Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Guns on a plane

Washington Times - EDITORIAL: Guns on a plane

After the September 11 attacks, commercial airline pilots were allowed to carry guns if they completed a federal-safety program. No longer would unarmed pilots be defenseless as remorseless hijackers seized control of aircraft and rammed them into buildings.

Now President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.

The Obama administration this past week diverted some $2 million from the pilot training program to hire more supervisory staff, who will engage in field inspections of pilots.

This looks like completely unnecessary harassment of the pilots....

A recent Washington Times Editorial suggests that President Obama's might be quietly taking steps to undermine the FFDO (Federal Filght Deck Officer) plan which allows some airline pilots to take special training to qualify them to carry firearms on the Flight Deck of airplanes, to defend the flight crew and passengers from Terrorist attempts to take over control of in-flight airplanes. (See: Twin Towers, Penatagon, Pennsylvania, 9/11.)

The article ... and please note that this is an EDITIORIAL, which means it is someone's interpretation and extrapolation of minimal FACTS ... describes the othewise-unsupported conclusion that this is a subtle blow at teh FFDO program.

Well, maybe it is. We note in passing that annual funding for this program is on the order of $15 million, and it's difficult to see where the money is being spent since anecdotal evidence is that pilots pay for their training, on their own time. What has the money been spent on so far?

The assertion that funding is being diverted "... to hire more supervisory staff, who will engage in field inspections of pilots." Our interpretation is that the Obama Administration is adding one more layer of bureaucracy to a program which is already under-funded, unsupported (by Congress, and other layers of the Federal government) and is the "Red Headed Stepchild" of 9/11.

Still, this ... "editorial" ... is long on opinion and short on facts. It's either a "good catch" by investigative reporters, or an unsupportable logical extention proposed by an Editor with an axe to grind against the incumbent administration and it's carefully hidden agenda vis a vis Gun Control.

Doesn't that about summarize the alternatives?

I have a lot more to say on this subject, but rather than to bore you with my personal interpretation I'll just provide the link and allow you to make up your own minds.

A thorough reading of the comments attached to this post will serve to acquaint you with the various 'positions', in response to the article. Although there are a few commentors who seem to be completely Clue-less about the concept of "Concealed Carry", both sides make pertinent points.
Usually, the discussion focuses (Rightly, I think) on whether the ruling is significant; and if it is, what does that mean?

I'm not as entirely clueless as I probably sound, but this uncertainty about the factual basis of the EDITORIAL is regretable. I would wish that the author had made a more thorough search on the background, the effect of the ruling, and the consequences. Does this mean that fewer FFDO's will be certified to carry a weapon on the flight deck of commercial airplanes? And what about the efficiency of U.S. Marshals riding (armed) on no more than 3% of the domestic flights?

Oh yes, while I have much to say, I have more to ask. Which is why I'm not saying much, while at the same time suggestion questions for the discerning reader.

Hopefully, during the next few days, more information will become available ... which will allow we few to form an informed opinion.

The best I can say at the moment is;
it seems folly to allow almost ANYONE on board a vessal which can easily be turned into a Weapon of Mass Desruction. (CF: 9/11)

Also, we already know (if we have read our day-to-day News Reports) that the FFDO program is not widely supported among Democratic Congressmen ... who form a majority in both houses.

Finally, we know that Gun Control measures, no matter what name they may hide behind, are only likely to significantly affect the Law Abiding. Terrorists will not be inconvenienced, let alone disuaded' by the potention penalties they may have to pay if they are found having toboard an airplane while in possession of a clearly definable "WEAPON".

Until we have more information, we are lot likely to express an opinion.

Still, it does generate some very interesting questions.

Military Brass Unavailable: Change 2.0

Feds undercut ammo supply

But wait ... there's more!

As soon as I announce the End of The World, there's a new story to tell.

This has to do with the U.S. Military announcing that they will no longer make used Military brass available for public purchase.

Well, things have changed.

A couple of Congressmen (Democratic Senators from Montana) heard about the Department of Defense (DOD) plan to 'mutilate' all used brass before offering it for resale. They realized that it would constitute a serious lack of availability to reloaded ammunition in Military calibers, and they responded by encouraging the "Defense Logistics Agency" (DLA) to reconsider the decision.

Again, the reason was that it would reduce the amount of affordable ammunition to the public, which they (rightly) decided was A bad Thing.

Given the concerted Senatorial attention, the DOD and DLA crawfished as fast as they could, and today released a notice that they have reconsidered their plan and scrapped it.

The policy already had taken a bite out of the nation's stressed ammunition supply, leaving arms dealers scrambling to find ammo for private gun owners.

Mark Cunningham, a legislative affairs representative with the Defense Logistics Agency, explained in an e-mail last night to the office of Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., that the Department of Defense had placed small arms cartridge cases on its list of sensitive munitions items as part of an overall effort to ensure national security is not jeopardized in the sale of any Defense property.

The small arms cases were identified as a senstive item and were held pending review of policy, he said.

"Upon review, the Defense Logistics Agency has determined the cartridge cases could be appropriately placed in a category of government property allowing for their release for sale," Cunningham wrote.

The Defense Department liaison was responding to a letter yesterday to the Defense Logistic Agency's Vice Admiral Alan S. Thompson from Tester and fellow Montana Democrat Sen. Max Baucus. The senators argued "prohibiting the sale of fired military brass would reduce the supply of ammunition – preventing individual gun owners from fully exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. We urge you to address this situation promptly."

That's right. Once-used Military brass will once again be available for resale to the Public (eg: private ammunition remanufacturing companies such as Georgia Arms) in un-mutilated form.

Note that this offers little or no direct benefit to the hope that more brass will be made available to other cartridge manufacturers who are experiencing a market down-turn on the availability of raw materials to form 'new cartridge cases' from raw materials. The availability of alloy appropriate to 'New' cartridges made in the United States will remain low, if only due to the increased Military demand for ammunition.

Consequently, those of us who use a LOT of 'new cartridge cases' in non-military calibers will continue to pay premium prices (often over twice the price at which they were available only a couple of years ago).

Still, this is overall Good News if only in that some members of Congress realize that military expedience and Political Correctness should not, and (now) will not, take precedence over protection of the Second Amendment.

Specifically, any Governmental rules which infringe upon the free access to affordable ammunition also infringes upon the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

After all, if you can't afford or Can't Get the ammunition, a firearm is nothing more than a doorstop, or an expensive club.

This facet of the Second Amendment has been made clear, now, and although we will probably have to fight the same battle again, under a different scenario, at least this small battle has established a precedence which confirms the right of private citizens to not only "Keep and Bear Arms", but also to be able to feed those arms rather than to allow their utility to be undermined by the lack of affordable ammunition.

Take THAT, Daniel Patrick Moynihan!

Monday, March 16, 2009

No More Military Brass

Michael Bane's Blog laments the recent decision of the Department of Defense to discontinue reselling used Military brass to ammunition reloaders.

Michael goes into fine detail, citing at least two sources, and I encourage you to read the article for the details.

We're here to talk about the consequences of this decision.

Essentially, the DOD will no longer resell 'used brass' to reloaders. Instead, the new requirement is that the brass must be "mutilated" to the point at which it is no longer usable for reloading.

If you reload in the common Military calibers (to include .223, 9mm, .308 and/or .50 BMG), you have probably already noticed that the cost of reloaded ammunition, or the cases thereof, has at least doubled during the past year or two.

In fact, if you reload ANY caliber, you have seen the same or even greater effect. The U.S. Military is taking so much of the product of ammunition manufacturers that components have become almost prohibitively costly ... as availability is reduced. (The Law of Supply and Demand rules, it's a Free Market thing.)

This latest ruling, though, takes an even bigger bite out of the availability.

For those of us who use exotic or esoteric ammunition, such as .38 Super or .40 S&W ... or almost any caliber which is not commonly identified as a 'military component', this might serve to hold steady, or even lower the cost of reloading components.

If the problem is that 'original' cartridge manufacturers (such as Winchester) and 'original' component manufacturers (such as StarLine) find it difficult to compete with 'reloaded' ammunition, this decision dumps what may turn out to be "A Bunch" of ammunition-appropriate brass metal alloys on the market.

Starline et al (Cartridge Case manufacturers) cannot compete directly with reloaded ammunition manufacturers. The best they can do is to cut corners in their industrial process, and emphasize their availability of 'new' brass in all calibers ... subject, of course, to the availability of raw materials.

This new DOD directive renders an increased availability of raw materials. In fact, they are not exactly "new". That is to say, the market for 'amunition quality' materials may have just increased expodentially.

The composition of the metallic components of cartridge cases is, we suppose, not terribly different for .50 BMG and 9mm Parabellum. Any raw (or recycled) metal is cost-effective depending on the similarity between the available metal, and the end product.

Since 'mutilated' military brass is likely to be metallurgically similar to the desired end product (I'm making up terminology as I write, I hope you don't mind), the cost of converting "mutilated military brass" to "marketable civilian cartridges" should logically be minimal; after the Smelter costs (to convert "mutilated military brass" to ingots appropriate to an industrial production line), there are NO further economic differences between "mutilated military brass" and ingots produced by a smelter. In fact, it should be less expensive because there is little or no need to add other metals to change the base metal to that alloy which is appropriate to cartridge cases.

We're going out on the economic limb here, but it seems reasonable to expect that within the forseeable future (three to six months), the cost of 'new' brass in "non-military" calibers might actually be LESS than the current prices, assuming that the manufacturers pass on the savings to their customers.

And why wouldn't they? If they don't, their competitors will.

I don't much like the Obama Administration. My personal prognostication is that, because of his economic miscalculations alone, Barry Obama will be the most-despised president since Jimmy Carter .. if only because the Presidential priorities tend more toward encouragement of Socialism than toward Economic Health for this nation.

But while this policy seems, on the surface, to encourage the increase in price for the Reloaded Ammunition market, it may ultimately result in a decrease in price of at least one component: brass for less 'popular' calibers.

Save your Confederate Money, Friends.

The South Will Rise Again!

The Brits and The Brats

EU bans use of 'Miss' and 'Mrs' (and sportsmen and statesmen) because it claims they are sexist | Mail Online

In the past we've indulged ourselves here at Geek Central pointing out the social and legal (and cultural) "Faux Pas" of our lovable, cuddly friends in England. Oh, it's not their fault that their governmental lackeys seem determined to undermine their entire culture. After all, they are accustomed to being British "Subjects" .... which is entirely different from being "Citizens".

And it's also not their fault that writers Aldous Huxley and George Orwell (two Brit writers of some reknown) seemed to feel free to base "1984", "Brave New World" and "Animal Farm" on the 'if this goes on' Science Fiction tool of extending 'current' English cultural trends into the future, to the present embarrassment of their fellow countrymen.

But now The Brits have a New Master: The European Union. You know, the friendly neighborhood Spidermen who attempted to make it a crime to advertise supermarket produce price by the "Pound" rather than by the Kilogram. (Hereinafter referred to as "The Brats".)

Today, The Brats have, in their infinite wisdom, decided that it is politically incorrect to use the terms "Miss" and "Mrs".

Also verboten: "Policeman", and any other reference which refers either to gender or marital status.

Instead of using the standard titles, it is asking MEPs to address women by their names.

And the rules have not stopped there - they also ban MEPs saying sportsmen and statesmen, advising athletes and political leaders should be used instead.

Man-made is also taboo - it should be artificial or synthetic, firemen is disallowed and air hostesses should be called flight attendants.

Headmasters and headmistresses must be heads or head teachers, laymen becomes layperson, and manageress or mayoress should be manager or mayor.

Police officers must be used instead of policeman and policewoman unless the officer's sex is relevant.

The only problem words that do not fit into the guidelines are waiter and waitress, which means MEPs are at least spared one worry when ordering a coffee.

You may consider this latest scheme by The Brats to exceed the bounds of permissibility in their attempt to 'standardize' terminology.

In point of fact, so do a few of the Brits:

[MEPs] (Members of European Parliament?) have reacted with incredulity to the booklet, which has been sent out by the Secretary General of the European Parliament.

Scottish Tory MEP Struan Stevenson described the guidelines as 'political correctness gone mad'.

He said: 'This is frankly ludicrous. We've seen the EU institutions try to ban the bagpipes and dictate the shape of bananas, but now they seem determined to tell us which words we are entitled to use in our own language.

'Gender-neutrality is really the last straw. The Thought Police are now on the rampage in the European Parliament.

'We will soon be told that the use of the words "man" or "woman" has been banned in case it causes offence to those who consider 'gender neutrality' an essential part of life.'

I happen to agree with MEP Struan. This latest decision by The Brats seems not only unilateral and arbitrary, but excessively determined to fix a "problem" which doesn't generally exist.

Want to know the really SCARY thing?

Read the comments. There are actually British Citizens Subjects who approve of this in the COMMENTS section following the article:

This is one EU decision that's very good. I don't view it as being politically correct, but simply fixing an outdated title system.
- Jo, Cheshire, 16/3/2009 11:18
Darn! The Brits have a Brat in their midst.

Those Poor Brits.

On the other hand, are we so far behind? After all, we are currently under the leadership of "The O".

Sunday, March 15, 2009

SWMBO: Back Home On The Range

This weekend there was a match at the Albany Club (ARPC).

I had planned to shoot the match, but I couldn't reload ammunition because my reloading press was then, and remains, 'broken'. So I decided to just show up and monitor the progress of the Certifying Students from last week's Introduction to USPSA class.

To my surprise, the night before the match SWMBO suggested that she might want to go to the match with me.

I say "to my surprise", because I had been expressing the same idea for several months. Since the chemotherapy was discontinued, she began regaining her energy and her strength (not to mention her hair). And she has missed the people we meet at the USPSA matches.

Saturday morning SWMBO and I returned to our past weekend routine: up at a reasonable hour (7:30), breakfast from Burger King to eat on the way to the range, after we had geared up in waterproof clothing because not surprisingly the weatherman forecast rain.

We arrived at the range perhaps 20 minutes before the 9am beginning of the match, and it was a treat to see the surprise on the faces of our friends as they realized that when I attempted to introduce them to "My New Girlfriend", it was SWMBO.

Neither of us signed up to shoot the match, but we followed the crowd through the Walk-Through. On the first stage, Match Director Mike McCarter re-introduced SWMBO as " ... a competitor who has been missing, and missed for several months". Dozens of our friends stopped by to say hello to her, and to get her traditional greeting hug.

That afternoon, SWMBO and I had a big meal in celebration. She did not rest well that evening. She was unaccustomed to the exertion of walking, to eating foods which were not on her 'normal' diet, and perhaps to the excitement of going to the range.

But we both slept well, having experienced one more surprising event.

The postman brought her retirement check. She is unable to work, but when Social Security Disability kicks in (and later Social Security retirement funding), she will be able to pay the bills necessary to ensure a full, if frugal, standard of living.

Sandie and I would like to thank our friends for their fulsome welcome and constant support.