Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Arnie Signs AB 962

Earlier this week, California's Governor Arnold "The Barbarian In Name Only" Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law. Nothing new there, but the bill defines some reasonable restrictions on buying ammunition in California.

For ammunition purchaser in California, AB 962 means that every time you buy ammunition you have to present ID, fill out a form, and leave your thumbprint on the form. (Search here for "AB 962" to read the full final text of the bill, including the history, voting and status.)

Surprisingly, the Canada Free Press published a condemnatory (aka: opposed to bill on civil rights grounds) article on behalf of the NRA, which laudes Arnie for vetoing Senate Bill 585, which would have prohibited fire-arms sales in the Cow Palace. This was obviously nothing less than a direct assault on Gun Shows.

But when it came to AB 962, Arnie Blinked:

Unfortunately, the Governor did sign AB962. This bill requires individuals purchasing ammunition be fingerprinted and registered at the time of sale, mandates that dealers keep these records and make them available for inspection by the California Department of Justice. Ammunition retailers would also have to store ammunition in such a manner that it would be inaccessible to purchasers. Finally, mail order ammunition sales are prohibited under AB962. Over twenty years ago, Congress abolished similar requirements because ammunition sales records were found to be useless for solving crimes. AB962 is a dire threat to our Second Amendment rights in the Golden State.
We see the word "registered" above (emphasis added) and while we are genetically equipped to oppose registration of firearms, this bill -- now law -- doesn't register firearms.

It registers nothing more than the purchasers of ammunition.

What's so bad about that? Oh, of course it implies that anyone who buys, say 9mm ammunition probably owns a 9mm firearm. In that caliber, it's probably a handgun. But anyone who purchases .22 ammunition may own either a handgun or a rifle. On the other hand, buying 5.56 ammunition suggests that the purchaser owns an AR type rifle. Buying in large quantities? You own an AR, and you shoot it a LOT.

Is that important information? Maybe. Maybe the sponsors of this bill actually fooled some folks with the descriptive text of the bill, which includes this verbiage:
   This bill would provide that a person enjoined from engaging in
activity associated with a criminal street gang, as specified, would
be prohibited from having under his or her possession, custody, or
control, any ammunition. Violation of these provisions would be a
The bill would prohibit supplying or delivering, as specified,
handgun ammunition to prohibited persons, as described, by persons or
others who know, or by using reasonable care should know, that the
recipient is a person prohibited from possessing ammunition or a
minor prohibited from possessing ammunition, as specified. Violation
of these provisions is a misdemeanor with specified penalties.
Oh. So, the purpose of the bill is to prevent street-gangs from buying ammunition.

Strangely, there are no provisions for identifying "... a person enjoined from engaging in activity associated with a criminal street gang...", so what is a purveyor of ammunition to do, in order to abide by the stated purpose of this bill?

The actual text of this bill describes the dealer as "... a person who knows, or reasonably should know, is a person described in [various section of law, including those defining 'street gangs'] ..."

Note: no definition of "reasonably should know".

Does this sound a little vague to you? Does it put the burden on the dealer to know the un-knowable, rather than to put the burden on the Government, which has enacted this law, to provide a legal description and procedures which are reasonable to follow in order to accommodate this law? Does it strike you as generally unconstitutional?

Yeah, me to.

California Assembly GOP Leader Sam Blakeslee seems to feel the same way, as evidenced in "The Blakeslee Memo" as published in an October 14, 2009, article in "Capital Weekly: the newspaper of California Government and Politics":

To: "Assembly Republican Caucus"

Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 13:57:45 -0700

Subject: Governor's Signatures


Yesterday we all witnessed the public policy disaster perpetrated by the Governor's hand.

His decision to sign into law some of the most noxious legislative proposals brought before us this year is both disheartening and revealing.

Most of us have read in today's papers accounts of the Governor's shocking reversal of position on the issues about which we care most deeply: taxes, second amendment rights, family values, over-regulation, etc.

This sudden realignment of his position reminds us to remain vigilant as defenders of Republican principles: limited government, individual freedom and opportunity, the sanctity of the family, and public safety.

The SF Chronicle carries a couple of editorials about this subject. On October 5, 2009, an editorial asserts that the bill "... represents a sensible attempt to control the flow of ammunition to the criminals without constraining the rights of law-abiding citizens."

On October 14, 2009, another article describes the ramifications of the bill more fully.
According to this interpretation:

Starting in July, the law will require dealers to keep records of handgun ammunition sales for at least five years, and store the bullets securely out of customers' reach.

Like gun transactions, all ammunition sales will have to be face-to-face, a requirement that will force online buyers to arrange delivery of ammunition to a seller in California. Another provision makes it a crime to knowingly sell or give ammunition to someone who cannot possess it legally, including felons, gang members and the mentally ill.

As of February 2011, all ammunition buyers will have to provide a driver's license or other state identification and a thumbprint.

De León [the sponsor of the bill] said Monday that the bill gives police "a valuable tool to crack down on armed, dangerous criminals and gang-bangers in our communities."

Opponents said the restrictions would burden gun owners and dealers without impeding criminals.

"Ammunition or ammunition purchaser registration, in any form, serves only to infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens," Gun Owners of California said while the bill was before the Legislature.

In signing the bill, Schwarzenegger said local governments that require record-keeping for ammunition sales have enabled police to arrest many illegal purchasers. Governments that regulate ammunition sales include San Francisco, Oakland, Tiburon and Contra Costa and Marin counties.

"Utilized properly, this type of information is invaluable for keeping communities safe," Schwarzenegger said.

Again: Is This Registration?

Well, maybe, in a sense. But that's not the most important issue here.

The most important issue is that it continues the recent trend toward stigmatizing firearms owners.

There was a time when anybody could own a gun. That was eventually attenuated by including the proviso that convicted felons, small children, and the certifiably insane should be prevented from owning guns. This is not, I must say, an unreasonable safeguard. If you are constitutionally or proven to be unable to safely own a weapon, then you shouldn't own a weapon. Case closed, period freaking dot done.

Unfortunately, this has been warped to suggest (as does this bill) that anyone who chooses to possess a firearm, or the means to use one, must also be restricted. This is regardless of any proven history of imbalance or irresponsibility.

Essentially, it lowers all responsible citizens to the questionable status of crack dealers and gang-bangers.

They don't even bother to define "... crack dealers and gang-bangers"! The California Assembly (and Governor Arnie) just cheerfully assume that if you want to buy ammunition, you must be A Bad Guy.

What Next?

Well, if you're a citizen subject of California, you're already screwed.

But if you're a citizen of another state you need to take a close look at this bill, and then keep a close watch on your own state legislature. As in: "Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer."

Because you can bet the farm that, while California may lead the way, your own state legislatures will be quick to pounce on this new approach to gun control, and they will try to dump the same kind of backward/sideways/upside/down laws on you, too.

Remember, you heard it hear first.

As A1 Ammunition Sales says:
You are responsible for knowing your own local state laws for the purchase of ammunition.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dry-Firing Safely.

One of the things which I try always to teach the shooters at the Introduction to USPSA (Live Fire) course is the importance of practice, specifically dry-firing and magazine reloading.

Not only is it important to help build muscle-memory and safe gun-handling skills -- including the basics of knowing where the controls (safety, magazine release, slide-lock, etc.) are located and how to use them without having to think about it, but it is at least equally important to know how to dry-fire safely.

The elements are a simple four steps:
  1. Practice where you are alone, with no distractions;
  2. Make sure that your pistol, and the magazines, are unloaded;
  3. Ensure that there is NO ammunition in the room where you are practicing, and don't touch ammunition until your practice session has been completed;
  4. Find an aiming point which is sufficient to stop a bullet if a Negligent Discharge should occur while you are dry-firing.
It's a simple set of cautions, but sometimes I think that the folks in the class tend to discount it as "not applicable". After, they're in the class to learn how to compete. They don't expect to hear safety rules about practicing at home.

Unfortunately, there isn't time (only three hours) to present all of the material, so this bit is often "mentioned" out of context and I usually feel that I haven't emphasized it enough. It's difficult to get the Bare Essentials across in the limited time frame, so if it's even mentioned in passing, that may be the best that we can do.

And yes, not only the class members wonder if it's pertinent in the often confusing set of instructions, but sometimes I wonder if I haven't gone beyond the realm of reality when I try to offer more information than is easily assimilated ... and remembered.

That's why, when I went through my EMAIL archives tonight, I was glad to read this article by Jim Shepherd in the October 9, 2009, edition of The Shooting Wire.

[Disclaimer: I would link to the article if I could, but TSW does not typically offer permalinks to their "editorials". I've been quoted by the author, Jim Shepherd, though, and I know he is aware that I often quote his editorials in toto. As respectful as I am about intellectual property rights and copyrights, I feel safe including an entire article here, for the cause of proliferating valuable information. By the way, if you have not already subscribed to The Shooting Wire, you can do so here. I encourage you to do so.]

The Article:

The Shooting Wire (Jim Shepherd) quoted 10/13/2009 9:55PM

Taking Your Education Home More Effectively

At the end of a long day of shooting drills, Gunsite Academy rangemaster Larry Landers was sitting with us in the classroom in a debrief. Actually, we were just relaxing and chatting when Landers asked us a question: what would happen to our improved shooting skills when we went home on Friday?

The answer was obvious: if we didn't do something to reinforce the skills we'd been practicing, they'd quickly go away. At that point, we'd either revert to our previous training levels - or actually find ourselves fighting new bad habits as a result of being unfamiliar with the newly-formed good ones.

One solution to practice when time or facilities aren't at hand: dry firing. Dry firing, Landers explained, gives any shooter the ability to work on a variety of skills, from the simple repetition of working the controls of your firearm to smooth breathing and consistent, smooth trigger operations.

"But you've gotta be careful," Landers told us, "dry practice means you practice safety to the ultimate degree. Unload your weapon, then check it again to make absolutely certain it's empty. If you're going to be using magazines, check them and be sure they're empty, too. "

Then, Landers told us, we shouldgo even further in the prevention of a negligent discharge. "Take the ammunition for that firearm" he said, "and put all of it in a box and move it to another room. Don't even have ammo that will fit that firearm in the room while you're practicing dry firing. And don't start to reload anything until you're done practicing."

He also had another safety recommendation we should all know- and follow. Remember that any firearm - especially a heavy caliber one - is capable of penetrating one - or several - walls in today's typically constructed home. So, he says, put your practice target on a wall that could handle "a catastrophic accident." Believe me, if you've ever suffered a negligent discharge - especially in your home - you know exactly what Landers is speaking about.

After taking those safety precautions, he says, it's a simple bit of practice "look up, locate your target, then press the trigger smoothly."

Reset, breathe, repeat for around 18-20 minutes. Any more, Landers says, and you're going to get bored. Boredom can lead to carelessness, and carelessness has consequences when it comes to firearms.

"No matter how long you practice," Landers says, "don't ever end on a negative. End on a positive note, regardless. Don't stop with a negative image in your mind."

After all, he says, the idea of dry fire is to help you eliminate mistakes and replace them with solid shooting practices.

Sounds reasonable to me.

--Jim Shepherd

Monday, October 12, 2009

ARPC October 2009 match: "Thinking 3's"

It was ... nice, getting to a Practical Pistol match when I've missed so many in the past year. The Albany Rifle & Pistol club is about 20 minutes from SWMBO's house, and I arrived before 8am. I was the first shooter to sign in, so I was #1 on the squad sign-in sheet.

That was the first and last time I was #1 at the match.

I had only about 80 rounds of 10mm ammunition to feed the STI Edge GeekGun, so I didnt expect to compete in all the stages. As it turned out, I could only shoot 3 stages before I ended my personal match experience with only eight rounds remaining. The other 3 of 6 stages, I just worked as Range Officer for the squad. I didn't really mind, though. The important thing was being at the match actually participating, and allowing myself to just let the cares of the week float away while I enjoyed the thrill of "Gunsmoke In The Morning".

(Match Scores may be found here.)

As it turned out, I was squadded with the few members of "The Usual Suspects" who still competed on a semi-regular basis: The Hobo Brasser, Whitefish, and Higgie. AJ and KJ no longer show up at matches, Norm and Harold the Barbarian were also conspicuous by their absence. SWMBO is of course, not physically able to shoot because DAMN she has to wear the Oxygen Tank on her back and hasn't the strength to move smartly between shooting locations.

So this was All About Me, and I was content to shoot a few stages, work the rest, and enjoy the company of friends.

Match Director Mike McCarter was his usual devious self; he designed some stages which challenged each and every shooter to steer clear of the Rocks and Shoals of tiny steel targets, targets at long distances, and targets bordered by white "Penalty/No-Shoot" targets. I, personally, tripped up on every challenge, even though I only shot half of the stages.

One of the most challenging stages was "Thinking 3's".

This stage was rigidly constrained by vision barriers which offered the competitor to engage targets at any of five shooting locations. The bad part was that only a few targets were clearly visible from each shooting location. The Good News was that, perhaps due to an oversight or an error in stage construction, it was marginally possible for all targets to be engaged from three shooting locations ... the three the most-uprange .

The bad news was that if you lost track of what targets you had engaged, you were forced to move to more than three shooting locations. Also, the far-right target could be engaged from the near left shooting location, but it was a test of both balance and luck to actually hit the target from that location.

Also, just to make it "more fun", Mac set up the stage so that you had to over-extend your to engage the target. I fell into that trap, because I was so severely off-balance in attempting to engage this target, I was only able to actually hit the target on one of the three shots I attempted.

I realize this sounds terribly obtuse. Fortunately, I have a video showing three shooters on this stage, in cluding one who neglected to shoot is plan. It's worthwhile to note that al three outshot me.

Here's how it looked

UPDATE: 13-OCT-2009
Evil Bill found a way to shoot the stage from TWO boxes, not three. It appears that the far-left target array, AND the near-left target array (behind stacked barrels) could be engaged from the center shooting location.

What a great way to game the stage!

In the actual event, the need to do multiple reloads (Evil Bill was shooting Single Stack Division ... no more than 8 rounds per magazine) may have slightly undermined the advantage of engaging the last two targets from the center, especially if only D-zone hits were possible. We can't see what the targets looked like from there.

But the point is that it was possible to engage the with a limited amount of movement, and the rest of us (at least in the two squads that I watched) never even noticed the possibility.

That's what makes this sport great. Almost 70 people walked through that stage, and shot it, without noticing that there was a way to minimize movement.

When I teach the Introduction to USPSA class (shooter certification), I emphasize that there are two ways to shoot a stage quickly: strive for accuracy, taken enough time to hit the targets without having to waste time making up misses; and eliminating time spent in unnecessary movement. Evil Bill is one competitor who has obviously learned this lesson well.

UPDATE: 14-OCT-2009
Is this The Blog From Hell? I can't go a day without posting another video version of this stage.

I love it!

"Yawn" chipped in with a comment asserting that he visited FOUR of the five possible shooting locations on this stage, and did just fine thank-you-very-much. And it's true, he did. (Video below, see the comments for the link.)

This video included all of the stages in the match. He often videos as many of the stages as he can and then posts them all together on YouTube, for which we-thank-him-very-much.

Looking at the video, you can see that Yawn has identified his shooting strength is speed in movement. Those who claim that "experience and treachery will beat youth and enthusiasm every time" are referred to another viewing of the video.

Not only does he move quickly and expeditiously from one shooting position to another, he has obviously scoped out every stage so he knows exactly where to go and when, for the most efficient solution to the shooting problem. Note that he performs beyond his15-months shooting experience in such matters of knowing when to reload without loss of time. (True, it doesn't always work out perfectly, but it saves him time more often than it does not -- and who among us can claim to perform more reliably?)

As a side note, I think it's a matter of integrity and honesty that he also includes the full video of his first stage, "Ba-da-Bing" in which he suffered an embarrassing "Failure To Feed" jam. Stuff happens to all of us, and I suspect that he cleared the jam as quickly as possible; there was a small glitch with his reload, but he covered most of it by doing a reload on the move between shooting ports. Jams do tend to rattle us for a few seconds, because when you are wired into your plan, it takes a while to get back into The Zone.

Here are the stages in the order he shot them, and the high-points of his performance:
  1. Ba-da-Bing - recovery from a jam
  2. Thinking 3's - quick movement
  3. Guard Run - literally thinking outside the box and ammo management
  4. Drum Line - masterly performance on a Memory Stage; great prior planning, and an excellent reload
  5. 4 Bill Drill - great courage on a sucky Classifier stage
  6. Double Up - excellent example of "Driving The Gun"
I should mention the video originality, apparently using a pre-staged camera on a tripod.

Oh, and when you watch this video, turn your speakers UP. The background scoring reminds me of the introductory scene in "Zulu" (one of the finest reenactments of a military action ever filmed).

Not bad for "C" Limited.

Someone should mention this, so I will: Yawn was StatsMaster at the match. He did all the sign up, all the EZScore crap, and all the data entry of the scores. And he drove around the range picking up the stage score-sheets. He shot the stages between sessions of statistical work. Not all of us can switch from desk-work to performance shooting so seamlessly.

The Red Sparrows

YouTube - The Red Sparrows

Whether you're a Monty Python fan or a Benny Hill fan, you'll enjoy the formation flying of the Hempshire Fire Department Aeronautical Drill Team ...


(H/T: Gary "T-Man")

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize!

There are two things today which I find it impossible to believe:
  1. This is October in Oregon. The weather at the ARPC Pistol Match was clear and dry. Sure, it was a little chilly with the occasional gust of cold wind from the North. But if this is Global Warming, I'm all for it.
  2. United States President Barrak Obama won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Peace. What a surprise, and the reaction was clear and dry. Sure, it was a little chilly with the gust of occasional gust of cold wind from the Right. But if this is Global Warming, I'm still a little dubious.
Among the "chilly" reaction to President Obama's surprising win (after all, he had been President for only 11 or 12 days before he was nominated) was the Saturday Night Live sketch as presented on The Huffington Post.

Sorry, that was the reaction from the Left.

For the reaction from the Right, here is Bill Wittle's reaction on PJTV:
Again, sorry; I can't embed PJTV videos. But I do encourage you to go view the entire 10-minute video where you will hear, among other phrases, "Groveling Apologist". You may have to register to view the video, after a few days have past and it is moved to their archives. Still, it's free and the website is always the source of fascinating political opinions.


To put this into some perspective which applies to shooting competition, The Hobo Brasser and I briefly discussed this startling development prior to the beginning of the Saturday (October 10, 2009) club match at ARPC. I suggested that he nominate me for the Nobel Prize for Peace next year, and I would nominate him for the same Peace Prize in the next year. He questioned me: "What have you done in the past year to improve the peaceful lot of the world's citizens?"

I had to admit that I had done "Not one damn thing!" to advance that cause. His reply was: "Great! You're qualified!"

Later in the match, we shot a stage requiring six shots in each of four targets, "Virginia Count". He fired 7 shots at one of the targets. I was the Range Officer, so after he completed that string I penalized him ten points for one extra shot, as per the USPSA Rule Book.

He was astonished, at first believing that I was adding the comment in a teasing manner. After the penalty was confirmed by the Assistant Range Officer and several members of the observing squad, and a careful review of the timer statistics, he declared that he accepted the penalty but re-affirmed that he was not aware, at the time, that he had fired an extra shot.

(During scoring, we found that he had hit the 35-yard target with all seven shots, so he was also penalized another ten points for an "extra hit".)

After the stage was competed, Gary Whitefish and I conferred and announced our decision to nominate The Hobo Brasser for the 2010 Nobel Prize in Math.

Considering Obama's win, we feel sure that The Hobo Brasser is a shoo-in for the prize.

As for the immediate reaction to Obama's being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize from the Norwegians, we can go no higher than the Wall Street Journal's reaction.

Sorry again, for the third of fourth time (or as Clint Eastwood would say, "In all the excitement I completely lost count!") we must go back to PJTV.COM for Andrew Claven -- On Culture.