Monday, February 28, 2005


I stumbled on this story, and I realized I had to post it...beware of skunks gnawing your knob!
"He was playing rough with him on his lap, and Ozzie bit down on my husband's penis," right through his sweat pants, she said.

Several stitches later, Dan's is fine except for the realization that he'll forever be known as the guy with a skunk on his junk.

"He always wanted to be famous. Maybe now he will be. He was hoping to do it more through hunting," Carol said.

Ozzie was just like a dismember of the family. The de-scented, chocolate-brown skunk slept under Carol and Dan's bed, and his favorite meal was a hard-boiled egg smothered in cheese. Carol had hoped he would live out his life of 10 or 15 years and then she would have him stuffed and mounted at home.

It was quite a scene at their 7-acre homestead in a rural area near Rome when warden Walz showed up along with deputies and a humane officer. Carol's macaw and cockatoo were screaming, and the family's pot-bellied pig was raising a ruckus. Walz found Ozzie hiding under a bed.
Yes, they capped Ozzie...

Heroism — An Incident Report

My old friend Michael Menduno is one of the original "technical" (hell, he coined the term "technical diving") scuba divers, one of the guys who pushed the envelope on deep dives, cave dives, etc. Not only is Michael a great bass player, but he's been to the seriously scary places. Back when he was the founding editor of the lost, lamented aquaCORP magazine, Michael made the decision to include "incident reports" in each issue of the magazine. technical/cave diving is crazy dangerous, and people do die. Michael thought that it was important to not just honor the deaths of explorers, but to analyze the circumstances of their death and see what lessons can be learned to save lives.

Michael's work yielded some very interesting results. What he discovered that there were relatively few "rules" that kept divers alive. That flew in the face of the "more is better" school of learning. Yes, he found, more information is always useful, but there was a clear difference between "useful" and "save your ass." Cave diving, for example, functions on four basic rules:
• Have specialized training.
• Always have a continuous line back to the surface.
• Have multiple redundancy for mission critical gear — regulators, lights, etc.
• Use the "rule-of-thirds" air management system as a minimum — use one-third of the air going in, one-third of the air coming out, one-third in reserve.
Michael also discovered that death was often the result of an accumulation of small mistakes as opposed to one cataclysmic error. Three seemed to be the magic number — a person could survive one, maybe two mistakes, but Number Three was often the killer.

I bring this up because I think it's something those of us in the firearms community should be doing on a regular basis. We do it occasionally in various magazines, but Menduno's particular genius was in regularizing the process and divorcing it from the emotionalism that surrounds those deaths (Michael and I have lost far too many friends...).

With that spirit, I want to take a look at the Tyler, TX . PLEASE, in no way do I want to denigrate Mark Wilson's heroic sacrifice (see my previous post), but there are things we need to discuss.

I've now read a number of the reports on the shooting; plus, I was able last weekend to talk to a resident of Tyler who is a bonafide firearms and self-defense expert and a number of other experts who followed the situation very closely. Their observations mirror Michael Menduno's thesis that Mark Wilson's death was the result of an accumulation of smaller mistakes, any one of which taken individually was probably survivable.

Here's what we discussed last weekend:

1) Wilson's initial choice of weaponry put him at an immediate disadvantage. He chose his regular carry gun, a Glock 9mm (sorry...don't know which one). Handgun against rifle is a classic worst-case scenario.

2) The attacker was wearing body armor. My understanding from off-the-record sources is that Wilson, a skilled shooter, shot at least a five-to-seven shot group on the attacker's chest, any one of which should have been fatal. The armor negated Wilson's marksmanship.

3) Wilson went prone behind his pickup truck to present a smaller target behind cover. Apparently, the combination of being hit and in a prone position rendered Wilson unable to escape the attacker's advance.

What can we infer from Wilson's actions? Well, Wilson's actions were in line with a lot of current training. We're taught quick reaction is critical, and the quickest reaction is with the gun closest at hand. I don't know about you, but RIGHT NOW the closest gun to my hand is a J-frame S&W in .38 Special, a pocket carry gun. There is a rifle upstairs, but the remainder of my rifles are in the safe in the gunroom. Might that be a situation I need to reevaluate? In my home, do I need better access to a rifle?

I do not own body armor. I'm going to have to think about that. If I had body armor in my house and/or in my car, I would be able to at least add an additional level of protection should I face a shooting situation either in my home or in public.

An additional point on armor...there's a lot of it out there! Does my training (and, by extension, the competitions in which I participate) accurately reflect that fact? Mine does — for decades, I have kept some variation of the "Mozambique drill," two shots center mass; one head shot, in my training. In simulations and training scenarios, I try to think in terms of three center mass shots, followed by multiple head shots. IF ALL YOUR TRAINING IS FOCUSED ON CENTER-MASS SHOTS, I SUGGEST YOU REEVALUATE YOUR TRAINING TODAY!

We need a "PLAN B...PLAN C...PLAN D...etc." training mindset, that is, a continuous flow from Pan A to Plan B, etc. Granted, this requires Real World situational awareness: "three shots center mass, head shot head shot, pelvis shot, pelvis shot, etc." UNTIL THE ATTACKER IS NEUTRALIZED! We cannot shoot...stop...evaluate...shot again if necessary. There is not enough time!

Additional point about training — marksmanship matters! Head shots are hard, especially when someone else is shooting at you. onsider. The pelvic girdle is a small target. Take an IDPA/USPSA target and draw body armor on reevaluate your shot placement. Also consider trainer Dane Burns' mantra...distance from threat is good; more distance is even better. The farther you are from the target, the harder it is to make the shots. Think about it.

If we're serious about this, we must add FORCE-ON-FORCE scenarios to our training! We need to be able to train in an environment where the targets shoot back, because it profoundly changes one's approaches! I mentioned Karl Rehn's training in a previous post as being particularly effective because he intentionally inserts an element of chaos in the simulations.

We need to reevaluate our preprogrammed responses to situations. I've always considered prone firing from behind cover as an acceptable course of action. My question is now this...does the loss of mobility inherent in prone overcome the most stable marksmanship platform and smaller profile? Another I practice lateral movement enough in my training? I am beginning to believe more and more that movement = survival; does my training reflect that?

Mistakes accumulate, until you've no longer got any moves on the table.

Okay, this post is long enough as it is. Comments??? Especially from the training community...


I've held off writing anything about the Tyler, TX, shootings, where a heroic individual, Mark Wilson, paid the ultimate price for intervening in what had all the earmarks of a mass shooting. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the basic story; if you're not, John Lott has collected the most comprehensive stories on his site:
Man dies while trying to stop rampage credited with saving the life of the gunman's son

TYLER, Texas - A 52-year-old manufacturing plant employee, credited with saving another man's life by jumping into the middle of a fierce firefight on a Texas downtown square, was known for taking life "head-on." Friends weren't surprised to hear that Mark Wilson sacrificed his own life byconfronting a gunman firing an AK-47 assault-style rifle Thursday in Tyler, Texas.
A totally selfless act, a moment of pure heroism. Wilson had owned a gun range and been an instructor. With a 9mm Glock, he faced a crazed — and skilled — gunman with an AK-47 clone. Within a second, Wilson must have understood that his position was precarious. But Wilson never hesitated, and he traded his life for the life of innocents. I think that every one of us who carry a gun day in and day out prays to God that should we ever find ourselves in such a hellish situation, we are able to find Mark Wilson's strength and conviction within ourselves.

Two points I want to make over and above the actual incident: You'll notice you didn't see Mark Wilson's friends and relatives on The Today Show or Good Morning America or CNN. You also didn't read newspaper stories about how a heroic man sacrificed himself for people whose names he never knew.

My friends, this is media bias in its most vicious form — America needs to know Mark Wilson's story, that a civilian with a gun bought enough time for the police to get set up. How can Americans truly understand the progun and the antigun side if only one side of the news is reported?

What can you do? Write your local newspaper; write you local television stations, and demand to know why they didn't bother to cover the other half of the story! I'll have more on this later.

The second point I think I'm going to cover in a different post...

WMD Lines for Cubicle Dwellers

I cribbed this link from the Cowboy Blob's Saloon, Humidor and Shootin' Parlor, which is pretty cool. It's from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Quotes for Boring Meetings

1. I can see your point, but I still think you're full of shit.
2. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
3. How about never? Is never good for you?
4. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
5. I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to see it my way.
6. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
7. I'm out of my mind, but please feel free to leave a message.
8. I don't work here. I'm a consultant.
9. It sounds like English, but I can't understand a damn word you're saying.
10. Ahhh... I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again.
11. I like you. You remind me of myself when I was young and stupid.
12. You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
13. I have plenty of talent and vision; I just don't give a damn.
14. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
15. I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.
16. Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.
17. The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.
18. Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
19. What am I? Flypaper for freaks?!?
20. I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
21. It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of karma to burn off.
22. Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
23. And your crybaby, whiny-assed opinion would be?
24. Do I look like a people person?
25. This isn't an office. It's hell with fluorescent lighting.
26. I started out with nothing and still have most of it left.
27. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
28. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
29. Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.
30. I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.
31. A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.
32. Too many freaks…not enough circuses.
33. Chaos, panic, and work here is done.
34. I thought I wanted a career; turns out I just wanted a salary.
35. Oh I get it... like humor... but different.

Sort of reminds me of one of my favorite bumper stickers...STUPID KILLS, BUT NOT NEARLY ENOUGH.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

BLING! Just Say NO!

Okay, it's time to stop saying "BLING!" I mean it; I'm dead serious about this thing. Here is a hint, white peoples — you ain't from the hood! You're buying your jewelry from Target instead of stealing it from some guy whose first name is "Ice!" You sound like a moron when you try to adopt/adapt/friggin' steal ghetto/hip hop argot. Even Eminem sounds stupid, and he's much cooler than you!

Bling bling my ding ding, my brutha! You are white...knock it off right now. Go read a William Faulker novel and practice saying, "Y'all." Give me skin, you pathetic dweebs.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Tactical-ed Out...

A great filming day at the Rangemaster 2005 Tactical Conference in Memphis!

Tom Givens, the owner and chief instructor at Rangemaster, runs a hell of a match and conference. One of the things I really liked was Karl Rehn's force-on-force simulations. I heard that Karl did a really good job of running simulations, but I'd never had a chance ot participate. The simulations were excellent...Karl gives the various roleplayers private, and sometimes conflicting, instructions, which adds an element of chaos — sound like the Real World? — into the simulations.

Another thing he does that I really like is he carries the simulations past the point of shooting — what happens when the police come; what happens if new innocents stumble into the situation? It's very good training, and it forces you to think.

Ditto for Tom's stages — always cool when the targets shoot back! That, plus the incredibly informative seminars, makes Tom's annual conference a big bargain. More later...

This is a SHOOTING GALLERY you;'re not going to want to miss! Figure mid-July...

Friday, February 25, 2005

Food Lust

God help me, but I think I may be falling in love with Rachael Ray.

She's like a New Age Valerie Bertinelli — those chubby little hamster cheeks! — hustling around spending $40 a day on food in some resort town. She is a vision in an apron.

Of course, it could be the sweetened ice tea, of which I had several glasses at Leonard's, a Memphis barbeque/Southern cooking institution. I had fried catfish (be still my beating heart!), fried okra, collard greens with pepper sauce, Leonard's to-die-for baked beans and a yeast roll. That's enough caffeine, sugar, grease, pepper sauce and a spare piece of cherry pie to keep a rhino awake for a week. Which is why I'm deep into a Rachael Ray marathon on The Food Channel even though the set call is coming at 6 AM. That's okay — I have make-up! In no time at all, I can make the bags under my eyes look like an old drag queen's! The photgraphs are from FHM, by the way, who apparently came to the same conclusion I did re: the lovely Rachael. I love it when she rolls her eyes right in the middle of eating some burger in Des Moine. I am ...

...well, hell, what's the option? Late night television is seven or eight shows about hostile multi-generational families building choppers and shouting; a dozen shows about various crews of mixed-lot people (a gay guy, a woman in a tank top so cranked on meth she's seething, some guy with a power saw, etc.) redecorating the houses of people who always say, "OH MY GOD!" and "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!" when they discover their bedroom has been turned into a vintage New Orleans' whorehouse with a salad bar; three history shows on various battles of World War II featuring the same stock footage and a rerun of Rocky IV (I think) the one where he beats up Mr. T. I can't face the news channels.

That leaves Rachael and the central tension of whether she will, indeed, be able to eat dinner on the crappy $40 bucks The Food Channel has given her. My god, what if she starves? What if she can't order that one lonely beer? What if she's reduced to eating the little pretzels she salvaged from the plane flight?

Now she's drinking hot buttered rum...$6.25...I may have to take a cold shower. Or an antacid. I wonder if Leonard's is open for breakfast?

"Unintended Consequences" My Fuzzy Butt!

One of my regular readers gave me a heads-up on this brewing controversy in Florida:
TALLAHASSEE - Some Florida legislators want to give people the right to shoot an attacker in a public place.

It would be a dramatic departure from current law, but supporters say people should be able to defend themselves without fear of being sued or charged with a crime.

Backed by the National Rifle Association, the bill was originally intended to codify a common-law principle known as the "castle doctrine," which allows people to use deadly force if they are attacked in their homes or cars.

But the version that surfaced in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday went much further, and it is similar to a bill in the Senate (SB 436).

A House committee voted Wednesday to allow people to shoot to kill in self-defense if they are attacked "in any other place where he or she has a right to be."

State law defines deadly force as that which is likely to cause "death or great bodily harm," such as firing a gun at a person or a vehicle.

Florida courts consider deadly force a last resort and have held that a person being attacked has the "duty to use every reasonable means to avoid the danger, including retreat, prior to using deadly force."

But this legislation says a person who is under attack in a public place "has no duty to retreat."
Well there's a shocker! The St. Pete Times reporter goes on to quote to Democratic rep from Miami:
Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, suggested the bill could lead to "tragic" consequences if two people began arguing in a stadium or nightclub, and one person began shooting. An innocent bystander could be killed, Gelber said, yet the person firing the gun might escape criminal charges because he was under attack.

"They're going to have to address the unintended consequences of that," Gelber said.
The unintended consequences most likely is that people will be far less likely to be set upon by predators in public places. Not surprisingly, the St. Pete Times reporter is practically in a lather about the "tragic consequences." This is because the St. Pete Times is one of the most relentlessly antigun newspapers in America...I used to live in Florida, and I can't let you go without a couple of St. Pete Times stories from when I was down in the sunshine. Story One is I was at — of all things — a wine-tasting with one of the ranking city editors for the SPT. I marginally knew her — we had mutual friends — and my reputation apparently preceeded me. The conversation turned to guns; after a couple of wines the editor said, "Of course we talk about it, and we've very careful to make sure we never cover any story that might turn out to have a positive gun angle." I asked her if she had just said what I thought I heard, and she just laughed. "We're one of the most respected newspapers in America, Michael. You, on the other hand, are a known gun partisan. Who's going to believe who, and don't hold your breath for a good gun story."

Second SPT story. About a year after my wine-tasting, I get a call from The Big Cheese at the SPT who says he's got a question for me. I say ex once seriously hurled in his house, so I figure I owe him at least one. He tells me he's buying a sailboat, and since at that time nice sailboats were considered disposable delivery vehicles for drug runners, The Big Cheese needs my advice on what kind of AR-15 to buy, which are the best 30-round magazines, maybe some suggestions on ammo, etc.

I say not to sound trite, but I have this HUGE problem with the SPT's constant antigun drumbeat. The SPT has done everything short of suggesting that anyone who wants a gun for protection is psychotic, yet here's the Cheese out shopping for your proverbial assault weaponry. Well, he said, his opinions mirrored the SPT's editorial stance...guns in too many hands were dangerous. But a gun in his hand...blah...blah...blah.

I believe I suggested spitballs as a good non-violent alternative for pirate protection; I wish I could have remembered Bill Paxton's great line from Aliens when he was asked to turn in his ammo: "So what are we supposed to use? HARSH LANGUAGE?"

Illinois Moves Against .50s...

...but, to its credit, the Chicago Sun-Times doesn't dance to the same B-S tune:
Anti-gun lawmakers are seeking a ban on .50-caliber "sniper rifles," saying they're favored by terrorists and can shoot down aircraft from a range of more than 2,000 yards -- though they don't appear to be tied to any crimes here in the last decade, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis shows.

Hotel Rwanda & the Academy Awards

I have not yet seen Hotel Rwanda, but like Daniel Henniger in the Wall Street Journal, I wish the makers all the best in Sunday's Academy Awards. Henniger has written an beautiful piece on Rwanda, genocide and the Bush Doctrine, and I urge all of you to read the whole thing:
The world today sits at a dead end: weeping over "Hotel Rwanda" and clueless about what to do. Many who weep may be found among the European and American elites who oppose the Bush Doctrine, which argues for what is called "preventive war."

Setting aside the Eurocynics and bitter-enders whose opposition to George Bush is an involuntary reflex, those who resist preventive strikes against "rogue states" disagree with the Bush government that these rogues pose an imminent or significant threat. If so, it is little wonder that a Rwanda or Darfur don't move the needle. Rwanda or Darfur pose zero threat to anyone beyond their borders.

Why don't the more thoughtful Bush opponents seize the opportunity at hand to address the mitigation of genocides and mass murder? They ought to pocket the accumulating moral and political success of the U.S. intervention in Iraq and build on that toward a military doctrine for preventing the next Rwanda or Darfur.

The realists are right that you can't save everyone (a calculus made unapologetically clear by the writers of "Hotel Rwanda"). But the attractive proposition George Bush is attempting to put before the hardwired, all-news, 21st-century world is that we can't--literally cannot--shut our eyes to evil anymore. Saddam is Rwanda is Darfur.
Back in the Dawn of Time, when I was in college, for extra credit in a history class, I watched Alain Resnais' brilliant film Night and Fog on the camps. I sat through it twice, and during the second showing I think I was the only person in the auditorium. The closing images of Auschwitz in the fall, panning across the beautiful landscape onto the still standing guard towers, haunt me to this day. The narration is amazingly understated..."there are those who think a dragon is buried beneath this land...they are wrong...who is on guard in these lonely towers to warn us of the coming of the new executioners?"

And so they have come, again and again. In Bosnia, in Iraq, in Rwanda, in Darfur. I have to say that every time I hear an impassioned plea for the elimination of civilian ownership of firearms — like, say, from our pals at the United Nations — I see those lonely towers.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Snakes Alive!

Presented without comment, from Drudge:
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A St. Petersburg man received a rude awakening Tuesday when he lifted the lid on his toilet and found a snake curled inside, with its head sticking out of the bowl.

With the help of his wife, Shannon Scavotto caught the snake using an improvised noose and put it in a pillowcase.

The reptile was confirmed to be a 6-foot African rock python. Experts said the serpent is just a baby, as African rock pythons get as big as 20 feet long or longer.

Scavotto called his boss to tell him he'd be late because he'd had to wrestle a snake out of his toilet. His boss joked he would need a better excuse than that.

Bullet Proof Vests...

I purely hate it that the antigunners have brought this discussion into the light! We know a lot about body armor these days, and the most important thing we know is that the less the bad guys know, the better it is for the good guys.

The reason for that is simple...there is no such thing as a "bullet-proof vest." You can punch a hole in pretty much anything, not to mention anything that you can actually wear. Instead, protection from bullets exists on a continiuum...the lightest, most comfortable to wear vests offer the least protection; steel and ceramic offer the most, but unless you're Clint Eastwood with a big poncho, you're not going to want to hang a steel or ceramic plate in front of your chest. Read this pretty good FAQ from a vest manufacturer.

Chosing a vest is a lot like chosing a carry gun — ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances. I occasionally carry a little plastic .32 auto on a quick trip to the local market, because my threat assessment is that I'm unlikely to have to fight a war in the 2 miles from my house down the mountain to the market. Conversely, I once did an undercover story on a KKK paramilitary training camp where I carried two 1911 .45s, a J-frame .38 revolver in the pocket and, in the car, a folding stock Mini-14 with a couple of 30-round mags. Then again, I'm paranoid...then then again again, I'm still here.

A vest is the same way. You figure your threat assessment and choose the vest accordingly. As the Brady Center has now explained in excrutiating detail, most police officers use Level II vest, designed to deflect most hangun bullets up to 9mm. Level II-A is ligher, more comfortable and deflects fewer calibers. Level III-A is pretty heavy duty and will stop most handgun cartridges out there.

BUT BUT BUT...I once did a demo for SAWT cops on five different brands of Level II and II-A vest. The vests were on shooting dummies filled with ballistic putty — a pretty fair approximation of the human body. I was using a Browning High-Power loaded with over-the-counter 9mm ammunition of a brand and bullet weight I will decline to name. I walked along the line of dummies and fired a double tap into each from about 3 yards away. My ammo punched every single vest! In one case (a II-A), it shot through the front and back panels. The manufacturers sold a lot of Level III-A vests that day!

POINT IS, we know the limitations of vests (notice I haven't said anything about rifles in this post). We have NOT made discussions of vests everyday reading material because I believe (and I think I speak for a lot of people) that such a discussion makes the life of police and military personnel more dangerous!

The fact that Brady has done exactly that tells me that the zealots who surround Sarah Brady do not give a tinker's damn about the life of a police officer or a soldier as long as that death advances La Sarah's cause!

Be sure to mention that to your liberal friends. The antigunners, while claiming it's "for our own good," are perfectly willing to give terrorists blueprints on how to attack targets on American soil, then give detailed information on what calibers will defeat police and military armor! THINK about that! Who the hell do these people think they are?

News from the Second Front

Here's an example of what I was talking about on the antigunners' Second Front, the attacks on the 5.7 X 28 cartridge and the FNH Five-seveN pistol in particular. This is from Philly, but notice it's an AP wire story:
WASHINGTON - New Jersey's U.S. senators plan to introduce a bill that would make it illegal for anyone, except a police officer or military official, to purchase or use an assault pistol that fires bullets capable of penetrating a bulletproof vest.

The Five-SeveN gun made by FN Herstal of Belgium has already been denounced by three national police organizations and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The handgun is small and lightweight and easily concealed in a person's pocket, the groups said.
A couple of interesting points here...notice the phrase "assault pistol." I'm an alledged expert in the field, and I have never heard of an assault pistol...which means it's another one of Brady's made-up words. Which, of course, AP bought hook, line and sinker. Notice also that the Five-seveN is now a pocket pistol. I checked on mine in the safe last night to see if it shrank...amazingly, mine is still a full-size pistol. How about that! Maybe I should run it through the dishwasher...

Fun With United!

I have to say that this morning's check-in for my flight to Memphis on United was weirder than usual. I check in at the electronic ticket kiosk, just like every week. I'm waiting to get my firearms declaration and baggage tag when a United "customer service representative" (I know, I know!) comes over and asks what I'm waiting for. I say a firearms declaration and my bag tag.

"Oh my god!" she says. "You can't do that here!"

"Well," I reply reasonably. "I did it here last week, but, please, tell me where I can check in."

"I don't know," she says. "But I know you can't do it here."

"I fly every week with a firearm," I say, "and unless there's been a rule change since last week, I need to get a firearms declaration from you, put it in my gun case and send the bag to TSA."

"I know that," she snapped. "But you can't do it here."

I decide to shut up and roll out my Number Two Best Smile, since I'm afraid my Number One Best Smile will lead to her swooning on the spot. She looks more and more nervous — the #2 is a killer! — and finally she says, "I need to get Mr...Mr...a man!" I nod enthusiastically and crank #2 up a notch. She runs off and finds a man, who listens intently and says, "Don't worry; I've got it now." She quickly exits, probably to keep from giving me her phone number and proposing elopment.

"Now," a man says when she's out of earshot. "What do you usually do?"

I run through the routine again, and he says, "Seems reasonable, although the rules do change hourly." I ask for a red firearms declaration card, fill it out and stick it in the bag. I hand a man my guncase keys and say, "Tell the TSA guys the guy from The Outdoor Channel says hi." He exits and returns with my key. "The guys behind the counter say hi," he says.

"What should I do next week?" I ask.

"The same thing you always do," says a man. "Have a great flight!"

BTW, life is simpler is the gun is disassembled in the gun case! Then TSA doesn't open the case. This week, also BTW, I'm carting around my Sig 225 9mm and using the Sig Concealed Carry Jacket as the holster. Life be simple!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

More .50s

Worth keeping up with Triggerfinger on this.

Transcript of CNN Story...

From Kevin at The Smallest Minority.

Continued from earlier post...

SORRY! I just looked at thos morning's post and realized half of it didn't post...BLOGGER is the blog equivalent of AOL!

Let me just quickly summarize the missing 1000 words. The firearms industry is queasy about supporting .50 calibers. That's because many of the Powers-That-Be come from hunting/shotgun sports backgrounds, and they're uncomfortable with us barbarians from the practical pistol/tactical/long-range rifle buzz gun side of playpen.

That's no big, as long as we make sure they understand what is important to us. My little cherubs and seraphim tell me that just before the Assault Weapon Ban expired, there was a deal being floated that would make the Ban permanent in exchange for lawsuit pre-emption. Luckily, the P-T-B realized that such a deal would have been a SCREAMING DISASTER for the gun lobby.

Those are the roots of what's happening now. Gun industry protection has been re-introduced in both the House and Senate. The antigunners — crippled, unable to raise funds, desperate for an issue that gets them back in the game — are trying to generate enough heat around .50s and "armor-piercing ammunition" to allow them to cut a deal on pre-emption. The antigunners suck it up and accept firearms industry protection against lawsuits if we sell out the .50s and the 5.7 X 28.

What can we do?
• Keep up the heat on CNN. They're the media arm of the antigun movement; at this point, I kow of no other major media outlets who are republishing VPC/Brady "background papers" by rote.
• Let our industry representatives know where we stand. If you are an individual, let the NRA know where you stand; if you're a firearms industry business, let NSSF know this is a line in the sand.
I will keep the heat up from my end. I'm off tomorrow to Medmphis for the Rangemaster Tactical Conference with Tom Givens.

CNN, Terrorists, the Firearms Inudstry & .50s

The CNN/.50 story is getting some traction, as well it should!

First, this from the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep & Bear Arms (CCRKBA):
The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) today condemned a sensational report on CNN that not only alerts potential terrorists on possible misuses of .50-caliber sporting rifles, but also literally provides a "road map" on how to obtain one of these cumbersome and very expensive firearms.

"In yet another media attempt to demonize a particular firearm, which CNN's own reporter, Drew Griffin, acknowledged has ‘really never been used domestically in a criminal event,' this outrageous report still suggests to potential terrorists how such a gun might be put to criminal use," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb.

CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron agreed, noting, "The CNN report comes awfully close to being an attempt by a news organization to encourage an incident, just so CNN can later say ‘We warned you'. This sort of journalism belongs right down there with the CBS debacle over the manufactured documents regarding allegations about President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. With so-called ‘news' like this on the nation's airwaves, it is no wonder that the American public no longer trusts the media, and believes the press has a political agenda."
The CNN message is not just "consistent" with the steady anti-.50 campaign from both the Violence Policy Center (VPC) and the Brady Center, it is a virtual restating of the message! Check out this "Tools for Terror" section of the VPC's "white paper" on .50s:
Turning Hazardous Chemical Facilities Into Weapons

A substantial amount of attention has been given in recent days to the subject of Osama bin Laden's interest in obtaining and using chemical weapons, and analyzing the likelihood of his acquiring them.199 Yet counter-terror experts have warned of the threat of another type of attack, similar in concept to using commercial aircraft as bombs—turning hazardous industrial facilities themselves into chemical weapons. In another similarity to Al Qaeda's known means of operation, experts note that using such low-tech means has the added benefit of a lower operational profile, harder to detect by authorities.

Here again is a case in which the 50 caliber sniper rifles in the hands of Al Qaeda and other terrorists present specific capabilities that can be turned to catastrophic opportunity.
The VPC report offers IN DETAIL all the ways a high-powered rifle — they specifically mention .50 cals, but feel free to substitute my .300 Ultra Mag or your .308 deer rifle! — can be used in terrorist attacks. Now go to the Brady Center and download their "scathing report" on guns and terrorists, where you'll learn: By examining in detail specific cases involving terrorists and guns, the report shows that:

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Forget that "two thumbs up" crap! Check out Joe Bob Briggs' reprint of his 2003 review of Philip Cook's Despiser:
Taking a look at those drive-in totals:

Forty-nine dead bodies. Five gunbattles. Three crash-and- burns. Four motor vehicle chases. One sucker punch. Two body- transformation scenes. One hydrogen explosion. One Viking funeral. One peasant riot. Flaming church. Flaming car. Upside- down crucifixion. Grotesque insect destruction. Doll-stomping. Gratuitous shipwrecks. Kung Fu. Grenade Fu. Bazooka Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Kit Kirkland, as the beautiful but vexed wife, who says "I want a little stability"; Mike Diesel, as the comic-relief fat friend; Doug Brown, as the fearless World War I vet who leads the assault on the alien tower, saying "We ain't dead, just trapped"; Tara Bilkins, as the rebel mechanic who says "We're God's trashmen sent to right the mess"; Mark Redfield, as the unlikely hero who explains that he has to half kill himself because his wife is "being held prisoner by a bunch of dead guys in Purgatory"; Takahashi Kuriyama, as Fumie the warrior, who says "Can't always wait for good weather to fish"; and Philip Cook, the writer/director/producer, for doing things the drive-in way.

Three and a half stars. Joe Bob says check it out.
How can you not?

When Chocolate is Outlawed, Only Outlaws, etc...

From our pal James Taranto at the WSJ's Best of the Web, this from deep in the heart of Texas, where a plan to remove candy from vending machines at Austin high schools has gone horribly awry:
The candy removal plan, according to students at Austin High, was thwarted by classmates who created an underground candy market, turning the hallways of the high school into Willy-Wonka-meets-Casablanca.

Soon after candy was removed from vending machines, enterprising students armed with gym bags full of M&M's, Skittles, Snickers and Twix became roving vendors, serving classmates in need of an in-school sugar fix. Regular-size candy bars like the ones sold in vending machines routinely sold in the halls for $1.50.

"There was no sugar in the vending machines, so (student vendors) could make a lot of money," said Hayden Starkey, an Austin High junior who said he was not one of the candy sellers. "I heard kids were making $200 a week just selling candy."
The school board is relenting, which will, I suspect, allow the kids to get back to their "day job" of selling marijuana!

CNN & the Law

Okay, here's where we are now, based on my industry contacts.

By now, the upper echelons of the ATF have been made aware of the CNN violations. My contacts told me there was very little chance the agency would move against CNN because of "intent" — there was no intent to violate the law.

That might work with murder and manslaughter, but my reading of the gun law doesn't leave a lot of room for "intent" — of course, I'm not an attorney!

At the very least, there are HUGE ETHICAL QUESTIONS for CNN in these actions. Somewhere within the bowels of CNN, an editor instructed subordinates to violate federal law, not because the fate of the republic hung in the balance, but because CNN wanted to add their own $0.02 of disinformation in a debate already rife with lies, distorsions and, as my grandfather used to say, pure-D bullshit. Will a .50 penetrate an airplane's shell? Yep, and so will my 9mm Glock. Are .50 calibers accurate at long range? You betcha, and so is my Remington .300 Ultra Mag elk rifle. Are gun deals between between individuals allowed in the United States? Yes, as allowed by state what? Does anyone other than media dweebs like Paula Zahn think that terrorists fly to the United States to buy guns at RETAIL, for god's sake? C'mon Paula...even you aren't that dumb, are you?

More as the story develops...

FLASH! CNN Violated Federal Firearms Law!

Based on my conversations with legal experts within the firearms industry, CNN did indeed violate at least one, and probably two, federal firearms laws in their reporting of the .50 caliber controversy last week.

Representatives of the industry are currently in touch with the ATF.

More to come.

MONDAY Ver. 2.0

Can there be anything worse than a week with two Mondays?

Not surprisingly, I'm sputtering along, swilling coffee like a madman and hoping UPS delivers some inspiration.

• First on today's agenda is getting a handle on whether CNN did or did not violate federal firearms laws in their Paula "The Zipper" Zahn's report on .50 caliber rifles. I'm waiting to hear from the Powers-That-Be, and I'll keep pestering them until they cough up an opinion.

• In the meantime, ponder this tidbit from Michele Malkin, the Condi Rice action figure:
Dressed in navy blue pant suit, powder blue blouse & imitation faux pearl necklace included.
Also note that the same company makes the Hillary Clinton action figure, which comes with a philandering husband instead of faux pearls. I'm thinking a remake of MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch...

Science fiction god Jerry Pournelle (The Mercenary, one of the greatest science fiction books ever written, IMHO) is probably the World's First Blogger. Over the years he's penned a series of "Pournelle's Laws;" he recently added a new one after a WSJ story on climate change:
One of Pournelle's Laws states "You can prove anything if you can make up your data." I will now add another Pournelle's Law: "You can prove anything if you can keep your algorithms secret."
Words to live by!

• Finally, from Claire Wolfe, my Offensive Bumper Sticker of the Week, this from a Cafe Press left-wing arnarchist shop (and, yes, I realize that is oxymoronic!):

My Other Ballot Is An AK-47

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
—Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)

What the hell can I say?
Any semi-sane person had to know all that hard living was taking a toll. I suppose the big surprise is that it took him this long to put a gun to his head.

I was lucky enough to sit at his feet a couple of times in the Back When in New York City and listen to his diesel-fueled speed raps on Nixon, America and — more importantly — the art and craft of writing. We — myself, Lester Bangs, Chet Flippo, Martha Hume, Nick Tosches, John Morthland, Patrick Carr, Robert Duncan, Nancy Naglin, a few others — were the Second Generation of New Journalists. We arrived in New York City from around the country from newspapers, local magazines, whatever, because we had been friggin ' called; we were convinced that, pound for pound, we were the best writers of our generation, the heirs of Wolfe and Christagau and Esterhaus and the first of the so-called "New" Journalists. They created personal and participatory and turned "objective" into a quaint myth, but HST gave us fury. Forget the overworked word "gonzo;" HST taught us to write while we were hanging on by our fingernails, while the Sex Pistols or Iggy Pop screamed through our heads and exotic chemistry or record company champagne reduced us to sweating, heaving hulks. HST convinced us that we were all war correspondents, except that the war was in our heads.

I remember a party at Chet and Martha's tiny uptown apartment, with both HST and Tom Wolfe in attendance, both of them holding forth at opposite ends of the room on writing and writers. In the wee hours of the morning after even Tom Wolfe had given up the ghost, HST was still in his corner, talking about writing writing writing writing. Because it was all about the writing, the translation of thoughts to paper. Strip away everything else, because the writing mattered.

HST may have forgotten that in the last years of his life — read this piece from a few years ago in Slate:
Now is the worst possible moment for a Thompson revival. This is a tranquil era, and considered in tranquility, Thompson is indeed a horror. His writing seems archaic and crude, and its self-indulgence seems stunning even in an age of memoirs. Thompson is often compared, unfavorably, with his New Journalism comrade Tom Wolfe. Wolfe is undoubtedly a better writer than Thompson, but he's also an easier writer. Wolfe has worn well because his detached irony suits us. His cool style is ours. Wolfe responded to his lunatic age with bemusement. Thompson responded to it with ferocity, and ferocity is not comfortable these days.
New Journalism has morphed into the vaccuous crap that permeates MSM; most of what the Atlantic magazine termed "the Hell's Bells group of writers" — for the bar where we all hung out — have scattered to the winds. Nick Tosches is a famous novelist, his body ravaged by past excesses. Duncan went to work for the Bank of America. Chet's the editor of a major music magazine. Nancy Naglin publishes a cool magazine on B-movies with her longtime partner Joe Kane. Lester Bangs didn't make the cut. Paddy Carr is a full-time house husband and just had heart bypass surgery. Morthland is still carrying the torch, writing for whomever will write him the check. Me, you already know that story. The writing still matters...

"Call on God, but row away from the rocks..."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Did CNN Commit a Firearms Felony... their .50 caliber dis'sing last week?

Here's the link from the Smallest Majority:
It seems that CNN, in an attempt at exposing the horrible dangers of .50 BMG rifles just committed at least one, and possibly more than one felony. Apparently they purchased a .50 in a private-party transaction from a person in another state. In fact, they might have done it by straw-purchase - that is, they had someone local buy it for them. Those are no-no's. FEDERAL no-no's, unless the purchaser has a Federal Firearms License.
Here's the original link from Triggerfinger. I talked to the Powers-That-Be at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) the morning after the report ran, and they did NOT mention that they saw a felony.

I'm going to try to hammer this out tomorrow AM, depending on who I can reach on a holiday. If CNN did indeed commit a felony, the editor and the correspondent need to be immediately fired and subsequently charged and prosecuted.

More as soon as I can work the phones.

Sunday Morning...

And there's nothing short of dying
That's half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleeping city sidewalks
And Sunday morning, coming down

—Kris Kristofferson

Saturday, February 19, 2005

R.I.P., Brother

I wanted to make a belated note on the passing of country music legend — and my friend of almost 30 years — Merle Kilgore. Merle's life defies being summed up in a few words. He co-wrote Ring of Fire with June Carter for John Cash. He wrote Wolverton Mountain for Claude King; Johnny Reb for Johnny Horton. He guided my brother-in-spirit Hank Williams Jr's career for 30 years; he befriended legends like Cash, Horton, Hank Williams...hell, all of them! He acted with Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen. Once, after he negotiated the multi-million dollar Monday Night Football opening song deal for Hank Jr., he called me up and said, "Bruther, I think I just set some kind of record for hourly wages!" He was the best storyteller in Nashville, and damned if every one of them wasn't true!

I'm having a little trouble imaging a world where I'm never again going to pick up the phone to, "MIIIIIIIIIIIchell BAAAAAAAne!" in Merle's unmistakable Southern drawl, followed by some amazing story about this or that legend.

I'm not much on religion, but I suspect the afterlife's a little livelier place these days. I will miss him.

I saw Gen'ral Lee raise a sabre in his hand
Heard the cannons roar as you made your last stand
You marched in the battle of the Grey and the Red
When the cannon smoke cleared, took days to count the dead, 'cause

You fought all the way
Johnny Reb, Johnny Reb
You fought all the way, Johnny Reb

When Honest Abe heard the news about your fall
The folks thought he'd call a great vict'ry ball
But he asked the band to play the song Dixie
For you, Johnny Reb, and all that you believe

You fought all the way
Johnny Reb, Johnny Reb
Yeah, you fought all the way, Johnny Reb

Friday, February 18, 2005

Too Much Monkey Business!

This is why you never surf the web late at night...there are HORRORS LURKING! From SF Gate:
Two former employees of the Gorilla Foundation, home to Koko the "talking" ape, have filed a lawsuit contending that they were ordered to bond with the 33-year-old female simian by displaying their breasts.

[The] lawsuit, filed Tuesday in San Mateo County Superior Court, alleges sexual discrimination, wrongful termination in retaliation for reporting health and safety violations, and failure to pay overtime or provide rest breaks...

...The suit, in any case, says that [Gorilla Foundation president] Patterson would interpret hand movements by Koko as a demand to see exposed human nipples. She warned Alperin and Keller that their employment with the foundation would suffer, the suit says, if they "did not indulge Koko's nipple fetish."
Gorillas with nipple fetishes...sounds like an episode of the upcoming CSI: Bronx Zoo, which opens with a rousing rendition of the Who's Squeeze Box. I need to rest now.

A Good Reason to Start That Diet...

Once again proving that New York City isn't really in the United States, from Reuters:
The diners arrived at a nice Manhattan restaurant on a cold February night and stripped off coats, hats, gloves and scarves. They didn't stop there.

Skirts, shirts, pants, underwear and stockings all ended up stashed in plastic bags by the bar as the patrons got naked for the monthly "Clothing Optional Dinner."

"It's exciting to be in a restaurant nude," said George Keyes, 65, a retired junior high school English teacher.

Nude yes, but not unadorned.

Keyes, a lifelong nudist, wore a necklace, earrings and a black leather "genital bracelet" with red studs. And white sneakers.
I personally okay with everything but the leather genital bracelet. I refuse to break bread with anyone wearing a genital bracelet, just on principal. I did once have dinner with a record company executive who insisted on showing me her nipple tats over linguine with white clam sauce, but that is, I suppose, another story. The clam sauce was excellent.

YIPPIE-KY-AYE, y'all...

Thoughts for Friday:

London Calling
Hey, I was there, too
You know what they say
Some of it is true...

— The Clash

Me and my cowboy hat have rounded up the old mare and are headed to Phoenix. I'm waiting for my flight at DIA, so I wanted to post a couple of quick notes.

Last night , Paula "The Zipper" Zahn weighed in on .50s. I did not see it, but according to people who did see it, the report was par — CNN bought a Barrett bolt-action through an intrastate transaction with no background check. Then they shot the gun through an old airplane emergency exit door they'd scrounged at a junkyard. It penetrated, of course, as any rifle bullet would.

I don't think I've really articulated really well why the .50 caliber controversy bothers me so much. Put as briefly as I'm capable of putting things, the attacks on the .50 caliber are attacks NOT on the .50 caliber per se, but on what ALL rifles do — shoot long distances accurately, penetrate better than handgun cartridges, have more "firepower" than other hand-carried firearms and, in general, are far more lethal than handguns.

Let me repeat that: ALL RIFLES — NOT JUST .50 CALIBER — GENERALLY EXHIBIT THOSE CHARACTERISTICS! If .50s are banned because they're rifles, it's an enormously powerful precedent!

More later...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Fight Em 'Til They DIE!

Last season, we did an episode of SHOOTING GALLERY on a a pretty innovative self-defense program in Portland called Fist Feet Knife Gun (FFKG). Instructor Rich Daniel has a training drill he does with Soft Air guns called his "15 Second Drill." The basic idea is that you shoot an attacker, then defend yourself for 15 seconds (or 30 seconds, etc.) until the attacker finally stops and/or croaks.

The point of this drill is that gun people tend to think of their weapons as just short of nuclear — you shoot somebody, and BLAM-O, just like in a Hollywood movie the bad guy is reduced to a small steaming pile of ash. What generally happens in the Real World, however, is that you shoot someone and that someone, having failed to read the Guns & Ammo article on the "amazing one-shot-stop capability of Acme Manstopper Hollowpoints," fails to fall down or even slow down. Instead, he continues to attack, possibly even overcoming you and your gat. Daniel's point — keep fighting until the fight is over.

Here's a real world example from Jerry Miculek-Crawfish-Land:
A Clinton, LA, woman fired her pistol at a man who lunged at her in the darkness of her home Wednesday morning, then survived a severe beating as the intruder tried to wrestle the gun from her hands.

"I didn't know if I hit him or not," Georgia Belle Sullivan recalled later Wednesday. "He grabbed me, and we went to the floor and we struggled for a while. He was trying to get the gun away, because he kept saying, 'I want your money, and I want your gun.' "

The man, Arthur Sanford, 44, died from a single gunshot wound to the chest, East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Talmadge Bunch said.

"After she shot him, he fought her until he died," Bunch said.
Police say she fired a .38 special from a short-barreled .357 revolver (you can tell you're in the South because the reporters actually knew about guns!), and the gun was discharged several other times during the struggle. Police also speculate that the bad guy wasn't able to get the gun away from Ms. Georgia Belle because the short barrel offered no leverage. You might want to mention this point the next time a gunstore commando gives you the "longer barrels are always better, especially in a bedside gun" lecture.

A Bit'o the Ole Ultraviolence, What!

After all this deep thinking, I thought I'd throw a little levity into our Thursday discussions. This from the Times of London, reporting on a fracus between 35 Greenpeace protestors and the young petroleum traders of the International Petroleum Exchange:
WHEN 35 Greenpeace protesters stormed the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) yesterday they had planned the operation in great detail.

What they were not prepared for was the post-prandial aggression of oil traders who kicked and punched them back on to the pavement.

“We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs,” one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. “I’ve never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view.”
Sounds like fun! Even in England — where, I suppose, our plucky lads will be lucky not to be executed by the simpering weasels who run the country — having the words "stormed" and "listening to our point of view" in the same article seems sort of oxymoronic. Maybe just moronic.

And NO, I am not suggesting we pound the crap out of Greenpeace demonstrators, at least as long as they are exercising their right of peaceful protest. So don't pester me about it. I do, however, subscribe to "Tennessee rules," or as my old moonshinner grandfather used to say, "Your rights end where my nose begins."

Comments on CCW Comments...

I received this thoughtful comment from Barry yesterday, and I think it deserves its own post and response:
Ok, since you and TSM are dredging up this 2-yr-old controversy, let me just spell out the fears of the non-gun-carrying community.

That, if more and more people start carrying weapons on their person, readily available, that regardless how much "training" they've had, there will be a gun fired in anger.

Unless you can stand here and prove to me that proper training removes the potential of humans to kill or injure one another out of hatred, revenge, rage, or just plain insanity then I will never consider allowing the general CCW possession of firearms safe or desirable.

We had an incident here in town yesterday where two (probably drunk) yahoos were tailgating each other on the highway - they stopped, one got out and started wreaking some mayhem on the other's car. He finished and started walking away, and the other guy capped him. From behind.

Self-defense? No, the guy was leaving. Proper apprehension of a subject? No, he wasn't a cop or even trying to restrain.

Anger. Pure rage provoked a shooting. The guy's lucky he only winged him in the leg.

So you see, you can't train out hostility or genuine human emotion, and a firearm makes it too easy and too safe to inflict deadly harm from a distance.

And that's just the people who do have some training. What about the people who obtain firearms and carry them around, but have no training to speak of?
Hi Barry, and thanks for writing! The worst thing that can happen to any of us is spending too much time breathing our own air. Let me take a shot, so to speak, at this, and I would also ask some of my regular readers to weigh in.

In truth, I can't repeal human nature. We are truly the children of the killer apes, both for better and for worse. Our genetic legacy — intelligence, adaptability, aggression — has given us the planet and may yet give us the akido master George Leonard has noted in his wonderful book Mastery, we are the most formidable predator to ever walk the planet, and our potential is by any rational measurements unlimited.

That same legacy has given us uncontrolled aggression, spree murderers, serial killers, road rage...all the way to genocide.

Let's move from macro to micro. The reality is that the criminal class, the people my mentor Walt Rauch refers to as otherhumans, are already armed. They have always been armed, whether with guns, knives, crossbows, staves, a big piece of leg bone, because they are our predators. They prey on us.

One of the realities of nature is that predators who prey on predators have to be extraordinarily vicious — think of saber-toothed tigers who hunt other lions and tigers as opposed to cattle — because the prey itself is potentially dangerous.

When we talk about CCW firearms carriers, we are talking about a very specific subset of, for lack of better words, the good guys. Remember, the bad guys are already armed. The very people you don't want carry guns — hell, sharp sticks for that matter! — are already carrying them. They are unaffected by laws regulating firearms carry because their entire careers are outside the law.

CCW carriers as a group share certain characteristics:
1) They have already given thought to the issue of potentially lethal response to attack.
2) They have considered their own personal limits in terms of response to an attack.
3) They have sought additional training with a firearm to prepare for a potential attack.
4) They have opened their lives to a higher level of official scrutiny than non-CCW carriers. I've seen my police file, which is about an inch-and-a-half thick — more than your average career felon — and the biggest "crime" I've ever committed was a speeding ticket in college.
Essentially, you have created a self-selected group of people who are very unlikely to perform criminal acts, including acts of violence. Can I "prove" this to you? No...I can certainly deluge you with statistics about the low rate of acts of violence among CCW holders, but "proof" is a mathematical concept and poorly suited to human discussions, where the very nature of "facts" is subjective.

Remember, the bad guys are armed anyway! Those jackasses you referenced in your post will be armed with or without official sanction. The only question is whether you will be armed when you run into one of them.

That still leaves us with "crimes of passions," the escalation of anger into violence. Barry, I'm afraid this is a world-view issue. As a journalist (including years on police and court beats), as a self-defense trainer and as a person, a civilian, with an extremely high level of access to military and police trainers, administrators and experts, I have found that when you scratch the surface of a "crime of passion," you almost always find a long history of increasingly escalating violence. The idea of people "just snapping" is much, much rarer than television would have you believe. I''ve personally interviewed murderers who "just snapped," (a man who beat his fiance to death with a claw hammer comes to mind) and what I saw in each case was a history of violence, usually over years and years, steadily increasing. I refer you to Gavin De becker's great book The Gift of Fear. De Becker is probably one of the world's top authorities on violent behavior; read what he has to say about crimes of passion.

So can people just snap? Back in the Dawn of Time, when I went to college, after I got over my obsession with math and physics, I studied mass media and statistical analysis. I believe that, given a large enough sample, anything is possible. Someone does win the lottery; someone gets struck by lightning three times in a row.

However, I want to be sure that should I be present when such a thing happens, or when one of the armed criminal class decides to target me or mine, or when the enemies of my country decide the Acme Mall might be an interesting place to make a statement, that I HAVE THE SKILL, THE TRAINING AND THE TOOLS TO SAVE MY LIFE AND THE LIVES OF OTHER INNOCENTS! I am truly sorry you are uncomfortable with my decision, but that doesn't change my decision.

Again, thanks for writing! I suspect we will have to agree to disagree...

The Wednesday Between Wednesday and Friday...

...a.k.a. Thursday. Tomorrow I've got to decant my cowboy hat and go to Phoenix to shoot an episode of COWBOYS on Winter Range, the cowboy action shooting national championships. That will actually be fun, and COWBOYS host Richard TEQUILA Young makes it easy. I was actually planning to shoot the match, but reality intruded. You can work or you can shoot. And never the twain shall meet.

I like going to the range and practicing cowboy stuff. A lot of that is the guns. When I was a "real" competition shooter in practical pistol, it was sort of like having a second job, A fun job, but a job nonetheless. Three practice sessions a week, each focusing on a different aspect of practical shooting; dry-firing every evening; a match every weekend. In my spare time, I pulled the lever on a reloading machine. I can probably operate a 1911 in my sleep. I did that seriously for about eight years; haphazardly for another decade or so.

Lately, I've been getting my competition buzz from cowboy action shooting, not because I've always wanted to be a cowboy, but because I really like the hardware. The first gun I ever shot was a .22 single action Ruger; probably the second one was my father's Winchester .30/30 lever action carbine. It's really neat to learn how to manipulate those guns efficiently, as opposed to just shooting them. It's had an effect on my viewpoints about self-defense firearms as well.

For example, I always keep a rifle in the bedroom. I live in a rural area, and I want the option of a powerful, relatively easy to shoot and longer range weapon to complement my self-defense handgun. Previously, that rifle had been an AR-15. A couple of years ago, after starting to work with cowboy guns, I made the decision to change from an AR to a Winchester lever action carbine in .44 Magnum. Here's my rationale:
1) A lever gun is amazingly fast when you know how to manipulate it. Watch an episode of COWBOYS or, if you can, take a class with Tequila or another top cowboy instructor.
2) The .44 Magnum in a rifle is a pussycat; there's very little recoil.
3) I practice regularly with my two regular cowboy rifles, a Marlin Cowboy Competition in .44 Magnum abd a Legacy 1892 carbine clone in .44.
4) More importantly, my Sweetie has takent a shine to cowboy action shooting (Indiana Jackson is her "alias"), so she practices with a lever action rifle. I have no doubt that anyone payijng an unauthorized visit to the ole homestead when I'm not around is in for a BIIIIGGGGG surprise.
5) The .44 Magnum is a more versatile cartridge than the .223...we actually have top-level predators where I live. The bear who lives in the back yard gets testy in the autumn when he's hungry and sleepy. No, I don't think I'm going to have to cap B'rer Bear, but I like to know that I have the option should he decide to traverse the house.
6) As mentioned in passing over the years by both Massad Ayoob and Frank James — two self-defense commentators with brains and experience — if you should ever have to defend yourself in a court of law for a self-defense shooting, which gun would you rather have your attorney show to the jury of your "peers," a scary black "assault weapon" or the gun that John Wayne used?
And that's not to mention the fact that lever action rifles are dirt cheap, totally debugged (heck, this is Civil War technology!) and cool. Just a few thoughts...