify the poor guy ("JS") who suffered ... literally ... from his own actions, I can only conclude that even he doesn't really know the condition of his pistol. It's clear that there was a round in the chamber, but he "thinks' the hammer was down. (Condition 2)

Given that the 1911 has an inertial hammer, I'm thinking he was wrong about that. Perhaps the hammer was at half-cock, but more likely it was at full-cock. He (the self-victimized guy) said he had the gun in the jacket, stuffed in his pick-up, 'for months'. No telling what combination of bumps and pushes this un-holstered pistol may have endured, but the scenario is likely it was in Full-Cock, safety on (Condition 1) and he didn't realize it.

There's a lesson ... or two ... or three ... to be learned here.

First lesson: Be completely familiar with the gun you carry.
(First Corollary: don't carry if you are NOT fully familiar with the gun.)
(Second Corollary: if you're going to carry, check the condition of the gun every time you pick it up.)

Second Lesson: Consider that a gun which is not carried in a holster is always ready to fire.

Third Lesson: Never trust a safety.

Fourth Lesson: If you don't know what you're doing, if you're not always consciously aware that you are packing a deadly weapon, don't carry. You shouldn't be afraid of your gun, but you should treat it with great respect.

There are very few ways in which a 1911 carried with the safety on will discharge without your finger on the trigger. This was, apparently, a Series 70 1911. It doesn't feature the disconnect.

Still, it has a grip safety and unless that grip safety was pinned back or otherwise de-activated, it's hard to understand how it fired.

There are too many unknowns here to confidently analyze the incident, so I'm not willing to jump to conclusions here.

But there are a couple of points which bear mentioning.

First, I have been guilty of a Negligent Discharge. I knew the conditions, and I still let it happen. Thankfully, the gun was pointed in a safe direction and I was under the watchful eye of a Range Officer in a USPSA match. I can happen to anyone.

Second, this reminds me of another story.
An Oregon Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) was exiting a vehicle when the drawstring of his raincoat got tangled up in the trigger-guard of his Glock. (See Part 1 here, and part 2 here.) This resulted in a Negligent Discharge, and he shot himself in the leg. It's a situation which could have happened to anyone ... it's consistent with the trigger-safety which is typical of ALL Glock pistols (just another reason why I don't like Glocks ... see Lesson 3.)

No conclusions. You pays your money and you takes your chances. But it's important that we all be aware in the many ways that we can shoot ourselves in the foot. Literally.

"Thank You"

The Gratitude Campaign

H/T: Sondra K

Monday, December 17, 2007

Registered Gun Owner

I may regret this, but tonite I joined the National Rifle Association.

[This E-mail was generated automatically, please do not respond.]

Dear [Jerry the Geek],

Thank you for joining the NRA. We appreciate your interest in protecting and preserving our Second Amendment rights and promoting safe, responsible gun ownership.

Your credit card will be billed for $35.00* for a 1 Year Membership in the National Rifle Association with no magazine.

If you have any questions regarding your order, please email us at Or you may call our Toll Free Membership Account Information Hotline at 1-877-NRA-2000.

Thanks again for your interest in the National Rifle Association!

I take this step reluctantly, and with no little trepidation.

As far as I'm concerned, NRA membership is roughly equivalent registering as a firearms owner, and I do NOT like the idea that someone, somewhere, sometime will gain access to the NRA membership files and be able to identify *me* as a gun owner. Registration = confiscation, etc. etc. etc.

On the other hand, I've been a member of USPSA for a lot of years, and if anyone is really interested in finding out who owns guns in this country, one organization is probably as likely as the other to have their membership lists downloaded by a nefarious governmental agency for the purpose of confiscation.

Paranoid? Maybe, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

Why did I take this step, when I have spent the last 20 years avoiding it?

The Tipping Point was a recent article by Michael Bane, "The Shape of Disinformation". There's nothing really new there. Some liar who purports to represent a 'moderate position' on gun control distorted reality to meet his hidden agenda, Bane reported it, and I found myself in a place where I needed to take a stand against this pervasive bias.

Someone must stand up to such calumny. I can't do it all by myself. Although I object to many sins-of-omission which the NRA has historically visited upon its membership, it's difficult to object to the actions of an organization which one has deliberately NOT joined.

So I'm now a member, and my gut-reaction is, surprisingly, one of relief.

Not that I feel safer now, or more protected in my Civil Rights because the NRA is there to speak for me.

No, I feel that I now have the freedom to speak out against the compromises which the NRA accepts in the guise of protecting my 2nd Amendment Rights.


What a rush.

Well, not really. Unfortunately, you the reader may be obliged to read an entire new set of rants as the NRA continues to agree to compromises which I consider unacceptable.

But that's something which I'll have to do later.

For now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to listen to a lot of Charlton Heston speaches at the NRAHQ website.

Lawdog, AD and Babs: Perspectives II

Lawdog rings the bell again with another 3-part tale of Texas Emergency Services.

Part 1 from Lawdog (first responder), part 2 from AD (Ambulance Driver), and Part 3 from Babs (Emergency Room Nurse).

Read 'em in order ... the links, of course are all there in Lawdog's starter chapter.

I have a standing bet of a million dollars that nobody can read these stories without wiping a tear from their eyes. Don't bother trying to collect. If you're that hard-hearted, I don't know you.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Battle of the Bulge

This is the 63rd anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.

Perhaps one of the major turning points of World War II, the "Battle of The Ardennes" sounded the death knell to the German hopes of turning around the losing trend of the European phases of The War to End Wars to End Wars.

My mother's brother lost his life in this battle. Sgt. Douglas Phillips was killed in a battle which should never have been fought. He died three months before I was born, and because he was her 'favorite' brother ... being the 'baby' of the family ... she never reconciled herself to his death.

My father's older brother drove the first American tank into Rome, and came home safe and whole to regale his family with stories of The War.

His division was not close enough to Malmedy and Bastogne to relieve American forces there in the five weeks of this battle, but he certainly had the battle experience to claim brotherhood with those American forces who were there.

Yet these events preceded my birth, and my mother's pain was not my pain. I can appreciate the sacrifices and the American victory during this battle, but I cannot viscerally relate to it.

And so tonight I instead 'celebrated' the American 'victory' in the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in 1965.

This was before I was inducted into the U.S. Army, certainly it was over 3 years before I went to Viet Nam to serve the political and military requirements of my company.

But an American reporter, Joe Galloway, wrote a book based upon his experiences while 'embedded' (in the most emphatic means possible) with the 1/7, 1st Cavalry Division, during that horrendous 3 day battle ... 450 American soldiers pitted against impossible odds, 2000 North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars who were already in place in an impregnable mountainside bunker complex.

I watched "We Were Soldiers Once, And Young" again tonight , for what must be at least the sixth time, and once again I found myself weeping for the combatants ... Vietnamese, American, and the dependents of the American soldiers. Any man who can watch this film without weeping has no appreciation for what it means to be a soldier in battle, and no appreciation for the fear and agony of his family ... whether or not he comes home again.

This battle occurred three years before my foot touched the soil of a battleground. I'm not sure I could have grieved more sincerely if I had been there. It is the soul of every American soldier who served in combat there.

It may be the closest my generation can come to appreciating the sacrifices and the turmoil which our fathers' generation experienced during the Battle of the Bulge.