Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ignorance and Elitism: the root of gun control

Statue outside of U.N. building in NYC
On the evening of 10-16-2012 we saw a glimpse into the future of a potential second term for President Obama. One filled with ignorance and elitism. I don’t say that lightly so please allow me to explain, in detail.

Before I do, a brief review of the previous assault weapon ban is in order. The name is quiet misleading, and purposefully so. The intention of the initial bill, which was law from 1994-2004, was to confuse people with invented terms such as ‘assault weapons’ and ‘deadly features’. The hope was, by using evil sounding terminology and showing scary pictures, semi-automatic weapons and what were ‘standard capacity’ magazines (now referred to as high capacity magazines) could be banned.

The ruse worked and the bill became law. The result? Weapons were banned simply because of the way they looked. Magazines with over 10 rounds were banned. For the law abiding gun owner, it was a nightmare. For the criminals? Business as usual.

In 2004 the bill sunsetted, meaning it expired. Much contention about the sunset clause abounds. Would the bill have passed had the NRA not slipped it in? Probably not, but the NRA made a gamble with our Rights and gave them up, in the hopes the bill would sunset 10 years later. As it turned out, it did. At what cost? For those who won’t recall, at the height of the ban, a Glock 17 round magazine with 17 round capacity would sell for $125. That’s just one example.

Ten years of invented terminology has also permeated the landscape and phrases like “high capacity” and “assault weapon” are in common use. The mental impacts of that ten year period cannot be understated. Many people think the phrase assault weapon means a weapon that is fully automatic, which is simply not true. That leads us to where ignorance comes into play.

Ignorance. Make no mistake, the President has access to the data, he isn’t ignorant. He knows that ‘assault weapons’ aren’t the problem. Neither are inexpensive firearms. He is, however, counting on the general public and their ignorance to achieve his goals. Terms like “assault weapons” and AK-47 will be bantered about over and over, attempting to scare people and play on their ignorance.

YOU will need to take up the fight. Inform your friends, family and coworkers about what the ill termed ‘assault weapon’ really is. It’s simply a semi-automatic weapon that appears to be more ‘deadly’ than it’s hunting equivalent.

Elitism. This is where the meat and potatoes are found. We can clearly see it in comments like those from tonight’s debate. He tries to disparage inexpensive firearms as somehow being a “criminals choice”. Again, those who would disarm you are playing on the ignorance of the public.

Criminals don’t legally acquire guns. Generally they steal them. Why would a criminal steal a less expensive item, over the more expensive one? It’s absurd.

What they really don’t want are the Plebeians having a means of self defense. You see, when a person has it in their ability to defend themselves, it generally leads to an improved sense of self-worth, well-being and their becoming more independent. That doesn’t exactly square with a subservient and ignorant populace. It also doesn’t bode well for forms of government such as socialism or communism.

When someone says we need to get rid of “cheap guns”, as the President did tonight, what they really mean is “We don’t want poor people being able to defend themselves”. In todays age of technology, even the most inexpensive firearm is not dangerous. Sure it may not function with the reliability one may want, but it’s better than a pointy stick or baseball bat.

In the second Presidential debate of 2012 Barrack Obama may have just handed the election to Mitt Romney. It’s ironic really. Mitt Romney, while governor of Massachusetts, signed a permanent assault weapons ban. We can look back and know that Mitt Romney wasn’t ignorant when he signed that bill. In the eyes of gun owners, a few short years ago, Mitt Romney shared the same company as Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein. Now, as a Presidential candidate, he opposes some of the very bills he signed off on.

While it is uncertain how Mitt Romney will actually deal with any firearms related bills should he win, we can now say with certainty what Barack Obama WILL do.

“Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. “ –Barack Obama 10-16-12

Keep in mind, Congress is needed for another assault weapons ban. No matter which of them wins, we need to make sure that PRO firearm Congressmen and Women are in office to prevent a bill from ever reaching the Presidents desk, no matter who it is. Given Mitt Romneys history and decades of being anti-gun, we can’t put all our faith in his recent change in positions:

“Yeah, I'm not in favor of new pieces of legislation on -- on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal.” – Mitt Romney 10-16-2012

Our vigilance is needed, not just for the next month but for the next 4 years and beyond. Those who would wish to strip us of our Rights won’t rest. I also ask you to continue to remember we have a Right to self defense and Right to keep and bear arms, independent of the Second Amendment. Feel free to see my previous articles on Rights found in the article entitled “Enemies Within”.

©2012 -Permission is granted to reprint or repost this article provided it is used in full, with links intact and the content is not altered, including this section.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Poodle Killer Myth

No U.S. military service rifle caliber has been more controversial than the 5.56x45mm cartridge.  Since it's adoption in the 1960's, Soldiers and civilians have both circulated the myth that the 5.56 round was designed to wound the enemy and not kill them.  The logic behind this claim is that wounding the enemy puts a strain on their logistical systems with the added bonus that it requires other enemy soldiers to carry off their wounded brethren thus lessening the number of combatants on the field of battle.

The only problem with this myth is that it is just that, a myth.

The U.S. military has never published any documents, requirements or doctrines stating a desire to adopt a rifle cartridge designed to only wound the enemy.  Of course the military views wounding as better than no hit at all, and taking an enemy combatant out of the fight they view as a good thing.  But they have never built a doctrine around the concept of wounding being the desired result of a gunshot wound.

The 5.56mm cartridge was designed to kill not wound or maim.

I believe the root of the myth comes from countless horror stories told by both civilians and Soldiers about the 5.56mm's failure to neutralize a target.  In 2003 the U.S. Army conducted a study that found the 5.56mm was actually quite acceptable for combat duty.  This is a quote from the study that I think carries a lot of weight.
In the end, “footpounds of energy” is misleading, “stopping power” is a myth, and the “oneshot drop” is a rare possibility dependent more on the statistics of hit placement than weapon and ammunition selection.  Effectiveness ultimately equates to the potential of the weapons system to eliminate its target as a militarily relevant threat.
I agree with this statement.  Shot placement will be the largest deciding factor in how effective a gun shot would will be in terms of dispatching the enemy.  The horror stories about the ineffectiveness of the 5.56mm can be traced back to either unsubstantiated rumors and myths or to poor shot placement.

It's also worth noting how the 5.56mm stacked up against the .308 in the testing.  For CQB type combat the 5.56mm actually kept pace with the 7.62x51(.308) in terms of close range effectiveness.

It's interesting to note that when the U.S. military adopted the .308 to replace the 30-06, similar horror stories circulated.  The .308 was deemed to be inferior to the 30-06 by many Soliders.  Slowly these rumors faded, and their demise was hastened with the adoption of the 5.56x45mm only a few short years later.

The 5.56mm cartridge is a fine service rifle cartridge that excels at close to medium range combat.  It is not well suited to long distance engagements which is why the U.S. military has moved back to the .308 for DMR's (Designated Marksman Rifle) in the wide open spaces of the Middle East.  For a survival rifle you would be hard pressed to find a more suitable caliber than the 5.56x45mm.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fighting with Averages

I often see people throw around averages when discussing preparations for self defense.  Many cite averages to justify their choice for a defensive arm.  Revolver guys will use averages to justify their choice of a 5 or 6 shot handgun.  Sub-compact guys will also cite averages to justify their choice of a handgun with limited capacity.

I recently posted a review of the Springfield XD-S .45 ACP sub-compact handgun on the Military Arms Channel.  I mention in the review that the XD-S only carries 5 rounds of .45 ACP and I would rather have the handgun chambered for 9mm so I could have a couple of extra rounds.

A viewer to the channel raised the argument that 5 round was ample because the average gunfight only requires 2-3 rounds to be fired.  Here is the posters comment:
I'm not as concerned as others about magazine capacity because most gunfights last only 2-3 rounds. And like Col. Jeff Cooper used to say: "If you can't do the job with 2-3 rounds, then you have no buisness carrying a pistol in the first place.
I have a problem with planning your self defense strategy around averages.  If the average number of shots fired to end a fight is 3 rounds, that means some gunfights required more rounds to be fired and some required fewer to be fired.  It's safe to say that in that average more than one gunfight required more than 5 rounds to be fired.

What happens if you encounter two or more armed thugs with your 5 shot pistol?  Do the averages say you will need to fire 2-3 rounds at each assailant?  We don't know.  Most who cite the averages for gunfight statistics have no idea how the data for the averages were collected or what types of shootings they included.

The FBI is the source of the 2-3 shots fired average.  The data is collected from police shootings, not civilian shootings.  There is a difference.

Many training organizations have collected their own data based on training done with paintball guns, soft air guns and with Simunitions.  Gabe Suarez has this to say about what he's seen in training.
Defenders will fire their weapons until the threat disappears. That means that until the role player falls down (simulating effective hits delivered), or runs away (removing the target), the good guy will keep firing. The concept of school solutions, controlled pairs, or otherwise artificially limiting the number of shots (as one does in a firing string on the range) does not hold up even in guys who’ve been extensively trained to do it.
 This is how things typically go in a real world civilian gunfight.  The good guy gets scared, pulls their weapon and proceeds to shoot until there is no more threat.  The bad guy will do one of two things, stand and fight or flee.  With semi-auto pistols shots get fired very quickly.  Hit probabilities are relatively low, regardless of how extensively you've been trained.  That means the person with the most rounds in their magazine has a decided advantage.  The more attackers there are, the more rounds the defender will need.

Some will argue that having spare magazines will remedy the issue of only having a few rounds in the pistol.  Suarez, and others, note that changing magazines in a gunfight rarely goes like it does on the range in practice.  Stress changes everything.  Fine motor skills go out the window and gross motor skills become labored.  Many times the defender will run out of ammo and not notice until they've pulled the trigger several times on an empty handgun.  They're focused on the fight, not the condition of their weapon.  Suarez elaborates:
When a training gun stops firing (due to running out of pellets), the shooter is still in the fight and still trying to shoot his enemy as well as trying to not be hit by him. We see them continue to try to work the trigger for one or two times before there is a realization that there has been a stoppage (malfunction or empty gun). This is followed by a visual examination of the gun, and only then is remedial action taken. 
This can take upwards of a second and a half before anything is even attempted to fix the gun, and then the additional time needed to reload. Thus the idea that one can read the gun’s feel and immediately realize a need to speed load simply does not hold up. Running out of ammo is usually a fight ender if there has been a failure to stop, or there are multiple adversaries at hand.
The fact is you will fire more rounds than you think you might in a gunfight.  Being forced to reload your weapon adds an avoidable failure point.  Having more rounds in the magazine does increase your effectiveness in a fight.

When planning for self defense I recommend you think beyond averages.  I view averages as bare minimums because they don't take into account the extremes you're likely to encounter in a fight.  I do carry sub-compacts with limited magazines capacities, but I only do so for short trips or as a back-up weapon to a larger handgun.  When I go to the store, I'll throw a XD-S or Shield in my pocket if I'm in a hurry.  When I leave town or plan on being out for the day traveling around, I will bring my Glock 19.  If I know I'm going into a bad area, I will most certainly bring my Glock 19.

The use of small pistols like the XD-S, LCP, Shield, Kahr's, Nano, etc. is a compromise.  I understand that when I reach for a sub-compact I'm committing to living with the compromise I've just made.   Ideally, I would never leave the house without one or more handguns with at least one carrying 15+ rounds.