Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Modest Proposal

Two step process for closing the budget deficit:

1 - Institute beard tax.

2 - Send assessors to Renaissance fair.

There is no Dana

Tam points out a notable building in Augusta:

Turns out it's called the Lamar Building. Does that not look like an awesome superhero lair up there?

It certainly does. And it reminds me of the time a couple years ago when the burlesque troupe performed in Rochester, NY. The building hosting the event had giant, wall-sized windows, which gave a spectacular view of the river and of the Times Square Building:

From General interwebs

I don't know why the Rochestrians haven't dynamited this place. It's clearly the abode of a plutocratic sorcerer who's planning to sacrifice his plucky new secretary on its rooftop altar, ushering in a millennium of darkness under the reign of Gozer.

Maybe they should call in the metahuman protector of Augusta for help.


North Carolina's Democratic governor Beverly Perdue has a suggestion for dealing with the debt crisis:

"I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover...I really hope that someone can agree with me on that."

Let's give her the benefit of the doubt and accept her staff's insistence that this was a joke.

Furthermore, let's acknowledge that this is a nonpartisan issue; whether it was a mortifyingly ill-advised joke or honest contempt for democracy and the rule of law, either kind of failing can be found as easily among Republicans as among Democrats.

With those assumptions, I'd like to offer a piece of advice to all American politicians: Joking about suspending elections is not wise. It's already starting to feel a bit too much like 1775 for comfort.

More from Amazon

Today, Amazon is pushing Gerber's line of Bear Grylls survival products, the flagship of which is the "Ultimate Knife".

This is distinctly an outdoorsman's knife in the modern mold: thick-bladed, serrated, and stainless, with a pommel built for hammering. Its users expect it to be able to hack through branches and fell saplings (by hammering it through with a wooden baton). These aren't tasks that a knife excels at, and building one to survive them makes it less ideal for the kinds of things a knife does excel at. A knife wants to be thin and light, so that it can slice easily through soft material. But since the modern outdoorsman doesn't habitually carry the traditional hatchet or folding saw, the knife has to do it all. It's a tradeoff that makes sense when you have no intention of leaving the trail or spending the night, but want a single, light tool that will do everything in an emergency, and will otherwise stay out of your way.

But people who intentionally go into the wilderness are better served by a specialized knife paired with a specialized woodworker--whether a saw or a hatchet. American trappers and frontiersmen usually took to the woods carrying ordinary kitchen knives. The blades on these old workhorses are shockingly thin and flexible if you're accustomed to modern hunting knives, or even to some modern kitchen knives.

I've often thought that If I ever decide to leave this world to its own devices and live a much shorter life in the wilds of Alaska, I'd follow the old timers' lead by making a sheath for the carbon steel Old Hickory slicing knife in our knife block.

It looks like I'm not the only one who's had that idea:

From General interwebs

"Tropical depression Ophelia."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Night of the Comet in a nutshell:

This chick is awesome.
This chick is stupid.
This other chick is really stupid.
All these people are stupid.
Why does everybody have machine guns?
Shouldn't there be more than five zombies in this zombie movie?
Wait, how does the zombie-dust work again?
Did they film this on the Shock Treatment set?
Soundtrack available on LP and cassette.

This Week at Amazon:

Bestselling emergency kits and supplies. Top billed was the Ready America 77100 Cat Evacuation Kit:

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars
Too Heavy, September 7, 2011
Mr.Build - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ready America 77100 Cat Evacuation Kit (Tools & Home Improvement)
My main issue with this kit is that the bag is too heavy for my cat to carry and there is no way to strap it to his back. To be honest it seems like they made this kit for a person or at the very least a very large and strong cat. I tried for several hours to get my cat to carry this kit during our emergency drill and it was pretty much impossible. Also the gloves in the kit are clearly meant for a human and not a cat. Other than that I guess it's a good kit but they need to make everything the proper size for your average american cat.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Let the bears pay the bear tax. I pay the Homer tax.

Yelling may have enticed griz.

A couple yelling, screaming and attempting to flee from a grizzly bear might have triggered the fatal July 6 attack on the husband, according to investigators' reports.


Authorities concluded that the couple's reaction - running, yelling and screaming upon the bear's approach - might have escalated the severity of the attack, according to reports.

Bear safety experts recommend people talk in a low, calm tone and stand their ground when encountering grizzlies. They say bears will sometimes "bluff charge" toward a perceived threat.

Can you believe those so-called "bear safety experts" and their VICTIM BLAMING?

I say we organize a Panic Walk to remind these privileged agents of the Ursiarchy that people who scream and panic deserve not to get eaten, too.

"That's an offensive weapon, that is!"

In the 1990s, gun control advocates tried to get traction for Euro-style draconian gun laws in the US by holding up semi-automatic civilian versions of AR-15s and AK-47s on television, shouting "THESE ARE ON OUR STREETS!", and allowing people to think they were talking about machine guns. Since they needed a way to talk about the guns in question without discussing their actual features, they adopted the term "assault weapons", and pushed it so hard as a meme that it's still commonly used today, seven years after the silliness of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was finally allowed to expire.

Galloping to our rescue, the [NSSF*] has for some years now been imploring gunnies to use the term "modern sporting rifle".

This is stupid. AR-15s are much more common in sporting use than most people assume, since they're quite good for target shooting and varmint hunting. They're too weak to be legal for deer in most states, but some very good marksmen can use them for that purpose, too. But trying to define it as a "sporting rifle" is a lie of omission, and worse, it's an utterly transparent one. I wouldn't care to speculate on whether more ARs are purchased for sport or for home defense or both. But it's entirely obvious that both roles are key to the rifle's success.

Denying that we're talking about a fighting rifle is destructive in two ways: it needlessly undermines our credibility on more important issues (why would a non-gun person trust us when we point out that concealed carry liberalization has never changed a state's murder trends if he's seen us being deceptive about ARs?), and it implies that fighting rifles are something we need to apologize for. The Second Amendment does not protect our access to guns with a "sporting purpose".

So what do we call these guns, given that we understandably don't want to use "assault weapon"?

Quite frankly, I don't see the need to ask this question. It’s the antis who feel the need for a specific term that describes "rifles with pistol grips that remind the mainstream of guns they see soldiers and revolutionaries shooting on CNN". We simply don’t have that need. When you need to talk about light semiautomatic carbines, just say "light semiautomatic carbines". In those very few cases when you need to talk exclusively about light semiautomatic carbines with one particular set of ergonomics, just say "light semiauto carbine with a pistol grip".

We don’t need verbal gymnastics here.

[* - I originally said "NRA". Though the National Rifle Association has also endorsed "modern sporting rifles", this particular link is to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a prominent gun industry lobbying group.]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Don't thank me; thank the knife!

My wife Danielle shares what she has got in her pocketses, following up on the meme from yesterday.

Her Spyderco and mini Swiss Army Knife are two-thirds of her usual Utility Bra loadout, along with a little AAA Streamlight. Best-prepared boobs ever.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What is best in life?

[h/t to The Weasel King]

TRINITY COLLEGE Dublin says it is taking seriously an incident in which a profile page, complete with image, was inserted on its website for a fake staff member named "Dr Conan T Barbarian".

His full title and academic qualifications were given as: "Dr Conan T Barbarian, BA (Cimmeria) PhD. (UCD). FTCD (Long Room Hub Associate Professor in Hyborian Studies and Tyrant Slaying)."

His profile indicated he had been "ripped from his mother’s womb on the corpse-strewn battlefields of his war-torn homeland, Cimmeria, and has been preparing for academic life ever since.

"A firm believer in the dictum that 'that which does not kill us makes us stronger', he took time out to avenge the death of his parents following a sojourn pursuing his strong interest in post-colonial theory at the Sorbonne."

The profile went on to say Dr Barbarian completed his PhD, entitled "To Hear The Lamentation of Their Women: Constructions of Masculinity in Contemporary Zamoran Literature" at UCD and was appointed to the school of English in 2006, "after successfully decapitating his predecessor during a bloody battle which will long be remembered in legend and song".

We're glowin' like the metal on the edge of a knife...

Beginning with Og, all the cool kids are doing a very specific what-has-it-got-in-its-pocketses meme:

Take the knife out of your pocket and take a picture of it, and post it. Or post a picture of the same knife from a brochure or whatever.

No, not your favorite knife, or your prettiest, but the one that never leaves your side.

From General interwebs

Silenus there is juggling my Spyderco Caly 3 and Victorinox Explorer.

Many moons ago, I was a knife nerd. I read forums, tried out dozens of designs and brands, and rotated my everyday knives based on needs and preference. Then Spyderco did the stupidest thing possible--they designed the perfect knife. For my needs, the Caly 3 is the perfect size, with the perfect blade shape, steel, blade length, and edge geometry. It's vanishingly light and thin in the pocket, but has a comfortable handle for all but the heaviest cutting, which rarely comes up in my everyday life. Apart from groomsmen's gifts, I haven't bought a pocket knife since.

Likewise, this is about my sixth full sized Swiss Army Knife, and it's finally exactly right. It's the smallest SAK with all the tools I won't do without: both a phillips driver and a corkscrew (they usually have one or the other), an awl, and a pair of scissors.

I carry a multitool when I do burlesque stagehandery, and a larger folder or a pocket fixed blade when in the outdoors, but day in and day out, these two are perfect.

From General interwebs
Requiescat in pace, Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell.

'Bout damned time.

...that's fit to print

So. I keep harping on printable guns, right?

BAM! Functional printed AR-15 magazine. [UPDATE: Here's a direct link to the Thingiverse post.] Including an ABS spring. Its designer doesn't expect it to hold up to much use, but that's hardly the point when you're talking about the feasibility of using civilian disarmament to disarm criminals.

The article links to another designer who's uploaded a file for printing an AR's lower receiver. For those keeping score at home, the lower is the serial numbered part of an AR; under US federal law, that part and that part alone is the "firearm", subject to all the restraints on commerce and background checks that US gun control is made of. Everything else--barrels, triggers, sears, extractors--is a part or accessory, and can be sold over the counter or even mail ordered. Print this part, and you can build a functional AR around it with no records or background checks.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Spotted in the wild:

But also they have bonds with other men that I could never penetrate.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

In this edition of Bitching About People I Agree With:

Same-sex marriage advocates.

Guys, I agree with you. Marriage equality is right, and working toward it is necessary.

But you're killing your own cause through unrealistic tactics.

Over at Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds shares an email and an observation:

"The NY Times’ front pager on the GOP victory in Weiner’s old, heavily Jewish, district didn’t mention a leading reason for the Democrat’s defeat: his vote in favor of gay marriage.
"During the Cold War, I learned how to “read” Pravda by carefully tracking what Soviets kept *out* of their press. It was a way to infer what the Kremlin feared. Looks like the Democrats, not the GOP, have a big social issue problem they want to sweep under the rug."

The public is gradually warming to gay marriage, but even in New York it’s not nearly as far along as the political class is.

Singlemindedly crusading for marriage in a political climate that's friendly to civil unions but has serious misgivings about same-sex marriage is doing more damage to your cause than the organized conservative opposition is. It does not matter that you're right; this is a losing strategy.

By way of analogy, I'm pretty much a gun-rights absolutist. Like "OTC machine guns" and "$40 handguns in vending machines" absolutist. But if the NRA and SAF publicly devoted themselves to that message--even if I'm absolutely right in my belief that such policy wouldn't increase violent crime and tragic deaths--they would lose the inertia they've built, because the mainstream is simply not going to accept an idea so far outside its comfort zone.

Please, for the love of God, internalize this message: it does not matter how right you are, and how articulately or righteously you can express how right you are; big changes are made incrementally, and you need to make sure the increments only push the mainstream a little bit out of its comfort zone at a time.

I'd be ecstatic if the SSM movement went further into the NRA model, ditching its devotion to Democrats and enthusiastically supporting all politicians who vote the right way on their single issue, but making that change all at once would probably push the SSM mainstream too far out of its comfort zone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Concealed carry in Times Square?

That's one of the angles gunnies are taking when discussing the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, and it's certainly a sound bite being pushed by people desperate to stir up some liberal opposition to it. And it's most definitely in the spirit of the bill, which aims to eliminate the needlessly complex tangle of reciprocities while--let's be honest--taking a shot at abusive, discriminatory carry policies like NYC's.

But does it actually work that way?

...[A] person who is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing...a firearm, and who is carrying a valid license or permit which is issued pursuant to the law of a State and which permits the person to carry a concealed firearm, may carry a concealed any State, other than the State of residence of the person, that...has a statute that allows residents of the State to obtain licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms...
A person carrying a concealed handgun under this section shall be permitted to carry a handgun subject to the same conditions or limitations that apply to residents of the State who have permits issued by the State or are otherwise lawfully allowed to do so by the State.
[...]In a State that allows the issuing authority for licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms to impose restrictions on the carrying of firearms by individual holders of such licenses or permits, a firearm shall be carried according to the same terms authorized by an unrestricted license or permit issued to a resident of the State.

[Pardon the judicious editing; I cut legalese not relevant to this point.]

So a New Jerseyan with a shall-issue Florida permit can carry in New York as though he had an unrestricted New York State carry permit.* But here's the rub: an unrestricted New York State permit does not allow a New Yorker to carry in NYC.

Handgun licenses issued elsewhere in New York State are not valid in New York City. New York City licenses are valid throughout New York State. However, a New York State license to carry or possess will be valid in New York City in the absence of a New York City license provided that the handguns are transported by the licensee in a locked container and the trip through New York City is continuous and uninterrupted.

The NRTCRA only addresses state permits, not city permits which, as far as I know, don't exist outside NYC. If the act requires the state of New York to recognize a Florida permit as it recognizes its own, then a Florida permit will not be authorization to carry within New York City.

So is the right to carry in Times Square implied in the "unrestricted" language? Or could the city successfully argue that NY State has declared all of NYC a "sensitive place"--similar to schools and courthouses in other states--whose special rules the NRTCRA doesn't overturn?

If this act is signed into law (and it's looking increasingly possible it will be), I'm really going to enjoy carrying in Maryland and the draconian parts of New England. But I'll wait for the inevitable test case before venturing into Bloombergia.

[* - In this context, a "restricted" permit means that the issuing authority has placed specific restrictions on that specific permit. NY State judges do this routinely, issuing permits "for target shooting" or "for hunting". NJ permits issued to armored car drivers will be restricted to carry on the job.]

Dear Republican politicians,

If you want to attack somebody for ordering mandatory vaccinations, do not start ranting about how vaccines cause autism. It does not matter whether high profile liberals have said the same thing. Just for the sake of argument, it doesn't matter if you're right.* It will be a giant strike against your campaign.

If you want to attack somebody for ordering mandatory vaccinations, simply memorize and recite the following catchy slogan:

"Keep your laws off my body."

[* - You aren't.]

Friday, September 9, 2011

Interesting times

As my non-US friends may or may not be aware, even though carrying firearms is a fundamental protected right enumerated in our Constitution, and even though the great majority of states put very few restraints on that right, it's a difficult right to exercise outside your home state. Unlike marriage licenses* or even driver's licenses (which involve a much more demanding and dangerous task than the simple and safe act of carrying a gun), carry permits are only valid in the state in which they're issued, and in any state that's specifically agreed to honor it. The citizen is thus responsible for researching a complex web of reciprocity agreements before presuming to exercise his civil rights across a state line. The situation is confusing enough that websites and smart phone apps exist just to tell you where your permits are honored. Very many Americans will carry a domestic permit plus non-resident permits from other states with different reciprocities. It's time-consuming, expensive, and it burdens a civil right.

On Tuesday, hearings will begin on another attempt to fix this situation. The National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act, if passed, will make all carry permits valid in every state that issues carry permits. The only states whose status quo is threatened by this bill are those (like New Jersey) that technically have permits, but use "discretion" to issue them only as political favors to the connected. I won't shed a tear for their poor, subverted policies.

This isn't the first time the NRTCRA has come before the Congress. It's a perennial act that comes up every once in a while and is defeated; but it's gotten closer to passing each time.

This time, it's coming to the House with 242 co-sponsors. The House of Representatives, of course, has 435 voting members.

Will it pass the senate? Will the President veto a prominent piece of civil rights legislation, handing the NRA undeniable proof of his anti-gun position right before a close election?

[* - Those not contaminated with Gay Cooties, anyway...]

It's a laser mission...


Wicked Lasers sells a one-watt blue laser--the most powerful handheld laser in the world--for just three hundred bucks. It starts fires. Now, I'm not a real laser fanatic; that's more Danielle's thing. But that right there is enough to get me interested. Not interested enough to drop that kind of cash on it, but mightily interested.

Now I find out that the kind of people who piss themselves over mere citizens owning weapons are having fits over it, and have been calling for it to be "banned or severely restricted".

In the opinion of, any Class 4 handheld laser like the Spyder III has no justifiable consumer purpose and should be banned or severely restricted...

To Wicked’s credit, they make the hazards clear at their website. In an attempt to warn customers, they do require purchasers to click through a list of eight hazards before they reach the order form. They voluntarily added labels to the laser warning against shining at aircraft, and stating “Blue Laser Hazard”, and they also include one pair of laser safety goggles.

However, accidents and misuse do happen. The News section of this website contains just a sampling of the many ways laser pointers users cause trouble to themselves and society. Making Class 4 lasers affordable to ordinary consumers is a big step in the wrong direction

And now my hand is compulsively going for my credit card.

These assholes, much like gun control advocates, make fantastic salesmen. They should put their natural talents to productive work, and get on the manufacturers' marketing teams. Come to think of it, how do we know they aren't already? ;)

"I want a real chocolate sundae."

Continuing in the vein of my fascination with 3D-printed firearms, Jay at Stuck in Massachusetts points to a Thingiverse post in which a gentleman shares a printed AR-15 magazine follower:

I am implementing anti-tilt functions that will be in the next revision, plus a few other changes to make it "beefy" and a magazine spring catch. The current one feeds and functions well, I put 100 rounds down range with it, no jams.... YET. Also in the works, is a whole printable magazine and spring.

One step closer. I don't know how he'll print a spring, but a commenter has suggested printing a mandrel for winding the custom spring. Another suggested that if the current state of the art can't handle printing an entire magazine, it can handle printing a mold for casting the mag in a more resilient plastic.

It's going to be a long time before we'll be able to print ARs in our garages. We'll have new firearms designs specifically made to work with the strengths and weaknesses of 3D printers sooner, but we're still a ways off from anything you'd trust to be as reliable as a factory gun in an emergency. But we're right around the corner from home-printed guns good enough to satisfy the hobbyist and the criminal. The fiction of gun control as criminal-access control is going to crash and burn in the public consciousness. Very soon, while you'll still see plenty of ideological support for gun control in the states and countries where that ideology is strongest, reasonable people everywhere will instinctively consider gun control no more effective in keeping guns away from criminals than copyright laws are in keeping mp3s away from "pirates".

With enemies like these...

The construction "[noun] gap", in American political discourse, has a specific implication, based on historical Cold War rhetoric:

The "bomber gap" was the unfounded belief in the Cold War-era United States that the Soviet Union had gained an advantage in deploying jet-powered strategic bombers. Widely accepted for several years, the gap was used as a political talking point in order to justify greatly increased defense spending. One result was a massive buildup of the United States Air Force bomber fleet, which peaked at over 2,500 bombers, in order to counter the perceived Soviet threat. Surveillance flights utilizing the Lockheed U-2 aircraft indicated that the bomber gap did not exist. Realizing that mere belief in the gap was an extremely effective funding source, a series of similarly nonexistent Soviet military advances were constructed in a tactic now known as "policy by press release." These included claims of a nuclear-powered bomber, supersonic VTOL flying saucers, and only a few years later, the "missile gap."

As early as the sixties, it was widely understood that talking about a [noun] gap means you're trying to stir up hysteria over a non-issue to justify calculated political maneuvering; Dr. Strangelove plays it for laughs with its "doomsday gap" and "mine shaft gap".

So. In 2011, we have a political advocacy group trying to tie its agenda into the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks by editorializing that we must deny Americans a fundamental Constitutional right without due process, because we must "close the terror gap".

Does that mean they're childishly ignorant of the history of that scaremongering term, or that they assume you are?

Skinner says you'll fold like Superman on laundry day

Today's deal at Woot is the enTourage Pocket eDGe Dualbook:

From General interwebs

[There's one at Amazon for more than twice the price, if you're reading this after the deal expires.]

Now, I'm skeptical of how useful an idea this is. I expect most peple will soon be reading ebooks on tablets, and ereaders will be a specialty item for the ever-dwindling nuber of people who don't like using computer screens for long periods. Selling to the pool of people who'll want both a tablet and an ereader so badly that they'll accept having to carry both every time they want either... It sounds like a limited business strategy.

But that's the rational part of my brain talking. The much, much louder part of my brain is saying that, even if its performance sucks, there's no way I can live without a high-technical super powered version of the classical wax tablet.

From General interwebs

Okay, brain parts. Fight!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Beneath the Suburbs

After dad passed away, mom decided that the big, new house they'd been living in was too much empty space for her liking, and moved into a smaller, older house that was much more her speed. It's a nice little place built in the early 20th century, with all the advantages of old-fashioned construction, and all the little headaches. She loves it.

One of the things that didn't quite work out was the back yard, which was almost entirely covered with some kind of ground-creeping ivy. It was quaint and pretty, but one of the two halves--they were divided by a path--started to wither and had to be removed.

When the landscaper pulled out that ivy, it exposed a strange terrain feature: a depression, about two to three feet across, surrounded by a low circular mound. It looked almost like a miniature bomb crater. I tried to tell her it was probably where a previous owner had hidden a cache of Nazi gold, but she wouldn't listen; along with some other light landscaping this past weekend, mom asked me to fill it in.

Looking it over, the bottom of the depression was loose, sandy soil (this is South Jersey, after all) crisscrossed with dry, brittle ivy vines and roots. It couldn't hurt to dig a little, right? So I pushed the spade down into the edge of the depression... And hit something hard. And completely immobile. Probably nothing, but maybe Nazi gold. There was only one way to be sure.

The dead ivy made it difficult to scoop out the loose soil, so I used the point of the spade to chop at the vines. It went straight through. The sandy soil flowed down into the gash, disappearing into a deep black space beneath the lawn.

From General interwebs


I was, needless to say, somewhat surprised. My day-adjusted eyes couldn't make anything out, and my pocket flashlight could just barely light the bottom, which we measured to about seven feet below.

By lowering in a more powerful light, we gradually came to see the curved, root-encrusted masonry walls of the space, and the dusty bottom, with one pathetic, time-ravaged timber leaning against the wall, and the pile of dirt from my digging obscuring a shadowy, rectangular shape on the floor.

From General interwebs

I tried to tell them that it was probably a Viking tomb, or a long-forgotten doorway to the aeon-buried golden cities of K'n-yan, and that we should mount an excavation. They insisted it was the house's old septic tank, and I was outvoted.

The catacombs will be filled in next week, sealing off their secrets forever. Some people have no vision.

From General interwebs

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming...

Kotaku has images from the upcoming WWI-era Call of Cthulhu iPhone game.

Let me repeat that: The upcoming WWI-era Call of Cthulhu iPhone game.

Whaddayathink? Could a battalion of doughboys take a shoggoth?

When Adam delved

When Irene hit the east coast, I speculated out loud a few times about how excited New jersey's metal detectorists must be.

Turns out, it's been a bit of a bust, at least in NY:

"But it’s not as good as we hoped," he said. "We were all hoping it would pull a lot of layers off, so the gravelly layer is exposed where all the jewelry and coins drift down to."
[But] The storm hit at high tide, explained Mike McMeekin, 59, an avid treasure hunter from Long Island who owns Treasures Unlimited, a popular store in Bellmore that sells metal detectors.

"If it would have hit at low tide, it would have cut the beach up and down and you might have cross-sections where you could be looking at layers of beach from the 1930s or the 1950s," he said. "A storm like that could bring you back in time."

As it happened, the storm added sand to many sections of city ocean beaches, he said. The waves washed up loads of offshore sand high up on the beach.

"Now, you have coins and jewelry in that sand, too," he said, "but you got to wait for the wind to start blowing off the top, so we can get to it."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Silence! ... We concur.

As much as the US is famous for having some of the developed world's most liberal firearms laws, we have a few really perplexing restrictions that aren't common elsewhere. One is our very strict regulation of suppressors. Suppressors aren't over-the-counter items everywhere, but they're unregulated in several European countries, and no more regulated than the guns they fit in several more. It's very strange for the US to have extreme federal restrictions and many state-level prohibitions on a firearms accessory that you freely mail-order in France.

Right now, most gun rights groups think it's too early to start attacking the no-big-deal-but-seriously-bad-PR guns and accessories restricted during the Great Failed Experiment of 20th century gun control, but there's still a nascent movement to start rolling back state restrictions on suppressors. Since their primary purposes outside Hollywood are safety and courtesy, this doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Thing is, I think we should be pushing safety harder than courtesy.

Sebastian makes one of the common arguments for courtesy:

The demonization of silencers, or more accurately, suppressors, never made a whole lot of sense, especially when you consider noise complaints are the biggest issue shooting ranges face, especially places like around here, which have numerous suburban and exurban shooting ranges, with plenty of neighbors in earshot.

I've never been a great fan of this argument. It's true that ranges in developing, previously rural areas commonly have problems with new urban transplants who move in next to a shooting range, then crusade to get it closed down because they don't like hearing gunshots. But implying that suppressor deregulation is a reasonable way to address the issue strikes me as an undesirable road to go down.

And I expect a lot of potential allies would be as uncomfortable with it as I am, since this logic would seem to lead to the conclusion that, when yuppies move into a neighborhood with a range, the natural compromise that the gun lobby pushed for after all is to require that every gun fired at the range be suppressed. That would be a cheaper proposition in a nation with a free market in suppressors, but it still requires gunsmithing on almost all current firearms and alterations to antiques, and puts revolver shooters in a bind.

I think a much better strategy (and one that addresses a need most people can see more vividly than range litigation) is to educate people about the dangers of hearing loss from using unsuppressed firearms for self defense inside the home. I think most people can understand that concern, and most reasonable folks will agree that if you have a right to self defense, you shouldn’t be forced to risk your hearing to exercise it. I'm prepared to risk permanent hearing loss where the alternative is letting an intruder harm me or my family, but I'd much rather put a muffler on my damned gun and not have to make that sacrifice.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Homebrew Ecto-Cooler


Can't turn back the Glock

[h/t to Bitter]

In Pima County, AZ, where Representative Gabrielle Giffords was famously shot and seriously injured in January, the local Republican party is holding a fundraising raffle. As is common away from the coast, they're raffling off a gun. Naturally, several "progressives" are upset that people still use guns as usual after a traumatic event was supposed to have made everybody see them as Evil Totems. Not news.

But this... This goes beyond the usual stupid:

For just $10, readers can purchase a raffle ticket (out of 125 offered) for a chance to win a brand new handgun. Not just any handgun, but a Glock 23

Arizona Republicans surely know just how effective this particular brand of gun can be. After all, it was only eight months ago that Jared Lee Loughner used a Glock 19 in Tucson - the seat of Pima County - to shoot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head.[...]

Let's see... with 125 tickets, at $10 a ticket, the PCRP could pull in a cool $1,250 - minus whatever their souls are worth, of course.

The Glock pistol, in its dozens of variants, is probably the most popular pistol in the United States. More so than any other pistol, the Glock is "just any handgun". There are two and a half million of them out there. They're used by thousands of police and military forces worldwide, from the NYPD to the armed units of London's Metropolitan Police. For Nyarlathotep's sake, the Pima County Sheriff's department issues its officers Glocks. The Glock has proved such a perfect generic baseline handgun that almost every major firearms manufacturer now makes guns mimicking it. I grasp that the writer most likely has a preexisting tribal taboo against handguns in general, but believing that the actions of an insane murderer should make a ubiquitous manufacturer's entire product line haraam to people outside his tribe is pretty foolish.

This is like, to paraphrase one commenter, a radical anti-auto environmentalist insisting it's in poor taste for a Republican to drive a Ford F150 after a Democrat was run over with a Ford Focus.