Wednesday, November 30, 2005

words: Bang

words: Bang

Every once in a while, thanks to the miracle of Blogging, you read about someone who is frightened by guns (or has been taught to fear them, or to hate them, or subconciously associate them with worthless people) but who embraces their fear or hatred and actually tries to learn about them.

Such a person is 'redmemory1', a young woman in Nevada who has "issues".

Because she felt that her life was chaotic, she started a 'new blog' a few weeks ago, and began to bare her soul. Her angst was painfully on display from the first day, but somehow a few people (including Kevin of The Smallest Minority) picked up on her blog and reinforced the process with encouraging words.

A friend introduced her, in the gentlest possible way and by bits and pieces, to guns and ammunition as objects. He took her to the range and gave her what must have been some very high-quality instruction on gunhandling and other shooting techniques. He seems to have done everything right, because a few days later he again took her to the range and she reports that she was becoming . . . perhaps not inured to the startlement of having people shoot guns near her, but at least able to control her reactions. She reported that she didn't really consider it 'fun', but 'necessary'.

I'm extremely impressed by this young woman, for several reasons.

First, because she is able to write about the issues in her life which prevent her from enjoying her own existance, and then because she is taking steps to address these issues, one at a time.

Next, because she is willing to take us with her as she makes major changes in her life, and her attitudes, and writes intelligently and cogently. (I wish I shared her skills in this area.) It's perhaps the epitome of courage to bare one's soul in public, but she manages it without obvious embarassment or false bravado. Her courage is exemplary; her candor, remarkable.

We have all experienced fear, but few of us are willing or able to address it so openly.

Of course, my congratulations to this brave young lady, and my thanks to Kevin for bringing her to our attention. I think everyone reading this article should go to the redmemory1 website and read the story this remarkable woman has to tell.

If this was all I had to say, I would end this article now (and I probably should), but I do have some other things to say which are too extensive to to post in the comments section of her blog. Please forgive the verbosity of the following.

Fear of loud noises:
I've been shooting for over 50 years. Rifles, for the first 30 of them, and mostly pistols for the rest of the years. I shoot in competition, and haven't actively hunted game since 1980-something. Every year I shoot between 40 and 50 matches, some of which extend over two or more days. I've officiated at shooting matches, I've served as an infantry platoon sargeant in Vietnam, and I suppose I've been around more guns and shooting than most people. But there are times when it makes me nervous to be around the sudden, unexpected noise of someone shooting a gun.

Fear of loud noises is probably one of the basic instinctive fears we are born with. Infants are frightened by loud noises; it's not only because they don't understand why the noises occur, but because these sounds seem intrinsically threatening.

As we age and gain experience, we learn to separate those sounds which are reasonable to expect from those which are not. That doesn't mean that our lizard-brain will stop telling us to RUN when we hear them; it only means that our developing intelligence can identify the noise, correlate it to the environment, and reassure us that the fear we feel is not necessary. It's a learning experience, and it takes time to reprogram your subconscious. This reprogramming is not a perfect mechanism, so sometimes you will be frightened by gunshots and so will I. I've learned to live with it and to laugh at myself when I feel unreasonable fear . . . but I don't try to lose the fear because when I hear loud noises at night, in my neighborhood while I am reading in bed, I still feel the fear. It's a survival mechanism, and we can let it control us or we can control it.

Fear of Guns:
Because I was raised in a household where guns were always present, where they were regarded as tools, hobby items or a way to feed the family, I've always accepted guns on that basis.

Not everyone has been as fortunate as I. Some people are raised in households where they learned that guns are evil, guns are tools of destruction, and nobody really NEEDS to own a gun.

Worse, some learn that only 'bad people' have guns. Guns are for killing, and Good People will have nothing to do with guns.

Even the word is ugly. Guns. What an awful word. If 'guns' were called 'flowers', would they be less threatening? Probably not. "A gun by any name . . . "

My Dear, Sweet Lady, SWMBO (an acronym for "SHE - Who Must Be Obeyed", please forgive the not-so-private joke) was raised in such a household. A preacher's daughter, she learned that nobody has a NEED to own a gun.

When we met, we were immediately infatuated with each other. When she ("SHE") learned that I shoot pistols in competition, for fun, she made the conscious choice that she liked me "anyway", and allowed the precious tentative relationship to continue.

It was difficult for her, when I would leave her on Saturday mornings to spend the day at the range. I was careful, when I said goodbye at her door, to always remind her that she was invited to join me at the range.

After some time, she decided to go with me to pistol matches, because we were losing the best half of each weekend together by not being together.

For three years she followed me around muddy pistol ranges in all weather, helping occasionally by picking up brass so we could reload the ammunition for the next weekend. She met the people I spent my free time with, and decided that "shooters" were not a bunch of iconoclastic, misogynistic red-necks who spent their weekends swilling beer while perched on the tailgate of pickup trucks making racist jokes. Actually, my friends and acquaintances turned out to be pretty nice people.

Eventually, she said "Screw this! Get me a gun. I'm tired of being the Brass Wench, I want to shoot cardboard targets and let those guys pick up MY brass for a change!"

(Any woman that articulate just naturally DESERVES to have her own gun.)

Since that date, she has evolved to shooting progressively more complicated and competition-oriented guns. We go to pistol matches almost every weekend, all year 'round. She has a competition gun in her personal gunsafe, and a defense gun under her pillow . . . we don't notice it when we sleep, but we're comforted in the knowledge that it is there and available should it be needed, if we ever think about it at all.

We each shoot between 10,000 and 20,000 rounds a year, and she helps reload the ammunition from brass which we BOTH pick up off the range during each weekend's competitive match.

And yes, the other folks we shoot with do pick up her brass for her, and carefully place it in her 'brass-bag'. I brass for her, too, and she continues to do her share of work at the matches we attend. She's now a Certified Range Officer (has been for several years), and you can frequently see her officiating. In fact, she has officiated at National matches in the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA),. Everybody likes her, because she's fair but honest.

She has also decided that there are many good and sufficient reasons for honest people to 'have a gun'.

Monday, November 28, 2005

EU warned on 'secret CIA jails'

BBC NEWS | Europe | EU warned on 'secret CIA jails'

EU warned on 'secret CIA jails'
Prisoner at Guantanamo Bay
Reports claim al-Qaeda members are being held in clandestine jails

The European Union's top justice official has warned that any EU state found to have hosted a secret CIA jail could have its voting rights suspended.

What a bunch of maroons!

Remember the comments from yesterday's article about VPC going after the Barrett's .50BMG as the first step toward confiscation of ALL firearms?

This is the same thing.

The European Union has established itself as King SH*T on The Continent, they've got their constitution more-or-less established (all 999 pages of it, or whatever) and now they're starting to flex their muscle.

Europeans, DO pay attention to "the Man behind The Curtain".

These euro-central emperors are out to make eunuchs of you all.

This is only the first step. If they can take away your voting RIGHTS for one reason, they can take away your RIGHT to be a part of the decision-making process for ANY reason.

At that point, your 'rights' become 'privileges', which can be abrogated arbitrarily by whomever happens to be in power at the moment.

If I was a citizen of the European Union, I would be very nervous today. The gloves have come off, the EU leadership (who elected them?) have revealed that they have the power to turn YOUR state into a protectorship.

If this goes on, there will eventually be a few 'states' (France, Germany, Spain, Italy?) who are making the decisions for all of the other 21 'states' in the EU. The rest of you won't have a voice.

They will make all of the decisions for you.

In the words of almost every Infantryman in the history of the world:

"You poor bastards, you are SO F*CKED!"

The question of "Secret CIA Jails", and which countries allowed CIA planes to land on sovereign territory, are so much smoke and mirrors. The real question is who can take away your sovereign rights, and who really runs your country.

I'm sure glad I don't live in a EU member state.

I don't talk like that "in real life", I don't need to use vulgarisms here.
Although it loses a lot of impact when you replace a vowel with an asterisk, and although it doesn't change the obvious meaning, at least I can make a token gesture to clean up my act.
Sorry, it won't happen again. [He said, smothering his glee again.]

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dastards at AP

I'm telling you, I'm getting sick and tired of the malicious anti-RKBA propaganda coming out of the Associated Press. The dastards!

das·tard (dăs'tərd)
A sneaking, malicious coward.

[Middle English, probably alteration of Old Norse dæstr, exhausted, from past participle of dæsa, to languish, decay.]
A few days ago I ran across, and bookmarked, the following article:

ATTACK on AMERICA - Military

U.S. government gave armor-piercing sniper rifles to Afghanistan, bin Laden

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – More than a decade ago, the U.S. government sent 25 high-powered sniper rifles to a group of Muslim fighters in Afghanistan that included Osama bin Laden, according to court testimony and the guns' maker.

The rifles, made by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc. of Tennessee and paid for by the government, were shipped during the collaboration between the United States and Muslims then fighting to drive the Soviet Union from Afghanistan.

It is uncertain whether the weapons could still be used, experts say, but the transaction further accentuates how Americans are fighting an enemy that U.S. officials once supported and liberally armed.

In a trial early this year of suspects in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, Essam Al-Ridi, identified as a former pilot for bin Laden, said he shipped the weapons in 1989 to Sheik Abdallah Azzam, bin Laden's ideological mentor. The weapons had range-finding equipment and night-vision scopes.

During the late 1980s, the United States supplied arms worth $500 million a year to anti-Soviet fighters including Afghanistan's current Taliban rulers, bin Laden and others. The supplies included a range of weapons from small arms to shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.

Al-Ridi, an American citizen born in Egypt, testified that Azzam liked the rifles because they could be "carried by individuals so it's made in such a way where you could have a heavy cannon but mobile by an individual."

While in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Al-Ridi said he saw bin Laden several times with Azzam.

Ronnie Barrett, president of Murfreesboro, Tenn.-Barrett Firearms, likened sale of the .50-caliber armor-piercing rifles to the supply of the Stinger surface-to-air missiles given to anti-Soviet guerrillas in Afghanistan.

"Barrett rifles were picked up by U.S. government trucks, shipped to U.S. government bases and shipped to those Afghan freedom fighters," Barrett said.

The sale was publicized by the Violence Policy Center, gun-control advocates who want for more restrictions on the sale of high-powered weapons such as the specialized Barrett exports.

"These .50-caliber sniper rifles are ideal tools for terror and assassination," VPC analyst Tom Diaz said.
Wups! What's this, they're quoting VPC?

Read on:

Firearms expert Charles Cutshaw of Jane's Information Group said he was more worried about the Stingers than long-range sniper rifles.

"It seems to me that there are easier ways for a terrorist to get at a high-value target than this," Cutshaw said. "If they wanted to bring down an aircraft, the best way would be to bring it down with a Stinger." Guerrillas using Stingers were credited with shooting down more than 270 Soviet aircraft.

The sniper rifles are "sort of overkill" for shooting people, Cutshaw said, although the Irish Republican Army has used one to assassinate British officials. More appropriate targets, he said, would be vehicles or fuel tanks.

The rifles could be used only with U.S.-made ammunition, but such ammunition can be obtained in neighboring Pakistan, Cutshaw said.

The Barrett rifles sold for $5,000 to $6,000 each, and both Barrett and Cutshaw had doubts they would still work due to dust and a lack of spare parts.

This is an old, old issue that the AP/VPC Complex has no intentions of letting die. And on the surface, it seems to be an attack on the US Government (in the persons of Reagan and Bush, sitting presidents in "the late 1980's".)

Judging from an article released November 25, 2005, these dastards aren't just targetting Republican Administrations, they're also targetting the manufacturer, Ronnie Barrett:

From the Cleveland, Ohio, "Kingston Daily Freeman", the Cedar Rapids, Iowa "Gazette Online" (and also from the Salem, Oregon "Statesman Journal", which caught my attention), there's another article on the same subject which is quite a bit newer:

Nov 25, 11:21 AM EST

Gunmaker Arms the Military and the Stars

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) -- When U.S. soldiers need to penetrate a tank's armor from a mile away, they count on a weapon that evolved from the garage tinkering of a former wedding photographer.

The .50-caliber rifle created by Ronnie Barrett and sold by his company, Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc., is the most powerful firearm civilians can buy. It weighs about 30 pounds and can hit targets up to 2,000 yards away with armor-piercing bullets.

That kind of power has drawn a customer base of gun enthusiasts, Hollywood actors and Barrett's most loyal buyer, the U.S. military, which has been buying Barrett's rifles since the 1980s and using them in combat from the 1991 Gulf War to the present.

But the powerful gun has drawn plenty of critics, who say the rifle could be used by terrorists to bring down commercial airliners or penetrate rail cars and storage plants holding hazardous materials.

For years some state and federal lawmakers have sought to limit or ban the gun's sale, as California did this year.

Tom Diaz, a senior policy analyst with the Washington-based Violence Policy Center, says the guns should be more regulated and harder to purchase. The gun can now be bought by anyone 18 or older who passes a background check.

"They're (.50 caliber) easier to buy than a handgun," Diaz said. "These are ideal weapons of terrorist attack. Very dangerous elements gravitate toward these weapons."

Let me see, we have two different AP writers, and articles which were published a month apart (10/16/2005 and 11/25/2005), but they both prominently feature quotes from Tom Diaz of the VPC.

What else does Rose French have to say, that D. Ian Hopper left out?

The majority of Barrett's sales come from military orders, for armed forces and police departments in some 50 allied countries. Every branch of the U.S. military uses the rifles, and the Department of Defense last year spent about $8 million on his firearms, Barrett said.

Barrett estimates about 1,000 of his rifles - which each cost between $3,500 and $10,000 - have been used in both the 1991 Gulf War and the current war in Iraq.

The guns are used by most civilians for hunting big game and in marksmanship competitions. Civilian sales are crucial to business because military and police orders can fluctuate year to year, Barrett said.

Really? BARRETT says the rifles "... are used by most civilians for hunting big game ..."?

I've looked in Barrett's webpage, and so far haven't found the statement. I don't know, maybe there IS some civilian who uses the .50 BMG for hunting big game. If so, he's an idiot.

A 30-pound rifle isn't easily accomodated while hunting big game, even if you're an Army Sniper enjoying a leave. And it sure doesn't do if your goal is to preserve meat or a trophy. Actually, a .458 isn't appropriate unless you're looking to bag a Buff or an Elephant, but it's your choice. This is America, it's a free country. If you want to overgun, if you want to pack all that extra weight (rifle AND ammunition), go ahead. Remember, each round costs about five bucks and weighs about a quarter pound, but that's your problem.

No, I doubt that Barret endorses the .50 BMG for hunting big game, but he probably sell you one if you were a law-abiding civilian.

To continue with the article:

"It's like, what does a 55-year-old man do with a Corvette? You drive it around and enjoy it," said Barrett, 51, whose customers include doctors, lawyers, movie makers and actors. "I know all the current actors who are Barrett rifle shooters, some Academy Award-winning people. But they don't publicize it. They love to play with them and have fun. Shooting is very fun."

A 1999 investigation by the U.S. General Accounting Office found the rifles were available on civilian markets with fewer restrictions than those placed on handguns. Ammunition dealers were willing to sell armor-piercing bullets even when an agent pretending to be a buyer said he wanted the ammunition for use against armored limousines or "to take a helicopter down."

Other reports have observed the rifles have made their way to terrorists, drug cartels and survivalists.

Joseph King, a terrorism expert at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said terrorists could use the weapon to take out a plane.

"I don't understand what good a .50-caliber is going to do you," King said. "I don't understand any civilian use of it. The only thing it's good for is for military or police application. You can't really hunt with it because it would destroy most of the meat."

Barrett and gun advocates say the gun's power has been exaggerated and doesn't pose a threat to citizens because the weapons are too expensive and heavy to be used by criminals.

Barrett and other gun advocacy groups heavily lobbied the state of California, the first state to pass a law making it illegal to make and sell the gun. Several other states and some federal lawmakers have introduced similar legislation.

Despite these efforts, Barrett says sales are up nearly $6 million from last year thanks to recent military and police orders.

The New York City Police Department recently announced it's training officers in its aviation unit to use the rifles, which will be on board some of the department's helicopters to intercept potential attacks from boats or airplanes. In 2002, the Army placed an order for 4,200 of the guns, Barrett said.

Other manufacturers now make the gun, but Barrett dominates the market.

In the next few years, he said he plans to more than double the current number of employees, 80, and the size of his 20,000-square-foot gun-making facility located in Murfreesboro, about 30 miles southeast of Nashville.

A lifelong gun enthusiast, Barrett never went to college and worked as a commercial photographer and reserve deputy for years before he started tinkering with the .50-caliber Browning Machine Gun in the early 1980s.

The heavy recoil of the Browning made it nearly impossible to shoot without it being mounted on a turret, but Barrett's rifle reduces recoil to the point where it can be shoulder-fired, while the weapon rests on a bipod.

Barrett says he was nearly $1.5 million in debt at one point trying to get the business on its feet. He sold his first guns to the military in the late 1980s and the long-range weapons gained popularity after they were used to attack Iraqi tanks in the 1991 war.

Barrett's son, Chris, who works with his sister at their father's business, said he watched his dad build the gun in the family garage and is not surprised by the growth and success of his father's business.

"He's worked hard all his life. I think he would do as well at anything he pursued," Chris Barrett said. "He's not one of these big suits, a CEO at the top of one these big money machines. He's not one to back down. He can make anything work, no matter what he's doing."

(I've included the entire text of the article so you don't have to encourage the publisher and AP by patronizing their websites.)

Last April I spent some time talking about Ronnie Barrett and his magnificant rifle, and the problems he was experiencing with attempts to illegally ban his product.

There's not much new here, except the astounding notice that the Dastards are still trying to use his company as a toehold to ban more firearms for completely specious reasons.

But I will give you a link to Barrett's website, and also another one which will take you directly to his April 27, 2005, open letter describing the situation and his response to these attacks.

I encourage you to go thence, and read carefully, if only to savor such comments as this:

A handful of people that makes up the VPC are solely responsible for the big lie on .50’s, claiming fantastic destruction capabilities. They manipulate fear by claiming terrorists will use these rifles on targets of our infrastructure. “They will shut down our airports in flames” they claim. VPC’s Tom Diaz refers to them as “super guns” lying to his dupable group of politicians, concealing the facts that there are many rifle cartridges that are comparable in performance (those will be added to the list in phase two). He is boldly telling these officials and all who will listen that the risk of terrorist attacks on these targets will be solved with the banning of powerful rifles, in this case, the .50 caliber rifle. In reality, terrorism is complex and will be defeated with improved intelligence. In this instance, the officials voting to ban an inanimate object like a rifle proves them ignorant of the problem of terrorism and is wasting time and resources.

Read the whole thing.

I am so angry with those Dastards!

Aren't you? And if not . . . why not?

UPDATE: November 29, 2005

Here's another article from Australia titled "The .50 caliber rifle and it's threat to airliners". This is a write-up from the January 6, 2005 "60 Minutes" shot on the .50 BMG. Ed Bradley is the interviewer.

The interviewee is . . . guess who?

That's right, Tom Diaz of VPC.

Here's the Money Quote:

Diaz is hoping Congress will pass a law requiring that the names of owners of .50-caliber rifles be kept on file.

"No one in the U.S. government knows who has these guns," he says.

That's right, folks. We're talking Registration here.
Next step: confiscation.

I kind of like the AP photo.

It's better than the photo that 60 Minutes provided.