Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Thoughtful Piece on McCain-ism

A recent comment to the post on my on-going puzzlement about spring compromises and bipartisanship in D.C. accused me of being either "ignorant" or "in denial," both of which I will readily admit to. The trust of the comment was that all America is dying for bipartisanship, and that even though George Bush won the election (he did win, didn't he?), nobody agrees with anything he's done before, during or after.

As always, John McCain — a man I find utterly repulsive as only those without core principles can be repulsive — is held up as the shining example of what we Republicans could be if we only aspired to be Democrats. Or something like that.

I thought I'd link this morning's Wall Street Journal Online column from my friend Brendan Miniter on McCain (or, as I prefer to call him, "Hillary in drag"). A caveat...Brendan is neither ignorant nor in denial...
What's changed since 2000 is that it's become clear that the conservatives have become the Republican establishment by being able to claim credit for almost every ballot-box victory since 1980--including that of Vice President Bush, who in 1988 had the support of the conservative wing, which hoped--futilely, it turned out--that he would continue the Reagan revolution. After Mr. Bush's 1992 defeat, conservatives took over Congress in 1994, and a moderate Republican lost the presidential race in 1996. No one represents the changing of the guard better than George W. Bush himself, who is now pushing revolutionary conservative ideas in every arena from defense to Social Security to tax reform.

Having come this far, what Mr. McCain and the other Republican Senate "moderates" in last week's compromise would have the party do is give up on the very principles that is winning elections. All in the name of appealing to the "middle" of the electorate that is already voting for the party.

Macro vs Micro Solutions for the Shooting Sports

Okay, it's Tuesday but it's really Monday. It feels like Monday. In fact, it feels like Two Mondays. Still, I'd like to say a couple of words about the title of this post.

I've talked a lot about the Balkanized landscape of the shooting sports...you've got literally dozens of sanctioning bodies running matches large and small. Some of those sanctioning bodies — like the NRA — have mucho big bucks; some, like, say the .50 Caliber Shooters Association, substantially less. Most of the organizations fall in the middle range...USPSA, SASS, IDPA, NSCA, etc. They sport between 10-20K active members and usually one of the — if not the — largest item on their budget is the annual match. The focus of that match has to be satisfying the members of the organization...it's sort of like the summer picnic.

There's virtually no money left for marketing of those annual matches outside the endemic group. More importantly, there's very little expertise for that kind of marketing just floating around. The people who are good at it have typically been snapped up by "real" jobs. Moreover, that kind of marketing (and the hand-maidens, media and public relations) tend to be time-consuming, stressful and very deadline-oriented...not at all well-suited to the volunteer labor typical of most shooting matches.

As I've said before, in my days with NSSF, myself, Paul Erhardt and Scott Moore created a model for promoting the shooting sports. We beta-tested the model on the Great Outdoor Games, the Steel Challenge and one USPSA championship. It works just great...it will do exactly what needs to be done.

So we got a model. We need a way to drive that model out into the landscape and get it used. We also need a centralized organization to promote the model, to provide support (standardized entry forms, for instance, that provide video/news model releases and collects information for local media relations) and help to organizations using the model and to provide clearing house functions, such as maintaining a central calendar of events, providing media relations services to all member organizations, creating and operating a "newsroom" to disseminate shooting sports results to local and regional media.

The organization could provide a number of other services, such as helping with resource allocation, scheduling national ranges, publishing a newsletter/magazine specifically aimed at promoting the shooting sports and helping match directors, and publishing advance info on upcoming matches.

I could (and occasionally do) go on and on.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Can the Bianchi Cup Survive?

First, let me say congratulations to Doug Koenig for his sixth consecutive victory at the championships of NRA Action Pistol, the Bianchi Cup, Memorial Day weekend in Columbia, MO. Here are the top three scores — the scores on the four stages, followed by the overall:
1) Doug Koenig 480-48Xs 480-48Xs 480-41Xs 480-48Xs 1920-185Xs
2) Bruce Piatt 480-43Xs 480-46Xs 480-42Xs 480-48Xs 1920-179Xs
3) Mike Voigt 478-45Xs 480-47Xs 480-36Xs 480-48Xs 1918-176Xs
Essentially, the shooters fire 192 rounds in four stages, barricades, falling plates, moving target and practical; high score on each target is an 8-inch 10-ring. Inside the 10-ring is a 4-inch "X" ring. The "Xs" were originally conceived as the tie-breakers, because a perfect score of 1920 was thought to be impossible. For the last few years, a perfect 1920 has been not only possible, but necessary to win.

Doug Koenig's performance in this year's Cup was, for all intents and purposes, as close to perfection as any pistol match ever shot in the United States! It matches and exceeds John Pride's legendary 1920-179Xs in 1995, the first perfect score ever.

He shot perfect scores — 480-48Xs — on three of the four stages, dropping only 7 Xs on the mover! BTW, Koenig was second on the mover; Bruce Piatt dropped one less "X", 6 Xs, on the mover. Only six shooters shot a perfect score on the mover, and other than Koenig and Piatt, all dropped 12 or more Xs.

Both Koenig and Piatt bettered their performances over last year's Cup (2004 scores showed Koenig at 1920-177Xs and Piatt at 1918-181Xs). I assume (my scoresheet isn't broken down by division) high metallic sight goes to Rob Leatham, in 10th place overall, with 1910-153Xs and high woman, also for the sixth time, to Vera Coo in 22nd place overall with 1894-149Xs.

Again, I stand in awe of this level of shooting ability. To say the bar has risen to levels none of us could have anticipated 25 years ago is a vast, vast understatement. When I talked to Doug and Bruce on Thursday, both of them were calm, enthusiastic and for lack of a better word, light-hearted. They seemed to be having a great time as opposed to being locked in this amazing competition.

The real shocker here is Michael Voigt — President of USPSA, former World Champion in IPSC Standard Division competition and multiple time national champion in 3-gun. He's never been known as a "accuracy" shooter — just screaming fast. He changed those perceptions at this match. BTW, Voigt and I were once friends, and we do indeed have problems for which there is probably no solution. Still, this is a breath-taking exhibition of talent on Mike's part, and he has my sincere congratulations.

SOOOOOOOOOOO...after all these accolades, why is the title of the post about whether this match will survive? Again, the numbers tell the story — 147 shooters competed the match, a steady decline over the Cup's 26 years. Sponsorship was simply not NEARLY what it should be for an event of Bianchi's standard. Of the numerous gun magazines, only the NRA's SHOOTING SPORTS USA attended (there may have been "correspodents" from the other mags there; I didn't quiz everyone!). I was there for AMERICAN RIFLEMAN TV, and Jim Scoutten was there for SHOOTING USA.

In short, for the most part the industry gives it a big ole shrug. As a former match director myself, I can't imagine how I could run a match of Bianchi's quality on 150 shooters...I simply could not make the spreadsheet work!

What's the problem (s)? IMHO:
1) The lack of a comprehensive marketing plan for all the shooting sports
2) The lack of marketing/public relations help on a national level
3) The Balkanized landscape of the shooting sports, where the sports routinely snipe at each other over tiny slivers of market share
4) A lack of commitment on the part of the industry to growing the shooting sports
Unless we all start putting pressure on the industry, we're going to continue to see the some of the gold standard matches leach away, and we will all suffer for it!

So congratulations to Doug, Bruce and Mike! And fingers crossed for next year...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Fun With Media

There's been an on-going theme in the MSM that concealed carry owners sould have their names, addresses, phone numbers and probably underwear size published in local papers, because the public has a "right to know" who's carrying heat.

From this week's Carnival of Cordite, the weekly round-up of all things gunny, comes the current battle, this time from North Florida:
Our lead story this week is about the decision of the Northwest Florida Daily News to violate the privacy of many Floridians by publishing on the internet the names and addresses of Florida's concealed handgun permit holders. I first learned about this from The Hight Road where at least two seperate threads arose discussing the paper's action (here and here). The response was pretty quick. Within no time, many folks in the blogsphere and on the gun boards revealed for all to see the names and home addresses (in some cases with pictures and directions) of publisher Tom Conner and his editors. However, when I read the papers unbelieveable response to some complaints I got seriously ticked off:

"We published this public information because we believe there is public interest in knowing who in our area has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in public. Also, it is a public record, and the people who have concealed weapon permits appear to know it's a public record. We didn't publish the list due to any political viewpoint. I personally believe strongly in the Second Amendment right to bear arms. I also believe the public has a right to know who is carrying loaded concealed weapons in public places.

I hope this serves as an adequate answer to your email."

In response, I named the Tom Conner Asshole of the Week and decided to do a little browsing around. Turns out, if you go to the web page for the local county courthouse you can find all sorts of things about him and his family. I initially thought about publishing his wife’s name, their social security numbers, stuff about their mortgage, and information on his kid and ex wife. However, after talking to a few people whose opinions I respect, I decided to simply post a link to the information. but by Friday morning, within a day of it coming out that ALL THAT information was available, they had decided to pull down the list.
I like this. It being an information society and all, let's make sure we use all the resources available to us. Whenever a media outlet publishes the names and addresses of CCW carriers, let's make sure that the newspaper/television stations/whatever list of employees, including names and addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addressess, any court cases in the past and pending, etc. — all part of the great sainted "public record" they love to quote — are made available on the Internet for anyone to use.

I think we (the public) have a right to know if a reporter defaulted on a car loan, or is behind in child support payments, or has a history of not paying his or her parking tickets. I think we (the public) have a right to know editors' addresses (including maps and sat photos!), whether their children are in private school and the cost of such schooling, how much they pay each month in car payments. Hey, it's all part of the public record!

Drinking problems? Drug problems? Divorces? Complaints from neighbors? Restraining orders?

This is an ugly game, and it shouldn't be played at all. But if the MSM decide to play it, let them do so at their own risk.

BTW, I once sent a reporter for a major California newspaper an invitation to a shooting event. I got an immediate call back, not because she wanted to attend, but because she wanted to know "off what list" I got her name and e-mail address, because she was prepared to take legal action against me to make sure I NEVER sent her another piece of gun-related e-mail! Who the hell did I think I was sending her an invitation to her PRIVATE E-MAIL ADDRESS?!? I, of course, referred her to her newspaper's website, where they had her name, phone number and e-mail address listed, along with a note from the newspaper's editor saying how much his reporters "loved" to be contacted and how important it was that his reporters be "accessible." She, being accessible and all, hung up on me.

Why Rock Radio Is Dying...

From Drudge this AM:
Phone Ring Tone Set to Top U.K. Charts

LONDON (AP) - A cell-phone ring tone appeared set to top the British singles chart Sunday, outselling the new single by the band Coldplay by nearly four to one, a music retailer said.

"Crazy Frog Axel F," a ring tone based on the sound of a revving Swedish mo-ped, is the first tune being used on mobile phones to cross into mainstream music charts, said Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for HMV, the British music retailing chain.

Coldplay had hoped to go straight to No. 1 on this Sunday's British singles chart with its new song, "Speed of Sound." But by Saturday, it appeared that the ring tone - which is available for digital download and as a compact disc single - would prevail, said Castaldo.
So you've got to ask yourself, is it that the ring tone is so compelling, or is Coldplay not the "new U2," as they've been billed? I'm thinking of going down to the garage and crank up the Magna, see if I can record my own hit.

As an aside, my friend James Luther Dickinson, one of the greatest whacked Southern rockers ever born (or deep fried, as it were), once cut a single of Link Wray's great classic RUMBLE using tuned exhausts of Harleys. The bikes were in the studio, with exhausts vented to the outside. Dickinson told me he nearly suffocated, but it was a stone cold masterpiece.

Friday, May 27, 2005

It's About Time!!!

This from the NYT:
British Medical Experts Campaign for Long, Pointy Knife Control

Warning: Long, pointy knives may be hazardous to your health.

The authors of an editorial in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal have called for knife reform. The editorial, "Reducing knife crime: We need to ban the sale of long, pointed kitchen knives," notes that the knives are being used to stab people as well as roasts and the odd tin of Spam.

The authors of the essay - Drs. Emma Hern, Will Glazebrook and Mike Beckett of the West Middlesex University Hospital in London - called for laws requiring knife manufacturers to redesign their wares with rounded, blunt tips.
Yep, you can't make this stuff up. Here's my favorite part of the story, though:
The authors of the editorial argued that the pointed tip is a vestigial feature from less mannered ages, when people used it to spear meat. They said that they interviewed 10 chefs in England, and that "none gave a reason why the long, pointed knife was essential," though short, pointed knives were useful.
So, I figure this spells a brutal end to Iron Chef England, where no doubt last week's secret ingrediant was sheep's kidneys.

Those pathetic wankers!

Color MOI Confused...

Actually, I was certain it was Monday for about two hours this morning. Then I thankfully discovered it was Friday, and a HOLIDAY FRIDAY to boot! I think it was that International Date Line at the Knasas border when I was flying home last night.

Anyhow, this morning I'm confused about politics. I note this morning that the Democrats have filibustered U.N. Ambassador nominee John Bolton, although the MSM refuses to call a filibuster a filibuster, since the they're all swept away in some "bipartisan" vision.

Other than gun politics, I usually steer away from political commentary, largerly because the blogoshere is fraught with apprentice political commentators. My politics haven't been a secret for. oh, four or five decades. I followed the David Horowitz trajectory from student radical to committed libertarian, largely driven by guns and gun control issues. Yada yada...

So here's why I'm confused...

I didn't vote for Republicans to foster a series of bipartisan compromises.

I voted for them to scorch the earth.

I am a moderate only in the sense that I haven't publicly called for door-to-door searches for liberals, followed by immediate hangings of the miserable quisling weasels from the closest telephone pole. That doesn't mean, however, that I think liberals have anything of value to contribute to the national dialogue. I have listened to their thoughtful arguments, and they sound a lot like the funny grunting noises my beagle Alf makes — endearing, sincere and utterly without intelligence.

SOOOOOOOOO...there 's a judicial "compromise" spearheaded by a Republican who lusts to be President so badly that he would...suffice to say anything...if he thought it would improve his chances. This is the same man who sold out our gun rights when he was running in the 2004 primaries because he believed it — incorrectly — when his liberal buddies told him "a majority of Americans favor more gun control."

John McCain is Hillary Clinton in drag, a person willing to sleep with whomever he/she has to in order to rise to power. The MSM likes this because it makes their own casual morals seem soooooooooo much more mainstream.

It seems clear to me that:
1) The Democrats LOST
2) They lost because the country as a whole rejected their agenda
3) The Republicans WON
4) They won becaused the country as a whole agreed with their agenda
5) Part of that agenda was "loading" the courts with judges who for the most part agreed with that agenda
6) Another part of that agenda was that the UN is a giant vestigial appendix that provides a fun forum for Third World dictators, crooked international politicians and rapists masquerading a "peacekeepers"
We have a big stake in this, because the antigun forces, having been thwarted in ever single electorial venue they've tried, have for decades seen the courts as their last resort for insitutionalizing their antigun agenda. I've said before I don't give a damn about the bulk of the Republican "cultural" agenda — marry a sheep if you want to! — but conservative/libertarian judges are critical in turning back the heavily funded antigun legal challenges.

You cannot craft a bipartisan compromise with people who believe you are a brain-dead moron. Is this so complicated?

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Been slacking and traveling at the same time, supervising some AMERICAN RIFLEMAN TV shoots. Yesterday we were at Midway USA filming a couple of stories, including a stock refinishing thing — yeah, a bit slow for SHOOTING GALLERY, but, damn, I finally figured out why my stocks end up looking like Wal-Mart lawn furniture when I refinish 'em! — and a fun thing on building your own trick Ruger 10/.22. I liked the lamenated pink Fajen thumbhole stock, I'm getting one for myself...of course, now I have to get a Ruger 10/.22!

Today I'm spending the day at the Bianchi Cup, the world championships of NRA Action Shooting. I shot Bianchi back in the day...it's a brutal test of your ability to shoot accurately. I remember the falling plates were grim grim grim for me...apparently, they'd been welded in placed and refused to fall. Of course, I never missed any of them!

Just finished a deal for SHOOTING GALLERY 's next season where we'll be spending some time with driving legend Tony Scotti looking at high-risk driving (a la Iraq) and defending against carjackers down at the mall. This story idea came from pal Walt Rauch — thanks, dude!

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Funny For All Your Non-2A Friends...

From MSNBC.com, no less. I wish I could post pictures here (I'm a Mac user).


This from Drudge this morning:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A home in Sacramento's south Natomas neighborhood is surrounded by sheet metal, and neighbors are calling it an eyesore.

The D'Souza family lives in the home on Timberwood Court, and claims the aluminium pieces are necessary to protect them from unknown neighbors who have been bombarding them with radio waves and making them sick.

"(It's) a shield to protect against radiation, because microwave radiation is reflected off of aluminium, so it's a protective measure," resident Sarah D'Souza said.
I'm thinking this may be the only way to shield myself and my family, including all three parrots and the dog, from Star Wars Overhype. I am afraid of finding a Wookie under my bed, and my dreams are haunted by Jar Jar Binks.

Yes, I'll go see it, along with the entire rest of the civilized world. But I really don't care. I remember standiing in line for an hour on 42nd Street in NYC with my pal John Morthland to see the first Star Wars movie. For someone who grew up on science fiction, it was exhilarating. Look, Gordon Dickson's alien bar scene! Aliens! A vaguely Zen-ish spiritual Force! Moreso than even 2001 with its ponderous imagery, Star Wars was a validation that I wasn't a Total Nerd, or perhaps that I was a Total Nerd but that wasn't so bad, since everybody on earth saw Star Wars and declared it a Good Thing..."Watch it you must; validate your pimply butt it can..."

But in the 27 years later, I'm tired of the whole thing. I mean, I'd really like to see Princess Leia and Queen Amidala mud-wrestling in an arena filled with screaming, drooling aliens who vaguely resemble Michael Jackson, but there are limits even to special effects, I suppose. Mostly, as a person who still reads the occasional scifi book, I've been relentlessly disappointed by Hollywood's refusal to actually produce a real science fiction movie. The closest thing was Blade Runner, and that was a long time ago. As a more-or-less libertarian, I'd love to see a real movie from a Heinlein, maybe Door Into Summer or — dare I say it? — Stranger in a Strange Land. Something from Harry Turtledove might be nice.

I mean, Lord of the Rings proved conclusively that intelligent, adult fantasy where the F/X is secondary to the story and characters has a staggering market.The secret is to actually really use the A-list writers instead of the Hollywood hacks...ah, they'll never think of that!

I'm headed to Home Depot for some of that metal siding!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Sputterin' Saturdays

So I took a couple of days off from writing to catch up on my Real Life. For instance, I finally picked up my motorcycle from it's annual spring tune-up. It's been ready for weeks, but every time I was home, it was snowing; when it was nice, I wasn't home.

So yesterday I went to Boulder and bought it out of bondage. It's a fire-engine red 1994 Honda Magna cruiser, which happens to be one of Honda's bigger failures. The idea seemed sound — take Honda's hot 750-cc sportbike motor and put it into a cruiser frame, but with a real suspension. The result was a hot cruiser — yes, I know that oxymoronic! — a bike where you twisted the throttle and the sucker took off. Horsepower, torque, handling...all the things that cruiser owners traditionally did without.

Well, of course it failed! Cruiser riders as a group aren't necessarily looking for performance. And the Magna had four, count 'em cylinders instead of the requisite V-Twin two cylinder. Those four big pipes were a dead giveaway. I had this idea that I'd get another metric cruiser, but the ones I rode were all a little (some a lot!) lame when compared to the Magna.

I am not one of those "anti-Harley" wanks. I love Harleys...the bike that Barry Waldren built for Larry Crow of Competitive Edge Gunworks is a fine piece of minimalist art — a hard-tail frame and brand spanking new 120 cubic -inch Panhead engine. Black, chrome and horsepower. The drawback, of course, is the $20,000 you need to get Barry to whip you up one!

The Magna got new tires (I had 'em special order Metzlers), the front end realigned and a mega tune-up. I ran the bike up the twisty canyon roads leading up to my house, and it tracked like it was on rails.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Thought for the Morning

God knows it isn't often that one finds anything inspiring on morning television — exempting, of course, Ann Curry's amiable stupidity — but I have to say this morning was the exception. On May 12, veteran climber Ed Viesturs became the first American to scale all 14 of the world's 8,000 meter peaks, a feat made even more impressive by Viesturs refusal to use bottled oxygen.

Here's what he said: Sometimes, when all the conditions are right, mountains allow us to climb them.

I had one of those flickers of memory, so real that it was like being swept away to a whole other world. I saw for just a second the view from the top of Pico de Orizaba in Mexico, stretching all the way across the Mexican peninsula from the Caribbean to the Pacific. It was glass-clear and cold, and the clouds were all beneath us. Mountains allow us to climb them...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Two Good Guns Floating Around

I usually don't do this, but there are a couple of used guns floating around in the non-internet world that are worth taking a look at.

The first is an S&W stainless steel M-64 .38 Special round-butt revolver with a 2-inch barrel. These are not the smallest .38 J-frames, but the larger K-frames. Not as concealable, but one heck of a workhorse revolver and probably one of the strongest .38 Specials out there...+P+ no problemo. BACHMAN PAWN & GUN in Dallas (214-351-0572) has used ones for the lordly sum of $239.95. No web presence. Hell of a price, though.

For a few dollars more (sounds suspiciously like a Clint Eastwood movie, doesn't it), you can get the big brother with the adjustable sights. The S&W M-66 .357 2.5 inch revolver was, to me, one of the baseline S&W blasters. I carried one for about two years with 125-grain screamers and never felt undergunned for a single minute. They've been few and far between lately, but Hoplite, Inc., a Shepherdsville, KY, company with a long history of selling AR parts, has some used ones for $299.99. Darn good price for a 66 in good condition! You can reach 'em by phone at 502-955-5014. Again, no website.

I'm torn...for what I'd use the gun for, I'd prefer the fixed-sight M-64 with its slightly shorter barrel. But the .357 offers so much more ammo versatility, it makes it pretty much a wash. I suspect I'll opt for the 66 for old times sake. Maybe not...

Congressional Sportsmen shoot debrief...

Well, despite being surrounded by Congresspeople, Seantors, aides and all manner of Beltway Beasties, we survived unscathed and were able to Escape From Maryland back to the Real World!

The function of the Great Congressional Shoot-out is to get Dem and & GOP'ers together to whack a few clay pigeons, rub palms with firearms industry folk, schmooze and gnaw down some really good Maryland seafood. On the whole, I think it's a Very Good Thing for all the obvious reasons. We're coming up on a vote on the lawsuit pre-emption bill, and heaven knows we need all the support we can get. And part of that support is getting people pumped up on the issue. I think it's great to have politicos shooting alongside the people who've been spending millions fighting these bullshit lawsuits. Kudos all around!

As I promised, I took our Sport Shooting Agenda directly into the Belly of the Beast. I sat down wiith the heads of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and laid out the argument that sport shooting was getting the short straw — and continued short-strawing would lead to an invevitable, unwanted and unnecessary confrontation. I was gratified that the CSF'ers could actually talk about the issue — they had heard "increasing rumblings" and had had staff meetings on the "new issue."

I also had a bunch of informal talks (a Newsweek way of saying "friendly conversations") with the Powers-That-Be at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), for whom I once labored, about sport shooting and the disparity between it and hunting fundiing. They gave me a heads-up on a couple of initiatives about handguns from NSSF that are much more in line with what I think we need.

All that's good. It was obvious this blog has a very high readership within the firearms industry (the way you can tell that is the number of people who spontanious tell you that they nderstand it "isn't personal"). I assured everyone I talked to that I would make sure that sport shooting issues stayed on the table.

As befits any trip inside the Beltway Universe, I did my share of political schmoozing. I gotta say that Rep. Katherine Harris, the hero of the 2000 Florida Chad Circuses, stone-cold rocks. She's smart, funny, off-beat and an authentic ex-barrel-racing Florida cowgirl. Of course, it probably helped that my producer, Robin Berg, went to his knees and thanked her for going to the mats in 2000. Also — WARNING! INAPPROPRIATE SEXIST COMMENT ALERT! — she's much more of a hottie than her canned publicity pictures indicate. Suffice to say she could give Conservative uber-babe Ann Coulter a run for her money.

I got to spend a little time with my Senator, Wayne Allard from Colorado, a former veternarian who has done yeoman's work for conservative causes. My immediate first impression was "stand-up guy." I'll be happy to work for his reelection.

Finally, Rep. Mike Thompson, the Dem from Napa Valley in California, and I had a wonderful conversation about one of both our favorite restaurants, Mustards Grill in Napa. He's lucky enough to have chef Cindy Pawlcyn as a close personal friend who cooks for special events at his house. With her cooking, believe me, he's got a clear shot at the Presidency. Let me recommend the tuna sandwich with baked beans...again and again and again...

And, yeah, the tension over judicial nominees hung over the event like blackwater swamp miasma. Several of the congressional folks told me the timing for this event was perfect, since they'd all be "working late" staring today. Good luck, guys! Kick some butt for us!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

We Are a Part of the Zombie Nation!

From my friend Zaphod Beeblebrox, who is actually a high-ranking executive at a major firearms company, a link to Zombie Nation:
When there is no more room in Hell, the Zombie Nation will rise.
God bless George Romero! Zaphod also passed along the link for the Hamster Liberation Front:
Che Hamstera--A True Rodent Revolutionary

Che is the symbol of our revolutionary front and is spoken of with great amounts of pride and awe.

Che Hamstera was born in a litter of 12 hamsters in the early 1990s. From the moment he was born the rodents around him knew he would bring change to the world. At the age of 6 months, he led his littermates in a successful uprising against fluffy bedding (now proven to be a leading cause of cage death--whatever you do, DO NOT use fluffy bedding for your rodents!). Flush with this victory, he went on to lead a crusade against wire exercise wheels. He became quite passionate about this cause when he witnessed a fellow littermate get her leg caught in the wire and it was snapped in two.
Che's slogan is "Pistols and cheese are the only tools necessary for revolution." [Get the t-shirt here]

It's easy to see why we can't reveal Zaphod's true identity, isn't it? Considering he has one of the finest firearms R&D facilities around, I'm betting Che's little arms has itsy-bitsy battle rifles in no time.

A New Twist on "Man Bites Dog"

Oh, the humanity!

This from the BBC:
Lion Mutilates 42 Midgets in Cambodian Ring-Fight

Spectators cheered as entire Cambodian Midget Fighting League squared off against African Lion.
The fight was called in only 12 minutes, after which 28 fighters were declared dead, while the other 14 suffered severe injuries including broken bones and lost limbs, rendering them unable to fight back.
The lion was summarily offered a contract with Disney, while the 13 remaining Little People were sold in bulk to the producers of DEADWOOD for use in upcoming episodes involving Mr. Wu's pigs. Newsweek is reporting that copies of the Cambodian Midget Fighting League manifesto, which is considered holy at World Wrestling headquarters in Stamford, CT, was flushed down the lion's gullet by rapacious American soldiers who lost money betting on the midgets.

Yeah, the story's probably fake, but don't you wish it was true? Maybe replace the midgets with reporters from the newsweeklies...

Sunday, May 15, 2005

And Speaking of Tactical...

"Pactical" and "tactical" are two of the most nonsensical words out there, for a pretty simple reason...it's a moving target, not an absolute. Tell the Marine in Iraq using a competition-derived Aimpoint red-dot sight that red-dot optics are not "tactical." Oh, tell one of the top counterterrorist guys in the world, who uses a tiny "competition" red-dot sight on his working Glock, that it's not "practical."

While you're at it, you might want to tell some of the team guys Over There that the modular-framed, high-capacity "raceguns" they're carrying (in a weird 9 X 23 caliber, no less) are neither "tactical" or "practical" — I mean, why would you want to carry a light, 100% reliable, 20-round mag handgun in a caliber that will blow right through your average desert terrorist's improvised armor when you could be carrying a "practical and tactical" issue Beretta in an inadequate caliber with magazines that occasionally seize when they're sandy???

here's a flash — "practical" and "tactical" in the Real World are WHATEVER WORKS. And WHATEVER WORKS BETTER TODAY is going to replace whatever worked yesterday. Yes, the Marines have gone back to 1911 .45s, but it's not because the old warhorse is "tactical" or "practical." It's because the damn things work!

Practical Shooting Back on Track

Other than the fact my ears are still bleeding from the audio pounding of USPSA major-caliber .38 Super loads, things are back on track, filming-wise. We had an excellent time at the USPSA Area 6 regional championships in Georgia...a tip of the ole gat to Match Director Cindy Noyes and Area 6 Director Charles Bond! We'd elected to go to Georgia because the Area 6s grew out of my old match, the Florida Championships, back in the mid-1980s. We actually shot our matches with flintlocks...joke JOKE!

USPSA can be an exercise in frustration. It is flatly the most visually appealing of the shooting sports, and I'll go out on a limb and say that it produces the finest overall shooters in the world. Contrary to the drivel you usually read in the gun mags, USPSA has divisions that accompdate pretty much any type for handgun you'd want to shoot, Opne Divison is flat-out NASCAR, the province of optically sighted, compensated "raceguns" in exotic calbers derived from the .38 Super; Limited is "raceguns-lite," no optics, no comps, but anything else goes. There's a Production Division, which allows virtually no changes to the gun and practical holsters; a Revolver Division where you have to face the dread Jerry Miculek and a few newer divisions, Limited-10 (which has a 10-round capacity cap in deference to the states who are still actively infringing on shooters' rights) and a new 1911 single stack division, which — since the 1911 is unconditionally the best-selling handgun in America — is already generating huge interest.

On the negative side, the folks who run the organization are generally lost in space...although not quite as lost in space as their "tactical" brethern. Perhaps the Powers-That-Be should look to the South and Area 6 to see how well things can work!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Meanwhile, Back in Georgia...

Here's a way to really light up the board at the old airport — have your laptop give an explosives "hit" on the sniffer! Yes indeedy, you get to talk to the "authorities." As it happens, the facts that I work for The Outdoor Channel and routinely handle cartridges, fired guns and pyrotechnics got me on the plane.

That was fun!

I'm here at the USPSA Area 6 Championships in Georgia. The Area 6s are my old match...they grew out of the old Florida Championships, which I match-directed in it's last year, 1986. We did a really cool match poster, featuring a bikini, a sand dollar and a pink-and-turquoise 1911, a la MIAMI VICE. I wish I still had a bunch of them left over!

This filming shoudl go smoother than the Blowout In Boise...I hope!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What Were They THINKING???????

So the crew and I get to Boise last night (actually, early this AM) for the Cowboy Fast Draw Championships. The event is in its second year, was heavily promoted and presented to us as a mature event, beautiful location, best of the best yada yada.

We show up at 8:30 AM this morning to start filming, and instead of the promised venue, we see...what appears to be a small minimum security facility for cowboys. I am not joking. I wish I was. Everything but concertina and guard dogs.

It's in a huge Giganto Big Box Store parking lot, a space on the side of a Sportsmans Warehouse, like where they store the carts at night, maybe 12 X 30 and surrounded by an 8-foot chain link fence. The targets are up against the side of the Warehouse, where you'd stand the unfortunates for a firing squad. The shooting bays are separated by raw particleboard partitions, and chunks of particleboard protect the one scraggly tree in a planter on the side of the Warehouse. The detention facility is bordered by a highway and...a highway, and the endless procession of trucks is already a steady roar. Of course, it's hard to hear the trucks because of the giant generator powering the targets, which sounds like a cross betwen a crashing airplane and a train wreck. With the three-story concrete wall of the Warehouse to reflect the sound. About a dozen cowboys are milling around, no doubt looking for their parole officers...they tell me the governor is coming...I hope he pardons them all!

So chalk this one up to experience...a very expensive experience!

While I'm scraping the egg off my face, I'd like to make a couple of points:
• Do not misrepresent your event to me or my crew on the theory that we will say, what the hell, we're already here, we might as well film! My team has two very successful shows in production, and we WILL NOT compromise the content of those shows for love nor money.
• If you want your event to be a successful televised event, step back from it and try to see it as the viewers will, as opposed to your brother-in-law, your mom or your labrador retriever. There is a reason that athletic events are, as a rule, not filmed in giant parking lots. Think about it. There a reason stadiums and NASCAR tracks are decorated. Televised sports are a leisure time experience, in competition with a lot of other leisure time experiences.
• As much as we might wish it otherwise, most personal sports — including our sports — are not sufficiently riveting to carry a program on the sport alone. Heck, even the NLF has scantily clad women jumping around. Sports are only interesting insofar as the athletes are interesting, and part of making the athletes interesting is presenting them in the best possible light. This is why you often see Tiger Woods interviewed at a beautiful golf facility as opposed to standing in the middle of the beautiful golf facility's gigantic parking lot.
• Yes, as a matter of fact, if we spend the bucks — and more importantly TIME — on your event and we are not able to get a show, we will not feel warm and fuzzy about anything else you might suggest. You will be officially relegated to the Black Helicopter/Dancing Yeti File


President Condi Rice...

Yes, she says she won't run. I hope she reconsiders, 'cause she would make one hell of a President. I received this link from Oxrant on SoS Rice's interview with Larry King in a comment yesterday, and I think it's worth posting here:
SECRETARY RICE: Well, Larry, I come out of a -- my own personal experiences in which in Birmingham, Alabama, my father and his friends defended our community in 1962 and 1963 against white nightriders by going to the head of the community, the head of the cul-de-sac, and sitting there armed. And so I'm very concerned about any abridgement of the Second Amendment. I'll tell you that I know that if Bull Connor had had lists of registered weapons, I don't think my father and his friends would have been sitting at the head of the community defending the community.

MR. KING: So you would not change the Second Amendment? You would not --

SECRETARY RICE: I also don't think we get to pick and choose in the Constitution. The Second Amendment is as important as the First Amendment of the --

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Implications of Thinking Under Stress, "Blink" and the Utility of Speed in Self-Defense Situations

YES, there will be a test on the title alone!

Actually, the Time article referenced in an earlier post got me thinking about a whole slew of self-defense implications. I used the Canary Island plane crash info in TRAIL SAFE, because I think it points to what I termed the Index Card Theory of Life, in short, when the proverbial feces hit the proverbial fan, it's helpful if your brain can flip through the ole index card file and find an appropriate response.

Ah ha, you say! If I model all the potential things that can happen to me self-defensewise, I'll have just the right index card when the balloon goes up. Well, yes, except that life is pretty much a chaos system, that is, small non-recurring events effect the overall system in unanticipated ways...butterfly wings, hurricanes, Ashton Kutcher bopping Demi Moore, all that stuff. The net result is that we are faced with an infinite number of singularities, which would require an infinite number of index cards with all the appropriate responses spelled out for the Index Card Theory of Life to work. Flash to a crappy dojo, where they teach "if/then" martial arts — if he throws a right cross, you respond with a spinning back kick blah blah. Don't work...good way to get your chimes rung.

Instead, you end up with Saint Bruce the Divine's concepts of internalizing a large number of basic moves, then let your mind's rapid response system pick the appropriate response at warp-plus speed. The rapid response system is amazingly well defined in Malcom Gladwell's book, Blink. If you haven't read this, you're behind the curve, dude!

The key to making this system work, however, is a strange one...you have to believe it works. Not think it works. Not hope it works. But absolutely believe it works. You have to trust the portion of your brain that you can't directly access. I used to teach mnenomic tricks to learn how to do this, but I got tired of being called nuts (or worse, New Agey). Suffice to say, it's a learnable skill.

The necessity of speed is built into the process. Both processing speed and reaction speed. One of my absolute laws is, "When in doubt, go faster." Got me a lot of speeding tickets in high school, too! But if I am in motion, I have options. Things can be assembled on the fly. I might be able to get my ass out of this, whatever this is. Over the last decade, I've come to believe that speed is the primary determining factor of whether you succeed or fail.

Of course, I've been wrong a lot before!

Finally, the plane! It's on to Boise, Garden Spot of the Sorta North West!


I got a really amazing email today from someone whose life was turned around by my book, OVER THE EDGE. Here's a little piece of it:
Since I first read it OTE about 6 years ago I've started my own "Lists". On a bit of a personal note, when I read it the first time I was near housebound with agoraphobia (severe panic attacks) so my Lists were vastly different than most. They encompassed things like, "drive to the store" and "walk across a bridge". Since then I've overcome virtually all my fears and have turned my life around. I went from living alone in a abasement apartment housebound by fear to a relative success in my industry for my age, started dating again, got married, and recently had a daughter. I just started publishing some online articles about health and fitness, primarily motivational type stuff. I owe all of this, at least in part, to you and your book...
There is something profoundly humbling about thinking you might have had a positive effect on someone's life. OTE, which I wrote almost 10 years ago now, was a book I had to write...I'm a writer, after all, and when I work things out in my life it's natural that I see it in print.

The Cliff Notes version is that I was a drastically overweight couch potato, more or less adrift, when I went windsurfing on a big day. In the insuing and inevitable beer-and-pizza debrief with my buddies, someone came up with the bright idea to make a list of "shit that can kill you," athletic endeavors that could, if you screwed up, wipe you out. Somewhere after last call, when the taxis came for us all, we'd written 13 items on a beer-soaked cocktail napkin. A friend asked me what i was going to do with The List...oh hell, I said, I think I'll do them all and write a book about it.

So I did. It took 7 years, all the money I had in the world (and then some) and the destruction of one 20-year relationship to finish The List. In the end, I was a different person, but not in the way I imagined I'd be. Read the book. Buy it here. Strange, but sometimes I still have nightmares about Mt. McKinley; I'm always grabbing for an ice ax that isn't there. My lungs are partly trashed, and my orthopedist asked me what I expected to happen. What the hell, I wouldn't trade a minute of it, even for a working knee. No martial arts book I ever read said the Way would be easy, logical or without consequences.

The book was a spectacular critical success and an equally spectacular financial failure. I loved it more than anything else I've written before or since, but I put it behind me. But since its release, OTE has gone on with a life of its own. Last month it was a mid-20s woman from New Zealand, an elite athlete severely injured in a car wreck, who had used OTE to learn to walk again. Before that it was a middle school teacher who used OTE to inspire a girl's soccer team. A Scandinavian Olympic coach had his ski team read OTE multiple times, and each time, he says, they found new lessons. He dedicated his team's gold medals to me. I got a postcard from the North Pole from a guy who hiked there after reading the book. A successful MD with a chain of clinics credited OTE with allowing him to find the strength to sell the clinics and pursue his love of sailing. A woman stopped me on the street in Boulder to tell me how OTE inspired her to turn her life around, to walk away from the drugs and be something.

At first, I didn't know quite what to make of this. Part of me was hugely flattered, of course. Another part of me wanted to warn these people not to put their faith in such a flawed vessel. Then I started thinging about what I'd actually done. Weirdly enough, in order to survive OTE, I developed a process for doing really scary, really hard stuff. I tried for a while to teach the process, but it was wildly counterintuitive and ran directly counter to "common sense." In a world of "thin thighs in 30 days" motivational speakers, I was a bit out of place. Even weirdlier — if there is such a word — I used the same process to develop the wildly successful Media Education Program for NSSF and my television shows, starting with SHOOTING GALLERY.

I once spent a birthday with Willie Nelson at his ranch in Texas. In the course of beer, guitar picking and other optional pursuits, Willie told me about his "process" for writing songs. "Michael," Brother Willie said, "I don't write songs. Never. There are all these songs flying around in the ether, and every so often my radio tunes in on 'em, and if I'm fast, I can capture one." I realized that I was lucky enough to have my radio tune in, and I captured a little bit of the stuff in the ether. You can't get any luckier than that!

Fascinating Material on Thinking Under Stress!

This is from Time Magazine:
In a crisis, our instincts can be our undoing. William Morgan, who directs the exercise-psychology lab at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has studied mysterious scuba accidents in which divers drowned with plenty of air in their tanks. It turns out that certain people experience an intense feeling of suffocation when their mouths are covered. They respond to that overwhelming sensation by relying on their instinct, which is to rip out whatever is in their mouths. For scuba divers, unfortunately, it is their oxygen source. On land, that would be a perfect solution.

Why do our instincts sometimes backfire so dramatically? Research on how the mind processes information suggests that part of the problem is a lack of data. Even when we're calm, our brains require 8 to 10 sec. to handle each novel piece of complex information. The more stress, the slower the process. Bombarded with new information, our brains shift into low gear just when we need to move fast. We diligently hunt for a shortcut to solve the problem more quickly. If there aren't any familiar behaviors available for the given situation, the mind seizes upon the first fix in its library of habits--if you can't breathe, remove the object in your mouth.
This is really neat stuff. I got the link off thehighroad.org, a really good and thoughtful list. The moderator list this quote from the sainted Robert Heinlein:
"At least once every human being should have to run for his life, to teach him that milk does not come from the supermarket, that safety does not come from policemen, and that news is not something that happens to other people."

Number of the Beast
Robert A. Heinlen

Stuff to Think About...

...from our pal John Farnam at Defense Tactics:
In personally threatening circumstances, we thus must learn to interrupt what we are otherwise doing and devote our complete attention to the dangers at hand. Sounds logical and easy, but, in training, we see students stumble over this particular speed bump all the time.

Once a repertoire is started, we tend to recite the entire thing, rather than stop mid-sentence and confront a developing menace. Once we start mov ing in a particular direction or doing something with our hands, we desperately want to complete the task before altering our focus, even when a lethal thr eat suddenly appears. It is a natural tenancy, but, in a emergency, it must be manually overridden.
This is a tough point and one we all need to internalize. I've talked about "task-loading," the unfortunate tendency to add small tasks until we're incapable of performing any task. This is an obvious adjunct.

Satan Not Hungry!

This from Best of the Web from OpinionJournal.com:
Good news on severed goat heads: Satan not involved

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A lazy worker, not a satanic cult, was responsible for severed goat heads that caused a scare at a Vancouver-area school, Canadian police said on Monday.
Of course, not really a great deal for the goats!

United Pension Mess

Oh great, United is looking at lots of "mini-strikes" and work stopages because their pension plans got whacked. I'm flying United all over the United States for the next seven days. Boy, am I excited! I wonder where I'll end up?

Seriously, I feel for anyone who has worked 30 years and thought they had a great retirement coming. HOWEVER — as those of us flying out of Denver who are held hostage to United have painfully learned — United's theme song for years has been, "We hate you; you hate us." United has driven as many low-cost carriers out of business as possible; their employees are only slightly nicer than your average Al-Quaeda terrorist; their planes are approaching Third World maintenance standards; their policies (at least in Denver) border on moronic and it seems like every step they have taken is designed to inconvenience, irritate or outright rob the business traveler...the people who pay the freight.

Want to use United frequent flier miles? It's just like a Capitol One commercial...no no NO NO NO NO! Unless, of course, you'd like to visit South Dakota in the dead of winter. I once tried to use some of my billions of miles to surprise my Sweetie with a trip to Hawaii. The ticket agent actually broke out laughing.

There are United employees who have been so revolting, hostile, obnoxious and downright rude in their dealings with me that I not only harbor the secret hope that they lose their pensions, but that they are turned out onto the street to live in a cardboard box, are kidnapped by aliens and spend the rest of their lives sampling anal probes.

United has for years had a policy of screwing customers. Welcome to Economics 101.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Sgt. Preston Rolls Over in his Grave...

The link's from Alphecca, but here's a neat story on the Canadian Gun Registry from the National Post...just what our friends the Democrats would like to shove down our throat if they ever get another chance:
It's not just the waste, although that's atrocious -- nearly $2-billion for a dysfunctional pile of uselessness.

And it's not just the uselessness. The registry is also one of those truisms for liberals, one of their articles of blind faith. To a liberal, universal registration of guns is something all intelligent people must support or, well, they're not intelligent. They use gun control as a litmus test for who is and isn't sophisticated and subtle of mind. So that even if you can prove the registry will have no practical effect -- it won't prevent armed robberies or murders, or keep enraged spouses from killing one another -- a liberal still has to cling to it for fear of being seen as NOKD (not our kind, dear).

But what troubles me most is what it says about its supporters' attitude toward the people and government. Backing most gun laws amounts to proclaiming trust in government over trust in one's fellow citizens.
Despite having nearly twice as many households with guns as their Canadian counterparts -- and similar economic, cultural and social demographics -- Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Idaho have lower crime rates than Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Researchers determined "both violent and property crime rates were two-thirds higher in the Canadian Prairie provinces than in the four border states."
There's a surprise for you:

More guns = Less crime

Gosh, that might make a good title for a John Lott book...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Winchester X2 Shotgun Rave

Just a short rave before I collapse in a heap at the St. Louis airport hotel...The Winchester X2 Signature is a stone cold workhorse! We pounded the living heck out of two of them today, and the never missed a lick. Patrick Falnigan's main X2 ran 1000 rounds of 12 gauge without a blip...although we had to keep cooling the barrel with wet rags so Patrick could keep pounding rounds through it and still hang on. Key thing is the gun is fast, maybe the fastest-cycling shotgun I've ever worked with (including the sainted Benelli).

Damn nice gun!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Clay Slay!

I'm in Alton, IL, outside of St, Louis, to film exhibition shooter Patrick Flanagan's quest for the hand-thrown clays world record tomorrow for SHOOTING GALLERY. It ought to be fun...Patrick's a cool guy, Winchester's first exhibition shooter in years. Hopefully, I'll get to blast some cabbages after Patrick gets through wowwing everybody. I've worked with Winchester for years, and you can't find a more thoughtful, more progressive company. Winchester was the only firearms company to request high-end media training and spend the money to run their own event. I think backing an exhibition shooter — especially a young exhibition shooter — is an excellent idea. In the interest of full disclosure, yes, Winchester supplies the ammo for SG & COWBOYS, Tequila and I, but they are rock solid guys and I'm honored to be associated with them.

We've got a hellish week and a half ahead of us...after Patrick, it's off to Boise for the Cowboy Fast Draw Championships; then to Atlanta for the USPSA Area 6 Championships (my old match, which is why we're going...paging Thomas Wolfe!); then on to D.C. for the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation Shootout.

I'm planning on shooting a Kimber Olympic Team Match II .45 (the one that I had design input on) at the Area 6s, out of my clear plastic Cen-Dex holster. I was gonna shoot the STI Trojan in .40, which feels a little faster to me and has mucho less recoil in a major load, but when I took it out a couple of days ago the Tripp Cobra magazines, which had been dead-on reliable, went south on me. Badly. During every speed reload, rounds popped out of the magazine when I slammed it home, jamming the Trojan up big time. Since I don't have a SIG GSR, and I don't like risking my probably irreplaceable Dick Heinie gun on the road, the Kimber's number came up.

I know the Kimber's a 100% gun with Wilson mags, and I HATE surprises. I was hoping to have the Taurus .45 Colt single action revolver to shoot up in Idaho, but it hasn't trickled in yet. At the Congressional clay shoot, god help me but I'll probably end up shooting whatever shotgun falls into my hands...and I'll bet it's not a Perazzi! If it's like the Baby Grand in Florida, it'll be somebody's ancient, marginally functioning Remington 1100 with a termite-eaten stock — which is probably what I deserve, given that I am not Mr. Shotgun. I've got a Winchester X2 clays gun on order for an episode with Gil and Vicki Ash at their OSP shotgunning school, but that's still a month out.

And, yes, I am going to push my agenda...for what that's worth!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Love & Bullets — A Libertarian Agenda

SOOOOOOOO...I hesitate to use the word demand, because we've used it so often in the past and it was mostly just smoke.

However, FWIW, here's what I think we have every right to expect from our political leaders (and I use that word advisedly), from our industry and oour organizations and, most importantly, from ourselves.

From Our Political Leaders

Here's a flash — we elected you! Talk all you want about the religious right, gay marriage, blah blah. In the end, it's the middle-of-the-road Republicans, especially the often-ignored libertarian wing of the party, that put your butts in those plush seats in the statehouses and in Washington. We came out and voted for you because we expect you to do certain things for us, in between your endless dabbling in the various culture wars. Here's a short, reasonable list of what you should consider as payback:

Lawsuit Preemption: I know we're all tired of hearing about this, but the firearms industry can not take another $40 million round of bullshit lawsuits. Pass the damn bill! Without a bunch of California Democrat amendments!

Reciprocity for CCW Holders: Hey, it works for the other state-issued nationally recognized plastic card — the drivers license. It needs to work for concealed carry permits as well. Yes, the Schumer and Pelosi axis will scream bloody murder, but remember, we elected you!

And End to "Gun-Free" Cities: Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. are — more or less — part of the United States; why not make Consitutional guarantees apply to those cities?

No More "Free Rides" For B-S Antigun Politicans: So some brain-dead state attorney in NY decides that federal safe transit laws don't apply at New York airports? Federal laws don't apply on federal property? Haul his sorry ass before Congress and make his answer for his political manipulations. Make him sweat.

From Our Industry:

Wake Up! This election wasn't the end of the battle. How about let's consoilidate some of our gains, so we don't have to fight the same battles all over again in 4, 8 or 12 years?

Recognize Sport Shooters for the Power We Are: Hunting is a good thing, but it is not everything. We are the majority, we are growing, and right now we're still letting you guys set the agenda. That will not always be true, so step up. Today!

Absolutely Accept/Internalize/Believe That an Attack on One is an Attack on All: It doesn't matter whether it's .50 caliber rifles or sporting clays shotguns. An antigun attack on a specific fireaqrm or caliber is an attack on everyone and deserves the appropriate response industrywide. We know that; why don't you?

Embrace Concealed Carry/Self-Defense: That is the primary driver for firearms sales in the United States — remember, I'm privvy to your own numbers! Even if you make sandbags for benchrest shooters, speak out in favor of CCW and self-defense!

For God's Sake Deal With the Media! You know how; we've taught you how! But you still act like it's 1962 and you're hiding from Walter Conkrite. We need a newsroom for shooting sport releases; we need an organized response to antigun attacks; we need training for organizations, companies and clubs; we need industry participation with film and television producers. Yes, it's expensive, but you have the money! We gave it to you.

From Our Organizations

Quit Squabbling Right Now! There is no difference between USPSA, IDPA, cowboy, sporting clays, .50 caliber precision shooting — we all have the same recruitment and retention needs, the same political agenda and the same screaming need to grow, grow, grow. This isn't about redistributing market share anymore.

Organize! Let's take a page out of the Left's playbook — if the people lead, the leaders will follow! If two or more organization heads called a meeting of the leaders of the shooting sports to discuss an umbrella organization with a shooting sports-specific agenda, I'll bet the progressive leaders of this industry will be on board pronto!

Recognize! Increase participation for other shooting sports in your shooting sports. Embrace the other shooting sports; invite them to partner with you. That is how we will get stronger.

Eschew Elitism: I live in a state filled with private membership shooting organizations...we can, but you can't. Who thinks elitism is a good idea??? The more "elite" you are, the more you serve the interests of Sarah Brady and her ilk!

From Ourselves

This is the hardest part, isn't it?

Be "out!" Be visible as a gunowner, as a sport shooter, as a hunter. Be a role model. The public at large and the media (and Hollywood, etc.) don't realize how large a group we actually are. It's time to be out of the gun closet!

Refuse to Tolerate People Who Break the Law: Period. Exclamation point! Almost a decade ago in HANDGUNS Magazine I wrote that I would not tolerate lawbreakers under any conditions. If you do straw purchases, build Class III stuff with the appropriate licenses, deal in black market hardware...I will turn your butt in to my friends at the ATF, because you are my enemy!

Set an Example: I secure my guns. I don't even have children , nor are there children who ever visit, but my guns are secured in their safes — with the exception of my carry gun, which is secured on my person. I insist on the highest level of safety. I practice regularly, take training classes and I compete, because shooting well is a perishable skill.

Embrace Our Friends! If you carry a gun, keep a gun for protection, compete with a gun, hunt, defend the Second Amendment, I'm on your side, regardless of race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation or national origin. This is an absolute with me, and it should be with you, too.

Okay, there's an outline for what needs to happen, at least from my point of view...


Friday, May 06, 2005

Every Gun Owner Should Read This!!!!

From Reason Online, and intelligent, thoughtful, grown up look at where we as gun owners are today and what we need to do, coutesy of Abigal Kohn, author of SHOOTERS: MYTHS AND REALITIES OF AMERICA'S GUN CULTURES. I've spoken very highly of Ms. Kohn's book in the past, and these essays certainly establish her position as an important voice in the national debate — which we have pretty much won:
When the Department of Justice issues a public statement that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own a gun, when 35 states pass nondiscretionary carry permit laws, when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof declares that “gun control is dead,” you know the gun debate is over.

But somebody forgot to tell the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Pizza Hut. Fresh from championing the rights of gays and lesbians to get married, San Francisco’s supervisors are trying to curb the rights of all city residents to keep handguns in their homes. Meanwhile, major American corporations such as Pizza Hut and AOL forbid employees to bring even legally owned and transported guns onto company property or to carry them on the job. Pizza Hut recently fired an employee for carrying a gun while delivering pizzas; the company learned of the violation when the employee used the gun on the job to defend himself during a robbery attempt.
The thrust of this essay and their point/counterpoint reply essays are that both sides of the debate need to talk to each other with an eye toward promoting actual violence-reducing strategies.

I admit I've been pretty much of a hard-liner on these points. I do not do "debates" with antigunners for the same reason I do not debate black helicopter whackos who want to tell me about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion — both groups are promulgating a series of poisonous lies as the basis (and root) of their arguments. One of the most important waypoints in my own development as a progun spokesperson was my Sweetie's simple question of a decade ago: "If gun control demonstrably doesn't work, and given the people who promote gun control are not idiots, what do they want?" Her question caused me to begin a wholesale reexamination of my own thinking about the people who promote gun control and what, indeed, they want.

I came to the same conclusion as the one outliined by criminologist Don B. Kates in his response essay — especially in light of the English experiece with "gun control:"
Sensible though Kohn’s suggestions for compromise are, they miss the point that the anti-gun movement’s concern is only ostensibly with crime. Its actual purpose has been declared over and over again. According to the Brady Campaign’s Sarah Brady, “The only reason for guns in civilian hands is for sporting purposes.” The Washington Post editorializes that “the need that some homeowners and shopkeepers believe they have for weapons to defend themselves [represents] the worst instincts in the human character.” Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark declares that gun ownership for personal self-defense is “anarchy, not order under law—a jungle where each relies on himself for survival.” A New Republic editorial asserts that the desire to possess arms for family defense “proceeds from premises that are profoundly wrong. In a civilized society, physical security is a collective responsibility, not an individual one.” Historian Garry Wills insists that “every civilized society must disarm its citizens against each other. Those who do not trust their own people become predators upon their own people.”

In other words, the aim is to produce a citizenry deprived of all means of self-defense so as to be abjectly dependent on a supposedly all-wise, and certainly ever more powerful, government for its security. What compromise with this can there be for people who believe in a strong and independent citizenry, as gun owners do?
Anyhow, before we get too long here, read the Reason essays. Later today I'm going answer I question I got by phone — "You're good at analyzing the problems," a friend of mine said a couple of days ago. "But what I don't see are solutions. What do we need tol be doing as gun owners and as sport shooters?"

Okay...I'll give that a shot.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

"My Penis Is Studious"

Yet another reason to worry about The Fate of All Mankind, from NRO:
College administrators have been enthusiastic supporters Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues and schools across the nation celebrate “V-Day” (short for Vagina Day) every year. But when the College Republicans at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island rained on the celebrations of V-Day by inaugurating Penis Day and staging a satire called The Penis Monologues, the official reaction was horror. Two participating students, Monique Stuart and Andy Mainiero, have just received sharp letters of reprimand and have been placed on probation by the Office of Judicial Affairs. The costume of the P-Day “mascot” — a friendly looking “penis” named Testaclese, has been confiscated and is under lock and key in the office of the assistant dean of student affairs, John King.
The week before V-Day, the Roger Williams campus was plastered with flyers emblazoned with slogans such as “My Vagina is Flirty” and “My Vagina is Huggable.” There was a widely publicized “orgasm workshop.” On the day of the play, the V-warriors sold lollipops in the in the shape of–-guess what? Last year, the student union was flooded with questionnaires asking unsuspecting students questions like “What does your Vagina smell like?” None of this offended the administration or elicited any reprimands, probations, or confiscations.

The campus conservatives artfully (in the college sense of "artful") mimicked the V-Day campaign. They papered the school with flyers that said, “My penis is majestic” and “My penis is hilarious.” The caption on one handout read, “My Penis is studious.” It showed Testaclese reclining on a couch reading Michael Barone’s Hard America, Soft America.
Kind of makes one grateful that at the local universities, the students just focus on drinking and throwing up!

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
Bad luck and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion
Cain't no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

Merle Travis
"16 Tons"

It has always cracked me up that Merle Travis wrote "16 Tons" and "Dark as a Dungeon," two of the greatest American folk songs, on deadline, getting ready for a recording session the next day. I bring it up here because today is my birthday! That's right, I'm 28 years young! And if you believe that, you'll also believe that I wrote "16 Tons!" Actually, I'm 55 and do, indeed, owe my soul to the company store.

My Sweetie gave me a really cool "Day of the Dead" mask from Mexico and a pair of world-class motorcycle boots from Caboots.com. Tonight we're going to eat sushi. I feel obligated to buy myself a gun, since I always buy myself a gun on my birthday. I'm still stuck in a single action mode, so I'm thinking either the Ruger Blackhawk 50th Anniversary special edition Flattop .357 or one of the Ruger short-barreled birdshead .45 Colts (and have Competitive Edge Gunworks fit it with a 5-shot cylinder so I can shoot Big Boomers in it).

It's even sunny, and the damn snow is melting!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Women & the Shooting Sports

Here are some more interesting statistics on women and sport shooting, courtesy of NSSF's THE RANGE REPORT magazine for shooting range owners. This quarter's issue has an excellent article about women and guns (you can get a PDF of it here):
• According to a 2001 Roper-Starch public opinion survey, 24% of women would accept an invitation to try the target sports.
That translates into a potential market of 24 million women over the age of 16.
• A Gallup Poll released in early January rvealed that one out of every three women say they own a gun. That's barely under the overall mark of 40% for all American adults.

• The 2003 National Sporting Goods Association's annual Sports Participation Survey showed that 4.9 million women participated in target shooting more than once that year. That's just below the 4.4 million women who participated in tennis that same year. And it is more than the number of women who participated in skiing, sailing, figure skating or mountain biking the same year.

• Participation by women in target shooting increased by 1.3% between 1998 and 2003, while other sports like bicycle riding, boating, fishing and swimming suffered losses in female participation during the same period.
I wonder what we as an industry could do if we made a serious, well-funded effort to get even more women in the shooting sports? The NRA programs and the NSSF Step Outside program are good starts, but their hunting focus tends to, IMO, blunt their effectiveness overall.

Paperclips in Wall Sockets

Once, when I was a kid enamored with electronics, I incorrectly wired a high-voltage power supply. The net result of my soldering iron faux pas was that when I flipped a switch, I got to fly across the room. When I picked myself up, all my hair was standing on end and I stank of ozone. This particularly tingling memory bubbled up after reading this story on MSNBC:
Earlier this month, the International Association of Chiefs of Police urged caution and offered guidelines for using stun guns, including training programs for police.

It's against this backdrop, and the fact that its stock price fell by two thirds after a record high last year, that Taser International has launched a campaign to sell Tasers to civilians. It has come out with a much smaller yet more powerful civilian stun gun and is building a national dealer network, starting with Davidson's Inc., a major gun distributor that's the first to carry Taser's civilian model.
While I'm as much in favor of non-lethal self-defense options as the next guy, I'm going to have to give Tasers a bit more thought. Here's the rationale for my reservations...the laws regarding self-defense haven't exactly kept up with technology.

Without going into details [and this is NOT legal advice!!!] self-defense law is based on the "gravest extreme," that is, you have to believe that your life, or the lives of others, is threatened before you can use potentially lethal force to protect yourself (or others). That determination of whether your life is at risk is probably one of the hardest decisions a person will ever have to make, and it has to be made under the worst possible conditions.

Let's table that for a minute and look at what comprises "lethal force." There are the obvious ones — gun, knife, bludgeon. We know if we employ a gun or a knife or a baseball bat to defend ourselves, we're using potentially lethal force in our behalf. But Tasers, billed as "less lethal" alternatives (or "non-lethal" alternatives by the uninformed...sadly including some police administrators), seem to me to be in a legal gray area for civilians.

People do die from jolts of electricity across their hearts from alternative weapons — more than 100 this year from these "less-lethal" hits. That's why, at a recent trade show, I passed on the "opportunity" to get a free Taser hit...wouldn't that look great on my tombstone: "He wanted to kinow what it felt like..."

To me [and, again, I am NOT a self-defense lawyer!!!] this makes the Taser the equivalent of my 1911 .45 — a weapon that may only be used when I am in fear for my life. I totally understand that when I hold that big chunk of .45 in my hand that if I pull the trigger, the results will be cataclysmic — at least for the person in front of the muzzle — and the legal consequences dire for me.

But what happens if the person is holding a "less-lethal" weapon? Does that mean there is a less-demanding decision-making process before pulling the trigger...after all, it's not like shooting or stabbing a person, is it? Might a person be more inclined to fire a "less" or "non" lethal weapon that a demonstrably lethal weapon like a gun?

And if the person popped by a Taser dies, and the shooter had not yet met the preconditions for using lethal force, has the shooter commited manslaughter or some flavor of homicide? What are the legal ramifications of civilian use of less/non lethal weapons?

i would prefer not to be the crash-test dummy for that day in court!

I understand the implusle not to do permanent harm or kill another human being. However, if I am forced into a "gravest extreme" situation, the on-going health of my attacker is the least of my concerns. My goal is ALWAYS to make the attack stop; to get myself out of that gravest extreme situation as quickly as possible. To accomplish that, I want a tool with a proven record of doing exactly that. I'm going to wait awhile before switching over to phasers!