Monday, December 31, 2012

Why Not Renew the AWB, a Leftist Speaks

Over on the Kontradictions blog, a self-described leftist wrote a very cogent piece on why we should not reinstate the Clinton-era Assault Weapons Ban.

It’s not easy being a leftist who loves guns. It’s like being a Republican who listens to NPR or supports single payer health care. But being a leftist, I get exposed to all the liberal publications and media that invariably call for gun control every time someone does something stupid with one. Being a gun enthusiast, I also get exposed to the political Right’s oversimplification of those liberals as somehow lacking moral fiber or true appreciation of freedom. Rather than agreeing with both, I tend to end up arguing with both. It’s exhausting to always feel like I’m apologizing for the other “side”.

This article takes a point of view, but aims to do so in a way that members of both sides of the political spectrum can understand. I’ll try to give some idea as to why we on the political left roll our eyes at the rhetoric of the NRA, and how we in the “gun culture” can possibly defend something called “assault weapons”.

We all know the cycle by now: Tragic incident occurs, both sides attempt to use it for their political gain, both sides act shocked that the other would attempt to use it for political gain, insults are flung, statistics are cherry-picked, rinse, repeat.

I began writing this some time after the Aurora massacre, but it was just this morning that news started coming in of the mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. I knew the wave of cries for a renewal of the “assault weapon” and “high capacity” magazine bans hadn’t yet faded from Aurora, and that they would be reinforced by this next event, regardless of how relevant either of the topics were to the incident.

So in order to get around to why the assault weapons ban was an utter and absolute failure in its attempt to deter violent crime, I have to start with mass shootings.

Kontra’s post is outstanding and I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Jew Without a Gun

No not me. Winking smile
Hollywood screenwriter Robert J. Avrech has reposted his three-part essay, “Jew Without a Gun,” over on his blog.
Part One
Hollywood is Burning
Hollywood is on fire.
Karen and I lock every door in the house, shut tight the windows. We move through the house switching off all the lights.
Gazing from our bedroom window we watch orange flames lick at the darkness, pillars of black smoke climb into the sky. We can actually smell the acrid odor of burning rubber.
“Look how close they are,” says Karen.
“Just past La Cienega. Maybe eight blocks away.”
Karen gives me a long penetrating gaze:
“What do we do if they come here?”
My mind is racing away. The truth is we are defenseless. Unless I get crazy inventive like Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs.
“After this is all over,” I vow, “I’m going to buy a pistol.”
Karen says: “How about a shotgun?”
Dissolve to—
Two Hours Earlier:
The rioters are surging toward the front doors of the theater. They are shouting, but the glass doors are so thick we cannot hear what they’re screaming. The visual is quite enough. Their faces are twisted into expressions of raw hatred. The mob looks intent on some serious violence.
I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Which One of these Rifles is an Assault Weapon?

Identify which of these rifles is an assault weapon, according to anti-gunners:


Ruger-1022-BC-Folder (1024x577)

Has to be the second one, right, because it has a pistol grip stock and a “banana clip?”

In fact, both pictures are of the very the same rifle, taken about 10 minutes apart. It’s a Ruger 10/22 Carbine that I bought about 10 years ago. For the second picture I added a Butler Creek folding stock that I got from Amazon (eligible for Amazon Prime, yay!), and a 25 round magazine in place of the 10 round mag the 10/22 normally comes with. It shoots the common-as-dirt .22 Long Rifle cartridge.

Ruger has been making the 10/22 since 1964. Over five million have been made since then, making it one of the most popular sporting rifles in history. It’s well suited to informal target shooting and small game hunting. The majority of them were sold to American shooters, and since they basically don’t wear out, the vast majority of those remain in circulation. (Or “on the streets,” if you are a gun banner.)

The bullets fired by the rifle as configured in the second picture are no more deadly than those in pic #1. The only functional differences between the rifle as shown in both pics is that with the folder it can be stored in a smaller space, and you can fire 2.5 times as many cartridges without reloading. Reloading takes only a couple of seconds even with the 10 round mags, so while gun banners like to make hay over “high capacity” magazines, against defenseless targets like schoolkids confined in a “gun free” zone, the difference is virtually nonexistent.

Likewise, millions of 25+ round magazines have been sold by Butler Creek, Eagle, MWG and other third party manufacturers since at least the 1980s. Ruger got on the 25 round mag bandwagon a few years ago, and that’s what is shown in pic #2.

The only tool I needed to change the sporting carbine in the first pic to the deadly assault rifle in the second picture was a screwdriver.

The point of this post is that “assault weapons” as defined by gun banners are not functionally different from “sporting” rifles as manufactured and sold in the millions for about a century. Artificial definitions of banned or permissible arms created by people with little to no firearms knowledge don’t make us safer.  Tackling the root causes of crime, whether they be mental illness or outright evil is harder but is key in actually making us safer. So is allowing potential victims the right to fight back.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Poking the Hornet’s Nest

I just got back from my regular gun shop, Surplus City in Feasterville, PA. I wasn't really planning to buy anything, I went mainly out of curiosity.

The salesmen looked shell shocked from how busy they've been. Business went into high gear after the election. I was last there on Black Friday and they were mobbed. It normally takes about five minutes for an instant background check to go through for me, but that day it took about 15 because PICS (PA Instant Check System; PA doesn't use NICS) was so busy. Black rifles such as AR-15s and AKs had just started to come back into the supply channel right before Sandy Hook happened, then things got really crazy.

Surplus City is usually well stocked with AR-15s and AKs. Today I saw no AR-15s and a solitary AK. There were a few Century VZ-2008s (VZ-58 clones) and about 8 to 10 stainless Ruger Mini-14 GBs.

But it’s not just “assault weapons” that are flying off the shelved. The weekend after the Sandy Hook shooting, the distributor that Surplus City gets guns from sold 1100 Ruger LCPs (pocket sized .380s). If you go to Cabela’s website, the Pietta 1858 Remingtons with blued finish are out of stock. I wonder how many of those were bought because there’s no paperwork required.

Further, more people are getting their carry permits. This morning I  renewed my PA License to Carry a Firearm at the Montgomery County Courthouse. The deputies in the Sherriff's office told me that they processed 53 LTCFs yesterday, the vast majority of which were new applicants, not renewals. If PICS  had been working faster, they would've done about 70. I didn’t think to ask what a normal number would be, but the impression I got was that 53 is way higher than normal. Per one of the guys at Surplus City, Bucks County is just as busy.

The gun banners really poked a hornet's nest with all their hue and cry for an AWB. Hopefully, these new gun owners are joining the NRA and contacting their politicritters.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Letter to my Senators and Congressman

I sent this off to my elected representatives. Feel free to plagiarize as you see fit.

The usual antigun media figures and politicians have used the wake of last week's tragic school shooting in Newton, CT to promote their anti-rights agenda. We do not need any more gun control in the US. No gun control measure has been been proven to reduce crime or make society safer.

Three things which will reduce the frequency and impact of mass shooting are:

1. Improve our mental health care system. If the perpetrators in any of the recent mass shooting over the past couple of decades could have received good treatment for their psychoses, odds are most if not all of them would never have gone on to kill anybody.

2. Stop creating victim disarmament zones. "Gun free zones" are a feel-good non-solution to violence. The only people who obey the prohibitions on guns in such places are the same people who won't commit murder any way. All these zones do is create safe hunting preserves for psycopaths.

3. More specifically than #2, we should encourage school faculty and staff to get training and carry firearms so that they can protect the children in their care. When Israel was faced with school shooting attacks by Arab terrorists, they didn't put up signs saying that no guns were allowed on the premises. They did the smart thing -- they trained school staff are armed them. School shootings dropped off to almost nothing.

Please don't cave in to the hysterical cries for more gun control from the mass media and the usual anti-gun politicians. We can take action to make our schools and society safer, but not by giving in to their demands.

Why Americans Need Military-Pattern Arms

The very guns which the media and anti-gunners want to ban are those most protected by the Second Amendment. From Federalist No.46:

Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. 

That was written by James Madison, the primary author of the United States Constitution.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gun Control is Anti-Jewish

I didn’t want to write this in the wake of the atrocity that happened last week in Connecticut, but since the anti-gunners gleefully waded into the gore of the innocents, I’m going to exercise my First Amendment rights in defense of my Second Amendment rights, with a focus on a Jewish perspective.

Back in 2004, I wrote the following:

The Maccabees -- the Jewish rebels who tossed the Greeks out on their posteriors -- didn't win with pleas for tolerance or even harsh language. It was an armed rebellion. Too many Jewish Americans gloss over this fact during all the holiday shopping, menorah lighting, and wolfing down potato pancakes.

The point that American Jews need to take to heart from Chanukah is that sometimes the government is not here to help and the only way left to preserve our freedom is through force. That means the willingness and means to use force. In 2004, the means of force are firearms and that's why it pisses me off to no end that so many Jewish Americans support gun control, especially in light of the most blatant act of antisemitism in history -- the Shoah (Holocaust) -- being a mere 59 years ago.

When only the military and police have guns, we call that a police state. If you grant a government that much power, there is a really good chance that they will commit democide. As we know, anytime you have a runaway government, one of the favorite targets is its Jewish population. Six million Jews were murdered within living memory, by a country which was considered one of the most sophisticated in Europe.

Anti-semitism is not a relic of the past. Entering “resurgence of anti-semitism” into Google yields 901,000 results. Recently, the leader of a political party in Hungary called for Jews to be registered.

Resurgent anti-semitism isn’t an entirely European phenomenon either.

“Oh, but that can’t happen here!” you say. Really? Why? Again, within living memory, Americans of a unfavored ethnic group were singled out and forced into concentration camps. The Japanese-American Internment of World War 2 pales in comparison the atrocities committed by the Nazis, but I shudder to think of what would’ve happened to those Japanese-Americans had we not been able to turn the tide of the war within a year.

“Turn the other cheek” is a Christian concept, not a Jewish one. In fact,in the Talmud, we are instructed that, “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” (VILNA TALMUD, Tractate Sanhedrin, folio 73a). Sometimes, that someone who is coming to kill you wears a uniform.

If you advocate civilian disarmament, you are advocating making Jews defenseless. If you are serious that never again will Jews be slaughtered en masse, then you need to make sure that we have the tools to prevent it. Freedom isn’t safe. There are risks to freedom. But giving up our freedom in search of safety is a fool’s errand, as history shows.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

All Comments Now Moderated

Due to increasing amounts of spam I am now moderating all comments.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


After getting my No-Code Technician's amateur radio license back in 2005 I was active on 2M for a couple years, but haven't done much with it lately. The FCC finally eliminated all Morse Code requirements in 2007 but I never got around to upgrading.  Recently, I came to the conclusion after the bout of storms we've had ove the past year and a half or so that I should get back into it, and upgrade my license.

So, last Thursday I took the FCC's Element 3 exam and upgraded my license to General Class. The update hasn't shown up yet in the FCC's Universal Licensing System database, but I have my CSCE.

To prepare for the exam I used three resources:

Although and contain the same pool of questions, they present the questions differently. When you take a practice test at QRZ they are shown to you one question per page, and immediately graded. However, when you take a practice test at Hamexam all 35 questions are presented on one page, and not graded until you click a button after finishing all of them. I found Hamexam's format to render better on my iPad, but I found QRZ's format better for learning.

With my newly acquired HF privileges I need to get a new radio. The modes I'm interested in operating on HF are SSB, PSK-31, and Olivia MFSK, on 10M to 40M. 60M and 80M would be cool, too, but I don't know yet if I'll be able to setup an antenna suitable for them.

After seeking input on Arfcom and doing a lot of online research, I am leaning heavily to the Icom IC-718. It's been out for awhile and gets good reviews on Plus, compared with radios like the Yaesu FT-857 of -897, or similar Icom and Kenwood HF/VHF/UHF capable units, it's less menu driven, which should make it easier to use. The IC-718 does 80M to 10M, lacking 6M, VHF, and UHF. For the latter two I have a Yaesu FT-7800R and VX-5RS. While 6M might be nice to have I don't think I'll really miss it that much.

Along with the new radio I'll need a new antenna and an antenna tuner. Due to space constraints I'm leaning towards an Ultimax 100 strung between the roof of my house and a short mast near my back fence. (At least I don't need to deal with a homeowner's association.)

For mobile use I'll also pick up some sort of portable vertical antenna and/or a multiband dipole that I can string up between a couple of trees.

This should be fun.