Thursday, March 31, 2005

Meditations on Guns I Can't Afford...

Been on the road working with AMERICAN RIFLEMAN television, filming at Weatherby and John Rigby in spectacularly beautiful central California. The whole place from Santa Barbara to Monterey ought to secceed from California, then immediately declare war on their former slaveholders! Well, I'm not exactly holding my breath on that one.

I've got to say that while I've never been much of a hunter, it's hard to spend time at Weatherby and — god help us all! — John Rigby without flashing back to visions of Africa and a kid dreaming of safaris in a hot and dusty land. I grew up on the great African writers, Ernest Hemingway, Karamojo Bell, John "Pondoro" Taylor, Robert Ruark and, later, Peter Hathaway Capstick. Particularly, Robert Ruark fired my imagination like nothing else I had ever read. Horn of the Hunter, Something of Value, The Old Man and the Boy...they defined the rough outline of a life that I imagined for myself, independent of my real life, which was already spiralling into the reaches of chaos. I was 15 when I saw a tiny article in the Memphis paper that "noted African writer Robert Ruark" had died of "complications," which proved to be a euphemism for "drinking himself to death." I coudn't believe he'd thoughtlessly died without talking to me! Probably had something to do with my choice for a profession, pesky people kicking off without having a sit-down with me first...

Within a year of Ruark's death, my life slid off the edge of the known universe, and the veldt got lost somewhere in the struggle for survival. It's still back there somewhere in the back of my head — and yes, dammit, I finagled a way to meet Peter Hathaway Capstick and have our little talk before he passed away! Handling a custom .460 Weatherby dangerous game rifle or one of the sainted .577 Rigby double rifles (the one I played with is probably worth somewhere in the region of $150,000; they'll make you one of your very own if you'd like, with prices starting at $41,700) is a good way to bring the veldt back to the forefront. It didn't help that we ran into Craig Boddington, the last of the old breed — and first of the new — of African hands at Rigby. Craig was on his way out the door to Namibia for his new Outdoor Channel show on African safaris, but we took a few minutes to share our ritual complaints about the road, lies about mutual friends and the ever-important favorite gun Ruark noted, friendship is that "something of value".

What can I tell you? Shot the big Weatherby .460 at a 200-yard plate, and it rang it pretty good. Didn't get a chance to shoot the doubles or the flawless (and legendary) Rigby .416 bolt gun, but I have an invitation to come back when I have a little more time. I have to admit I was majorly jealous when, looking at the "rifles in process" board at Rigby I saw a couple of my friends' names high on the list.

Of course, you all get the big irony, don't you? With a single phone call I could now go to the veldt, take that safari I dreamed up, probably even get Rigby to loan me one of their flawless doubles for the duration. I could feel the blazing African sun on the back of my sunburned neck, wince from the prick of the thorn bushes, smell the dust and gun oil I dreamed of so many years ago, feel the thump of the old nitro cartridges and hear the thwack of all that lead hitting animal flesh. If I close my eyes even now, I can see the huge black buff crumble and fall, because, of course, my shot would be perfect. But no matter how many times I close my eyes, I can't make it 1962 again, nor find the boy who dreamed of the veldt.

Good luck, Craig!

And I leave you with a Swahili proverb: Atangaye na jua hujua!

Loosely translated as, "One who wanders in the sun knows."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Live Nerves!

Touched a nerve with my recent post on hunting and shooting funding, didn't I?

First, let me answer an, of course I'm not "anti-hunting!" Exactly the opposite. The shooting sports have the abilty to save hunting, to reverse the losses. Why? It's an equation. Say it takes $1000 to recruit a hunter for "X" years. There are several reasons why that dollar number is high — it's expensive to "cast the net," find the necessary number of potential hunters; there's the huge barrier (and expense) of buying a gun; there's the expense of both hunter safety and hunting specific training program; etc.

Let's say 10% of the excise taxes went specifically to the shooting sports. That still leaves 90% going to hunting-specific programs, including land aquisition and recruitment and retention! But the 10% for the shooting sports, call it $25 million per year, would be a stunning windfall for the shooting sports. Let's say $10 million per year was dedicated to growing the shooting sports, increasing the size of the pie, getting more people to the range. It is much easier and less expensive to get people to the range — in fact, we know how to do that, and we have a lot of experience at it! Once the program was up and running, I'd say the cost to recruit sport shooters would be in the $25-50 region.

If we brought an additional, say, 50,000 people into the shooting sports, every one of those new sport shooters are ideal prospects for the game fields. At much less cost than traditional recruitment and retention programs because they've already learned firearms safety, have the basic training and have purchased or have access to a gun. Plus, hunting mentors don't have to look far for good prospects.

And those larger numbers of new sport shooters MAKE US STRONGER; larger numbers of new shooters make shooting and hunting more "mainstream," one of the key ways to reverse the years of antigun propaganda.

Suppose $1 million a year (less than 1/200 of what WE pay in self-imposed taxes!) was earmarked for prize money. Think that might drive the shooting sports? Suppose we create a "Sport Shooter of the Year," who'll pick up a cool $100,000 and a nice yellow Hummer? Thing that might help us getting our message out?

Suppose a portion of that money went to a full-time newsroom, sending out press releases, advance information, background material on the various shooting sports? Would that get us in the New York Times? Nope...but you would start reading and hearing about shooting sports and local "heroes" in your local papers and media. Think that might drive an increase in new shooters? How do we know these ideas will work? WE'VE TRIED THEM, BETA-TESTED THEM AND SEEN THE RESULTS!

What money is left we use to create and promote a national program for training and a national standards for certifying instructors, augmenting and expanding the excellent NRA program already out there. The new paradigm for instruction would be based on ski/snowbaord instruction — a standardized national package that allows new shooters access to multiple different levels/styles of instruction that are aimed at driving the shooting sports. "I took Class 2 Handgun in Texas, and I'm looking forward to a Class 1 Shotgun class when I move to Iowa..."

Every single thing I've mentioned is already a proven path; concepts already hammered out, tested and waiting for funding. The hell of it is, the money's already there. We pay it; we ALL pay it.

It's a heck of a vision, isn't it?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Hunter, Shooter or What?

I’ve avoided this topic, but I’m thinking it really needs to be on the table. I’m increasingly distressed by the firearms industry’s obsessive single focus on hunting at the expense of both the shooting sports and the self-defense sides of the culture.

What brought this to mind was the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s annual $500,000 contribution for “hunter recruitment and retention” programs. There are quite literally millions of dollars flowing from public and private sources into hunter recruitment and retention, not to mention the $293 million [2001 figures] generated last year by the 11% excise tax on shooting sports gear, ammunition, guns, etc., which goes back to the states for use in wildlife restoration, hunter recruitment and retention programs, hunter safety and the like.

This used to be a so-what issue, because hunting and shooting were "inextricably" linked, and what was good for huntiing was also good for shooting.

Driven by a whole series of factors, that inextricable link is now inextricably broken. "Hunting" and "shooting" represent different, but occasionally overlapping, markets. The two markets have very different recruitment and retention needs and are facing very different "breaking point" issues. For example, the key "breaking point" for the hunting side of the industry is loss of access to hunting lands, which is [I suspect] the primary factor in the small but steady decrease in hunters each year. The key "breaking point" for the shooting side of the industry is range protection and access.

The shooting sports have been booming at the same time hunting has been declining. Led by sporting clays, trap and cowboy action shooting, the range sports have enjoyed a spectacular five years. But they're now starting to bump up against a membership plateau, largely [again, I think] because of the absence of a nationally based recruitment and retention plan — and the budget to drive such a plan. Essentially, the shooting sports are 100% Balkanized, each sport operating its own recruitment operation paying surprisingly little attention on what other sports are doing. In other words, each sport is endlessly reinventing the wheel, unaware of what programs actually work.

The shooting sports desperately need national coordination of the simplest things — the shooting sports calendar, for instance. A national advertising campaign focusing on the shooting sports. A "news center" actively promoting shooting sports to the media. A media planning guide for the sports to give them access to programs that work. On-going promotion of shooting sports athletes. A nationally coordinated set of standards for firearms training, a la the ski and snowboard industry. Increased funding of youth shooting programs (NSSF's Scholastic Clays program is an excellent example of a successful initiative). Money for new ranges and protecting the existing ranges.

Yet most of those needs are not being met — not even being discussed!

The amazing thing to me is that the money is there...but its all flowing into an apparently endless "hunter recruitment and retention" programs. A lot of those programs are new and of questionable value (at least according to a good friend of mine, who has been involved in some of the most successful and most established hunter r&r programs).

The decline in hunting is being driven by mega-trends...urbanization, the suburbanization of farmlands, expansion of the concepts of legal liability, declining leisure time and increased competition for those declining leisure hours. Those mega-trends are only going to increase.

Ironically, the shooting sports provide an answer for hunting recruitment and retention issues — r&r becomes a two-tiered process...first get people to the range, then recruit those people to the game fields. Sport shooting is less time-intensive or place-oriented than hunting. It also helps the newcomer over the large barrier of purchasing a gun. If we focused first on getting people to the range — which we know how to do well — then on placing them in mentoring programs with experienced hunters, both sides of the industry would be happy.

If, however, we continue to pretend that hunting is the be-all and end-all of the shooting sports, eventually people like me — a sport shooter and not a hunter — are going to start asking where our 11% excise tax is going and why the industry organizations alledged to represent us don't address issues that are important to us.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Misc. Bruises...

Went snowboarding at Copper Mountain yesterday, and today I feel like I've been set upon by a particularly viscious pack of hobbits armed with fish whackers. My Sweetie is arguing with Bishop, our green-wing macaw, about feathers. The gray parrot is announcing that it's time for a nap and there's a really crummy Emilio Estavez movie playing in the background. One of the neighbors is coming over to borrow a USB-to-USB cable, the high-tech equivalent of a cup of sugar, one supposes. Relatives are on the way.

There is only one explanation for this...

I have apparently woken up in the middle of a Ray Stevens song parody. Excuse me while I go unplug a cable and give the parrots a walnut.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

More M1 Carbine "G-2," a.k.a. Trivia

I'm getting more and more field info on the M1 Carbine and .30 Carbine cartridge's effectiveness in actual battle. Every anecdotal comment that comes over the transom confirms that the .30 Carbine was a solid manstopper, and the people who've actually used the little carbine all seem to wax poetic about the gun.

Apparently the only people who had any qualms about the .30 Carbine's effectiveness as a manstopper were gunwriters. Nudge, nudge; wink wink...say no more!

I'm starting to think this is an episode of SHOOTING GALLERY for Season 4...The Resurrection of the M1 Carbine.

BTW, if you're dying for a companion handgun for the little M1 Carbine you just ordered based on my recommendation, not to worry — you've still actually got a selection to choose from. If you fish around, you can still find the Ruger Blackhawks chambered in .30 Carbine for chump change, in the $300 range for like-new guns. Here's an example from I may get one of these myself for those kinds of prices! Old Model Blackhawks will set you back a few bucks more.

The Taurus "Raging Thirty" DA revolver is still cataloged; I have one of the big Tauruses in .357 (sort of a "Raging Wuss," I guess), which is Big Fun to shoot since it weighs enough to soak up anything the .357 can throw at it. Make sure you keep the Taurus locking thingie behind the hammer cranked down TIGHT! If it backs out even slightly, the gun won't go bang on command.

There also a few of the old AMT Automag IIIs in .30 Carbine for sale, if you're looking for something to tinker with. Here's a hint: hard-chrome the frame, "shake-&-bake" the slide...then there's a miniscule chance the thing will run for an entire magazine! The old AMT stainless steel galled like crazy. Some of the ones I've shot were like shooting a gun made out of pumice stone.

If you've got money burning a hole in your pocket and you want a real show-stopper for the next local gun club dinner, check out this US Firearms' absolutely beautiful Single Action Army in .30 Carbine. Yes it cost a bunch ($1275, but I'd pop for elephant ivory grips, too, which will add another six bills), but you're not likely to run into another one! Have Kirkpatrick Leather tool you up a real purty holster for your blaster, then go to the range and annoy everyone with the HUGE MUZZLE BLAST! By golly, that's entertainment!

Exterminate! EX-TER-MIN-ATE!!!

Daleks will return to the new Dr. Who series (which will hopefully cross the pond very soon):
The Daleks will be appearing in the new series of Doctor Who after all, the BBC has confirmed. The news comes after a prolonged campaign in support of the homicidal salt cellars by Who aficionados which attracted high-profile backing from UK tabloid the Sun.
I love the Daleks; they do look like homicidal salt shakers!

What a GOOD Story Looks Like

Thought you might want to see a good story, this one from...the Washington Post (through the SF Chronicle):
Redlake, Minn. -- Two days after a shooting rampage on the Indian reservation here left 10 dead, friends, relatives and neighbors of Jeff Weise -- the 16-year- old assailant -- began to sketch a portrait of a deeply disturbed youth who had been treated for depression in a psychiatric ward, lost several close family members, sketched gruesome scenes of armed warriors and was removed from the school where he gunned down most of his victims Monday.

"The clues were all there," said Kim Desjarlait, Weise's step-aunt, who lives in Minneapolis. "Everything was laid out, right there, for the school or the authorities in Red Lake to see it coming. I don't want to blame Red Lake, but did they not put two and two together? This kid was crying out, and those guys chose to ignore it. They need to start focusing on their kids."
Not a word abut idiotic plans from the spinners at Brady!

Bonehead Reporters Volume 1

So by now the A-level newspapers have dispatched their bleeding heart reporters to Minnesota for the thoughtful "analysis" or "in-depth" stories of the Jeff Weise's rampage. This is standard operating procedure for big media outlets, the idea being that the "hard news" guys (and guyettes) have been focusing on the who, what and where, and now the higher-paid "writers" come in to "put the event in context." Take a look at what hit me in the face this morning in my Denver Post:
Too little parenting. Too many guns. Boredom. In the aftermath of Jeff Weise's rampage...

By Kevin Simpson
Denver Post Staff Writer

Red Lake, Minn. - A smoky haze wafted through the cavernous bingo hall as hundreds of grieving residents of this Chippewa reservation watched tribal elders perform a sacred pipe ceremony.
The prevalence of guns also worries many on the reservation.

"The gunplay around here is too much," said Pete Strong Jr., 39, pulling a drag on a cigarette as he sat in front of the computer in his trailer home. "Even the kids are starting to carry handguns.

"A lot of stolen guns wind up here," he added. "My own nephew found a gun in a ditch. Do you believe it? In a ditch."

Weise reportedly found the weapons he used in his rampage at the home of his grandfather, a tribal policeman who was one of the first two people Weise shot to death on Monday afternoon. Those circumstances also drew criticism and calls for a policy change among law enforcement personnel who keep their firearms at home.
"It's totally insane," said Gayle Downwind's husband, Leo. "The police are so loose with their stuff. There should be laws about taking their own arsenal home."
You know, when I called for disarming the police the other day, I was joking! Joking!

For much of my career in journalism, I was one of those higher-paid guys "context" guys, first for newspapers, then for magazines, which paid more than newspapers. The great thing about being the analysis guy was that you don't have to bother with those pesky facts — analysis is touchy-feely, talking to "the people" about how they "really feel."

The big secret we journalists never wanted our viewers/readers to know was that "the people" are for the most part desperate for their 15 minutes of fame. With a minimum of work (30 minutes max; 5 minutes if you were willing to quote the cabbie who drove you from the airport to the hotel) you could find any number of 'the people" who would provide you with whatever quotes you needed to "prove" the thesis you brought with you. Given a sufficient amount of time (and a budget for the bar tab), I could find people willing to go on the record that their brainwaves are being monitored by aliens. You can prove any thesis if you don't have to bother with facts.

For Mr. Simpson at the Post, that thesis is:

"High Schools Cliques" + "Easy Availability of Guns" = Columbine!

That thesis is an article of faith at the Post and has been endlessly reiterated since the 1999 Columbine shootings. It's important that all school shootings fit into the paradigm, which is where analysts/in-depth reporters like Mr. Simpson come in.

Just for dat ole record, do I believe that the editors of the Post sent Mr. Simpson north with specific instructions to write a "clique/guns" story? Of course not. But do I think the Post's antigun culture, obsession with Columbine and previous local stories on how the Minnesota shootings echoed Columbine guaranteed the story you read above? Absolutely.

BTW, if 3 guns is an "arsenal," then I'm in deep do-do!

Let's take a look at a different bonehead reporter, this one from the Newhouse News Service, provided to subscriber newspapers who don't want to go to the trouble of paraphrasing the Brady Center press release on their own:
Gun-Control Issue, With Middle Ground Elusive, Fades From National Agenda


WASHINGTON -- In the wake of another spate of gun mayhem -- this time in Red Lake, Minn., just nine days after a mass shooting in Brookfield, Wis. -- the question resurfaces: Why can't a gun-control compromise be found to prevent such incidents?
Ah ha! Our old friend the "stacked" story, but this time in the analysis mode — we've linked all these disconnected events together, so now we'd like to ponder why a one-size-fits-all solution can't be found since all our liberal friends agree that it's the guns and George Bush is SATAN!

Let's continue with Mr. McCutcheon's penetrating analysis:
Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence/Million Mom March in Washington, said the political climate deeply frustrates activists, particularly whenever a mass shooting occurs.

"We always feel like we're stuck in the position of saying `We told you so' time and time again when these happen," Hamm said. "You have politicians in Washington doing everything they can to ignore what's going on, because it doesn't fit with the political equation to maximize votes to one party or another. The end result is a remarkable series of incidents these last few months. Everything's going in the wrong direction."
"We told you so"? A tossed-off comment like this one from Hamm would cause a real reporter's hair to stand on end. What the hell does Hamm mean by that crack? It's smarmy and self-righteous, and the fact that McCrutcheon doesn't follow it up makes me certain that this story is either a Brady plant or that the reporter is Brady's dog. Plus, I'm a little surprised that Brady's spinners let that comment out the door — I suspect the reporter has a personal relationship with Mr. Hamm, which would allow him to go around the Brady media apparatus.

McCrutcheon includes the di rigeur progun arguments at the end of the article (including a thoughtful comment from UCLA law professor and super-blogger Eugene Volokh), but that's throwaway spot, the "see, I'm really objective" comment ghetto.

In fact, by using Brady's fundamental thesis — all gun events are linked because the gun is the driving factor of the events — then restating Brady's "solution" — why can't we agree on more gun control? — McCutcheon reveals himself as a biased reporter.

The fact that Newhouse moved the story reveals its biases.

Isn't journalism fun?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More Sping Cycle

Very nice post from Denise at Ten Ring analyzing the Brady Center press release:
Their [Brady's] quotes wonder when we’ll make our communities safe from gun violence.

My answer to them: We’ll never be safe from gun violence anymore than we’re safe from any kind of violence. Bad or mentally disturbed people will always find a way to get a weapon. We can defend ourselves, we can work harder to recognize when people need help, and we can lock up violent offenders until they’re too old to commit violent crimes. In Minnesota and in Atlanta the perpetrators got their guns from police. How do you stop that, short of disarming law enforcement?

The Road to Hell..., as my Mother noted, paved with good intentions. As John Lott writes in today's National Review Online, good intentions don't necessarily make good laws:
There is a broader lesson to learn from these attacks. All three attacks took place in areas where gun possession by those who did the attack as well as civilians generally was already banned — so-called "gun-free safe zones." Suppose you or your family are being stalked by a criminal who intends on harming you. Would you feel safer putting a sign in front of your home saying "This Home is a Gun-Free Zone"?

It is pretty obvious why we don't put these signs up. As with many other gun laws, law-abiding citizens, not would-be criminals, would obey the sign. Instead of creating a safe zone for victims, it leaves victims defenseless and creates a safe zone for those intent on causing harm.
The single most important point we as shooters need to make is that there is a gun law that works — shall-issue concealed carry. Every "gun-free zone" is, in fact, a "killing zone," a place where citizens are required to be defenseless.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Neo-Nazi Rantings

Here's the Google cache for Jeff Weise's rantings on the forum (courtesy Michelle Malkin). Remember, the First Amendment is the handmaiden of the Second, although if this crap doesn't piss you off I don't know what will:
What brings me to the forum? Well, I stumbled across the site in my study of the Third Reich as well as Nazism, amongst other things. I guess I've always carried a natural admiration for Hitler and his ideals, and his courage to take on larger nations. I also have a natural dis-like for communism.

When I was growing up, I was taught (like others) that Nazi's were (are) evil and that Hitler was a very evil man ect... Of course, not for a second did I believe this. Upon reading up on his actions, the ideals and issues the German Third Reich adressed, I began to see how much of a lie had been painted about them. They truly were doing it for the better.

It kind of angers me how people pass pre-judgement on someone if they even so much as say something like "I support what Hitler did," without even hearing what you have to say. This goes double if you're ethnic. I also hear things like, "oh he had syphilis, he was crazy and thats why he did what he did." Or, "he molested his neice," it's easy to see that even today people are trying to destroy the image of a man who deserves great respect...

Spin Cycle

Okay, here's how the school shooting in Minnesota is going to spin...I know that sounds harsh, and I don't want to belittle the losses to those involved. But the spin cycle has started, and we need to be preppared to deal with it. This is from Brady, the lead item on their homepage:
Washington D.C. - The bloody attack on a Native American high school yesterday can't be viewed as an isolated incident. Though the motivations of the young killer are as of yet unknown, his rampage becomes another entry on a growing list of news reports on horrific gun violence and reports on the ready availability of ever-deadlier weapons.

"In recent months, we have seen horrible shooting attacks in shopping malls, office buildings, courthouses, the homes of judges, private hunting lands and it seems like every other kind of place we like to believe is safe," said Brady Campaign and Million Mom March President Michael Barnes. "And we're deluged with reports about legal guns that can shoot down airplanes, guns designed to kill police wearing body armor, and the FBI being forced to watch as terrorist suspects arm themselves with firearms."

"Our leaders are preaching about the culture of life," Barnes said. "They should spend the same amount of energy taking steps to stop our nation's culture of death."
Setting aside the undeniable fact that Sarah Brady, Michael Barnes and their ilk are ghouls, willing to sink to any level to accomplish their complete disarming of America, let's look at how this spin cycle sets up.

The specific technique they're using is one I've always heard called "stacking," or "aggregating," putting a series of unrelated events together to form what amounts to a fake trend. The key element of stacking is connecting up as many boxcars as you can and see if the engine will pull them. The engine here is "sensible gun laws," or, as we would characterize it, disarming the public. Notice how Barnes keeps attaching boxcars, including boxcars that consis solely of Brady press releases and CBS News shows, which are actually the same thing.

FWIW, the best way to address a stacking attack is to "unhook the boxcars." An earlier release, for example, called for unspecified "government action." My response would be, "Absolutely." Since in apparently two of the events — Minnesota and the Georgia courthouse shooting — the guns were taken from active or retired law enforcement officers, is Brady calling for a national ban on POLICE carrying, owning or even possessing weapons? Specifics specifics specifics a debate I would push the other person to specifically explain to me what he or she is proposing and how that is suppose to effect the "culture of death."

I would then go on the attack, citing the ONLY proven way of stopping such shootings — arming people, expanding CCW laws.

As far as the links to Brady press releases/CBS News, I think we all know what to do there. Point out that these are press releases, not news stories. I would personally ridicule CBS "News" as the joke it is.

I actually don't this this will have any traction for Brady, because the events are individually very strange. Neo-nazis, religious whackos, a prisoner who should have been in chains...It's hard to convince even the most gullible person — with the possible exception of Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, who will believe any piece of antigun bilge that Brady shovels out — that additional laws would have an effect on such people.

Still, we have to be ready to respond. If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to email me.

Bad News Tuesday

First, read Alphecca's compilation of news on the school shooting. I think he does the best job of giving an insight into what happened. Here's a quote from Alphecca from the Pioneer Press:
At least a dozen other students were wounded by the teenage gunman, identified by tribal members as Jeff Weise, a sophomore who enjoyed Marilyn Manson music and had expressed his admiration for Adolf Hitler on various online forums.


In a couple of postings to a nationalist forum last year, Weise eerily foreshadowed Monday's events. He claimed last April that authorities had questioned him about alleged plans to "shoot up the school on 4/20, Hitlers (sic) birthday."

On Internet sites Weise sometimes used the names "Todesengel'' — German for "angel of death'' — or "NativeNazi."
When I was a kid in junior high school, there was always a touring science guy who came by once or twice a year with film clips about "scientific experiments" in progress. The only one I really remember was the "rats in the box" experiment, which got shown at least once a year. The experiment was, as the deep scientific voice intoned, to keep adding rats to a box and see what happened as "population density" increased. What invariably happened was that as more rats were added, invariably one would go insane and attack the other rats, who then turned on the crazy rat and killed it. Researchers, the voice added, wanted to know how many rats was too many rats in a box. It's a question I'm afraid we have succssfully answered.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Paging GAMERA, Friend of All Children!

I've always been a fan of the giant flying turtle spewing fire from numerous orifaces. As you know (you do know, don't you?), Gamera comes to the aide of children everywhere. Well, the Big Guy better be revving up his flame jets, 'cause it looks like we'll be needing him sooner rather than later. Take a look at this from the AP:
Pet shop owner sees Satan image on turtle that survived fire

MICHIGANTOWN, IND. -- The owner of a turtle that was the only survivor of a pet shop fire says he sees an image of Satan's face on its shell.

"The marking on the shell was like the devil wanted us to know he was down there," Bryan Dora said. "To me, it's too coincidental that the only thing to come out unscathed would have this image on it."

The palm-sized red-eared slider turtle, named Lucky, was the only animal to survive a fire last October at Dora's A-Dora-ble Pet Shop in nearby Frankfort, about 40 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

Dora and others can spot lips, eyes, a goatee, shoulders and a pair of pointy horns on Lucky's back.
When the Dark Lord starts autographing turtles, watch out! I'm thinking we're days, maybe hours, from having Tim Lahaye's entire series of books crank up right in front of our eyes! There's nothing left to do but start rubbing my Gamera action figure a friend got me in Japan and start hording chocolate and 9mm ball ammo.

I'd also watch that damn turtle really closely!

Monday Morning No New Shark Attacks Blues

"Portland Oregon and a sloe gin fizz
If that ain't love, don't tell me what is

— Loretta Lynn
Portland Oregon

I'm sitting here watching my hero and idol, Ann Curry, interview the husband of some rich-ass chubby model who has "valiantly overcome" clinical depression to become a "better man." And yes, I am taking notes! Ann is a genius at adopting that smarmy false sympathy of the distant aunt at a Southern funeral, the one who traveled across the country just to hear the gory details: "Oh, I pray to Dear Blessed Jesus that she didn't suffer...did she? Was ther pain? A lot of pain? Where? Did she moan in pain there at the end? OHHHHHH My lord...tell me all of it!"

It's either Annie-Poo or that poor woman in Florida, with apparently half the country arguing about whether or not to pull her feeding tube. I fully expect one or the other parties to set up a website so ALL AMERICA CAN VOTE! Shockingly, I have no opinion. If it was me, I don't think that's how I'd like to pass 15 years. On the other hand, I've stood over the beds of people I loved, hooked up to the machines under those florscent lights, willing every single twitch of the eyebrow and flutter of breath to be a sign of impending miracle.

I could get up and do something, but I'm still shifting gears from coming off the road. It's always like beaming in from an alternative universe, the one with room service. It takes about a day for my head to stop moving and get the office flywheel in my head spinning. So far I've cleaned my aquarium and soldered some connections on the robot I'm haphazardly building. I whipped through the Internet, but nothihng really caught my attention.

It's spring, and we're all waiting for the next new shark attack!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Big In Japan

Am back from another filming day at Festival of the West in Phoenix (well, Scottsdale). We had a lot of fun shooting Tequila, our host, with camera and guns (blanks...blanks!!!). I swear I'm going to sleep all day tomorrow! The it's time to shift gears and work with AMERICAN RIFLEMAN, the NRA's show. We're headed out to Rigby, the super-expense African safari gun manufacturer, and Weatherby in a week or so. Hopefully, my brain will have turned back on by then.

In the meantime, I'm pondering this story from the BBC:
Chewing gum can 'enhance breasts'

A chewing gum which the makers say can help enhance the size, shape and tone of the breasts has proved to be a big hit in Japan.

B2Up says its Bust-Up gum, when chewed three or four times a day, can also help improve circulation, reduce stress and fight ageing.

The gum works by slowly releasing compounds contained in an extract from a plant called Pueraria mirifica.
Well golly! I can just see legions of Japanese schoolgirls chewing away, sending quick instant messages to each others' cell phones chronicling each silly millimeter'd difference. Sort of like a real-life anime festival.

Aah when you're big in Japan-tonight...
Big in Japan-be-tight...
Big in Japan... ooh the eastern sea's so blue
Big in Japan-alright,
Pay! -- Then I'll sleep by your side
Things are easy when you're big in Japan
Oh when you're big in Japan

— Alphaville
"Big In Japan"

I'm reading Randy Wayne White's most recent paperback, TAMPA BURN. I've got to say that I think it's his best work yet. I have some issues with the Doc Ford series, but I have to say that Randy Wayne and I have spent far more time pondering the inescapable magic of beer as opposed to discussing plot elements. One of my fondest memories of my time in Florida was ripping around in Randy Wayne's flats boat in the middle of the night, visiting the sites from his first Doc Ford book. And that's not to mention being trapped on some island with Randy Wayne, the wonderful novelist Peter Matthiessen, a class of wannabe writers and only the leftover remains of a firefighters' picnic — cold chicken, cold baked beans, flat beer and rum — we'd bought for, like, $50, for food and sustenance.

I seem to recall the writers coming to the house we were holed up in for food when Randy Wayne, Matthiessen and I were perhaps suffering from degraded performance specs. "It's okay," Randy Wayne said to the writers. "Peter, Michael and I are professionals at this."

I was, of course, older then; I'm younger than that now.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Spring Approaches, and Love Finds Us All...

Sigh, I am so in love...unfortunately, it's with a cartoon.

Still, tis better to have loved and to have lost (perhaps erased is the more proper word) than to have never...what was I saying again?

An M1 Carbine Update...

I was rooting around in some of my other email accounts today, and I found this missive from gunwriter/gunsmith Patrick Sweeney about hooking up with Jim Cirillo from the old NYPD Stakeout Squad on the M1 Carbine:
I talked to Jim Cirillo at the SHOT Show during the PMC range day. Yes, they used the M1, with the barrel shortened to the end of the handguards, loaded with the old 110 (gr) jacketed soft/hollow point ammo. And it had the best percentage of stops of any gun they used.

I've always wondered about the stories of the "lack of stopping power" of the M1 Carbine. Apparently no one in the Pacific in WWII complained. And ballistically, it has it all over the .357, as you pointed out. I never could get that: a .357-inch 110-grain bullet @ 1400 fps stops like God's Word, but a .308-inch 110 @ 1900 gets shrugged off. As a friend of mine is wont to remark, "What's up with that?"
Parick is one of the ranking ballistic guys around. he knows of which he speaks! And Cirillo? He's the Man.

Signs of a Minor Apocalypse

I have been pondering the entrails of slain chickens, casting bones and sifting through the remains of my Sweetie's designer tea leaves, and I'm still not certain whether the following two stories are plants by the Antichrist or actual signs of the End of All We Know & Revere.

WASHINGTON - On Capitol Hill instead of a baseball field, wearing suits instead of uniforms, they walked into the room, stars all, forced by subpoena to testify before Congress whether they cheated by using steroids.

Heads turned, strobes flashed and necks craned to get a glimpse of the humbled heroes.
From AP:
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Friday night lights in Texas could soon be without bumpin' and grindin' cheerleaders. Legislation filed by Rep. Al Edwards would put an end to "sexually suggestive" performances at athletic events and other extracurricular competitions.

"It's just too sexually oriented, you know, the way they're shaking their behinds and going on, breaking it down," said Edwards, a 26-year veteran of the Texas House. "And then we say to them, 'don't get involved in sex unless it's marriage or love, it's dangerous out there' and yet the teachers and directors are helping them go through those kind of gyrations."
First drugs, then sex...Good Lord, what's next? Rock and roll? No more "We Will Rock You" for the billionth time? In truth, it's hard for me to grasp the entire brouhaha around professional baseball. The breaking point for me with all of professional sports is the idea that these people are "heroes."

Why on earth would wildly overpaid meglomainiacs in any field be considered heroes? Because they show up for work after a sprained pinkie? Because they articulate the values of our nation (so I jumped into the stand and beat the crap out of the guy...)? As near as I can tell, sports figures are every bit as important as those loveable Hollywood celebrities, who lack the brains of my Beagle, Alf, but are indeed perfectly formed.

Personally, I think we ought to just walk away from the hipocrasy and let professional sports become what is has always wanted to be — ROLLERBALL! Setting aside the question of whether the ENTIRE FRIGGIN' GOVERMENT should piss away its time talking to this motley collection of losers, let's build stadiums the size of Pittsburg and people them with 'roid and meth-fueled giants, Japanese motorcycles, cannon-fired balls, rollerblades and gloves with spikes. Then let's draft major actors and actresses as cheerleaders, with the guys dressed as Castro Street leather boys circa 1976 and the girls in Catholic girls' school outfits. Allow international betting through the internet and let Ann Curry host the whole thing wearing a Hannibal Lector leather mask and manga chick drag. Turn the whole thing over to WWE to manage, then fire up the popcorn-maker, Mama, 'cause we ain't leaving the house tonight!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Those Rollicking Lab Guys!

Give a bunch of geeks a heavy ion collider, and the next thing you know they've gone and destroyed Earth! Well, not yet...but they do seem to be having a good time. This from the BBC:
Lab fireball 'may be black hole'

A fireball created in a US particle accelerator has the characteristics of a black hole, a physicist has said.

It was generated at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in New York, US, which smashes beams of gold nuclei together at near light speeds.
Not to worry, though. The story continues:
However, even if the ball of plasma is a black hole, it is not thought to pose a threat.
Well, I don't know about you, but I feel better! Still, I think I may rummage around and find my Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, just in case. Remember, DON'T PANIC!

John Kerry's Career...

Read this one from the one and only P. J. O'Rourke in the Weekly Standard:
JOHN KERRY EFFECTIVELY ENDED HIS political career on February 28, 2005, during a little-noticed event at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Senator Kerry was being presented with the library's "Distinguished American Award"--a bust of John Kennedy. The artist had portrayed JFK with head slightly tilted. The bust looked puzzled. The award was presented by Senator Ted Kennedy, who phoned it in. Supposedly Kennedy was rushing to catch the "last plane out of Logan" to get to Washington for a vital debate on bankruptcy reform legislation. Why the other senator from Massachusetts wasn't vital was not explained. Nor was it explained why any Democrat was vital to a debate on legislation that was simply to be passed by the Republican majority and signed by the Republican president.
On a less funny subject, this from on adding .50 cal rifles and Five-seveN pistols to the state's Draconian assault weapons ban:
Known on the street as the cop killer, the Five-seveN is easily concealable and is designed to shoot ammunition that can pierce 48 layers of Kevlar, the material in bulletproof vests.

The .50-caliber rifle can accurately shoot a target up to 2,000 yards away and can potentially shoot down commercial airplanes during takeoff, supporters of the bill said. The rifle is not covered by the state assault weapons ban.
As predicted right here, the antigun lobby is moving hard and fast to try and duplicate their last big hit, banning "cop-killer" bullets. I like that "known on the street" reference, as if the reporter, one Justin Matthew Aucoin was some "O.G." just in from "da hood," as opposed to the more likely scenario of a recent J-skol kid copying a Brady memorandum.

An Inexcusable Absence...

...which no doubt did not make the heart grow fonder!

Had a grueling shoot down in Florida at the Southern Grand trap shoot. It was fun, because Kim Rhode (she of the Olympic gold medals and sterling sense of humor) was along for the ride, but apparently Florida is ont he verge of washing onto the sea from rain, so all our filming was frantic between-the-rain stuff. Should be a good show...I did provie prettyt conclusively that I can't shoot clay pigeons worth a crap. Kim's instruction helped enormously.

Saturday, it's off to Phoenix for Festival of the West for COWBOYS. Maybe I'll sleep tomorrow.

In the meantime, try and watch SOUTH PARK's episode on the "Hippie Menace." It's a home run...

Monday, March 14, 2005

Whip It Good!

From Annanova, presently largely without comment:
Passers-by called police after seeing a young blonde woman being bundled into the back of a van in Brunssum.

Three men had roughly manhandled the struggling woman who was handcuffed, blindfolded, gagged and staggering on high heels in fishnet stockings...

Two of them were only half dressed and police feared the woman had been raped in the back of the van.

But when they untied her and took her gag off, she reportedly screamed: "You stupid b******s! I've been trying to set this up for months! And now you've ruined it, just when it was getting interesting!"
Okay...maybe one comment! You'd think in this modern age they would have at least arranged for video! Think of how much more interesting it would be than reinactments of the Michael Jackson trial.

I feel a new reality show coming on!

You Can't Win 'Em ALL...

Check out this column from the Henderson Daily News, which I suppose must be somewhere in the United States or Texas. It's one of those rare cases where the journalist, Ms. Sherry Long, manages to get everything wrong:
Personally, I'm scared of guns. I will not go near them, whether they're pistols or rifles. I don't care. I have buried too many friends and family members who died from shooting incidents.

A better question to ask is, why are semi-automatic guns even manufactured?

Most large corporations are driven by the profit motive - cold, hard, green cash. It's a simple true hard fact of life...

In 1994, Congress banned automatic and semiautomatic weapons, but it seems there are more reports than ever about shootings involving assault weapons...

...These types of weapons need to be taken off the streets once and forever...

Federal law states that automatic weapons can only be used by the military.
Well, as Steve Perry once sang (badly):

Oh Sherry
You should've been gone
Knowing how I made you feel
And I should've been gone
After all your words of steel

Sherry can be reached at Perhaps more importantly, her boss, Tony Floyd, the managing editor, can be reached at A non-snotty questioner might note that calling a story a "column" or an "editorial" does NOT release the writer and the publisher from the journalistc canon of ethics, which obligates them both to report and print only items they know to be true. Opinions are not facts, and vice versa. Ms. Long's piece is so fraught with errors that Michael Jackson's chimp coulda poked holes in it after five minutes on the Internet with a stolen GameBoy.

Task Loading

I've been thinking lately about that ole debil "task loading," or, why multitasking is a myth. What got me started on this was an interesting thing that happened while I was at Gunsite. I was on my gazillionth run at the Scramble course, and we were down to filming the "cutaways," breaking each shooting position down into its component parts and filming them to allow the editors something to "cut away" magic blah blah stuff, doncha know.

Erik Olds, the Gunsite instructor, said, "Your finger's going in the trigger guard before you're in position to shoot." Happened twice. That's not something I normally ever do. I mean, I've shot several hundred matches over the last 30 years — handgun, rifle, shotgun, three-gun, cowboy, submachinegun, fill-in-the-blank — run high-speed simulations and helped hammer out safety issues for matches years and years ago. If you were to ask me, I'd say I have completely internalized trigger discipline. Rule 3: Don't put your finger on the trigger until you're ready for the gun to go bang. I didn't touch the trigger, but I was going into the trigger guard too soon.

I realized that task loading had reared its ugly head!

The "rule" of task loading states simply that the more tasks you're asked to perform, the less likely you are to perform all tasks well. Task loading appears (to me) to follow a geometric rather than an arithmatic progression. Imagine a graph where the horizontal axis is "numbers of tasks" and the vertical axis is an inverse "quality of performance;" that is, where the vertical axis meets the horizontal axis is "100% performance," a.k.a. perfect performance. The higher you go on the vertical axis, the worse your performance per task gets.

An arithmatic progression would yield a straight line whose steepness would be relative how much performance-per-task degraded as additional tasks were added. A geometric progression is a up-turning curve, with performance-per task drastically declining as additional tasks are added. My observation of and experience with task loading both in firearms instruction and instruction for high-risk sports such as technical diving or climbing Big Mountains is that not only does it follow a geometric progression, but there is a "crash point," where basically everything goes to hell and you can't do anything...very bad in a risky situation!

Cave divers are real big on task loading, sensitive to even small tasks that are "no problemo" when taken individually but which add to the overall load. My cave diving instructor was big on the idea that the complexity of the tasks added didn't really make that much difference — a simple task was every bit as big a load as a compex task. It was the additive nature that made task loading so dangerous.

So why am I harping on this? Because it's not something we normally think about and it's sneaky as hell. Task loading goes against our common sense, which tells us that several small, non-complex tasks taken as a group should not be a big issue. Then we drive our SUV into a tree we've driven past safely a thousand times.

Here's my example of task loading — I run into the frame, assuming exactly the same shooting position as when I was running the course for real. Making sure my hands and the gun are in the same position, I take — and make — the shot, then exit the frame the same way I did it for real. Oh yeah, there are two cameramen in awkward positions I have to make sure I don't sweep when I exit while keeping the muzzle downrange...etc.

John Shaw, who founded the Mid-South Institute for Self-Defense Shooting, had the best analogy I've ever heard about task loading (although he didn't use it in that context). Imagine, John said, that everyone gets $1 worth — 100 pennies — of concentration. That's it. Nobody gets a buck and a quarter; no matter how many Tony Robbins' seminars you attend, you've still only got those 100 pennies of concentration. Your only option is how to spend those pennies.

John goes on to talk about focus, but the analogy works perfect for task loading. Every task requires a few pennies — I suspect a minimum amount of, say, a nickel's worth. Whenever we add a task, we subtract from our 100 pennies available. Even an inconsequential task takes five pennies. The closer we get to "spending" all 100 pennies, the closer we come to the "crash point."

And even if we're a ways away from the crash point, as we add tasks we're still drastically degrading our performance of each task.

There are some interesting implications for tactical training here (jeeez, as well as for the Real World!). I have seen a trend in training that involves adding "simple" tasks, largely as a way to differentiate one person's training style from another. The true secret way of the Ninja involves standing on one foot, chanting while drawing the knife, etc.

If each task added degrades performance of all tasks — including the primary task of saving one's ass — I would say the existance of task loading argues for simplicity. Plus, it requires a certain level of vigilance from all of us, no matter how experienced, to keep it from sneaking up and biting our posteriors!!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Cowboy the %$&$ UP!

As you may or may not know, I gotta thing for cowboy boots and cowboy hats, although because I am an amazingly cheap human being I never actually buy any, except for my ratty pair of Durango dress boots and a couple of pairs of cool cowboy shooting boots. I think, however, I may have met my VISA BUSTER...

Get thee to Rocketbuster Boots and just feast your eyes on these puppies. I am so into the Rocket Science boots (click on 'em to get the big picture). They also do LOGO boots! I'm sure that many...maybe even hundreds...of you would pay $1500 for a pair of SHOOTING GALLERY logo boots. Wouldn't you? What if we kicked in a COWBOYS logo? Free instruction? A car? Health insurance?

Swamp Gas!!!

"Must be those strangers that colme every night
Those saucer-shaped lights
Put people up-tight
Little green footsteps that glow in the dark
I hope they get home all right!"
— The Byrds "Hey Mr. Spaceman"

PORTLAND, Ore. - A fireball streaked through the night sky across the western half of the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, startling people all the way from southern Oregon to the Seattle area.

Scientists said the fireball was probably a meteor, and that it likely disintegrated just before any fragments fell into the Pacific Ocean.

Summer Jensen of Portland said she was sitting in her living room with her father when she saw the flash of light outside and rushed to see what it was.

"It was like a big ball of fire," and "behind it was a trail of blue," she said.
I hope they get home all right!

Sunday Morning Powder

There's this old joke about Colorado weather — you don't like it, hang around for a couple of hours, and it'll be completely different.

Yesterday my Sweetie and I hiked down into town for fun and festivities of FROZEN DEAD GUY DAYS, the Nederland winter festival. The short story is that, like the legendary Rocky Top, where corn don't grow at all, Nederland has no crops to celebrate (8000 feet elevation); the mines were all worked out years ago; the famous rock stars who puked in local bars in the 1960s have all moved on to other bars (where they serve Geritol, no doubt) and the studio burned down; even the dope dried up.

The only thing we have is a frozen stiff in a Tuff-Shed near where I live (I get lost tourists in the summer). Look the story up on the website...suffice to say each March we celebrate a cyrogenically preserved grandpop warehoused on dry ice in a structure originally intended to store lawnmowers, garden hoses and the occasional field mouse.

I love it here.

So anyway, we hiked into town yesterday; it was almost 70 degrees and sunny, perfect for Coffin Races. We took Alf the Wonder Beagle unmuzzled, in case we were attacked by mountain lions or liberals from Boulder in town to mix with the proletariat and buy t-shirts. A good time was had by all...I bought souvenirs for the film crew, Alf met new friends and protected us from lions and my Sweetie stocked up on designer beer.

It started snowing about 8 P.M. This morning, it's freezing cold with a foot of fresh powder and still snowing.

That's right, sports fans — time to ride the wild surf! One more cup of coffee and it's time to hit the slopes. This is a good thing, since all next week we'll be in Florida filming at the Baby Grand trap shoot. The idea is that I can't shoot clay pigeons worth bat dookey — which is true — and Olympic gold medalist Kim Rhode is going to heal me — which is, at best, a crap shoot. I'm also going to be totally decked out in trap drag...I've always said I couldn't get into shotgun sports because I couldn't afford the clothes!

Well,, PULL!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Carnival of Cordite

From Anarchangel's blog site, the weekly Carnival of Cordite, a collection of gunstuff from across the blogosphere.

There's a beautiful piece from a friend of Mark Wilson, the Tyler, TX, man who gave his life in a shootout:
In the streetside restaurants and shops people were running for back exits. Waiters and cashiers were locking doors and dialing 911. Arroyo was burning through 65 rounds of 7.62X39 ammunition. Over 100 witnesses were listening or watching. Bullets began to tick in the window glass of lawyers offices, splinter through woodwork of shops, and whine off plaster walls. In the courthouse judges locked themselves in their chambers. Witnesses and juries huddled while deputies and bailiffs scrambled to secure the building and return fire.

Mark Wilson was in street, firing.
There is also an excellent piece from Trigger Finger on why gun control remains popular in some circles, even though it patently does not work — a question my Sweetie, an attorney, has asked me numerous times:
Gun control advocates do not care, and never have cared, about offering solutions to crime and violence. They care about meeting their own emotional needs, and they do not care about the lives they damage and destroy in the process, because their own lives are already damaged and destroyed. They will never stop, because their psychological wounds will never heal.

Registration will not be enough. Bans will not be enough. Confiscation will not be enough. Herding all the gun owners into the ovens will not be enough, because the wounds will never be allowed to heal so long as the coping mechanism for grief involves reopening the wounds.

It has been said that religion is the opiate of the masses.

Gun control is a religion.

NPR's On The Media

The National Public Radio "On the Media" story I worked on about media bias is up at the On The Media site for March 11.

I think it's an excellent piece, fair and balanced. I think it's also a good example of how we can get our message out if we're willing to work with the media.

Let me know your thoughts!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Your REAL Job...

Nice column here from Jeff Smith at the Tucson Citizen:
There is no right more intrinsic than the right of self-defense: not free speech, not freedom of religion - nothing. If you are set upon by attackers who do not hesitate to use every available means to injure or kill you, is there any earthly authority you can imagine that could justly deny you the right to defend your life?

Of course not. There's no instinct more basic than this.

The right to live is by definition the foundation of every other right. A right so implicit confers responsibility, in any rational construct. Once past the helplessness of infancy and its dependence on mother and father for sustenance and protection, the individual's responsibility to defend and maintain one's intrinsic rights grows in proportion to one's level of maturity until, at adulthood, each of us becomes wholly responsible for himself.

Sorry, but that's the way it is: You are your job, and that moneymaking business is merely a sidelight.

Neat New Gun!

I just wanted to say that the little Remington 7615 5.56 pump carbine pretty much rocked. We took it through all the hoops, from shooting off the bench to speed drills on steel to the infamous Gunsite Rifle Scramble course, and it just kept on ticking.

I'm sufficiently impressed to say the 7615 may be the ideal rifle for a civilian self-defense scenarios — easy to shoot, uses readily available AR magazines, not and "assault weapon," light weight. I could go on, but you really need to shoot one. They should be in the civilian pipeline within a couple of months.

BTW, wait 'til you see my "out" at the end of the SHOOTING GALLERY episode on this gun (and carbine shooting in general)! I'd just finished a run through the Scramble (and a pretty good run, if I do say so myself), and I'm a pathetic whipped puppy.

TGIF, Y'all

Well, I'm sitting here in my pajamas, so I don't know whether to start blogging or go testify in the Michael Jackson trial. Speaking of which, there are some things sufficently weird as to be beyond satire. What can you say? The trial venue should have been changed to Mars.

More importantly, the new New York Times-driven antigun initiative regarding "terror suspects" and their ability to obtain firearms. here's the story earlier this week that triggered the whole thing:
Dozens of terror suspects on federal watch lists were allowed to buy firearms legally in the United States last year, according to a Congressional investigation that points up major vulnerabilities in federal gun laws.

People suspected of being members of a terrorist group are not automatically barred from legally buying a gun, and the investigation, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, indicated that people with clear links to terrorist groups had regularly taken advantage of this gap.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, law enforcement officials and gun control groups have voiced increasing concern about the prospect of a terrorist walking into a gun shop, legally buying an assault rifle or other type of weapon and using it in an attack.
Let me say just one word here...suspect! Say it again and again...suspect, suspect, suspect, suspect. A suspect is, "Someone who is thought to be guilty," to crib the words from Maybe I'm denseno comments from chorus! — but I take that to mean a suspect HAS NOT been convicted of a crime; rather, someone...a cop, a district attorney, some guy in the basement of a federal office building in Washington D.C...that the suspect is guilty of something.

Just because your name is on some government list is no reason to deprive you of your rights guaranteed in the Constitution. Imagine the NYT's outcry if the G had announced that anyone on the various and sundry terrorists' watch list woiuld henceforth be denied his or her right against unreasonable search and seizure?

Make no mistake about it...this is just another antigun initiative.

And make no mistake about this, either...we are all on some government list...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Gunsite #2

Absolutely great day today in the GUNSITE Hunter Prep course. Essentially, this course provides simulations on African or North American game. Basically, you work your way through the woods/veldt looking for game. I shot a warthog at 10 yards, a lion at 100 yards and an antelope at 57 yards. I was using a Steyr Scout Rifle in .308 with a forward-mounted 2-power Leopold scope.

I've shot the Steyr Scout before, but this is the first time I've ever really wrung one out. SOLD! The idea of a forward-mounted scope allows you to shoot with two eyes open — the way we monkeys were designed to do — and it is fast, fast, fast to pick up. I spent all day blasting .308 match rounds, and the Steyr was hands-down the most comfortable .308 I've ever shot...even with it's skinny short barrel. In fact, the stock was so well designed dit was like shouldering and shooting a .223. My pal Alan Samuel from, who's along for the ride and is a very experienced three-gun shooter, totally agreed. Alan capped a couple of back-lit antelope at 200 yards with the sun on the way down. Even our crew had a blast.

I really like GUNSITE's philosophy of a consistent platform across all the weapons' systems...shot a handgun the same way as a rifle as a shotgun as a subgun, etc. Makes a huge amount of sense.

Tomorrow we'll be working with the GUNSITE crew, Greg Foster from Remington Law Enforcement and Dave Spaulding, a fine trainer in his own right, working with the new Remington 7615 pump carbines. Oughta be fun!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Gunsite #1...

...okay, I'm sorry. I've been slacking on the blogging front. Hard though it is to believe, I've been working. Two days; two episodes of SHOOTING GALLERY down. Two to go.

Still, it has been an aamzing couple of days. Monday, we spent the afternoon with Col. Jeff Cooper, the 85-year-old Lord-High-God-Of-The-1911 and the man who invented practical shooting. I think it may be the definitive interview with the most important man in the firearms field since John Browning, but I may be prejudiced. One of the coolest things was that we got to spend the afternoon in Cooper's armory, which is sort of the Mother Church of Practical Shooting. I think this is going to knock your socks off when we cut the interview. Considering that I've always considered Cooper one of the major influences on both my writing and my life, it was one heck of an afternoon.

Today was BUZZ GUN DAY AT GUNSITE. We spent most of the day working with venerable H-K MP-5s, running through about a thousand rounds of 9mm working with Cory Trapp, Gunsite's main full-auto guy. Excellent instructor, and Gunsite's facility is beyond compare.

Late in the afternoon, when we were all punchy, we shifted over to Glock 18 machine pistols, proving that if you have vast amounts of ammunition to get rid of, we have just the device to help you out. I did a quick opening running four 33-round mags through a compensated 18...sucker was smoking hot when I finished, but it never missed a beat. We even did some strong-hand-only work with the little machine pistol, and it hummed right along. I'm not saying that you don't have t0 pay attention — it will rise on you — but it's not a particularly hard gun to shoot. In an ideal world, every Glock should have a selector switch!

I will say again that GUNSITE is once again the premiere shooting school in the United States. I base that on several factors — the long-term instructors, the quality of the facility, the comprehensive nature of the instruction and the willingness of the instructors to embrace change. I'm pretty familiar with shooting schools, and I think that Gunsite is hands-down the best of the best.

There are only a few tactical schools I'd personally recommendGunsite, the Firearms Academy of Seattle, Valhalla and the Rogers Shooting School. There are other individual instructors I like (here's a hint...if they're featured on SHOOTING GALLERY, it's ONLY because I am willing to recommend them!).

Tomorrow is rifle day (Steyr Scout rifles and maybe the Springfield Armory SOCOM rifle), and we finish up on Thursday with some of the new Remington .223 pump carbines! I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Another in the Occasional Series...

...of Words to Live By:

"Nothing says peace and love like huge monster truck tires rollin' down the road..."

— MTV's "Pimp My Ride"

Menawhile. Back at the Damned Airport...

...I thought I'd post something before I boogied on down to Arizona!

As usual, the morons at United have come up with a new and even more convoluted system for people declaring firearms at DIA. Let me see if I have this right:
1) Check in on the machines
2) Tell the helpful United employee that you need a firearms declaration form
3) Watch while helpful attendent tears up your baggage claim and calls some hapless schlepp over to carry your bad to the "Oversize Bag" check, the newest, latest place to get a firearms declaration
4) Fill out declaration and place in bag
5) Wait for second schlepp to "take possession" of your bag and push it over to the Official TSA Declared Gun Checking Station, which is either at Continental Airlines or Pittsburg, whichever is farthest away
6) Wait until the overworked TSA guys run your bag through and then announce that, yes, you do have a declared firearm in your bag
7) Go to the gate
At least, that's this week's fire-drill, which was different from last week's fire-drill and which will no doubt be different from next week's fire-drill. Is it too much to suggest to our reps at NSSF and the NRA to try and negotiate some sort of standard with these fools? I know...I know...silly me!

In the meantime, check out the Carnival of Cordite over at Gullyborg.

Off into the skies!