Monday, November 21, 2011

"I fought the law and the law won"

Survival and primitive skills expert Cody Lundin makes reference to the “Cycle of Dumbass”.  It’s a vaguely karmic concept says, “Do dumbass things, experience dumbass consequences”.  I think the principle can be applied widely throughout life to a variety of behaviors; such as resisting a law enforcement officer.

Police are granted legal arrest powers that common citizens do not have.  Arrest does not mean that you are automatically going to jail.  Arrest means that the officer can move or restrain you against your will if the officer believes it necessary.  Implicit in the power to arrest is the authorization to use reasonable force to make the arrest.  Police departments have very carefully thought out codes of conduct regarding when and to what degree force may be used.  Varying degrees of force are recognized; from the mere presence of the officer to verbal commands all the way to lethal force such as firearms or blunt force instruments.  This is called a force continuum.  The goal is to apply the minimum degree of force reasonably necessary to control the situation by giving the police officer several force options.

See, police officers are required to maintain control of a conflict.  Once an officer decides that intervention is necessary, they cannot allow others to ignore or countermand their lawful commands.  Courts generally recognize that police officers have a wide degree of discretion on resolving and handling conflicts.  The easiest way to resolve a conflict that has not yet escalated to criminal activity is to make one or more of the individuals causing the problem leave.

Ignoring a police officer’s lawful commands is illegal.  Interfering with a police officer’s attempt to exercise arrest powers is called resisting arrest and is also a crime.  Physically resisting is a violent crime.

Which brings us to UC Davis and the alleged incident of police brutality.  Students were asked to disperse by the campus police.  The students refused, thereby resisting arrest.  The students were sprayed with OC, or pepper spray.  Was this reasonable?

Absolutely.  On the continuum of force OC falls between verbal commands and physical contact by the officer.  It’s a “soft” method of force that is much less likely to result in injury to the resistor than any physical contact such as wrist locks or pressure points.  Every police officer is sprayed with pepper spray during training so they can experience for themselves the debilitating effects.  Those same effects usually wear off after less than an hour leaving no injuries other than inflammation of mucous membranes.  It’s painful and humiliating but everybody walks away.

Riots and large groups of resistors complicate arrest activities.  Anytime that police are outnumbered a disparity of force situation exists.  Officers are assumed to be at higher risk because of the presence of multiple resistors.  In the UC Davis case, the protesters are alleged to have surrounded the officers, further escalating the situation.  Remember, police officers are required to maintain control of a conflict.  These circumstances make the use of OC even more reasonable. 

If the protest had turned violent, particularly if the officers were threatened with being physically restrained or overwhelmed, the officers could have been required to use lethal force.  Attempting to disarm a police officer is grounds for the officer to use lethal force inn response.  Common law recognizes that disparity of force justifies the lawfully acting party to use a higher degree of force.  Participating as part of a mob in illegal activity automatically places the participant at greater risk of physical injury, up to and including death.   

I can hear the responses now, “But the students weren’t breaking the law!” 

Yes, they were, by ignoring the police officers’ commands to leave the area.

“But the police had no right to ask them to leave!” 

Yes, they did.  The UCDavis Code of Student Conduct even says so.  See sections 102.13 through 102.16.  I think 102.16 pretty much nails it down.

“But the students were on public property!” 

No, they weren’t.  The California university system is a non-profit education entity.  It is most definitely not public property.  Don’t believe me?  Try parking in the faculty lot without the right color of parking tag.  The university reserves the right to deny access to anyone, including students and employees, to university property.  It’s common law regarding private property.

Once again, we have OWS protesters asserting that their rights to protest trump the rights of others to use of their private property.  The courts have been quite clear that such is not the case under law, but the viewpoint is symptomatic of the toddler logic and narcissism that is too often evident in the psychology of the protestors.

Let’s recap.  Resisting arrest is illegal.  Resisting physically is an act of violence.  Those protesters were by definition not peaceful.  The police were required to use reasonable force to make them leave.  The police used the lowest level of force required after verbal commands failed to move the protesters.  Nobody got electrocuted by a taser, beaten with a baton, or shot with beanbags or rubber bullets.  No chemical burns from Mace or injuries from high pressure water hoses were inflicted.  At the end of the day, every one of those students was able to go on acting like an asshat in public.  

I’m not a police officer and never have been one.  As an armed citizen, I have made it a point to study the law on justifiable use of force and police procedures.  I recognize that my decision to carry a firearm potentially escalates the risk factors in any interaction I may have with law enforcement so I have made it a point to learn how I can reduce the risk of escalation.  It’s pretty simple, really.  Use common sense, don’t get excited, and follow instructions.

If I believe that an officer is acting outside of the limits of the officer’s authority, the time to address it is the next day.  Getting into a pissing match makes me the lawbreaker, not the victim.  I’m reminded of the advice my Business Law professor, himself a United States attorney, gave to the class on how to avoid getting sued:  Don’t be an asshole.     

Friday, August 26, 2011


First, we learn that a tiny planet with the mass equivalent to Jupiter tightly orbiting a pulsar (a rotating neutron star) is composed primarily of carbon.  At the densities involved, the planet has collapsed into a girl's best friend; diamond.  That's just cool.  It's like a Larry Niven story come to life.

Next, we learn that although the CERN supercollider has yet to destroy everything in a universe-shattering ka-boom, the boffins may have manged to end some lucrative sources of grant money.  It seems that a study of the effects of cosmic radiation upon cloud formation in the Earth's atmosphere appears to indicate that said radiation may play a very significant role, like 50%, in cloud formation and the effects upon the planet's climate.

Here's the money quote:

... we've found that the vapours previously thought to account for all aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can only account for a small fraction of the observations – even with the enhancement of cosmic rays.
Those "vapours" are also known as greenhouse gases.  Translation:  that giant microwave oven sitting 93 million miles away might have a bigger impact on global temperatures than the incandescent lightbulb in your living room lamp.

Inconceivable!  We have already been told by no less a personage than Albert Gore that "the science is settled" and that denying anthropogenic global warming (AGM) is morally equivalent to denying the Holocaust.  What is wrong with these scientists?  Don't they know that the proper role of Science in the AGM franchise is to accept grant money to further the propoganda machine, thus generating more grant money?  It's the bedrock of the environmental-industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned us all about.

The whole AGM conspiracy is right out of the sixteenth century.  First we have the concept of "carbon credits" where businesses pay money to buy the right to produce gases that will supposedly destroy us all.  It's  just like the indulgences sold by the Roman Catholic Church.  I pay money in advance to commit a sin and everything is forgiven.

We even have heliocentrism making a comeback against the forces of scientific orthodoxy.  To paraphrase Galileo, "It still warms."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pulled Over By the Po-Po, Thank God !

I took my kids, the neighbors' girl and our dog to a local park tonight.  This park is on the edge of town, which means that streetlights are pretty much non-existent.  After play time was over I piled everybody into the car and headed for a local convenience store to buy some tea.

I pulled out onto the road to drive to the store.  Almost immediately I noticed somebody was tailgating very closely.  I thought I may have pulled out too close and made the other driver angry.  My primary concern was that the other driver was pissed off and looking for trouble.  And me with three children in the car.  I decided to drive non-stop to the convenience store just down the road, even if it meant running the stop sign which I just NOW noticed.

Well, as soon as I blew through the stop sign the blue and red lights of the local PD came on.  On the minus side; I was probably about to get a ticket.  On the plus side; nobody was going to try and rob us.  I considered the ticket a fair trade.

I worked out my personal SOP years ago.  I immediately turned the interior lights on and retrieved my wallet.  Then I rested both hands on the wheel until he approached.  I handed both licenses to the officer.  He asked if I was.  I said yes.  He asked where.  I pointed with my left thumb.  The only awkward moment was when he asked to see my insurance card, which was in the glove box.  It's my wife's car.  I keep mine in the center console so I don't have to reach while assembling the standard documents.  My daughter opened the glove box calmly and slowly handed me the envelope with the insurance and registration cards. 

I explained that I was paying more attention to him behind me than I was to the stop sign in front of me.  He walked back to check the licenses.  The other police car, which I had not even noticed, pulled away.  He came back and asked me to be more careful.

Then he thanked my for exercising my constitutional right to carry.

God bless Texas! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Does the shoe pinch?

Our Intern-in-Chief has sent down a new set of requirements for ICE to impose on anyone unlucky enough to live in a border state.  The new executive order requires ICE agents to contact service providers and ask them to:  1.  Report any homes occupied by more than four persons as potentially indicating illegal immigrant occupation.  2.  Fill out client profile reports to help law enforcement track illegal immigrants, and 3.  Authorizes home visits by ICE agents to anyone suspected of participating in illegal immigration.

Sounds pretty Orwellian, huh?  Nobody in America would stand for this, right?  Well, substitute "BATFE" for "ICE" and "firearm sales" for "illegal immigrants" and you're looking at an actual executive order.

It's a good thing that we live in a free country where we can trust our government to trust us, isn't it?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

When the Worst Outcome Is Better Than the Status Quo, What Do We Have To Lose?

The August 2nd date on the ransom note that Tim Geithner sent to Congress is quickly approaching.  We'll see if he shoots the hostage or is just willing to settle for another pizza being delivered by a SWAT guy in a Domino's uniform.  The House passed their plan and the Senate passed their plan, and neither is willing to allow the other plan to darken their doorway.  I'd say the odds of no debt ceiling increase are pretty good.  But what happens if Congress refuses to raise the limit on the national Visa card?

I'm guessing, not so much.  The talking heads are worried about skyrocketing bond yields if the U.S. can't borrow more money for Uncle Han over in Beijing.  Personally, that seems completely backwards to me.  The risk of default only gets higher if Barry gets to borrow another trillion or so every year for the foreseeable future.  Our landlord agrees.

Default is the risk that either the interest or the principal on a debt does not get paid on schedule.  Only in Bizarro-D.C. will lowering the amount of debt increase the risk of default.  Some will say that the U.S. cannot make the scheduled payments on the borrowed money without borrowing the money to make the payments.  We in the financial industry have a word for that:  insolvency.  And it doesn't get better by increasing the debt load.

We've been ignoring this problem since the Johnson administration.  All subsequent presidents and Congresses made the proper noises of concern while actively working to make the problem worse for the next politico to sit in the chair.  Commissions have been appointed, campaign speeches have been made, but NOBODY tried to fix it.  Until now.

If the debt ceiling is not raised, the Treasury will immediately begin prioritizing federal payments.  The interest and principal on the federal debt will remain in first place; to do otherwise really will bring about the doom that is filling the media.  Social Security payments will also be made on time.  Federal law specifies that reductions in the amount owed by the Trust Fund will reduce the amount owed against the debt ceiling on a dollar-for-dollar basis.  Translation:  for every dollar Uncle Sam pays to Grandma, Uncle can borrow another dollar.

Federal payrolls will also go out on time, although we may see some widespread furloughs.  This will be an instructional period for us; if Joe Bureaucrat in the Bureau of Redundancy Department doesn't come into work for six months and nobody notices, perhaps that should tell us something.  In the private sector, pressure from payroll expense is the driving force behind process and efficiency improvements.  Think about it.

So, what doesn't get paid on time?  That's easy, the pork.  All those hundreds of billions of dollars that Congress "brings home" every year will be the first thing to get cut.  Those orange barricades stretching for miles along our interstates, dotted with the signs bragging about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will be with us for a few years more.  At least until the Davis-Bacon Act get repealed and the projects can be finished on a budget that reflects reality.  The cowboy poetry festivals will have to fund themselves.

Because a group of freshmen legislators are unwilling to accept "the way things are" in D.C., this country can finally make our leaders acknowledge the same basic economic truths that every American household has to live by every day.  Recklessly borrowing against the house to pay for all of the things that Junior and Buffy are whining about isn't compassion, it's folly.

The Tea Party representatives in the House have already sent a "cut, cap, and balance" bill to the Senate, which ignored it while accusing the House of being obstructionist.  If the federal debt ceiling is not raised, the Tea Party automatically gets the first two parts of the bill.  All they have to do is...nothing. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ninety Minutes of Nightmare

I've often ridiculed the teen slasher film genre.  Specifically, the plot devices whereby young people in their physical prime are herded and hunted by a lone, knife-wielding killer, often in the teens' own home.  I feel that the genre is contrived and deliberate in its creation of artificial helplessness.

And then life imitates bad art.  When I read yesterday's headlines out of Norway I was initially certain that the headline contained a transposition.  Surely the eighty-five dead were the result of the bombing and not the shooting.  How can any maniac shoot eighty-five people to death in one event?

The answer, of course, is when they have nowhere to run to and the killer has an hour and a half to hunt them at his leisure.  Mr. Breivik selected his location and methods with diabolical care.  Literally diabolical, as in, of, concerning, or characteristic of the devil; satanic.  This man chose a remote location filled with the teenage children of Labour Party members and then spent over an hour methodically hunting them down and shooting them to death.  He even shot the corpses to ensure that no victim was left alive.

Like I said, life imitated a teen slasher film, right down to the contrived helplessness of the victims.

When I was ten, my father took my younger brother and I camping for a weekend in the Withlacoochee state forest.  It was a very primitive campsite but the most dangerous thing in the area was an alligator that inhabited the pond.  We knew to stay out of the pond unless he was on the bank.  There were no other campers at that site.  One night a large group of what was probably teenagers assembled about a hundred yards away from our tent.  There was much yelling and very likely some quantity of alcohol being consumed.  What I remember most about that night was my father standing outside the tent, with a machete he used to clear brush on our hikes held alongside his leg.  If any drunk people came our way he was prepared to frighten them off.

My father is not a belligerent or confrontational person.  But he understood a basic truth that night; he was the only person there that could protect his children and he had a responsibility to do so.  In an era before cellular telephones, dialing 911 was not an option.  And even if he could somehow summon help, it was many minutes away.

Western society has been infected for too many years with the meme that only the authorities can protect us.  We are told not to resist when attacked, to give the attacker what he wants so he will go away.  In some areas, such as Great Britain and NYC, a homeowner defending his home against a burglar is often in more trouble with the authorities than the burglar!  In the shooting community we refer to this mindset as "Dial 911 and die".  A summer camp filled with Prog spawn pretty much epitomizes the learned passivity that good liberals are told they should practice and Mr. Breivik no doubt knew this.

Attacks on children are a deliberate terror tool meant to shock and demoralize the target populace.  The Israelis know this after several decades on Palestinian terror attacks on schools and kibbutzim.  That is why Israeli schools have more armed adults than just one token resource officer whose primary duty is searching lockers for contraband.

It took ninety minutes for Norwegian law enforcement to be informed of the situation and respond to it.  As soon as an armed response arrived, the killer immediately surrendered and was taken into custody without a fight.  Mr. Breivik wasn't looking to die, he only wanted to kill.  So he chose a target where he could be absolutely confident about encountering no resistance.  Because only police should have guns and gun control laws are what keeps society safe.  Until somebody decides to break those laws.  Then only the police are safe.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Stroke of the pen, law of the land...

Barry the Intern-in-Chief is promising a series of "reforms to the current gun law" in the near future.  The Prez doesn't have time to screw around with the whole legislative process thing, so he plans to use a series of executive orders to presumably dictate that various federal agencies enforce current laws in new and interesting ways.  This ought to be interesting, since I doubt that the administration has any plans to actually liberalize any existing laws, such as making suppressors Title 1 or reinterpreting the Hughes amendment in a more favorable light.  It can be argued that the President lacks the authority to make any changes to federal firearms laws.  At most he can refocus the efforts of federal law enforcement.

Last year the BATFE took a break from harassing people at gun shows and tried to actually catch real criminals, albeit ones outside of the United States.  That didn't work out so well.  If Eric Holder is lucky, some Republican administration won't extradite him to Mexico to face charges of arms smuggling.  I'm breathlessly awaiting an arrest warrant for Mr. Holder to be issued by a Spanish judge.

If the Obama administration approaches this reform task with the same tone-deaf, ham-handed zeal that has become its signature trademark, this will get very interesting.  On the other hand, Obama pretty much lied to the GLBT lobby so maybe the Brady Bunch will get the same brush off.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Justice Was Done

I did not expect the not-guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial but I am not surprised by it.  I haven't followed the case since Caylee Anthony first went missing.  My personal gut check says that little Caylee probably died from neglect and her flaky mother attempted to hide the body to avoid the inevitable consequences.  It was clear from the beginning that Casey had something to hide and her story about what happened to Caylee never made much sense.

So, I was expecting Casey Anthony to receive a guilty verdict followed by life in prison without parole.  I based this assumption upon the fact that a little girl was dead and my belief that her mother was not making any sense.  Needless to say today's verdict comes as a surprise.

But as I think about it, I can't find myself faulting the jury.  I try to imagine what it would feel like to literally hold a woman's life in my hands while no incontrovertible physical evidence could tell me how the little girl died much less establishing premeditation upon her mother's part.  I would have difficulty convicting for negligent homicide (manslaughter) much less first degree murder.

I've heard prosecutors complain in the past that police procedure dramas on TV have raised the bar for obtaining jury convictions.  Jurors now want hard evidence and no ambiguity, just like they see on TV.  I don't find myself getting too upset about that.  Too many innocent people have already been released from death row because jurors were willing to believe whatever a prosecutor put before them.  Casey Anthony benefited from this higher standard of proof but that does not mean that the "system" failed.  I think it worked just like it was supposed to.

The jurors were told that there must not be a reasonable doubt in any of their minds before they could ethically return a guilty verdict.  I think that they followed their instructions both to the letter and the spirit of the law. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round...

Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (which ought to be a convenience store) refuses to fall on his metaphorical sword.  Rather than resigning and giving the Justice Department some red meat to throw to the Congressional investigators he has decided to remain as acting director until they come and pry his fingernails from the carpet.

Melson is refusing to be the "fall guy" for Operation Fast & Furious, mentioned previously on this blog, that resulted in 1,700 semiautomatic weapons (including the infamous .50 Barrett rifles) being illegally purchased and presumably smuggled into Mexico.  The ostensible purpose of the operation was to track the weapons and tie them to high-level narco-terrorists in Mexico.  The problem, however, was that BATFE was unable to track the weapons and at least two have turned up at the scene of a murder of a United States Border Patrol agent.

The official spin on the operation was that it was conceived and executed by regional BATFE supervisors in Phoenix, AZ and that the national-level suits knew nothing about what was happening.  Well, as it turns out, Mr. Melson knew enough about the operation to request access to the realtime surveillance camera footage of the straw purchases taking place.  Ooops!

My personal suspicions from months ago were that the operation was at the very least authorized by high-level persons in the Justice Department as a means of running up the trace numbers out of Mexico to justify calls for additional gun control laws.  Recent events appear to be bearing this out.  Mr. Melson has not yet received "permission" from the Justice Department to testify under oath about his role in the operation and I suspect that it will be a cold day in Hell before he does. 

The question remaining is this; if Mr. Melson refuses to jump in front of the bus, who else will he drag kicking and screaming on to the pavement with him?  Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

When we moved to the Texas Panhandle I promised my wife frequent green vacations.  She grew up in the Midwest and high desert just doesn't cut it for her.  We often argue about whether a mesquite qualifies as a tree.

This year we decided to return to Estes Park, Colorado.  I found a great rate on cabins just days before the summer season rates kicked in.  Here is the view from our back porch:

This year we brought Murphy the dog.

I was able to find him a nice boarding facility in Estes Park where he exhausted himself romping with other dogs and generally ruining the excellent work the groomer did just before we left.  He was fine on the roadtrip, even offering to take a turn at the wheel.

The campground had horse-riding available so the girls each got to ride a real horse.  I kept the ride to an hour so the girls wouldn't make the acquaintance of that famed eighteenth-century cavalry commander, Major Assburns.

Estes Park is the home of The Stanley Hotel.  The hotel is just over a century old and was originally built as a giant guesthouse for the back-East friends of the Stanleys so the friends could come and visit all summer.  The Stanley Hotel also provided the inspiration for Stephen King's novel THE SHINING after he spent a night here the day before the hotel was due to close for the winter.  The Kubrick film was not filmed at this hotel but the 1996 ABC serial was 96% filmed on location.

Not being stupid, the operators of The Stanley Hotel have capitalized upon this and offer ghost tours.  Of course I signed up for one!  So one Wednesday afternoon the girls and I gathered with the rest of the herd in the basement of the hotel.  The tour lasted 90 minutes and was a mixture of local history and ghost stories.  Most of the ghost stories were fairly benign, such as Mrs. Wilson, who worked as the head chambermaid until the day she died, took a weekend off, and came right back to work.  The fourth floor and a particular staircase are alleged to be haunted by the ghosts of children who grew up, died, and returned to the hotel to spent their afterlife.  Only one ghost allegedly died in the hotel; from a case of appendicitis.
The ghost story part of the tour was guided by a delightfully creepy young lady named Cassie.  I personally did not witness any paranormal phenomena.  My cellphone camera functioned just fine and I would have appreciated a phantom chill on the fourth floor as it was decidedly on the warm side.  Elder Brat experienced a ghostly child tugging on her shirt tassels.  Several people confirmed this.  Younger Brat was very skeptical of the whole event.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

RIP Joel Rosenberg

I returned home from a vacation this week to read that father, author, and all-around fine guy, Joel Rosenberg had passed away. 

I first discovered Joel Rosenberg's "Guardians of the Flame" series in middle school.  From "The Sleeping Dragon" onward I was hooked.  Then I learned that Joel also wrote darned good military science fiction in "Not For Glory".

I suspected that Joel may have been a gun-guy after I read his incredible "Keepers of the Hidden Ways" series.  There were too many accurate little details for someone just working off of research notes.  Then back in 2004 I ran across Joel on one of the larger firearms-related online bulletin boards; The High Road, I believe.

From there I learned that Joel was a concealed carry instructor and a 2nd Amendment activist.  Better and better!  It wasn't until I found Joel on Facebook that I began following his online work more closely.

Joel and I had quite a bit in common both in interests and life events.  Joel wrote about some family struggles that my family also deals with.  We shared a similar sense of humor and political views.

When I said that Joel was an activist, he really was.  Late last year Joel tested the letter of Minnesota's firearms laws by openly wearing a handgun into a police station.  Joel complied with all legal requirements to do so but the incident resulted in a series of events that placed Joel in very real danger of a jail sentence and permanent loss of his right to own a firearm.  Joel was literally making himself a test case for Minnesota gun rights.  I don't believe that I would have the courage to take the same kind of risk.

Felicia, Judy, and Rachel, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Monster Under the Bed is about to learn the difference between cover and concealment...

I gave my older daughter a copy of Larry Correia's excellent novel Monster Hunter International.  She immediately fell in love with The Abomination; a fully automatic, short-barreled shotgun that takes twenty-round magazines, has an under-barrel grenade launcher, and even sports a bayonet for opening cans of ravioli.  It fell upon me to explain that Abomination violated nearly every federal firearm law and that I could not add one to the gun safe.  I think the NRA just got another life member.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Was It Worth It?

Eighteen years ago today seventy-six people, including over twenty children, died over a few hundred bucks in unpaid transfer taxes that the victims weren't allowed to pay.

Two years later, the events of that day would drive another young man to murder 168 more people, also including children, in retaliation.  The Middle East does not have a monopoly on cycles of violence.

Now the BATFE has a new scandal to brag about.  This one involves a dead Border Patrol agent and a couple thousand guns intentionally given to narco-terrorists in the name of "gun control".  Well done, F-Troop, well done.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Silence is Golden

Contrary to popular belief, in most states in this country it is perfectly legal to own a “silencer”, more correctly known as a sound suppressor, for a firearm.  It can be a time consuming pain in the butt, but it’s not a crime.

Since 1934 sound suppressors have been part of the Title II registry, along with fully automatic weapons, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and strange firearms known as “Any Other Weapons”.  The guns for sale at your local gun store or sporting goods store are Title 1 weapons.

A Title II device requires the payment of a $200 transfer tax and registration with the BATFE each time it passes from one private party to another.  In 1934, $200 was an outrageous sum to add to the price of a $10 Maxim suppressor or a $5 Sears, Roebuck shotgun.  The obvious intent of the tax was to provide a de facto ban on the devices.  The process of applying for and receiving the tax stamp always takes several weeks and can take months. 

According to firearms history, suppressors were placed on the Title II registry during the Great Depression to prevent starving people from hunting game illegally.  Maybe so, but that logic no longer applies these days.  In some areas of this country deer and wild pigs are a menace to both people and conservation efforts.  We NEED to shoot more of them to bring the populations back down to sustainable levels.

In Scandinavia it is considered rude to hunt without a suppressor.  The muzzle blast from the rifle scares all of the game in the area and causes them to flee from the sound.  It also disturbs other people in the area.

Law enforcement is recognizing the value of suppressors when shots are fired in enclosed areas, such as room in a house.  If you discharge a centerfire weapon in an enclosed area, especially a rifle, you can expect to have permanent hearing loss afterwards.  Hearing loss is a common cause of medical retirement for law enforcement.

Contrary to Hollywood myth, it is difficult to completely silence a firearm.  It is impossible to silence a firearm that fires a bullet faster than about 1,150 feet per second, which includes almost all rifles and magnum handguns.  The sonic crack of the bullet in flight creates a very loud noise that is unaffected by the suppressor.    

A suppressor works on the same principle as a car’s muffler with much the same results.  A car running without a muffler is obnoxiously loud.  A car running with a muffler can still be heard but is not loud enough to cause distress.  Sound suppressors for firearms work exactly the same way.  You can almost always hear the gun being fired but the suppressed gun is much easier on the ears.

Between 1934 and 1968 any adult could walk into a hardware store and buy a handgun or a long-arm without any paperwork other than the sales receipt.  No federal paperwork or background checks were required.  These days, anyone selling firearms for retail must be licensed by the BATFE and must maintain a permanent log book of every sale.  Federal law also requires an electronic criminal background check on every sale.  Some states exempt buyers with concealed weapon licenses on the grounds that those individuals already have to pass criminal background checks.

I am proposing here that suppressors be moved to the Title 1 registry.  Each suppressor is already individually serial-numbered, just like a gun.  The same laws currently applied to gun sales can easily be applied to suppressors, allowing the law-abiding to buy a firearm safety device without having to pay a ridiculous tax and jump through bureaucratic hoops.  It makes sense both from a legal perspective and a safety perspective.  More suppressors equals less noise.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Well Worth The Wait

The long-long-long-awaited (since before Kurt Cobain blew his top) new Guns N' Roses album, "Chinese Democracy" appears to be nearing completion, as some preview cuts are now being released.  Good stuff.  Enjoy and bask in the days when music was music.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Good for S’Mores, Not for War

When I was in Scouts there was an ironclad rule:  leave the campsite better than you found it.  If there was any litter on the campground when we arrived, it was gone when we left.  It’s a great rule to live by for my personal life, too.

But when it comes to making war the rule leaves a lot to be desired.  The Romans understood this; by the third Punic War they destroyed Carthage and sowed the ground with salt, the ancient equivalent of turning the city to radioactive glass.  For centuries it was understood that war meant devastation; armies scoured the countryside and the winning side looted the defeated for everything they could carry away.

Now, Americans are weird when it comes to war.  We burn hot and fast and want a quick victory.  But we also want everyone to like us when we leave.  It’s like we view B-52 bombing missions as the first step in urban renewal, sort of eminent domain by other means. 

That’s dumb unless you really need the opponent as an ally, like we did with Germany and Japan.  The purpose of war is to force the enemy to capitulate.  After 9/11 we invaded Afghanistan to punish the Taliban and eliminate that country as a haven for Islamic terrorism.  We came in on the side of the Northern Alliance to the extent that “sides” even exist in that country, and quickly drove the Taliban back into Waziristan.  If we had left at that time the point would have been made; mess with the U.S. and we will bring the pain.  Leave us alone and we’ll reciprocate.  Iraq was a different situation since there our stated goal was to remove Saddam Hussein and replace him with a more stable leader.

Now we are once again dropping bombs and firing cruise missiles in the name of humanitarian aid.  The stated goal is to enforce a “no-fly zone” to keep Qa-however-you-spell-it from killing his enemies with airstrikes.  We’re going to make him work for it the hard way, on the ground.  Many believe that the unstated goal is to force a “regime change” in Tripoli.  If that happens, will we once again be calling upon Paul Bremer to work his magic from the Green Zone in Ben-Ghazi?

The point is our military is there to kill people and break things.  They are very good at it.  They’re also pretty good at “nation-building” and humanitarian assistance, but that’s not their job.  Nation-building is for homesteaders, not soldiers.   

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Apparently, I need to spend more time staring at my female co-workers...

Yep, I did it again.  A woman that works in the same building is already four and a half months pregnant and I just now found out.  I didn't even notice!  A similar incident occurred about eight years ago when another co-worker made it to six months before I clued in; although, in my defense, she did wear very baggy clothes.

I miss the days when the blouses with the ties in the back were a dead giveaway.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Smugglers' Blues

For a couple of years now, the press has been treating us to stories about the frightening number of firearms seized in Mexico that have been traced back to the United States.  Gun-control advocates have pointed to these statistics as proof that American gun laws are too lax and that we must surrender more of our freedoms to help reduce Mexican street crime.

This never really made a lot of sense to me.  Smuggling one rifle at a time seems like a piecemeal method for drug cartels that annually smuggle tons of illegal drugs over the border.  Any licensed gun dealer knows the score, and if you’re selling a couple of dozen AK-47 clones in a week to the same guy, you’d have to be an idiot not to suspect a strawman sale.  And you also know just quickly that activity can get your federal firearms licensed revoked and possibly get you a nice cell at Club Fed.

Well, now the truth is emerging.  It turns out that American gun dealers did, in fact, sell at least a thousand semiautomatic rifles to known strawmen for the purpose of smuggling the guns into Mexico.  But, they were TOLD to do so by the federal agency that regulates them!

Enter Project Gun Runner.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) wanted to research the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico.  That’s the official story; some of us wonder if they weren’t also trying to inflate the number of serial number traces submitted to them by Mexican law enforcement for the purpose of seeking tighter gun control laws in the United States.

Apparently it never occurred to anyone in BATFE management (and I use that term guardedly) that giving a thousand rifles to cartel thugs actively turning the northern provinces of Mexico into a war zone might be a Bad Thing.  Two thirds of the guns known to have been sold under Gun Runner have been recovered at Mexican crime scenes.  The death toll is probably in the hundreds.

This is the same agency whose ham-handed attempt to serve a warrant led to the death of twenty-five children in 1993.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see a much higher bodycount of innocents from this latest debacle.  Congress is beginning to take notice and is asking pointed questions.  Sit back and watch F-Troop and the Justice Department shuck and jive as they try to minimize and obfuscate the details of the operation.  Thankfully at least one BATFE agent possessed a conscience strong enough to compel him to come forward and bring the agency’s activities to light.

If past experience is any guide, expect BATFE to leave the real criminals alone and concentrate on hassling licensed gun dealers for the next year or two.  It won’t reduce gun crime in any meaningful way, but it will keep them out of the eye of the public until their friends in Congress can smooth this over.

BATFE’s technical services division serves a purpose, but their armed federal agents are a joke.  This agency has repeatedly been humiliated by the antics of these cowboys and their utter lack of common sense.  In my opinion, BATFE should be reduced to technical and administrative functions and stripped of armed agents.  If warrants need to be served, let the adults do it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

It's Worse Than A Crime, It's A Blunder!

A friend of mine turned me on to Sons of Guns, a Discovery Channel show about a Gun Shop/Class 2 SOT.  Since we turned off the cable TV a few months ago to escape The Disney Channel, I've been watching a couple of episodes on the Internet.  After watching "Machine Gun Mania", I may have to stop watching altogether.

In the aforementioned episode, a customer brings the shop a fully automatic Browning Model 1919 machine gun and requests that they modify the weapon to allow the customer to fire it from the shoulder.  Now look, I liked Roadblock just as much as the next GI Joe fan, but messing up a classic example of diplomacy-by-other-means to win a "Mad Minute" contest is just wrong.  And did we mention the collector value?  Until the Hughes Amendment is repealed, that Browning is worth...fifty or sixty thousand dollars?  Dude, I'll admit its cool, but a parts kit with a semiautomatic receiver would have been almost as cool for a fraction of the price.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Helping With Homework

Elder Child:  "Daddy, what's another name for the Industrial Workers of the World?"

Me:  "Communists."

Well, it's true!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mission Creep

NATO has declared that it will not participate in a no-fly zone over Libya unless it receives a mandate from the United Nations.  Since Russia is a permanent member of The Security Council and has already stated that it will veto any such resolution, it appears that Gadhafi will continue to use his aircraft to attack rebels until one of his own officers decides to shoot him in the head.  I’m actually okay with this; let me ‘splain.

NATO, which stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was created in 1949.  NATO is a multinational military alliance originally intended to stymie Soviet aggression and the forcible expansion of communism in Europe.  According to NATO’s charter, an attack on one member is an attack on all, and all members are required to mutually defend each other.  The Soviet Union and its satellite states formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955 as a response.

NATO was one of the reasons that the Cold War stayed cold.  The Soviets knew that an attack upon a NATO member would bring the full military might of North America and Western Europe would against them. 

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO began to quickly expand.  East Germany had already reunified with West Germany in 1989 and NATO expanded to include what had been East Germany.  Several former Soviet client states applied to join NATO and the organization currently includes eleven former Soviet client states with future commitments to allow Ukraine and Georgia to join the alliance.

This expansion of NATO has naturally made Russia angry as it sees its dominance in Europe waning and nervous as it sees NATO’s stated mission expand even as the organization creeps closer to Russia’s borders.  And that mission creep is the source of my concern.

What started as a mutual defense treaty organization began operating offensively in nations outside of its own members.  From 1993 until 1999 NATO participated in various military operations in the former country of Yugoslavia, beginning with enforcing an arms embargo and no-fly zones and culminating in the bombing of Serbian cities and the occupation of Kosovo.  Whether or not these actions were morally justified, the fact remains that no member of NATO had been attacked by Yugoslavia or its splinter states prior to NATO taking action.

NATO is currently participating in the conflict in Afghanistan, although this intervention is at least justifiable in that the Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan in 2001 and actively aided Al Qaeda while that organization planned and conducted an attack against a NATO member.

NATO has morphed into a multinational peacekeeping force that the West can call upon when the United Nations isn’t willing to play.  Russian accusations that NATO is an expansionist force are hard to deny under the present circumstances.  Ironically, it will ultimately be in Russia’s best interest to seek membership for itself in NATO as a counter to Chinese expansionism into Siberia and the Kuriles.  But for now, I believe that NATO would be best served by sticking to its original mission and avoiding “foreign entanglements” that don’t affect its members directly.  

From the Mouths of Children

Younger daughter and I were watching the riot sequence in "Harry Brown" when she piped up, "The police should be using guns!"  I explained to her that British police rarely carry guns and British laws also prohibit private gun ownership, so the only people that freely carry weapons are the criminals.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Wheel In The Sky Keeps On Turning

In light of the Charlie Sheen kerfluffle, I submit this modified version of an IRON MAIDEN album cover to demonstrate the eternal truth that there is nothing new under the sun:

Cat People

This CNN article on cat ladies provided some entertaining reading this morning.  I've lived with cats in the house most of my life.  My mother loved having kittens around so she never bothered having any of the family cats spayed/neutered.  The amazing thing was that she was always able to place them in homes that didn't involve medical experiments at the local research university.  Since they were all indoor/outdoor cats, their mean lifespan was often depressingly short.  I can still remember waking up for my 8th birthday to find my cat dead on the kitchen floor.  Run over, poisoned, who knows?  But the point is that I got to experience a LOT of different cats.

Right now we have three female indoor cats in a remarkably stable relationship triangle.  All three are rescue animals.  One we adopted as an adult, the other two can to us as kittens.  The adult adoptee is a snow white Turkish Angora that is quite possibly the smartest cat I have ever met.  She reasons things out and is adept at manipulating everyone around her.  The other two are dumb as a box of rocks but they are loyal and friendly.  The youngest has an automatic purr for anyone who picks her up and I can forgive a lot in an animal like that. 

The middle cat is a basket case.  I have never before met a cat as neurotic as this one.  "Scaredy cat" didn't even begin to describe her behavior.  My father-in-law called her "Duck" because she would flinch and run if anyone but my wife or daughter even made eye contact with her.  Last year we had to put her on anti-anxiety medication after I tried to toilet train them.  The drugs worked well when administered but putting an already nervous cat in a headlock to squirt a couple cc's of refrigerated medication down her choking, squalling throat struck me as being counter-productive.  So we got her a kitten friend.  The new kitten came with a complimentary ringworm infection, which necessitated all three cats getting weekly fungicidal baths and we were off again!  Things have since settled down and everybody is happy.

We have had dogs in the past but I just can't warm up to them like I can a cat.  Housebreaking a cat is usually as easy as dropping it in a litter box.  Instinct takes over from there.  Dogs are much more frustrating.  We had a dog that I would take for nice long walks twice a day.  She'd mark territory and pee, but she waited until we were back in the apartment to take a crap.  She was sweet but very stupid.

Dogs are needy.  They follow me with their eyes everywhere I go.  It's live living with Barbara Eden in "I Dream of Genie".  The cats only perk up if I'm in the kitchen.  That's not to say that our cats are the aloof mooches so often portrayed by stereotype.  The bilateral relationship described in the article fits our cats perfectly.  Middle cat tries to herd everybody into bed at 9pm so she can settle down by my wife's feet.  It's a relationship of peers, not a creepy master/servant thing.  I agree with the article's premise that it is possible to have a solid relationship with a cat beyond that of "cat and staff".         

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Murder at 10,000 feet

I've been following the story of Otzi the Iceman for years, ever since his incredibly well-preserved cadaver was discovered defrosting in the Alps (who says global warming is all bad?).  Otzi had been hit by an arrow shortly before he died and may have been clubbed to death as he lay wounded in the snow.  Did he owe someone money?  In any case, if this kind of thing has been going on the Alps for the last fifty-three centuries, its really no wonder why the Swiss are always armed to the teeth.

Dead Air

Ever listened to radio show where the engineer accidentally kicked the plug out of the wall and now an awkward silence fills the frequency?  And you just know that several somebodys are scrambling around the studio, yelling and cussing as they try to make the lights come on again.  Yeah, its kind of like that.