Friday, April 18, 2014

Tour of the ORSIS Factory

Hats off to Max Popenker of The Firearms Blog for this awesome tour of the ORSIS factory, complete with photos of their production floor and some range time.

NRO Addresses Police Militarization

Today, National Review has this article on the increasing militarization of the police. I'm happy to see this getting publicity in what's essentially the party rag of the GOP. As you may discern from other posts, I think the GOP has a lot to offer and is closer to the Constitution on most issues than the DNC, but one lingering demon possessing that party is the hypocrisy in advocating expansive powers for the federal government under the guise of "security", the war on drugs and various social issues.

Parties naturally line up against each other for the sake of being against the other party. This regrettably leads them into the compromising positions of having changed their stance on issues from one decade to the next, or violating their core principles simply for the sake of polemics. It's hard for a party to argue for a constrained central government on some issues and be taken seriously when they disavow that principle entirely on others. The problem isn't the opinion or stance seeding the desire to change social behavior or the environment - most people honestly have the best of intentions - the problem is the means by which they try to affect their ends. As a great man once said, "There is a better way", and it doesn't have to involve more government force or endowing organizations like the Railroad Retirement Board with its own militarized SWAT team. It's a creeping trend towards effectively using a military force for local law enforcement, expressly against the guidance of the Constitution. Just because you call them 'neighborhood police' doesn't mean jack when they roll over your house with a tank. By their actions you shall know them.

ReasonTV Interviews Cody Wilson/Defense Distributed has an introduction written here, along with links to video and audio-only versions.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Who Has the Gun Safety Record?

I was pleased to see this article in the Lebanon Democrat citing the NRA's safety program for kids, especially while we have gun control groups trying to rebrand themselves as "gun safety" organizations this week, while having absolutely no record on safety training.

Putin Says Alaska Too Cold to Annex..

Hey, keep thinkin' that, buddy!

Consistency in Political Thought

The fight for gun rights often benefits from very singular and acute focus. Yoking gun rights to another political topic or party will almost always do more harm than good.

Check out this article at called Pot, Poker and Prohibition. It calls out a few current examples where Republicans support statist means to their ends, while also claiming anti-statist moral authority on topics like gun rights.
"The contradiction illustrates one reason the GOP seems destined for permanent minority status: Too many of its members are unprincipled...."
In other words, telling people the government shouldn't interfere in their liberty in one box, while championing that interference in another box is hypocritical, and undermines trust that a gun rights advocate has any true conviction about the foundation premises of liberty. It's hard for me to not get preachy on this topic, but if the goal is to get more people into the gun-rights camp, it's critical that we don't let gun rights get tarred with cronyism or prohibition politics. It means we take all comers, no matter their view on abortion, gay rights, the war on drugs, etc. In this way, gun rights stands or falls on its own, and is less subject to the stereotypes used to discredit the cause.

Yoking gun rights to another political topic or party will almost always do more harm than good!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mexico & Guns

I love Mexico. Being from Alaska I'm not one to hit Tijuana, but going further South and inland you certainly find a great people who are extremely kind, generous and live in a beautiful environment. And the food carts!! :P I love it all, and wish our country diverted half the money we spend on rebuilding the Middle East to helping our next door neighbors here in America (I am, of course, referring to the central part - the Canadians seem fine).

It's with interest, then, that I read two articles about Mexico and guns today.

The first is by the esteemed David Kopel, writing on the Volokh Conspiracy, about a paper he just wrote examining gun control in Mexico and cross-border trade. You can read the lengthy paper here. In it, he not only gives an accounting of Mexican gun laws, but also details the role that North American arms have played in Mexico, and an exhaustive review of the data on gun tracing. Conclusions are not surprising to those of you who may keep tabs on this data already, but it certainly is a fine and formal body of work in this area that's now part of the record and conversation.

Second, it's perhaps a coincidence that the NRA-ILA points us to an AP article today detailing the Mexican government's requirement that the armed rurales out in Michoacan join a form of state-sanctioned militia, or "rural defense corps". If you haven't been following this, fed-up citizens have banded together to resist the abuses of a cartel in their state, a la The Three Amigos (but without the light-hearted Amigos and Germans). These "vigilantes" are filling a vacuum that the state was unable to fill, or at worst, was complicit in supporting. As Max Weber described in Gewaltmonopol des Staates, the first priority of the state is to establish and secure a monopoly on the use of force. In Mexico, it seems this form of legitimacy has always been in doubt. Is it any wonder, then, that citizens take matters into their own hands?

It may or may not be ironic that these stories come profiled against the Bundy standoff in Nevada and the continuing disobedience to the recent gun laws in Connecticut and New York.

"Perhaps You Should Revolt"

I'm sure this will make the rounds in the news - Scalia's response to a student who asked about the legality of the income tax was that the government has the right to take his money, but after it reaches a certain point, "perhaps you should revolt."

The story linked for this also quotes Scalia as saying,
“The Constitution is not a living organism for Pete’s sake. It’s a law. It means what it meant when it was adopted.”
I'm reminded of Randy Barnett's interview with SCOTUSBlog, where he discusses why he avoided Constitutional Law and pursued contract law. Specifically, at the time he made this choice, he saw that the text of contracts was enforceable and meant something concrete, but the current jurisprudence around the Constitution at the time demonstrated that nobody was constrained by the text of document. I like to think that's changing, and hopefully the composition of the Supreme Court will increasingly favor viewing the Constitution as a contract between the people and the state, with words that mean something.

WWIII? Thank Bush & Obama

TheDailyMail has an article on the activities in the Ukraine lighting off WWIII. I pray that this doesn't happen, while I also pray that Russian expansion ceases.

This situation is what we get for involving ourselves in too many theaters with a bumbling execution and vision for the role of the US. I'm not a war hawk by any stretch - war sucks. The point I'm making is that we're too stretched because our leadership of the last two administrations has committed our blood and treasure to half-baked expeditions, and the current administration has proven itself rudderless and inexperienced with the gentle art of making enemies. It's easy to see why Putin would execute his territorial grabs now, perhaps it was even predictable. I can just hear the bar conversations of the analysts, frustrated at the leadership and feeling like they're pissing into the wind when they raise the difficult points.

About the only good thing one can say about the last decade-plus of war is that our troops are well seasoned, but their exhaustion and that of society detracts from the experience.

"New" Gun Control Group?

Bloomberg is rebooting his MAIG and MDA astro-turf gun control organizations, combining and rebranding them as "Everytown for Gun Safety" (EGS). He's seeding them with $50 million, and adjusting the focus of the organization to adopt similar visible tactics of the NRA, such as a report card.

You can read about this at, and the Philadelphia is reporting that former PA governor Tom Ridge will be joining an advisory board for EGS, along with Warren Buffet.

It's tempting to laugh about this - nothing's really changed other than a reorganization of existing groups and a statement about new strategy. I'll contend though that we need to pay attention when we see our enemies adjusting their strategy and perhaps "learning" from their mistakes.

At the same time, it is hard to see what impact this change will have in the gun control movement. Branding is important, and that's largely what I see going on here. Adopting the strategy of a report card may actually help the NRA more than Bloomberg thinks - the purpose of the report card is to distinguish between those supporting gun control and those supporting gun rights. An EGS report card would seemingly help triangulate the character of politicians.

At the end of the day, I just don't see gun control supporters being as passionate as gun rights advocates, which is why they don't have grass-roots clout.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Shooting Sports Are Mainstream, Says ATK

I was fishing around in this webcast by Mark DeYoung, CEO of ATK Techsystems (That's Alliant to you and me) for any information on gunpowder production constraints. An unrelated but interesting comment he makes is that looking at the long term, shooting sports have an annualized growth rate of 7-10% over the last 25 years. DeYoung made the statement:
"And whether you are a gun-rights advocate or you are not, it's become a mainstream activity and increasingly mainstream"
Otherwise, he makes statements that he doesn't see the market for ammunition products softening anytime soon. Their production facilities are running at full capacity, 24/7, and they're planning to add capacity. He restated a comment he made from his quarterly call that they did see order cancellations for .223 and 5.56 but stated that it was obvious that they were over-ordered, and the cancellations have done nothing to reduce the total demand. Also, he talks about their Lake City contract, and how their plan to sell excess capacity on the sporting market helps the government by absorbing any extra capacity and helps the consumer by getting more supply to market. I assume this means berden primers could become a more common headache for us reloaders.

Interview with Older English-Trained Gunsmith

This is a great little video I saw on the MidwayUSA facebook page. Larry Potterfield interviews Jack Rowe, who they say may be "quite possibly the oldest English-trained gunsmith in America". WARNING: this is the depth of nerdiness, and incredibly fascinating personal history, including testimony of old tools used, and perception of American guns back in the day, and Damascus barrels.

Automatic Weapons Aren't Semiautos, Your Honor

Over at, they're pointing out a mistake that Justice Stevens made in his book, and apparently was corrected for his op-ed in the post. He mistakenly points to the 'automatic' weapons used in school shootings, when there were no such weapons. Says Cato about why this is important:
"the gun control crowd often shows a pronounced ignorance of how guns work and which guns are actually illegal, which certainly doesn't help when they try to make their case for more strict controls."

Chicago Murder Rate

Chicago Magazine has an interesting and exhaustive article on the homicide rate being doctored to lower it, driven, of course, by political necessity.

My Take: As gun rights have recently made significant improvements in Chicago, we'd be well-advised to be skeptical of any increase in homicide rates, and similarly, careful about putting too much stock in lower numbers unless those numbers are scrubbed for these "death investigations".

Ammunition as Art?

Those of us who reload for precision know there is craft and workmanship involved in creating the 'perfect load', both in composition (amount of powder, type of powder, weight of bullet, brass and primer quality) and in form (OAL, primer seating, consistency).
The Smithsonian has a great article concerning the photographer Sabine Pearlman and her project to portray the beauty of ammunition. She photographed a collection of existing cross-sectioned ammunition. While originally (still?) an Australian anti-gun rights advocate, she saw something compelling in the juxtaposition of composite beauty and purpose.

The article contains many of her photos, similar to the one shown here. Pretty interesting.

News on Colorado Lawsuit

Just an incidental update here at the Denver Post.

Summary: closing arguments are complete, judge is deliberating. Substantially, the ban on magazines with removable base plates has 'changed'. The state agreed to clarifying their interpretation of what magazines would be illegal and loosening the requirements that an owner of a grandfathered magazine be in continual presence of a borrower of said magazine. I don't know that this is a positive. I mean, it's good that the state is not taking a wide interpretation of the law, but a widely interpreted law stood a better chance of being defeated.

Selling Used Firearms (in Alaska)

Recently I purchased a shotgun from a local guy who had never before sold a gun to another person. He was a little scattered in his process, and clearly concerned about doing everything correctly.

It made me think it would be useful to memorialize some ideas for an owner who's selling a used firearm. I'm going to attempt this, but please recognize this is advice for an incidental private seller.

Obligatory Disclaimer: I'm no lawyer, no expert on regs, and am only speaking to local transactions in my state, which is pretty progressive (yes, I'm taking that word) on gun rights. Your mileage may vary and you're absolutely encouraged to consult with a more experienced gun buddy or your local gun shop to make sure you're staying on the right side of the law and protecting yourself appropriately according to your risk tolerance.

Generally speaking there are a limited number of risks that you as a private seller need to mitigate. These concerns are as follows:

  • Physical safety of yourself and family
  • Protection of your personal property
  • Legal liability for the sale

Only the latter may be specific to gun sales in particular. The following recommendations correspond to these concerns, and get increasingly anal. I'm not necessarily saying you need to adopt all of these practices. The more you adopt, the lower your personal risk. The higher your tolerance for risk, the less you need to adopt.
  1. Sell As Locally As Possible: I think as a general rule, try to sell to someone you know, a friend of a friend, or someone in your associations, in that order of preference. If you're selling out-of-state you'll need to transfer through an FFL, and that's a whole different ball of wax. However, within the state, you can sell directly to another private citizen and it's up to you to verify that they're a) a resident, and b) not a felon or otherwise prohibited from firearm ownership. This job is made easier if you're selling to someone you know, or someone that a friend can vouch for. Selling to a fellow member of your shooting club, church, collector's organization, forum or fraternity/sorority, should make you more comfortable.
  2. Consider An Alternate Location to Make the Sale: Selling from your home is great if you know and are comfortable with the character of your customer. But realize that if you're selling to someone you don't know, you also don't know who you're about to open your door to. Consider finding a neutral location that might be safer and more populated, and that doesn't reveal the inner details of your 'castle'. Examples might include your local shooting range clubhouse, or even a populated parking lot in the daytime. The point is, if you were to end up meeting the wrong character, minimize your loss, exposure and personal risk. This is generally true for selling anything online, not just guns.
  3. Require Identity: Remember, buyer needs to be a resident of your state and legally allowed to possess the firearm you're selling. For simplicity, I'm not talking about NFA-regulated items (full autos, suppressors). I generally think a good level of due diligence is to require that the buyer be able to present a valid Alaska driver's license and a voter registration card. That latter piece may seem strange to many, but it's your sale, and your liability you need to think about. Why a voter registration card? Well, it provides some evidence that the person your selling to isn't a felon. You cannot register to vote if you are a convicted felon, unless those rights have been restored somehow (which can happen). This isn't foolproof - voting rights can be restored, cards presumably can be forged, like anything, and they don't have expiration dates - but again, it's a diligent step on your part to avoid risk.
  4. Keep Records: This is a touchy subject with us, but if you already keep an inventory of guns you own, it makes sense to at least notate the disposition of the firearm when you sell it. In other words, update your inventory to clearly indicate that the gun was sold, and on what date. Now, do you want to record information about who you sold it to? I've been in sales where the seller asked to not only see my driver's license, but also asked if he could write down my ADL #, and sign a receipt stating that I purchased the firearm on such-and-such date. Does this make sense for you, as a seller? If it makes you more comfortable, consider logging the ADL #, voter registration number, serial number, make and model of firearm, date and ask the buyer to sign a brief statement acknowledging the sale. Again, we gun owners are culturally a little touchy to the idea of record-keeping, so this may frustrate some buyers and they're also taking on personal risk of their own providing you with this kind of information. But what it does for you is demonstrate that you took steps to validate their residency, validate that they weren't a felon, and can provide evidence that they took possession of the firearm on a given date.
Most of these recommendations come back to the same idea: know who you're selling to. 

There are plenty of softer steps you can take to help your comfort level - at initial contact, most likely over the phone, engage in some personal conversation - explain what you used the gun for, why you're selling it, but also ask the buyer what they intend to use it for and what they do for a living. You can be artful in getting this information if you have a gift for gab. The point of this is to help you get a feel for who you're selling to. To use an extreme example to demonstrate the idea, you may not be comfortable selling your cheap Hi-Point .45 to a young guy who tells you he's unemployed, sounds high and intends to use the gun for duck hunting. It's a silly example, but you get the idea. The level of comfort you obtain from this conversation may help you determine which of the above recommendations you want to engage. Be creative - tell the person you'll give them $50 off if they demonstrate life membership in the NRA. Generally speaking, a person willing to throw down hundreds or thousands on his NRA membership is a reliably law-abiding gun owner - it may sound judgmental, but that's life. 

There are also extra precautions you can take if you're concerned for your physical safety. For instance, if you do elect to invite an unknown person into your house, maybe it makes sense to ask a friend to remain out of sight in an adjacent room until the transaction is complete, just to have some assurance that you have some help if you need it. Again, this is equally as valid when selling a cell phone on craigslist as it is for selling a gun.

One final note - if you're going to require things like proof of identity, etc, make sure your advertisement specifies such requirements, or at the very least tell the person before they show up to buy the gun. And don't be surprised if the buyer wants to see your credentials as well. Be prepared to make the buyer comfortable that he's buying from a reputable person.

Good luck!

A Right to Firearms Commerce

The always (okay, almost always) excellent David Kopel has a post up on Volokh Conspiracy linking to his HLR essay on whether the Second Amendment protects a right to firearms commerce.

I've linked to it before I've fully read it myself, but it looks very interesting, essentially claiming that if the right to own a firearm is protected for individuals, it implies that these individuals are engaging in commerce to acquire them. Now, the protection may change a bit depending on whether the topic is an individual engaging in private transfers or businesses engaging in commerce. Also, there's perhaps a question beyond whether commerce is protected - sure, commerce must happen, but what legally prohibits the government from enforcing a monopoly on being that source of firearms, perhaps? Does this protection of commerce protect the right of individuals to open businesses to sell firearms, or just for individuals to buy firearms. Where does this protection intersect with bans? Kopel's argument is interesting, and the impact will be exciting to see.