Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gun Range Owner Says He's Unfairly Targeted

The Galveston County Daily News

It's an old, yet sadly familiar story:
LEAGUE CITY (Texas) — Records show that top city officials spent at least seven months discussing how to shut down a gun range, a move range owner Ernest Randall says is aimed at helping a developer build homes in the area.

City Attorney Dick Gregg’s billing records show he participated in a series of meetings about how to “characterize a gun range as a nuisance and ultimately have it removed.” The legal fees cost taxpayers more than $6,000 from May to November.

Involved in the planning were Mayor Jerry Shults, City Administrator Chris Reed, other senior staff members and developer Sam Boyd, who gave $4,000 to Shults’ campaign in August 2005.

The records show Gregg billed the city for gun range discussions with the mayor at least seven times and for conversations with Boyd at least five times.
In NW Oregon, of the six outdoor ranges within 100 miles of my home, two of them are under repeated attack by private individuals (or companies) who want long-established gun clubs to shut down their range.

Shooting ranges take up a lot of land, not only because the 'old established' ranges started when rural property was relatively inexpensive; not only because they need room for future expansion (including parking and new bays to accommodate new Competitive Shooting Sports); but also because as long as a box of .22 rimfire ammunition is marked "Range: 1-1/2 miles Be Careful", a shooting range needs to control access to its downrange area.

But as towns and cities grow their populations, the suburbs spread out to where they often infringe closely on the land owned by gun clubs, and the residents in these new developments are not happy with the sound of gunshots on a Saturday Morning as they mow their lawns and watch their children play in the back yard.

More frequently, the source of litigation isn't from established residences. It's from land developers who buy property immediately adjacent to shooting ranges with the expectation that,
by complaining to EPA and otherwise bringing governmental pressure to bear against long-established shooting ranges, they can drive the gun clubs out of business and realize a substantial increase in the value of their property AFTER they build new residences there.

Their investment in these civil actions is not often as high as what it costs gun clubs to defend against them, or to modify their shooting ranges to accommodate new environmental or residential situations. Many ranges have been closed in recent years, not because they actually constitute a hazard to their surroundings, but because they don't have the 'deep pockets' necessary to defend themselves against nuisance lawsuits or civil actions.

More, with increasing awareness of (for example) polution of waterways by lead deposits, and potential disruption of wildlife movement, the Environmental Protection Agency is sometimes called in to add more pressure against gun clubs who have their own outdoor shooting range.

According to the National Association of Shooting Ranges (NASR), in a 1996 article titled "Case Studies: How Ranges Manage to Stay Open or Re-Open",
EPA is not out inspecting on their own. They go out because an angry neighbor called, and the neighbor is angry about an entirely different issue such as sound or club members' bad attitudes.
NASR, in the same article, offers a 'bad' case study, and also a number of suggested guidelines to follow in operating a shooting range:

- Conduct yourself in a professional manner.

- Be a responsible member of your community and operate your club with professionalism.

- Get proactive.

- Establish your club as an asset to the community.

- Support youth activities and offer your range or clubhouse as a meeting place. Boy Scouts, 4-H, American Legion all have shooting programs for kids.

- Schedule hunter education classes through your state's hunter education coordinator. Many classes have live fire as part of the course. Offer your range and clubhouse.

- Consider having a ladies shooting activity. Call NRA Women's Issues or the Training Department for information on Refuse to Be A Victim or a personal protection course, taught by women for women. Do not be disappointed if the first try does not yield the expected results. Keep trying. Call NRA at 703-267-1414.

- Get to know your neighbors.

- Invite them to club functions.

- Be prepared to discuss any issues they may have concerning safety or operations.

- Always try to resolve their concerns in a respectful manner.

- Advertise your presence.

- Billboards or signs let people driving by know you are there. (Could be the couple buying the lot next door.)

- Keep projectiles on your property.

- If you are shooting lead shot into water-STOP! Change direction, change to steel or Bismuth, but change. You are headed for a predicable result that will not be pleasant.

In the meantime, the Main Steam Media (here, the International Herald Tribune) equates going to a shooting range with "... 'car bowling', in which low-flying pilots drop bowling balls on cars parked on the runways of (hopefully) little-used private airstrips."

Message delivered: You're a shooter? You're a vandal.

No wonder we can't get a fair shake in our own community.

Blogmeat: Live Leak Video Theme

Test-firing the gun from an F35 Lightning

850-round M60 MG test (Remember Basic training back in the '60s, when they showed us the barrel-meltdown on an M60 which fired more than 350 rounds without a stop? No more ... New and Improved!)

Area Denial Weapons System (ADWS)
- Australia, 2005

Redneck Picnic: Kids at Camp ... with machine guns and having fun.

America has 90 guns for each 100 people

Video: CH-46E livefire exercise

Video: Chinook helicopter self-destruct

Video: Iraqi insurgents attacked by air support

Also here and here ...

Air strike bombing test up close

F16 Taliban truck strike

AF airstrike on multiple Taliban positions in support of British forces

Winnepeg/BC Project E-Portal gun seizure

Immigration By The Numbers

The clock is ticking down to the end of 2007, and I'm looking for a summary of the most important issues in America. This would be subjective in almost any analysis, which you can read as saying it's all opinion.

I like opinion. On occasion I even indulge in stating opinions of my own. But as I surf the net it occurs to me that what's missing on almost everybody's List of the 2007 Most Important Issues in America is ... Legal Immigration.

Nope, I'm not even talking about Illegal Immigration. I'm talking about LEGAL immigration ... the 1,000,000 people a year who are authorized by the United States Government to immigrate to America.

Nobody is looking at this.

Well, that's wrong too. Someone is looking at this: Numbers, USA.

NumbersUSA describes itself thus:
NumbersUSA Action is a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy organization that favors an environmentally sustainable and economically just America. It opposes efforts to use federal immigration policies to force mass U.S. population growth and to depress wages of vulnerable workers. NumbersUSA Action is pro-environment, pro-worker, pro-liberty and pro-immigrant. Activists in the NumbersUSA Action network are Americans of all races and include many immigrants and the spouses, children and parents of immigrants. Those who need to refer to NumbersUSA Action with a short, descriptive modifier should call it an "immigration-reduction organization."

Perhaps their most powerful statement is this 2007 video by NumbersUSA Executive Director Roy Beck, who uses effective graphics to demonstrate the impact on American resources of excessive LEGAL immigration quotas.

You may have already seen these videos; but if not, you might take a minute (well, over 13 minutes for the combined viewing time) to acquaint yourself with the issues.

Part 1: 6:47 minutes

Part 2: 6:53 minutes

(NB: you may also be interested in an October 2006 debate on "Money and Politics", a 9:25 minute video available at YouTube.)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Portrait of Dorian Grey

Somewhere in America, A Mother is dragging her child around the country in her quest for the Presidency of the United States.

As a campaign strategy, I think this is not working.

I've only just discovered "Shooting The Messenger". Interesting blogspot, covers RKBA issues as well as cultural and other news stuff. Pithy comments, good selection of news to parody. I liked it, you may also.

I have linked to this blogspot under "Places I Recommend" on the sidebar.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Brits: New Year, Same Ol' Brits

I swear I try to avoid showing Our Britannic Cousins in the worst possible context, but they continue to impose their Politically Correct Socialist world-view on their subjects citizens subjects, to the point where they constitute a Target-Rich Environment.

What is an Honest Geek to do, except to show them up in the content-impoverished context in which they have placed themselves?

Two examples tonight (I'm deliberately limiting myself):

1: "Rules say homes must be safe for robbers"

(Also, see here.)

A British woman whose house has been repeatedly burglarized 'to the cost of thousands of pounds' informs the police that, since they (* the police *) seem unable to protect her home and her belongings, she will reinforce her defenses. Specifically, she intends to add barbed wire to the top of the fence which surrounds her property.

The police politely inform her that "... she could risk a prosecution herself if someone would be hurt".

To summarize: She is advised against improving the wards about her property, even though she does so to guard against vandalism, theft, even personal attack in the privacy of her home. Why? Because in the event that a home intruder suffers so much as a hangnail in his pursuit of larceny and/or mayhem, he may legitimately prosecute HER for ... I don't know what. "Establishing an Attractive Nuisance", I suppose.

2: War Hero's Daughter Facing Arrest for Tackling Yobs who Defaced 'war memorial':
The daughter of a WWII RAF pilot lives near a 'memorial garden' ... an obelisk which is the frequent object of floral displays in honor of British servicemen and women .. objects which hooligans frequently deface, vandalize, trash and otherwise disrespect. After months of attempting to interest the police in the vandalism, with no positive results, she confronts the gang. The leader of the gang taunts her to the point where she slaps his face. He laughs, says "That's assault" and turns her in to the police.

The police, previously disinterested in addressing her complaints, are johnny-on-the-spot in bringing assault charges against her.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police confirmed the force is investigating an alleged assault on a 15- year-old boy.

He admitted however that Mangotsfield has a problem with youth vandalism.

Inspector Gus Krouwel said: 'Neighbourhood [sic] police regularly receive complaints about groups of around eight young people gathering by the war memorial, drinking and leaving litter.

"I do appreciate that people may get frustrated with this sort of situation but the appropriate response is to work with agencies [emphasis added] like the police and local authority to find solutions."

Mrs Lake will voluntarily attend a police station next month to be formally arrested. She could be charged with assault which carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison or a £5,000 fine.

Apparently, that "work with agencies" approach only works if you're a Yob.

So here we are with examples describing (1) a woman who wishes to protect her person and her property, and (2) a woman who wishes to protect public property. Despite repeated attempts to elicit either support or protection from the 'legally constituted authorities' (eg: the police), their pleas are ignored.

However, when they attempt to provide protection or other pro-active measures to discourage the criminals from treating them as victims, the discover that either the system or the Yobs themselves turn the system against them to the point where they are subject to punitive measures administered by the government which disallows them the right to protect themselves, their property, or their neighborhood.

Whatever happened to the concept of protecting our women? Whatever happened to the concept of "to protect and to serve"?

Somewhere between the citizenry and the National Government, there is a dysfunctional disconnection. I am loath to say "I loath the Constabulary of Great Britain", because I hold it as an article of faith that the constabulary would prefer to protect its citizenry. However, I don't see that happening. Instead, I see the constabulary enforcing preposterous edicts against the people it is, supposedly, sworn to serve.

I can see that this is a bizarre situation. You can see it too. We all perceive that the British Bobby is contributing to the degradation of the Quality of Life in Great Britain, but nobody who is in a position to do something about it is acting.

We can only imagine the frustration of the average British Subject to this sad state of affairs.

Which brings us to the point of the discussion: if the British had not made the possession of firearms, and the "Castle Doctrine", both illegal ... we would be reading about the death of Yobs and the otherwise peaceful civilization enjoyed by the British.

It may well be that the purpose of the British Public is only to serve as A Bad Example of a government which no longer serves the public.

I pray for you, my British Cousins. But until you take control of your government ... instead of allowing your government to take control of you ... things there-abouts will only get worse, instead of better.

Tea party, anyone?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Knight Rider 2008

They're Ba-a-a-a-ck!

I'm not a big television viewer (my TV has been connected only to DVD and VHS players for the past 10 years) but I have always thought that the old Knight Rider television series was flawed mainly by the presence of the egregious David Hasselhoff.

No Hasselhoff, no mo ...

Hit 80s show Knight Rider is making a comeback.

Stars from the new two-hour special stepped out at the NBC lot in Burbank, California, to show off a new Kitt - the Mustang Shelby.

Gone is the Pontiac Trans Am which played the faithful sidekick of David Hasselhoff, to be replaced by the sleek, suped-up Ford.

The Hoff has also been swapped for a new model, former soap star Justin Bruening who told journalists: "I am like a 10 year old right now, every time I turn the car on I just start grinning ear to ear because it sounds cool, I feel like a little kid who bought his own candy store and just gets to play around in it."

Here's the video of the new Shelby Mustang "Kitt":

Note: for a while there, you had a chance to bid on the original KITT, but unfortunately the auction was put on hold because there were more bids than the seller could handle.

The retro television series may be delayed in implementation, because the star of the show was recently injured on the set of the pilot.

Akins Acccelerator 3

In the 24 hours since I wrote this article, Bill Akins has written several clarifying statements in the COMMENTS section. He suggests that I use these comments to write a third article.

I don't want to steal Mr Akins' information and label it as my own, nor do I want to write an entire article consisting of edited quotes from his comments. In fact, it seems to me that he has done a good job of writing that third article himself, and in the process has learned that the first draft is not likely to provide all the information nor to present it 'the best way'.

Therefore I will encourage readers to view the comments attached to this article and, again, make up your own mind. (Further comments are encouraged.)

Two other points:
1: Mr Akins has included his email address in his comments. You may wish to send him supportive emails, if you are so inclined. Given that he is already feeling besieged by the ATF, I would not burden him with any accusatory correspondence.

2: In his earliest comment to this article, Mr. Akins stated:
In your 2nd article you first said in your opinion my device was not a machine gun under Federal law. Then later you said you believed I had invented a way to turn a semi automatic rifle into a machine gun.
It cannot be both.

Fair enough. I realized as I wrote that statement I might be called upon to defend it. I'm uncomfortable doing so, only because it sounds like William Jefferson Clinton asking what the meaning of 'IS' is, and I shrink from any comparison to our 42nd president.

By the ATF definition of 'machine gun', the Akins Accelerator does not qualify.

But when I look at the animated GIF, I'm thinking 'machine gun'. Why? Because the device allows a semi-automatic rifle to be fired faster than the 'twitch-rate' of my trigger finger. That's not the official ATF definition, that's just my own personal definition. I wrote hundreds of words trying to make that point, I'll not repeat the exercise now.

Whether or not other devices accomplish the same end, whether the ATF has singled out Mr. Akins, and in fact whether full-automatic weapons should be regulated are legitimate subjects for discussion.

In the end, I'm not the one who has to be convinced. I don't care if the Akins Accelerator converts a 10/22 into a machine gun. I wouldn't buy one, personally, because I've shot enough full-auto weapons to know that I'm not very good with them; that doesn't mean I agree with the federal regulations currently in effect.

Beyond that, I am not clear on what Mr. Akins would have me do. Write to my congressman v. the confirmation of Michael Sullivan as head of the ATF? Check - done. Write about the controversy in an attempt to make more people aware if it? Check - done.

Take up the cause of the Akins Accelerator and lead a protest against governmental mismanagement? No, this is not my battle and I'm not on a mission.

However, there is one more thing I can do:

Mr. Akins, if you would like to write your own blog article, to tell the whole story in your own words, I would be happy to receive it as a MS-WORD document and publish it here. I've always encouraged Guest Articles. I only reserve the right to edit for grammar, spelling, word-choice (I prefer to avoid profanity), libelous statements and ad hominem attacks. In short, I reserve the right NOT to publish but I'll probably give a Guest Author a chance to rewrite rather than summarily reject a Guest Article.

Kipling: The Young British Soldier

We haven't had a Kipling Night for 'ever so long'.

Here's Kipling's interpretation of the Afghanistan Experience:

The ’arf-made recruity goes out to the East
’E acts like a babe an’ ’e drinks like a beast,
An’ ’e wonders because ’e is frequent deceased
Ere ’e’s fit for to serve as a soldier.
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!

Now all you recruities what’s drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an’ ’ark to my lay,
An’ I’ll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
A soldier what’s fit for a soldier.
Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

First mind you steer clear o’ the grog-sellers’ huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay’nets that rots out your guts—
Ay, drink that ’ud eat the live steel from your butts—
An’ it’s bad for the young British soldier.
Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

When the cholera comes—as it will past a doubt—
Keep out of the wet and don’t go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
An’ it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

But the worst o’ your foes is the sun over’ead:
You must wear your ’elmet for all that is said:
If ’e finds you uncovered ’e’ll knock you down dead,
An’ you’ll die like a fool of a soldier.
Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

If you’re cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don’t grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
That it’s beer for the young British soldier.
Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

Now, if you must marry, take care she is old—
A troop-sergeant’s widow’s the nicest I’m told,
For beauty won’t help if your rations is cold,
Nor love ain’t enough for a soldier.
’Nough, ’nough, ’nough for a soldier . . .

If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch ’em—you’ll swing, on my oath!—
Make ’im take ’er and keep ’er: that’s Hell for them both,
An’ you’re shut o’ the curse of a soldier.
Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

When first under fire an’ you’re wishful to duck,
Don’t look nor take ’eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you’re livin’, and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.
Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

When ’arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don’t call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She’s human as you are—you treat her as sich,
An’ she’ll fight for the young British soldier.
Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

When shakin’ their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o’ the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an’ don’t mind the shine,
For noise never startles the soldier.
Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.

Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!


Sergeants won't tell their men about these things today. Kipling will, whether you like it or not.

Mariah Carey Is The New Mother Theresa

ohnotheydidnt: Mariah Carey Is The New Mother Theresa

I get the strangest links to my blog. I have no idea who (or why!) linked to Cogito Ergo Geek from here ...

... but the implications are interesting.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another Negligent Discharge

Dropped handgun goes off at grocery

People who were shopping at a bustling Corvallis grocery store on Saturday (December 22, 2007) were lucky to escape injury after a man dropped a loaded handgun from his pocket, causing an accidental firing of the weapon and sending a .22-caliber round into a stack of soda cans.
This article seems timely when compared to my Negligent Discharge - Concealed Carry article posted December 18, 2007.

You may recall that the earlier story involved a CHL (Concealed Handgun Licensee) stuck a pistol into his jacket pocket, only to have it fire when he draped his jacked over the back of his chair when he arrived at his office.

In this case, the Poor Schlemiel was not a CHL, but he did have a pistol carried loose in his pocket. The article does not make it clear whether the pistol ("a small-caliber, derringer-style handgun with a one- or two-bullet capacity") was carried in his trouser pocket or his jacket pocket. My guess is: it was carried in the strong-hand jacket 'slash' pocket, which would make it easier to draw -- and easier for it to fall out.

(Flash-back to Samuel L. Jackson in the movie "The Long Kiss Goodnight":)

Got my car keys in my left-hand jacket pocket [dah duh da-da duh dah!].
Got a pistol in my right[da duh da-da duh ].

To illustrate how easily this could happen; last month I lost an expensive pair of reading glasses which was carried in the weak-hand slash pocket of my jacket. I was on the street, and I didn't notice it falling out.

People who read this article (probably local residents) had some unkind things to say for the non-CHL pistol-packer:

Barefoot wrote on Dec 25, 2007 12:24 PM:
Joe M. has been trying to get a firearm to go off when it was dropped and hasn't "been successful". I guess I was right, it does happen.
When some is careless with a firearm (like here)- maybe it should be clear that he should not allowed to own or carry firearms. "

nonstopjoe wrote on Dec 26, 2007 11:40 AM:

As a lesson for other "would be" careless and stupid people, this person should receive jail time and a substantial fine. "

Barefoot wrote on Dec 26, 2007 12:53 PM:
[T]ake away gun privileges. Forever. Boy shoots his sister on Christmas, parents left gun laying around, same thing.
Sounds pretty harsh? I think so, too, but the comments are not without merit.

Here's what the local LEO, Sgt. Jim Zessin of the Corvallis Police Department, had to say:
(The Poor Schlemiel) was cooperative and the discharge was accidental, Zessin said, but (The Poor Schlemiel) did not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. He was cited for carrying a concealed weapon and discharge of a weapon, both misdemeanor charges. (The Poor Schlemiel) was released after receiving the citation. A court date has not yet been determined by the Corvallis Municipal Court.
(The Poor Schlemiel) , who was reached by phone on Monday, confirmed that the gun fell out of his pocket and discharged.

“It was a very stupid accident on my part alone,”
(The Poor Schlemiel) said. “I would like to apologize to everyone in the store and to the community. … It was really a freak accident that was unintentional.”
Zessin also had this to say:
“Don’t carry a concealed weapon unless you have a permit. If you carry one, carry it in a proper, secured holster so it doesn’t fall out.”
Yes, that's it.

I think someone should take (The Poor Schlemiel) aside and give him a thorough drubbing for his incompetence. If you don't know how to carry safely, you shouldn't carry at all. Period. End of sentence. I have spoken.

On the other hand, in the face of recent predator shootings at shopping malls, schools and churches, I can't really blame him for wanting to protect himself.

It's only that in his ignorance, his good intentions turned out to be a hazard rather than a source of protection for himself and his fellow shoppers. Add to this the fact that his incompetence reflects poorly on those who ARE competent, trained CHL folks, and he's got everybody mad at him; justifiably so.

Man, I wouldn't like to be him. I thought my Christmas was depressing!

Here's a suggestion: if you think you ought to carry a Concealed Handgun for whatever reason ... get some training. Learn how to carry; learn how to carry concealed; learn how to carry concealed SAFELY; learn how to use your handgun, and learn how not to be a Poor Schlemiel.

I'd be glad to help, but if you can't learn -- don't expect me to sign off on your CHL application.

If this guy met you at the range and asked you to help him qualify for his CHL, what would you do?

Akins Accelerator 2

In response to my previous article about the Adkins Accelerator, Bill Adkins posted to the COMMENTS section with some more explanatory information as well as citing a 12/26 update from TBO and an animated gif which demonstrates the device in action.

Akins states:
My device was TWICE in writing approved by the BATFE and they [said] they were approving it based upon its concept and method of operation.

My device fires one shot for each [separate] function of the trigger. The barrel, receiver, trigger guard and magazine recoil a short distance within a stationary stock and compress a spring, this rearward recoil removes the trigger completely from the trigger finger. The the spring decompresses and forces the barrel, receiver and trigger guard back forward where your trigger finger then engages the trigger to function it again. One shot for each single function of the trigger exactly as federal law stipulates is semi auto fire, NOT FULL AUTO FIRE. This is a stock your firearm fits into, not something that fits into the firearm. [Emphasis in the original]
Here's how it looks in action:

Judging from the description provided, combined with the illustration, it appears that the trigger essentially disappears into the stock with each round fired. That effectively breaks the finger contact with the trigger, which seems to meet the requirements for not meeting the definition of a device which renders a firearm a "machine gun':
Machine gun. Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun, and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.
[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 27, Volume 2]
[Revised as of April 1, 2003]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
[CITE: 27CFR479]

[Page 171-174]




Subpart B--Definitions

Sec. 479.11 Meaning of terms.

Once again, I have to say that I'm not qualified to state whether the Akins Accelerator does or does not meet the definition of a "machine gun", in the sense that a device can change the definition of a semi-automatic rifle to a "machine gun".

It seems to come down to the definition of the phrase "... a single function of the trigger."

My personal choice would be to say that the Akins Accelerator does not "... shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger." This is based on my understanding that the trigger functions when the trigger finger is in contact, and any break in contact constitutes a separate "function of the trigger".

This is a strictly literal interpretation of the terminology.

A less strict interpretation would perhaps require the inclusion of the intent of the shooter. That is, if the shooter intends to allow the device to shoot many rounds more rapidly than is likely possible using trigger-finger movement, one only needs to hold the trigger finger in contact with that part of the stock which momentarily shields the trigger from finger contact after each shot. If the shooter intends to cease firing, one can accomplish this by removing the trigger finger from that stock contact.

However, any law or regulation which involves 'intent' seems generally to be an attempt to define a degree of culpability.

For example, let us postulate the situation where one person shoots another person. (All of these definitions, for the sake of illustration, presuppose that the victim is mortally wounded.)

If there is no intent at all, the shooting may be considered 'accidental', and no culpability if involved. Or, if the situation includes a degree of negligence, the shooting may be judged to include a degree of culpability (eg: 'negligent homicide' or 'manslaughter'.)

On the other hand, shooting someone in self-defense is defined as 'justifiable homicide'. See below.

To advance the argument, if the shooting is intentional, it may be further subdefined in terms of premeditation (2nd Degree vs 1st Degree). Other subdivisions include Murder for Hire, or Murder to hide another crime (Aggrevated Murder).

Getting back to the concept of 'intent', these definitions only determine the degree of culpability. In every example, the presumption is that a violation of acceptable social behavior is involved.

It is always 'a bad thing' to shoot someone else, except for the situations where it is justifiable (see above).

On the other hand, it is NOT 'always a bad thing' to fire a machine gun. So, even if the Akins Accelerator does have the same effect as having a machine gun, if the concept of 'intent' is required to make the state's case, we may be forgiven for assuming that it involves only the degree of culpability (if such term applies) rather than to be always 'a bad thing'.

This is clearly sophistry, yet it is no worse than the position of the ATF which seems comfortable with saying "a machine gun is what we say it is, whether or not we have defined it to include all possible permutations of devices."

I don't think they can have it both ways. They have taken their best shot at defining a 'machine gun', and despite the inclusion of weasel words it seems to fall a bit short in this specific instance.

Do I think that Mr. Akins has invented a device which converts a semi-automatic rifle to a 'machine gun'? Yes, I do.

Given the benefit of hind-sight, I believe it may be possible to re-word the ATF definition of a 'machine gun' to include the Akins Accelerator. I couldn't do it, but there are sufficient legal weasels available to the ATF to plug this 'loophole'.

However, ATF has not done it.

Until their legal definition of the term clearly includes this design, I don't think ATF can legally impose the restrictions and penalties which they have arbitrarily decided to create here.

I have not the benefit of legal training, so of course my personal opinion has absolutely no weight under the law. I have not doubt that ATF and the United States Federal Government can bring enough expensive legal power against Mr. Akins and his company to break him, both financially and otherwise. (See Ryan Horsley's latest post about Mike Sullivan's arbitrary leadership style here.)

That doesn't mean I think it's right, or that they should.

It only means that, whether or not you and I think it is an abuse of power, they only need to want to do it for Mr. Akins to end up in the poor-house ... or in the pokey.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot less like Christmas

SWMBO and I had big plans for Christmas.

We spent much of last weekend cooking candies and other treats as family gifts, and SWMBO spent several evenings during the week making more. I was nothing more than the lowly sous chef in this effort. Ninety percent of the work, and 100% of the expertise, was her contribution.

Oh, I also made a half-dozen bags of "Chex Mix" crunchies for nibbling, but I made it in her kitchen and she kindly managed to hover over me less than would be justified by my lack of culinary mastery. Note: they turned out rather bland in my taste tests, although we did manage to eat all of one of the gallon bags full this weekend.

We had planned to spend Christmas Eve Day (yesterday, now) with my family. We were to arrive with a truck full of goodies, and spend the afternoon and evening with friends and family, taste-treats and egg-nog, cards and teasing my various nieces and nephews.

Christmas Day would be a quiet gift-exchange at home, then perhaps either a movie or two or just settle down on a rainy Christmas with our good books.

Instead, I woke up this Christmas Eve morning with racking cough and severe bronchial congestion. By 10:30am I was so uncomfortable that I phoned my sister and mother with the news that we would not be able to attend our annual family gathering. By noon I was coughing so hard and so frequently that I gathered up my 'stuff' and crept quietly back to my own sad (and leaky-roofed) home to recuperate in an environment where I would not chance communicating my cold to my Beloved.

Before I left, we exchanged gifts. I was shamed by the beautifully wrapped packages She lay before me ... much more thoughtful and appropriate than the few childishly wrapped and generally inarticulate offerings I had gathered for her.

I was despondent on my drive home. I've left a fine woman home alone on Christmas Day, surrounded by tins full of Christmas gifts for friends and family, and here I am in a house best characterized by plastic buckets catching the constant drip ... drip ... drip of Oregon Storm rainwater leaking through a roof which has been repaired at least four times in the past two weeks.

Perhaps the worst of it is that, after sleeping the afternoon and evening, I find myself awake and unable to sleep at 1am on Christmas Day.

Oh, I'll shake off this bronchial infection in a day or two, but I was surprised to discover how disappointed I was that I was unable to see my Family and my Beloved on this, the most special day of the year.

Christmas is meant for Families. My inability to celebrate Christmas in a manner which I deem 'proper' is disappointing. But at least I know that I have people who love me and care that I'm not able to join their celebration.

It makes me wonder how people without families get through the Christmas season. Do they sink into an abyss of remorse about how fate, distances, a life lived with 'bad decisions' or other reasons have caused them to be estranged from the society they would choose to share the day?

Perhaps you know someone who is alone on this day. If so, it may be worth the effort to pick up a phone and make the call.

I may not be able to talk much without coughing, but I'll be spending my Christmas Day running up my phone bill.

That's my Christmas gift to me.

The 2 most non-pc statements of the day

Ho Ho Ho!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Akins Accelerator

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

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

Here's the skinny:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it?

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

I don't want to do that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerry the Geek

Made me smile

H/T to Andrew at

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

Well ... sort of. More or less.

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Negligent Discharge - Concealed Carry

Read the article from A Keyboard And A 45.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Lesson: Never trust a safety.

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

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

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

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

But there are a couple of points which bear mentioning.

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

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

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

"Thank You"

The Gratitude Campaign

H/T: Sondra K

Monday, December 17, 2007

Registered Gun Owner

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

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

Dear [Jerry the Geek],

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

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

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

Thanks again for your interest in the National Rifle Association!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What a rush.

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

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

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

Lawdog, AD and Babs: Perspectives II

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Battle of the Bulge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 13, 2007

December Blogmeat - Not

I've decided that I won't be providing the usual run of stuff-I-care-about-but-you-don't tonite.

The Shake 'n Bake theme will be continued, perhaps even later tonite. It's too personal to be written, or composed, in a consistent nightly regimen. And you don't care as much as I do, what I write, even though reader responses have been encouraging.

Instead, I want to do a Blogmeat (as I have before) as I surf through my regular nightly Favorite Websites, providing the links to interesting articles. This probably looks like what I said I don't want to do ... (stuff-I-care-about-but-you-don't) but the difference is that I'm not the source.

For example, Michael Bane links to NRO talking about Fred Thompson's late but not too late arrival on the scene as a viable Republican contender for the Presidential Election.

I agree with Byron York. Thompson has always impressed me as a man who isn't willing to become a media whore to be elected. That quality is not obvious in any other candidate, of any party. Frankly, most of the candidates this year scare the crap out of me.

Thompson may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, or the most charismatic individual, but we've had those kinds of presidents and I for one was not impressed. I'm thinking Wilson, FDR, Clinton ... and shivers go down my spine when I think how narrowly we survived their egotistic predations. Three presidents who did manage to serve their country well were Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan ... none of which I did (or would have) voted for. The difference? They were all mavericks. They were all visionary. They were the closest we have come, as a nation, to electing a Winston Churchill, if a very rough around the edges Churchill and in a non-Churchillian way.

Another thought was that none of these three ever shied away from a fight just because The People of their times were too soft to see what must be done, and to do it. (Mere marital aggressiveness isn't the answer: U.S. Grant was a great general but a thoroughly incompetent President.)

So I'm sorta hoping that Thompson stays in the fight long enough for us to seriously consider him as a candidate. In the final analysis, he may not be the best choice. But in this effete age, is there another man in the running? No, I'm not denying that Hillary doesn't have more balls than her Democratic contenders, but that's not necessarily the same as being sufficiently aware of her limitations to be a viable candidate.

Extra Credit:

Sondra K has this YouTube video of Thompson answering the question: "What's the biggest obstacle standing in the way of Education?" (Fred's answer:


From Michael Yon:
The Iraqi government has ordered all policewomen to hand in their guns for redistribution to men or face having their pay withheld. In 2004 when US trainers started recruiting women for the IPS there were hundreds of applicants and in February of 2006 when responsibility for recruitment and training was handed over to Iraqi authorities the number of women applying dropped to zero.
I'm just saying ... is this the way we had hoped it would go?


Lawdog is (suitably) outraged that The Brits ... you know, the home of Arthur Pendragon, Camelot and "The Sword In The Stone"? .. has decided to outlaw Swords in England.
"[Barbara Dunne] ..."It's an achievement to get the weapons banned. I don't want children to keep seeing them in shop windows and thinking it's normal."
Well, we haven't expected rational thought from The Brits for the last 30 years, have we?

I, too, am spitting on my monitor screen. Trust me, it doesn't help.

It may help, "Gentle Readers" to read more of LawDog.


In one of Xavier's most powerful articles, he writes of Jeanne Assam's Story of standing up to a mass murderer:

"I saw him, it seemed like the halls cleared out, and I saw him coming through the doors, and I took cover. I waited for him to get closer, I came out of cover, and I identified myself. I engaged him and I took him down," Jeanne Assam said modestly at a news conference in the Colorado Springs police station. "I didn't think it was my sole responsibility. I didn't think about this. It was, it seemed like it was, me, the gunman and God."

"I didn't run away, and I didn't think for a minute to run away. I just knew that I was given the assignment to end this before it got too much worse," she said. "I just prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me. I said, 'Holy Spirit, be with me.' My hands weren't even shaking. Honestly, I was very focused, and it was chaotic and it was so loud. I'll never forget the gunshots. It was so loud. I was just focused and I knew I wasn't going to wait for him to do any further damage. I just knew what I had to do."
Xavier's interpretation is worth the read. I am so impressed by this woman, who did The Hard Thing when two other armed men stood, pointing their guns at the Wolf as if mere hardware was a magical Icon against violence.

But during "Sunday Service in Colorado Springs", an Icon was not the needful thing on that day; what was needed was an Avatar of protection, and Jeanne Assam was that Avatar.

In this shameful day of "Gun Free Zones" (see above), we have proof that not all men are created equal, that not all the balls are given to men, and that when The Wolf comes calling you need a Sheepdog. The Designated Protector Sheep-person may not have the courage or conviction (even given the teeth and claws) to protect the flock.

There is, indeed, a place for The Flock. But ...

... It Takes A Sheepdog.

What's your IP address?

Who are you, really.

I've always been a 'full disclosure' kind of guy, although I draw the line at taking my clothes off in public places. (That's as much a public service as modesty, by the way.) So if you're a regular reader, you know that I use Statcounter to keep track of my readership.

This statistical service tells me who reads the articles and such statistical information as where they came from (referrals), what search argument they used to find the website, how long they stayed, what browser they're using, etc.

One important piece of information is the IP address, which gives me the geographic location (usually) of the computer they're using to access this website.

There's nothing new here, almost every blogger and many (probably most) non-blogger websites use some kind of statistics-gathering software. How can you tell? Look around when you're on a blog website for a counter which tells how many people have accessed the website. It'll say something like "1,234,567 readers have visited this website since March 4, 2005". That number is provided by subscription software (such as Statcounter), and they all capture the same information.

In fact, bloggers need to know their own IP address. This allows them to tell their statistical service not to count the blog author when counting visitors. Bloggers read their own stuff all the time; not necessarily because they're egotistical (well ... maybe) but because the links on the sidebar are often provided so they can visit their own favorite websites. If bloggers counted their own visits, it would distort the statistics and they wouldn't be able to tell what kind of content was interesting to the folks who visit the website.

When I look at the detail statistics, the thing I can NOT discover is the actual person represented by the IP address. I know what town/state/country they're in, but that's all.

Here's the pitch: I would like to know who is reading what. The only way I can know that is if you tell me what your IP address is. It doesn't have to be your name, but Statcounter allows me to label an IP address ... give it a name. Given that, I can better tell which articles are attracting my frequent visitors.

If you would send me an email with your IP address, I could label the stats so I know who is a returning visitor. The information will go no further than my personal Statcounter software settings (which are available to nobody else, and will not be used for any other purpose.

How can you find your IP address? This is interesting even if you choose not to share it with me.
Go to the free IP Locator webpage at and it will tell you. It also offers some other information which may be of interest to you.

Type (or more likely, copy&paste) that into an email sent to the email address given at the bottom of this page, and send it. if you want confirmation that it has been received, let me know so I can reply.

Whether you choose to do this or not, this is a good opportunity for me to say THANK YOU for your readership.

And of course, you can always write to suggest subjects for future posts, or to submit Guest Posts. Unless the content is totally off-the-wall, I'll be glad to host them for you (although I'll certainly identify them as "I didn't say this, he/she did!")

Jerry the Geek

On posted "Gun Free Zone" businesses ...

Thanks to, here's a refreshing idea:

No Gun, No Money

2 Shake 'n Bake: NCOC

The Beginning:
In February of 1969, I completed my Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Lewis, Washington. I was given a short leave and ordered to report to the Non-Commissioned Officer Candidate Course at Fort Benning, Washingon by the end of the month.

My bride of six months delivered me to the Portland Airport, and after a long plane ride and a not-so-long taxi ride I arrived the night before scheduled at Fort Benning.

I was welcomed by the Night Charge Of Quarters (COQ) and assigned to "take any empty bunk" in my assigned barracks. It was about 10pm, I had no assigned duties for the next day, and so I found the nearest bunk (there was nobody else in the barracks) and fell into an unmade bed as soon as I could strip off my Dress Jacket and trousers and shoes, with no more covering than my field jacket.

Nobody expected 'early arrivals', so I was not issued bedding.

The next morning at"Oh-Dark-Thirty" I was awakened by the COQ and given 20 minutes to dress in the "Uniform Of The Day" (Fatigues), and directed to the mess hall for breakfast. Because this was the first day upon which Candidates (I was no longer a "Trainee"!) were expected to arrive, there were no assigned duties.

I wandered into the mess hall and had a leisurely breakfast. This was my introduction to The South. What I had taken for Cream of Rice cereal was in fact some Southern gruel made from bleached corn. (I believe it was referred to as "corn pone", but I'm not certain about this.) It was gruesome, and I never took it on my plate again. Fortunately, as I was the only member of my company present, I was not castigated when I scraped it into the wet garbage can.

I had already learned about Salisbury Steak, and although I was not offered this viand I would not have taken it.

I had also, it may be noted, learned that the dreaded "Shit On A Shingle" (Chipped beef on Toast, in a white sauce which invariably looked blue under Mess Hall lights), was more tasty than it looked. There was all the milk I could drink, reconstituted Scrambled Eggs, and lots of yummy greasy bacon ... not to mention the Corned Beef Hash for which I retain a liking to this day.

Sorting ourselves out:
As the company gathered through the day, I discovered that I had earned a certain cachet by virtue of having arrived 'early'. I was the Old Man of the company, and while the situation did not degenerate to the point that I was considered an authority about all things NCOC-related, at least nobody muttered the dreaded term "Lifer" in my presence.

It should be noted that a "Lifer" was a volunteer who had willingly joined The Army with the goal of making it a career. There was no lower designation in the Draft Army in those years than a "Lifer", unless it was a 17 year-old RA (Regular Army ... volunteer, or 'non-draftee) from California. (We had one of these in our Basic Training company at Fort Lewis, and he was demonstrably the lowest form of life.)

The People:

As I came to be acquainted with the members of my company, as they arrived, I noted one single characteristic about these young men with whom I had chosen to to be affiliated for the next 13 weeks: they were bright, athletic, and motivated.

I was not the only College Graduate, but I was accustomed to that. My Basic Training company had been at least 90% college graduates and they were 99% draftees. This group didn't have such a high percentage of college men, but they were no dummies.

(In my Advanced Infantry Training class ... A.I.T. ... we had one man who was clearly unable to think for himself. I had been informally assigned to make sure that he learned enough to pass the course, regardless of his lack of native abilities. I had drilled him on nomenclature for two hours every night, and he eventually passes his tests, if narrowly. Later, I was to learn that he was sent to Viet Nam and his comrades soon learned to never assign him to a Bunker by himself. He never went on patrol, when his company left he was left behind, and he frightened everyone who was assigned to accompany him on guard duty because he never learned his job. The men assigned to guard duty with him learned to expect him to hide under a bunk. He spent 12 months on guard duty, and went home with an Honorable Discharge. I have often wondered how a man who was the Army's equivalent of Charlie Gordon of Flowers for Algernon spent his life, but by the time I left the Army I had more personal concerns to deal with.)

Back to the NCOC Company.

NCOC school was much like Basic and AIT. Because The Army was 'highly motivated' to graduate as many Candidates as possible, our personal inspections were minimal. We did have Locker Inspections, which were designed to determine that we possessed the minimal uniforms requiered ... but it was also heavy on insuring that we had not, for example, kept live ammunition which we had been issued on the Live Fire Range.

In fact, these inspections were not regularly scheduled ... they were always "Surprise Inspections" and mostly conducted after a live-fire exercise. Most inspections found a few Live Rounds, but after the ammunition was confiscated their possession was always listed as n "oversight" and no punishments were inflicted.

In Basic and AIT I had seen a few men busted out of the Army for similar offenses, but they were invariably those who had also been busted for possession of drugs. We had no such experiences in NCOC: everyone in this course just wanted to come home alive, and bring as many men as possible home with us. The minimal requirements were that that we complete our course-work accurately, we demonstrated a determination to achieve the assigned goals, we kept our belt buckles shined and we didn't run naked through the night where the Company Commander could see us.

The C.O. was effectively blind. And our Belt Buckles glowed due to nightly application of Brasso ... which we could purchase for fifty-nine cents a can at the local PX, to which we were marched (in formation ) every Saturday as soon as we had completed our trip to the Barber Shop for a touch-up on our haircut (also marched to in formation.)


Early in our training, it was impressed upon us that we were training in the same environment as the Candidates in the Officer Candidate School (OCS). This was a program of no longer (13 weeks, 15 weeks, whateve) than ours, with the same instructors and much the same courses, but these Candidates would graduate as Officers ... well Second Lieutenants, which were universally recognized as The Lowest Form of Life even below Buck Private Trainees. Well, an new Enlistee with zero time in grade (E-1) was not expected to know better'; an Officer Candidate had no excuse, so "He Had Better Not Fuck Up". Upon reporting for training, OCS Candidates were assigned the nominal rank of Sergeant (E-5) and were held to the same standards of behavior, responsibility, decorum and accomplishment.

NCOC Candidates, upon reporting for training, were assigned the nominal rank of Corporal (E-4) and were held to the same standards of behavior, responsibility, decorum and accomplishment.


Most enlisted men in a Combat Unit were enlisted as Buck Private (E-1), graduated from Basic Training as E-2 (Private), and Honor Graduates were graduated as E-3 (Private First Class). From there they were expected to advance in the non-command "specialist" grades, such as Spec 4 (E-4).

You will note that a Corporal (E-4) and a "Spec-4" (E-4) have the same rank nomenclature. However, their TITLE was different. Essentially, the rank of Corporal was no longer an active rank-title ... except in NCOC training.

A man who went to combat as an E-3 could expect to make the rank of E-4 (Specialist 4th Class) before his tour ended.

A man who completed the NCOC course could be expected to be advanced to the rank of E-5 (Sergeant), which was a Command Line Rank. A Spec-4 would be lucky to be advanced in rank, unless he earned the Sergeant designation upon which event he would be promoted to E-5.

But promotion for an E-5 was always within the Command Line Rank ... the next step was E-6 ... Staff Sergeant.

Company Organization:
To completely understand the responsibilities of a graduate of NCOC, it's essential that you understand the way Platoons were organized in Viet Nam:

An E-5 commands a Fireteam, usually 4 men (one Automatic-Rifleman, one Grenadier, and two Rifleman) plus himself. Often a Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) is included.

An E-6 commands a Squad -- nine men: two Fireteams, plus himself. Often a Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) is included, but he may also double as a Rifleman.

An E-7 (Sergeant First Class) commands a Platoon -- four Squads, plus a designated Radio Telephone Operator (RTO), a Machine Gunner and Assistant gunner (ammo carrier), plus himself for a total of 'about' 30 men. The number is deliberately left flexible, because (a) the duty assignments may vary, and (b) the number of available men may also vary depending upon availability.

An Officer, usually an O-2 (Lieutenant) but barely possibly a Second Lieutenant (O-1) will be assigned as Platoon Leader. This Officer will command the Platoon Sgt. (whose primary purpose is Administrative .. he looks out for his men and carries out the orders of this L.T. or El-Tee), and will be in over-all command of his Platoon. As well as the (30+/-) men in the platoon who are overseen by the Platoon Sgt, the LT's staff includes another RTO, the Platoon Medic ("Doc") and the Platoon RTO.

The Command Group of a platoon includes the LT, his RTO and "Doc", and (if the Platoon is operating as a group) the Platoon Sgt and his RTO - a total of 4 men, minimum. Squad Leaders may be included in the Command Group, depending on whether Platoon is operating as a unit.

In the actual event in Viet Nam, the Platoon was most frequently operating as two units: two squads would work with the Platoon Leader, two squads would work with the Platoon Leader. Unit commands would be responsible to either the Platoon Leader or the Platoon Sgt, depending upon which half they were assigned to.

In Viet Nam, a Squad was rarely lead by an E-6 Staff Sgt, because of the rarity of men who had achieved this rank; instead, they were usually lead by an E-5 Sergeant ... and the officers in command of the Company (usually O-3 Captains, but often O-2 First Lieutenants)

Note that I have referred to Staff Sergeants (E-6) as being "in command" of platoons. This is confusing, but Sergeants were NEVER placed in 'command' of platoons, unless they were under fire and their officer was killed or otherwise incapacitated. A Sergeant was ALWAYS under the nominal command of an officer ( if available ... see above), but a Sergeant was TYPICALLY in command of a 'half-company' (two squads) group of soldiers, and as such was responsible for that Unit.

Training Exigencies:

Moving back from Combat Organization to the Training Phase of NCOC operations, the Training Program had three clear divisions: Physical, Leadership, Tactical.

The Physical training was merely and extension of Basic and A.I.T. training ... endure that whatever physical challenge was presented to the non-NCO soldier, the NCO was trained to meet or exceed it. This included common exercises such as the Jumping Jack, the 4-Point and the 6-Point Burphy (jumping jack, lateral extention, and possibly a push-up), Pull-ups before entering the Chow Hall (not only the pull-up, but hang-time as well), marching in double-time, and running.

I recall vividly the day when we were required to speed-march 12 miles, in the company of a Major of the U.S. Army Rangers. We did it in two hours. Nobody dropped out, and we took a 10-minute break in the middle of the course. Most of us changed our socks then, because as Infrantrymen we had been trained to take care of our feet.

At the end of the march, I unwisely drank too much water too fast and consequently suffered severe cramps. Because the guy who bunked under me, Brunner, had already left for Chow when I crawled onto my upper bunk and resisted the temptation to throw up, I imposed by a near-bunkmate of my same name (bunks having been assigned alphabetically) to turn in my weapon and inform my Platoon Sgt. that I was not available.

True to the traditions, my Friend returned my check-in slip and went to chow. I slept for 12 hours and awoke at the usual time (5am) with no cramps and ready for duty.

Lesson: sometimes The Army doesn't quite have it's head up its ass, even if I do.


Possible subjects for future Shake 'N Bake posts --

The Plan vs Reality:

Ratting On Your Friends:


The March Up River:

Field Training Exercise:

Confidence Course:

Detroit Guys:


The End: