Thursday, April 14, 2005

More on the Barrett letter to the LAPD Chief of Police

Last night I posted an article which called into question the 'immediacy' of an article by Publicola. He referred to a letter that Ronnie Barrett had written to the LAPD Police Chief.

In 2002, Barrett attend a Los Angeles City Council meeting, where he was unable to convince them NOT to pass local laws against private ownership of the rifle which he manufactures. Part of the reason was that a LAPD representative was there and spoke in favor of the legislation.

I made the point that the letter was written in December of 2002. It may be 'news' (especially in light of recent productions by '60 Minutes' and published comments from the Violence Policy Center), but it isn't "NEW news".
Besides, I had no way of confirming that Barrett had actually followed through on the implied threat; that he would no longer sell to the LAPD, nor service rifles he had already sold to them. For that matter, it wasn't clear whether Barrett would refuse to do business with the LAPD, all California Government Agencies, or with anyone in California. That had seemed, to me, to be the most salient point of his letter. Consequently, I had no idea whether the issue really warranted comment.

Part of my confusion was due to the following verbiage posted on the Barrett's main page:


Before sending in any .50 caliber rifle or receiver to be built up, your rifle must be registered with the California Department of Justice. Shipping in and out of California must be handled by a DOJ Assault Weapon/.50 BMG Rifle Permit holder. Please call Barrett prior to shipping your .50 caliber rifles/receivers. 615-896-2938
That statement strongly implies that Barret WOULD sell to at least some customers in California.

Since that time, I've checked Barrett's website more thoroughly. Under the "NEWS" button I found a link to a letter to the American Rifleman, dated January of this year.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Ronnie Barrett Shuns Gun-Banning LAPD?????

LA GUN BANS - Letters of Opposition

The Los Angeles City Council, in a meeting discussing a proposal to ban the private ownership of the .50 BMG in Los Angeles ...

... voted to have the city attorney draft an ordinance to ban the .50, and further, to instruct the city's representatives in Sacramento and in Washington D.C. to push for bans at their respective levels.

Ronnie Barrett, the owner of Barret Firearms Manufacturing, Inc., attended the meeting and attempted to present the facts of .50 BMG ownership in contravention of statements by the Violence Policy Center. (See also here.)

Unfortunately, the VPC press releases had apparently swayed the council members even before the meeting started, and his arguments seemed to have no effect.

Perhaps decisions of the council were pre-determined. Certainly Barrett's position was undermined by the presence of a LAPD member who brought a Barrett .50 BMG to the meeting, sat with it in the front row, and testified that the LAPD supported the ban on public ownership of the firearm. After the meeting, the LAPD member provided the rifle to council members for "photo opportunities".

Upon returning home, Barrett was surprised to find that the LAPD had returned for servicing one of the .50 BMG rifles which they had bought from Barrett.

In a letter to LAPD Chief Willam J. Bratton, Barrett apologized for the "slow service" and stated:

I will not sell, nor service, my rifles to those seeking to infringe upon the Constitution and the crystal clear rights it affords individuals to own firearms.

Here's the most important FACT of this situation:
The letter from Ronnie Barrett to the LAPD Chief of Police was dated December 11, 2002.

It may be "news", but it ain't NEW news.

I have no idea if Barrett has actually established a policy of not selling, nor servicing rifles sold to, the Los Angeles Police Department. Nor do I know if the policy, if actually established, has continued during the intervening 2+ years since the letter was published. I can't find anything on the Internet, and the item is too old to find any information in the LA Times, the LA City Council, or Barrett's website.

I guess the lesson here is: when you read something on the web it's a good idea to check it out before you get all excited about it.

I generally check out the Snopes website as my first step to determining the probable veracity of an 'urban legend', but this is a bit too eclectic to show up on the 'Snope Scope'.

(hat tip: Publicola)


I just received an email from Publicola:
I called Barret before I posted. If you look in the extended entry you'll see that they verified that they weren't selling to any government agency in Cali.

The letter is two years old & only dealt with L.A. but this thing they're doing now is statewide.

Monday, April 11, 2005

(Democratic) Foes cite progress vs. Bush agenda / News / Nation / Washington / Foes cite progress vs. Bush agenda

(Democrats) Say strategy fuels GOP infighting

WASHINGTON -- Senior Democrats are increasingly confident that they have blocked Republicans plans for historic breakthroughs in legislation under GOP control of the White House and Congress, declaring that the Democratic strategy of unified opposition to major items on the leadership agenda has succeeded in turning Republicans against themselves.
[emphasis added]

Democratic leaders say the focus on opposition, rather than on their own legislative proposals, has allowed them to hold up President Bush's plans to remake Social Security. They are honing a message that highlights what they portray as Republican abuses of power, and say their new level of party discipline is forcing Republicans to wrestle with their own divisions over judicial confirmations, foreign affairs, and taxing and spending.

wait a minute here ... is this a Parody?

Am I reading The Globe, or The Onion?

There's more:

''The Democratic caucus has never been as unified, and you've seen it on Social Security, the budget, and judges," said Senate minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada. ''It took a while for us to realize that we weren't in the majority. I think, though, we have learned the lesson well. And we have also learned that the majority party won't be in the majority forever."
I'm happy for them, that they're all singing from the same hymnal (so to speak), but I have a problem with this:

Democrats acknowledge the strategy carries the risk that members will be viewed as obstructionists, focused on what they can stop instead of what they can accomplish. Republicans hope to use Democratic opposition as a weapon in 2006 elections, and Bush still has time in his second term to guide his priorities into law.

Nonetheless, after 10 years as the minority party in Congress, many Democrats who in the past have pushed for the party to offer explicit alternatives are realizing they can more effectively communicate their message by positioning themselves in the ways they oppose Republicans, said Representative Barney Frank, a Newton Democrat.

''The official agenda is entirely in their hands, and it's very hard to get things that are being done unofficially into the public debate. Therefore, it makes sense for us to define what we are doing in terms of the opposition to the official agenda," said Frank, who was first elected to Congress in 1980. ''We do have a positive agenda to get to, but we first have to get everybody's attention by stressing our opposition to what they do."

[again, emphasis added]

Do I understand this correctly?
The Dems have officially discounted the principle that they "stand for something". They have decided that their best political position is to admit that they have no political platform of their own, except that whatever the Republicans want to do ... they're against it.

Am I right?

I think I'm right in my understanding of this . I mean, I do understand that the Democrats don't STAND for anything. They just so profoundly hate Bush and the Republican majority (if only because the Republicans are currently in power) that they have no political agenda other than blind, unreasoning opposition.

Well, that's refreshing.
This is the first time in recent memory that the Democratic Party has been entirely candid about their politics.

In 2004, we watched as millions of citizens voted, not FOR John Kerry, but AGAINST George Bush. There were so many citizens who hated George W. Bush that they nearly elected a political non-entity ... a man who had NO platform, other than "I'm Not George Bush!"

Thank God for that!

For the past several years, I've assumed that the Democratic Party has no agenda of their own; their platform has had only two planks:
(1) We're not Them
(2) Whatever They support, we're against it

It's pretty slim pickings, if you want to choose between political parties on a rational basis. But the Democrats haven't been rational since Clinton was elected ... or even earlier. I listen to the rhetoric, hoping to find some sort of "I'm For This" statement from the Democrats, and all I hear is "I don't like the people who are making the decisions instead of me!" It doesn't seem as if they have a vision, a plan to make the future of our country brighter than it is now. It's nothing more than outrage that they are no longer in power.

Most recently, the Democratic party has decided that they need to find something to say which will appeal to focus groups. No, they haven't considered changing their priorities, or their policies; they only need to make them more appealing to a few special interest groups.

I ask myself: "Is this a dynamic group who have a vision, who will attract me because of the wisdom of that vision; or this is a stagnent bunch of politicians who have no goal beyond regaining their lost power?"

The answer is clearly "Plan 'B'", and now they have even admitted it to themselves.

What a bunch of maroons.

(Hat Tip to Rush Limbaugh)

Selena is Dead. Long Live Selena!

Mexican recording artist Paula Rubio poses as she arrives on the red carpet for the Selena Vive tribute concert at Reliant Stadium Thursday, Apri. 7, 2005, in Houston. Some of the biggest stars of Latin music came out to pay tribute to Selena 10 years after her death. (AP Photo/Brett Coomer)

I just thought you would ... you know ... want to know.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Aftec Extractor

I broke my extractor.

For two weeks I thought my repetitive jams during IPSC matches was caused by magazines ...t he new ISMI springs I had installed in all of my magazines, the Dawson Plus-Two I had installed on one magazine, or perhaps because of the natural tendency of magazines to open up at the magazine lips due to natural wear of using the same magazines for a year or more.

When I finally wised up, I took a close look at my extractor under a strong magnifying glass. I found a chip on the face of the extractor hook ... not a corner of the hook broken, as has been my experience with EVERY pistol (including S&W) I've ever used for IPSC competition for more than a year. (Figure 12,000 round per year, at a minimum.)

Because I shoot IPSC matches every weekend during 'the season' I wasn't willing to accept any decrease in reliability, so I contacted Chuck Bradley at Shooter's Connection to get a replacement.

(Extractors are a 'consumible' product; if you're going to shoot a couple of hundred rounds through your 1911 pistol every week, most weeks of the year, you have to expect that the extractor is going to fail eventually, even if you're using the now-classic STI.

It's only reasonable to have a spare extractor in your range bag, but when I went looking for mine, I discovered that the cupboard was bare ... extractor-wise.

Chuck had much the same problem: he had no STI extractors in stock, and his order to STI hadn't come in yet. But he had AFTEC extractors on hand, and I've always wanted to see if this product was worth the premium price it demanded, so I ordered one.

I also back-ordered a replacement STI extractor, to be delivered as soon as Chuck's order came in. It never hurts to have extra parts on hand, if you compete in as many matches each year as SWMBO and I do.

I didn't get my order in to Chuck until Monday night. He replied by email later that same night (has Chuck nothing better to do than keep track of his customers?) and I clarified my request that he send his available extractor ... the Aftec ... immediately, and also send a spare STI extractor as soon as they came in.

I received my Aftec extractor on Thursday night.

Information available on the Internet indicated that installation of the Aftec extracor required 'some gunsmithing'. Specifically, they supposedly required that you drill out your extractor channel to fit the larger-diameter Aftec. After this, of course, the stock extractor was no longer an option.

The extractor is an Aftec Extractor. It uses a small, heavy duty coil spring to give constant tension to the case in the chamber. I have broken two of these in this gun so far. The replacement parts are hard to come by as they are no longer produced. To install the Aftec extractor, you have to drill out the extractor hole in the slide to a larger diameter. It is impossible to go back to the regular type extractor after one of these are installed. The weak area is by the hook part of the extractor, where a crack forms and eventually the hook breaks off. I do not recommend this modification because of the two failures I have had with mine.

Either this description is VERY much out of date, or it is patent bullshit. I prefer to believe that this installation process is based on a very EARLY model of the Aftec extractor.

My experience was less traumatic. The Aftec dropped right in. The extractor channel didn't require any modification, and even the perennially Gunsmithing-Incompetent Geek was able to install the After-Market part without opening the dusty Dremel Tool box.

Saturday morning, 9am, I started the match at the Albany Rifle & Pistol Club. To my delight, the Aftec extracted with near-perfect reliability. (The single exception was when I attempted to use a 140mm magazine newly equiped with a 'Dawson Plus-Two' basepad, which caused a jam after 6 shots in the 22-round magazine. My bad: I had used an 'old' 170mm ISMI magazine spring, conforming to my personal theory that a NEW 140mm magazine spring wouldn't work with a plus-two magazine. I'll replace that with a new 140mm ISMI magspring and report back later. Did I mention that I was mechanically stupid?)

John Moses Browning ... My Hero!

While I'm a traditionalist where gun-parts are concerned, I've never been entirely convinced that the original John Browning design of a bend-it-to-tune-it extractor was the best possible solution. Given the one-match experience, I have no negative critical comments about the Aftec extractor so far.

Give me some time. If it's possible to muck it up, I'll do it. But for now ... I like it!