Rifles and Pistols and Guns, Oh My!

Johann Fanzoj

November 5th, 2018 7 Comments

Just to get all our minds off the endless, soul-killing litany of malicious lies and braggadocio of the mid-term elections, I have decided to post some photographs sent to me by rancher and novelist John L. Moore of a work of art by a gun maker I’d never even heard of before.

Johann Fanzoj has been making guns in Ferlach, Austria ever since 1790, and it looks as if they have a pretty good idea of what they’re doing. The gun in the photographs is a Vierling, a four-barreled gun. It would require far more money than I have to buy it, and far more skill than I have to use it, but enjoy the photos.

Switzerland

May 7th, 2018 14 Comments

 

We were still living in Europe when I reached adolescence and my father wisely decided that shipping me off to boarding school was preferable to serving a lengthy prison sentence for murdering his only son. Any parent who has raised a child as obnoxious as I was all the way through adolescence will rightly argue that there should be a special reduced sentence for parents who succumb to temptation: “Involuntary manslaughter resulting from extreme provocation; six-month prison sentence, maximum, with probation until all other children have passed safely through adolescence.” Something like that; perhaps more lenient.

In any event, the school I was shipped off to was in Switzerland, run by a father-and-son team of educators with lengthy educational pedigrees and credentials. The father was a doddering and decrepit old fossil in his late fifties, early sixties, something like that. The son was just a regular old man in his thirties, and—as Switzerland mandates military service for every able-bodied male between nineteen and thirty-five (I always thought it was twenty to forty-five, and researching this article I found other ages cited, but nineteen to thirty-five is close enough for government work)—I have a vivid memory of watching him, in his uniform, strap a fully automatic rifle across his shoulders, and bicycle off to train or serve or both. The rifle was kept somewhere in the vast and freezing old chateau that housed the school; all Swiss soldiers are required to keep and maintain their assigned service weapons with them.

Some quick stats for you:

**Switzerland has an almost entirely civilian militia (only 5% of the military consists of professional soldiers) who go through basic training and then continue to train and/or serve one day a month plus two or three weeks once a year. (I think this is still more or less accurate.)

**Switzerland has a long history of being politically neutral, but it has more soldiers relative to its population than any other country on earth.

**After service, men (and now women) are allowed to keep their personal small arms.

**Switzerland has the third-highest rate of private gun-ownership in the world.

**Children are taught to shoot at very young ages, where the phrase “taught to shoot” should correctly be interpreted to mean marksmanship, safety, maintenance of a firearm, responsibility, and patriotism. There is an annual shooting competition for children as well as ones for doddering old crocks like my headmasters.

**Switzerland has one of the lowest rates of crime and/or violent crime (including murder by any means) of any country in the world. (Statistics are like opinions, but while the actual numbers vary depending where you look, all sources agree on this.)

**Switzerland consistently ranks among the top five in the annual list of “happiest nations on earth.”

**Switzerland ranks second in the United Nations list of “human development,” a list which includes wealth, education, life-expectancy, and health.

**If I have my stats right, Switzerland ranks first in average wealth per resident.

I could go on, and some of this may have varied somewhat over the years, but you get the idea.

So, in case you were ever naïve enough to believe anti-gun politicians and progressive billionaire-sponsored anti-gun groups who sanctimoniously intone that they have no intention of trying to take your guns, that all they want is the “common-sense regulations” that will make us all soooooo much safer, because, after all, “if it saves just one life,” yadayadayada… If you really were that naïve, consider the following:

The European Union has mandated certain gun control measures that affect every member nation. Switzerland is not technically a member of the EU, but it is a member of something called the Schengen Area, which is, essentially, a border-free zone that allows any EU citizen to travel, live, or work in any EU nation. As a member of the Schengen Area, Switzerland is required to abide by the EU rules governing firearms. This gets complicated and I don’t wish to get bogged down in legalities here, but the bottom line is that the safest and most peaceful nation on earth, the one that has relied on a citizen army to keep it both safe and neutral for around five-hundred years, where the chance of being murdered, or even becoming a victim of violent crime, is considerably less than in any other country on earth, that same country is now being required to disarm its citizens, which is to say, its citizen army, all in the name of safety.

Worse still, various Swiss progressive groups and organizations, including the Socialist Party are calling for even more draconian gun control measures including removing local (i.e. canton) control and turning it over to the government, requiring training and sports-participation standards, and government registration.

To what end, I hear you cry? Not to make Swiss citizens safer, to “save just one life,” because other than possibly Antarctica, there is nowhere on planet earth where you can be safer. So why? Ah. Good question.

Possibly so progressive socialists can force Switzerland down the same primrose path they forced Great Britain to skip down, and we know how well merry England, the country that used to be the safest on earth, has fared in recent times.

Beretta’s PX4 Storm Compact Carry

April 2nd, 2018 18 Comments

In the interests of being as politically incorrect as possible, and because I am tired of the mainstream media’s fulsome adoration of dubiously motivated high school students and even more dubiously motivated anti-gun organizations, I have decided to post an article originally published in “Gun World” magazine (https://www.gunworld.com). I am also posting it because I know a lot of readers are interested in firearms and because rotary barrel systems seem to suffer from bad press almost as much as, well, gun owners and the NRA.

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“Cognitive dissonance” is a ten-dollar psychiatric phrase for the stress experienced by people who believe in two mutually exclusive concepts at the same time. If you do any research about rotary-barrel systems such as Beretta’s PX4 Storm, you will suffer from cognitive dissonance. It is the most inherently accurate system there is. It is the most inherently inaccurate system there is. It is the most inherently reliable system. It is the most inherently unreliable system. It must be run wet. It must not have too much lubrication. It…

You get the picture. Let’s start by dismissing some of the most popular myths about the rotary-barrel system:

Most semi-auto pistols today use some variation of John Browning’s tilting-barrel lock design (think M1911, think all Glocks except their new 46, think Hi-Power, think CZ75, think probably 95% of all semi-autos), and the most common argument against the rotary-barrel design is that it’s not John Browning’s tilt-design. What is ironic is that the earliest rotary-barrel design I have been able to track down is an 1897 patent taken out by, yes, John Browning, albeit never put into production.

The next most common argument against the rotary-barrel system is that it must have clearance between the barrel and the slide, and the requisite clearance will allow the barrel to move, adversely affecting accuracy.

That popular theory is simply nonsense on a variety of levels. Here is a direct quote from an engineer at Beretta: “The barrel cams close [in] much the same way as a bolt action rifle and therefore have a much tighter lockup than any Browning tilt-style handgun.” [Emphasis mine.] “Due to the linear movement of the barrel, the barrel cut in the front of the slide is minimized as well, meaning that the requirement for an ovoid cut as seen in 1911s and other Browning-style tilt-barrel actions is not needed and the slide can act as its own bushing, so to speak.  Due to the rotation of the barrel and lack of vertical movement, the accuracy potential is significantly increased as the barrel does not need to deviate from a single angle, merely moving forwards and rearwards during cycling.”

Not only is there increased accuracy from the linear movement of the barrel, the rotary-barrel system is an inherently strong design that leads to longer life of the gun, and enables the gun to tolerate higher pressures. Not surprising in a handgun designed to, “meet the most stringent military standards of durability.” In fact, strength was the reason for that particular choice of that particular action. To quote Beretta’s engineer again, the motivation for Beretta’s original rotary-barrel pistol (the Cougar 8000 series) was “…a need for extreme durability. The rotary lock-up provided the most robust design solution.” Additionally, the rotation of the barrel reduces perceived recoil, and reduces muzzle-jump because of the lower barrel-mount relative to the frame.

Another popular argument is that the rotation of the barrel causes the gun to twist in your hand. I admit I have never fired the PX4 in .40- or .45-caliber, but I have put well over 2000 rounds, probably much closer to 3000, through my full-size 9mm, over 300 (I lost track during a defensive shooting class) through the Compact Carry Beretta sent me for testing, as well as about 400 more through a friend’s 9mm, including some hot, +P loads, and I have never experienced any kind of twist at all. Since I have arthritis in my hands, I am very sensitive to anything that causes any kind of discomfort, and I would have noticed twisting.

It is also worth noting that for a total of somewhere well over 3000 rounds of a wide range of ammunition, fired from three separate guns, I have never experienced a single malfunction.

(For the record, the PX4 Subcompact does not utilize a rotary-barrel system because of its size; from a gunsmithing perspective, barrel length less than three inches precludes that system, so while technically the subcompact, with a three-inch barrel, might be feasible with a rotary system, Beretta opted for a tilt-barrel design.)

There was a golden era of automobiles, from about the early-1930s to the early-1950s, when the lines of every car, from a Bugatti to a Buick, were curved and smooth and almost femininely sensuous. Those are the lines of the PX4, and it is not a coincidence: Beretta hired the Italian design firm of Italdesign, founded and then headed by Giorgetto Giugiaro (one of the most famous car designers in the world, the man responsible for cars as outrageously beautiful as the Ferrari GG50, a slew of Bugatti concept cars, and the Maserati Spyder/Coupé, and as economically practical as the Volkswagen Golf, among many others), to help them make form follow function with style and elegance and great ergonomics. Whoo, boy, did they succeed.

Based on a polymer frame, the lines of the PX4 are unique in today’s boxy-pistol world. The slide has an almost pyramidal shape, with everything softened and curved, while the frame melts down into a Picatinny rail. The grip is ergonomically excellent, allowing for a natural pointing hold the way the M1911 does. It comes with three backstraps to accommodate everyone from Lebron James to, well, me, and the grips both front and back have patterning aggressive enough to provide a firm hold without drawing blood. The safety is ambidextrous, and the magazine release button is reversible and available in three different sizes to match your needs. The trigger guard is undercut, allowing the shooter to take a high grip, and the action is a standard DA/SA. The initial DA pull is long, allowing the shooter to hold the gun safely in low-ready, and start the trigger pull as he comes up onto target, allowing for almost instantaneous target engagement.

I measured the trigger pulls for each of the three guns with my Timney scale and came up with the following:

I had the trigger on my full-size PX4 smoothed and polished many years ago, and it had a three-pull average of 9lbs in double action, 4.5lbs in single action;

My friend’s unmodified gun averaged 9.2lbs DA and 6lbs SA.

The Compact Carry, an upgraded version of Beretta’s Compact model specially customized by them to Ernest Langdon’s specifications, measured 9.6lbs DA (I suspect that will lesson with use) and 4.2lbs SA. All three triggers had very similar “feel:” crisp and positive. Reset was approximately 5/8’s of an inch and very distinct.

Ernest Langdon is a professional shooting instructor, a competitive shooter with a Grand Master Class rating from the USPSA, a Distinguished Master with the IDPA, with ten National Championship Shooting titles and two World Speed Shooting titles, a Marine, a law enforcement officer, author… His bio is longer than my word count for this article, so suffice it to say he knows his stuff. His Compact Carry model differs from the regular PX4 in that it has night sights, a low-profile slide-stop and low-profile safety-levers, Talon grips, and a grey Cerakote slide for a subtle aesthetic effect. Like all PX4 Storms, it field strips with ridiculous ease into a grand total of six components. That’s six (6) components. Counting the magazine. Remember the saying, “The fewer moving parts, the better?”

The defensive shooting class I took was taught by Static Defense Systems of Chino Valley, AZ. Owner and chief instructor Charlie Higgins is a former US Army Special Forces, Military Combat and Tactical Firearms Instructor, Close Quarters Combat Instructor, qualified Master Gunner graduate, NRA Instructor, and martial arts teacher/fanatic. Since the PX4 was originally designed for military and law enforcement use (it is carried by law enforcement agencies in America, and by both law enforcement and military agencies in Canada, Mexico, Italy—natch—and in a slew of South American and African countries), defensive use is its natural habitat. We ran a number of drills designed to simulate a variety of situations: two-handed; single-hand; non-shooting hand; single target; multiple targets; steel plate; paper; stationary; moving forward; moving back; moving laterally; single shot; double-tap; Mozambique; and Charlie’s preferred variation of the Mozambique drill, which I prefer not to describe, in the interests of law enforcement safety.

All of this was done under dubious conditions: high wind, dust, and smoke from a distant fire. All three pistols performed admirably, and none ever malfunctioned.

As befits a firearm designed to be abnormally rugged and durable, the sights on the PX4 are over-built to the max. I had the front sight on my personal gun modified by LRK Mechanical in Prescott, AZ, manufacturers of everything from race pistols to long-distance rifles, and even they were a little stunned by the excessive durability. According to them, my front sight measured .156 millimeters in width, more even than all but the very widest custom high-resolution sights designed for rapid target acquisition, and that means that at 15 yards, a four-inch bullseye is completely obscured. On the other hand, a man-sized silhouette is easily seen at all normal defensive distances, even out well beyond 15-yards, and the bright red Tritium front sight of the Compact Carry puts the eye on instantly. I just wish all PX4 Storms came with that front sight.

With a MSRP of $650, the standard Compact is reasonably priced. At $899, the Compact Carry is not inexpensive, but considering that it is a semi-custom gun, it not unreasonable either. Beauty, brawn, durability, accuracy, truly amazing reliability, and discreet size for concealed carry, from an historic and legendary company. You can’t ask for more.

What Makes You Think Your Child Is Getting an Education?

March 3rd, 2018 11 Comments

 

A reader—a college professor—sent me some reactions to my blog, What Might Work, and he has given me permission to reprint his comments, along with his name and position. I have chosen to do this because, while he makes many good points, his comments about his students’ fundamental ignorance of the Constitution are truly terrifying. Remember, these are college students he is talking about. If your child is so poorly educated in secondary and/or high school that he or she doesn’t even have a clue what’s in the Bill of Rights, it is devastating condemnation of the total failure of the public-school system in this country. That too is something America needs to discuss.

I have only deleted some personal comments of Mr. Logas’ that were in praise of my blog; other than that, it is just as he wrote it.

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For years, I’ve shared in my college classes my support for having county sheriff’s deputize select employees from schools who volunteer to serve as the first responders to an active shooter on campus. The sheriff’s office pays for the training and the person who has access to the gun or lock box is a sworn deputy who knows what to do. How sad it is that many teachers and/or security guards can only protect students by standing between them and the active shooter.

Students cannot believe that I would support guns on campus until I ask them what would happen if a person with a gun walked in during our conversation. There are only two ways out of the room and both doors are almost next to each other. There’s no low access to the windows, so there’s no chance of escape through them. Next, I ask how many Veterans are in the class and how many students have a permit to carry. Finally, I ask how many of them have their gun with them. None. Of course not, we’re a gun free zone, except for an active shooter. I ask them how we could stop someone from pulling the trigger once they’re in the room…charm them with our good looks? That wakes them up.

Yesterday, as we were discussing the Florida shooting and the 2nd Amendment, a student told me that she couldn’t believe that I support the 2nd Amendment because, “it gives people the right to kill other people.” I asked her where she learned that and she didn’t respond. I told her that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t give people the right to kill another person, it gives people the right to protect themselves from tyranny and oppressive government. Education has done a tremendous disservice to our Constitution. During the second week of class each semester, I tell my students that I’m going to read the 2nd Amendment to them because it is too convoluted, extremely long, and written in a form of English language that we updated long ago. I also warn them that it will probably take a good 30 minutes for us to read. Then, I read it. They’re stunned. I ask them where they learned information about the 2nd Amendment. Some learned it from a teacher, most from the media, and a majority admit they never were exposed to it at all. Finally, I ask them why someone would lie to them about its content and encourage them to listen to authority instead of being encouraged to read it for themselves and make their own fact-based conclusion. They begin to understand the smear campaign and the people behind it.

Other information that I share with my students is the fact that many times law enforcement does not follow up on leads. The shooting of the Congresswoman at the outdoor town hall meeting is one example. The shooter had made multiple threats against her, law enforcement had visited his house many times, and he was stopped that very morning but released for a minor traffic violation. The sheriff blamed Conservatives, talk radio, and the NRA for the shooting. He was covering up for his own incompetence. The murder of Kathryn Steinle is another example where Obama called for gun control legislation, even though he was aware that no gun legislation would have stopped the murder because the illegal immigrant had stolen a federal agent’s gun. And here we go again, more calls for gun control legislation and this time it was the FBI that never followed up on legitimate leads, not even sending those leads to the Miami field office.

A year ago June, I was on the air broadcasting our live coverage of the Pulse shooting in Orlando (I was born and raised in Orlando). Shortly after the shooting, many people in the LGBT community accepted an offer from the NRA and other groups for free training in the use of a firearm. The media had a major blackout over the fact that the gay community embraced the 2nd Amendment after the shooting. Instead, they reported that many in the gay community wanted more gun control. Since that time, some of the students in my classes have shared that a relative or friend was someone who was killed in that nightclub. They share with their peers in the class that anyone else who would have had a gun inside the club that night would have prevented more innocent people from being killed. Some students still can’t grasp that concept, so I ask them a simple question, “Why did the shooter choose a gay nightclub and not a biker bar?”. No one can answer the question. Of course, you know that in a biker bar the shooter would have been dropped the minute he pulled the gun out or opened his mouth. The shooter chose a gay nightclub because it was the path of least resistance. Most gay people have been discriminated against, are peaceful, happy, and would rather talk a situation through rather than use violence. He needed that little bit of extra time to get himself established once inside the nightclub. The 911 calls prove that the shooter did not choose the nightclub because he hated gay people, his words demonstrate that he was a terrorist and there wasn’t one word spoken against gays or the gay community.

You hit the nail on the head in your article. The family unit is in decay, the sanctity of life is under assault, and I’ll add that God is nowhere to be found in our schools…until there is a mass shooting. I’ve proposed in my classes to try something new since everyone seems to support “doing something”. Put volunteer employees as plain clothes deputies in schools and return God to our classrooms. The schools and parents always turn to guns to stop the active shooter and then turn to religion after every school shooting. Instead of crosses hanging on a fence or placed in a row on school property in the aftermath, let’s be proactive and introduce a Biblical approach to problems while learning the importance of the sanctity of life.

Mark Logas

Professor of Political Science

Valencia College-East Campus

Orlando, FL

60 Minutes Concealed Carry Segment

February 14th, 2018 39 Comments

 

I watched the 60 Minutes special report on the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act last Sunday (February 11, 2018). Superficially, it looked good: reasonably balanced interviews with articulate people on both sides, all of it hosted and narrated by Steve Kroft, earnestly doing his best to appear impartial. And no matter what, it certainly was a step up from Katie Couric’s so-called “Under the Gun” documentary in which footage was deliberately and unethically edited to misrepresent the Virginia Citizens Defense League (a pro-gun group) to make them look both stupid and dishonest. So progress is being made—to an extent.

In case you are unfamiliar with the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (also known as House Bill 38), it is bill that would amend Title 18 of the United States Code so that all states would be required to recognize the validity of concealed carry licenses from other states and allow license holders to carry handguns from one state to another, across state lines, without fear of prosecution. Right now, each state has its own, frequently conflicting, laws, and some states have conflicting regulations from city to city, resulting, as Steve Kroft himself put it, in a confusing hodgepodge of contradictory laws. The bill has passed through Congress, and now languishes, waiting to be brought to a vote in the Senate.

The people on the pro-gun side were Tim Schmidt, founder and CEO of the US Concealed Carry Association, and Representative Richard Hudson, Republican, of North Carolina. On the anti-gun, anti-HR Bill 38 side were Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Cyrus Vance, New York District Attorney for Manhattan, and James O’Neill, New York City Police Commissioner. There were also some sound bites from other people on either side.

Let me give you a quick rundown of what was presented.

Robyn Thomas accurately stated that passing this bill would allow a concealed carry license holder to carry a sidearm into metropolitan areas in other states that might have far more stringent laws. She cited Los Angeles and San Francisco, two California cities where concealed carry licenses are automatically denied, regardless of circumstances, except in the cases of the very wealthy and/or well-connected who have the clout to transcend the law. But what Ms. Thomas did not mention, is that to obtain a concealed carry license, even in the most gun-friendly state in the nation, Arizona, a complete and thorough background check is conducted, one that goes well above and beyond the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Nor did Steve Kroft point that out, nor was anyone on the pro-gun side given a chance to point that out. Why that omitted detail is important—apart from the obvious reasons—will become clear.

Cyrus Vance and Police Commissioner O’Neill boiled their argument down to “more guns equals more violence.” They also, according to Steve Kroft, are worried specifically about more suicides, even though countless studies have shown that guns no more cause suicide than spoons cause obesity.

Vance and O’Neill have formed a coalition of prosecutors and police chiefs, from nearly every big city in America, to lobby senators to vote against the bill. Representative Hudson, when confronted with the list of cities across America whose police chiefs oppose this potential change in the law, graciously put it down to differences in opinion by “good people” on both sides. Again, I will return to “more guns equals more violence” and to the question of police chiefs in major metropolitan areas shortly.

When Representative Hudson said the licenses should be treated the way drivers’ licenses are treated, Steve Kroft responded with an argument that is often used as a specious comparison to gun ownership, namely that to obtain a driver’s license, one must pass a test demonstrating proficiency as a driver, knowledge of the law, and establish that you’re not going endanger other people. (That last one is highly questionable and open to debate, but I’ll let it go.) Rep. Hudson, to his everlasting credit, pointed out that driving is a privilege; the right to self defense is just that, a right, protected and ensured by the Constitution. Car ownership and driving are not.

Robyn Thomas denied the right to carry a gun outside the home on the grounds that the Supreme Court has not specifically ruled on that aspect of the Second Amendment. I would argue that the word “bear,” as in the phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear arms…” has meant “to carry” for over 1000 years (Beowulf is the first written example cited by the Oxford English Unabridged Dictionary), so anything the Supreme Court might or might not say about the matter is largely moot. Tim Schmidt pointed this out, albeit in different, more politic words.

Rep. Hudson also pointed out that both gun ownership and concealed carry license holders have increased exponentially over the last two decades, even as violent crime numbers have dropped to historic lows. Which brings me to the most dishonest portion of this program.

First, Steve Kroft presented the argument that states with highly restrictive or draconian gun laws have lower violent crime rates than states with lax gun laws, in other words, “more guns equals more crime.” And, superficially, if you choose only to look at selected data, that is somewhat correct. (It is not true of all states.) But what Mr. Kroft either did not know, or chose not to reveal, is that all of the studies that purport to prove this have neglected to remove drug distribution centers from the equation. Take Arizona as an example of a state with the most relaxed gun laws in the nation: if you look at the violent crime statistics for the state, it’s not as bad as some, but it’s not good. It has almost the exact same rate of violent crime as California, a state where both gun ownership and concealed carry are extremely difficult and getting more so every day. I could make an argument that the similarity in crime stats doesn’t speak well for draconian gun laws, but anti-gun advocates present it as proof that guns do not have an effect on reducing crime.

But now take Phoenix out of the equation. Phoenix and Tucson are both drug distribution centers, where Mexican cartels funnel their products through to other parts of the country. No Democrat will ever admit it, but drugs equals gangs equals violence regardless of gun laws, and if you remove Phoenix from the equation, Arizona becomes one of the safest and most peaceful places on earth.

And now we come to Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. Dave Workman, senior editor at The Second Amendment Foundation’s publication, The Gun Mag (www.thegunmag.com), reminded me of Chief Flynn’s reaction a few years ago to Wisconsin’s right-to-carry law: “My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away, and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.” Keep that reaction in mind, and remember that it is a violation of both the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor, the oath to “support and maintain the Constitution and laws of the United States,” and the established legal principle of innocent until proven guilty, so one might question why 60 Minutes would have put such a thug on the air in the first place. But since they did, here is Chief Flynn’s comment, carefully aired near the very end of the segment so it would remain in viewers’ minds:

“Every year since that law was passed in 2011, every year, nonfatal shootings have gone up, gun related homicides have gone up, and the number of guns seized from the streets by our department has gone up, that’s what our cockamamie law has done here.”

Passionate stuff. What’s wrong with it?

Police chiefs, unlike sheriffs, are political appointees. Does it strike you as odd that former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke’s every utterance about firearms and crime is diametrically opposed to Police Chief Flynn’s? That’s because Sheriff Clarke was elected by the people of Milwaukee County, and was answerable only to them.

Police Chief Flynn, as a political appointee, like every other major metropolitan police chief, has a very different agenda. Every word of his, and every action he takes, is intended to reflect the wishes of the men and women (he is appointed by the Mayor and the City Council) who gave him his job. Milwaukee is a Democrat stronghold. In fact, Milwaukee has been run by Democrats for more than a century, except for a few years when it was controlled by Socialists. (I’m not making that up.) Name a Democrat in office today who is pro-gun. Now name a major metropolitan area in the United States that is not run by a Democrat government. All those Democrat-run cities appoint their chiefs of police. For a good example of how the mayoral-police chief relationship works, or not, read LA Noir, by John Buntin, a brilliant and eminently readable history of the police force of Los Angeles, CA.

But beyond the liberal leanings of the Milwaukee Mayor and the city council, and beyond Chief Flynn having to lick the hands that feed him, listen to his words again: “Every year since that law was passed in 2011, every year, nonfatal shootings have gone up, gun-related homicides have gone up, and the number of guns seized from the streets by our department has gone up, that’s what our cockamamie law has done here.”

The words may or may not be true (I haven’t done the research), but it would be just as accurate and just as meaningful if Chief Flynn had stated: “Every year since the residents of Milwaukee switched from cable to satellite TV, every year, nonfatal shootings have gone up, gun-related homicides have gone up, and the number of guns seized from the streets by our department has gone up, that’s what the switch from cable to satellite has done here.”

Two events that occur simultaneously are not necessarily related, Mr. Flynn.

What about causation? Have drug-related arrests gone up or down in that same period? Is there a greater or lesser gang/cartel presence in Milwaukee since the law was enacted? Were the nonfatal shootings committed by concealed carry license holders? Were the gun-related homicides committed by concealed carry license holders? Were the guns seized from misbehaving concealed carry license holders?

To answer the last three hypothetical questions, government studies and independent studies have both shown that, as a group, the approximately 16-million concealed carry license holders in America are more law abiding than the general public. That should hardly be surprising, seeing how thoroughly they are checked and vetted and investigated before being issued a license. Want another factoid? Studies have also shown that concealed carry license holders commit fewer violent crimes than police officers.

Chief Flynn might want to cogitate on that fact before railing against the law-abiding citizens of his city. And the senators being lobbied by Mr. Vance and Mr. O’Neill might want to cogitate on it too.

The Reason Why

October 23rd, 2017 27 Comments

 

I received the following comment from a reader:

“I find it disgusting that some people have to voice their opinions with threats. With social media that seems to be more and more the case. Would most of these people say these things to a person’s face? I also want to say that being a Canadian I am more liberal in my views although I would never put someone down because of more conservative views. I would never, nor do I know of any other Canadian, who would vote Republican.  Republicans are far too much to the right for most Canadians. What I am wondering is why a lot of Americans feel so strongly about the right to bear arms.  I realize that it is a right in your Constitution and that we should fight not to have rights taken from us. I hear many Americans say that they need to protect themselves. From what?  As a Canadian I am not given the right to have a concealed weapon in my purse and I am 100 per cent okay with that. I feel, just as you do, that I live in a free country. I hear that it is to empower yourselves in case there is an uprising with the government. Really? I have never feared my government nor the head of state of Canada, the Queen. Whenever I am on holiday in Florida I also think in the back of my mind “many of these people could have guns on them”. This is not a reassuring feeling. I do also realize that the majority of you are carrying guns for protection and peace of mind and are not about to shoot me while I’m shopping at Target. As a Canadian I actually feel safer at home.  I guess I just want you, or your readers, to explain to me why you feel so passionately about guns and the right to carry one?”
Nancy Ontario Canada

Dear Nancy,

Thank you for asking a very reasonable question. I won’t go into the Republican versus Democrat issue, because that is a separate topic and relates to completely different views on what kind of government is best for America, views that were, once, possibly, long ago, during a brief and halcyon moment immediately after our revolution, debated with courtesy and respect for the other man’s opinion, in a gracious and honest attempt to reach what both sides knew must ultimately be a compromise. Them days is long gone.

But as to the right to bear arms, I am delighted to try and explain our uniquely American outlook on the God-given right to self-defense.

First, we must accept that self-defense is a God-given right, something no government can take away from you. Throughout all of man’s history, from the earliest known records of the Mesopotamian civilizations, men have always gone armed and usually in groups, precisely to be able to defend themselves. It was only with the rise of unprecedented wealth created by the industrial revolution that people in Western civilizations began to relax a little and stopped wearing swords or carrying guns for the first time, but during America’s colonial days, weapons were a fact of life and, in rural areas, of survival.

(An anti-gun history professor at Emory University, Michael Bellesiles, was awarded the prestigious Bancroft Prize in 2001 for his book, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture, purportedly showing that firearms were relatively scarce in colonial America, and therefore proving the historical construct for the individual right to keep and bear arms was a bogus invention of a gun industry pandering to wingnuts like me who wanted to justify their strange obsession with guns. Obviously, I am taking liberties here, because I honestly don’t know, nor does anyone else, what Mr. Bellesiles’ motivations were, but while his book was initially, gleefully, accepted by gullible and eager anti-gun types and the virulently anti-gun media, his purported “scholarship” was almost immediately called into question by legitimate historians and scholars, with the result that within a year, the prize was rescinded and he was fired from Emory. I mention this incident only to show that, unlike Michael Bellesiles, I am not making things up when I say that owning and carrying guns has been a tradition in America since before it was America.)

Understand that our founding fathers, the men who initiated and spearheaded our revolution and subsequently created as close as we are likely to get to an ideal democratic republic, were men who decided to revolt treasonously against the crown precisely because they felt they were being crushed by a monarchy that neither cared for them nor for the colonies, except as a source of revenue and geographic expediency. There is much debate about what the final straw was, but the embattled farmers who stood by the rude bridge that arched the flood and fired the shot heard round the world (Ralph Waldo Emerson is rolling in his grave for how I’ve mangled his poem) were there specifically because they had received intelligence that the British army was coming to confiscate their weapons. That’s worth remembering.

So, America had a tradition of keeping and bearing arms even before it was America, and unlike Canada, which is still technically part of the United Kingdom as a parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy, America had to fight for her freedom, enduring enormous hardship and great loss of life in pursuit of a dream of equality and autonomy.

Even the western expansion of our two countries was radically different: American settlers and the American government fought battle after bloody battle against various indigenous tribes (and routinely and serenely disregarded treaty after treaty, which is why pro-Second Amendment types frequently and ironically say, “Of course you can trust the government. Just ask an Indian.”) while Canadian settlers relied upon their government (the Mounties specifically, if memory serves) to broker peace treaties instead of waging war. (Perhaps a better and more humane strategy, but all those Canadian treaties worked far better for the settlers than for the native tribes.)

I’m not trying to praise or condemn either one of our separate histories here: I’m just pointing out that there are historical differences between America and Canada and that those historical differences are reflected in our different attitudes toward self-defense today. Canadians, judging by the ones I know personally, by statements like yours, and by the accounts I read in local papers and saw on the local news during the three-plus months I worked in Edmonton, really believe in their various levels of government, and in their national government especially. Americans, at least conservative (read Republican) Americans, tend to look at their various levels of government with a much more jaundiced and distrustful eye. We also tend to be more self-reliant (for want of a better phrase) from the point of view that we do not expect the government to be there for us when we might like it to be. Anyone who has ever frantically called for the police in a life-threatening emergency knows that, with the best will in the world, law enforcement can never get there as quickly as we need them to be there. (I did it once; my ex-wife did it once. In neither case were the police able to arrive until well after the danger was past. In my ex-wife’s case, she was saved, literally, by the fortuitous and random appearance of a private security guard.) Nor is that the police’s mandate: our courts have ruled that the duty of law enforcement is to protect society in general, not the individual, a ruling that compels law enforcement to try and solve the crime and arrest the bad guys, but not to prevent the crime from happening. And, realistically, how could they?

So, while you, as an individual, have the right to defend yourself, just as every individual in the wide world has the right to defend himself, only in America is that right codified in our Bill of Rights, and spelled out to specifically mention arms. Not only is it codified, but it is given the honor of second place, preceded only by the rights of freedom of religion, expression, press, peaceable assembly, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, all lumped together under Amendment One.

Even a cursory glance at the writings of the founding fathers, their letters amongst themselves, their diaries, and specifically and most importantly what we refer to as the Federalist Papers (a series of essays written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay), shows that they considered the armed individual to be a necessary requisite to balance the power of any government. Our anti-gun politicians and the media keep spouting fatuous nonsense such as, Nobody needs a (fill in the blank) to go duck hunting. But no kind of hunting is ever mentioned anywhere in the Federalist papers or any other writings. What is mentioned, repeatedly, is the right to self-defense, and the importance of an armed populace to keep a government from becoming too enamored with itself and taking liberties with individual rights. Think it can’t happen? Read your history. I won’t bother listing the all advanced, civilized, well-educated countries that descended into murderous chaos when their governments came under the thrall of leaders with evil in their hearts. It has even happened—on a very small scale—right here in America; the reason it hasn’t happened on a larger scale is precisely because an armed populace would, and more importantly, could, rise up.

So, what do I and other Americans, feel we have to defend ourselves against? Evil and stupidity and mental illness exist everywhere, and no legislation in the world will ever stop them. Fortunately, they exist in minuscule amounts, and are greatly outnumbered by good and kindness and selflessness, but they do exist. I have used a handgun to defend my life and the life of one of my sons. I have used a rifle to defend myself and my late hunting partner from a bear. Even our Center for Disease Control (CDC), an agency which has not had a traditionally pro-gun stance (to put it mildly), stated in a report commissioned by former and virulently anti-gun president Barack Obama, that “defensive gun uses by victims” [skip] “range from 500,000 to more than 3-million per year.”

Does that mean that 500,000 to 3-million times a year law abiding Americans whip out their gats and throw slugs around? Of course not. In my case, I never even got the pistol out of its holster; just the act of reaching for it caused the two men to spin around and jump back in their van. Usually (and countless studies and statistics prove this) just the presence of a firearm resolves potentially violent criminal situations without a shot ever being fired, thank God. Nor is the average person likely to go to places where bears will regard him as the first course of this evening’s dinner, but rabid animals and aggressive and out of control dogs seriously injure thousands of people every year.

Obviously, as someone who has been around firearms practically all my life, I have a very different feeling about guns than you or anyone who is unfamiliar with them. Not long ago, driving through Arizona, where constitutional carry is the law, I stopped in a big-box store and saw two men carrying sidearms openly (in holsters outside their clothes) and identified several others who were clearly carrying concealed sidearms. My immediate reaction was one of safety, of (to paraphrase Mr. T in The A Team): “I pity the fool who starts trouble in here.” But that’s a result of my knowing that guns are inanimate objects, tools that do not cause bad behavior or discharge by themselves. I quite understand that urban people who have never been around guns, let alone seen or handled them, might respond with fear, but always remember: there is far more good in the world than evil, so if you are in a state where law abiding citizens may legally carry firearms, take comfort in knowing that if evil should raise its head and see a man with a gun on his hip, evil is likely to retract its head and leave quietly for other venues. If that doesn’t happen, at least there is someone around who has the means to take care of the situation while you wait for the police to arrive.

Another Reason for the Second Amendment

October 18th, 2017 16 Comments

Two recent atrocities came together in an unlikely nexus.

The first was the horror in Las Vegas. The second was the horror in Hollywood with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein.

The unlikely nexus is Dana Loesch (pronounced “lash”), the very beautiful conservative talk-radio host and NRA spokesperson. Since the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Ms. Loesch has received so many threats that she has been compelled to sell her home and move. The context of the nexus is that these threats are not just the usual death threats of the extremist looney-tunes on the far left to shoot her (no irony there), though there were plenty of those, but that there were apparently also many sexual threats, primarily to rape her to death.

Sexual abuse such as Harvey Weinstein’s, whether groping, masturbation, or rape, is not about sex. It’s about power, and I find it fascinating that the very sickest of the sick peaceful anti-gun types would use sexual threats in an attempt to intimidate Ms. Loesch.

Rape has been used by men as domination device since the dawn of time. It makes no difference whether it’s by sick and sleazy individuals like Harvey Weinstein, or by armies as a weapon of war, or by male convicts against other male convicts: it’s not about sex; it’s about power. And with that in mind, to find that the radical far-left would be so completely blatant is very revealing.

Radical progressive college professors and students have said, and proven, they consider violence acceptable if it prevents other people from saying things and presenting ideas the professors and students do not want to hear or see presented, First Amendment be damned. But to add the threat of such a crude and disgusting form of dominance, in an attempt to silence ideas and beliefs anti-gunners do not agree with, provides very effective proof of precisely why we need the right to keep and bear arms.

Kudos to Kimber

July 21st, 2017 17 Comments

Let’s give credit where credit is due.

I have a Kimber CDP in .45 caliber. (The 1911 on the gun rug in the lower left of the photo above.) It has a full-length guide rod and no barrel bushing, which means when you disassemble it, you have to use a little tool (basically a paperclip bent into an L-shape) to hold the recoil spring back.

With me so far?

Other than the pain-in-the-neck factor of having to use a little tool (Murphy’s Law #3: if you need a tool to do anything, you won’t have when you need it) everything is fine so far. The problem comes when you have to disassemble the guide-rod-recoil-spring-recoil-spring-cap unit into its three component pieces. Kimber recommends only doing this about every 800-rounds, but if you’re a clean freak, as I am, you tend to get a little anal-compulsive about doing things thoroughly.

Soooooo, when I came back from the range, I decided to clean this particular firearm thoroughly. Unfortunately, I have arthritis in my hands, and between the shooting at the range and the weather and possibly the alignment of the stars, my hands were hurting that day. It takes a certain amount of physical strength to hold the spring back as you release the little tool without letting anything slip, because if you let anything slip, the odds of your ever finding the recoil spring, the recoil spring cap, or the guide rod are slim to none and Slim left town.

I had a stroke of genius. I put gun rags on either side of my machinist’s vice to protect the metal, clamped the unit into the vice, and promptly turned it one turn too many, torqueing the whole damned thing.

I took the whole (disassembled) gun to my local gun store where I was told I would have to replace the three pieces of the unit, and since everything about Kimber firearms is proprietary, that meant calling Kimber.

Now, let’s review the bidding: Shooter decides to disassemble and clean a part that doesn’t need cleaning; Shooter gets frustrated and irritable because his hands are hurting; Shooter gets bright idea that wasn’t very bright after all and destroys an integral unit of the gun that didn’t need disassembly and cleaning in the first place; Shooter calls Kimber and when the young man answers the phone in the parts department, Shooter tells the young man honestly and forthrightly that he (the Shooter) is a moron who did and astoundingly moronic thing that didn’t need doing and shouldn’t have been done anyway.

And this is where the story gets interesting, because the young man on the phone in Kimber’s parts department restrained his impulse to laugh, said he would put the parts in the mail that afternoon, and then announced there would be no charge. No parts fee. No shipping fee. No stupidity fee. Absolutely free and gratis.

Kudos and a grateful tip of the hat to Kimber Manufacturing. (https://www.kimberamerica.com)

America At Her Best

October 12th, 2016 8 Comments

weatherby-decal

 

I do some work for the Weatherby Company, makers of some of the finest rifles in the world, including the renowned and vault-like Mark V, and I went to my local range yesterday to play with their new ladies’ model, called the Camilla.

It’s a private, unsupervised range, and the only other person there was an older gentleman shooting a few tables away. When I turned to signal for down time to check my target, I noticed he was shooting a Weatherby and that his truck had a “Semper Fi” sticker on it with the cursive Weatherby W decal right above that. I had never met this gentleman before, he had no idea who I was (we didn’t even exchange names until later), and I said nothing to him about my having any connection to Weatherby. This, paraphrased and condensed, is what came out, unsolicited, in our conversation:

His name is Jim Neal and he is an eighty-year-old former Marine, originally from Montana. He and his family (children and grandchildren) drive up to Dillon, Montana ever year for a couple of weeks of deer and elk hunting. His rifle is a synthetic-stocked Mark V .340 Wby that he bought secondhand thirty-two years ago as his all-purpose hunting rifle. He had Weatherby install a muzzle brake a few years back when age began to make the recoil a little unpleasant. He had a Kahles scope on it originally, but earlier this year, when he started to practice for his family hunt, the focus ring froze up. He sent the scope back to Kahles, but they told him it would be months before they could repair and return it. He mounted another scope and found, to his horror, that his shots were going all over the paper. He asked a friend to shoot it as a double-check. Same thing. Another scope. Same thing. He called Weatherby and then drove the rifle across the state to them in Paso Robles. He dealt with a lady named Cheryl in the Service Department who took him in back to talk to a gunsmith named Vladimir, who examined the rifle.

How it happened, or how he had been able to shoot the rifle, I don’t know, but this is what they found:

The stock was cracked, the magazine was bent, the floorplate hinge was cracked, and the safety wouldn’t engage properly. Weatherby put on a new stock, repaired the magazine and the floorplate, fixed the safety, and installed a new trigger, but the new trigger had too much creep in it, so they replaced their replacement. Then Cheryl and Vladimir gave Mr. Neal a Weatherby cap, a butt-stock ammo carrier, a sling, and Vladimir gave him his own ratchet screw-driver because Mr. Neal likes to do his own gun-smithing.

The total cost to him for all their time and labor was exactly zero. On a secondhand, thirty-two-year-old rifle.

Ask me why I’m proud to be associated with Weatherby.

All The News That’s Fit For Prevarication

October 28th, 2015 16 Comments

Pinocchio

 

Really, sometimes the Grey Lady just makes it all too easy. No, no. Hillary is the Shady Lady; the Grey Lady is The New York Times.

Jameson’s Law of Convincing Argument states that if I wish to convince you of the absolute and infallible correctness of my point of view, I would be well-served not to cite sources that are known for agreeing with me or being on my side of a particular argument.

For example: I recently wrote an article for a magazine about a gun control initiative being launched in the state where that magazine is published. In the article, I quoted President Obama repeating a lie he has told frequently. He stated that, “The law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks, and over the past [twenty] years that’s kept millions of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. But it’s hard to enforce that law when as many as forty percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.” [Emphasis mine.]

If I had then refuted that lie, which has been repeatedly refuted and debunked, with facts and figures from the NRA, you would have been wise to suspect me of being biased, lazy in my research, and even perhaps dishonest myself. Instead, I quoted the “Fact-Checker” column in the notoriously anti-gun Washington Post, which gave Mr. Obama three Pinocchios out of a possible four for dishonesty.

So, enter the Grey Lady, stage left, ranting wildly about the “myth” of defensive gun use, specifically as it pertains to concealed carry. The Editorial Board of the Times (wisely, no individual wished to attach his or her name to the piece) proceeded to trot out “statistics” purporting to show the relatively few (according to the Times) occasions firearms were used throughout the country for legally justifiable purposes of defense. Then the Grey Lady solemnly informed its readers, most of whom are sheltered and pampered urban and suburban dwellers unlikely to question any dishonest garbage the editorial board dishes as out, that their source for these “statistics” was The Violence Policy Center.

Oh dear, oh dear, Grey Lady, that’s just embarrassing. Anyone with an I.Q. larger than his hat size will hear alarm bells going off. Actually, the editorial board must have realized how embarrassing it was, because a disclaimer was immediately added to the effect that the Violence Policy Center’s figures were, “…necessarily incomplete, because the gun lobby has been so successful in persuading gullible state and national legislators that concealed carry is essential to public safety, thus blocking the extensive data collection that should be mandatory for an obvious and severe public health problem.”

(That, by the way, is an old trick, cynically summed up by the lawyer, Billy Flynn, in the musical Chicago, when he tap dances and sings the song Razzle Dazzle:

“Give ‘em the old flim flam flummox,

Fool and fracture ‘em,

How can they hear the truth above the roar?…

…Long as you keep ‘em way off balance,

How can they spot you’ve got no talents?”

In other words, if your argument is completely bogus, blame it in an outraged tone of voice on your opponent.)

The problem, dear Grey Lady, is that “the extensive data collection that should be mandatory” is in fact carried out and is available to anyone willing to look at an unbiased source. The United States Bureau of Justice, hardly a rabid pro-gun institution, estimates that firearms are used defensively in America 235,700 each year. Other sources, some pro-gun and some neutral, estimate legal defensive firearm use from an approximate low of one million, to a high of two-and-a-half million times a year.

You do see where this is going, right? If the Grey Lady can convince its naïve and uneducated (about guns) readers that the number of legal and justifiable defensive uses of a firearm is a tiny, insignificant amount, then no one can refute the old, emotional “if it saves just one life” gun control argument. Because the reverse of that argument is that if having a gun saves just one life, than there is no reason to ban firearms. And, in fact, as the very low Bureau of Justice figures show, many, many lives are saved by defensive use each year, a great many times more than are taken by criminals.

Then the Grey Lady went on to say, “Clearly, concealed carry does not transform ordinary citizens into superheroes.” That is possibly the only honest thing The Times Editorial Board was able to write in the entire article. Concealed carry does not transform anyone, but it does at least give him a fighting chance not to become another lamentable statistic.

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