Sunday, January 31, 2010

Creepiest Scene In The Movies

Running Scared (2006) is about a gun used in a murder. The cops are after it, the mob is after it, but it falls into the hands of a 10-year-old boy named Oleg. He ditches the gun, but now everyone is after him. Out of the frying pan and into the fire he goes, picked up by a truly twisted couple and taken back to their apartment. Remember "Pulp Fiction"? Well, these two make Maynard and Zed look like Ozzie and Harriet. Oleg is trapped, but he manages to steal a cellphone and call his best friend's mother...

The sickos are played by Bruce Altman and Elizabeth Mitchell, and the avenging angel is Vera Farmiga. Brave actors! Notice that nothing untoward happens in the scene, and notice also that the adult actors never so much as touch the child actors. But it just creeps me out.

Mostly filmed in Prague, although the second-unit footage makes it look like it was shot on location in Hoboken.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Big Mac V

A graphical analysis of McDonald vs. Chicago:

h/t Arms And The Law.

Friday, January 29, 2010

QOTD - Massachusetts Edition

The Massachusetts legislature is set to consider a bill that would streamline and in many respects improve The Bay State's onerous firearms regulations. Article:

Sen. James Timilty (D-Walpole), the Senate chair of the Public Safety Committee, called it a “great bill” and said he hoped to see “passage in some form this year.”

“There should be one standard for applying for what is a constitutional right,” Timilty said.

"...applying for a constitutional right." Where does the line start?

I mean, that is some wicked-bad irony!

h/t Bitter at Snowflakes In Hell.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pure Genius!

A couple of days ago I blogged about the Garand's clever design, especially the trigger group. These pictures are of some M-14/M1A spares that I have around the house, but the Garand works the same way. The Garand's trigger group has a big floor plate where the M-14's has a magazine release, but they're essentially the same. The hammer is shown in the "uncocked" position, i.e. fully forward.

In this view, the rear bolt face is on the left and the hammer is on the right. The hammer lug fits into the camming surface on the rear of the bolt face. The face of the hammer strikes the rear tang of the firing pin.

An oblique view. The purpose of this arrangement is to allow the falling hammer to push and turn the bolt so that it is completely "in battery" before the firing pin is struck.

This is how Jerry Kuhnhausen describes it in his book, "The U.S. .30 Caliber Gas Operated Service Rifles - A Shop Manual" on page 56:
"If, for any reason, the bolt has not fully locked before the hammer contacts the firing pin tang, the hammer's bolt camming lug (hammer nose) first engages the hammer camming notch on the back of the bolt and thereby imparts the force needed to rotate the bolt to fully locked position before the hammer's firing pin striking face can contact the firing pin tang."

Now that is elegant!

I don't know if John Garand invented this, just like I don't know if D.W. Griffith invented the close-up, but it's genius, pure genius!

World Economic Forum

The annual World Economic Forum is going on in Davos, Switzerland. The U.S. representative is former president Bill Clinton.

Seven years ago, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke at a question and answer session there and, in response to a question from former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey about whether the U.S. was putting too much reliance on military power, said this:
We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years, and we've done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan, and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in...
The New York Times reported on the event but missed the quote:
"Powell Adopts Hawkish Tone."

This exchange developed into a full-blown internet myth. Here's an account: link.

Advice For Chicagoans

From Second City Cop:

"Buy a gun - the Supreme Court is about to make it legal anyway."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Machine That Goes PING!

This is the Garand rifle that I bought from the CMP in 2008.

It is serial number 374XXXX, which puts its date of manufacture in April or May 1945 at the Springfield Armory.

The top number is the "heat lot" of the steel from which the receiver was made. The lower number is the drawing number and revision number, in this case revision #35. The discoloration at the rear of the lug may be due to a "lead bath draw" in which the receiver was immersed into a bath of molten lead to prevent cracking.

The bolt also is stamped with its drawing number and revision number, and below that, the heat lot of the steel.

This picture shows the operating rod. It does not have the "relief cut" found on post-WWII Garands. This is the "straight-cut, curved-side" version of the op-rod. I haven't been able to find a drawing number on it.

The trigger group is also marked with the drawing number and revision number. Note the "cloverleaf" hole in the lower right, between the trigger and the safety. Some of the trigger group parts are interchangable with the M-14/M1A. An extremely clever design! A lot of thought went into the trigger group and the results were spectacularly successful, especially for a mass-produced, "government contract" battle rifle made during wartime. Springfield Armory and Winchester made four million Garands during WWII, and at peak production, in January 1944, they were producing 4,500 rifles per day!

The stock doesn't have any markings or cartouches that I have been able to see. Even using Photoshop (well, GIMP, actually, 'cause I'm a Linux geek) to magnify and boost the contrast, I can't see any cartouches.

I have a copy of Scott Duff's book, The M1 Garand: World War II, and as far as I can see, this gun is as it left the factory in 1945. It doesn't appear to have been "armoried". All of the parts and their drawing numbers are contemporaneous to the date of the serial number. I haven't taken it down beyond field-stripping it, and perhaps there is some non-original part lurking somewhere deep inside it. The trigger group parts are often individually marked, but I'm not opening it up to find out! I have a Brownell's tool for assembly/disassembly of the bolt, but that's as far as I go in the "shade-tree gunsmith" department.

It shoots well, too. I haven't put more than 50 rounds through it since I bought it. I do need to sight it in. When I got it there was caked cosmoline on the front sight and I had to disassemble it to clean it, and that has thrown off the point of impact.

One of "liberty's teeth". I wonder if it nailed any of freedom's enemies; I wonder if it will again?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sixty-Five Degrees!

The weather was so warm today that I was able to wear shorts on my bike ride. I went about 20 miles in two and a half hours.

Wish I'd Said That...

The Munchkin Wrangler:

Conservatives vacillate between sympathy and outright hatred for Libertarians. They’re usually sympathetic to the “Nobody gets to tell you what to do…” part of Libertarian ethics, but they get all foamy at the mouth at the “…but you don’t get to tell anybody else what to do, either” part. Then there are those who dismiss Libertarians as childish, amoral, and irresponsible, but those are usually the people who don’t have the first clue of what Libertarianism is all about, and who just have a Pavlovian reaction to our dislike of drug prohibition and failure to embrace Scripture as the sole source of morality.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Second Amendment

A Canadian editorialist writes:

The Second Amendment Fantasy and How Americans Have Been Taken In

(h/t Joe Huffman.)

SailorCurt has already weighed in and I had to join the fray:

I have read your article carefully and I must respectfully disagree.

The Second Amendment protects (does not create) the right of law-abiding American adults to possess ordinary rifles, pistols and shotguns in their own homes for any lawful purpose. This right is not connected to any membership in a militia. Nor is it preconditioned on any eligibility for, or even the existence of, a militia.

Your article goes on at some length about the purpose of the founding of the NRA, but this is really irrelevant to the purpose of the Second Amendment. It is something of a “straw man” argument to suppose that if one can prove that the NRA was not founded to encourage civilian marksmanship, that this somehow weakens the Second Amendment protection of civilians to keep and bear arms. When the 2A was still being debated in the U.S. Senate, it was then known as Article Two of the Bill of Rights. In the Senate, a motion was made to add the phrase, “for the common defense”. If adopted, this arguably would have limited the 2A to a militia context, but the proposal was defeated by a voice vote in the Senate, was never brought up in the Senate-House conference committee, and the Second Amendment was passed by Congress, signed by the President and ratified by the States without any such restriction. You quote Garry Wills on this as saying, “The record does not say why the motion was rejected...” but surely the fact that it was rejected is far more important than why it was rejected.

You implied that the Miller case upheld a conviction. This is not true. Read the decision. Mr. Miller had already won his appeal and had been released from custody. It was the government which appealed.

You stated, “The Court declared that a sawed-off shotgun is not a militia weapon.” This is demonstrably false; read the decision. The U.S. Supreme Court remanded the case back to the lower court for a hearing as to whether the gun in question, a sawed-off shotgun, was “useful in a militia context”. That's it. The SCOTUS never said that the gun did not have a military purpose; Justice McReynolds, who wrote the decision, said that there was “no evidence”, and sent the case back to the lower court to hold evidentiary proceedings to provide that evidence. And that's where the Miller case ended. McReynold's decision never mentioned the defendant's membership in a militia, eligibility for membership, or even the existence of a militia; he was only interested in the gun. And the very fact that the 1939 SCOTUS agreed to hear the case at all is a strong indication that they considered it an individual right. If the 2A applied only to militias, or to states, then Mr. Miller would have lacked “standing”.

The Miller decision is often called “confusing” or “vague” or “cryptic”, and both sides in the American debate on gun-control have cited it as supporting their views. For example, opponents of gun control have interpreted the Miller decision as protecting the right of Americans civilians to own military weapons without limit, but not hunting or target-shooting weapons. That's a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, but it is even more of a stretch to claim, as gun-control advocates do, that the Miller case upheld a conviction; that is simply false.

The best reading on the legal history of the 2A can be found in the decisions in the Heller case, in the Parker case that preceded it, and in the Emerson case in the Fifth Circuit. The references and footnotes are particularly valuable. Even the dissent in the Heller case contains the astonishing admission that the four dissenting Justices recognized that the 2A protected an individual right. It is right there in the second sentence of the dissent.

The nation's preeminent scholar on the Constitution, Harvard professor Lawrence Tribe, having studied the issue in exhaustive detail, agrees that the 2A protects an individual right which cannot be infringed without an unusually strong justification, such as a criminal conviction or a history of mental illness, etc. and the Heller decision follows this reasoning.

As to the “revolutionary purpose” of the Second Amendment, this has been favorably cited by two liberal icons of the 20th century: Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy. But my favorite quote in this area is from Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit:

“The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do,” Judge Kozinski noted. “But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Flying With Guns

I have blogged before about flying with firearms here and here and today Snowflakes In Hell linked to a Volokh Conspiracy post on flying with guns, so I thought I might add my own experiences.

I have carried a handgun in my checked luggage several dozen times since 9/11. Each time has been into or out of my "home" airport, Washington's Reagan National. And I've never had a problem. Here's what happens.

Get to the airline counter and go through the automated check-in process. Then, when speaking to the airline counter personnel, tell them, "I have an unloaded firearm to check." They will produce a little form for you to sign. They keep the white copy. They will ask to see the gun(s) to establish that they are in fact unloaded. I have already put a cable-tie through the action of each gun to demonstrate visually that the gun is unloaded. Otherwise, the ticket agent may ask you to pick up the gun and show that the chamber and magazine well are empty; some passengers might see this and find it alarming, so I try to avoid it with the cable ties. I have never been escorted to a private area to "show empty", but apparently others have; procedures seem to vary a little bit at different airports.

Then the ticket agent will put the red copy of the form in the locked box with the gun. I have never known them to tie the tag to the trigger guard. Then you lock the case, and it must be a hard case, and you keep the key. A combination lock is OK, too, although I have never used one. And don't use one of those "TSA-approved" locks; I'm talking about the locks where the TSA has a master key. The TSA wants the passenger ONLY to have the key or combination.

If you have ammunition with you, it must be packaged in its original container. I put each ammo box inside a heavy-duty zip-lock freezer bag and then put a strong rubber band around the bag. The purpose of this is to prevent loose rounds from getting free and rolling around in the plane's cargo bay. You should tell the ticket agent that you have ammunition in your other bag; the gun and the ammo may not be transported in the same container, but only the gun needs to be locked up. The agent may or may not ask to inspect the ammo, or they may simply ask you if the ammo is in its original packaging. I had one ticket agent actually open the ammo box and visually inspect the rounds, but usually all they want is your verbal assurance that all is well. On one occasion I arrived at my destination and found that my luggage had taken a hard "hit" and the box of Winchester White Box 9mm had been crushed and loose rounds were among my clothes. So after that, I started using the freezer bags.

At this point the ticket agent will hand you your boarding pass and baggage claim tickets. At DCA, the agent will walk with you and all of your baggage to the TSA X-Ray station, which is just a few feet away. The ticket agent will explain the situation to the TSA Supervisor. The TSA will put your bags on their X-Ray conveyor and examine them. Sometimes they seem to make this into a "training op": the TSA supervisor stands behind the X-Ray operator and they point at the screen and speak to each other. Maybe they are saying, "Here's what a real gun, from a real passenger, might look like." I dunno. The TSA may also at that point open your bags, all of them, for a visual inspection. And at that point they will ask you for the key or combination. It takes less than five minutes, but you are required to stand there while they do it. After the inspection they will return your keys to you and wish you a pleasant flight. One TSA agent was a gunny and wanted to talk shop! I was transporting a 9mm Glock and a 10mm Witness and he wanted to know how I liked them.

Then you proceed to the security screening area for access to the boarding gate.

At Indianapolis the procedure is a little different. After the ticket agent places the red ticket in your gun case, you lock it up and the ticket agent will issue you a little written notice and staple it to your boarding pass. The ticket agent will put all of your bags on the conveyor and tell you to proceed to the security screening area. After you pass through the screening area, go to the TSA kiosk and tell them that you have checked a gun and they'll ask you to wait while they summon a TSA baggage inspector. He will take your key and go down into the bowels of the building and examine your baggage, then return with the key. At that point you can proceed to the boarding gate. They do it this way at Indy because they have the TSA X-Ray screening area in the baggage handling area, not in the passenger terminal itself as they do in Washington.

Picking up your baggage at your destination is routine: no extra checks or procedures. This actually seems kind of lax to me, because there is my gun, going around on the baggage carousel, and anybody could just pick it up and walk off with it. For this reason, I lock my gun inside a steel case (from Brownell's, about $30) and put that case inside a small nondescript Samsonite suitcase, in this instance a "make-up" case. But so many trips through the mill have bashed my Samsonite case pretty badly and it may have to be retired soon.

A few clarifications:

1) Unload and pack up your gun and ammo at home - don't bring the gun to the airport and try to unload it there!

2) Double-check your baggage for loose rounds at home before you pack. This includes your gun box. I observed one TSA agent checking the foam padding inside the gun box. My heart stopped. I had never thought of that.

3) Don't wear any clothes from the range when you fly - you would be surprised where some of those ejected shell casings can hide: shirt pockets, pants pockets, pant cuffs, holster, range bags, etc.

4) I have been through those "puffer" machines a half-dozen times, after having been at the range the day before, with negative results. The TSA used to use 'em at Indy, but never in Washington, and I have read that they have been retired.

5) These are my own experiences, and aren't categorical - I'm no expert.

6) Have a written record of the serial numbers of the guns with you in case they don't turn up at your destination - it just might expedite their recovery. Maybe.

Here's a funny video from a hacker who is a frequent flyer and carries often:

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Get Offa My Lawn!"

Legendary Hollywood bad-boy Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, True Romance, Speed, Cool Hand Luke, The Sons Of Katie Elder, Giant, Rebel Without A Cause) is dying of prostate cancer and, from his deathbed, attempting to divorce his wife of 14 years and have her removed from their beachfront home.

Damn! That's a lot of good movies! But he was also in an episode of Petticoat Junction in 1964: Bobbi Joe And The Beatnik.

Hopper in Hooterville!

It's The Most Miserable Day Of The Year...

Happy "Blue Monday"!

A combination of cold, dark days, Christmas debt, and a week 'til next payday make the third Monday in January the most miserable day of the year, says the UK's Daily Mail.

The temps here were in the mid-fifties at midday, so I went biking for two and a half hours. So did a lot of other people. Add to that a cloudless sky that beamed warm sunlight onto my shivering body, and what do I have to feel depressed about?

Oh, yeah, tomorrow I have to get my car inspected and it's 15 years old and the door is broken and it needs a safety inspection and an emissions inspection and I can't afford to fix it, much less replace it!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Museum Guns

I went out to the NRA Museum this afternoon and spent nearly three hours ogling some really cool stuff! Please pardon the poor photography:

First up is this very rare Savage Model 1907 in .45. This was one of the guns submitted to the U.S. Army for testing, but the Colt Model 1911 got the contract.

Next is a Webley-Fosbury in .455. This is a "semi-automatic revolver" that played an important part in Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon".

This is a Gebruder Mauser 1878 "Zig-Zag" (or "Zick-Zack" as the Germans would say) 6mm revolver. It is one of the few revolvers to have a safety, located on the frame forward of the cylinder. It is shown in the "fire" position.

This is a homemade revolver from WWII in the Philippines. It was made with a 12" roughcut file and a hand drill. It was fired hundreds of times and killed six enemy soldiers - notice the notches in the grip! In .38 S&W.

This is a Mexican Obregon .45. The safety and the slide latch are combined into one unit.

This is a Parker "Invincible" shotgun in 16 gauge, one of three made. Yum!

This is a "Chameleon" epoxy revolver. It has never been fired.

The legendary Bren Ten, in 10mm.

Lots of beautiful derringers in presentation cases. I have a weakness for these things, even though I don't own any. Remember the old 1950's TV series "Yancy Derringer"?

Here is a derringer in a wrist holster.

Clint Eastwood's Model 29 in .44 Magnum from the "Dirty Harry" series.

A couple of Colts: on the top is a 1911A1 in .38-Super, and below it is a 1905 in .45.

A Colt Model 1902 Army revolver in .45 Colt, made for cold weather duty - notice the large trigger guard, to accommodate a glove.

And a LeMat revolver: eight-shot .44 percussion revolver with a 20-gauge shotgun barrel below the main barrel.

This is a Belgian LeMat. It is smaller and uses pinfire ignition.

A Winchester 70 rifle with an AM radio built into the stock.

The service revolver of an officer of the NYPD, found in the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No Comment

Click to enable imbigitude.

This is a screengrab from Roberta X's blog about TSA "package inspections".

Monday, January 11, 2010

Social Collapse Best Practices

Via Roberta X and Joe Huffman I came upon this 90-minute lecture by Dmitry Orlov. It's from last February. The video can be found here. He is a wonderful speaker with a wry sense of humor. He is simultaneously disturbing and hilarious. Examples:

...the government’s actions continue to disappoint. Instead of trying to solve problems, they would rather continue to create boondoggles. The latest one is the idea of subsidizing the sales of new cars. The idea of making cars more efficient by making more efficient cars is sheer folly. I can take any pick-up truck and increase its fuel efficiency one or two thousand percent just by breaking a few laws. First, you pack about a dozen people into the bed, standing shoulder to shoulder like sardines. Second, you drive about 25 mph, down the highway, because going any faster would waste fuel and wouldn’t be safe with so many people in the back. And there you are, per passenger fuel efficiency increased by a factor of 20 or so. I believe the Mexicans have done extensive research in this area, with excellent results.

One final transportation idea: start breeding donkeys. Horses are finicky and expensive, but donkeys can be very cost-effective and make good pack animals. My grandfather had a donkey while he was living in Tashkent in Central Asia during World War II. There was nothing much for the donkey to eat, but, as a member of the Communist Party, my grandfather had a subscription to Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper, and so that’s what the donkey ate. Apparently, donkeys can digest any kind of cellulose, even when it’s loaded with communist propaganda. If I had a donkey, I would feed it the Wall Street Journal.

Right now the Washington economic stimulus team is putting on their Scuba gear and diving down to the engine room to try to invent a way to get a diesel engine to run on seawater. They spoke of change, but in reality they are terrified of change and want to cling with all their might to the status quo. But this game will soon be over, and they don’t have any idea what to do next.

Black humor has always been one of Russia’s main psychological coping mechanisms. A man walks into a food store, goes to the meat counter, and he sees that it is completely empty. So he asks the butcher: “Don’t you have any fish?” And the butcher answers: “No, here is where we don’t have any meat. Fish is what they don’t have over at the seafood counter.”

For communications after the collapse, he recommends Fido-Net, an email system using ham radios and relatively rudimentary computers.

Orlov also has a blog.

Friday, January 8, 2010

CCW Holders To Get "Express Lanes"

In Virginia, the General Assembly is in session. Firearms are allowed in the state capitol (everywhere except the executive mansion) and the Virginia Citizens' Defense League is ramping up for "Lobby Day", when VCDL members by the hundreds take the day off and travel to Richmond to tell their representatives their views on the issues. This year, according to the email I just received from VCDL President Philip Van Cleave, everybody but CCW holders will have to pass through metal detectors:

I talked to the Capitol Police today and they confirmed that concealed handgun permit holders who do not have large items that need to be scanned will have an express entrance to the General Assembly!

Those who qualify for the express entrance will use the entrance on the west side of the building (facing 9th street). Have your permit and photo ID ready when you enter by that door. If you have items that need to be scanned, they request you use the normal south side entrance.

This is the way the world should work!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Catching Up

I spent a delightful week in Indianapolis. Flew in and rented a car - the flight was smooth, the TSA was not unpleasant, and even the weather cooperated. It was very cold - down to 6 degrees F one night! - but only a few snow flurries.

Brigid put me up in the spare bunk at Home On The Range. Much appreciated!

Did a little shopping at The Mall Thursday afternoon - eight stores in three hours - and bumped into Shermlock Shomes and the delightful Mrs. Shomes. An unexpected pleasure!

Thursday night it was my distinct privilege to escort the charming Roberta X to dinner at Morton's, where we enjoyed champagne cocktails, seafood, steak, and hot chocolate cake with hot fudge filling topped with ice cream and raspberries! Doesn't she look great in a tiara? To the manner borne!

Sunday was range and blogmeet day. We carpooled with Tam and Shootin' Buddy to Popguns, then on to Brugge for the blogmeet. Roberta tried to get a wi-fi signal on her netbook but it couldn't be done. And friends, if a woman with an Extra Class amateur radio license tells you there's no signal.... then there's NO SIGNAL!

Your humble servant was momentarily transfixed by the beauty of the wall sconces at Brugge:

And upon returning home, I had a new CW key to try out! It's a gem! A miniature straight key, with tiny ball bearings, even! Note the number two pencil for scale. But the 40-meter band was a mess and there was nobody responding to my puny little 100-watt signal. I think I need a new antenna....We also saw Avatar and The Road and bought some new books at the used book store. Bobbi even found a 1966 paperback copy of Colossus! You sci-fi fans may remember the movie version: Colossus - The Forbin Project, about the autonomous missile defense computer that becomes sentient and takes over the world.

Now reading The Last Centurion by John Ringo.

Firearm Tracing

Interesting article from on firearm tracing:

Relatively recently, the ATF established a rule that no manufacturer may reapply an s/n on any other firearm made by that firm. Previously, manufacturers could apply an s/n to a model and repeat them with other model lines. It’s important therefore to collect the model information for a firearm: A Mossberg Model 144 s/n 12345XXX isn’t the same firearm as a Mossberg Model 352 s/n 12345XXX.

h/t Maddened Fowl.

Monday, January 4, 2010

BlogMeet Video

Let's see: in order of appearance, we have Roberta X, Joanna, Tam, Shootin' Buddy, Nathan, Shermlock Jr., Mrs. Shomes and Shermlock Shomes himself. Not shown are Brigid, Old Grouch, Rob D. and Wayne.