Sunday, April 30, 2006

Five Things I Don't Give a Damn About

Well after all, it's Sunday. Which, of course, implies the Sunday paper — in my case, the Denver Post. So I let my Sweetie sleep late, fed and watered the zoo and sat down to read said paper, which reminded me of why I don't necessarily read the paper anymore.

Mostly, I was struck by how much "news" isn't even marginally connected to my life...I got through three sections before I started looking for old movies on television and pining for the loss of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I suppose this could be a searing indictment of my inate shallowness, or, as the alt country singer whose name escapes me wrote recently, "Just trying to get through without too much damage..."

Anyhow, in an effort to justify my marginal existance and, hopefully, to ruin some total strangers' day, I started compiling a short list of things I really could care less about, presented here for your edification and/or mortification.

1) College students...yes, those pathetic betwix-and-between human beings sucking up Daddy's money and pretending the Brownian motion of exceptionally stupid quark particles bouncing around the large empty boxcars that pass for their heads are real "thoughts." Lovely column in today's Post on, "How, Oh How, Will I Adjust To The World Outside The Campus?" Answer...don't worry, you'll pick up the knack of rolling burritos at Taco Bell in no time! Lucky you have a degree in Philosophy!

2) Coming of Age Novels...especially "touching" and/or "powerful" coming of age novels. Snore. Nod. We all "came of age," grew up, got laid, and are doing the best we can to hang on. Flash to sensitive young writers...someone has already written Catcher in the Rye, and, frankly, you are not that good. Instead of more coming of age drivel, why don't you write sensitive moving poetry and read it to college students?

3) Illegal Immigrants...yes yes, I know lots of American businesses run on your labor, and I'm looking forward to the owners of those businesses talkng the ole perp walk. As far as your "rights," sorry Charlie, you ain't Americans; you don't get the whole enchilada. You don't like it, go back to whatever miserable cesspool you escaped from. And, hey, bringing major cities to a traffic standstill tomorrow is an EXCELLENT way to get American citizens like me on your side! Keep it up, and you'll get Tom Tancredo elected as Maximum Dictator for Life!

4) Tom Cruise...ENOUGH! ENOUGH! Yes, he's probably crazy as a shithouse rat! Yes, Katie Holmes is being held against her will, hooked up to some giant machine that's translating her brainwaves into binary bytes and beaming them out into space. Yes, they named their baby Damien and he/she/it is being protected by packs of mutant Rottweilers dripping poison from massive fangs...please stop...I can't take it anymore...

5) Lawn Ornaments...look, I don't care if it is finally Spring! Keep your gnomes, hobbits, trolls, fawns, faeries — except, of course, for those slutty Eastern European faeries — spinny plastic daisies, fake rocks with Chinese glyphs and any creature that has ever had a starring roll in a cartoon inside! And don't talk about them, no matter what. Even if Jack Bauer shows up at your house with a soldering iron and a roll of duct tape.

Okay, I feel better!

And BTW, happy WALPURGIS NIGHT! I'm hoping all your witches and warlocks have a successful Revel. Or, as our old pal Goethe liked to say, in Faust:
The broomstick carries, so does the stock;
The pitchfork carries, so does the buck;
Who cannot rise on them tonight,
Remains for aye a luckless wight.
Me, I'm just going to hang a few cloves of garlic in front of my doors, toss a little holy water on the 5.56 cartridges and watch that Tom Selleck movie (watch for Mr. Tom's fleeting references to GUNSITE!). Oh, if necessary, I suppose I could sacrifice something...maybe a lawn ornament.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I've off to The Outdoor Channel (NEW SLOGAN: What Part of "Outdoor" Don't You Understand?) to spend the day in the studio recording the "wraparounds" — which is TV-speak for "stuff" — for NRA TV.

That's right...go to Milwaukee and you get to see me and Mark Keefe from AMERICAN RIFLEMAN TV 24/7. That's reason enough to go right there!!! I'll have some of the leftover "We Deal In Lead, Friend!" pins from the SHOT Show, so if you see me or come by The Outdoor Channel booth, I'll make sure you have one.

Mo' later...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mr. Snot-Nose Smarty Pants...

...aka, me.

Check out my new DROOPED SHOT column on the SHOOTING GALLERY site!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

OUTDOOR CHANNEL Doesn't Change It's Name...or it's stripes!

In case you missed it, yesterday OLN, which used to be the Outdoor Life Network, announced that it will officially change it's name to "Versus." This from Reuters Financial:
OLN, the cable channel known until last July as the Outdoor Life Network, will change its name to Versus in September.

OLN president Gavin Harvey said the new name captures the essence of where the Comcast Corp.-owned channel is going now and in the future.

"We're all about outdoor sports, and we're not only building on that but also opening it up to other competitive sports and other activities," Harvey said.


He said OLN's new programming goes beyond the "outdoor filter" that the brand had been about.
Well, thanks heavens OLN...whoops, I mean, "Versus" getting beyond that pesky "outdoor filter."

Upon reflection, I have an announcement to make...the television network for which I labor, The Outdoor Channel, will NOT be changing its name. That's right, folks! You're not going to wake up tomorrow and discover that we've morphed into BOB, CAROL, TED, ALICE, SNORT, ITCH, SCRATCH or FART. I guess we're having trouble getting beyond that "outdoor filter" thingie.

There was some talk about replacing the official Outdoor Channel logo and mascot, the MOOSE, with something more gentile, say a beaver, or a koala bear — everybody loves koala bears! — except we couldn't figure out what caliber handguns would fit their little paws. I was thinking that a koala with a reversed baseball cap, a Kahr Arms .9mm and one of those Kel-Tec folding .223 carbines slung on her little furry shoulder would send the right message, but that's just me, and I've already got THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS DUCK!

The more I think about it, though, the more I like FART — EVERYTHING FOR EVERYBODY, REALLY! Anybody got $100 million to help me get this baby off the ground?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again......almost

Just had a spectacular pizza at A-16, one of those tres trendy places in DISARMED SAN FRAN, which hopefully will soon be sold to the Chinese for an oil franchise somewhere. I'll miss the restaurants and Anchor Steam, but last I checked I hadn't left my heart here. Anyway, it was a pizza to die for — a sauce of Roma tomatoes, onions, lots of oregano, anchovies, olives and hot Italian peppers, served by a snooty-ass waitress who seated us so far back in the restaurant. we were actually in Oakland. It was either my faded orange Aloha shirt from the MGM Grand gift shop in Vegas or the SIGARMS jacket that got us dis'sed...I can't wait to get the new SHOOTING GALLERY "We Deal In Lead, Friend" t-shirts! They'll probably start seating me on the sidewalk.

I decided to forgo the wine for a local Pilsner, which proved to be the correct call. When it comes to matching liquor and food, I always opt for the simple acronym WWCSD...What Would Charlie Sheen Do? Charlie say, "Pizza = Beer." Actually, he'd probably say that Denise Richards is a lying slut, but he'd still go for the beer.

I'm sitting in a bright yellow hotel room with a single lime green wall, featuring strange abstract art on the wall. The bathroom is the color of passionfruit Sweetie is a master of finding strange places to stay when we travel. However, they have high-speed internet, so I was able to buy for kibbles and bits a set of really nice Ahrend's grips for my impending Hamilton Bowen L-frame .44 Special. Ah, technology!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Brief Detour for Microbrews

Mendocino, Mendocino,
Where life's such a groove
You blow your mind in the morning.
— "Mendocino," The Sir Douglas Quintet

So we're closing this thing out here in Mendocino, where life's such a groove I can't afford to live here. I love Mendocino, sort of a misplaced New England town in northern California, situated among rocky coastlines, redwood trees and the largest marijuana growing area in the country. Makes for an interesting local culture. The wine's pretty good, too..I like the local white and the local pinot.

I'm taking a wine break tonight to drive up to Ft. Bragg and the North Coast Microbrewery, which is a world-class brewery, for the cheese soup. Strangely enough, Bishop, my greenwing macaw, is from Ft. Bragg. Sorry I couldn't bring her along to visit the parents!

A Brief Detour for Microbrews

Mendocino, Mendocino,
Where life's such a groove
You blow your mind in the morning.
— "Mendocino," The Sir Douglas Quintet

So we're closing this thing out here in Mendocino, where life's such a groove I can't afford to live here. I love Mendocino, sort of a misplaced New England town in northern California, situated among rocky coastlines, redwood trees and the largest marijuana growing area in the country. Makes for an interesting local culture. The wine's pretty good, too..I like the local white and the local pinot.

I'm taking a wine break tonight to drive up to Ft. Bragg and the North Coast Microbrewery, which is a world-class brewery, for the cheese soup. Strangely enough, Bishop, my greenwing macaw, is from Ft. Bragg. Sorry I couldn't bring her along to visit the parents!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Michael's Vacation Photo

Here I am at the Garden of Viscerel Serenity in Sonoma. I am meditating on where to place the targets.

Ravenswood Winery is where the God of Zinfandel lives.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

SIDEWAYS Redux an homage to the movie, I'm refusing to drink merlot. I also went out today and tried to buy a broadband air-card for my laptop, but, as I said yesterday, wine good...internet bad. In an effort to raise the level of discourse on my blog, I thought I'd talk wine.

FAVORITE WINERY SO FAR: Imagery...wonderful cabernet; great art gallery of art commisioned for labels. Good taste is timeless.

MOST FUN AT A WINERY: B. R. Cohn, who, in addition to making a spectacular cab has managed the Doobie Brother for, like, forever. Bruce Cohn's brother Mark, who used to do A/R at Warner Brothers Records back in the 1970s, was at the winery when we visited. As you know (don't you?) I began my haphazard career writing for the likes f Rolling Stone in the mid-1970s, hanging around CBGBs and saying things like, "I'm with the band." Mark and I got to spend a lot of time talking about the old rock 'n' roll days, comparing stories of wretched excess and running down the list of, "Do you remember so-and-so?" Big fun; great wine. Long train running...

COOLEST WINE TOUR: Benziger Family Winery, hands down. Organic wine; really nice chardonnay...yeah yeah. so what? I like white wine; I also like revolvers. So sue me.

All in all, I feel weird not has been a long haul. By the way and off the record, Robin Berg and I are putting togther yet another gun show, which is going to ROCK if we can get The Outdoor Channel to buy it. I feel pretty good about it, but it'll be a month or so we're there. You'll read about it here first.

Snuffy, I'm thinking that 70-yard shots with any snubby has a lot of luck factored in! I like the Charter Bulldog as a good tonic for those pesky kitty cats in my neighborhood...light, easy to carry, and with 200-gr Winchester SilverTips a decisive end for Ms. Kitty's dinner plans. I'm also liking the great Bond Arms Derringer in .45/.410, with two Winchester .410 buckshot cartridges in place...that's 10 .30-caliber pellets against a soft-skinned animal (lots of treed cats have been taken with .22 long rifle). That oughta do it! And darned easy to carry as well.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Light Blogging Alert!!!

...largely because I'm on an incredibly slow dial-up connection through, God help me, AOL in a hotel room in Sonoma. Great wine...lousy internet!

Am on vacation with my Sweetie and her Mom and Grand-Mom — and, yes, I left my housesitter, who is a fellow competition shooter, one of my ARs, so feel free to drop in uninvited while I'm gone!

My FFL guy tells me my Charter Arms Bulldog .44 has finally arrived. I loved the old the Sainted Col. Jeff said, a gun to be carried much and shot little. I'm looking forward to putting together an article titled "Beautiful Losers," on my collection of .44 Specials. I am hopeful that the new Bulldogs can go the distance...I really want to give the little gun a good report!

I've also got a bunch of holsters to report on, plus the long-promised Detonics did I get so far behind????

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Here Kitty Kitty Kitty...

This from my proverbial backyard, as reported in a Houston paper:
BOULDER, Colo. — A wildlife officer today shot and killed a female mountain lion that attacked a 7-year-old boy hiking with his family.

The 80-pound cat had bitten the boy's head. The child also suffered puncture wounds and scrapes on his legs, likely from the animal's claws, Division of Wildlife spokesman Tyler Baskfield said.

Boulder County sheriff's officials said the boy's injuries were not life-threatening. He was hospitalized at The Children's Hospital, where officials would not release his condition.

The boy, whose name was not released, was apparently the last in a single-file line of seven other people taking a short hike Saturday at a scenic area of Flagstaff Mountain, Baskfield said.

"The father turned and saw the cat had a hold of the young boy," he said. The group began screaming at the cat and throwing rocks and was able to free the boy, he said.

The group was 50 yards from a parking lot when the cat attacked, Baskfield said.

The officer shot the cat in the same area of the attack, Baskfield said. It was killed in the interest of public safety, he said.

A necropsy was planned to try to determine whether the animal was diseased or had another reason to attack, he said.

Baskfield said the mountain is prime habitat for the cats, and there had been several recent sightings of mountain lions west of Boulder.
Yeah, there are so many cats around here these days there's even a book about lion/people encounters in the Boulder area, Beasts in the Garden. I see sign pretty often, although I haven't seen a cat.

The people in this attack did everything right...they were on a common trail, one I've been on a thousand times; they traveled in a group; they tried to scare the cat off; blah blah. Here's the're a fool to hit the trails around Boulder if you're alone and unarmed. The cats are used to people, and they see the "urban deer" as easy pickin's. There hasn't been a mountain lion hunting season in this area in're prey, and apparently quite yummy!

Plus, there are predators out there a lot more dangerous than the cats...

A Puzzling Paradox, or Why There are No Places Left for Shooters

LONG POST WARNING!!! I sadly note that the United States Forest Service is actively continuing their antigun program for shutting down shooting on public lands in the West. After last year's successful redefinition of a "road, active or inactive" as an "occupied area," which allowed Rangers to shut down many of the most popular shooting areas by invoking the federal law that prohibits shooting within 150 yards of an "occupied area," the newest antigun initiative is that old stand-by, littering.

You can check out all the details on the FreedomSight blog, but here's a sample, from a local newspaper:
The U.S. Forest Service, in the form of Boulder Ranger Christine Walsh, is considering changes to how and where recreational shooting is permitted on the 160,000 acres of Arapaho- Roosevelt National Forest she’s charged with managing. And faced with increasing numbers of people driving to the forest to hike, bike, drive and shoot, a total ban on recreational shooting is now on the table.

Hunting would not be affected regardless of the decision.

“We are going to make a decision about what parts of the district are appropriate for recreational shooting and which ones are not,” Walsh said Thursday. “We don’t have our minds made up.”

Among the options being considered are a total ban; creation of a formal, managed shooting range; or no changes. Walsh is calling a series of public meetings over the next few months to gather input from as many people as possible, seeking solutions she and her staff may not have considered.
As you may remember from last year, Ms. Walsh is a committed antigun activist who has turned the USFS into a tool for gun-banners. Last year's push — the redefinition of "occupied areas" — successfully shut down my "home range," which had been a shooting area for more than 50 years and which, to the best of my knowledge, had no problems to speak of.

As is normal with antigun activists, the USFS office did not tell the same story twice to the politicans and media who called about the story. Senator Wayne Allard's office, for example, was told that my range wasn't closed because of the redefinition (although that's what the posted signs say), but rather because there was a "subdivision going up across the street." I drove up to the range and looked...there is private forest land across the street. I live in a rural area...there aren't any subdivisions per se. USFS officals told other politicans that the range wasn't closed because of the "subdivision" OR the redefinition, but because a natural gas pipeline is close by. Well, that's true...the pipeline is next to the road, where it is at risk...from bad drivers. Other callers were told there were "complaints, " although nobody could provide the specifics of such complaints.

Let's be clear about something — the goal here is nothing less than the complete elimination of shooting on public lands. This will have a profound effect on not just current shooters, but on upcoming new shooters...because there won't be any. Because of the huge amount of public land in the West, a public shooting range system never developed. The West is full of private ranges, most with a year to (honet-to-goodness) 27-year wait!

For example, I'm trying to get back into the Clear Creek range, which at various times I've been a member. I've been on the list for 14 months and no end in sight. Plus, the Clear Creek range itself is facing huge lease cost increases (see below).

The West, along with the South, has been a huge "buffer zone" against really successful antigun programs. In the West, guns are a given, an accepted part of the landscape. Hunting is one of the largest industries in the Rocky Mountain West. But what if there's no longer anyplace to shoot? Or if the closest public range is 2-3 hours away? What are the implications for the next generation of shooters, or the generation after that?

Couple that with Wal-Mart's decision to stop selling guns in 1/3 of their stores...if you don't sell guns, do you have to carry cleaning gear, ammunition, etc.? Wal-Mart says it was strictly a business decision...they need the floor space. Off the record, at least one major competitor of Wal-Mart is set to follow their lead.

So now there's no place to shoot and ammunition and gear are available only from specialty gun stores. What do you suppose that does to us in the short and long run?

Welcome to the perfect storm scenario...

Let's talk about littering at shooting areas. Yes, there is some, and it sucks. But the real question is who is doing the "littering and why are they not being punished?"

I have spent a lot of time on informal shooting ranges, and I have never once seen a shooter unload a cheap washing machine, a truckload of building wastes or chunks of industrial machinery on the range. So where does that stuff come from? In truth, I don't know, but I do know that my local paper lists a dozen $25 a load "Will Haul" services...hmmmmm.

It is an article of faith in the gun culture that we don't need any more gun laws because we already have sufficient laws to PUNISH THE PEOPLE WHO DO THE CRIME. Yet when it comes to trashing shooting areas, we lower our head, agree that a few "bad eggs" ruin it for the rest of us and promise to do better. Folks, shooters have been cleaning up trashed areas for far, all we've done is provide a convenient service for illegal dumpers!

Why are we not DEMANDING that the USFS, which as near as I can tell spends their time passing out parking tickets and bleating about how hard their jobs are, ENFORCE THE EXISTING LAWS AGAINST ILLEGAL DUMPING instead of shutting down shooting areas...which will have zero effect on the illegal dumping because shooting is not the problem.

Think about this, folks...a government agency is cracking down on shooters because someone is dumping crap illegally. Does this make sense? Yeah, about as much sense as cracking down on jaywalking to stem an increase in shoplifting. The ONLY way it makes sense is if your true goal is to eliminate all shooting on public lands. Raise the illegal dumping fine to $10,000 an occurance and have a couple of illegal dumpers do the perp walk...think that might have an effect?

Do shooters shoot up the junk dumped on the range? Unfortunately, yes. But there is a solution for this problem as well — if USFS will allow us to do it. A lot of you are probably familiar with the "broken windows" policing concept, most notably used in NYC. "Broken windows" simply says that small crimes such as grafitti can lead to larger more dangerous crimes because the message of ignored small crimes is that no one cares. Okay, a gross can read all you ever wanted to know here.

The application to shooting ranges is apparent (to everyone except the USFS, apparently) — if a place looks like a dump, people will treat it like a dump.

The solution is to keep informal shooting areas from looking like a dump.

Obviously, Step 1 is STRICT enforcement of illegal dumping laws.

Step 2 — fix up the ranges — is also obvious. What is not so obvious is that the USFS is absolutely against any such action because it flies in the face of their antigun initiative! My shooting partner and I approached USFS with a plan to clean and grade the range we shot on, cut the berms cleanly, create signeage to show shooters where and how they needed to shoot, cautioning them to clean up after themselves, etc.; sink steel posts with eyebolts and provide cords so shooters would have a place to hang targets (a BIG BIG issue), etc...all out of our own pockets.

The USFS was NO NO NO NO NO, and if any of those things happened, we'd be cited and fined. In fact, USFS said there was no provision for groups to improve or change USFS property, even though the large mountain biking, equestrian and off-roader vehicle groups have Memoranda of Understanding with the USFS that allows these groups to build and modify trails, etc. — do all the things we would like to do, except... appears that USFS has special rules for shooters...

So what happens if we clean up our ranges?

NOTHING, because USFS is running what I refer to as a "rolling campaign" — there's another "critical problem" about shooting on public lands right behind this one, just like how littering followed the 150-yard issue. Note how USFS talks about "pristine wildernesses;" then also note that USFS turned some of the former shooting areas over to the off-road vehicle people, who proceeded to turn the "pristine wildernesses" into something resembling a moonscape.

The advantage of a "rolling campaign" (and I've done them myself) is that it forces your enemy to keep marshaling his forces against a specific issue that you don't care about. Then, when your enemy assembles the facts, figures, charts and graphs, PowerPoint presentations, etc., you ignore them and move on to the next issue, which I'm willing to bet will be those unspecified "complaints," "confrontations" between shooters and bikers/hikers/whatever and noise. Or this, from Jeff Monroe, a Front Range shooter:
Michael, I would like you to know that you could not be more correct in your statement that the USFS is closing all shooting ranges down FAST in the state on USFS land. I am a life member of the NRA, CSSA and the Buffalo Creek Gun Club. Last year our 40-year-old lease increased from $200 annually to over $6000 annually. We were told this was due to the fact that the budget for the forest service had been cut in half. Then we were told that the forest service is using the FLPMA act of 1976 as guide to charge us some 3% per acre per annum of current market value for our 46 acre 600 yard range. Today, we are almost bankrupt...I soon will have NO place to go to shoot.
So we get all excited, spend a huge amount of time "proving" that USFS is wrong only to find that USFS has moved on to the next issue.

The ONLY way to stop a rolling campaign is to attack the root issue, what the campaign is really designed to do! And you have to cut the snake's head off, from the top.

Okay, I've gone on too long. I personally think USFS is going to win this one while we're running around trying to convince people that we're the good shooters versus those messy old bad shooters, or that we're the good hunters versus those bad old target shooters...Sarah Brady must be busting her sides laughing at how, like Charlie Brown and the football, we fall for the same old trick over and over again.

We are enormously powerful when we choose to be — it took 8 DAYS from the time I broke the story on BATFE moves against custom gunsmiths until legislation was introduced to solve the problem. Eight days! How much more important is it that we have places to shoot, yet we're allowing ourselves to be led around by a hoop through our noses.

Sorry for the long post.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Updates from the Home Front

Well, I'm back from a 4-show COWBOYS filming swing in Cali-four-nigh-aye. We had BIG FUN arranging for host Richard "Tequila" Young to be killed, like, 10 times. He was shotgunned in the front, the back, through the saloon doors, surprised at the cetera et cetera. There's something very theraputic about "killing" someone multiple times. I don't recommend trying this at home, either!

While I'm thinking about it, my pals at SIGARMS are once again in the giving away a gun business, specifically the cool two-tone P220 .45 ACP pictured above. Repeat after need this gun...You want this deserve this gun...when you win this gun you're going to transfer it to Michael Bane...

It's the right thing to do!

Go to SIGARMS to register right this minute! Be sure to call me when you're ready to ship to my FFL guy.

Also, go to the Outdoor Wire and sign up so you can get the new SHOOTING WIRE, a 3X a week newsletter devoted to the shooting sports. We've needed something like this for a proverbial coon's age, and Jim Shepherd has graciously stepped up. He's the only guy in the business who knows where more bodies are buried than I do! Course, he's older!!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Three Gun, Jihad-Style

This video has been floating around on the SIG Forum for a while. Definitely worth the buffering time!

Check out the "High Sabrina" handgun handling and the genuine "tactical" reload! Three-gun definitely needs to add grenades!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Kyle Battles for Freedom of Speech!

It's a hell of a note when the only people with the BALLS to stand up for free speech in the United States are Cartman, Stan, Kyle & Kenny...

Yes, after the Battle of Scientology, where the beloved Chef fell victim to the nefarious doings of Tom "Meet My Stepford Wife!" Cruise, SOUTH PARK dared addressed the Cartoon Jihad.

This from the Volkh Conspiracy:
In Wednesday's episode, part II of "Cartoon Wars," Kyle (one of the boys of South Park) persuades the President of Fox TV to run a Family Guy episode with a short scene including Mohammed. Kyle lectures the head of FOX about the importance of free speech:

"You can't do what he wants just because he's the one threatening you with violence. . . .

Yes, people can get hurt. That's how terrorism works. But if you give in to that, Doug, you're allowing terrorism to work. . . .

Do the right thing, Mr. President. . . .

If you don't show Mohammed, then you've made a distinction between what is OK to make fun of and what isn't. Either it's all OK or none of it is. Do the right thing."

At the point in the South Park episode where Mohammed is about to be shown handing a football helmet (with a salmon on top of it) to the Family Guy, the screen shows these words:

"In this shot, Mohammed hands a football helmet to Family Guy."

The next screen shows these words:

"Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network."
Here's more from Michelle Malkin, with videos:
***Update: Stephen Spruiell reports at The Media Blog..."I just got off the phone with a Comedy Central spokesman. I asked him about last night's episode of South Park in which, at a moment right before the prophet Mohammed was supposed to make a cameo, the words, "Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network" appeared on the screen. I asked him whether this truly was Comedy Central's decision or whether this was just another gag (with South Park, you never know). He said: 'They reflected it accurately. That was a Comedy Central decision.' Just in case there was any confusion, that settles it. Comedy Central censored the image."***
Okay, yes, I'm playing this for laughs, but it's very, very real. Heavenhelp us all, but Kyle is's either all okay to make fun of, or none of it is. And if none of it is...then we've lost the First Amendment...

And if we've lost the First Amendment, we haven't just lost a battle...we've lost the war.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Afternoon Funnies...

So, I'm home...hours late and dead tired, but home!

While I'm waiting for my brain to reboot, I thought I'd give a big ole two-thumbs up salute to BATFE for their crackdown on ninjas — an increasingly critical threat in today's higher risk environment. From the University of Georgia RED & BLACK:
ATF rids Univ. of ninja threat

ATF agents are always on alert for anything suspicious — including ninjas.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm agents, on campus Tuesday for Project Safe Neighborhoods training, detained a “suspicious individual” near the Georgia Center, University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said.

Jeremiah Ransom, a sophomore from Macon, was leaving a Wesley Foundation pirate vs. ninja event when he was detained.

After being held in investigative detention, he was found to have violated no criminal laws and was not arrested.

“It was surreal,” Ransom said. “I was jogging from Wesley to Snelling when I heard someone yell ‘freeze.’”

Ransom said he thought a friend was playing a joke before he realized officers had guns drawn and pointed at him.

ATF agents had noticed Ransom’s suspicious behavior and clothing and gave chase, apprehending him, Williamson said.
Darn good job! If I was a ninja gunsmith, I'd be quaking in my boots!

And our TSA/Homeland Security ace Dudley Do-Rights are doing their part to protect us all from various and sundry menaces, including those stealthy HO-RA! death dealers, the Marines. From MSNBC:
‘No-fly’ list delays Marine's Iraq homecoming
Minnesota reservist detained after being identified as possible terrorist


MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota reservist who spent the past eight months in Iraq was told he couldn't board a plane to Minneapolis because his name appeared on a "no-fly" list as a possible terrorist.

Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel Brown, who was in uniform and returning from the war with 26 other Marine military police reservists, was delayed briefly in Los Angeles until the issue was cleared up.

The other reservists arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as scheduled, but instead of immediately meeting their families, they waited on a bus for Brown...
Is it just me, or are we all starting to orbit the bottom of the toilet bowl? Didn't we elect Bush and his fraternity brothers to stop all this crap? Heck, and that's npot even to mention the ascention of Katie Couric, the continued popularity of American Idol and rampant eye fungus, all of which are clearly listed in the Book of Revelations as signs that the big flashing Game Over finale is just hours away.

I wonder if there's any beer in the house?

United Airlines Should Be Declared a Terrorist Oganization

I'm saying it's past time to petition Homeland Security to place United Airlines on the permanent terrorist watch list.

United, of course, just chose their new marketing slogan: "It's Almost Worth Crashing the Plane to Get Rid of You Damn Passengers!" which narrowly beat out "Rot in Hell, Frequent Fliers!" and "J-I-H-A-D spells United!"

Okay, I guess I was due a bad trip...I've been on a roll. Still...I was "purged out of the system" yesterday, which means that United canceled my ticket home because...well...because. I was "manually reinserted" in the system this AM, but I get to spend the day flying around the country because anything vaguely resembling a direct flight was full of...I don't know...United staff flying for free, who are probably the only customers who get any consideration. I hope they choke on their stale pretzels...

Any organization that so clearly hates Americans and spreads so much chaos should definitely be on some kind of watch list! I can't wait until the pilots' strike!!!

Monday, April 10, 2006

H.R. 5092

"Send lawyers, guns and money
The shit has hit the fan..."

Lawyers, Guns & Money
Warren Zevon

Visit The Outdoor Wire [fixed the link, thanks to Mr. Jim] today for the latest update in the BATFE/custom gunsmith "controversy" and read about HR 5092, a bill introduced in Congress from U.S. Representatives Howard Coble, (R-North Carolina) and Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) that would “modernize and reform” the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Keep those cards and letter coming, boys and girls, because IT'S WORKING!

Mea Culpas & Surreal News of the Day

Okay, it's past tomorrow and I clearly haven't written any more about Knob Creek. I know you're not all up for excuses, but, basically, as soon as I landed in Atlanta on Sunday I was wisked away to the Convention Center, where I spent all afternoon signing autographs at the National Cable show. Honest.

There's a certain surreal aspect to going from Knob Creek with my head still ringing to The Outdoor Channel's amazingly un-PC booth right across from the Cartoon Network and just down the aisle from Hustler TV (slogan for the year: "Harder Than Ever"). Or maybe that's Penthouse TV. I was invited to the Playboy TV party tonight, but I was afraid I might develop post-nasal drip from being close to all that silicone, or it might reach critical mass and engulf us all in some hellish conflagration of exploding bosoms, shreddy cheesy tank tops, Beanie-Weenies and old man pajamas.

Anyhow, The Outdoor Channel booth, which features stuffed animals and a Laser Shot shooting range with a shotgun and a 1911, is one of the runaway hits of the show. I'm apparently very popular with the guys at Sprint, so much so that we're talking about streaming SHOOTING GALLERY to cellphones...would that be cool or what?

I'm really bummed that I'm not able to cruise the convention floor and snag all that neat schwagg. Speed Channel was giving away autographed skateboard decks; Fox News had a way cool expensive red bag; Disney has Scobby-Do beany babies, which fellow host Michael Waddell from REALTREE ROADTRIPS raced to pick up. I thought all that turkey hunting had started to turn his brain to poultry food, but he quickly explained that the Scoobys were for his kids...yeah, I believe that. I did go by the Food Network in the hopes that they'd be auctioning off Rachael Ray, but no dice. I guess they're holding her back for the National Association of Broadcasters' convention.

Waddell's truck was broken into despite his taking the extreme precaution of giving a homeless guy a six-pack of beer to watch the truck, which I agreed should have done the trick. The felons left everything alone except for $4 in change in the ashtray. In the good news department, Waddell reports that he's been contacted by the sainted Martha Stewart (again, this is true) about her coming on a turkey hunt and cooking up the bird. I told him I figured Martha was working on survival skills for her next gig in the slam, and mabe he could teach her how to make a shiv from plastic spoon.

I'm camped out with Waddell, my pal Kim Rhode, Scott Linden from Cast & Blast — which I told him should be about shooting fish — and Rachel Phelps, who hosts America's Outdoor Journal. All in all, a good, quirky group. I am, however, starting to get a little batty after a whole day of hearing a medley of cartoon themes, most notably The Flintstones"They're a modern Stone Age family..." Kill me! Kill me! — from across the aisle. Rachel said that was nothing compared to hearing herself discuss sturgeon all day long on a video loop next to her signing booth. I'm willing to grant that hearing anyone — even Rachel, who's vastly entertaining — discuss sturgeon for any length of time might be classified as the fishy equivalent of Chinese water torture.

Tomorrow I plan to sneak off and visit the Anime Channel to see whether I can convince anyone there to help me finance a visit to the U.S. from Gunsmith Cats author Kenichi Sonoda. I would get my picture taken with the women of Hustler, except that I don't want to catch anything.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Soundtrack for the Apocalypse

Coming tomorrow...Michael Does knob Creek...stay tuned!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Louisville By Hook or Crook!


I was supposed to be in last night, but I failed to factor in the United Airlines/Chicago O'Hare Black Hole.

That's right...missed my connection in Chicago. United's ever-gracious Customer Service Thugs offered to get me to Louisville by WEDNESDAY MORNING! Those kidders! My excellent travel agent managed to get me to Cincinatti, where I rented a car and drove to Louisville.

My luggage, you ask? HA! Last night I talked to the only United person who was both knowledgeable and civil, and she said I could pick up my bag at 7 AM at the United Baggage Center at O'Hare. Said it was no big deal, even. So there I am at 7, as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I'm likely to be on a couple of hours sleep in a Raddison that, judging by the bus trip, was on the outskirts of Detroit. The NEW IMPROVED United baggage person told me the woman I'd spoken to was, "Insane. I mean really. She said 'no big deal?' This is CHICAGO, guy. This is a big deal!"

Wow! I forgot I was in a REAAALLLLLLYYYY BIG CITY! CHICAGO! How exciting. A city where you can't own guns and whose slogan is "Almost New York City!"

My bags are still in Chicago, although they have now been "expedited." Hopefully, the insane woman will be back on duty soon; I'd hate to lose my Spyderco Yojimbo and new blackjack!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Thumper Redux

As promized, a pix of Thumper, my Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum, after the frame transplant (from steel Dragoon to aluminum NM Blackhawk frame) and a set of Executioner's beautiful elk stag grips fitted.

Sometime down the line, I'm going to have what's left of the "Kids Don't Try This At Home" warning from Ruger buffed off the barrel and have the frame hard chromed.

Does this make me a gunsmith???

Handicapping the Trials

I meant to do this last night, but I was a sleepy puppy.

Six months or so ago I handicapped the big players for the Joint Combat's my new improved Top 5 for the Combat Pistol:

5) H-K...there's still a lot of lingering stink around the mercifully dead XM-8 project, but they do a lot of lunches inside the Beltway.

4) S&W...the M&P in .45 looks tailor-made for the CP, but initial response from the law enforcement has been lukewarm.

3) SIGARMS...been there; done that; got the t-shirt and the contract...biggest drawback is the lure of plastics to keep frame weight down.

2) Springfield Armory...the new XD in .45, with its ultra-thin frame specs, got a lot of people's attention; but can the XD survive the Trials?

1) FNH...the "secret backroom .45 pistol" FNH has been showing to military honchos has lots of mojo, and FNH has a long relationshio with SOCOM...

In truth, that list changes hourly...hopefully, I'll get to shoot the FNH pistol at the NRA Show in May.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Meanwhile, Back at the Trials

My little cherubs and seraphim tell me that the final specs for the new military Combat Pistol — the sans-Army version of the joint military pistol — should be out in April, with the trials taking place at your proverbial major East Coast facility in April, supervised by the SEALs.

Come last quarter of 2006, the little c&s'es tell me, the contract for roughly 50,000 pistols will be let, with deployment early in 2007. This, kiddies, is what we refer to fast tracked. We're still looking at a .45 ACP, 8-round magazine minimum [pay attention to that word minimum], a light double action or some sort of safe action, a quick-release suppressor and holstering system, etc.

Now 50,000 people is not chopped liver, but one of my cherubs hummed a pretty song about the Marines looking longingly at the SOCOM specs and lusting mightily for the new piece, whicih might mean an additional order for 50,000 of the tasty new cookies...not to mention the potential law enforcement collateral purchases.

Something to look forward to end of summer!!!

Take a Break — Read Something!

Here's some nice words on new books from T. Jefferson Parker and my buddy Robert Crais. Both of them are good guys (and gun guys). Crais last few Elvis Cole novels have been nothing short of spectacular,B TW.

I just finished reading what may be the best police procedural/ruminations on God and the role of religion ever written, Valley of Bones, by Michael Gruber. Here's an interview with Gruber.

Gruber's first book, Tropic of Night, rattled me so much that I retreated to the gun room and burned some of my Santeria do have Santeria candles in your gun room, don't you? Mine sit on the elevated shelf that holds my powder scales. When you skate along the edges of the Known Universe, it's best not to dis' any gods...

Seriously, I pretty much rate a "zero" on the Religion In Your Life scale, but Valley of Bones gave me pause and caused me to think. Buy it and read it!

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Whole BATF JIHAD Enchilada to date...

Jim Shepherd at The Outdoor Wire has been a busy boy, and he's published the first comprehensive report on the BATF controversy. Read the whole thing here [I'll hook up the link as soon as I get it, but I wanted to get this story up] , but here's a taste (and, yes, my information held up amazingly well):
When does customization of a firearm become manufacturing? That seemingly simple question is occupying the near undivided attention of the firearms industry. Observers say it is a question with the potential to become a firestorm that could put custom gunsmiths out of business; if not behind bars.

The controversy began with a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms inspection of Competitive Edge Gunworks in Bogard, Missouri. BATF and tax agents appeared and began examining the company's records. When they finished, owner Larry Crow was told he potentially faced felony charges for manufacturing firearms without a license.

Crow says he was stunned.

Agents went on to tell him that his manufacturing status would mean liability for federal excise taxes - and penalties - from the beginning of his business. There is, they told the thunderstruck Crow, no statute of limitations for failing to file Federal Excise Taxes, but there were serious penalties.


Whether Crow's is a single case brought by an overzealous agent or the opening shot of a BATF campaign against gunsmiths has the entire firearms industry abuzz.

If it proves to be the first shot of another fight, the stakes are very high. The fallout would be felt by virtually any company or individual involved in the gunsmithing business; from individual gunsmiths and educators teaching firearms repair to companies like Brownells or Midway USA. Those companies primarily supply componentry to gunsmiths, but also produce instructional material. The firearms they produce in the course of those instructional pieces are apparently enough to qualify them as manufacturers in this very narrow interpretation. Likewise, custom gunsmiths' samples are also apparently under scrutiny.

Consequently, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation, the National Rifle Association and others are looking for clarification of a single question: at what point does gunsmithing become manufacturing?
As I said on Thursday when I broke this story, there are widespread national ramifications. The big conservative blogs have now picked up on it, and the Washington POST and several news stories are very interested.

My little cherubs and seraphim tell me that the BATFE is humming like a kicked-over anthill, trying to figure out where are the leaks are and how this story blew up so quickly, especially over the weekend, usually an ollie ollie oxen-free safe zone for news inside the Beltway.

This remains a developing story...more when the cherubs and seraphim report in...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Unofficially, From the NRA

As posted on The High Road:
Dear Forum Members:

Please regard this as an unofficial notice, but I thought I could help clear up what’s going on.

The Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) is a tax imposed by Chapter 32 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 4181) on the sale of firearms and ammunition by manufacturers, producers, and importers. The present situation has arisen due to a possible misinterpretation of the term “manufactured” by the ATF. It has been difficult in the past for gunsmiths to determine exactly which services performed by gunsmiths were “manufacturing” and thus subject to FAET. Generally, gunsmiths are not subject to the FAET, unless the gunsmith has title to the firearm and his work materially changes the firearm so that a different taxable article results. See Rev. Rulings 58-586, 64-202 and 69-325.

Which specific acts (mounting a scope, re-stocking, checkering, engraving, etc.) count as “manufacturing” has been difficult to determine and inconsistently applied by ATF in the past.

To address this problem, on October 1, 2005, 26 U.S.C. Section 4182 was amended to also exempt any pistol, revolver, or firearm from FAET if it was manufactured, produced or imported by a person who manufactures, produces or imports less than an aggregate of 50 such articles during the calendar year. This allows gunsmiths to operate (for fewer than 50 guns per year) without worry that a particular act would be considered “manufacture” or not.

The 50 guns per year change, however, is not retroactive (despite our efforts to make it so). Recently gunsmiths have been aggressively investigated by ATF, and their back records examined for FAET compliance. This investigation is legal and proper, however, there is concern that ATF is again misinterpreting “manufacture” and including transactions under FAET that should properly be excluded.

Larry Crow, owner of Competitive Edge Gunworks and member of the American Pistolsmith Guild, is currently being charged as liable for taxes and penalties for the “manufacture” of firearms; Mr. Crow questions the validity of ATF’s determination that he manufactured the firearms. In meetings and discussions with the ATF and IRS beginning 24 January 2006, Mr. Crow has been unable to get a direct and consistent answer regarding both ATF and IRS policy.

The National Rifle Association is in contact with Mr. Crow and others in the gunsmithing community, and is actively exploring both regulatory and legal remedies for this situation. This situation is, however, one which may not lend itself to a quick or easy fix, as it involves statutes, regulatory rulings, and policy decisions at the intersection of two separate federal agencies.

I assure you that the National Rifle Association will make the most efficient use of its resources, with the goal of protecting the civil rights of Americans, as the Framers sought to protect those rights under the Constitution. We will provide updated information on our website as further significant details or activities become known.

Thank you for your continued support.

-Eric Swartz
Office of Legislative Counsel
National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action

Saturday Night in Tulsa...

...where I'm actually take a day off politics.

I thought you might want to see the new Beretta, which has everything but racing stripes. I haven't handled one, but, frankly, it appears to still be suffering from the BERETTA's big and clunky. What can I say? There are people who love Desert Eagles and, I suppose, Paris Hilton. At least you don't have to use latex gloves to handle a Desert Eagle.

We spent a pretty interesting day at U.S. Fire Arms, where I put in an order for one of their Super .38 1911s in bright nickel and one of their Omni-Potent Snubbies, in .44 Special, natch. I have to say I was blown away by the USFA looks more like a high-tech operating room than a gun factory. The USFA 1911s are awesome...the company is making most all of the components — a rarity these days — and the guns feel substantial. I mean, some sneaky little voice in mmy head said, YOU MUST POSSESS ONE OF THESE...YOU MUST POSSESS ONE OF THESE... The USFA 1910 Commercial Bill Laughridge of Cylinder & Slide and I wrung out last summer was a spectacular shooter, which surprised the heck out of Bill and I, since we thought it was too pretty to shoot good. Delivery time on both pieces is 3rd Quarter. I'll be doing a big round-up on the trip on the SG site...

I asked super-novelist Steven Hunter to join us at USFA, since Earl Swagger put a Super .38 to such good use in Steve's novel HAVANA. he was frothing at the mouth to go (and lay his hands on one of the Super 38s), but begged off because some people have real jobs...of course, Steve's is going to the movies! He did say he was hot on the trail of a new Bob the Nailer novel tat involved a trip to Japan and a samurai sword Earl captured in WW2...apparently brought on by Steve's recent overexposure to samurai movies. I, for one, can't wait — HAI!

The internet is a'titter about Steve's first Bob the Nailer book, POINT OF IMPACT, now moving forward into Hollywood-Land, with Mark Wahberg starring. Hey! Don't bitch to me! I didn't pick him! Neither did Steve. Here's the titter from Reuters:
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Mark Wahlberg has signed on to topline and Antoine Fuqua is on board to helm the political thriller "Shooter" for Paramount Pictures.

Based on Stephen Hunter's novel "Point of Impact," published by Bantam Books in 1993, the story centres on an ace marksman -- living in self-exile in the Arkansas wilderness after causing the death of an innocent person -- who is persuaded by his former associates that they need his help to prevent an assassination. Subsequently double-crossed and framed for the presidential assassination he was trying to prevent, he is forced to go on the run while trying to track down the real killer and discover the truth about who betrayed him.
Jonathan Lemkin penned the screenplay. The studio is eyeing a June start date for the di Bonaventura Pictures production.

The film will reteam Wahlberg and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who collaborated on the sleeper summer hit "Four Brothers," which grossed nearly $75 million for Paramount.
Hey, Marky Mark may surprise us...I liked him a lot in The Italian Job.

I gotta go get some food I probably won't die from...damn dicey in Tulsa!

A report tomorrow on what I find at the Show...and what will be going home with me!