Wednesday, July 30, 2008

.50 BMG

We get a lot of questions about the two .50 BMG rifles we carry. I know that few, if any, of my customers will read this, but I'm putting it out here: the answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the .50s.

Q: What are those?
A: One is an Armalite AR-50 single-shot .50 BMG rifle. The other is a Bushmaster 10-round bolt-action .50.

Q: Are those for sale?
A: Do you really think we'd be putting them out here if they weren't?

Q: Are they legal?
A: Well, we're willing to sell them. You tell me.

Q: But you have to go through a special background check, right?
A: No, it's the same as any other rifle.

Q: But why would anyone need one?!?!
A: Well, the most common use is shooting farther than all your buddies, though it could be useful in defending our liberties if it ever came to that. Besides that, you could also be the only one among your friends with a .50 BMG.

Q: Well, what kind of special permit would I need for one of them?
A: Oh, you're interested? All you need to do is fill out this 4473 and pay about $2850-4500, plus whatever you'll end up spending on optics.

Q: No, I'm not interested. Why isn't there any more background check than that?!?
A: Well, it's bad enough that there's a background check at all.

Q: GASP
A: Really, you should try breathing and/or being logical.

Q: But there's more of a background check on handguns.
A: First of all, that's because small, concealable handguns are more likely to be used in crime than shotguns or rifles. Secondly, there really isn't much more checking. That form I send to the state gets called in to the same folks, just by different people. They only check to see if there's anything local that hasn't hit the feds' database (if they even bother). Also, since I've assigned you the role of Q, you should really phrase things in the form of a question.

Q: But it's a sniper rifle!
A: What did I just tell you about phrasing things as questions? Also, yeah, you could call it a sniper rifle, but do you really think no one's going to notice the guy with the .50 going to the roof or up the hill? There are far more compact, lightweight, discreet guns out there that'll do the same job. And they'll do it cheaper. I'm not advocating getting rid of things like my .30-06, but a hunting rifle will be much more practical than a .50 in most situations.

Q: What about the DC sniper?
A: He didn't use a .50, nor could he have. It was a cramped situation.

Q: But they say the .50 can shoot down a plane at 2 miles.
A: Again, questions. Also, this is a myth. Airplanes are moving very quickly through very different air currents than you find near the ground. A 2 mile shot on a stationary target is extremely difficult for an experienced shooter with a very experienced spotter. Sure, a plane is a large target, but you wouldn't hit it. Even if it were somehow manageable, where do you hit a plane to disable it?

Q: Well, I don't see why you'd sell them. Who needs something like that?
A: Do you NEED most things you own? I don't need a computer, old mil-surp rifles, a television, my Wii, or any number of other things I own. At least the .50 could be useful if it ever came to resisting tyranny.



Oddly enough, people don't tend to ask why the bolt handle is on the left side on the Bushmaster. That's so you can keep your trigger hand on the pistol grip and keep the gun steady. It's definitely a bipod gun.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Safety and Money

When I drive, I'm so glad the government keeps me safe. Here in Washington, they're smart enough to know that I can't be trusted to go 70 on most of the freeway. I know they don't just want to write tickets--they only care about my safety.

If I'm not wearing my seatbelt, I get fined over $100 dollars because it's dangerous. The state, of course, doesn't want to make any money off it, just like they only want to prevent alcohol abuse by taxing it heavily and opening several liquor stores 7 days a week.

If I talk on a cell phone while driving, I need to use a hands-free device, since it's far more dangerous to hold the phone than to be distracted by that stinking bluetooth thing hanging from my ear and not working properly. Also, I tend to drive one-handed whether I'm hanging onto a cell phone or not, but I'm sure it's actually more dangerous to have the phone in my hand.

If I run a red light, there's a chance it'll have a camera. If I pay the fine, it'll prove that I learned my lesson, so they'll have punished me enough. It won't go on my driving record, no matter how many tmes I learn my lesson. Sounds like they really care!

Y'know, I really need to care about people more. Turns out, there's a lot of money to be had making sure people stay safe.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

DC gun rights?

With DC allowing revolvers in the homes of the subjects citizens, it's still hard to defend yourself there. You can't buy a handgun, and the only ones currently legal are revolvers that have been registered with the police. There is no legal way to carry a gun, and it's still supposed to be unloaded in your own home.

If a DC resident wishes to take advantage of the ability to legally protect himself or herself, s/he has to wait until someone is willing to sell handguns or serve as the dealer for the transfer of them. S/he also must apply for a license and register the gun. The gun can't be a semi-automatic, so s/he has to pick out a revolver and a speedloader (after all, if you're going to have to keep it unladed, you'd better figure out how to load it quickly). And after only several weeks of attempting the feat, the DC resident may now be the proud owner of a legal handgun, assuming all goes well.

See, it must be easy and fast--it only took a paragraph!

Free men do not have to beg the government to allow them to exercise their rights. In Alaska, you can carry a gun concealed or unconcealed with no license or registration. They do offer a concealed weapons permit so as to help Alaskans carry in other states, but it is not required in Alaska. In Vermont, there is no permit, which can be an annoyance for Vermont residents who travel. Unfortunately, many gun owners like to use the hoops they jump through for their permit as a badge of honor--"Oh, well I had to take a three-day course including several firing exercises. Only three of us managed to pass all portions. We really have to know what we're doing to carry in [home state]."

Every gun owner should take it upon themselves to learn their weapons, but it should not be government-mandated. As a free man, I have the right to carry tools for my own defense. If I misuse these tools, I likely won't be a free man much longer. Murder, assault, and the like are already illegal. We don't require a license for a typewriter, pen, or computer because of the risk of libel, nor should we. Heck, look at the trash that's written online--we certainly don't require a literacy test before we can write things for the world to read. Rights are rights. It's clear-cut, whether we're looking at the First Amendment or the Second. I sincerely hope that DC will somehow remember that and stop the nonsensical registration and ridiculous restrictions.

Above and Beyond

Not all that long ago, there were a couple changes in policy at work. First, IDs absolutely have to match the address you write on the form. Second, we stopped selling handguns without a proceed from the state and delayed long guns without either a proceed or such a long wait as to make it ridiculous to expect one.

The first requirement might make sense if it weren't for the ability to change the address attached to your license via phone or computer. The state says it's official if you write the new address on the back, but we send these people to go get new driver's licenses (and they'll have to pay the corresponding fee--I'll bet the state loves it). What's great about this policy is that anyone aware of it will think nothing of lying about their address, I'm sure. If the goal of the feds is to have a proper address for these gun buyers, this policy doesn't align very well.

As for the requirement that we get a definitive proceed...well, the state imposes a five-business-day waiting period on those who don't have CPLs. If we have faxed the paperwork to the correct agency and they haven't responded in that time frame, we can legally hand over the gun. As a CYA move, we won't sell the gun until we have a definite response. I don't know if others have had better luck with police agencies than I have, but they sometimes don't like to get around to things. And they sometimes lose things.

My coworkers don't seem to understand why I'm upset that these customers are being forced to wait. They'll throw things out like the fact that they don't want to go to jail. That's all well and good, but how far do we have to crawl, trembling in fear of repercussions, no less, before we stop and rise?

I'd love to sell guns without paperwork at all, just as it should be, but companies keep helping the government get farther from that. If we get customers used to it, they won't even notice when the law changes to what we've been doing. On the other hand, if dealers follow the exact minimums, they won't get shut down and customers won't become accustomed to anything more severe.

Maybe I see a slippery slope that doesn't exist, but every extra step or restriction also makes it harder for citizens to arm themselves, so each restriction is wrong in and of itself, too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why Mike Vanderboegh is right

I should've commented on this yesterday, but it slipped my mind until I had cause to reread it. Mike is saying something we've been saying for years: if you want to disarm the populace, you should be willing to do it yourself, or at least have some plan in place to actually attempt it. Sending the government boys to take them is not only endangering them, but it is a complete cop-out by those who wish to have us give them up.

Unsurprisingly, some in the blogosphere immediately denounced such talk as unnecessarily violent, crazy, and extreme. They make the point that many people seem to already believe gun owners are crazy. They say that this sort of talk reinforces that belief, since it seems more extreme than the views many would like us to espouse. (I'm not going to point to any specific blogs, but I'm sure you can find some.)

Some of these people would even be uncomfortable with comments like "from my cold, dead hands." At least that means those people are only naive, rather than hypocritical. Do you think that phrase can be uttered with any truth by someone who isn't willing to defend his (or her) rights against those who would take them? There is no room in that phrase to follow it up with "unless those nice boys in uniform are ordered to strip me of my rights, in which case, I guess I'll become a slave quietly."

We've been surrendering rights slowly because we tend to shy away from "extremism." The problem with "extremism" is that it's easy to confuse clear-cut with extreme. If we were having a discussion on the sum of two and two, would you call me extreme if I continued to suggest it was 4? Insisting that the right to bear arms is a God-given right that the government has no right to limit is not extreme--it is simply correct. Pointing out that there are still many gun owners with the spirit of the Founders in them is not extreme, nor is the declaration that those people will resist tyranny. Jefferson figured for occasional rebellions to prevent tyranny from taking hold. A bloody rebellion about every twenty years certainly seems more extreme than saying "if you want them, come and get them."

Mike wasn't saying that he was going to start killing cops because of the ridiculous number of restrictions already in place. In fact, he did not say he would start killing cops. He simply explained that there are consequences to coming for our guns. He challenged those who would ask the government to grab our guns: if you're so gung-ho about taking the guns, would you try it? Of course these people wouldn't--why would they ask others to do it for them?

Then again, many would consider me an extremist. I don't believe there is any way to justify machine gun bans, background checks, or any of the other so-called "reasonable" restrictions. Incidentally, I also oppose bans on blogs, which allow rapid-fire freedom of the press, or background checks when attending church. Well, I guess "reasonable restrictions" on other freedoms don't really seem reasonable to anyone.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

News hype

Sometimes, I just don't understand why the news does the "We'll tell you on the news" hype thing they do. Especially with the ease of getting the same information online, it just seems silly to try to hook viewers by teasing them with just enough info to find out on their own.

Sometimes, this teaser just makes me laugh. Tonight, for example, they're trying to scare people into watching, since there have been confirmed rabid bats in Washington. They promise to tell you how to protect yourself and your family if you watch the news. Well, here are a couple hints: try not to get bit by bats. If a bat bites you, seek medical attention, including a rabies shot. If a bat is exhibiting unusual behavior, you should avoid it and/or attempt to kill it. Of course, these hints are generally the sort of advice you want to follow anyway, but most of the news-viewers who are going to worry are already likely unaffected, but a little too easily scared.

My favorite scare tactic is the "Which popular product may kill you or your family?" angle. It's not always that extreme, but it is about the mystery of something you could have being a possible danger. In many cases, "popular" tends to be rather undefined, and it's often a small portion of the supply that has been affected. "If you Washington residents have been traveling to Vermont to buy your electronics, you may be alarmed at the amount of radiation one batch of televisions have been producing. Affected serial numbers are XG100500-XG100513. If you have a 14-inch [company name redacted] TV with an affected serial number, you should call this hotline immediately."

People are shown on-camera panicking despite there being approximately zero chance they have the affected item, and someone on TV says it's an outrage. People watching at home suddenly feel they could've spent their time more wisely or they panic, too, since they once looked at one of the televisions by that brand, and they don't know how much radiation they may have absorbed.

Of course, the most effective is probably the "Which celebrity [got married/died/got arrested/burped on camera]?" People eat that up, even though there's no reason to give a damn what some celebrity does in their free time. If we quit salivating every time a celebrity came on, maybe the entertainment industry would improve--I'm sick of the "Scary Movie" Pavlovian test: referencing pop culture rather than writing a script.

In any case, if the news spent as much time researching their leads and reporting the facts as they do hyping themselves, I might actually stomach some of it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Downhill...

I was in the mall today and a 17-19 year-old kid was in the GameStop (or another game store--they all look the same). I don't make a habit of listening to the conversations of others, but I overheard him getting upset that there was supposed to be a certain game coming out today. The store didn't have it in stock, and the kid was getting a little agitated. He kept repeating that the game was supposed to come out today and that he'd been waiting for it. The clerk then made the mistake of telling the kid that she thought the other stores in the chain got the game, just not this one. He started asking whether they had any in stock. I thought he was going to cry.

Eventually, the clerk refunded the money the kid had put down on the game and sent him to another location. This kid was ridiculously desperate to get some game on the day it came out, and I thought he would've broken down had he not been able to get it today. It probably wouldn't have bugged me so much if I thought it was an isolated incident. This kid was probably about par for the course.

Also, while I was shooting today, a couple came to the pit and started shooting a pistol. This is not abnormal, but they didn't seem to know anything about gun safety. They had one pair of earmuffs for the two of them, which all my readers should know is not proper safety procedure. They also couldn't seem to understand why I would stop shooting when they'd randomly decide to go out to their target. Sure, I wasn't shooting near them, but there are certain instances in which the range is cold--person(s) anywhere on it is a prime example. I'd like to think there was a time in which this was common knowledge.

Then, as if to remind me that things are headed downhill, the radio decided to play George Jones's song "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," which just reminded me that no one's really filled the shoes of the folks he mentioned in that song. And, with the way our language seems to be drained due to the prevalence of texting abbreviations and the increased reliance on spell check, we won't have any outstanding lyricists in the foreseeable future.

Bicyclists...

Bicyclists bug me. No, it's not because of the smug sense of self-importance they seem to get from getting places without buying gas (at the minor cost of arriving sweaty, dirty, and or soaked by the rain). Heck, I rarely deal with bicyclists once they've gotten somewhere. No, bicyclists bug me because I have to deal with them while they are en route. Bicyclists in Washington are, in theory, supposed to follow traffic laws. There are quite a few places with bike lanes to help them do this without interfering with traffic or being run over.

The problem is not with the bike lanes, but with the tendency of bicyclists to do as they please. Some will ride on the sidewalk in areas where there is a bike lane, some will switch back and forth between following vehicle and pedestrian laws, and some will ride the wrong way down a one-way street.

Occasionally, some news channel or newspaper will run a story about how many deaths and injuries result from "motorists not being aware of bicyclists." Conveniently, they forget that many of these bicyclists are darting from the sidewalk into the lanes of traffic, assuming that motorists will be willing and able to avoid hitting them. They won't see any problem with talking to the bicyclist who wants to tell them about how bicyclists follow the same traffic laws as motorists and should get the same respect and following it up with the story of someone riding across a crosswalk being hit by a car. With a straight face, the reporter will tell you that the driver should've been more aware, and they'll pretend that you didn't just hear that bicyclists need to follow the rules of the road.

Last year (or maybe a little longer--I can't remember for sure), one news team did actually address the issue of inexperienced bicyclists trying to use "fixies" (fixed-gear bikes), and thus causing themselves issues, including some injuries and a death. Considering some of the steep hills in Seattle and Western Washington, "fixies" are a bad idea unless you really know what you're doing (and, heck, if you know what you're doing, you should know to get a mountain bike).

That's the closest I've seen any news crew get to actually encouraging bicyclists to take responsibility for their own actions. Last I checked, motorcyclists are generally well aware that the others on the road are surrounded by steel and they are protected only by whatever they're wearing. As such, they are very careful. Bicyclists, being even less protected (they wear less protective gear and they don't have an engine to help them get ahead of the heavier vehicles), should probably think the same way, but they've all (well, a lot of them, anyway) let themselves believe it's everyone else's job to watch out for them.

Remember, being a free man means taking responsibility for your actions. If I dart into traffic, I should fully expect to be seriously hurt or killed, bicycle or not.

Friday, July 18, 2008

More random buying habits

Well, I found a great deal on a very lightly used Five Seven, so I decided not to get the Desert Eagle. A coworker was overjoyed, since he loves oddball guns and wanted the DE. I figure a lightweight gun that can hold 20 rounds of a pretty efficient caliber is a lot more justifiable than a heavy gun that can hold 7 rounds of a much larger caliber. Besides that, I can afford a lot more 5.7x28 than .50 AE.

Yeah, the Five Seven is still an oddball, but I already have some .45s, some shotguns, some .22s, and some good rifles. I am no longer looking for just the most utilitarian guns. I may even end up passing on a very nice Eddystone 1917 Enfield, since I really don't need a bolt .30-06 that I know I'd never put a scope on. On the other hand, it's a piece of history, and it'd go well with my Mausers and my .303 Enfields. The bow I'm looking at buying, on the other hand, would be an easier thing to drop, even though $220 seems pretty darn good for a lefty bow with the quiver, split limbs, limbsaver inserts, fiber-optic sight, tec riser, and whisker biscuit. After the $220, I'd still need arrows, a release, a target block, and a few other things that are probably slipping my mind right now. And all that would probably only get me spending more on archery as I figured stuff out, anyway.

In any case, it's hard to pass up a good deal on a Five Seven that has the hard case, three mags, and little to no wear. Utilitarian or not, it's a fun one.

More governor race stuff

I heard a radio ad attacking Rossi, and I guess I hadn't realized just how hard they try to link him to Bush--against socialized healthcare, so he's like Bush; tried to decrease the transportation budget, so he's like Bush (yeah, I'm not sure why thinking the WA DOT is a financial black hole makes a person more like Bush, but whatever); he doesn't want to throw government dollars at stem cell research, so he's like Bush; anti-abortion, so he's like Bush.

In case you didn't notice a pattern, he's pretty much a typical Republican on several issues, so he's like Bush. Imagine, one Republican espousing many of the same party-line values of another--it's almost shameful!

Directly after that commercial was a Rossi commercial talking about how he's been the target of attack ads, and he is an above-the-fray sort of character. Never mind that it's mostly an attack on those who put out the attack ads: it's a pretty tame one. I don't think I caught the ads that were mentioned, since some of them had to be modified because they were offensive or slanderous.

I hope Rossi wins, since I'd like to see a smaller state budget, but I'm not holding my breath. If there's one thing Gregoire likely learned from the last time, it's that there are always more votes out there. She might even throw some extra boxes in off the get-go this time. Also, being the incumbent is bound to help her, especially among the groups that don't realize there's a connection between increased state spending and increases in the various fees and taxes they have to pay.

Also, I'd like to welcome the crawlbot from wa.gov. I noticed that there was no referring link from a search, and the only page hit was my post on the governor race. Most crawlbots at least have the decency to be referred by a search engine. Also, I'm not entirely sure why the WA Legislative Service Center is checking blog posts about the governor's race. If anyone's reading the compiled data, I'd love to hear what purpose this serves and how much it's costing the state.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Governor race

I just had the local news running and heard something funny. Obama's wife was helping to campaign for Gregoire and had a very odd message. She told Washingtonians that we have something that works and shouldn't want to change. It's an odd statement, coming from the Presidential campaign that has based everything on change.

Gregoire has also decided to link Rossi with Bush as much as possible, since she knows there are quite a few Washingtonians who'll be turned away from anyone linked to Bush, and she certainly doesn't want to lose again. It was a lot of work for her to get her loss overturned last time. She said that Rossi's dog is even named Dubya. It's true, but only because of the story behind the dog. He told his daughter that she could only get a dog if the President told him to get his family a dog. She wrote Bush a letter and got a response--he said they should have a dog. Well, Dino Rossi is a man of his word, so they got the dog and named it Dubya in honor of the order from the President.

In any case, Rossi has little to no connection to Bush, and it wouldn't really matter--state politics are a different arena, and the biggest complaints about Bush are generally focused on the war in Iraq, which isn't really in the state's agenda.

On another related note, I enjoy hearing the ads against Rossi. They'll point out that he voted against healthcare for children, among other high-dollar items. If you don't want to face continually higher taxes, his position makes sense. The anti-Gregoire ads, on the other hand, seem more damning. They point out the money her campaign ended up with money from Native American casinos, and that she stopped non-Indian casinos from coming in. Sure, some people are anti-gambling, but it's hard to look at that and assume she just didn't want gambling in Washington.

Oh, well. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how this plays out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Homeland Security 2

Well, the second day of the Homeland Security seminar was exhausting. The woman whose only qualification was the death of her son was emotional and illogical. I looked at her biography again and noticed that she sued the gun manufacturer(s) that made the guns used. Luckily, she didn't talk about that part of her crusade.

It was odd to hear the logic she had for her anger at it not being a federal case. She said that it was a civil rights violation because the man used a derogatory term toward the young Jews he attacked and it was in federal jurisdiction because it happened on an interstate highway.

She also claimed that it was international terrorism, since Hamas was proud of the shooter and he was trying to kill an influential Rabbi because a Jew had shot up a Mosque. First of all, Hamas loves the limelight in these sorts of things. Second, she never proved any link to any organization. He was originally from Lebanon, and he had buddies help him who weren't US citizens, but it is hard to make it a federal case and NY had no terrorism laws at the time. The shooter was sentenced to something in the neighborhood of 140+ years in prison, and his helpers were put on probation, fined, and eventually deported.

She didn't know anything about preventing or catching terrorism, nor did she seem to know anything about law except the little she learned from hanging out in courtrooms for awhile and hobnobbing with politicians.

We did hear from a man whose experience in NYPD and in Israel made him much more interesting to hear from. One thing to note was that he freely said that he had no idea why the Israelis carry without a round in a chamber--he said he wasn't judging them, but I noticed that none of them spoke up to correct him, and his tone clearly specified that he was judging them. Of course, he was talking about behavioral profiling and praising the constant searches and checkpoints in Israel. I pointed out to another participant that I felt out of place, being the person in the room who was at least somewhat familiar with the Fourth Amendment. He didn't believe in it. His thoughts were that people could be "inconvenienced" if it made things safer. I stopped arguing with him because there was a presentation going, but I was pointing out that they'll tell us they're only doing it when there's a threat, then it softens people to allowing it all the time. And even if it were only when there is a credible threat, that still doesn't make it okay to search everyone without any probable cause. But try explaining that to a bunch of cops who think they'll make everyone safe.

The last presentation of the day was a long advertisement for training. It was long, pointless, but necessary to provide the free seminar. Oh, well, at least one of the Israeli speakers had a good quip: "In Israel, our bombers strap on a belt or vest. In the US, yours strapped on a whole fucking plane."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Homeland Security?

Today, I spent a large portion of my day in Homeland Security training. Some of it was supposedly confidential (odd, considering we private security types were allowed to attend, though virtually everyone was an actual LEO of some sort or another), but a lot of it wasn't.

We spent a lot of time learning about what an IED is, and how it can look like just about anything, since a person can hide explosives virtually anywhere. We saw their effects, some of the possible triggers, and basically learned that any terrorist attack can have multiple independent secondary and tertiary devices. This is the sort of stuff that's been common knowledge for a while now.

We also learned about radical Islam, which was refreshing in that it didn't get so PC as to apologize for not being Muslim, as is popular now. They even showed examples of countries that Islam is trying to take over violently which don't even have a history of attacking ANY Muslim countries or persecuting Muslims in any way. No new info, really, but it was nice to see some honesty in one of these terrorism talks.

We saw video of attacks in Thailand, where they lack the equipment to protect the bomb squad. Basically, the bomb squad there is a guy in a police uniform with some wirecutters. They are surprisingly effective, and every tool they get helps. Several of their units apparently even have signal disruption equipment, but no protective gear. It was terrible to see one of them burning to death because he lacked the basic gear our bomb squads strap on before they even think about approaching a bomb.

We also learned about some of the reactions terrorists and their supporters have when questioned. Anger, they said, is most common. Considering their beliefs and the videos they release, I'm not surprised.

We were also told about Israel's experience, both with suicide bombers and rockets. One gentleman who'd been a high-ranking cop over there told us how odd it seemed not to have guards searching people at every mall, school, and other potential target. He implied that we'd get there as soon as we had a couple attacks similar to some he's seen, which was worrisome, but it's not as if he can make policy.

They also talked about waging the war in the media and how important it is that the spokespeople for the "good guys" get as much time as possible on the news, making sure everyone sees them as the good guys and people don't hear as much of the other side

On a more interesting note, since I was there as an unarmed security officer, I was one of the very few without a sidearm. I'm okay with everyone carrying, but I sure don't like to be the unarmed guy (sure, they were cops, but that's no reason to trust them with my safety). Surprisingly, I noticed several single-stack 1911s. After I pointed that out to my boss, he noted that one of them was carrying *gasp* cocked and locked. I pointed out that all of them were and that this was the proper way to carry a 1911. He said he didn't want to risk a failure, and he didn't think it was necessary in this setting. I tried to explain the number of simultaneous failures required for a 1911 to go off while securely in the holster made it impossible, but I finally had to give up before we got into trouble for disrupting the presentation. I was just glad to see some cops don't feel outgunned when carrying a single-stack.

Tomorrow, one of the guests is supposed to be a woman who started crusading against terrorism after her son was killed. I tend not to take these sorts seriously, and I'm guessing she'll be no exception. One of the laws it said she's fighting for bans the sale of "gun kits." I don't even really want to think about what might be included in the scope of that. Heck, AR uppers and lowers, T/C Encore barrels, and unbarreled receivers are all possibilities, though I'm guessing they'll try to convince me that it's only going to be the unbarreled receivers, and they'll cite the lack of a ballistic fingerprint, even though those are notoriously unreliable and difficult, since the rifling will change with wear, dirt, or, if a criminal thinks it'll help, a little filing.

Oh, well. I can only hope she's one of those people who'll burn out her spotlight pretty quickly. And I hope she doesn't speak too long. I may end up arguing, and a lot of these cops will be all for her side of things.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Republitarianism

Over the few years I've called myself a Republitarian, I've tried to justify the term in different ways. At first, I didn't want to be considered "one of those crazy Libertarians."

The idea, I thought, was to not be so liberty-oriented as to just allow pretty much anything. The problem, though, is that I couldn't really think of any "reasonable" restrictions I could back. Sure, I dislike Scientology, but I don't endorse outlawing it. Just because L. Ron Hubbard created a huge con doesn't mean we should keep these people from letting themselves be duped. I think they enjoy it. I'm not into drugs, but it's hard to justify a continuous war on drugs while legalization would likely calm the drug problems down. It's incredibly hard for me to limit freedom of speech or the freedom to assemble, even for Neo-Nazis, Black Panthers, or any other unpopular group. Especially unpopular groups.

David Koresh was a little out there, but the government was incredibly wrong to lay siege to his compound in Waco. Every limitation on the right to bear arms, especially those biased against certain groups or social classes, has been wrong.

Heck, the only place I might disagree with the "crazy" Libertarians is abortion. I don't know when life begins, but I'm against one person taking the life of another. Also, our legal system can call it double homicide if a pregnant woman is killed, but that same woman choosing to kill the child is simply having a medical procedure.

Well, even well after I had realized I was a "crazy" Libertarian, I decided the term Republitarian only denoted my grudging utilitarian voting habits, which tend to involve holding my nose and voting for GOP candidates, even though I desperately want Libertarians to be widely accepted.

Now I simply cling to the term out of convenience. I haven't had this blog for so long I couldn't change, nor was I truly feeling like a Republitarian when I started it, but the alliteration made a good title, I thought.


It just wouldn't seem right to change it to Libertarian, and the URL would seem pretty out of place. Oh, well; we all know my feelings on liberty.

Crotchetiness

This weekend, I dealt with the same crotchety old customer both days. I'm used to customers being generally irritable, incredibly demanding, and increasingly annoying. This guy was just unbelievably crotchety.

He came to the register (which, by the way, I hate having to work) and started out upset that we hadn't already mounted the scope onto the gun he hadn't paid for. His son, who drives him everywhere and works in the store, tried to calm him, but he'd have none of that. I explained several times that the gun needed to be paid for, which he couldn't understand, and he demanded to know what kind of payment I wanted. I told him credit, cash, or check were all acceptable, and he demanded to know if I preferred check. Eventually, I calmed him enough that he got out his checkbook, though he was too agitated to write, so his son had to do everything but sign.

After the gun was paid for, I asked what sort of bases he wanted, offering the idea of Leupold. He became more agitated, saying he hated those and wanted Weaver. I flagged a coworker to mount the scope, and the coworker asked whether the customer wanted Leupold bases, causing said customer to launch into a tirade about how he had already explained this and shouldn't be forced to explain it again.

My coworker tried his best to find Weaver bases, but we just didn't have them for this particular rifle. He explained the options and sent the customer away. I figured he'd order the bases he wanted and might come back in a week to get the scope mounted and boresighted.

Instead, he came back today, bringing along a different son. His son came to the counter and asked for Weaver bases for a rifle purchased by [customer] recently. I started explaining that they simply weren't available and they'd have to order them, which started to agitate the customer, who hadn't been the first to speak. Finally, I suggested the Leupold QR system, since the main problem he had with Leupold was the in-base windage adjustment (one of the nicest features).

He started telling me I was the only non-idiot in the store and making up stories about how stupid my coworker was. He also suddenly remembered the case he'd wanted, which I knew he hadn't taken because he couldn't test the fit with the scoped gun, and he told me how it had "disappeared" even though he wanted it. I finally got everything put together for him, and got him out of the store, but it took a lot of willpower to make sure I didn't send him out in a way that would discourage a return visit.

At least mounting a scope in the back gave me a brief respite from the horde of customers outside.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Archery

Recently, I've been strongly considering getting a bow. My coworkers seem to assume it's for hunting, except for the one who has the same attitude I do.

I found a Reflex bow that seems pretty good. It has a tek riser (I think that's the spelling for these things), split limbs, sound dampeners in the limbs, a 70 pound draw, a quick-release quiver, and a decent fiber-optic sight. Until recently, I hadn't shot a compound bow, so the things like releases and attached quivers are new and strange.

Some of you may wonder what need I have for a bow. Sometimes, a quieter approach may be necessary. I may not end up getting the bow, since silence isn't a big thing for me. I just like options, but the bow will cost some money--arrows, a target block, arrowheads, a release, and, of course the bow itself.


I know and trust guns. I don't know bows, but I have no reason to distrust them. It could be useful, but I should probably focus on improving my supply of firearms, ammo, reloading equipment, and other accessories.

buying habits

I enjoy odd guns. I'm about to pick up an Enfield No. 5 Mk 1 (a.k.a. the jungle carbine--I actually had a customer trying to buy it out from under me, too, snce I tend to put some money down to mull things over), I just ordered a Desert Eagle in from another store because of the price, and it looks like I'll buy it (It's blued, with wood grips, has the ability to swap out the barrel, and is in like new condition), and I have an XD-M on layaway.

Just to recap, that is a rare .303, a ridiculous .50 handgun, and a pretty good .40. Not to mention the other random stuff I already have. I may not get the DE, since there is absolutely no logical justification for it beyond the fact that I'd be able to get more than I paid out of it when I get bored of it. And that's no reason to buy a gun. Well, not to buy that particular gun, at least. If I can make that argument for a more utilitarian purchase, maybe.

Y'know, something cool, like a Five Seven.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Spider day

Today was apparently the day of the spider invasion of my home. I woke up early this morning, only to find a large spider on the wall above my face. Now, this may or may not come as a surprise, but I'm a bit arachnophobic. I looked up at the spider, crawled out of bed, and grabbed my vacuum (this keeps the spider from being splattered or mushed into anything--I'm not a big fan of spider bits, either). The spider clung to the wall valiantly, but there's only so much a small critter like that can do to resist a large vacuum cleaner.

I put the vacuum cleaner away, then noticed the spider's living room counterpart. I vacuumed him down, too, and then couldn't go back to sleep. I didn't have that long to kill, so it wasn't too bad.

By the time I got home from work, though, they'd sent in a specialist. I don't know how he got in, though, since I didn't give the bastard a key. He was certainly too big to have come in any way but the door, so he must've been the first spider locksmith. I thought of shooting him with my .44, but I figured he'd just shrug it off and might even get mad that I shot him. His body was a little longer than the width of the vacuum tube, which looked like it might pose a problem. Luckily, spiders are very malleable, so this big wood spider (or whatever sort of spider he actually was) is in pieces in the vacuum bag.

Hopefully, this will serve as a warning to the next wave of spider invaders.

The trifecta

I have a lot of customers looking for the one gun that will do everything they'll ever need. As most of my readers know, that's impossible. You can get away with limiting yourself to as few as two guns if you choose the right ones and do things in specific ways, but most gun people would recommend at least three, preferably the rifle-handgun-shotgun trifecta. This does leave out the .22 most would suggest, but we're talking minimums here.

Depending on your personal view, there are two ways to go with this--concentrate on one readily available caliber in each category, or attempt to have a wide range to prepare for as many possible options as you can. Since we're talking minimums, we'll go ahead and talk readily available.

For a single rifle to do what you'll want for both hunting and SHTF situations (and, actually, hunting IN SHTF situations), semi-automatic is preferred, especially if higher-capacity mags are available, as opposed to hunting magazines. Most people will choose .308, .223, or 7.62x39. Depending on your state, the .223 may very well be illegal for hunting, but that's alright if you won't be hunting until the SHTF situations; it'll do, as long as you know what you're doing. 7.62 is probably the most affordable rifle, since the SKS and AK are both readily available at reasonable prices. There's also a lot of ammo out there for it. The AR platform, though, is probably the platform of choice due to its weight, readily available parts, and widespread use in police and military agencies. The .308 is also commonly used, but will be the most expensive option (it's also the most practical choice for a hunting/battle rifle, since it will work very well for both purposes).

Since we're talking about the guy who simply wants one gun, they probably want to save money. Let's find them something in an AK. WASRs are commonly available and cheap, but probably not the quality I'd recommend. Saigas, on the other hand, are also cheap, and they can be quickly adapted to accept AK mags. They are also some of the better ones out there (though the AK accessories and pistol grips aren't usable without serious modifications, the Saiga that can accept AK mags should very easily suffice).

As for the shotgun, we don't have to get too fancy. It's mostly for home defense or close combat and good for some hunting. I'd recommend something simple, like a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500/590/835. A short barrel is great for defensive use, while you may want a longer barrel for hunting. If you want to get fancy, you can get something like the Benelli M3.

A suggestion here: the 870 is going to have the most widely available parts, and you can often pick up a used one for a pretty decent price.

The handgun is going to be a sidearm. You will want it for carry, and it'll do just fine for home defense as well (this is how you cut yourself down to two--cut out the shotgun). You will want something in a common caliber, reliable, and accurate. You also want it to be something you will actually carry. That Desert Eagle may look badass, but even the .357 or .44 versions will be heavy (and notoriously unreliable), and the .50 AE is going to be a pain to find. 9mm, .40, and .45 will be great choices, and .357 will be your best choice for a revolver. Some of you might be saying that you'd prefer a Five Seven, since it is incredibly light, very accurate, and has the best capacity you'll find. It is a good choice, except for the ammo concerns. Your best bet is a Glock (though I loathe them so), a Springfield XD, or a Smith & Wesson M&P. Personally, I like .45, so I generally carry an XD or a 1911. The XD is probably your better bet, carrying 13 rounds (as will the Glock 21), giving you quite a bit of firepower with only a couple mags. The new XD-M is probably going to be the best bet for most people, as .40 is incredibly popular among police agencies, and it has 16-round mags.

Something to think about here--9mm is in common use in the military, and .40 is probably the most common police round. In a SHTF situation, there are two things that could happen--most available ammo in those calibers goes to those agencies, leaving very little, or you can end up acquiring ammo from these groups, increasing your supplies.

If we've got a cheapskate trying to get all set up here, there's probably a Saiga, an 870, and a Taurus (although there was a Glock 21 that looked almost unfired pretty cheap at work the other day, so maybe there could be an upgrade on that front). That's a respectable trio, and a good start. Make sure to stock up on ammo.

Another consideration is whether you'll be with others in a SHTF situation. If you will, you may want to talk to them about the plan. If you all bring ARs, you can share ammo and parts. If you bring a long-range weapon and others bring shorter-range rifles, you'll play different roles. On the other hand, if you will likely be alone, that single-shot .50 BMG really won't be as much help as a high-capacity AR.

My choices are a Remington 7400 in .30-06 and a Saiga 7.62x39 (I keep thinking I'll add an AR, but I don't really want to spend that much to add another caliber). I also have Mausers in 8mm and Enfields in .303, so I have some bolt guns that would probably end up as my hunting rifles if the SHTF. I have a Mossberg 835 and a single shot Survivor in 12 ga. I have some .45s and a .44, and I'm going to be picking up a .40 (the XD-M). I also have some .22 rifles, so I'm fairly well-set. Unfortunately, I'm low on .303 ammo right now, but that isn't something I should be relying on in a SHTF situation. I also have the equipment, powder, and bullets to reload in .45, .44, .30-06, and 8mm Mauser.

Over at TSLRF, Ryan has (or had, as he may've changed his mind since then) a different take, I see. He says you can cut out the rifle. It's true, but I wouldn't. The rifle plays an important role, since the shotgun won't have the capacity and neither the pistol nor the shotgun will have the range. In any case, no one firearm can truly fill all the necessary roles.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm probably smarter than a fifth grader

I rarely watch these sorts of shows, but every time I turn on "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader," it sucks me in. I have trouble believing the questions contestants can't figure out. A contestant tonight couldn't figure out whether burning wood causes a chemical change (it does), and she decided the river along the Texas-Mexico border was the Colorado River (it's the Rio Grande). She then figured that, because the sun is really hot, her best guess as to its temperature was 35 million degrees Fahrenheit (actually 10,000--and her other choice was 1 million).

This wasn't quite as bad as the guy in another episode who arrived at the proper conclusion through ridiculously faulty logic--"True or False: Chickens are warm-blooded animals." Rather than basing anything on their status as birds or the fact that they don't heat themselves on flat rocks on a sunny day, he based it on the fact that they live on land.

Tonight's other contestant announced that he knew the answer and would answer the question. He proceeded to claim with certainty that the Rocky Mountains are located entirely within the US. He was, of course, wrong, proving that traveling the world requires little to no knowledge of geography. Shortly after that, I managed to turn off the television.

I understand that television and the annoying children would make it a stressful situation, but they fail some hilariously easy questions sometimes and make the ones they do get look a lot harder than they are. Once in awhile, there's a question I don't know the answer to, but not often enough to end up on the show (after all, they need someone who'd do a lot of hand-wringing and use up all the "cheats" if they're going to win). I can't stand how they try to convince us that the contestants are really smart people--it makes me wonder if they're supposed to take a dive so the saps at home feel smarter.

Meh. I should really just avoid watching this crap.

LOWER gas prices?

Like many others, I have a Facebook account. It's almost a shameful secret. On Facebook, users can create "groups" (it needs quotes because these don't really involve any actual interaction among those involved). Many of these champion various causes, such as global warming, the return of facial hair to political candidates, being the largest group on Facebook, various political candidates (both real and fictional), or helping the creator of the group with some sort of ill-defined psychology project s/he thought would be the easiest way out of doing something loosely based on actual research.

I was recently invited to join a group called "15,000,000 for lower gas prices." The way I figure it, the group envisions the following scenario:

Halliburton rolls out of bed and gets onto Facebook. There's an invitation to the group, which arouses a certain level of curiosity. Halliburton says, "15,000,000? They can't be serious...there's gotta be like fifty or sixty people, max, who want lower gas prices." The group hasn't met the 15 million goal, of course, but the numbers are allegedly nearing two million members.
Halliburton, of course, is shocked and has to text BP. "bp chk out fbook--i snt u a link" BP gets on Facebook, sees the group, and immediately calls Halliburton. "Really, there's that many people who wanna pay less for gas? We should totally lower gas prices! It'd be awesome!"

Of course, things won't play out that way because we live in a world of supply and demand. There are two ways to lower prices: increase supply or reduce demand. Most people can't really go find and refine oil (especially with the laws we have restricting oil refineries), so that's pretty much out. That leaves two choices: suck it up and pay or suck it up and use less gas. The thing that gets me about this odd Facebook group is that it suggests no solution. At least the people advocating a one-day strike or fueling only at certain stations are positing solutions, even if they are completely useless and uninformed solutions.

Oh, well. I suppose inaction means nobody's doing anything stupid that will have a negative impact.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Call to service?

Mover Mike has a great post about Obama's "call to service." It seems Obama would like to tell us that our aspirations aren't as good as those he has for us. He'll give us permission to pursue our dreams, but only if we're serving a higher purpose. Forgive me for being Randian (actually, don't forgive me--Ayn Rand was one of the greatest political philosophers of all time, in my opinion) for a moment, but if I want to attempt to be the world's richest man because I want the money for myself, I should be free to do it. Hell, I'd end up providing work for many others, as well as buying and selling goods or services that others obviously want.

I guess you could argue that the greediest person might well be a better influence on society than the most generous volunteer. After all, if I feed 100 homeless people a month, I influence far fewer lives than Microsoft, which employs many, buys goods and services from other companies, and sells products that make all sorts of things much more manageable for others who then, directly or indirectly, may do good in the world. (Also, I'm aware Microsoft has a charitable side, but that isn't relevant to this conversation.) If you spend a thousand dollars feeding the homeless, you may see the same faces coming back for handouts repeatedly. If you invest that thousand dollars in a company that can hire some of those faces, maybe they'll be able to grow and hire more employees.

I'm not saying there's no place for charity or service--Obama has a good point when he honors the military, teachers, cops, and firefighters. Compelling people to serve and to perform community service, though, is not the answer. Imagine a teacher draft. Would you want your child taught by someone compelled into the career field and probably unqualified? No. You would much prefer that person who has a passion for teaching. Telling people they "must" serve a "higher purpose" doesn't help anything. I happen to think janitors and sanitation workers serve one of the highest purposes--they keep things clean. It's a dirty, thankless job, and no one ever tells people to serve a higher purpose by becoming a garbage man or janitor. But imagine the world without them.

What I'm saying is that there's a place for every job, from CEO to infantryman, President to janitor, and stockbroker to nanny. People will do whatever works for them, and it will, in turn, work for others. Mutually beneficial arrangements end a lot better than government-compelled interactions, perhaps especially when the government means well.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Freedom.

Working on the Fourth and going immediately from there to my parents' house, I didn't have a chance to write any meditations on Independence Day. I hope you'll forgive me for my tardiness, but here are some brief thoughts on the subject of freedom.

A free man (or woman, if you so choose, but I'll be using "man" as a generic term) should have the authority to do as he wishes with his person and property, so far as his actions do not interfere with another's right to life, liberty, and property.

A free man has the right (and the responsibility) to defend his life, liberty, and property should anyone else threaten it.

A free man does not have the right to take another's life, liberty, or property, nor does he have the right to ask another to do so on his behalf. This still applies when there are many free men taking the property of one. It even applies when those many petition the government to take the property of few, or even one.

A free man has the responsibility to earn his own way. He has no right to expect anyone else to make his way for him.

A free man has the responsibility to preserve his freedom, as well as the freedom of others.

There are those who would tell you that a man should submit to those who would take his property by force. They'll talk about the "greater good" and the "needs of the many," but a free man should not be forced or coerced into giving up his property. Socialism is wrong because it forcibly removes the fruits of the labor from those who have created them and divides them indiscriminately among those who have created wealth and those who have not. Just because other nations are socialist, some will tell you it is a just system. This is not true.

America may have some unjust and socialist practices, but we're still a free country at our core. And that's what makes this country great. If we could work on whittling away the bloated government, it could be even better, but we can't expect perfection, can we?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Coworkers and self-control...

My coworkers are a bad influence on me. I already have very little willpower when I find a good deal on an interesting firearm, and my coworkers urge me to buy things.
Normally, these are things like an Enfield jungle carbine, an Eddystone 1917 Enfield, or other interesting semi-historical finds. When I found that one of the XD-Ms was one of the first 5,000, the same coworker that urges me to buy the old military rifles told me that I'd better not pass it up. He has also tried to get me to buy a Kimber on multiple occasions, but I will not own one due to the fact that they continue to design firearms for California law enforcement (the SIS, in particular) despite those same LEOs keeping their subjects from owning similar firearms.
Today, I was looking at a used Taurus Raging Bull in .454 (I don't know why--I had actually been checking the case for a double-action .44 to go with my recently acquired Super Blackhawk) and a different coworker started telling me how much I'd love a .454, especially with the porting on a Raging Bull. It's a fairly good deal, at just under $600 for a nearly new .454, but I can't think of a possible reason for me to need a .454. And, yet, I put it on hold so I could mull the idea over.
I need a new job and some willpower.