Archive for the ‘Guns’ Category

Obit watch: April 19, 2017.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Kevin O’Brien, who blogged under the pseudonym “Hognose” at WeaponsMan, passed away yesterday.

I wasn’t a personal friend of Hognose, and I was a relative newcomer to his blog. I think I found it by way of a link from Tam last year. But this is a huge loss to the gun blogging community.

Hognose was an ex-Special Forces guy (the obit linked above goes into more detail on his service) who wrote a great deal…and I could stop there, because he often turned out three or more posts a day. Substantial posts, too, not stuff that was quickly tossed off.

And he wrote on a wide variety of topics. He wrote a lot about historic and contemporary military weaponry, drawing from his SF background. He also covered military history, contemporary military leadership, and politics (mostly as it related to the military).

He was interested in historical arms in general, but especially obscure Czechoslovakian arms (military and sporting) and was working on a book about Czech guns. He wrote a great deal about the problems with the VA system. He covered defensive shootings (and sort of picked up the “When Guns Are Outlawed…” mantle from Weer’d). Hognose and his brother were building their own plane; hr wrote quite a bit about the build process, and some about aviation in general. He was on Kathleen Kane like a fat man on a Chinese buffet.

The list goes on. He was eclectic. And if he said something, he was good about backing it up with sources.

Nice tribute from Tam.

My hope is that his family leaves the blog up, or at least makes the content available for download. We are already diminished by the loss of Hognose as a blogger; it would be worse if the valuable information he provided over the last five years was irrevocably lost as well.

Happy Buy a Gun Day!

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

You’ve still got time, if you haven’t been out yet.

Longer post to come at some point in the (hopefully) near future, but here’s my 2017 BAG gun:

Savage Model 11 Scout in FDE. Purchased new in box through GunBroker at…well, a hefty discount off of MSRP, and much less than I’ve seen it elsewhere.

(The book is H.W. McBride’s A Rifleman Went To War. I’m not a big WWI buff, but a lot of people I respect have cited McBride’s book as being a valuable work. And damn, the guy could write: there’s something I want to pull as a quote of the day in almost every chapter.)

Bonus, since I never posted it here: my 2016 BAG gun.

Smith and Wesson Model 19-4 in .357 Magnum with the round butt and 2 1/2″ barrel. Sort of the ultimate snub-nosed revolver. The holster came with it, too. Tam has a good post up about the Model 19, though she’s writing about a diffenent variant than mine.

(Book: Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, 4th Edition, of course.)

Tomorrow, tomorrow…

Friday, April 14th, 2017

…I love you, tomorrow, BAG Day is only a day away.

My BAG Day gun actually showed up at the FFL on Monday. With all the personal stuff going on, I decided to pick it up early, rather than wait until Saturday. (I know I kind of bent the spirit and the letter of BAG Day, and I could have waited, but things got kind a little sideways for a while.)

If I can, I’ll try to get at least one good photo tonight and throw it up for tomorrow. A longer post on my Jeff Cooper fanboy-ism will probably have to wait.

(Is it “fanboy” or “fanboi”? Or is it both, and “fanboi” is the diminutive, more insulting version of “fanboy”?)

(In case you were wondering: the family member who was in the hospital was discharged yesterday and is currently recovering comfortably at home with their dog.)

Giggle. Snort.

Friday, April 14th, 2017

I can see myself totally rocking the “I’m Too Old For This Shit Division” wiht my Model 29 in a shoulder holster. As long as I can remove the sports coat between strings.

(As I’m sure Tam knows, Texas in the summer is just a little hot, even for a lightweight sports coat.)

And I’m kind of crossing divisions here, but those who have seen me in person will testify to my theoretical capacity to grow a truly magnificent porn stache.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, and NASCAR.

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Remember BATFE’s secret slush fund?

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used a secret, off-the-books bank account to rent a $21,000 suite at a Nascar race, take a trip to Las Vegas and donate money to the school of one of the agent’s children, according to records and interviews.

I could see maybe, possibly, someone making an argument that the NASCAR suite and Vegas trip were for legitimate investigative purposes. I wouldn’t buy that without a lot of supporting documentation, but I can see someone thinking that.

Giving money to “the school of one of the agent’s children”, though? I think someone’s going to prison over this.

(Speaking of going to prison, flaming hyenas watch to come.)

(Also, I think I need a BATFE tag. Should it be a subset of “Guns” or “Law’?)

April, come she will.

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

I intended to throw this up yesterday, but got overtaken by events. A close family member had to go to the hospital and ended up being admitted. (They’re doing fine now, thank you for asking, but I expect they will be in for a couple more days at least.)

Anyway, with slightly less than a week’s advance notice: April 15th is National Buy a Gun Day. And while the pressure might be off for the moment, why not go out and buy a gun to celebrate (or commiserate) over recent events?

Even better, BAG Day falls on a Saturday this year, to make your BAG shopping just that much easier.

“Are you celebrating this year?” Yes, I am. This year, I actually had something I wanted as a combined BAG/birthday present for myself, and planned to pick it up on BAG Day. However, while I was checking GunBroker, I found a pretty good deal on the item in question, put in a bid…and, shockingly, won. (I believe this is actually the first contested GB auction I’ve won, as opposed to “buy it now” deals.) I’m hoping it gets to my FFL before Saturday; the weekend promises to be busy, so it might be the Monday or Tuesday after BAG Day before I can throw up pictures. I will give a hint, though: I am indulging my inner Jeff Cooper fanboy.

If you can’t buy guns, buy ammo. If you don’t want to do either, well, you might throw a few bucks in the direction of the blogger McThag. He recently went through a difficult personal legal entanglement which could have cost him his right to keep and bear arms. Fortunately, he’s free and clear of that now (the whole story is on his blog) but he’s somewhat in the hole for legal expenses and could use a hand from those so inclined.

As always, I would not ask you to donate if I hadn’t already done so.

(Hattip to the great and good Erin Palette for first making me aware of this.)

Annals of law (#12 in a series)

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Section 29.03 of the Texas Penal Code defines “aggravated robbery”:

Sec. 29.03. AGGRAVATED ROBBERY. (a) A person commits an offense if he commits robbery as defined in Section 29.02, and he:
(1) causes serious bodily injury to another;
(2) uses or exhibits a deadly weapon; or
(3) causes bodily injury to another person or threatens or places another person in fear of imminent bodily injury or death, if the other person is:
(A) 65 years of age or older; or
(B) a disabled person.
(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the first degree.
(c) In this section, "disabled person" means an individual with a mental, physical, or developmental disability who is substantially unable to protect himself from harm.

Seems mostly clear, right? Except: what constitutes “a deadly weapon”?

Is “a pellet gun” a deadly weapon?

Dustin Clark and two other men are suspected in a string of convenience store robberies in Travis County. They were stopped by the Lakeway PD in December of 2015, shortly after allegedly robbing a store in Spicewood, holding “pellet guns” to the clerk’s head, and threatening to kill him. The police found the pellet guns, money, ski masks, other identifying clothing, and a pack of Starburst allegedly stolen by Clark in the car. (The police also found “two deer rifles” in the trunk. I have seen contradictory reports about whether these were airsoft guns or real rifles. However, the “deer rifles” were not used in the robbery, and were not part of the criminal case as best as I can tell.)

Mr. Clark went on trial this week. There seems to have been little doubt about his guilt: his own attorney conceded that it was his client on the surveillance video from the store. The main legal issue was is it plain old robbery, or aggravated robbery?

The pellet guns were found unloaded and not carrying a C02 cartridge that would have made them operable.

Mr. Clark was offered a plea deal of 40 years before trial. The maximum for plain old robbery is 20 years, and 99 years for aggravated robbery. I don’t know enough about Mr. Clark’s background to be able to estimate what the likely sentences would have been.

Mr. Clark turned down the 40-year deal and chose to go to trial. His attorney moved to include robbery as a lesser charge for the jury to to consider, but the Travis County DA successfully fought that motion. So the only charge the jury was allowed to consider against Mr. Clark was aggravated robbery.

And they acquitted him.

But the jury could consider only one charge — aggravated robbery — and after more than six hours of discussion they finally united and ruled that the pellet guns the men used to scare two employees are not deadly weapons. Therefore, several of them told the American-Statesman, they had to acquit Clark. About half of the 12-person jury granted an interview request saying they wish they had the option to convict Clark of the lesser charge.
They said there was no proof the guns contained pellets or the CO2 cartridges that power them at the time of the robbery.

I personally wonder how the clerk was supposed to know that. I’d also really like to see photos of the pellet guns. And I wonder what else this means, legally? Not that I would, but if take the firing pin and cartridges out of a Smith and go hold up a Stop’N’Rob, is it just robbery? The gun can’t fire, right? So it’s not a deadly weapon, at least if I understand the logic here correctly.

[Travis County Assistant DA Amy] Meredith added she still believes aggravated robbery “was the appropriate charge.” State district Judge David Crain denied the defense’s motion to include the robbery charge after taking a break in chambers to research the law. Prosecutors had made Crain aware of a ruling from a case 11 years ago in which pellet guns had been found to be deadly.

I don’t feel too bad for ADA Meredith. Even though she didn’t get a conviction in this case, she did make an interesting legal point. I don’t think this rises to the level of precedent because Judge Crain’s ruling hasn’t been reviewed by a higher court, but perhaps this is something the Texas legislature could offer some additional guidance on. Also, Mr. Clark is still facing charges in six other robberies, so it isn’t like the TCDA whiffed on their only chance to convict him.

I thought about blogging this when the first story appeared Tuesday, but didn’t get to it (this is a busy week). But RoadRich emailed the print version of the story yesterday, which led to a lively discussion between him, myself, Mike the Musicologist, and Lawrence.

MtM observed that he recalls one of the northern states changing the law some years back so that if you brandish a fake weapon with the intent of making your victims think it is real, you get treated like it was real. Spray paint the end of that airsoft gun black and use it to hold up a liquor store? Big boy rules apply.

I think both MtM and I are on the same side of the divide when it comes to the increased tendency to criminalize everything and sweep up more people in the web. But I also think we’re both in agreement that this is the kind of “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” law that we could get behind.

(On a related side note, I’m halfway tempted to start a podcast with the four of us sitting around eating dinner and talking about legal issues. I even have a name for it: “I’m Not A Lawyer, But…”. I figure it should be easy to get sponsorship from SquareSpace, at least. If it proves popular enough, I might even offer to fly Ken and/or Patrick in as special guests for barbecue. That is, if their heads haven’t already exploded. Episode 1 is going to called “Rule of Parties be damned”.)

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#36 in a series)

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Jose Torres, the mayor of Patterson, New Jersey, has been indicted on corruption charges.

Three public works supervisors have also been indicted with Mayor Torres. Allegedly, the mayor “asked public employees to work on personal projects while they were being paid by the city”.

Worthy of note 1: various online sources show that Mayor Torres is a member of Criminal Mayors Against Lawful Gun Ownership.

Worthy of note 2: Mayor Torres is the second criminal mayor to face charges this week. SayUncle linked to a report that Mayor Anthony Silva of the (formerly) bankrupt city of Stockton has been arrested again: this time, he’s charged with “money laundering, embezzlement by a public officer, grand theft and embezzlement worth more than $400”.

Musings of a cigarette smoking man…

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Working from an office suite behind a Burger King in southern Virginia, operatives used a web of shadowy cigarette sales to funnel tens of millions of dollars into a secret bank account. They weren’t known smugglers, but rather agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The operation, not authorized under Justice Department rules, gave agents an off-the-books way to finance undercover investigations and pay informants without the usual cumbersome paperwork and close oversight, according to court records and people close to the operation.

Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm. That rings a faint bell. It reminds me of something BATFE did during the previous administration. Give me a moment, it’s on the tip of my tongue…

Books in brief.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

I’ve ranted to some of my friends about Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me and I should probably post a longer review here. (Short version: now I know why there aren’t more books following an author during their writing process.)

But you know how it is. Mom likes Jack Reacher, and I kind of do as well, so when I found a copy of Night School at Half-Price I grabbed it.

And I think it’s actually a pretty okay book. It still has some of the things that have started to grate on me (Reacher makes women’s clothes fall off: Reacher takes on seven guys at once), but the annoyances are modulated by a couple of factors:

  • This is a “historical” Reacher rather than a “contemporary” Reacher. Night School Reacher is still in the Army, and the book is set sometime between 1993 and 1999.
  • Frances Neagley from Without Fail and Bad Luck and Trouble is a major character (introduced early on, and cleverly, so I don’t think this is a spoiler). I like Neagley, and not just because Reacher doesn’t make her clothes fall off; she’s smart, at least as smart as Reacher and possibly smarter, and there are hints of an interesting backstory. I’d read an entire “Adventures of Frances Neagley, PI” novel if Child ever decided to write one.

There’s an interesting MacGuffin (who is “the American” and what is he selling for $100 million?), some clever procedural work, and a satisfying level of ass-kicking (seven against Reacher aside). Night School isn’t a bad way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I don’t have a Single Action Army (yet) but I grabbed a copy of Shooting Colt Single Actions in All Styles, Calibers, & Generations from Half-Price right after Christmas (it was 20% off, so I picked it up for relatively short money). It seems like HPB got in a fair amount of relatively obscure gun books from someone or somewhere. (I also got a copy of Compliments of Col. Ruger in the same purchase.)

Venturino’s book, while about 20 years out of date, is still informative. I don’t know that much has changed in the world of Colt Single Actions since 1995. (Except for prices, and I suspect some of his listed vendors have closed up shop.) The most interesting thing about my copy of the book, though? When I’m reading it, I can just faintly smell Hoppe’s #9 or some other form of gun cleaner/lubricant coming off the pages. Someone must really have loved this book, and their guns.

(It isn’t an annoying smell, at least to me. I own a few books that used to belong to smokers; as any serious book collector will tell you, that’s annoying.)

One of my Christmas presents from my beloved and indulgent sister was Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life, a book I was previously unaware of (but which was a NYT bestseller). I’ll confess that I was initially a little bit skeptical about Spy Secrets, mostly because the author set off my “reality show contestant” radar. (He apparently appeared on “Shark Tank” and got a deal.)

My reality show skepticism was offset early on when Jason Hanson came out and said: he’s a gun guy, who has a permit, carries everywhere he legally can, and hangs out in gun shops. But Spy Secrets isn’t a gun book, nor is it a text on mastering covert tradecraft. Hanson’s emphasis is on protecting yourself through:

  • awareness – paying attention and knowing how to spot possible trouble.
  • avoidance – staying out of trouble and, if you stumble into it, not making it worse
  • preparedness – if you do get in trouble, what do you have and what do you know that can get you out, or at least keep you alive until the cavalry gets there?

I’m probably not the best person to evaluate this book – I’d love to see a take from Weaponsman or Karl – but Hanson impresses me as sane and practical. I do have one small quibble with his advice, but beyond that I feel comfortable recommending Spy Secrets. And if you have a high school or college freshman around, I think you could do a pretty good deed if you bought them a copy of this book, a nice tactical pen, and a good quality pocket-sized flashlight.

(My one quibble? I disagree with Hanson about the value of smartphones and text messaging. I agree with him that smartphones detract from situational awareness: I’m conscious of that in my own life and need to work on it. But it is also a well known fact that, in emergency situations where the cell network is overloaded, text messages have a much better chance of going through than phone calls. If you’ve got someone to watch your six, or can dictate a text to Siri, texting “Meet me at the meeting place” may be the smart way to go.)

General reminder.

Monday, January 16th, 2017

I have been somewhat negligent about posting reminders recently, since pretty much every day during the current administration has been like this.

But while I’m thinking about it, let me just remind everyone that Friday is national “Buy an AK Day”. Please note that the timing is just a coincidence, and has nothing to do with recent events. (A more complete explanation of the reasons why January 20th is national “Buy an AK Day” is at the link.)

(I’m not sure I’m going to actually purchase an AK, as I haven’t really found one I like at a good price, and there’s much less pressure to do so now. However, I may go out and pick up 100 rounds of 7.62×39, just to have it around.)

Obit watch: January 12, 2017.

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Roy Innis, head of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

I’m just going to put this out there: he was an interesting guy.

Though court decisions and new laws banned discrimination in education, employment and public accommodations, Mr. Innis was disillusioned by that progress, saying integration robbed black people of their heritage and dignity. He pronounced it “dead as a doornail,” proclaimed CORE “once and for all a black nationalist organization” and declared “all-out war” on desegregation.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Innis toured Africa, visiting Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya, Julius Nyerere in Tanzania and Idi Amin in Uganda. He made Amin a life member of CORE and predicted that he would lead a “liberation army to free those parts of Africa still under the rule of white imperialists.” He later urged black Vietnam veterans to assist anti-Communist forces fighting in Angola.

He supported Nixon and Reagan’s presidential campaigns, and the Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

Mr. Innis acknowledged that his loss of two sons to gun violence in New York — Roy Jr., 13, in 1968, and Alexander, 26, in 1982 — influenced his decision to oppose gun control and defend citizens’ rights to carry arms in self-defense. He became a life member and a director of the National Rifle Association.

He also supported Bernard Goetz.

A favorite of conservative talk shows, Mr. Innis twice engaged in televised scuffles in 1988. On “The Morton Downey Jr. Show,” he erupted at challenges to his leadership and shoved the Rev. Al Sharpton to the floor. On “Geraldo,” he choked John Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance, who had called him an “Uncle Tom,” and the host, Geraldo Rivera, suffered a broken nose in the ensuing brawl.