Thursday, August 30, 2007

Divisiveness

I have been criticized in certain circles for my choice not to patronize Larry's Guns (less relevant is this post). People point out that it's his property and that he is, by default, pro-gun. Those people forget that it's my money and that profiting from guns does not make one pro-gun.

Yes, property rights are important. Unless Larry changes his policy, I won't go back there. I therefore am not restricting his property rights at all. So let's leave that part out of the equation. I'm not planning on interfering with his property rights in the least.

Let's examine the statement that Larry is pro-gun and an ally. Yes, Larry does stand to lose his business if guns are ever banned. But that doesn't look likely, especially not anytime soon. Larry is not a young man, so he can probably safely guess that he'll never have to worry about an outright ban on guns. Would he lose money if certain guns were banned? That's hard to say. On the one hand, he could lose a chunk of his business, but there's always a question of how much of that would transfer to other gun types. And, of course, any time a ban goes into effect, his merchandise that will be affected has just had its value skyrocket.

Do I know that Larry is pro-gun? No. I don't know that he isn't, either. I know that he wouldn't like them all to be banned tomorrow, but I cannot verify his feelings toward restrictions of other sorts. I do, however, have an idea on his feelings about my choice of carry method. While he and his staff openly carry, he doesn't allow anyone who isn't law enforcement come in to browse/buy with a visible gun. This indicates to me that he would be willing to throw those of us who choose to open carry under the proverbial bus.

Any time someone to profit off my rights if they won't respect them completely. This isn't much different from hunters being willing to disown those of us who choose "non-sporting" arms. Zumbo still remembers how much it hurts to sell one group down the river. Some tell me not to be so quick to avoid Larry, but what sort of "experts" do the anti-gun folks love to trot out for the public? Gun owners, especially those who seem to have a lot of sway. A gun shop owner, then, is the sort of "expert" that can let them say that "rational" gun owners don't carry openly. By being against one form of carry, he is giving ground to the enemy. If we want to keep our freedoms, we need to defend them and attempt to gain ground, not choose the ground we'll give up.

I certainly won't pay for him to give up my rights. Every inch of my ground someone else gives up is a foot too far.

Seattle Brady Protest Results

Well, I think that WA ammo-purchasers probably outnumbered Brady protesters. Two, though, is fewer than I was expecting. I figured any sort of protesters in Seattle would draw at least a dozen people. I mean, it's Seattle, where people do enjoy a good protest.

I guess it's a pretty good sign for those of us who like our gun rights.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bought my ammo

Well, I bought my ammo today, and not one of the places I went to had posted fliers for it. they were all busy enough, which was a good sign, but I was disappointed that they didn't put in the effort to tape a piece of paper up somewhere.

I have ammo, though, and that's important. And I didn't get hassled for carrying openly, which is always good. I just wish I could've afforded to buy a gun today, too. But that's really the sort of thing I feel every time I go into gun shops.

I did see some folks protesting on an overpass, but it turned out that they were just protesting the war. Didn't see any Brady protesters.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My letter was published!

Wow. The Olympian actually published my letter. And before tomorrow, even. I know it was kind of short and had little real info, but I figured that was the best way to get it printed. I guess this means my last name is out there for you readers, but that's alright. I'm sure any astute reader who tried hard enough could've easily tracked me down.

Hopefully, you all get a chance to buy some ammo and/or other gun stuff tomorrow. I'm going to hit Wal-Mart, Sportsman's Warehouse, and J&S Guns, buying .45, .22, and .30-06, respectively. And if any of them are running a good deal, my shopping list may change a bit.

I'd order a press and some other reloading stuff from Midway, but I'm still not sure what equipment I'll want to start on (all I know is that it's about time I did start--can't find/afford 8mm, and .30-06 isn't cheap, either).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dumb choices

What is it with people and not allowing themselves to realize that action A might be the sort of bad idea that could bring about consequence B?

For example, I was at a family reunion today. The hosts have a small dog, the breed of which I'm a bit unsure of. It's kind of like a smaller version of a border collie.

Not just one, but two relatives who were well aware of this nearly defenseless little dog thought it would be a good idea to bring their notoriously temperamental blue heelers. The big problem with these heelers is that they get the pack mentality going. With at least four heelers on the smaller dog's turf, this wasn't going to go well.

The dogs were still all around by the time I left, though one particular person put away one of the heelers. The way to protect the smaller dog, of course, was to keep the friendly little thing from wandering his own turf. He did get growly at the other dogs, but from the safe distance we kept him at. It was sad, since the little dog was well-behaved, friendly, and at home, much like the heelers should have been.

What kind of intelligence level does it take to recognize that your sometimes ill-behaved dogs might not be the best things to bring into an environment with small children and a small dog?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hiding rights

I noticed a short time ago that I have been linked to on Glock Talk. I was going to post on the forum, but I have to wait for moderator approval. Thanks, HerrGlock, for posting it there.

I noticed that there were folks talking about open carry as a bad idea in terms of politics. They have the mindset that lets them feel that keeping the guns hidden will keep their rights protected. They say that you shouldn't always exercise your rights.

I, of course, must disagree. The best way to protect rights is to exercise them without apology and without secrecy. If Joe Public is afraid of guns, is it because he sees them on the hips of law-abiding citizens too often? No, it is because this doesn't happen often enough. People will fight against the unknown, and will use the rarity of a practice as reason to prevent it. If people saw the sort of decent folks who carry, they might start to realize that it isn't guns that cause crime.

And one must ask why anything legal should be considered such a problem. Imagine the response you would get if you said, "Sure, you have freedom of religion, but I would advise you to choose Judaism. Christianity might get that freedom taken away." Or "Yeah, you have freedom of speech, but you shouldn't talk about Washingtonians, since they don't like being discussed." Practicing a right as fully as possible is the best way to preserve it. On several occasions, I've gotten to be an ambassador for gun rights, and people are actually fairly reasonable, by and large. They see that I am no attempting to do anything wrong, and they start to think about maybe buying guns. Some, of course, say they feel more comfortable knowing that I'm armed, though I try to encourage them to take their defense into their own hands.

If we don't open carry, they'll take it away and no one will say a word. As for the fear of being a "test case," that hardly holds water with so many WA police depts. issuing training bulletins and affirming the right to open carry.

Carry whatever way you want. Just remember that you shouldn't need to feel ashamed of your rights. And you don't do any favors to the cause when you seem willing to sell out those who do things differently than you do. Anyone remember Zumbo's problem with ARs? Sporting/non-sporting, carry method, anything that divides us makes us weaker. I support concealed carry, and I expect you to support open carry.

An odd talent of mine

I have some interesting (read: useless) talents. One of these is a knock with locks. I started thinking about this when I ran into a few days of lock issues in a row. One morning, I went with my relief down to a building that needed a couple doors unlocked. Our key to said building is getting worn out, so it takes some finesse to open some doors. The other guy tried for several seconds on the first door. I asked for a go at it, and it opened right up. Same with the second door. The third and final door, though, my coworker decided he would do. About a full minute or two later, I tried, and sure enough, it worked. After each of the first two doors, I had explained the means of finessing them, as best I could...he couldn't reproduce the feat.

The next night, a girl was having trouble with the key to her dorm room. I took the key, went to her door, and promptly let her in. I had her try it...of course, she couldn't reproduce the problem for me.

When I was a student, though, I had a bizarre experience. A custodian had locked her keys in a reflection room in the dorm I was occupying at the time. She asked whether our room keys would open that. They couldn't, I thought, but I'd try it. The key didn't fit properly, but the door opened. It should not have opened the door. My key was not made for the lock, nor did it work properly, but it somehow opened. I never could come up with a satisfactory explanation, nor could I reproduce the feat (I only tried once, but it kind of creeped me out).

Earlier still, when I was in high school, the football team stopped for dinner on the way to or from a game. A couple of us went to a different fast food joint than the others (we had a few options around). We decided to see about eating on the bus. I grabbed the door handle, turned it a bit, opened the door and climbed aboard. When the driver came back to the bus, she saw us and immediately went to find the coaches. She said that we had broken into the bus and shouldn't have been there. I, of course, told her the bus was unlocked. Oddly enough, it was still locked after we got in. I was able to reproduce the feat for the coaches and driver, but I was told that I'd probably be suspended. It was forgotten by the time anyone would've had a chance to talk to the principal, though, so I didn't even have to pay him a visit.

I also nearly got myself suspended for opening classrooms with ASB cards just before the teachers got there. Only once did one get upset, but I managed to talk my way out of trouble...once in awhile, I was even asked to open doors that needed to be open. The coaches' office, for example, needed to be open for various sports, and the coaches didn't always have their keys. I destroyed a few ASB cards on that one, up until I got to make the cards one year...I made up a couple specialized blanks of varying thicknesses (good old ID laminator works well for this sort of thing). It was like a set of lockpicks for my high school. They've probably improved the doors (and windows--they weren't immune, either) by now, but those were good times.

Wow...for the good kid, I certainly pulled a lot of crap, didn't I? And I didn't even mention the fights. But that's not the point. The point is that I have no idea where this knack for locks came from, but it sure comes in handy sometimes.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Congrats, Hammer

Everyone needs to head on over and congratulate Hammer on 50,000 blog hits. It's definitely no surprise he's had so many visitors. Every visit to his blog is entertaining, informative, and worth the time.

Congratulations, Hammer. Here's to the next 50k!

First gun shop to tell me not to OC...

Not too long ago, I posted about a retired cop who works in Larry's Guns, among other things. I said that I had OCed into Larry's before and would again. I did OC in there again, and have found that I won't be frequenting Larry's from now on.

I went in to see if he had decided not to post the flier for August 28th, or if perhaps he had forgotten. Before I could ask him, he spotted my gun.
He pointed at it and grunted, "You law enforcement?"
"No, sir," I replied.
"Then you can't carry like that."
"Well, you're aware open carry is legal, right?"
"Yeah, but not in MY store. Freaks out the customers. Get it out of here," he replied with typical Larry posturing.
"Alright, I'll go elsewhere."
"Have a nice life," he grunted as I left.
Oddly enough, Larry's wife seemed shocked by the entire exchange, though she didn't speak. I think she knew that Larry had just chased off a regular, but also knew there was little she could do about it.

It's too bad he was so willing to send me packing. He has one of the better selections of used guns in the area. Not the best customer service skills, nor the most knowledgeable employees, but several used guns, some of which are available at fair prices. I had liked to support his store despite the fact that I can get ammo and new guns cheaper at the big box retailers, but those days are over.

It's also odd that an off-duty cop dressed exactly like me would be able to OC without scaring the customers. Last time I checked, they look exactly like us mere mortals, but with more special privileges.

Several of you fine readers probably don't see any problem with being unable to OC into Larry's, but I won't be supporting him. Perhaps he would still have my business if he had been a little more reasonable about discussing his policy, but I won't be in there again. I don't hold it against anyone who chooses to go in there, of course, though I'll obviously discourage it.

If anyone is from around here, Larry's Guns is located in Olympia, WA.

Somebody Else's Problem

Ever figure that yelling loudly for help would be enough to protect you? Maybe you carry a "rape whistle" or somesuch. Well, hopefully you live amongst folks who care a bit more than this. Or, you know, you could provide for your own defense.
"The Somebody Else's Problem field is much simpler and more effective [than actually hiding something], and what's more can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery. This is because it relies on people's natural disposition not to see anything they don't want to, weren't expecting, or can't explain." -- Douglas Adams, on the SEP Field, Life, The Universe, And Everything.

You see, humans don't want to see a rape, nor do they wantto put themselves in harm's way to stop one. Additionally, the more witnesses there are, the greater the chance of each individual figuring someone else will call 911.

If you want to be safe, you need to provide for your safety in a real and substantial way. And not just by carrying a means of self-defense, but by putting yourself in as few dangerous situations as possible, being adequately prepared to defend yourself using whatever tools you carry, and staying aware of your surroundings at all times. I don't know whether the woman in the news story was at a party she thought would be safe, nor do I know whether she had any reason to trust or distrust her attacker. I can, however, be fairly confident in my belief that she could have defended herself. She was apparently able to knock on a nearby door, "yelling for the occupants to call police." This leads me to believe she had a chance to fight back, but was unprepared to do so.

I am not blaming her for this, of course, but stories like this illustrate the incredibly ineffectiveness of the plan of making enough noise to get someone to call the cops. There are certainly folks in the world who would defend you, but they aren't always going to be within earshot. A gunshot will not only stop the threat, but get the police there fairly quickly. A taser or pepper spray may well stop the attacker, as well. Yelling, though, relies on someone forgetting that you might well be somebody else's problem.

Self-Insufficiency

Y'know, we often blame defenselessness on our culture of victimisation. While this is a largely fair assessment, there's another part of the equation we forget. We also have a problem with people thinking everyone else is here to serve them. The police will get here in time because they're here to serve me.

Being in a service-oriented line of work, I notice this a lot more than some might. People act like they should never have to bother with anything. Our dorms allow access using student IDs as keycards, and people don't want to be bothered with them. They'd rather have to rely on someone else letting them in. Their rooms require normal keys, and they often rely on the hope that their roommate will be there or that Residence Life or Security will let them in. In many cases, they freely admit that it wasn't a mistake--they just thought they'd be able to get in.

Others are indignant if I tell them that I'll deal with them when I'm done performing one of the many other tasks I have to do for someone else. Sometimes, it's even too much to ask that they give me enough time to get to their part of campus. I know, I should have the decency to have sensed that there would be a need for me across campus, so I could be there before they called.

If a car is broken into, it's my fault for not having been in that particular lot at the moment someone saw a purse and smashed a window. It takes about 20 minutes to patrol campus (which, of course, I can't be doing at all times, since there are so many other duties). It takes about 30 seconds to smash a window and grab a purse. Even worse, people think they can leave valuables lying around in the common areas of the dorms, and then wonder how I could let them be stolen.

They don't just expect Security to be there entirely for them--they don't like having to go all the way to the cafeteria for food, and they want it open exactly when they feel like eating.

Is it any wonder, then, that people seem to think they can leave their protection in the hands of others? They seem to expect everyone else to do everything else for them.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Draw!

Over at War on Guns, we're pointed to an incident in which a kid *gasp* sketched a gun!! Imagine this kid, seeming like just another kid, but then you find that he would dare sketch a gun.

It really makes me think about how different it was when/where I grew up. It wasn't all that long ago that I was a kid growing up in the small town of Mineral. Around there, kids started shooting BB guns about as early as they could hold them, and started with .22s not long after. The BB guns could be shot just about anywhere. There was hardly a shed in town without a pretty good number of embedded BBs and dents from the ones that didn't penetrate. The .22s, of course, required a bit safer approach than a shed as a backstop.

I was lucky. We had enough land that I could go out back to shoot. Later, when we put animals out there, it was still okay to shoot, but the first shot had to be a careful one. After it, though, the animals all knew to stay away. The goats even learned the sight of a gun pretty quickly. Other kids, though, would have to go out into the woods or onto one of the many hills nearby. Hell, I liked to go out there to shoot, too. It tended to provide a better area, and it was more fun to go shooting with friends.

My experiences in school included a tendency to draw swords, jets, and guns (I never could draw a gun that looked quite right, but I always enjoyed drawing these things). Sometimes, they even wound up in the margins on things I turned in. I sometimes got reprimanded for not keeping my paper neat, but never for my choice of things to draw.

By junior high, we had no problem setting up times and places to go shooting while at school. And the teachers would sometimes help with suggestions. By high school, there were a number of hunters, so hunting season found rifles in many of the rigs in the parking lot. I was even in class one day when a student reached into his pocket and fished out some shotgun shells. He then said that he had forgotten to take them out after duck hunting. The harshest punishment I heard of for anyone in relation to guns was when some of the hunters were encouraged to park off-campus, since we were having visitors come and inspect the school.

It wasn't all that long ago, though I'm certain things have changed even in Morton High School (Mineral didn't have a HS). I'm also pretty sure that things weren't like that everywhere.

Welcome

Well, I just noticed that I have some new folks pouring in from both War on Guns and Keep and Bear Arms.
Welcome, folks! Take a look around if you'd like. There's certainly not a whole lot to see, but I'd like to at least point you to the blogroll on your right. Those folks all have blogs worth a look.
Thanks for coming, and I hope you've enjoyed your stay.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Open carry while delivering fliers

While I was out and about delivering fliers for gun shops to post up about August 28th, I decided to open carry. This is not unusual for me, and I wasn't planning on going anywhere it would really make me stand out.

The first gun shop I hit, J&S Gun Parts, said they'd look into posting a flier. I had already emailed them, but I don't think they check it much. I looked to see if they had any XD45 full-size mags in stock, then moved on to Larry's Guns, where Larry's wife seemed very excited about the flier.

I've carried openly in Larry's before, and I will again. Only one employee even gave me a second glance. He pointed toward it, smiled, and asked who I worked for. When I told him, he quickly frowned. As I had fully expected, he assumed I was an Only One. He told me that OC was "technically" legal, and I should expect to be stopped by the police. I explained that it was completely legal and the police were starting to be informed. I offered to go out to my car and get the training bulletins, but he brushed that off.
He told me that in Shelton, he would've stopped me. Trying not to be hostile, I said that he then would've let me go once my name cleared the system. He, of course, said he'd let me go and tell me to conceal. I asked what he'd say if I didn't have a concealed carry permit with me. He said he'd arrest me, which I promptly informed him would be a wrongful arrest. He started digging through a bag for his old, worn out copy of one of those traveler's guides to gun laws (I think...I never really saw the cover.
I browsed the store while he looked up what he needed, and even went out to get the training bulletins. When he finally found it, he pointed out that it said open carry was not recommended, as though this were the magical phrase that made it illegal. I showed him the training bulletins, which he scrutinized for a few minutes. He then scowled and said, "well what are these supposed to prove?" "Why, they're just proof that police departments are being trained to correctly interpret the law, which allows for open carry." He tried to tell me that someone being uncomfortable would make it brandishing, which I pointed out is not the case. I told him that a police officer could, at best, encourage me to move along.
He finally ended with a tirade about how he doesn't want people to know he's armed, since he'll then be shot. I tried to explain that OC can easily deter crime, as well. I didn't convince him that private citizens should be able to walk around with guns out in the open, but he started to see it as a possibility. Larry's grandkid, who was also working, seemed very receptive to the things I said.
I guess that an Only One stays the Only One no matter the circumstance.

I then went to get my oil changed (I know, I should do it myself, but I have nowhere to get rid of the used oil), and the folks there were happy to see the gun. One of them, a young kid, just couldn't keep his eyes off it. Turns out, he's from California, according to the other guy, and we all know how hard it is to even get permission to hide your gun.

The rest of the day, no one seemed to notice or care that I was armed, which is just fine by me.

I don't know whether J&S, Larry's, or Sportsman's Warehouse will post fliers or offer discounts, but I plan to hit at least two of them on Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Intellectual Elitism

I think I'm an intellectual elitist. I've never really had a problem with people who are a bit slow or who don't have the knowledge I take for granted as widely known, but I've noticed that I have an increasing tendency to think to myself (or, worse, say to someone else) that I don't think [person] is the sharpest knife in the drawer.

I'm not talking about people who intentionally limit themselves and are willfully ignorant, but the sort of person who just doesn't strike me as intelligent. For instance, one of the students has vowed to get me back for scaring her and her friends one night (ghost stories and an accomplice playing some tricks--good fun), and she said she had come up with a plan. She paused as though she had to think about it, then told me that she wasn't going to tell me what it was. I commented to a coworker that the girl didn't strike me as the brightest, and it hit me that I had no reason to believe that. After all, I don't know what was going through her head. It seems kind of silly to specify that she wasn't going to tell me her secret plan, but I say stupid things a lot. (Turns out, though, that she and her friends were watching one of those ridiculous MTV [or something like that...I don't know] dating shows tonight, which goes a long way to prove my hypothesis.)

I also realized that I don't know exactly what criteria I use to determine intelligence. It's just an instinct, as far as I can tell. While I'm generally correct (somehow) when I size someone up, I'm not 100% accurate, and it's not fair for me to figure someone's lacking without having some good proof.

I also really need to give myself some ground rules for determining common knowledge. If they don't know the relevance of the light slit experiment to quantum physics or the actual reasons for the Civil War, it's not because they aren't bright--those aren't the sorts of things everyone knows. Now, if a person can't do simple math or figure out the basics of sentence structure and punctuation, I have a basis for deciding they may not be bright.

I know that I probably won't stop sizing people up. I can at least try to stop myself from commenting on the intelligence of others based on very limited experiences. I make a fool of myself often enough to know that even an intelligent person can look pretty stupid.

Then again, if I hear them turn on some rap music, I feel I can adequately judge them to be lacking in the brains department.

Letter to the local rag

Well, I actually heard back from the Olympian regarding the letter I wrote them about August 28th. They claim that they tried to call, but I have not had my phone ring. I'll be calling them tomorrow to get it all straightened out, and maybe they'll even print it.
Or maybe they'll make a big show of telling me they don't have room to print my short letter. I don't expect too many folks to read it, but it'd be nice to get it in there.

UPDATE: I called in. They had apparently decided they didn't need to dial my area code. They couldn't tell me whether my letter would be printed, but they said that it was marked ASAP, which meant that it should be printed within a week. Apparently, the person I talked to didn't even glance at the letter, since August 28th is quite obviously time-sensitive. I guess I have to actually watch the paper for it, since they also couldn't send me a courtesy email telling me when/if they would print it.

Lead poisoning

I was browsing WikiHow again (I know it was a dumb idea), and I noticed that one of the gun articles claimed that lead poisoning was a big risk at indoor and outdoor shooting ranges, so you should go out to the desert to shoot. I changed it, but it really made me wonder what kind of person can't put facts together.

He or she went so far as to say that once or twice wouldn't be a big deal, so you shouldn't worry about it if you've gone, just don't go to the range often. There are many competition shooters who spend a LOT of time at the range. Or how about the range masters? Do either of those groups constantly suffer from lead poisoning? No. Why, then, would the author of some Wiki article think that lead exposure is such a risk that you shouldn't even go once a week?

Then again, this particular article was "How to Become a Gun Expert," and it included a brief description of revolvers, autoloaders, rifles, assault rifles, and shotguns, followed by a list of common handgun calibers. He hadn't even defined SA, DA, or SA/DA, though he used them a few times. It was useless, mostly.

Elvis's gun

I wonder if expanded background checks or other "reasonable restrictions" would've kept Elvis's handgun out of the wrong hands.
I'm guessing they wouldn't have. But, seriously, who steals that particular gun? Yeah, it'd be worth some money, but it'd be hard to sell. And I don't think it will be that useful in an attempt to frame Elvis for a crime.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pres. Candidates on Guns

Joe pointed me to this. It's a pretty good grading system for the Presidential candidates' stances on guns.
As expected, the Dems didn't fare too well, nor did some of the big-name GOP folks. It's useful info, even if you pretty much expected as much already, and any time someone else does my legwork is a good thing.

WikiHow

I don't know why I've left it on my Google page, but I get the Wikihow of the day. With such gems as how to gather chicken eggs (which includes such advice as slamming things into the nest boxes...not a good method), you'd think I would've removed the useless thing by now. I know...city folks don't always know how to approach a chicken, but it's ridiculous.

Well, they recently decided to tell me how to survive a school or workplace shooting. I had to click...how could I not be curious? They pissed me off from the get-go, though, as I suspected they might:
If there are students or coworkers who lawfully carry weapons or tools, they
will be able to explain this to your supervisor.

Yeah, I can explain to a supervisor that I want to have the means to defend myself in a victim disarmament zone. That's going to keep me on the job nicely.

They then say to lie flat and hope the shooter will mistake you for dead. To the article's credit, it says to fight back if you are about to be shot, but it's kind of late at that point.
Try talking to the shooter if you know them, but use caution. You could possibly change their mind, but remember, if they have a gun in their hand, they may not be
convinced by anything.
Y'know, because that gun will affect a person's mind. I'm not saying it's a great idea to try to talk a shooter down, but this wording tries to put the gun at fault.
Attacking an armed assailant is unwise unless you have absolutely no other
option. They have likely already decided to shoot people, and threatening them
will likely result in the deaths of you and even more around you. Leave
attacking the gunman to those equipped and trained to do so.

In other words, as long as there's a chance he'll be happy killing a few of your friends, just hope and pray he doesn't notice you. The worst thing you can do for yourself, in terms of survival, is just be a target. Remember, even if you survive, some won't. Can you live with yourself after you did nothing to try to save your friends? And the "Only Ones" have a tendency to not get in too quickly, so waiting on them will only be a means to watch the carnage.

The next couple points they make are about attacking the shooter as a group or grabbing his gun. I'm glad they at least mentioned some form of resistance.

They also go on to cover running and hiding. One little note I almost missed:
If you hear gunshots and are in a bathroom, your best bet is to remain in the
bathroom. The shooter could be right outside after all and probably won't waste
their time checking the bathrooms. Lock the bathroom door if you are able to. If
there is soap, put it on the floor near the door to make it slippery. It may
seem silly, but there is a good chance the shooter could slip and you could make
your escape.

Or, y'know, you could take that opportunity to try to disarm and/or detain the shooter. I think he might be pissed off if you've made him slip AND have run to get help.

In the "Tips" section, they mention karate as an option...but no mention of concealed weapons (or openly carried weapons, should that be an option). They do suggest pepper spray or a taser, though they say to only carry something that will be within the rules. My life, at least, is worth breaking a rule for.

I also noticed a link to How to Dodge Bullets. It's not all that bad, except in that it includes such tips as:
If you want to avoid this whole situation, do not have friends or enemies who
play with guns.

and
Realize that the best response when confronted by an armed assailant is passive
response. On the rare chance you are faced with a weapon, increasing the tension
or aggravating your assailant greatly increases your chances of dying.

Yeah, that's a great couple of tips. Don't know people with guns (because the assumption most will make is that anyone with guns is "playing" with them)...you probably already have friends with guns. And passive response? Yeah, you wouldn't want to aggravate him by surviving. If you are dealing with an armed assailant, he probably wants to kill you. You should want him to fail to kill you.

They do have several how to articles on pistol and rifle shooting, which is a plus, but they don't hit the Wikihow of the day, nor do they get linked to very much outside of the articles like them. They also always have warnings telling people to transport firearms unloaded, only handle them if you are experienced, and follow all applicable laws and rules. While the last one seems like good advice, I cannot offer it in good conscience. After all, the rules that disarm should be weighed against the small chance you'll need the gun. And that small chance will cost you a lot more than will the small chance your employer notices the concealed weapon.

I would've edited the school and workplace shooting article a little, but they had it locked. I guess they were afraid someone might encourage actual self-defense.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Situational Awareness

I helped out in an RA training exercise today. It was fun, and it really showed me what these RAs need a lot of help with.

I set up a room to look as though one roommate had strewn the other's stuff all around, generally trashing the poor guys half of the room. Then, two of us acted as the roommates when the RAs came in to respond to his call. It didn't help that they came in with expectations for the training, but that's not a good excuse.

The first pair of RAs to hit our scenario did fairly well. They separated us right away, seeing that this was the sort of situation that could easily become volatile. I was the roommate who had done the trashing of the room, and they went ahead and gently insisted that the roommate wasn't just messy or drinking, as I told them. Eventually, I admitted that I trashed it to get back at him for stealing my girlfriend. They said they would set up mediation and separate us for the night.
They did make a few mistakes, such as allowing for the possibility that we'd still be in the same room that night, but a few subtle hints, such as saying "I want that bastard out of here," let them know that they should figure something else out.

The next pair did very little right. They kept both of us in the same room, within easy lubging distance. We were standing, which is psychologically more aggressive and physically more conducive to an attack. I even kicked over a chair to give them the idea that they should separate us. They didn't get the hint. They did, however, suggest very quickly that we should not share the room that night.
They also were so situationally unaware as to not notice me in the room right away, which put the other actor within inches of me for long enough to let the situation explode. I don't think they attempted to make any determination about who was at fault until I admitted to it and said he deserved it.

The third pair was possibly the worst, though they did some things right. They did acknowledge my presence, and they made us sit down. However, they allowed me to control the situation by sitting in a position where I could choose when to face anyone, and could easily turn my back without moving my chair.
The worst thing, though, was that they repeated the fact that I was claiming the other guy was just messy as though it were true. In fact, they even told him that he should promise to be cleaner if I would promise to be more respectful. There were drawers tossed around, his linens were on his desk, his pillow was in a doorway, and there was a chair entangled with his bed, among other things. Messy and deliberately trashed are different. I set up the room to be certain there would be no doubt. I kept everything on one side of the room, leaving my side pristine, and made sure nothing was quite how it should be on his side. Even the most basic observational skills would have indicated that this was not some kid's mess.
They also wighted the psychological atmosphere of the room, with both of them nearer to him. Since they were putting up a front of being on his side in that respect, while taking my side in the repitition of statements, they alienated both sides. While the sitting was psychologically calming, and they were the only group to attempt to control our language, they really were inviting more hostility. Especially when the other guy jumped up as though he was going to hit me. He was within lunging distance, and they didn't even flinch when he jumped up. They also did not say they would arrange for separate accommodations until I demanded he get out of the room.

Overall, I'd have to say that I'm disappointed by all sorts of things. Only the first group seemed to have any real grasp of the situation, and the second group did nearly everything wrong (and was the most experienced group, to boot). They didn't seem to get the basics of limiting risks. Any situation with a threat of violence (and a trashed room definitely invites that possibility) should be dealt with by first separating the hostile parties.

I'm most upset, though, by the lack of situational awareness. They didn't really take in the details of the room or what I was saying. I specifically said things that would not mesh with the story he was giving. "When I came back after going home for the weekend..." "Hey, I couldn't have done it. I was in class." They couldn't seem to grasp the idea of putting barriers between the two aggressive individuals. And they couldn't tell the difference between messy and intentionally trashed.

Some hints:

When entering a potentially hostile environment, survey the terrain. Do not put a potential hostile in the best terrain if you can avoid it. This means that you should step between him and items easily used as weapons. You should also keep him out of your escape route.

While surveying the terrain, spot visual clues as to the nature of the situation. If you are entering a room in which there has been recent violence, even if it's not directed at any person, you should exercise particular caution.

If someone's story doesn't add up, you do NOT have to tell him you believe him. It is perfectly acceptable to say that you'll look into his claims, but that you aren't allowed to take sides. In the case of general encounters outside these situations, you can tell someone that you'll look into what they are saying, and consider it.

If you find two people arguing loudly and can't tell who is in the right, you should split them up or not get involved. You should try to get both stories, and try to objectively determine whose story seems to be the truth.

Do not, however, allow your focus to be so entirely upon one or both people that someone else could step in or that you miss the chance to survey the scene. You are putting yourself at risk.

Keep yourself at the ready. There is no reason to be so damned careful not to escalate a situation as to not be ready when it does escalate. I kept my hands up at chest level or face level while talking to these RAs, and they didn't even flinch or move their hands up an inch. While I don't expect them to know much about defensive tactics, it is fairly instinctual to prepare for self-defense, and they were denying that instinct.

Most of all, don't try to do anything by a set of rigid steps. Every situation is fluid, and you should be able to move through everything with some general knowledge and instinct.

I don't know if this will be useful at all to any of you readers out there, but I felt like writing it. Sorry if you trudged through it and found it useless.

Friday, August 17, 2007

National Exercise Your Rights Day

I'm a bit slow to get on top of these things, but August 28th is National Exercise Your Rights Day. Buy some ammo, targets, a holster, or a gun and show the Brady Bunch that you're looking out for your rights.

This was offered by both War on Guns and the Firearms Coalition came up with this counter to the Brady Bunch's plans for the day. Over at Blogonomicon, Alan makes a good point...don't just blog about it. Write the local paper. Talk to the folks at your neighborhood gun shop(s). Try to get the word out beyond the blogosphere. It may look like everyone is on board, but there are a lot of non-blog folks who'd gladly support this.

I don't have the cash to buy a gun, but I'll pick up some handgun ammo and maybe a new target stand. It'll be nice to have the sales numbers go up during the Brady Bunch protest.

Gun Guy

I'm officially the "gun guy" in the social circles one could consider me a part of. When people talk about guns, my name comes up. And when they talk about me, guns come up. Some bring up my guns with disgust, others with envy, but I am always linked to them. I'm not sure I like this, for several reasons.

Sometimes, people develop an impression of me long before they actually meet me. I met some folks about a week ago who immediately said that "I was just like they'd been told." They were referring to the gun on my hip, but I don't like it when they figure I'm exactly what they expected before I even say anything. They had not formed a negative opinion about it, but it annoyed me.

Some people also think that I'll provide their defense for them. After I explained that OC was legal, a neighbor said something about being safe with me around. This false sense of security is unfair to both of us. He feels safer, and I'm being told that his safety is provided by my gun. Of course, I think there are several people who already assume they can bunker down with me if any proverbial feces hits the proverbial oscillator. They figure I'll arm them and help protect them out of the goodness in my heart. If the fit hits the shan, I'll bunker with other folks who are useful, not those who are only a burden.

The ones that dislike me for my guns don't really bother me, unless they talk crap behind my back. If you're honest about not liking my guns, at least I know where we stand. It's much easier that way.

I still don't get how I acquired this reputation so thoroughly. I don't have a huge gun collection(sadly), though some assume I do. I watch movies, play video games, play nerd games (RP), and can hold my own in conversations about religion, politics, quantum physics, biology, philosophy, or a hell of a lot of other subjects. But no, they focus on my arguments against gungrabbers.

Ah, well, I guess there are worse things to be than the gun guy. At least it's better than when I was the techie. A lot fewer people come to me with gun problems than did with computer problems.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Troops begin using slingshots


This woman, according to the original caption, is holding up bullets that hit her house. The obvious conclusion is that our troops have misplaced their rifles, and have resorted to the use of thrown cartridges. Wait...maybe they've made slingshots. In any case, they are trying to make do without their rifles, I guess.
Oh, then you correct the caption to mention that they are unspent cartridges. Thanks, AFP. You also leave out the earlier claim that the bullets hit her house. And you moved the photo, probably in hopes of convincing certain folks it was gone. You don't mention where the cartridges may have come from, either...staged by the photographer, perhaps? He couldn't have been an innocent party to this, I would guess.
Suitably Flip has an as-yet unreleased photo that will be the big AFP photo sometime soon. They'll then slowly make the corrections, including "an unused grenade, like the one that..." and "(Puppy enlarged to show detail.)"
Seriously, though, can they be so stupid as to believe that no one would pick up on the obvious propoganda?

Tasers are scary to some

Some people are upset about the new taser design being marketed to civilians. As they always are when anything makes it easier for citizens to provide for their own defense.
But the new, lighter, brighter designer version, which was launched in late July
with a price tag of around $350, is small enough to tuck into a purse and
packs the same paralyzing punch.

It can be put into a purse? Imagine if there were other weapons that could fit into a purse...a company that made a gun that one could carry daily would make a fortune!!
Amnesty International also is opposed, saying it can pose "serious harm" for
women.

Yep, like an ability to defend themselves from would-be attackers without carrying a firearm. Wait...let me look at that again...they said "harm," didn't they? Must be a typo.
"If a police officer or a civilian is stunned with a Taser there are a whole
array of things that can happen and most of them are very bad," said Jim Pasco,
executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police in Washington, D.C.

Yeah, all sorts of things. Muggers might lose their source of income. Rapists might not ever be sexually fulfilled. Cops might not be the only ones with access to incapacitating gadgets. Yes, a taser could be misused. But so can anything. Let's change his statement: "If a police officer or civilian is run over by a car, there are a whole array of things that can happen and most of them are bad." Sorry, Jimbo, but your argument just doesn't seem to hold water.
Pasco, whose group represents 325,000 police officials nationwide, said the
immobilizing devices should be limited to well-trained law enforcement
professionals.

I could make a snarky comment about finding a well-trained cop, but I'll refrain. The idea that civilians can't handle the tools of cops is an oft-repeated one, and a way to attempt to give police complete control over a nation of submissive folks. Of course, with the way cops lose important equipment from time to time, it's bound to be in worse hands than those of law-abiding citizens.
"There's a tremendous amount of respect and accountability that goes along with
a police officer using a Taser," he said. "This Taser is no more regulated than
a hair drier."

Yeah, cops don't misuse tasers. Like the off-duty cop who was working security and tased a man who was holding a baby. He was definitely doing the right thing, wasn't he? As for the idea that the taser isn't regulated, they are being registered. You cannot use it until you register it, going through a background check. He didn't want to let a little thing like facts get in the way, though.

It looks like a decent tool for self-defense, though it has half the range of police models, and the price is a bit higher than I'd pay. Hell, with a little shopping around, you can get a pretty good handgun for that price. But the elitist "only ones" would much rather you just submit.

McCain's one man show

It's funny to watch the McCain folks trying to put positive spin on his failing campaign. When you are arguably the big dog in the beginning, then can't even keep the campaign bus fueled up, it's hard to say the campaign is "exactly where this whole campaign should have been all along."

I never could see exactly what made him a frontrunner from the get-go. Yeah, he's pro-war, which got him some support, but he just never made a palatable candidate in my opinion.

The Reuters article they link is really bending over backwards to make him sound like a viable candidate. They speak of him falling behind Giuliani and Romney as though he's in a near tie, even though they also say he's pretty much down to a one man campaign, without the money to keep his "Straight Talk Express" bus on the road. They also say that he's hoping for gains in the fall.

Fall is nearly upon us. McCain is relying on a report on Iraq progress to bolster his support. When that doesn't work, will he bow out graciously, or will he try to battle the powerhouses? Fred Thompson looks to be the candidate who'll run the show as soon as he makes it official.

McCain is done. He may not know it yet, but it's over. He can call straw polls meaningless, but it's hard to argue that a 10th place finish for a one-time frontrunner is nothing. And his fundraising shows that he really needed that straw poll to help him out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bulletproof Backpacks

I keep hearing hype about the bulletproof backpacks a couple of fathers created (though I had seen bulletproof backpacks and briefcases offered before these guys created theirs). The big selling point, as far as I have seen, is that they will stop "a variety of bullets, including 9mm hollowpoint bullets." This isn't that big a feat. A backpack full of books has a fairly good chance of stopping a 9mm hollowpoint.

I've also heard some people impressed because it stopped Uzi fire...which, oddly enough, is likely 9mm hollowpoints. If you want to hype it, you could say that it will stop most popular handgun calibers. Of course, that could be a lie, especially if we include FMJ bullets in the mix. I don't know what these packs are capable of, so I can't say for sure.

The question, though, is whether these $175 book bags are a sound investment. You say you'll pay anything to keep your kid alive, but the threat of a shooting is a small one. And, if there is a shooting, the backpack is only good if the kid can get it between the gun and his/her body before getting shot...and keep it that way until the police are able to neutralize the threat.

A more useful investment might be to train and arm teachers. If an armed teacher takes out the shooter, more lives can be saved than cowering behind a few bulletproof backpacks would save. On the radio today, the DJ actually said "so the kid would grab the backpack...and just kind of cower behind it, but it might save his life." The choice of words was probably unintentional, but it tells a lot about the current status of society. We train kids to cower and hope for the best.

When I was in school, there would've been a few trying to hide and avoid getting shot...but I really believe we would've had several charging the shooter (probably with pocketknives, pencils, and anything else we could grab). But it was small town. Hell, somebody probably would've gone to the parking lot and grabbed a rifle if it happened in hunting season, because there were rifles in students' cars then. Yeah, it was illegal, but no one cared at the time.

I'm not saying that we should tell kids to charge gunmen without regard for their own safety...but we should instill in them a value of survival that doesn't rely on the shooter not having enough time to shoot them. Maybe they would also take that sort of attitude into the rest of their lives, and fight for anything worth fighting for.

As for the backpacks, I just can't see spending $175 on a bag, even if it has kevlar inserts.

Recycling and such

I was party to an interesting conversation the other day. The subject was recycling laws. One of the two people really involved in the conversation thought mandatory recycling would be fantastic. She was annoyed that we didn't have it. She did not, however, like the idea of it being part of the garbage bill. She wanted it to be a tax, so that she "wouldn't notice it as much." This same person has a problem with a fee for wastewater treatment being in her water bill.

Okay, mandatory recycling means pawing through my trash, trying to separate everything, since there's no thought given to only recycling those things that actually yield productive results. It also means paying extra for that privelege. I have no problem with the idea of reducing, reusing, and recycling, but I shouldn't need to separate things into separate trashcans that don't even recycle well. And I certainly shouldn't pay for that privelege. Hell, good recycling should pretty much break even by selling the products of said recycling. I remember collecting cans as a kid and getting paid for them (not much, but I was just a kid). Why can't they recycle things that will break even?

As for the payment options of a fee vs. a tax...well, we all know I love to see where my money is going. I hate hiding the bills. If I'm oaying for recycling, I want to know how much it costs. If they hide it in sales taxes, I'm still paying. I don't like to have to track down which portions of which taxes go to which programs.

As for the wastewater treatment, it makes sense to bill for that. It's a service that is being provided, and it costs money.

I just can't understand where some people get their opinions.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gun-free victim zones

Farmgirl recently posted an interesting and thorough discussion on the topic of gun-free zones at colleges.
She did leave out the fact that there was one man at VT who had the courage to charge the shooter. Liviu Librescu, a holocaust survivor and professor, charged the shooter, putting himself between the threat and his students. But she's right to point out that ours is a culture of submission, which is horrible. I've written about it many times already, so I'll spare my regular readers my own rantings on the subject. Just go read her take.

Monday, August 13, 2007

TV gets one right

Not too long ago, I posted about how poorly television does at getting gun facts right. Tonight, I saw a little bit done right. On The Dead Zone, the sheriff kept her finger on the side of her gun, rather than in the trigger guard. Sure, her deputies didn't follow suit...and there was a cocking sound on the draw...but there was something good. And that's a start. Kind of makes me wonder if the actress might actually know her way around a gun, since she seemed to be alone in her good habits.

RECORD TEMPS!!!...in the 1930s.

Good thing I read blogs. If I relied entirely upon the MSM, I would've missed NASA's quiet correction of temperature data.

Turns out that 5 of the 10 hottest years on record were pre-WWII. And the 1930s were the hottest decade on record. While the corrections were only 1-2%, it's a pretty big deal when they change the fundamental conclusions.

We are not facing the highest temperatures on record. We should take that into consideration when spreading panic about global warming. The one assumption the hysteria hinges upon is the idea that we're facing the highest temperatures on record. If we have had higher, and nature quietly did her work without human attempts to "fix" the "problem," we need to reexamine the push for carbon offsets and whatnot.

Don't get me wrong--I am not asking people to pollute all over the place. I've been to LA. I don't care for the smog. Just don't worry too much about the polar ice cap or whatnot.

Hat tip to the Liberty Sphere for pointing me to this.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rights

People do not seem to understand the idea of rights.

You have no right to anything of mine. I don't care if I make more money, or don't seem to have earned something, you cannot take it from me. This includes things the government is handing out. You don't have a right to welfare or any other sort of forced wealth redistribution. If you are on welfare, get a damned job. If you've been kicked off of it, don't cry about the government taking your "rights."

You DO, however have a right to refuse a warrantless search or bring in your lawyer. No matter how many times you see it on TV, you are not admitting guilt by refusing a search or lawyering up. You are doing the smart thing by not giving up your rights.

You don't have the right to be comfortable. If I make you uncomfortable by wearing a gun or saying something you disagree with, leave (or spout your opinion back at me). Your discomfort does not eliminate my rights. Likewise, if you are making out in public or whatnot, it isn't trampling on my rights, even if I don't want to see it.

You do have the right to voice your opinion. Just remember that everyone else can give theirs, as well, and they may not agree with you. They are not infringing upon your rights simply by exercising theirs.

You do have property rights, as well. You may lay down rules regarding my behavior on your property. Remember, though, that I can lay down the rules for my property. If my rules aren't suitable for you, you may leave. Also, just because I enforce rules on college property does not mean I can change them. And, no, it is not public property just because you want it to be. The campus can set rules, and we can tell you to follow them.

You do have the right to bear arms. This, however, is not a right to hunt. If you talk about the right to bear arms, please don't tell me that you're all for hunters being able to have rifles and shotguns.

Finally, remember that rights are non-negotiable and should not be regulated. We should not have restrictions on speech, guns, religion, or any other rights. We should not give up one right in a vain attempt to protect another or for any other reason. And you definitely don't have the right to ask anyone to give up any of their rights.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A few notes

Okay, I'm tired of people just not getting it.

Semiautomatic, while a scary word to some, merely means that it fires one time per trigger pull. It is not illegal. In fact, semiautomatics are extremely common. That gun on the police officer's hip? It's semi-auto. The one on my hip? Also semi-auto. Most weapons carried for personal defense are semi-auto.

Unregistered guns sound scary. But we aren't required to register guns in this country.

One is not licensed to own a gun in most states. One may or may not be licensed to carry a concealed weapon, but this does not apply inside one's own home.

High-capacity magazines are not illegal, nor are they a feature of a particular firearm. Many, many firearms can accept high-cap mags of some sort. "Capable of accepting a high-capacity magazine" is hardly relevant.

High-powered rifles are not actually ever defined by anyone, it seems. Most rifles are high-powered, according to most definitions. My .30-06 and a Barrett .50 are both considered "high-powered," though there is a vast difference between the two.

Assault weapons are anything scary-looking. And a lot of things that aren't. There was a time that assault weapons were select-fire, but that is long past, I guess. With a different stock, my hunting rifle goes from Granddad's deer rifle to evil assault weapon, just based on appearance.

I know that these things have been explained many times, but the media, the public, and journalists are all in the dark, it seems.

I mostly wrote this because I've been watching a show called Burn Notice. It's about an out-of-work spy. It's funny, and I enjoy it, but they really try to pretend to know weapons.
"These are some serious guys; he has a Desert Eagle 9mm with combat grips." (I think I may have seen a Baby Eagle a little later, but it's still an odd statement)
"You have any guns in the trunk?" "A few semiautomatics." "What? You're driving a stolen car with unregistered guns in the trunk?" "I got a deal: some Browning 9mms for $200 a piece."
"For homemade explosives, the main ingredient is styrofoam." (This one was supposed to be a firebomb, which would have made this technically alright, since there are recipes that call for a lot of styrofoam...but the explosion was really Hollywood for anything like the concoction they created.)

There are a lot of other quotes that make the gun-runner of the show hard to believe, but it's just always annoying that they do so little research. I know it's a comedy, so they don't take it seriously, but it gets on my nerves a bit.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Hard to believe

The Pistolero points out some of the idiocy in this article. Blogonomicon lays out some reasoning to believe the article is not based on fact. I agree.
A weekend in Las Vegas! The lights, the casinos, the shows, the glitz, the noise, the - guns?
Yes, Vegas has some good ranges to rent interesting guns.
"This here's the easiest to start with. It's got less kick so it's easier to control."
Well, right here's a good reason to start getting suspicious. While it's entirely possible this is a direct quote, "this here" is intended to make us feel like the gun guy is a hick, I think. Any time you see an unnecessary quotation with improper grammar, you have to wonder whether it is actually a quote.
Into my hand he plops a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver. It's only the second time in my life I've actually touched a gun (the first being during a Boy Scout trip). My hand droops under the surprising weight of the pistol. He chuckles. What am I doing here?
A chunk of metal that size is going to weigh that much. If it surprises you, you really need to figure things out.
It's Saturday afternoon, and having lost too much money all too quickly at the poker tables, my buddy and I are seeking refuge from the dry Nevada heat at a gun club a few miles off the Strip. We can't remember whose idea it was, but neither of us thought we'd actually go through with it.
Why wouldn't you? It's a much less wasteful way to spend your time and money. And, frankly, it's a hell of a lot more fun than gambling. But, since I'm guessing you started to walk in and got scared, it would be quite a feat to actually get you into a range. Your buddy, of course, disappears for the rest of your little story. Funny you don't mention him ever again.
"That's a great little gun there," the other salesguy chimes in. "I'm giving one to my niece for her 21st birthday. She's a fine shot." I'm not sure whether he's boasting or poking fun at me - probably both. Apparently, I'm holding a girl's gun.
A girl's gun is nothing to worry about, especially if you're new to the sport (since a "girl's gun" generally means it's more controllable). And, frankly, any gun can be a girl's gun. Don't you think you're being a bit sexist here?
"Guns are great to have around," he continues. "Just like seat belts and fire extinguishers - you don't know when you're going to need one, but when there's an intruder in my house I'll be glad to have it." I look around and watch a dozen or so gun-toting, plaid-wearing bearded guys nod in agreement.
The person quoted is right, and I highly doubt that there were a dozen people in there wearing plaid and a beard. This is another one of those details that really makes you wonder about the story. Plaid is not a comfortable choice in Nevada heat, and I think I've seen more cleanshaven folks shooting than bearded guys. This is yet another way to make gun owners seem like hicks.
I decide now's not the time to mention that children can't accidentally kill themselves by playing with seat belts and a fire can't steal your fire extinguisher and use it against you.
Children can strangle themselves with seat belts or take them off when they shouldn't. And they certainly don't automatically play with guns, especially if you teach them to respect firearms. Fires can cut you off from your fire extinguisher, and few criminals disarm gun owners. Practice a little retention and you should never have a problem like that.
Having completed my eight-second firearm tutorial, I don my safety goggles and large red earmuffs and head for the shooting range.
Eight seconds, huh? Well, the rules of the range are pretty simple, but even they take at least ten seconds to explain to a newbie. If you have no idea how to load or aim your firearm, I can't imagine they would decide not to explain how to operate it. Sounds like another one of those details meant to make it sound like gun owners have a blatant disregard for your safety, though the mention of eye and ear protection indicates their view of safety.
Carefully cradling my pistol and a box of 50 .38 Specials to my chest, I ease my way down to lane number six. Every few seconds I violently twitch as another gun is fired; even with ear protection the noise is deafening. I'll be glad to get out of here without soiling my undergarments.
Either the large red earmuffs aren't working or this is a fiction. I have fired a lot of different rounds, and none of them are deafening with proper hearing protection. Also, the every few seconds part of this is hard to believe. If there were at least a dozen guys around when the guy you rented a gun from was speaking, I would guess there would be at least a few people in the range. You should hear AT LEAST one shot per second, I would think, if there are a few people there. I won't even comment on the violent twitching or soiled undergarments. Somebody has an irrational fear of inanimate objects, I think, and should go see a shrink.
I take my target - a large off-white sheet featuring a potential intruder's head and torso - and clip it to the metal pole above me. A flick of a switch sends it flying backward into space. I load my pistol and take aim, briefly wondering how much it hurts to accidentally shoot oneself in the foot.
Yeah, that's a fairly standard sort of target. As for shooting yourself in the foot, there's an easy way to avoid that: don't shoot yourself in the foot. The gun won't do it without you.
I squeeze off shot after shot, jumping at the sound of each one.
Again, you find yourself shaking in fear. You do a lot better if each shot doesn't scare you. And there's no reason .38 special should be that terrifying.
Some people feel powerful with a pistol in their hand; I feel terror.
Ah, you hope to influence people by claiming the gun is a power trip. As I've said before, a gun is an admission of weakness. It means you realize you need a tool with which to defend yourself. It means you aren't invincible.
I reload rapidly, hoping I run out of rounds before I run out of luck and end up with nine fingers.
Luck should have nothing to do with it. Most people can figure out where the bullet exits the gun. If your fingers remain where they belong, they don't get shot off.
It's not until I leave that I relax enough to take a look at my target.
Well, you would do a lot better if you would see where you've hit. That's the only way to adjust your technique and remedy any problems.
Though I aimed at my intruder's heart on every shot, most sailed wide, past his right shoulder.
If you did actually go shooting, this sounds like the only true part of the story. If you're jumping at each shot, they won't go where you want them to.
When I find an intruder in my house, I'll just throw a fire extinguisher at him.
And he'll beat you with it. If you're going to use a fire extinguisher for self defense, throwing it isn't the best method. I would recommend using tools properly, though.

This story just doesn't seem believable. It's disgusting to read the crap the antis try to feed everyone.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Scott Thomas recants

Looks like Scott Thomas may have been making it up, as others had guessed. I wonder how much longer the New Republic will keep this up. If it's down, don't worry. It's just the letter that they printed from Scott Thomas Beauchamp, affixing his name and credibility to the lies.

I'm glad that the MSM picked up on this story, at least a little. I had kind of figured it would be completely drowned out. Mind you, it's not a very high-profile story, and it is Fox News, but it's on the MSM radar, at least a little, even if they got it straight from the Weekly Standard.

I don't have much to say about it. He's a slimeball and a traitor, and I'm sure he's of little to no use to the guys he's serving with. I hope he doesn't end up getting some of them killed.

Common Courtesy

Where I work, there is a whiteboard on which there is often a question of the [unspecified time period]. The latest question involves basically asks people to write their own "The Way I See it..." responses, like those on Starbucks cups. There were, of course, some of the standbies: "Don't take life too seriously," for example. One caught my eye: "We need rules to live together in this world." Someone had already written: "Or to bully others." I nearly responded, but let it stand with that brief argument.

Today, I noticed a new response beneath it. It said something about "no one talking about bullying" and that people had forgotten courtesy (I think that's what it said...the spelling and handwriting made it hard to tell), and needed to be told to use it.

That is the sort of thing you only run into in academia. Other fields would never dream of demanding we legislate courtesy. Academia, though, seeks to better mankind through an unending wealth of commands, be they social, economic, or otherwise.

Courtesy, by its nature, should be unforced. It indicates respect. If everyone is told how to interact with everyone else, it loses that. I think it may be precisely because of all the laws already regulating us that many have become too tired to be courteous. And it has made others less likely to be courteous because they've already been told how to act so thoroughly, they think they've already been compelled into courtesy. They would never think of anything beyond what they're already obliged to do.

If courtesy is legislated, it destroys the purpose of interactions in which one might be courteous. Anything that dictates how one must treat another, beyond those laws keeping one person from violating the rights of another, diminishes the human social capacity. It is socialism of the interpersonal. If I curse at you, fail to hold open a door for you, or simply ignore you, I have not violated your rights. If you do the same to me, you have not violated mine. Whichever of us is on the receiving end can see the opinion of the other. Freedom to interact socially is freedom of speech, even if it involves lack of speech. We should never censor someone for choosing not to respect someone they feel is undeserving of respect.

Crotchety

I need a change of scenery. Mind you, I'm not particularly bored with my current scenery...I just feel like I'm becoming a crotchety old man.

I work at the same college I graduated from. I find myself constantly thinking about things in terms of how they were when I was here. I walk past the web office and mutter about the number of monitors they think they need. In my day, I used one monitor, and it wasn't a big one. I look at all the additions they make to the campus and think that I never felt we needed more stuff. I try to talk to the students, then find myself grumbling about their generation.

I'm not old enough to be a crotchety old man. Not anywhere near old enough. When the freshmen and sophomores have no idea what Heaven's Gate was, know nothing about Waco, listen to rap, use all sorts of slang I don't know, and have never played an Atari (hell, some of them started at SNES or later), I feel old, even though I know they aren't that much younger than me. And, hey, they don't know about Schrodinger's Cat, the light-slit experiment, utilitarian ethics, or so many other things, I may be assuming far more things are common knowledge than I thought.

In any case, I really need a different job. One where I won't have a history telling me things are going downhill, and where I won't be around the young too much. It may be naive to think I can escape my crotchety nature, but I have to try.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The value of labor

In my last post, I made a claim I should probably support a bit more thoroughly. Socialists often complain that capitalism devalues labor, when they are the ones truly capable of this feat. Some are bound to wonder how I can claim this, though others will simply know it as a given.

First, some premises on which to base this discussion:
The value of labor is not a fixed price. How could it be? Two men doing the same work, in the same place, at the same time, generally do not produce the same output. Once you factor in the market for their particular labor, the costs of materials in their area, and so many other variables, there is no comparison that can be applied across industries, cities, or any other category.
Labor is not merely found in the lowest levels of employment, as some would have you believe. Owners, managers, foremen, equipment operators, and janitors all work, and, in this discussion, will all be seen as providing some measure of labor.
Skilled labor requires an investment on the laborer's part. This investment involves time, money, and effort. Unskilled labor requires only a will to work.

As we all should know, capitalism holds that a man with some capital can start a business, employing labor as he sees fit, selling his product or service as he sees fit, and dealing with other businessmen to get the things he needs. Socialism holds that the people collectively own all business, and it must be run as the government wills, so that necessary products are made and everyone able is employed.

When everyone is employed by force, there is no difference between skilled and unskilled labor, management and those managed. Everyone is told where they shall work and what shall be required of them. Even in a utopian system, this leaves the individual at the will of the government, working where the government says he best fits. In an imperfect system, favors, mistakes, and willful negligence put many people in positions for which they are ill-suited, to say nothing of wages.

When everyone is employed by the needs of businessmen, there are still some problems, of course. Favors are still owed, though businessmen don't like to put anyone in a position to jeopardize their profits. Mistakes are still made, but these are remedied when they are found, since they affect the bottom line. In a utopian capitalism, everyone is employed by virtue of their abilities, free to change jobs when offered something better; free to fire someone who is hurting profit margins.

In capitalism, skilled labor is paid more, reflecting the investment made. In socialism, people are given whatever the government thinks they need. In capitalism, a man takes a risk on a new idea by investing his money in it or asking for loans. In socialism, he takes that idea to the government, and they choose whether to give it any thought.

But the worst way that socialism devalues labor is beyond that. In a socialist society, I am provided for. In a capitalist society, I earn my wage. Socialism devalues labor by not demanding it. Capitalism values labor by rewarding the productive.

Capitalism, it is said, makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. The first part is certainly true in many cases. A rich man can afford to invest in ventures that will increase his wealth. Those ventures, though, provide jobs for all classes. Class warfare is an insidious social disease. The rich do not wish to keep the poor poor. They wish to keep everyone wealthy enough to pay for the goods they produce. They don't do this, though, out of a social conscience, but out of a desire to increase their own profits. A rich man cannot afford to make the world too poor to purchase his goods.

I've also heard it said that some would lower wages and prices, thus forcing their employees to shop at their stores. Well, the competition, noticing this, would then be forced to reduce their wages and prices in order to regain lost customers. Suddenly, everything costs less. The situation hasn't changed--the numbers have. If I could afford that TV before, I can still afford it now. I don't need to look for a smaller one, nor do I have the money for a larger one. Nothing has changed except the numbers I'm dealing with.

Finally, many will point out the wealth disparity between the extremely rich and the rest of us. How many computers do you think run Windows? It's a product we eagerly consume. Bill Gates, then, provides everyone with all sorts of services (try to show me someone who isn't somehow relying upon a Windows-based computer). Do you provide nearly as many people anything that is nearly as valuable as that? I provide my services to a certain group of people. I am paid for that. If I decide that it is not a fair wage, I can quit. If I want to sell you an apple for $2, and you only want to pay $1, we may find ourselves adjusting the prices we would be willing to accept on that apple, or we may find others who will do business on our terms. If you don't want Bill Gates to make all the money, come up with a product everyone needs. Heck, you could even try to beat him at the OS game.

Where I came from, people expected no charity. If they needed money, they found someone who would hire them to do something. When I was in high school, a man who owned quite a few properties hurt his back and could not maintain the lawns on those properties all summer (that was one of the services he provided his renters). I did the mowing, and was paid a little more than I thought it was worth (I don't remember now how much I was paid). It was worth that much to him, just to know that it would all get done when he wanted it done, and I was more than happy, having earned enough money to keep my car going and put a stereo in it. He could've paid more. I would've accepted less. We came to a mutually beneficial agreement. Had either of us not liked the terms, we could have negotiated or walked away. That is the way to find the value of labor.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Individualist instinct

Humans instinctively know that individualism is the only way to exist. Those who wish to promote socialism or any other loss of individual determinism are either lying or, worse, trying to prove that humans are beyond instincts.

Look at the world of literature. Anyone who reads is bound to notice that all protagonists have to make decisions, often running directly counter to what the popular choice is in their world. A novel in which the State is right makes for lousy reading. Writers and readers have an instinct connecting them to decisive actors who do what is right, even if they are going against law, popular opinion, or unbeatable odds.

The folks who argue that we must all follow orders for the common good know this, of course, and try to convince everyone that their government will never be the ugly creation found in novels. Of course, any redistributive government is an ugly thing. It takes the products of one man's toil and gives them to others who have not toiled. It removes value from the one thing they claim it gives value to: labor. Labor, whether purely physical or largely intellectual, has inherent value. After all, nothing is produced without work of some sort. When you claim, though, that government should determine how the fruits of labor shall be divided, you have devalued it. No longer is man compensated for his efforts. He is told to let the government take care of him, and he shall, in turn, take care of the government through his labor. It is robbery of the vilest sort: robbery through consent. This consent need not be voluntary, but must be maintained as a careful illusion.

Some will say that certain people don't need the wealth they have produced. That may very well be true. It doesn't make that wealth unearned. It does not remove the work that produced it. These people denounce greed, claiming it is a human construct of evil. All creatures have a sense of greed. They mark territory, lay claim to anything they can take, and take control by force. It is only the human who has harnessed greed for the common good. If I make a computer chip and you need it, you pay me an amount we agree upon, and we both walk away happy. I do not sell it without making a profit, and you offer no more than it is worth to you. Likewise, if you need something done, and I am willing to do it at a given salary, we both benefit. The government simply takes, with no thought of value.

We have allowed these people to take our wealth for so long that we hardly notice. We write it off as a necessity, and we try to pretend the recipients need it. But we all feel a little bit of anger at tax time. We know it's wrong, but we keep sending part of our earnings to those who merely receive.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Another coworker

I made the mistake of ending up in a semi-political conversation with a coworker again. This one insisted on talking guns. She didn't seem to understand the concepts of guns being produced in both automatic and semiautomatic versions, but that was the least of it.

First, she brought up "Bowling for Columbine" and the banks shown in it giving away free rifles for opening certain accounts. I tried to explain that they run background checks and that the whole deal is not the way a criminal gets a gun. She didn't respond to my points, but instead went on to talk about Virginia Tech.

She said that we need to design schools with inward-opening doors to each classroom so that people can barricade themselves in, hopefully safe from the shooter. I pointed out that those in the first room fired upon would still be victims, and that a would-be victim with a weapon could end the situation much more efficently than any barricades.

She did say that she plans to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon as soon as she can afford both the permit and the handgun, but did not feel that allowing people to be armed would be the solution. I really have trouble understanding those who think that a gun won't help anyone except themselves. But there was to be no convincing this woman. She is okay with disarmament, okay with smoking bans, and yet feels that she is most closely aligned with libertarianism...

I really need to work with different people, I think.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Capacity

I've been in debates about how much handgun people need. Caliber debates are always irreconcilable battles, but almost everyone agrees that it is ultimately the choice of the carrier. The worst debates are revolver vs. autoloader and the natural extension of that debate: optimum capacity.

The debate always goes something like this...

New Shooter: I'm looking for a good carry weapon. I was thinking about a revolver because I'm on a budget [or other reason].
Auto Man: You really need to think about capacity. You don't want to run out of ammo in the middle of a gunfight.
Other Person: You know, capacity is never the most important person. A five shot revolver should be enough for any situation you might find yourself in. If you've fired five times without finding cover, escaping, or eliminating the threat, something has gone horribly wrong.
NS: Well, y'know, I could miss five times if he's moving too much...
AM: If I only account for the expected, I wouldn't even carry. I have to consider the situations that almost never happen.
OP: But you should never be in a situation in which you have fired more than five rounds and aren't in a safer position. You shouldn't plan to take out Hans Gruber...you should plan to defend yourself and your family.
AM: If I'm against multiple opponents and they keep moving, I may have to keep firing just to keep them down. And I don't want to have to reload.
OP: Well, I'm not going to make you carry a revolver, but I don't think your scenario is what you should plan for.
NS: I went and bought a [Glock, Sigma, Taurus, or other autoloader].
OP: *sigh*

The thought of a lot of these tactical guys is that you should plan for a ridiculous situation. They think that anyone carrying a revolver (or even a single stack autoloader) is outgunned, outclassed, and making a huge mistake.

If you have to fire at all, you should hit your target. If you have fired five shots, you've had some return fire. Return fire, as we should all know, is very hazardous to your health. You should plan to avoid it. Learn to keep moving toward cover. Learn to hit your target. Don't learn to carry something that puts a lot of lead in the air. You are not only making yourself a target, you endanger those who might be found by those missed bullets you've sent near your target.

When it comes to revolver vs. autoloader, there are a lot of good points to be made in the debate. Either choice, though, is a good one, and you should not feel outgunned because you carry a revolver.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Conservatism

I always find myself a bit annoyed by people who make assumptions about me when they discover that I'm *gasp* a conservative of some sort. They assume that all gun-toting conservatives are out to destroy the environment, throw dissenters into Gitmo, put women into the kitchen, make sure whites are more successful, make everyone Christian, and just be jerks.


I value the Constitution. Not just the second and fourth amendments. If you want to tell everyone what you believe, don't tell me I'm stopping you by telling everyone what I believe. If you happen to have a recording contract, don't call it censorship if I refuse to buy your CD. If you want to preach Mormonism at me, don't be alarmed if I start pointing out what I know about it.


Am I worried about global warming? No. I don't buy into the BS that doesn't account for the additional amount of CO2 the ocean could easily offset should it raise even an inch; doesn't factor in the possibility that the sun's activity might be a large factor; and ignores the medieval warm period. Does that mean I want to pave the world? Of course not. I care about keeping the environment clean, but I don't buy the apocolyptic hype some folks spew. And I sure as hell don't think the government is going to be able to solve anything.

The whole idea that conservatives are racists or chauvinists is beyond me. Racism is setting up a system that gives extra benefits to certain chosen races (see also: affirmative action and quota systems). And chauvinism is a bizarre charge to level. Like the racism accusations, there's really no grounds to say that conservatives are anti-women. In fact, we're the ones who want women and minorities armed. That should show how we feel about letting people defend their own rights and lives.

Now, you may hear that we conservatives eat puppies and kittens. This may be accurate, given the health records of one of the restaurants I've dined at previously. But I assure you, I did not set out to eat them until I realized they were delicious.

If you want to know how I feel about gay marriage, that's easy. I don't want the government issuing any marriage licenses. Marriage should be an institution of the church. Civil unions can be the business of the state, and involved with most marriages.

Marijuana? Well, I'm not one to tell people what to put into their own bodies. Of course, legalizing all drugs isn't the goal of marijuana advocates, but they can learn to live with it.

Abortion is a trickier one. I don't like to tell people what to do with their bodies, but I also don't like them ending a life. How hard is it to use protection? Since we currently consider the murder of a pregnant woman a double homicide, I have to think we legally consider a fetus alive. We don't condone murder. If you'd like to figure something out, you can try.

There are so many other issues that people think might define me. Let me make it simple: I worry most about my right to bear arms. Second is any other kind of government intrusion (high taxes, warrantless searches, etc.). I want small government that pretty much stays out of my life. I know several of my readers feel the same, but I also know that there are many people out there that want the government to throw money at fix all sorts of problems. It doesn't work, and it's not worth giving up freedom for.

I know there are other breeds of conservative out there. But we aren't the evil monsters some make us out to be. We don't want to censor you, even if your diatribe is counterproductive. We don't want to get rid of your religion, but we sure as hell don't want your religion getting rid of ours. I could go on, but I had a long night at work.