Friday, March 07, 2008

43

43

That number seems to haunt us, we who own guns and profess that they are a valuable tool for sport, competition, self-defense and other legitimate purposes.. We see it quoted time and again, and yet how many of us are as aware of the significance of that number as are the liberal gun-grabbers . They use that number time and time again as a mantra to define how horrid is the state of owning firearms for self defense.

Yet they use that number badly, and ill-advisedly, to advance their hidden agenda. Few of us call them on it.

I am writing this in response to a recent article ("Another Debate Invitation Refused") from Kevin Bacon Baker of The Smallest Majority , who (in turn) writes in response to a gun-grabber article by Maggie Mahar's article titled "What Ever Happened to Gun Control?" (See also her article: "Update on Guns in America".)

Okay, if you've followed any of the tracks presented above, you understand the gist of it. If you haven't, here it is: Mahar cites (without actually citing the source) statistics which supposedly support the theme that 'owning a gun can get you killed'.

This is a common theme among gun grabbers, and they all tend to go to the same sources.

The money quote in Mahar's original presentation is that:
Guns kept in the home for self-protection are 43 times more likely to kill a family member, friend or acquaintance than to kill an intruder, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine
No, Mahar does not cite the source of this statistic. In fact, while she links to several political statements by (what else?) politicians, when it comes to supporting her thesis in fact, there is nothing ... nothing ... in her article which she can point to which actually supports her 'guns can get you killed' theme.

Still she must have some reason to cite this specific number. Some careful research (which Mahar has apparently failed to do) results in numerous citations which aver that the Kellerman study has been "widely debunked".

I know that those of you who are inclined to disbelieve ANY gun-control statistics are wildly prepared to accept any citation debunking the Kellerman study, which is the souce of the '43 times more likely' quote.

But those of you who are inclined to credit any statement which supports gun control are more likely to disavow such references.

(Confused by the previous paragraphs? Me too!)

So, to settle the issue, perhaps we should look at reference which is unlikely to consider a conservative viewpoint unless the question has been definitively settled.

Let's look at The Democratic Underground as a mutually reliable source:


You have problems with Lott, and then cite the Kellerman survey?

The Kellerman survey has been widely debunked, indeed far more widely discredited than Lott. Anyone doing the research you seem to have done would know that, of course. Funny you didn't mention it. Perhaps you had an agenda?

Lott's number might be controversial, but one thing that is irrefutable: forty states now have Shall Issue or better CCW laws, and yet the blood is not running in the streets as Brady Bunch and the VPC promised. Indeed, while violent crime has trended slightly upwards in the last year or so, during the course of this liberalization in CCW laws, violent crime has declined dramatically.

Clearly, there is no correlation between violent crime and CCW liberalization.
This statement is a little out of date: MORE than 40 states have "shall issue" Concealed Carry Weapon law; but the statement of fact from the Democratic Underground is still viable: Lott's statements have been proved correct, and Kellerman had been not only discredited, but "widely debunked".

Kellerman, who was the author of the study which concluded that "Guns kept in the home for self-protection are 43 times more likely to kill a family member, friend or acquaintance than to kill an intruder ..."
... was found to have been disingenuous in defining both "guns kept in the home" and "acquaintance".

Guns Kept In The Home:
In determining that "guns are kept in the home", Kellerman included any guns which were found in 'the home' when the police arrived after being called as a result of a violent incident. For example, if you had a 'violent' argument with your spouse, and a shotgun was found in the closet ... this became a data point.
Or, if your spouse died of a heart attack and a firearm was found on the premises: that's right; another data point. "Violence" was not an issue in this study, or it was loosely interpreted.

Of, if you were the victim of a 'home invasion" and the outside aggressor brought a gun with him ... Kellerman, for the purposes of this survey, considered that a "gun kept in the home".

Actually, it's a 'gun found in the home'. but who cares? Most of the cases Kellerman examined, because of the small community he chose to examine (see below) were members of the drug culture ... either as a dealer or as a buyer ... so they were more likely to 'have a gun', which was in opposition to current local ordnances anyway.

That is to say, many of the 'victims' were already un-prosecuted criminals because they understood that ... being outside the law anyway, they had more to lose from being unarmed (and thus subject to the Law of the Jungle) than by being armed.

Acquaintance:
IF you were the resident in a home which was intruded upon by the crack-dealer on the corner, and you had ever seen such crack-dealer before, he was adjudged to be an 'acquaintance' in The Kellerman Study. It didn't matter whether he was a friend of yours, whether or not you supported his entrepreneurship, whether you invited him into your home. It didn't even matter whether you knew his name (or he knew yours). The only thing that mattered, for the purpose of gathering statistics, was whether he was "an acquaintance" ... in the most general sense of the term.

"Killed":
In fact, for the purposes of the Kellerman Study, it didn't much matter who got killed. If you were the homeowner, and there was a firearm in the home, and someone died ... this statistic was added. If you were the victim, a big red check-mark was racked up on your "bad boy" sheet. Was the only gun that which was brought into the home by the assailant? Okay, that's a bad on you ... even if you were the one who died.

The verbiage of 'The Study" strongly suggested the (a) you owned the gun; (b) you fired the gun, (c) the victim was a family member. Or a 'friend' or 'acquaintance' ... someone whom you felt comfortable, in normal circumstances, with inviting into your home.

This is a long way from the more common scenario, where the dude on the corner barged into your house and shot somebody. Yet, for the purposes of the Kellerman Study, the two scenarios were equivalently weighted.

"Don't let nobody tell you any different, Dearie"

Final Factor:
The ultimate factor which put the kibosh on the Kellerman Study was that he didn't choose just 'any' neighborhood to gather his statistics; he chose the raunchiest neighborhood he could find.

Rather than gathering statistics from a mixed-culturally neighborhood, Kellerman chose the most racially biased neighborhood he could find. Which is to say that he found an urban black neighborhood with a history of violence. Well, where else are you to find a population with a history of violence other than in an urban neighborhood? And without a history of violence, he was unlikely to find a plethora of violent incidents with which to support this pre-disposed conclusion?

Are you a Wyoming rancher? An Oregon State University Faculty Member? An Arizona employee of the local Auto-Zone franchise? It doesn't matter. Kellerman has analyzed Inner City violence, and if you have a firearm in your home, the odds are 43 to 1 (whatever that means) that if you have a firearm in you home, you are "more likely" to "kill a friend, family member or acquaintance" than to .... what? (Kellerman is conveniently vague about the alternatives here.)

So, the next time someone posits the "43 times more likely" charge in a conversation with you, be sure to challenge them on the basis of their postulation. And if the name "Kellerman" ever arises, be sure to poke them in the nose for me.

Not because they are disingenuous (which, in the best case they are), and not because they are knowingly citing bogus statistics (which they certainly are), but because they have so little respect for you that they are willing to espouse a talking point which has been 'debunked' by BOTH sides of the gun-control issue, and they think you are so STUPID that you don't know the difference between an ordinary lie, and a "Damned Lie".

They deserve it. Trust me on this one.

UPDATE: 10-MAR-2008
In response to a comment, I corrected spelling of Kevin Baker's name.
While updating this article, I decided to decided to update my data research; in doing so, I found a reference to a similar statement. (Note: the original statement was in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine; this article was in the "Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics". The title of the found article was "Attitudes of New York City High School Students Regarding Firearm Violence" by Kahn, et al. The original article was by Kellerman and a co-author.)

The found article include the quote ... not quite as it has been cited elsewhere ... reading:
"In reality, guns kept in the home are 43 times more likely to be used to kill someone known to the family than to be used to kill in self defense".

The citation was to "Kellerman AL, Reay DT Protection or peril: An analysis of firearm-related deaths in the home. N Engl J Med 1986; 314:1557-1560";
That was linked to a one-paragraph abstract, which in turn referenced the table of contents for that issue .... but the full-text of the article was not available there.

I've followed this trail before, from other research, and I have concluded that attempting to fine the full text of the original article is defeated by the N Engl J Med, which no longer provides the full text of any articles in this issue.

Well, it was published over 21 years ago, and even though it was a socially controversial statement the Journal found no reason to maintain availability; if for no other reason, they might be encouraged to discontinue the link because it was so controversial.

Without the original source, it's impossible to determine the exact phraseology of the statement. However, the Keep and Bear Arms website includes this reference ...


Those who oppose the use of firearms for self-defense have for fourteen years quoted a study by Arthur Kellermann and Donald Reay published in the June 12, 1986 issue of New England Journal of Medicine (v. 314, n. 24, p. 1557-60) which concluded that a firearm in the home is "43 times more likely" to be used to kill a member of the household than to kill a criminal intruder. [emphasis added by Geek] This "statistic" is used regularly by anti self-protection groups which surely know better, and was even published recently without question in a letter to the Ann Arbor News. Representative Liz Brater cited this "43 times" number in a House committee hearing just a year ago. Thus the original study and its conclusion deserve careful analysis. If nothing else, the repeated use of this "statistic" demonstrates how a grossly inaccurate statement can become a "truth" with sufficient repetition by the compliant and non-critical media.

... which supports the text quoted by
Kahn, et al.

For this reason, several of the statements I have made may be misleading: it accepted the quote provided by the Mahar article which read " ...more likely to kill a family member, friend or acquaintance than to kill an intruder ... ".

There are so many interpretations of the supposed key statement, it's impossible to definitively know exactly WHAT Kellerman really said. "Family Member, friend or acquaintance" (Mahar) is not exactly the same as "someone known to the family" (Kahn), and that is not exactly the same as "member of the household" (Keep and Bear Arms).

Personally, given no better criteria, I would cleave to the Kahn quote (
"someone known to the family") as the authors are more likely to haver read the original as a professional researcher in the same profession, and the cited source is dated 2000 ... and thus more likely to have had access to the original article.


Full Disclosure is so messy. Now I have some idea of how Bellesiles might have felt ... if he were intellectually honest.

Encoded Ammunition: Making Criminals of Honest Folks

I know that I've been writing about the recent rash of "Encoded Ammunition" bills being introduced to state legislature for over a month, but I still haven't grasped the full effect if these bills are passed into law.

Witness this comment from Buckmasters.com forum.

Pizzaman17 sez:
Like willy said earlier I am not giving up any ammo that i have right now. If this passes and it is made illegal to have unmarked rounds and/or load your own rounds then there will be allot of new criminals out there starting with me.
Well ... yes.

I've got ammunition I reloaded years ago, and most of it meets the requirements of at least one state's proposed bill.

For example, I have a slew of .30-30 ammunition that I inherited when my father died ... in 1994! (It was intended to accompany the Winchester Model 94 , a definitively 'hunting only' rifle that I inherited at the same time.) That's 13 years for those who aren't willing to do the math. You may say "Geek, that's bogus. The bills apply only to 'handgun' ammunition."

Yeah, well, some states have proposed bills that specify "handguns and assault weapons", and what is to keep the states from identifying the Model 94 ... or the .30-06 Garand ... as an "Assault Weapon"?

Besides, Thompson Center from building a Contender pistol in .30-30 caliber? In fact, they have already done so ... twice: The model 3560 and the model 3223. In calibers which are generally accepted to be "rifles", they also currently offer Model 3556 (.223 Remington, very close to 5.56mm AR15 and variants); Model 3568 (.17 HMR); Model 3409 (204 Ruger); Model 3564 (45/70 Gov't); Model 3511 (6.8 Remington); and several other models of notionally 'pistols' which shoot 'rifle-caliber' ammunition.

How much disposable income are YOU willing to bet that these 'handguns' would not become sufficient justification for these 'rifle' cartridges to become controlled by the same bills which currently PURPORT to apply only to 'handgun ammunition'?

Point In Fact:
These bills are so loosely (read: "shoddily") written that any rifle-caliber ammunition which is commercially usable in a 'handgun' by any definition may be subject to these restrictions. How about a derringer which is variously able to load .45 and .410 (shotgun) ammunition?


And how about that .30-06 Garand you've bought and stashed in your gun safe? Sure, it's designed for a 165 grain bullet, but suppose you have a supply of ought-six loaded in the extra long Hornady 190 grain BTSP, the 208 grain E-Max, or the 220 grain Round Nose? Sure, these bullets are so long-nosed, they probably wouldn't even cycle through a Garand. Doesn't matter. If the Garand is classified as an "Assault Weapon", all connections to reason are no longer in service, please hold for the next available operator.

Don't waste my time, and yours, protesting that "they would never do that!" You may think you know your local politicos but if you charge them with integrity they will deny it to their dying death, and present sufficient proof that they have none.

They're all "Snakes in a Drain", and you know that.
How do you tell a Politician or an Irishman (but I repeat myself) is lying? You watch his lips.
If they're moving ... he's lying.

We can't trust a politician in general, and we certainly can't trust a politician who would present such a flawed bill. If one or more of them should pass into law, that's a pretty strong signal that they are Not Your Friend.

And because these bills are so definitively couched in generalities (eg: definition of a handgun; definition of an 'assault rifle'; definition of ammunition) which they can change at will with very little risk of challenge -- you know that any ammunition you own is probably subject to inclusion under the terms of these bills.[


Including your .410 shotgun. After all, aren't there derringer pistols available which can load and shoot .410 shotgun ammunition?

Encode those pellets ... they're man-killers!


So don't allow yourself to feel too complacent. Avoid the temptation to tell yourself that "... these guys aren't out to take MY ammunition ... it's only good for shooting at birds and snakes anyway. Surely they will never be so distanced from reality that they target my (shotshells, hunting ammunition, plinking ammunition, name your personal "protected" class of ammunition.)

That's right. If you are so deluded that you think these bills are intended to 'stop crime', you're fooling nobody but yourself.

These are not "anti-crime" bills; these are "anti-gun" bills. They have no purpose other than to prevent you, personally (and I'm talking to you, complacent-gun-owner-man) from being able to stand tall with a loaded gun in your hand in furtherance of whatever purpose you may have originally purchased said gun.

Resistance to Tyrants? Dead!
Defense of your Nation? Dead!
Personal defense? Dead!
Competition? Dead!
Target shooting? Dead!
Hunting? Dead?
Rodent Elimination? Dead!
Plinking? Dead!

For any purpose you can envision to justify owning a firearm, if these bills pass into law ... somewhere there is a politician who can envision a reason why you should not be allowed to have either a firearm or the ammunition to accomplish the activity.

The laws may not exist now, but with just a few casual tweakings of some existing statutes, they can redefine your guns, or the ammunition needed to make your guns work, effectively ... Dead!

They don't even have to breath hard, these politicians, to slip it to you once you've allowed them the power ennobled by these cheesy do-nothing laws.

Yesterday you were a law-abiding citizen. Today, you are a criminal.

And you don't even have to do anything.
In fact, they very much prefer that you don't.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Encoded Ammunition: Kentucky

Reader "Ed" writes to inform us that an "'Encoded Ammunition" bill has been introduced in the Kentucky State House:
2008 House Bill 715
Introduced by Rep. Kathy W Stein on March 3, 2008, to require serial numbers on every bullet sold on or after January 1, 2009."

Representative Kathy W. Stein (D)

House District 75
Talk about ironic, on her bio:
Board of Trustees. Appalachian School of Law as in the Appalachian School of Law shooting of January 16, 2002.
Keep up the good work,
Ed
We're convinced that this bill was actually introduced, but the Kentucky State Legislature web page is curiously reticent. If my (admittedly amateurish) google attempt is to be believed, the bill has been trashed. Specifically, the website announces that the bill has been "Withdrawn".

If so, that is good news. Still, we're curious as to what it was all about. Hasn't someone taken the initiative to document the provisions of this hypothetical bill?

Someone has, in the person of blogger improbably self-named the "Argumentative Snuggle Monkey", in the "Something Awful" forums:

Essentially, this is a prototypical 'Encoded Ammunition' bill, featuring the Usual Suspects of clauses including:
  • applicability to "all handguns and listed assault rifles";
  • unfeasibly deadlined for all ammunition to be 'encoded' "Real Soon Now" (January 1, 2009)
  • impossible-to-meet requirement that "... require all ammunition for handguns and listed assault rifles to have a serial number on the base of the bullet and on the inside of the cartridge case"
  • equally infeasible exhortation "... to require owners of unencoded ammunition for handguns and listed assault rifles to dispose of the ammunition by January 1, 2011"
  • Unreasonable fines and penalties such as this one "... to provide penalties for persons who sell unencoded ammunition or damage the encoding on ammunition as a Class A misdemeanor, provide fines for ammunition manufacturers violating the chapter"
  • and the gratuitous clause "...specifying that police forces and government agencies do not have to pay the encoded ammunition tax and establish burden of proof for sales"
This last is probably among the most egregious clauses, as it supposes that the tax on 'encoded ammunition' is the greatest of economic burdens imposed upon the purchaser by this kind of bill. As we have seen before, the most likely consequence of enaction of this and similar bills is that manufacturers of ammunition will simple determine that they are unable to meet the requirements, and will discontinue sales of affected ammunition to the states which enact these laws.

Bottom line: under the requirements of this bill, you can't get ammo, whether you are LEO or National Guard or Private Citizen.

So much for the Second Amendment.

Again, it's not possible (because of the way the website for the Kentucky Legislature posts bill status on the Internet) to determine the true current legislative situation in Kentucky. We can only presume (and hope) that this oh-so-egregious bill has indeed been withdrawn as of March 5, 2008, and is no longer a factor in the never-ending-story of the defense of the Second Amendment in Kentucky.

That would be good.

However, we're not entirely convinced that the most recent information available is factual. That is, that the bill has been "withdrawn", and will not reappear in a form which is more acceptable to the Kentucky State House of Representatives.

Whatever the current status, this makes the 11th state which has been definitively found to have presented this specific bill in at least a variation of its most common form;
  1. Arizona
  2. Hawaii
  3. Illinois
  4. Indiana
  5. Maryland
  6. Mississippi
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Tennessee
  10. Washington
  11. Kentucky
Again, look for the "2008_Encoded_Ammunition.xls" spreadsheet where I am continually attempting to keep track of verified attempts by individual state legislatures to introduce these 'boilerplate' bills.


And if you can tell me definitively where encouragement for these bills originate, I will give you a genuine Geek Quarter for your trouble.


"Ed", and any (other) residents of Kentucky who are sufficiently concerned to track this and similar bills are encouraged to do so, and to report new activity to this blog. My email address is protectively provided at the bottom of this and every page in this website, but just to be sure you find it easy to email me, you can write to me at:

jerrydgeekblog at (@) comcast dot (.) net

We'll keep a light on for you.

School Shooting

When I hear about the most recent event in the rash of massacres in schools, churches, shopping malls and other 'Gun Free Zones', I invariably replay the scenario (somebody gets mad or depressed, arms himself, goes to a 'Gun Free Zone', kills several people and ends by killing himself) and wonder ... why didn't he just kill himself first, and save everyone else the agony of innocent victims?"

I guess I'm not the only one with this thought, because today (March 6, 2008) someone who who was mad or depressed did exactly that.

On the radio as I was driving to work this morning, I heard a report of a student in Alabama who walked into a high school gymnasium, fired one shot into the air (the ceiling) to get everyone's attention, then shot himself in the head.

The maniacal adolescent couldn't resist the urge for public suicide, but at least he spared the rest of the community the loss of multiple friends and family, horrible gun-shot wounding, and the knowledge (on the part of the potential victims) that when confronted with a maniac determined to 'take them with him' they groveled, cowered, hid, ran or were spared only because of the eccentric quirks and pique of a madman.

At the very real risk of being considered an unfeeling rationalist, I consider the outcome of this tragedy A Good Thing.

I wish more madmen were so considerate.

The Gun Control wackos should agree with me on this (although they probably won't). Haven't they always cleaved to the "If It Only Saves One Child" mantra? Well, here -- for reasons which we shall probably never know -- one madman decided to spare his friends/classmates/community the very real pain of being murdered, or watching others of their friends/classmates/community being slaughtered like sheep.

If you twist your head, squint your eyes and think on it in exactly the right way, this poor deranged individual performed a public service. He demonstrated his madness as an object lesson, (a) without forcing his friends/classmates/community to consider the forces which pushed him into this ultimate expression of angst, and (b) saved them from becoming the communal object lessons of his own inner resentments.

Yes, I am ever saddened by a child who suffers so, and who voluntarily decides that violence and suicide is his only possible relief.

I wish and hope that others can learn from his example. Why impose your own pain on others, when it is as easy to short-cut the learned process by shooting yourself FIRST!

Of all the Gun Free Zone shooters we have collectively experienced over the past several years, this may possibly be the most socially responsible of the bunch.

I think we should award him a medal.

Posthumously, of course.

Template Change

One of the things I do NOT like about the template I've chosen for this blog is the small font style. It's too hard to read.

Tonite I changed the font size so it would be more readable. This affects all posts, even archived, so you may not notice it as much as I do.

Other things I don't like are the colors, the lack of a sidebar on the left, and the fact that it doesn't fill a full-screen view (although that may be because I recently acquired a 20" LCD monitor).

But I'm not prepared to try to convert the entire blog to another template. Yet.

Let me know if you think it's still too hard to read.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Snakes In A Drain

From the Hobo Brasser:


Welcome to West Texas

This was filmed by Michael Locker with Buckeye on his quail lease south of the airport in Midland.
This was taken in a pump station on the Pembrook lease. They had planned to have lunch inside so they thought it might be a good idea to sorta "clean the place up." Guess it was a good thing they checked it out !!!!



Now you know as much about it as I do.












In keeping with the firearms theme of this blog, I note that there WERE firearms on site ... and knives, too! But (as noted in the video, see below) "No snakes were harmed in the making of this movie".
I've got a lot of screenshots from this video, but I'll limit myself to one two three.


However, you can look at this video all you want, and the full-size version is available as a 5.2MB download here.



video

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Encoded Ammunition: 2008 March Summary

I have updated the research of states which have introduced "Encoded Ammunition" bills in 2008, and find that the following states are entertaining this proposal:
  1. Arizona
  2. Hawaii
  3. Illinois
  4. Indiana
  5. Maryland
  6. Mississippi
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Tennessee
  10. Washington
I also have notes that California and New York have proposed such bills, but a recent search of their state legislatures has failed to find the details ... or, indeed, that any such bills have been introduced.

I note that California passed a Microstamping last year, and that New York introduced a similar bill in 2008. These are not included here because the subject is States which have Introduced "Encoded Ammunition Bills in 2008".

On February 4, 2008, I presented a 2008 summary of encoded ammunition bills, and on March 4, 2008, it seems timely to update this file.

The original summary referenced 12 states, based upon external (meaning, I didn't bother to research and verify the claims) references. This month I have added new information taken from state legislature websites.

Some of the newer information (eg: Arizona, Rhode Island) may be incomplete because I didn't notice details; however, no details are provided without verification: you may take these data points for fact. Most interesting is that Arizona's proposed bill is especially sparse in the details. Also, Rhode Island does not specify the type of 'encoding' which is required of the manufacturer. We can only imagine that it would be extremely difficult for an ammunition manufacturer to confidently construct 'encoded' ammunition which would definitively be acceptible to the Rhode Island Legislature.

Well, why not. They (Rhode Island Legislators, as well as all the other state legislature members which have entertained this legislation) have no intention to make this bill feasible; they only want to get their name in the newspapers as politicians who are 'trying to do something about crime and violence', and incidentally impose unbearable legal burdens on legitimate gun owners.

Actually, that last part is an incidental side-effect. The pols don't care whether you can afford to buy the ammunition, of if the proposed bill would accomplish any benefit to society. They just want to look good to their Liberal Democrat friends.

Has anyone payed any attention to the party affiliations of the sponsors of these bills?

Never mind looking it up; you already know who ther\y are.

Encoded Ammunition: Fun Turns to Tragedy

Fun Turns to Tragedy -- is a blogspot, and Kirk (the blogger) from Maryland performs a great service not only in reporting a public hearing on bill HB-517, but in attending the hearing to register his disapproval.

His blog name is perhaps whimsical, but in at least this situation it is entirely appropriate.

Because the shooting sports are a great part of private ownership of firearms; hunting, competition, casual Sunday afternoon plinking, collecting (both firearms and ammunition!) are all part of the many ways we use firearms as a hobby, an avocation -- fun!

This last statement seemingly ignores the more serious aspects of firearms ownership. Self-defense, and acting as part of an unofficial militia both in defense of our homeland and to potentially overthrow a tyrant are probably more important, in the original sense of the Second Amendment. But these are not activities in which most people engage on a day-to-day basis.

We own guns, and we shoot them, for fun (and to hone our skills for the more serious activities.)

While our paramount reasons for private firearms ownership are often of the 'more serious' variety, it is arguable that these bills would not necessarily impede those activities. When it comes down to the point of dire necessity, most of us would be able to invest as much as a dollar, or two, or five per each round if our only purpose was to possess one gun and, say, five or ten or twenty rounds to defend ourself or our nation.

Even this extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment ignores the need for constant practice to maintain or improve our skills, and so these "Encoded Ammunition" bills would erode even the most serious and stringent requirements of private firearms ownership.
_______________________________________

Beyond that, the ready and economical access to ammunition is potentially threatened by these bills, introduced into state legislatures presumably for the purpose of undermining the Second Amendment by means which are both nefarious and disingenuous.

Politicians, in composing these bills, often attempt to reassure us by suggesting that the cost to the ammunition purchaser would only be a few cents. Do not allow yourself to be fooled by the smooth assurances of poltroons and scoundrels. The cost would be astronomical, and probably prohibitive.

RELOADING:
Obviously it would be legally and economically impossible for the private citizen who reloads his own ammunition to accommodate these propose laws. Many of us who shoot regularly, especially those who shoot for competitive or 'plinking' purposes, would immediately discover that reloading is no longer an option ... especially in light of variations which require that the serial number encoded on the bullet also be encoded on the INTERIOR of the cartridge case.

(Even if the technology was economically available to the private reloader, what happens when the case is re-used so many times that the surface of the case, having been reloaded many times, has no more room for another serial number? And are there penalties for having more than one serial number encoded on a single case? The proposed bills make no allowance.)

Ammunition manufacturers, in testimony at the Maryland hearing, have disabused the Maryland legislatures of their illusions. That the technology has not been demonstrated to be reliable; is 'single-vendor' applicable; has not been proven effective; and requires changes in ammunition manufacturing practices which are prohibitively costly -- are discussed in Kirk's article:

Justifications and supportive comments by Legislators:

The legislator that sponsored HB-517 is up : 2ish [sic]
He starts by trying to push this as a last chance for law enforcement. Which drew more than its fair share of chuckles as ballistic fingerprinting database has solve oh so many crimes so far.
The lawmaker amended the bill to only cover pistols. Once again trying to make it a law enforcement tool.

Some loser from Washington State is now testifying. He claims to be a gun owner, and a Concealed Carry permit holder. I think the last name was Ford. Ammunition Coding Technology is his company. [emphasis added] States that cops can track bullets at the crime scene. Yep I can just see the cops now prying the bullet out of the victim in order to get out there jewelers loop to get the serial number off of the bullet.

Seems the loser from Washington is not faring well he just got shredded by a lawmaker. then [sic] the lawmaker just drilled him as the patent holder about how much money he stands to make. Also seems he is the sole owner of said patent [sic, emphasis added]
A different lawmaker also want to see a fired round. Not just the pristine round that they were given for their examination. He seems to have a fired round that is completely shredded.

Statements from bill sponsors and supporters:

The bill sponsor wants to put a use by date on existing ammo. That had me about ready to fall on the floor laughing. He seems to be troubled that he is loosing the battle.

Another lawmaker is going after the tax and the fact that there are no ammo manufacturers in MD. That lawmaker is also going after interstate commerce as an issue citing Hawaii’s battle with the same bill

Now the bill sponsor is trying to tell us that Maryland should be a leader for other states in fighting crime. His last statement was that he feels that Concealed Cary [sic] would lead to bedlam.

One other lawmaker tried to defend the guy, says that there is other technology out there to make this not seem like a sole source.

Only one person testified in favor of this and she was from Baltimore…

Testimony from ammunition manufacturers:

First guy up from Remington, states that there are 8-10 billion rounds a year. 1800 rounds a minute of the assembly line and there is no way to encode at that rate. Very well spoken. He slams encoding very hard. Points out the hazard of lasers around powder and primers. I had not thought of that yet.

Next guy is from Federal. Also dissing encoding due to automated equipment. Also very well spoken. Says the costs would be passed on to the consumer and police. States that there is no technology capable of keeping up with rim fire ammunition manufacture rates

The manufactures [sic] also would have liability issues due to the tracking of the rounds from point of manufacture through the distribution to the end user. They would not be happy with the system as envisioned.

Finally, dialogue between the Legislators and the Manufacturers:

The manufactures [sic] also would have liability issues due to the tracking of the rounds from point of manufacture through the distribution to the end user. They would not be happy with the system as envisioned.

A lawmaker asked them what the chances of them making ammo for just MD were. He stated that they were not good.
The lawmaker then asked if there were just a few states.
The ammo manufactures [sic] then went in on how it would have to be a business case but even then they cost of setting up the facilities would be fairly prohibitive.

All and all I think this thing is dead just based on the Manufactures [sic] testimony.


At this time, it's impossible to determine how telling the testimony might be in the final consideration by the legislatures. I think it's important to note that this is the first manufacturer testimony that _I_ have seen on this issue, and that this testimony, as predicted, is entirely glum.

What these businessmen are saying is that, if these bills are enacted into law, the manufacturers will be unwilling ... unable! ... to accommodate the requirements. It would not be worth their time and expense to make ammunition which meets the statutory requirements, and essentially they would cease doing business within this (Maryland) states.

(By extension, they would cease doing business in ALL states which enacted this and similar laws. Note that this would undermine their customer base, which would logically increase their per-round manufacturing costs and consequently increase the cost of ammunition even in states which have not enacted similar laws.)


NOTE:
I apologize to Kirk for my extensive use of the [sic] "Such Is Cited" annotation of his quoted text. I understand that he was blogging 'in real time', and in the rush to publish it is impossible to edit text. I intended no criticism of his writing; I only included such annotations to emphasize that I was quoting actual text verbatim, rather than editing it. No changes in spelling, typing, punctuation ... and certainly in content ... has been imposed on Kirk's article.

Again, at the risk of providing redundant links to the article, I wholeheartedly encourage you to go 'read the whole thing'.
You'll be glad you did.

PS: One More Thing
I refer you to Kirk's final quoted comment, and I hope it's true and will be true in all of the states whose irresponsible legislators have proposed such bills:
All and all I think this thing is dead just based on the Manufacture[r]s testimony.

Monday, March 03, 2008

How about the shotgun?

When I discussed the new self-defense firearms I recently purchased, I declined to mention that I decided to leave the Taurus 85 at Chez SWMO with the admonition that this was not a "keep it in the gun safe" gun. Inasmuch as I spend a significant amount of time there, I desired to have a home defense weapon readily available; if SWMBO realizes a short-term need for a home defense weapon, she has permission to use the 85.

Musing upon the conundrum, she suggested: "How about the shotgun?" (referring to the 590 purchase from 2007).

I agree that this is the more effective home-defense firearm. However, SWMBO has little experience with the shotgun, and has much experience with a double-action revolver. I feel more comfortable with the revolver as her 'go-to' gun; less with her reliance on the shotgun.

My theory is that an individual is safer with a firearms with which one is familiar, although admittedly less objectively effective. Thus, my encouragement of the revolver ... for the moment.

However, if this makes her feel more confident at home I'll be working with her to spend some quality Range Time with the Mossberg in the immediate future, with the goal of complete weapons familiarization.

Perhaps we could take a few weekends attending "Practical Shotgun" competitions, in order to build confidence and effect weapon familiarization.

There is no downside, except perhaps for the hypothetical 'goblin'.

Encoded Ammunition: Rhode Island

NRA-ILA was a help in identifying the nation's smallest state, Rhode Island, as the latest to introduce another Encoded Ammunition Bill.

Senate Bill S2742 includes "The Usual Suspects" of impositions upon the Second Amendment: however, this bill is (so far) unique in that it specifies the affected calibers:
The calibers covered by the coding requirement shall include: .22, .25, .357, .380, .40, .45, 9 mm and 10 mm.

Going out on a limb here, I'll assume that this clause is high-level specific. That is, when it includes ".22", it does not include (for example) .223, .222, .22-250 etc. calibers. However, nothing in the text of the bill specifically excludes these notionally rifle calibers. I also note in passing that the 50 million+ rounds of .22 rimfire ammunition manufactured annually is not generally considered a threat to public safety, suggesting that the bill is intended only as an imposition of unrealistic and unjustified regulation on the ability of firearms owners to purchase ammunition for their legal firearms at an economical price range. Well, that goes without saying.

The activation date of this bill is January 1, 2009; by January 1, 2011, all 'non-encoded' ammunition must be 'disposed of'.

The only other significant characteristic worthy of note is that the bill does not also require that the cartridge case be 'engraved' with the same unique serial number as the bullet.

This bill was introduced on February 26, 2008, by Senator William A. Walaska.

If you live in Rhode Island, write your state legislators.

Come to think of it, write to Bill Walaska and suggest he immigrate to Alaska.

Sorry ... that last was a disservice to the law-abiding residents of Alaska.

Oh, by the way, Rhode Island isn't content with introducing Encoded Ammunition legislation.

S2720 and H7834 are companion bills which require Microstamping of ammunition, based on engraving of the firing pin AND breach face of semi-automatic weapons. This is a copy of the law recently enacted in California, similarly ineffective, and as you have probably already decided is both overkill and 'under-possible'.

Rhode Island residents are hereby given permission for being embarrassed by the perfidy of their state legislators. Well, they are politicians, they have been bought and they will do anything ... anything at all ... to get their names in the newspapers.

The legislators in my state are generally no more endowed with ethical constraints than those in your state. If this goes on (as Robert Heinlein was fond of saying) there is no reason to expect that similar egregious and tyrannical bills will not be introduced 'here'.

Sorry. "The Tree of Liberty", and all tha.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Buy-A-Gun Day 2008

I realize that I'm a little early for National Buy A Gun Day this year, but the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club held their semi-annual Gun Show this weekend and I couldn't resist.

The thing is, I was looking through my credit cards &etc. last week to see if I couldn't do without carrying all that plastic, when I came across my Concealed Handgun License (CHL). Looking at the date, I noticed that it was due to expire in October of this year. Five years I've had it, and I have never used it!

Well, I work on a college campus and I can't carry there. Other than that, I'm at home, or on my way to or from a shooting range. (No, I really don't get out much.)

The only reason I had taken out the license in the first place is because when traveling with a gun in the car, it's really a good idea to have a CHL. If I ever am stopped for a traffic infraction and the office sees I have firearms in the cargo hold, I don't want to worry whether it is properly stowed. (The rules for CHL owners are much different from travelers without a CHL; they're much less stringent.)

The fact is, I'm uncomfortable with carrying. But there are times when I wish I was armed. Unfortunately, I'm a fan of 'big guns' and everything I have is fairly awkward to carry around.

But it has been 11 months since I bought my Mossberg 590 (Buy A Gun Day 2007), and my gun fund was in good shape. Also, since I haven't been competing much over the late fall and winter, I haven't spent much on match fees, traveling expenses, reloading components ... I can actually afford to buy a gun. I've been reading a lot about new, small carry pistols and maybe it's a good idea to go to the gun show to see what they actually look and feel like.

And if I don't see anything that I like, or at a price I like, I don't have to buy a gun today, right?

I found some nice little carry guns. I like the little 9mm Beretta. The Ruger Millenium in .40 looks good ... in .45 it looks even better! ... but those are a bit bigger than I was looking for. I even found a small stainless derringer in .22 magnum, and a couple of long/skinny AMT NAA revolver derringers in .22 magnum.


I saw some S&W carry pistols in various metals and finishes, some with shrouded hammers (which I really liked) but again, just a little bigger than I wanted and much too pricy.



Then I started looking at the Taurus 85 five-shot in .38 special. I'm not much of a fan in .357 in a small revolver ... my hands are too big for that power (and recoil) with a two-finger grip, but the .38 special 85 has a nice rubber grip which helps. At $319, they were getting into my price range, but not quite there.

Finally I found Taurus 85 'used' (but it looked like new, the barrel was good) for $20 less. This slipped in under the Geek Sniff-test barrier and registered a resounding 'BINGO!' on the Geek-o-meter. Better yet, it was on the multi-table layout of a local gunshop. I do prefer to buy locally if at all possible.


Being convinced that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, I nipped over to the tables on the other side of the display and snooped until I found a Kel-Tec P3AT ... which stands for .380 caliber (Get it? 3AT = 380. Cute as hell.) It fits in the same 2-finger grip as the 85, but with flat stocks. Shoots the weaker (arguably) 9mm Kurz, and will hold 6 rounds in the magazine and one up the spout if you choose to walk around with a semi-cocked DAO pistol.

And the price was less than the Taurus.

What to do, what to do?

You know what to do.

I bought them both.

At least I don't have to worry about having a bloated Gun Fund for a while.


But wait, there's more!
After the paperwork was completed they asked me how I wanted to pay. "Uh, I don't know. Personal Check? Or I can put it on my credit card."

The lady at the counter said "we accept personal checks, or if you want to put them on your credit card we charge an extra 3%." I allowed as how that was uncommonly trusting of them. The lady snorted: "A man would be a fool to pass a bad check on a firearms purchase. They'll hunt him down." Good point, I didn't ask who would hunt me down because I was very careful to check my balance before I left the house.

I wrote out the check and didn't even weep when I wrote down the amount, as I usually do.

"How about a spare magazine for the Kel-Tec?" I asked. Ever the harbinger of bad news, the lady replied "sorry, we're all out. We can't keep them in stock. But check in at the shop next week, and they'll let you know when we get more in." She also suggested that I check other vendors at the show ... but nobody had them.

Then I left, two new (to me) pistols in hand, to look for a Kel-Tec .38 magazine and 'practice' ammunition for both pistols. It took me a while to find practice .38 Special ammunition (2 boxes at 13.95 each), a box of 20 .380 hydroshock (old @ $10) and two 50-round boxes of 92 grain .380 ( jacketted) @ $10.50.

(Note: the next day ... I found the Les Jones review of the P3AT. He mentions feeding failures; SWMBO and I shot about 20 rounds through this weanie pistol, and it fed perfectly. Les Jones also mentioned a white dot on the sights, which was not evident on my version. It appears that some changes, which are improvements, may have been applied to the design since Jones reviewed it 2 or 3 years ago.)

I also looked at holsters for the Taurus 85, but most of what I found were that awful Uncle Mike stuff, including shoulder holsters and the most uncomfortable, ungainly and inconvenient ankle holster ever conceived by the mind of man. I passed. I may find something from Dillon or somewhere on the web for the revolver, but it won't be made of ballistic nylon no matter how highly touted they are for preventing rust. (I'm not certain of the basis of those claims, but they are distinctly low-class. On the other hand, I use to think the same of Forbus holsters until I saw how well they worked.)

OFF to the range!

From there it was a 20 minute drive to the range, where I ran a half-box of each through the guns. (Didn't shoot the Federal hydra-Shok 90 gr hollowpoint ammunition.)

Unfortunately, not really expecting to buy and shoot guns we didn't think to bring ear protection. After shooting the first cylinder of .38 Special through the Taurus 85, I found an old Blimpie's Sandwich Shock paper napkin in a jacket pocket and tore off a quarter sheet to stuff in each of my ears. SWMBO thought I was being too geekish, but when I suggested she try both pistols she could no longer hold her hands over her ears and she, too, resorted to the primitive ear protectors. Believe me, even the crudest hearing protection is better than none at all ... especially when shooting pistols with extremely short barrels. That dog's bark is the same as its bite, they both hurt!

Even using reading glasses it was very difficult for me to see the sights for either pistol, but to my surprise I found it was easier to shoot a 'tight' group at 8 yards with the Kel-Tec than with the Taurus 85 ... for definitions of the expression "tight group". Here, it meant the difference between one I could cover with my fist, and one that I could cover with my hand; and as I have mentioned, I have big hands.

Being accustomed to the crisp glass-rod-breaking feel of a premium quality STI Open Gun, SWMBO was appalled at the long, heavy, mushy feel of the Kel-Tec DAO trigger. I noticed that she tended to take a LONG time to drag the trigger back, and just at the end the muzzle dipped.

However, she had some experience in shooting a Taurus Model 65 (4" barrel, an N-frame if it was the original S&W upon which the Taurus is modeled, in .357 magnum ... which is her house gun now), and had no real complaints about it.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with both of these pistols. I like them both, although I too found them difficult to get use to. I suspect I'll get a wallet holster for the little Kel-Tec and use it for the casual 'going to the store' kind of gun. The revolver may end up being a car gun, for traveling. Or it may become the house gun, although I already have an uncounted number of house guns at Chez Geek The Mossberg 590 will always remain my primary, loades with 7-1/2 shot because of population density in my neighborhood. The Taurus will probably be the one to use when the shotty gun isn't close at hand.

But I already know I have to find something better than Winchester 130gr FMJ for the new house gun.

Did I mention that these pistols were too loud to shoot comfortably without ear protection?

video

Saturday, March 01, 2008

XL650 Goes To The Doctor

The night before the Dundee match last weekend, I went out to the loading bench (in my garage) with the intention of loading up a few hundred rounds of .38 Super ammunition. We had enough loaded up for one shooter, but SWMBO and I both intended to shoot the match.

Because I had been experiencing some problems with the Dillon XL650 lately, I decided to load up 300 of the 400 rounds of new Winchester brass. I had enough primer fill tubes charged with small rifle primers to handle the job, so I figured it would take me about a half-hour from start to end.

After a half hour, I had completed less than 30 rounds ... and some of them didn't have primers in them.

What's the problem?

First, the shell plate wouldn't index correctly. I have had that as an 'intermittent' problem for a while but I had never experienced the situation when it NEVER indexed correctly.

Second, the return lever on the primer mechanism never returned far enough to pick up the next hole in the primer plate. This was also not a new problem, and as an expedient I had got into the habit of manually placing the return lever in the primer plate hole with my thumb. Annoying, but not enough to upset me.

This time I experienced a new problem: the mechanism (Case Insert Slide & Slide Cam) which advances the cartridge case to the shell plate wouldn't move the case to the shell plate, even when the shell plate was correctly indexed.

I tried every trick I could think of, including cleaning and lubrication and partial disassembly of each assembly to check for breakage. When I realized that I had already spent much more time trying to trouble-shoot the problems (without success) than I had expected to spend for the entire task, I turned off the lights and went inside. I figured I could use my 10mm Edge for the match, and I already had enough 10mm ammunition for a couple of matches.

(As it happened, events conspired to prevent that solution from working, either.)

After brooding for a week, I decided that there were just too many things wrong for my poor mechanical skills to fix. In fact, I had replaced every one of the three assemblies, in part or in total, during the 15 years I've owned it. I have put several thousand rounds through this loading press almost every year, and about 20,000 rounds per year since SWMBO decided to take up the sport. That adds up to over 100,000 rounds on a machine which remained about 50% of the original parts, aside from the piston and the frame.

So this morning (Saturday, March 1, 2008) I called Dillon and explained my problem. Then I asked if I could send the machine to them for reconditioning. The man at Dillon replied immediately "Sure!". I asked him what I should include. He told me to take off the turret head including the powder feed mechanism (assuming I wasn't having problems with that, which I wasn't ... I had replaced that under warranty some time ago!). Also, take off the charging handle and be sure to include the primer feed assembly. "And here's your Return Authorization Number .... it will take about two weeks".

It took me about as much time to strip down the machine as it had the previous week to realize I couldn't get it to work. I found the original packing box and realized that it was much bigger than it needed to be: the stripped down press was only about 20" long. So I found a box which had originally contained a disassembled office chair (the box was double-layer cardboard, so I figured it would be strong enough for the 20# plus Thirty-Five Pounds! hunk of iron) and used the cardboard cutout which was part of the original packing material to position the press.

Then I took it to The UPS Store and told them to finish packing it so it wouldn't rattle around like a big pea in a tin cup. I marked the Return Authorization number on the shipping bill and on the outside of the box in two places, and also put my business card with the RA# in a plastic envelope in the box. Including the $4.50 packaging charge, it cost me $31.01 to ship it to Dillon's business address in Scottsdale, AZ. The nice lady at the counter told me it would be delivered by Thursday via UPS Ground.

So I won't be shooting a lot of USPSA matches for the next month, but after that it should be a lot easier for me to load up for the weekend on the night before the big match.

There's a happy ending to this story. While I was searching my garage for a suitable shipping box, I found a box in which I had previously received an order from Dillon. I had been dumping spare gun parts (springs, old holsters, etc.) in it for over a year, but at the bottom of it I found 600 rounds of new-in-packing Winchester .38 super brass. Since that product has increased in price by 50% in the past year, this serendipitous find will save me more money than the shipping charges incurred.

Now, if I can only find some Small Rifle primers for less than $30 a brick ...