Archive for the ‘Guns’ Category

Random notes, philosophical asides, bookmarks, endorsements, and other things.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Some things I think are interesting, some I want to bookmark, some I want to plug, something for everyone, a comedy tonight! I am going to try to put these in some kind of rough topic order…

“Introduction to GPU Password Cracking: Owning the LinkedIn Password Dump”.

I Sea, “a mobile app that claimed to help users locate refugees adrift at sea”, appears to be a complete fraud.

The developers swapped information, including screen shots of a static image and a weather tool that one person claimed was used to mislead users into thinking they were looking at live images of the sea. Others noted that the app had been coded to tell users that their login credentials were invalid.

Bonus: the NYT mentions my third favorite security blogger, @SwiftOnSecurity. (Sorry, SecuriTay, but I’ve had my photo taken with the Krebster, and I know Borepatch. Third is still good enough for a medal, if this was the Olympics.)

And it isn’t just that the coding is screwy: PopSci makes a pretty strong argument that what I Sea claims to do is physically and logistically impossible.

To provide images of 1 percent of the total area of the Mediterranean would run over $1 million. And that’s just for one set of still photos. If the app were to provide up-to-date imaging, as it claims, the images would need to be refreshed regularly, at $1 million each time. And that cost is for unprocessed data, Romeijn says. Processing will cost more, as will the licensing fees required to make those images available to the public.

And those satellites make one pass a day, so you’re not getting “real-time” imaging, no way, no how.

The Oakland PD mess, summarized. Yes, I’m linking to an anonymous person on Facebook, but much of the information in this summary has already been reported in the media: this is more of a handy round-up if you haven’t been following this mess from the start. (Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.)

And speaking of Popehat: the guys get shirts! Women, too. I just ordered mine: not only is $23 very reasonable for a shirt these days, and not only do I like Popehat, but I think Cotton Bureau does good stuff. (You may remember them from the BatLabels “Henchman” shirts, which are back in print! Hoorah!)

Flaming hyena #32: Democratic congressman Chaka Fattah.

In addition to racketeering conspiracy, Fattah was found guilty of bribery, bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, making false statements to a financial institution, and falsification of records.

A bunch of other folks took the fall with him, including Herbert Vederman:

Through cash payments to the congressman’s children, college tuition payments for his au pair and $18,000 given to help purchase a vacation home in the Poconos, prosecutors said, Vederman bought Fattah’s support in seeking appointment by the Obama White House to an ambassadorship.

(Hattip on this one to Mike the Musicologist.)

Prominent (well, in Chicago, anyway) Chicago journalist Neil Steinberg decides to pull the old “look how easy it is to buy an assault rifle” trick. So he goes to a gun store…

…and they deny his purchase because he’s a drunken wife-beater. (I have seen other versions of this story that state BATF first issued a “delay”, then a “deny” (BATF doesn’t have to give a reason for “deny”), Steinberg threatened to write that they were “denying” his purchase because he was a journalist, and the gun shop then decided to point out that he was a drunken wife-beater. However, this version seems to me to be to be the best sourced, and it doesn’t mention any BATF verdict.)

But at least he had the good taste to go with a Smith and Wesson M&P 15.

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#31 in a series)

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the Bill de Blasio scandal continues to grow.

A while back, I wrote about the suspension of three NYPD deputy chiefs and a deputy inspector, apparently because of their links to two of Di Blasio’s fundraisers.

The other shoe dropped today:

Three New York Police Department commanders, including a deputy chief, were arrested early Monday, along with a Brooklyn businessman, on federal corruption charges stemming from one of several continuing investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fund-raising, according to court papers.

The NYPD officers are:

  • Deputy Chief Michael J. Harrington
  • Deputy Inspector James M. Grant
  • and Sgt. David Villanueva

This is a little confusing for me: the NYT consistently refers to “three commanders”, but one of these guys appears to be a sergeant. Is that a commander rank in the NYPD?

Of these three, Harrington and Grant were among the officers suspended in April. Also arrested: Jeremiah Reichberg, one of the “businessmen” who has been a “generous supporter” of the mayor. Jona Rechnitz, also a “businessman”, “generous supporter”, and apparently Reichberg’s partner in the deal, has taken a plea on corruption charges and now appears to be rolling on the others involved.

The court papers in the case detail lavish gifts the two senior police officials are accused of receiving in exchange for taking official action, including expensive meals, free overseas and domestic trips, and the referral of business to a security company associated with one of the officials. The deputy inspector was also accused of receiving a trip on a private jet to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl weekend in 2013, and was said to be accompanied by a prostitute.

Hookers. Always with the hookers.

The official action taken by the senior officers included closing a traffic lane in the Lincoln Tunnel to provide a police escort for a businessman visiting the United States, dispatching police officers to the area near a jewelry business run by associates of Mr. Reichberg to disperse people handing out fliers for a rival business, and sending officers to disperse protesters in front of the business of an associate of Mr. Reichberg, according to the court papers. One of the officials also helped the men with their applications to get Police Department pistol licenses.

I’m not sure which “official” is being referenced here, but it makes a nice segue anyway: Sgt. Villanueva’s arrest appears to be related to the pistol license scheme.

Court papers unsealed on Monday also disclosed that a police officer who was involved in that scheme had previously pleaded guilty to bribery charges and was cooperating with federal authorities. In that scheme, bribes — as much as $18,000 per gun license — factored into between 100 and 150 gun licenses in recent years, according to the court papers.

$18K for a gun license. Come to Texas, guys: here there’s no license required just to own one, and it’s $140 (plus about another $140 for the required training course) for a license to carry either open or concealed. Of course, it is hot as hell here, but the upside to that is never having to shovel snow.

Followups.

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Lawrence’s backlink for my DNA lab post reminded me that I intended to link to this Grits For Breakfast post on the same subject.

More on MP Jo Cox: NYT. The Guardian (current live blog, historical live blog). Express.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mr. Mair sent about $620 to the National Alliance for items from its publishing imprint, National Vanguard Books, including works that instructed readers on the chemistry of powder and explosives. Also purchased was a copy of “Ich Kampfe,” a book published by the Nazi Party in the early 1940s.
Heidi Beirich, the director of the center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks and produces reports on extremist groups, said in an interview that it had found the invoices in a database of records it maintains.
When Mr. Mair’s name surfaced on Thursday, Ms. Beirich said, the Intelligence Project matched it with invoices in its possession. She said those records were authentic because they had been leaked by members of the National Alliance. Further, she said, she was confident the records were linked to Mr. Mair because the address on the invoices matched his home address.

You know, I dislike Nazis as much as the next guy or gal, but: does this bother anyone else? The SLPC apparently has a database of people’s book orders that was “leaked” to them? And they, in turn, are providing those records to the press?

Setting aside our individual lack of love for the Nazis, isn’t it possible that there are people on that list – students of modern day extremism, university libraries with collections of extremist literature for reference purposes, etc. – that would object to having their purchases revealed to unrelated third parties?

And where does this stop? Anyone remember the Tattered Cover case?

You know what Travis County needs?

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Strict dog control.

A pack of dogs killed a 36-year-old woman in North Travis County, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Thursday.

More:

Animal Protection officers impounded six dogs that were on the property, most of which appeared to be Labrador/Great Pyrenees mixes, the release said. They also found 14 puppies. Fraga said city records show no prior animal complaints at the property.

I come from a family of dog owners. My mother currently owns a Corgi, and my sister owns a German Short-haired Pointer. But nobody except maybe the police and military needs these large deadly high capacity assault dogs that are capable of maiming or killing dozens of people with one bite of their jaws. No private citizen needs 20 dogs.

And do you realize that just anyone can walk into a pet store and purchase one of these deadly assault dogs with no background check?

Sensible dog control now!

Quote of the day 2.

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Because it is my blog, dammit, and I can have more than one if I want. Especially if the second one is from a new Ken White post:

Urging vague and unconstrained government power is not how responsible citizens of a free society ought to act. It’s a bad habit and it’s dangerous and irresponsible to promote it.

This is not an abstract or hypothetical point. We live in a country in which arbitrary power is routinely abused, usually to the detriment of the least powerful and the most abused among us. We live in a country in which we have been panicked into giving the government more and more power to protect us from harm, and that power is most often not used for the things we were told, but to solidify and expand previously existing government power. We live in a country where the government uses the power we’ve already given it as a rationale for giving it more: “how can we not ban x when we’ve already banned y?” We live in a country where vague laws are used arbitrarily and capriciously.

You know what Great Britain needs?

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Oh, yeah. That’s right. Never mind.

LONDON — British Labour lawmaker Jo Cox has been injured in a shooting near Leeds, the Press Association reported Thursday.

Edited to add: more from The Express by way of Popehat on the Twitter.

“…The man pulled a gun – it was a makeshift gun, not like something you see on television.”

Edited to add: The Express is now reporting that MP Cox has succumbed to her injuries. Sincere condolences to her family and friends.

He added the weapon “was probably an old gun, a sawn-off shotgun.

Eyewitness Clarke Rothwell, who runs a cafe nearby told the Telegraph: “He was stabbing her with a foot-long knife multiple times while shouting ‘Britain first, Britain first, Britain first’

Edited to add: I’m now seeing reports on Twitter that the whole “Britain first” thing is wrong. It is worth keeping in mind that this story, like so many other recent stories, is emerging, and early details may be mistaken.

Edited to add: I was trying to find something very similar to this on Popehat’s Twitter feed earlier today, but I couldn’t. Fortunately, he retweeted almost exactly what I was looking for:

Quote of the day.

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

So today’s murder victim is nearly twice as likely to be bludgeoned as shot with a rifle, and three times more likely to be punched, kicked, strangled or shoved to his doom by his murderer’s bare hands or shod feet.

Random notes: June 11, 2016.

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

This is shaping up to be a busy weekend, but I have a little bit of time this morning and wanted to make note of one major and one minor story.

Major story: the Austin Police Department has temporarily suspended DNA testing at their lab.

This is the same lab that RoadRich and I toured as part of our CPA class; they may have been blowing smoke, but one of the things that stood out to us was how seriously the APD lab took their certifications, and how much effort they put into getting things right.

So what’s going on? It looks like three things:

1) Unspecified concerns raised by the Texas Forensic Science Commission.

Police officials, who were working Friday to determine how best to proceed, said the commission raised concerns about calculations and formulas the lab was using in conducting DNA analysis, but said they didn’t know specifics.

Officials had already scaled back lab operations in recent weeks — its staff were only screening evidence for DNA but were no longer doing analysis — and asked state forensic experts to evaluate the lab’s operation amid concerns about its operations.
Gay said Friday that he hasn’t received a formal notification from the state about the outcome of the experts’ inquiry, but that, based on phone conversations, “there are some challenges in front of us”.

2) There’s also a leadership gap. Apparently, the civilian lab supervisor (who goes unnamed in the Statesman) recently passed away, and had been out on leave for a while before that.

3) I’m a little confused by this part, and would love to find an “explain like I’m 5” piece on it: apparently, the Feds have issued new standards for doing DNA probability calculations, and a lot of labs – not just Austin – are struggling to implement them. This is something that was specifically mentioned as an issue on our tour:

FBI officials last year notified crime labs across the country that they were using outdated methods to examine samples containing genetic material from multiple people — methods that often led expert witnesses to greatly overstate the reliability of that evidence in court.
The use of outdated protocols to interpret test results means an expert witness might have told jurors that the chances are 1 in more than a billion that the genetic material in question belonged to someone other than the defendant, when those odds are more like 1 in 100.

So the lab has to go through and do a bunch of recalculation on a bunch of existing cases (around 1,300). And that apparently requires things like software updates (which I gather aren’t as simple as “download a .ZIPed EXE file and run it” when you’re dealing with forensic gear) and additional new training for the people doing the work.

All of this is going to take time: they’re speculating four to six months. In the meantime, DNA samples are going to be sent either to private labs or the Texas DPS lab for analysis.

…the lab’s backlog of cases awaiting DNA analysis has risen to about 1,300, the most in the past five years.

Minor story:

First reported by the Tampa Bay Times, Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, posted a “sources sought” solicitation for non-standard weapons on a federal contracting site early last month. In April, the command posted a similar notice for non-standard weapon ammunition. The term “non standard” is used for weapons not frequently employed by the United States or its NATO allies.

What kind of “non-standard” weapons and ammo? AK-47s. Yes, WP, yes, journalist’s guide to firearm identification, but it seems like this is for real AK-47s:

SOCOM’s solicitation includes weapons such as the iconic “AK-47″ rifle, a catchall designator for Kalashnikov-variant rifles designed to fire a certain type of ammunition and often identified by their distinctive curved magazines. Other weapons include the SVD, a unique looking sniper rifle that has likely killed thousands of U.S. troops since it was first introduced in the years leading up to the Vietnam War. Additionally, Russian medium and heavy machine guns as well as 14.5mm aircraft guns are included in the notice.

This makes sense, in a way. As the article explains, we’re arming foreign troops, but giving them distinctively US-made weapons (like the M4) puts a target on their back: “Although likely more accurate than their Soviet-style counterparts, U.S. weapons can make the fighters carrying them targets for other factions.” Plus: “U.S. weapons can also be difficult to maintain,” (Really?!) “prompting Special Operations Command and the CIA to procure and supply weapons that their allies are used to fighting with, such as Kalashnikovs.”

The thing that makes me wonder about this story: I’m sure we’ve all heard (I’ve even linked to) stories about secret CIA/SOCOM warehouses filled to the rafters with captured AK-47s intended to arm foreign troops while maintaining plausible deniability. So why does SOCOM need contracts to produce new ones? Are the warehouses running low? Are the ones in the warehouses poorly made or shot to heck, and SOCOM thinks they’re better off getting new ones that are assembled to tighter tolerances? (Sort of a Smith and Wesson vs. Taurus comparison, but for AK’s? Okay, that was a cheap shot.)

Random gun geekery.

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Also: a historical note, suitable for use in schools.

Taken with the iPhone camera, cropped a little, and enhanced in Shotwell:

FN

I like the use of the word “supposedly” there, but that’s another discussion for when I have more time.

And don’t forget who else used an FN 1910.

bullets

A little more context on Weiss, Guerre, and the bullets, along with a lot of the assassination mythology, here.

You know what Germany needs?

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Strict anti-tank rocket launcher control.

I hate to be all WP all the time, but I did want to make note of this too, if for no other reason than: the Baader-Meinhof Gang is back, baby!

Random thought.

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Is there a use case for a shot timer app for an Apple Watch?

I’m aware of existing ones for the iPhone; I’m just wondering if having the same information, or a subset, available on your wrist – probably linked to your phone – is something that people would find useful?

Obit watch: April 30, 2016.

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

I found out yesterday that Tom Deeb passed away about a month ago. I had not seen this previously reported: apparently, I should be reading more blogs.

For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Deeb, he was the founder of Hi-Point and designer of their firearms.

I actually discovered this in a moderately amusing way. Yesterday, RoadRich and I had the chance to tour the Austin Police Department’s Forensics Lab as part of our CPA course.

One of the stops on our tour was the firearms and toolmarks lab, and we got to spend a few minutes talking with one of the examiners. I want to go out drinking with this guy, but I digress. I asked him how much truth there was to the old movie/TV show cliche, “The bullet has six lands and grooves and a right hand twist, so it’s got to be a Smith and Wesson or a Taurus…”

He commented that yes, generally, they can at least narrow things down to two or three makes of weapons, and sometimes they can do even better than that. Paraphrasing as closely as I remember: “If we see one with nine, we KNOW that it’s a Hi-Point, because TOM DEEB ALWAYS HAS TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY THAN EVERYONE ELSE!

After the tour, RoadRich and I went to lunch, and got to talking about this. So I did some searching on my phone and found this recent profile of Hi-Point and Mr. Deeb from the American Rifleman. Turns out there’s more to it than Mr. Deeb just wanting to be different:

Deeb became fascinated with the science of forensic firearm examination, which is how, as an examiner, I met him. “I included design elements in my guns to be of specific use to the forensic community, beginning in 1994,” said Deeb. “We now start with a particular number for each model of pistol. Rifles start with letters that are easily identifiable.” Beyond this, Deeb uses uncommon rifling patterns and makes breech faces that leave readily identifiable markings on fired cartridge cases. He began doing workshops for firearm examiners at the Ass’n of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE) annual training seminar and became a Technical Advisor to AFTE in 2002. Currently, he conducts about 20 tours of his plant a year for firearm examiners.

(And I know it is trendy to sneer at Hi-Point, but: the guys at Tex-Guns used to tell people when they asked about Hi-Points, “We’ve sold hundreds of them, and we’ve only had one, maybe two, come back to us for repair.” Another take.)

(And if you find someone on Gunbroker selling a Model 19 for $125, please let me know. I already have two (edited to add 5/1: three, actually: I forgot about the Ranger gun, but I don’t shoot that one), but at that price, I’d buy one and give it to a friend.)