B. Todd Jones Resigns

March 20th, 2015


B. Todd Jones has announced his resignation as director of the ATF, with only 11 days' notice.  I don't know if it has anything to do with the backlash from his plan to reclassify M855 ammunition as "armor piercing," but the coincidence is hard to miss.  When he spoke to the Senate Appropriations committee last week, he had the look of a man who'd found himself dumped in the deep end of the pool.

To be honest, you couldn't pay me to do his job.  Anyone taking the position inherits a plethora of troubles from an agency dogged by scandal.

Continued »

More Desperation

March 18th, 2015


States United to Prevent Gun Violence is running a couple of surreal campaigns to push gun control.  The first is this little chestnut:

Never mind that it's illegal to run a gun shop in New York without all sorts of licensing, or that it's illegal for customers to even handle one without a purchase permit.  Since they're gun control advocates, they can probably get away with the David Gregory defense.

They've also scored rapper Snoop Dogg, who is quite the paragon of civic virtue, to promote a separate campaign.

For an organization swimming in the Joyce Foundation's cash, they're certainly stooping quite low.

Continued »

ATF Holding Off on the M855 Ban. For Now.

March 10th, 2015


From their website:

Although ATF endeavored to create a proposal that reflected a good faith interpretation of the law and balanced the interests of law enforcement, industry, and sportsmen, [yeah, sure…] the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study. Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework. After the close of the comment period, ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework.

Well, it's nice to see my pessimism belayed a bit.  This isn't over, though.  Keep pressure up on your legislators.

The Obama Socialist Executive Ban on 5.56 Ammunition

March 8th, 2015


That title is a decent approximation of how inaccurately the current situation has been described to me.  It's 95% untrue.  The proposal at hand is not the result of legislation.  There is no executive order on the matter.  It is not a blanket ban on 5.56.  It only affects one specific loading.

Here's the short explanation.  The 1985 Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (LEOPA) delegated authority to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to decide whether certain ammunition could be banned from civilian ownership if it is deemed "armor piercing."  The criteria are quite specific:

A projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or 

A full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

Military M855/SS109 ammunition has long been exempted from that definition by name.  Last month, the ATF decided to change their minds on the matter.  Their report is here [pdf].

The first problem is, they're wrong.  The second problem is, it won't stop them.

Continued »

More Fun with Roman History

February 14th, 2015


Picking up from yesterday, we're left with vastly differing accounts of the emperor Numerian's death.  Which is correct?  The easiest way to solve this is to run down a simple timeline.

Malalas' Chronographia makes the following claims:

  • Saint Babylas (then patriarch of Antioch) refused to admit an emperor to the church
  • the emperor executed Babylas
  • the emperor went to war with the Persians
  • said emperor was captured following a siege at Carrhae

It becomes apparent he's referencing three distinct emperors, all of whom predate Numerian by a generation.

Continued »

Fun with Roman History

February 13th, 2015


I recently got around to reading Peter Heather's Fall of the Roman Empire.  It's an excellent read for the layman, and he poses some interesting debates for the historian.  One interesting theory he suggests is that the Huns had an indirect (and earlier than usually assumed) effect on Rome as their migrations forced the Goths to rush the borders and clash with the Empire.

But my area of study is the 3rd Century crisis, and that's why I noticed an odd and unorthodox account of Numerian's death.

Everyone remembers the famous emperor Numerian, right?  He's right up there with…well, don't feel badly.  They don't teach much about the 3rd century in school because it was such a mess.  Rome's borders were crumbling under the weight of Germanic invasions, and the empire was in a state of nearly constant civil war.  Dio (as in Cassius, not Ronnie James) remarked that Rome had descended "from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust."

From the death of Alexander Severus in 235 to the coronation of Diocletian in 284, there were 26 confirmed emperors and over 50 usurpers (Gallienus succeeded in winning exactly one thing in life–he had as many as thirty).  Approval by the Senate was an afterthought–the armies were the kingmakers for the empire, and their favorite generals were the only men deemed fit to rule.

Continued »

Piling On

February 9th, 2015


OK, I'll join in on the Brian Williams meme train.  Here he is reporting from Dallas on November 24, 1963.

You Only Get One Chance At This

January 13th, 2015


A police officer in Glasgow, Kentucky is suing Barren Outdoors.  The employee handed him a loaded gun, which he failed to check, and he blew off part of his left index finger.

Go ahead and laugh:  he's going to win.

Note to gun store customers:  putting your hand over the muzzle won't stop a bullet and it doesn't exempt you from Rule #2.  Don't point the weapon at anything you can't pay for.  Nobody wants to hear, "it's unloaded."  I've lost count of how many times that phrase has turned out to be a lie.

Note to gun store employees:  clear the gun before handing it to a customer because the customer won't check it.  Seriously, 87.4% just of them just start dry-firing away with wild abandon as soon as they've got their sweaty mitts on it.

Note to gun store owners:  you can and will be sued for this.  Comparative negligence might mitigate the damages, but you're going to have some of the liability.  You can quote Rule #1 to a jury until you're blue in the face.  It won't help.  It's not normal practice to hand someone a loaded gun.

There were many mistakes in this situation, but the chain of events began with the employee failing to take his responsibilities seriously.  It just takes one lapse.

Sigelei 100W Plus

January 4th, 2015


Vaporizers have come a long way over the last five years. In fact, they've seen a vast improvement over the last few months alone. A year ago, most power-regulated devices topped out at 11 watts or so, and they wouldn't fire atomizers with a resistance of less than 1Ω.

The alternative were so-called mechanical mods, which used no circuitry and drew power directly from the battery. I could build lower-resistance coils to cheat more output, but the quality (and quantity) of vapor tapered off as the battery wore down over the day.

Better chips have since been developed over the last few months. Several manufacturers began using the Evolv DNA30 and DNA40 chips early last year, and now companies like Sigelei are using the newer Yihi sx330 chip to generate higher output.

Sigelei 100W Plus

Yes, this thing can go up to 100 watts. No, I haven't run it that high. In fact, anything over 40 watts gets pretty overwhelming. But that's not the point.

Continued »

The Compass Flower

January 4th, 2015

A Mask for Janus

SAF Brings Suit against I-594

December 31st, 2014


The press release is here. The filing itself is here [pdf].

Their argument is that I-594 is unconstitutional because it is too vague, both facially and as applied.

I-594, with its amendments to RCW 9.41 relating to non-commercial transfers of firearms, as well as Defendants’ enforcement of the same, prohibit, substantially interfere with, inhibit access to, and infringe upon the right to possess firearms and thus infringe Plaintiffs’ rights under the Second and Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as the rights in Article I, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution.

Specific examples of infringement include the criminalization of  shared firearms in the same home, the impractical burden on firearms training, and the inability to retake possession of a gun previously loaned to another.

They point out that the Washington State Patrol will not be enforcing the law because they can't prove what is or isn't a transfer. Most sobering is this bit from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

On December 2, 2014, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife issued guidance on I-594 that it had formulated “in close consultation with our legal counsel in the Attorney General’s Office.” The guidance was focused on the Department’s hunter education and stated, in part, that transfers between the Department’s volunteer hunter education instructors and their students are exempt because the instructors are agents of the Department, which is in turn exempt as a law enforcement agency. The guidance goes on to note, however, that transfers between students would not be exempt, but that instructors could avoid liability under I-594 by engaging in a straw-man transfer by taking the firearm from one student and handing to to another.

The need for such an exception, and the roundabout way in which it must be exercised, should highlight the absurdity of this law better than anything else.

Undeserved Celebrity

December 23rd, 2014


Apparently, all it takes to become an "activist" in 2014 is to get a Twitter account and make an insipid YouTube video. In a matter of days, this person has gone from being a selfie-obsessed nobody to an internet celebrity based on this video this video.

(The gun is actually a Crosman C-11 pellet gun, but that is a real charter school.)

Angry gun owners unwittingly fed into her narcissism, and even the CSGV has thrown its hat into the ring. Notice the conciliatory and respectful tone:

This was an audition for Michael Bloomberg's money, and thanks to the outrage, she probably passed.

(This afternoon, she pulled down the original video and re-uploaded it at a different address. The link above is to the new address.)

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