Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The times, they are a-changin'

I'm used to seeing articles with titles like "Why 33 Rounds makes Sense in a Defensive Weapon".

I'm not used to seeing them at the Washington post.

The article is shockingly fair and realistic: can still see the point: There's nothing really new when it comes to guns...
Guns were the software of the 19th century; the most dynamic age of development was roughly 1870 to 1900, when the modern forms were perfected...Since then, design and engineering improvements have been not to lethality but to ease of maintenance and manufacture, or weight reduction. A Glock is "better" than a Luger because you don't need a PhD to take it apart, nor a fleet of machinists to produce the myriad pins, levers, springs and chunks of steel that make it go bang. Moreover, you can lose a Glock in a flood and find it six months later in the mud, and it still will shoot perfectly, while the Luger would have become a nice paperweight.

People who totally don't want to ban guns (but would like to push us into Great Britain's model of gun ownership) like to trade on the perception that while grampa's guns are fine, guns today are so super deadly that obviously we need to ban the new ultra-assault megaguns. It's extremely rare to see a mainstream newspaper from the District of Columbia acknowledge that there really hasn't been a material increase in firearms' lethality in nearly a century.

The article isn't perfect. The writer makes some minor factual errors*, and seems to be a bit confused about the difference between the standard-capacity magazines that ship with Glocks (which almost all carry between 10 and 17 rounds, and are excellent for self defense) and aftermarket extended magazines (which can carry over 30, and are often less ideal due to decreased reliability). But the point is largely the same, and I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. This is a well researched, accurate, unhysterical discussion of a topic gun control advocates are trying to spin into more restrictions on our Constitutional rights, and it comes from a mainstream DC paper.

If you'd have told me the election of a liberal caricature from Chicago would lead to this, I'd have thought you were nuts.

[* - "What nobody has been able to improve on since the 1870s is the cartridge", in particular. In fact, I'd say the cartridge is the only thing that has been fundamentally improved in over half a century. Modern defensive hollowpoint ammo allows people to use smaller caliber cartridges without the danger of overpenetrating rounds injuring a bystander. Their effectiveness and safety have made them the standard for self defense and police use. Oh, and naturally they're restricted in New Jersey.
Also, "Yes, they can use semiautomatic rifles and shotguns [which are] unlikely to be banned by local law, but women generally don't care to put in the training needed to master them..." which, sex assumptions aside, is simply inaccurate. Rifles are far easier to use than handguns.]


  1. I came away with the impression he was distinguishing between aftermarket extended mags and the standard-sized factory mags. One of the shooters used a handgun with a 30-round magazine and the author pointed out that particular shooter had no extended magazines. I think the author was being too subtle, myself...

  2. Yeah, it's a bit ambiguous (though compared to the usual gun reporting, it's a freakin' design textbook). What made me wonder is this:

    In fact, the extended magazine...destroys the pistol's essence; it is no longer concealable.
    ...that awkwardness spells out the magazine's primary legitimate's an ideal solution for home defense, which is probably why hundreds of thousands of Glocks have been sold in this country.

    It's an interpretation on my part, but connecting extended magazines that "destroy concealability" to home defense, then connecting said utility for home defense to the popularity of Glocks makes me think the author believes Glocks ship with extended magazines. When the rhetoric of gun control is trying to conflate "high capacity", extended mags, and mags with a >10 capacity in the popular discourse, it seems like an easy mistake to make if you aren't really into guns.

    The only other explanation I can come up with off the top of my head is that he may think Glocks are unique (or at least uncommon) in accepting extended magazines, a misconception that quite a few news outlets seem to present, deliberately or not.

    Again, nitpicky complaint. The article is excellent, and shows much more research and understanding of the subject than you can typically expect from a journalist reporting on some fairly technical points.