Aug 272013
 

The uncommon but powerful .357 SIG round (left) combines the necked case of a .40 with the bullet diameter of a 9mm.

The TSA – the Transportation Security Administration – was formed shortly after 9/11/2001, and was tasked with taking over airport security screening duties.

Rightly or wrongly (more wrongly than rightly) it was felt that a government coordinated organization could better manage airport security than was the case prior to that time with private security firm contractors at each airport.  In understanding this, it is essential to realize that the box cutters taken on board the four flights that were taken over by hijackers on 9/11 were perfectly legal to take on board the planes.

The failures of 9/11 were two-fold, and neither was the fault of the private security screeners – the biggest failure being the policy of passively giving in to and cooperating with hijackers, and the second failure being arguably the decision to allow box cutters as carry-on items.

But in the panic after 9/11 and the need to blame anyone but themselves, the security authorities saw an opportunity to create a new massive government department and rushed to form the TSA, which then became part of what is now the third largest of all government departments (only the DoD and VA are larger), the also newly formed Homeland Security Department.

Anyway, enough of the history.  You know the TSA – you see them every time you take off your shoes and belt and shuffle through the security screening at any airport.  The TSA now employs about 55,000 people.

Although they’ve tried to make themselves look more like police, now with police style uniforms and shields/badges, the happy fact is that these government employed ‘rent a cops’ have no powers of arrest and are not sworn peace officers.

There’s one more thing about TSA employees.  They don’t carry guns.

So how now to understand their publishing a tender for the supply of 3.454 million rounds of .357 SIG pistol ammo?  This sounds unbelievable, but you can see their official tender document here.  (Note they refer to .347 but it should be .357).

What does an agency made up of non-sworn non-police officers need with 3.454 million rounds of out-of-the-ordinary caliber pistol ammo?

Seriously, what do they want with this huge quantity of ammunition?  Can anyone tell us?

Mar 022013
 
Maybe providing free bags isn't so bad after all.

Maybe providing free bags isn’t so bad after all.

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a law last year banning the use of plastic bags in grocery stores, and requiring stores to charge 5c each for paper bags.

In truth, it seems the retailers were quite pleased about this.  They no longer had to give away plastic and paper bags for free, and – even better – could often make a profit by selling the massively marked up reusable shopping bags that it was hoped Seattle’s citizens would switch to.

The law took effect last July.

So what has happened since then?

Local hospitals report a surge in E.coli cases – and even deaths – as a result of people carrying food in unclean bags they were reusing.

Shoplifters delighted in being able to carry bags into the store, fill them, and walk out without paying.

Other shoppers, frustrated at finding they would have to pay to bag their purchases, simply walked off with the store baskets (and maybe/maybe not paid for the contents of the baskets).  Stores responded by not replacing the lost/stolen baskets, but that caused a new raft of customer service problems too.

As for the benefits – well, we’re still waiting for a report on those.  But perhaps the fact that there is no measurable global warming at present might ‘prove’ that Seattle was very wise.  On the other hand, the last time there was any significant global warming was almost a decade ago, so perhaps Seattle was simply late to the party.

More details of Seattle scoring an own-goal here.

Jan 132013
 
King George V reviewing The Grand Fleet at Spithead in 1914. 98 years later, Queen Elizabeth II had to settle for watching a procession of private launches motoring up the River Thames in London.

King George V reviewing The Grand Fleet at Spithead in 1914. 98 years later, Queen Elizabeth II had to settle for watching a procession of private launches motoring up the River Thames in London.

Britain is widely regarded by all (except perhaps our ‘Commander-in-Chief’) as being this country’s strongest ally – it is the country we have a ‘special relationship’ with.  They feel the same way about us too, and they’ve not hesitated to support us whenever we’ve needed it.

The strength of Britain as our ally is measured not just in its moral support of our policies and positions on the world stage, but also in its military support too.  Wherever we’ve been fighting in the last several decades, there have been British troops, planes and ships alongside ours.

It is sobering therefore to understand how Britain’s military capabilities have massively imploded in on themselves.  We not only have our President spurning our relationship with Britain while racing around the world apologizing and bowing to our enemies, weakening the strength of the ties that keep us and Britain so closely together, we also have Britain’s disarming of itself to the point of international irrelevance.

This article, in Britain’s leading and somewhat conservative newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, is mainly of little interest to most Americans, inasmuch as it involves Britain’s dispute with Argentina over the Falkland Islands.  But we can’t let that topic pass without point out how sad it is to note the contrast between the short war with Argentina in 1982 when President Reagan fully supported Britain, and the current situation where our President and his team are unable to even say they support Britain, while cozying up to Argentina.

What is most interesting, however, is to look down to the bottom, at the table of Britain’s military strength as between 1982 and 2013.  In case the link has eroded over time, we repeat the information here :

1982 2013
Total personnel 320,000 160,000
Carriers 2 0
Submarines 32 9
Destroyers 15 7
Frigates 46 13
Assault ships 2 4
Patrol boats 15 4
Minesweepers/hunters      29 15
Auxiliary (tankers, etc)      45 13
Aircraft 400+ 130

 

This isn’t just a recent decline over the past 30 years, it has been steady and almost without a break all the way since World War 2.  For example, total personnel in Britain’s armed services in 1972 were 371,000; in 1962 were 434,000; and in 1952 were 872,000.  In sixty years, personnel have reduced five-fold.

In 1913 Britain’s navy was the most powerful in the world, and by official policy, larger than the next two navies combined.  In time for World War 2 Britain’s navy was still larger than any other single nation, but by the end of the war, the US navy was massively larger, and Britain’s navy has continued to decline ever since.

When Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1953 the Royal Navy put on a formal ‘review’ at Spithead, with nearly all its fleet lined up in massive rows of warships.  When she observed the 60th anniversary of her ascending to the throne in 2012, the tradition of reviews, dating back to the 1700s, was replaced by a ‘flotilla’ of pleasure launches cruising along the Thames river in London.  The Royal Navy was too embarrassed to admit it no longer had enough ships to be reviewed and hoped people would not notice the difference between private boats motoring along the Thames compared to the former might of the Royal Navy in years past.

The reduction in armed personnel is all the more extreme when plotted against the rise in Britain’s total population.  In other words, the number of armed personnel as a percentage of the total country’s population is declining more rapidly than the simple decline in staffing.  This chart below gives a perspective on numbers from 1950 through 2012 (source).

ukarmedsvcs

There are two other issues arising from this, beyond Britain’s simple loss of military power.

The first is that it takes a lot longer to train a soldier, sailor, or airman now than it did 50 years ago.  Everything is much more complicated, and requires much more training.  This means that if Britain had to suddenly respond to a ‘high intensity’ conflict, or to come to our aid in a high intensity conflict of ours, by the time Britain could start deploying newly trained recruits, it would probably be too late.

The second issue is more subtle.  For almost all of Britain’s history, the armed services were a key part of the nation’s social fabric.  Occasional high intensity conflicts, occurring once a generation or so, saw large swathes of the population called up for service (as much as 10% of the population in both World War 1 and 2).  It wasn’t just the small percentage who served in wartime, either – even during peacetime, universal conscription – ‘national service’ saw all young male adults exposed to army training and discipline.  This ended in 1960 with the last intake being November 1963 – 50 years ago.

For the last 70 years, Britain has not had any high intensity conflicts, while the ‘pool’ of ex-servicemen has been dwindling as the old soldiers simply die.  The number of surviving WW2 soldiers is now rapidly reducing and soon there’ll be no more.

Britain is losing touch with its proud past, and is instead willing itself to become weaker and weaker.  Even if Britain wished to strongly support us in the future, it will lack the men and the equipment to do so.

Oh – and as for our own military capabilities?  Don’t ask.  It’s a similar story (but one to be told another time.

Jan 032013
 
Gun-hating Senator Schumer with a hammer.  Where is his outrage over hammer murders?  What hammer controls does he propose?

Gun-hating Senator Schumer with a hammer. Where is his outrage over hammer murders? What hammer controls does he propose?

The sheep are predictably bleating in response to the Sandy Hook School shooting.  Ban this!  Restrict that!  Outlaw the other thing!

The gun grabbers are leading this chorus with glee, while the sheep rush to sacrifice not just their liberty and freedom but also yours and mine too; all in the naieve ridiculous hope that the bad guys will voluntarily also sacrifice their liberty and their freedom.

Most of the focus seems to be on restoring the useless ban on ‘assault rifles’ (although Senator Feinstein’s definition of ‘assault rifle’ for her ban provision would also include any pistol capable of having a greater than 10 round magazine, which means just about every modern semi-auto pistol).  There’s something about the sight of a modern sporting rifle that creates a knee jerk hate response with gun banners – it seems they wish that only guns that ‘look nice’ with gentle curves and pastel colors should be allowed.

But – let’s stop a minute and smell the roses.  Just how many people are killed by rifles each year?  The answer might surprise you.

As reported here, the FBI uniform crime statistics show that in a typical year, about 300 – 450 murders were committed with a rifle.

But – in the same typical year, more people are killed with hammers than with rifles.  For example, in 2011 (the most recent year for statistics) there were 323 people killed by rifle, and 496 people killed by hammers and clubs.

A typical year shows half as many people again killed by a hammer or club than by a rifle.  And – get this – a typical year also sees twice as many people are murdered with nothing other than the killer’s bare hands (see this table for five years of recent data).

And don’t get us started on the slaughter from knives and cutting instruments – four to five times greater than that from rifles.

So, where is the outrage against hammers and clubs?  Against knives and cutting instruments?  What restrictions are being mooted against a person’s bare hands and feet?  Should there be a ban on hammers weighing more than 1 lb?  What about people with large hands or strong legs?  Should they be required to have surgical alterations?

We urge you to write your representatives and point them to these statistics and ask them to prioritize their actions to reduce violent crime.  Why focus solely on rifles when they are a small part of the problem, and already subject to dozens if not hundreds of rules and restrictions?  Why should honest people have their access to rifles restricted, when dishonest people will ignore any new laws and restrictions, the same as they have ignored all the previous restrictions that already exist.

By focusing on the tool – be it a rifle, knife, hammer, or even a killer’s bare hands – we are avoiding focusing on the real root cause, which is human nature and the propensity for bad people to do bad things, whatever way they can.

Dec 162012
 
There's a reason you never hear of terrorist attacks on Israeli schools.

There’s a reason you never hear of terrorist attacks on Israeli schools.

As I write this, the country is going through a histrionic act of soul-searching after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown Connecticut last week.  Gun grabbers can barely hide their glee behind a veil of crocodile tears, and the rush to enact more gun control legislation is terrifying in its irrational intensity.

The biggest problem with gun control?  There’s too much of it.  There’s a reason that people choose to shoot up schools – because they are ‘soft targets’.  Where else can a crazed gunman be sure to find a lot of helpless defenseless people, with no danger of anyone having a gun and shooting back?

Rather than take more guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens who use their guns exclusively for good and never for bad, why not change the prohibition on guns in schools and instead mandate that teachers take small arms defensive training and be issued with firearms.  We require teachers to spend many years of their lives training in how to teach – why not have them spend another week learning not just how to educate our children, but also how to protect them while they are responsible for the safety of our children.

And let’s now look at an interesting statistic that puts our so-called violent culture into a truer perspective.  As we’ve written about before – see here and here, for example – our rates of violent crime are massively decreasing and now are at about half the levels of when they were at their worst.  During these last twenty years or so, we’ve not seen any abatement in unemployment, gangs, drug related activity, and so on.  But we have seen massive increases in gun ownership and massive improvements in the laws that formerly sought to restrict our ability to own, carry and use firearms in self defense.

The conclusion is inescapable.  More guns and a more realistic approach to their use, equates to less violent crime.

Now, for the really telling comparison.  Please read this article which compares rates of violent crime in various European countries.  Near the bottom, it also shows the rate of violent crime in the US and Canada.  Here in the US, we have a rate of about 466 violent crimes per 100,000 of population.  Up in gun-hating ‘peaceful’ Canada, the rate is more than twice as high!  935 violent crimes per 100,000 of population in Canada.

Now go to Europe, and while a few countries have lower rates, look at the countries with hugely higher rates, including, worst of all, the ultra-gun grabbing country of Britain, with a rate of 2,034 violent crimes per 100,000 citizens – almost five times the rate in the US.

These are the real numbers that count.  Sure, 20 dead children is an emotional event that upsets anyone with children (including me).  But that is a rare occurrence, and it happened in a state that is already very restrictive in its gun laws, and in an area where people weren’t allowed guns.  How many laws did that gunman already break?  Enacting new laws won’t be any more effective at preventing him than all the laws already in place.

These children died because of too much gun control, not because of insufficient.

We need to empower and equip schools and teachers with the tools and skills they need to make schools ‘hard targets’ rather than soft ones.  And, most of all, we need to preserve our invaluable Second Amendment rights, so we as citizens can protect ourselves wherever we are (including in school grounds) and so we as citizens can do our bit to keep the violent crime rates falling still lower and lower.

Nov 272012
 

Gun stores and gun shows are all reporting massive increases in business.

Black Friday this year set a new record for gun sales nationwide, which were up 20% on Black Friday last year.

Gun sales can be loosely tracked to the number of calls to the FBI’s NICS background check service.  Any time a person buys a firearm from a registered gun dealer, the dealer needs to call the NICS service for an instant background check and obtain an approval code for the transaction.  Of course, not all sales are from registered dealers (private party sales are excluded) but probably all new gun sales necessarily go through dealers, and so the NICS call volume gives us a way of understanding the number of new guns being purchased and added to the country’s overall supply of guns in private hands.

One call to NICS can sometimes be for multiple guns being sold at the one time, so from that perspective, sometimes the count of guns sold could actually be higher than the NICS call number.  On the other hand, some states also call NICS to validate CCW licenses, and so these other calls to NICS, for purposes other than people buying new/additional guns, tends to mean that the total guns sold are less than the number of NICS calls.

However you adjust the raw NICS numbers, there remains the simple fact that, in general terms, the higher the number of calls to NICS, the greater the number of new guns sales that are being conducted, and this is particularly true on days when state and local authorities are probably closed and not calling NICS for other purposes (ie, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, such as probably is the case in most areas for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving).

In 2012, Black Friday saw 154,873 calls in to NICS, a 20% increase on the 129,166 calls for last year’s Black Friday.  Call volumes were so high that the FBI computer system overloaded and crashed on two separate occasions.

Every month for the last year has seen more NICS calls than for the same month the previous year, and every year for the last ten years has seen more NICS calls for the full year than the previous year.  Here’s the FBI official statistics on a monthly basis for every month since the NICS system started in November 1998.

Now that President Obama has gone on record, in the Presidential debates, as saying he advocates a re-introduction of an assault weapons ban, and with the renewed threat of a UN weapons treaty abridging our second amendment rights as well, we agree with the flood of people racing to buy firearms that there is good reason to be concerned with the status of our second amendment rights.

As some people have wryly pointed out, Obama has been the ‘best friend’ the gun industry has ever had.  His presidency has seen an unparalleled growth in new gun sales, which seems destined to continue into the future.

Oh – don’t forget stocking up on ammo, too.  Continued attempts to tax every bullet sold, and/or to outlaw lead in bullets, show that the gun-banners are exploring every possible way of diminishing your rights to affordably own and use firearms.

Oct 162012
 

Liberal gun hater Justice Stevens, in a 2006 photo.

John Paul Stevens was the nation’s third longest serving justice on the Supreme Court, having been appointed by President Ford in 1970, and retiring in 2010 (allowing for Obama to replace him with Elena Kagan, who Stevens described as ‘a brilliant justice‘).

Although nominally a conservative prior to his appointment, Stevens generally sided with the liberal side of the court (in case that isn’t obvious from his quote about controversial Kagan).  And so, unsurprisingly, he is also anti-gun, having taken the losing (anti-gun) side in both the two huge Supreme Court Second Amendment cases in recent times – Heller in 2005 and McDonald in 2010.

Although now thankfully retired, he is unable to keep quiet, and this article reports him offering up unwanted advice about how he believes that some classes of firearms can still be lawfully banned, as could also carrying of weapons pretty much anywhere.

About the best news part of this is that having been wrong twice in the two recent Supreme Court decisions, the chances are he remains consistently wrong on these matters too, and that he is confusing wishful thinking on his part with the actual law of the land.

If you can manage to read the whole article, there’s a ‘reward’ for you near the bottom, where the article quotes him as saying :

Stevens also had a recommendation for people who keep a weapon in their homes for self-defense purposes. “Maybe you have some kind of constitutional right to have a cell phone with a pre-dialed 911 in the number at your bedside and that might provide you with a little better protection than a gun which you’re not used to using,” he said to laughter.

Unfortunately, the laughter that greeted this comment was unlikely to be laughter at the idiocy of his statement, being as how he was making it to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project.

His comments, and his judicial record, expose two ugly truths.  The first is that Supreme Court judges may be experts on the law, but they are seldom experts on the matters they are required to apply the law to (in this case, the best way to respond to an intruder threatening you in your own home).  The second and sadder of the two is that Supreme Court judges will sometimes let their own personal ideologies interfere with their supposedly neutral interpretation of the law.

However, supporters of the Second Amendment can take encouragement from one thing he said.  A spurious argument raised by some anti-gunners is that the Second Amendment only covers weapons that were available in the mid/late 18th century, not more modern weapons such as are available now.  But when Justice Stevens refers to constitutional rights to cell-phones with pre-programmed speed dial numbers, he clearly accepts that the Constitution applies not only to the things in place when it was written, but to derivative and more modern things that have subsequently been created.  Such as, for example, semi-automatic pistols and fully automatic rifles.

Nov 212011
 

HR822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, has now passed the House

One of our ‘holy grail’ objectives is to replace the current crazy patchwork quilt of state level laws about concealed carry reciprocity with other states, and create instead an integrated nationwide program whereby a single license from your home state would be recognized throughout the country.

Sounds impossible?  Sounds impractical?  Well, certainly before the renaissance in concealed carry laws over the last two decades, it would have been both (and pointless too!) because few states allowed any type of concealed carry at all.

But there has been a steady restoration of concealed carry rights, state by state, and as our earlier article on the steady improvement of state concealed carry laws shows, we have gone from only eight states permitting concealed carry in 1986 to now only one state outright forbidding it in 2011.  Sure, there are a few other states that don’t play very fair with their issuing policies, but no-one can deny there’s been a huge change in concealed carry policies.

This has revived hopes for a framework whereby one state’s concealed carry permit would automatically be recognized by all other states.  At present it is tremendously difficult to know, for sure, which other states your home state permit may entitle you to carry in, and the truth changes fairly regularly as states add or remove other states from the list of states they will accept concealed weapons permits from.  Those of us who travel regularly typically end up with two, three, or even more permits in our wallets, and even with all of that, feel somewhat nervous and anxious!

There’s a clear analogous example – driving licenses.  A car is every bit as lethal a weapon as a pistol, and there are for sure way more auto deaths and injuries each year than there are firearms related deaths or injuries.  Different states also have slightly different driving laws (eg turning right on red, speed limits, talking on a cell phone, child car seats, etc) and these variations have not presented any problems in enabling a license issued in one state to be recognized in all other states (and most foreign countries too).

For the last many years, there has been a growing swell of support for a nationwide carry law, and just last week, the House of Representatives passed the ‘National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011’, currently in the form of HR 822 (click the link to see the text of the bill).

The bill was passed by a solid majority of 272 to 154 (click the link to see how your congressman voted).  A rush of amendments that would have massively watered down the provisions of the bill were all defeated by similar or even greater margins.  Anti-gun amendments were most recently proposed by Reps Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla), Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga), David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and by a Republican too, Rob Woodall (R-Ga).

Before it becomes law, two more steps remain.  It needs to also be passed by the Senate, and then signed into law by Barry Soetoro Barack Obama.

There is of course a Democrat majority in the Senate, unlike in the House, so this makes for a tougher passage.  But as the most recent opinion polls show, gun ownership is enjoying the most favorable level of public support in decades, and so at least some Democrat senators may prove sensitive to the winds of public opinion and join the Republicans to pass the measure.

Which leaves our President’s approval as the remaining obstacle.  For whatever reason, the current President has shied away from overt anti-gun acts, and in total, he has only vetoed two pieces of legislation in his almost three years in office.

He has been silent so far on whether he would support the legislation or not, so who knows what would happen at that point.

Criticism of HR822 – Is it a ‘Trojan Horse’

Some normally pro-gun rights groups have spoken out against HR822, claiming that it would create a new federal right to interfere in state level gun rights.  These people believe that any time we pass any element of gun related rights and legislation to the federal government, to the Department of Justice and to the BATF, we risk having those rights surreptitiously diminished and taken away.

We can certainly understand the cynicism of such people.  But if you read the text of the bill that has been referred on to the Senate, there is nothing in it at all to be concerned about.  Furthermore, the various amendments that would have indeed added provisions that would be negative or constraining were all soundly defeated.

So, if HR822 passes as it presently is written, we would seem to have a great bit of legislation that removes rather than adds gun control restraints on us.  And if there are attempts to rewrite HR822, at least at present there is little reason to believe such attempts would be successful.

The Inequity of HR822

Although we are enthusiastically supporting HR822, we have to observe that it is not without its problems.  We can understand the reasons some states require its citizens to pass a formal education course, and in a few cases, even to pass a range test too, before allowing its citizens the right to carry a concealed firearm.  It could be said this is similar to the process of getting a driver’s license – every state requires its residents to pass both a theory and practical exam before giving them a driving license.

At present, many of the states that require a format course of study prior to granting a concealed weapons permit have chosen to only recognize permits issued by other states that have similar training requirements, and have refused to recognize permits from states that issue permits without requiring any training at all.

HR822 would now obligate states with more restrictive training requirements to accept permits from out-of-state citizens who were granted permits on a more liberal basis.  And so you might have two people walking down the street, both with a concealed weapon, one a resident of the state who had to attend an eight hour class and then pass a range test for safety and accuracy in shooting, and who has to renew his license every five or fewer years, and the other, a visitor from another state who has a seven year permit which he got simply by paying a fee and filling out a form back home.  That feels a bit wrong, somehow.  At least there are some elements of standardization on driving license testing across the country.

But we’d much prefer ‘a bit wrong somehow’ to the situation instead where the out of state visitor can’t carry at all.  Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that people who have attended mandatory classes are any more (or less) likely to pose a risk to public safety when carrying their weapon than is the case with people who have not attended any mandatory classes.

What You Can Do

Please phone or email or fax or write to your two Senators, asking them to support HR822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, and to ensure its speedy passage through the Senate.  You can get contact details for your senators here.

If you are writing a letter, you could adapt one of these two letters and personalize it a bit before sending it.

To a Republican senator

Dear Senator (name)

HR822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, passed the House last week by a strong majority of 272 to 154, including almost every Republican Congressman.  It now needs to be passed in the Senate, too.

I know we have to carefully consider the implications of all legislation that may potentially either expand or diminish current gun rights in this country, and I know we must be respectful of state rights.  But with now 49 of the 50 states recognizing, in some form or another, the right to carry a concealed firearm, this legislation is not an end-run around the states.  It is merely a necessary national codification of the currently very confusing patchwork quilt of state/state reciprocity agreements in terms of which states will accept carry permits from other states.

We can do it for driving licenses (and I’m sure I don’t need to quote the appalling levels of deaths and injuries suffered as a result of vehicle accidents, massively in excess of those resulting from firearms).  We need to do it for concealed carry licenses too.

I’ve been licensed to carry a concealed pistol for many years, and have never created any problems.  But as soon as I cross the state line, I either lose that right entirely, or risk ending up in a twilight zone of uncertainty – an uncertainty shared by each other state’s law enforcement agencies, too.  Who knows what the most current and correct situation is in each state for each of the other states’ licenses?  Probably no-one!

This necessary legislation makes it easy, simple and straightforward for everyone.  It doesn’t trample over state rights, because out of staters still must follow all the applicable rules of the state they are visiting (the same as with driving).  It merely allows a person duly approved and licensed to carry a handgun in one state the certainty of knowing they can safely do so in other states without risking becoming an accidental felon.

Please may I ask for your support of this sensible measure and to help its speedy passage through the Senate.

Respectfully

(your name)

To a Democrat senator

Dear Senator (name

HR822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, passed the House last week by a strong bi-partisan majority of 272 to 154, including 43 of the Democrats.

I know we have to carefully consider the implications of all legislation that may potentially either expand or diminish current gun rights in this country, and I know we must be respectful of state rights.  But with now 49 of the 50 states recognizing, in some form or another, the right to carry a concealed firearm, this legislation is not an end-run around the states.  It is merely a necessary national codification of the currently very confusing patchwork quilt of state/state reciprocity agreements in terms of which states will accept carry permits from other states.

We can do it for driving licenses (and I’m sure I don’t need to quote the appalling levels of deaths and injuries suffered as a result of vehicle accidents, massively in excess of those resulting from firearms).  We need to do it for concealed carry licenses too.

I’ve been licensed to carry a concealed pistol for many years, and have never created any problems.  But as soon as I cross the state line, I either lose that right entirely, or risk ending up in a twilight zone of uncertainty – an uncertainty shared by each other state’s law enforcement agencies, too.  Who knows what the most current and correct situation is in each state for each of the other states’ licenses?  Probably no-one!

This necessary legislation makes it easy, simple and straightforward for everyone.  It doesn’t trample over state rights, because out of staters still must follow all the applicable rules of the state they are visiting (the same as with driving).  It merely allows a person duly approved and licensed to carry a handgun in one state the certainty of knowing they can safely do so in other states without risking becoming an accidental felon.

Please may I ask for your support of this sensible measure and to help its speedy passage through the Senate.

Respectfully

(your name)

Sep 052011
 
Fire Dept of New York Ambulance

The chances are you'll survive a bullet wound

The bad news is that if you get in a gun fight, you’ve got about a 50% chance of being hit by the other guy’s shooting (okay, there are so many variables at work as to make that a more or less meaningless statistic, but the bottom line is that you’re as likely to cop a round of incoming as not if you start shooting at someone who is shooting back at you).

The good news is that you’re not likely to die, at least if you get hit only once, assuming it not to be a ‘lucky’ shot (or should that be ‘unlucky’ shot?) and further assuming that you get competent medical treatment not long after.

This also assumes you’re both firing ordinary pistol bullets at each other.  If the other guy has a high powered rifle, then all bets are off.  Rifle wounds are massively more lethal than pistol wounds, and with a rifle being inherently more accurate to start with, if the other guy has a rifle and looks like he knows what to do with it, then you should think hard and long about your options before starting a firefight.

This immediately past weekend, from Saturday morning through Monday evening, has seen 42 gun shot victims in New York City – an amazing statistic when you consider it has pretty much the strictest gun control laws of the entire country.  What are people doing with guns in NYC?  Don’t they know it is illegal?

Mayor Bloomberg’s response is totally predictable.  The solution to 42 shootings in a single weekend is, he says, more gun control.  Yup.  He’s already made owning guns close to illegal and carrying guns totally illegal, and shooting people is illegal too.  So when these laws prove to be totally useless and completely ignored by criminals, his solution is to make them double illegal.

That will change nothing.  Indeed, it would be interesting to know how many lives New York’s current gun laws have saved – my guess is that the laws have cost lives rather than saved them, based on what has happened in almost the entire rest of the country, where there is an inarguable correlation between more permissive gun laws and fewer gun crimes and indeed, fewer crimes of violence in general – see our earlier discussion on this point.

Oh – be very afraid.  Not only does Mayor Bloomberg want to throw more stupidity at the hapless citizens of NYC, but he is calling for more federal restrictions on gun ownership too.  Yup.  NYC has a gun crime problem that is pretty much unique to NYC, so the mayor’s solution is to ask for gun restrictions in other states thousands of miles away; to make them more like NYC.  Here’s some news, Mayor Mike – if we wanted to live in a NYC type environment, we’d already be there.

It is hard to know which is the more breathtaking – his arrogance or his stupidity.  Both are regrettable.

But, ooops, getting sidetracked there.  The main topic of this post is not New York’s crazy dysfunctional gun laws, or the venally stupid politicians who create them, and neither is it to ponder on what strange chemical there must be in the city’s drinking water that causes NY’s citizens to vote for such politicians and to support such clearly wrong-headed policies.

Nope, we’re here to talk about gunshot wound survivability.

So, of these 42 people shot, including some people shot more than once, guess how many people were killed?  It will have to be a bit of a WAG (wild a**ed guess) because we don’t know how many were shot by pistols and how many by rifles or shotguns (it seems that most if not all were from pistols), but go ahead and have a guess.

What do you think?  30?  20?  10?  How many were killed?

The real answer is one.  Yes, 42 people shot, and only one killed.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Getting shot is no laughing matter, and even if you’re not killed, you might spend extended time in hospital, followed by months or years in physical therapy, and possibly lose the use of a limb or a sense permanently.  You definitely don’t want to get shot, and it is no laughing matter if you are shot.  Furthermore, the best sense I can get is that normally you’re looking at closer to a 20% mortality rate from pistol wounds – the 2.5% mortality rate in NYC this past weekend is much lower than normal.

However, whatever the mortality risk actually is – 2% or 20%, there are two very important lessons from this.

First, if you do get shot, don’t give up.  You’re not yet dead; you’ll probably live, and you’ve not yet lost the fight.  Keep your gun running, and stay in the fight.  Willpower, the drive to survive, and the essential need to triumph can keep you going; whereas a lack of willpower that causes you to give up as soon as you’ve been slightly wounded will definitely see you lose.

Expect to be wounded.  Mentally prepare yourself for it, and accept it when it happens, and stay in the fight.

Second, flip the scenario around.  Your opponent can also stay in the fight, even after soaking up one, two, three, four or more rounds (there have been cases of bad guys taking over ten rounds and staying active for some minutes).  Especially if the bad guy is high on some sort of drugs that alter his body chemistry and pain/injury response, he might not even notice the impact of the bullets and may keep on at you until he bleeds out or you land a kill shot that severs a vital artery or nerve.

Don’t stop to see what happens after firing one or two shots.  As long as the bad guy is on his feet and closing the distance on you, keep sending rounds at him.  Shoot him until the deadly threat he poses to you has ended.  This might be when he drops his gun and sinks to his knees, ten feet away, with his hands clearly visible and empty.  It might be when he turns and runs away.  But as long as he is advancing on you, and as long as the circumstances that caused you to need to use deadly force remain present, then he is still just as much a threat as before you hit him the first, second, and subsequent times.

Even seriously wounded people can still pull the trigger of the gun in their hand.  Even seriously wounded people can throw themselves on top of you and plunge a knife through your throat, your eyes, or your ribcage and heart.

There’s a reason the police don’t just shoot once at a bad guy.  Don’t go berserk and pepper him with 50 rounds, but don’t stint on the firepower either until he ceases to be a credible deadly threat.

Here’s a link to the article that counted 42 gun shot injuries.  Here’s a link to an article giving more details about eight of the casualties.

Update : The count is now up to 46 shootings, with two more hours of the day still to go before the end of the holiday weekend.  But still only one death.  Way to go, Mayor Mike.  Good job on that gun control thing you’ve got going there.