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Ammunition Breaks The Laws Of Economics, Pleads ‘Not Guilty’

2013/06/05 Leave a comment

My friend Michael recently expressed his frustration with most peoples conceptions of why ammo prices haven’t increased to any meaningful degree, despite the fact that it’s in short supply. Admittedly, that isn’t quite true, prices have increased substantially on the second hand market (so substantially that I will not provide you with a link illustrating that because the numbers border on being indecent). Prices have also increased somewhat in the case of gun shops. However, when you take into account the larger businesses, I don’t know that I can say I have seen any price changes whatsoever. Thus, in the aggregate, prices appear to be almost identical to what they previously were.

By all the laws of economics this seems unbelievable. When demand rose and supply can’t keep up, you would expect to see prices go up by a margin that would reduce demand. In this case, that isn’t happening. Is our understanding of supply and demand lacking? Are we missing something?

The answer is that we understand supply and demand well enough, but we are in fact missing something.

Places like Wal-Mart don’t derive much profit from ammunition, the same is true of larger sporting goods stores. This is where it gets tricky, so try and keep up.

If you know anything about retail sales, you should know what the term, “loss leader” means. To save you the burden of clicking that link, the general idea is that you offer something for sale at a price at, near, or below it’s market value. You would do that because when people come to buy whatever the items in question are, they are like to buy other things while they are there. Hopefully that generates a net increase in sales.

The bigger stores don’t derive much revenue from ammo, and so I think they are choosing to forgo the increased profits from the rising value of ammo, in the hopes that people will regularly stop in and check on the ammo availability. Even if they don’t have the ammo in stock, the fact that the prices are lower than in gun shops means people may choose to wait and keep checking, rather than pay higher prices.

I’m stopping into stores on an almost daily basis now, and I almost always leave with some other crap I don’t really need, like milk, socks, books, and so on. I’m sure it’s the same for multitudes of others. I stop in because of the low prices, they don’t have what I want, and off I go to the beer aisle.

So, the truth is that prices have been increased to compensate for demand, but they are immediately dropped to their usual price, the difference between the two pricing levels is the loss stores are taking in return for more frequent shoppers. (example: 50 rounds of “x” used to cost $20, the store increases them to $40, with a 50% discount.) Now, I’m sure it is more complicated than all of that, but I think I’m on the right track to explain why ammo seems to be ignoring the laws of economics. Everything is working as it should, but many of the incentives presented by this particular crisis are unique to it

Lastly, to get back to the small gun and sporting goods shops, they make a substantial portion of their profit on ammo and so they have to increase prices to try and make up for the lack of supply, or risk going out of business, but the amount they can increase prices is hampered by competition from the larger stores, making the value of ammo appear lower than we would expect.

I might be completely wrong on all of it, but it makes sense.

As a footnote: The siege may be lifting. The Wal-Mart in Augusta, Maine, has two AR-15 rifles, and they have been there for the last 7 days. I was so shocked to see them sitting there on display that a unicorn might have walked up to the counter to buy a fishing license and I wouldn’t have given it a a second glance. Maybe I’ll get lucky soon and be able to find that Hi-Point carbine I’ve always wanted.

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The End of an Error/Era

2013/05/22 Leave a comment

I just got around to watching this video of the Illinois House of Representatives debating a bill that would legalize concealed carry, as per a December court ruling requiring a bill by the 9th of June.

I’m not going to parse the whole video, but I do have a few points to make.

1. The opposition to the bill doesn’t seem to be able to read.

2. I can’t understand why some of them still don’t understand that concealed carry does not cause any problems in any state that has concealed carry permits and even in the four states that don’t require permits, there are no issues.

3. Crime generally goes down after concealed carry enactment, but there doesn’t seem to be a direct link between the two. That isn’t actually a problem, if anything, the fact there are no direct connections we have discovered would seem to indicate that in the worst case, concealed carry has no effect on crime.

4. This “chicken little” bullshit needs to stop. None of the horrible predictions about hellfire and brimstone raining down if people can carry guns in public have come to pass. I believe that concealed carry does, if not reduce crime, impact criminal behavior for the better. I say that because with more guns on the street where people can carry, violent crime doesn’t go up. Those who beat the system and get guns even if they are banned from owning them, have no reason to abide by the law when it comes to when, where, and how they carry.

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Blood Alcohol Content or Impairment

2013/05/22 Leave a comment

Make your choice already. Impairment and blood alcohol content (BAC) are not interchangeable terms, but recently the NTSB has decided that they will ignore that fact and push the states to ignore it once again. One of many proposals unveiled is to lower the BAC limit from .08, where it is now, to .05, where many other countries now have it. The justification is that in the places where it has been done, fatalities from drunk driving has fallen.

However, just like when comparing the US to other countries regarding gun control, you can’t just throw the numbers out and say what has caused observed changes. Since 1991, the US drunk driving fatality rate has fallen by 63%, most of the countries that have reduced the BAC limit to .05 have seen roughly the same decline. That would lead me to believe that the change probably didn’t have the effect that MADD and others would have us believe.

We need to incorporate culture and some other variables as well to make a fair comparison. Drunk driving is a popular subject even by internet standards, so go have a google at the data, but I’ll point out that one of the variables not controlled for is the fact that Americans don’t have the same access to public transportation that those in other countries have, at least outside of population centers, we have a much larger rural population, so more people have to drive to get anywhere they want to go.

Getting back to the point I want to make, we are always fixated on the wrong things. I don’t think there should be a legal BAC limit for driving. That’s because BAC doesn’t matter, impairment does. I can understand the need for a hard limit, it may help people grasp how much they can drink if they want to drive, but the problem with that is .08 for me and .08 for anyone else does not result in the same level of impairment. The law rightly recognizes this and so you may be arrested, charged, and convicted of DUI even if your BAC is .05.

The right way to deal with this, at least in my opinion, is to worry less about BAC and more about how we go about measuring the real level of impairment. As I recently said in a thread on Facebook, if someone had a 50/50 blood/alcohol mix flowing through their veins, I’m fine with them driving, as long as they are not impaired*.

Frankly, I’m beginning to wonder what the problem is that we are trying to address. Is it alcohol in the blood, or is it impairment? Once again, they are not interchangeable terms. I tell my students that there is no moral difference between being impaired by your cell phone or a delicious hamburger, and driving blind drunk. Stop worrying about BAC, it’s completely beside the point. We don’t need to make changes, because an arbitrary line is the sand does not actually inform us of anything in reality.

*Now that would obviously impair a person, in fact, it’s more than 150 times the level of alcohol needed to kill most people (the LD50 is around .40%), but my point is that BAC doesn’t matter.

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Freedom of Speech and Public Safety

2013/05/21 Leave a comment

In the midst of the debate about guns that has been, if not always raging, at least smoldering, since just before the Supreme Court handed down the Heller ruling, something key has been overlooked, if not outright ignored. It’s odd, because one of the justices, Roberts I think (I’ll check later and correct myself in need be), said that the Second Amendment is unique because unlike the First Amendment, the question can be one of life or death.

None of the lawyers called him on that statement during oral arguments and I have heard nothing about it since, from any source, even after the recent bombings in Boston.

The issue, if you didn’t pick up on it, is that the First Amendment protects instructions on how to make bombs, not to mention guns. I think the issue of distributing files that can be used to 3D print a functional firearm will be protected, as the countless sources of bomb making information out there are.

Keep in mind that the worst attack on a school in the US, was not carried out with guns, but with bombs, and that was well before the advent of the internet, way back in 1927. Roberts was simply not correct in stating that the First Amendment is a different animal. I’m not saying that I support restrictions on speech, but those who support nonsense like “assault weapon” bans and magazine capacity limits because of their perceived  dangerousness need to stand back and take a long hard look at what their feelings are regarding speech limitations.

I have to point out that while so called assault weapons are no more dangerous in any way than any other semi-auto rifle, bomb making information is clearly a more dangerous kind of speech than most others. Are we prepared to let the government press it’s heel harder down on Lady Liberty’s throat? How much latitude should the government have in determining what is and is not too dangerous to be covered by the preexisting rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights? I say very little.

Freedom is a dirty business and people need to decide how much they want. They need to remember that once that choice is made, history shows us that without major, and often violent, intervention that an outbound flow of freedom is seldom reversed. Give up freedoms now and you are making that choice for everyone else that follows you, what gives you the right?

You can check out this link if you want a really good example of dangerous, but rightly protected speech. I think speech can certainly be held and used against you when you have committed, are committing, or are planning to commit criminal acts, but the speech itself is not and should not be a crime. When free speech is outlawed, only outlaws will speak freely.

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Constitutional Carry In Maine

2013/05/18 3 comments

Maine, like most other states (five states don’t require permits and one state does not currently allow carrying weapons at all*), requires a person wanting to carry a concealed weapon to apply for and receive a permit to carry a concealed firearm. In general I’m not opposed to the process, but it does beg a couple of questions:

1. What stops someone without a permit from carrying concealed? Nothing. It’s like a drivers license, nothing stops you from driving without a license. You no more need a concealed weapons permit to buy guns then you need a drivers license to buy a car. Which leads to another question.

2. Why have concealed carry permits at all? It’s a good question. Its always been legal in the state of Maine and most other places to carry a firearm openly, so there is a good point to be made regarding what exactly changes when you put your jacket over top of it or sit down in a car.

Lets be clear, I don’t think that permits really serve any purpose. Since you can carry openly, and people often do, we know what would happen if there were no requirements to carry concealed, pretty much nothing. It’s even more clear if you look at Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Arkansas that there is no problem with not issuing permits and making concealed carry legal for anyone who can legally own a firearm. It seems a little strange, but you have to remember, that while claims like, “bad guys will still get guns no matter what”, are pretty weak, we are not talking about preventing anyone from getting a gun, we are talking about how people who already have them can carry them.

I had the opportunity to talk with two Maine State Troopers regarding this earlier today and it was one of them who pointed that out to me. If we have failed to prevent Joe Felony from getting a gun, concealed/open carry laws are entirely worthless in preventing him from doing exactly what he wants to do with it. He is exactly right. Its just as true when we look at the places where carrying of firearms is prohibited, if you can’t keep people from getting the gun in the first place, it doesn’t make a difference where you say they can’t take it.

So I’m all for getting rid of permits. The time and money spent issuing permits and doing background checks appears pretty much worthless. The standards to get a carry permit are much more strict than they are to buy a gun, and if the troopers can be trusted, less than 1/100 of 1% of permits are denied, making it a process with little utility, just refer back to question 1 if you don’t think so. Those who don’t qualify, don’t bother trying, and why would they? Since nothing stops them from carrying and any crime they are like to commit is much more severe than the firearms charge would be, it stands to reason that the main effect of permits is to lighten my wallet, and those of others like me, by $20 every four years.

Frankly, it would make more sense to require a permit for open carry and make concealed carry mandatory. I won’t go into why I think that right now, I’ll save it for another post, but suffice it to say that carrying openly has concerns that don’t apply to carrying concealed.

Is it unconstitutional to require permits? Probably not. Is it a waste of resources that could be better spent? Almost certainly yes. Would we all be safer if the requirement for a permit was discarded? Maybe not, but the bulk of the evidence suggests we wouldn’t be any less safe. Every single apocalyptic prophecy foretelling the parade of horrible things that would happen if concealed carry were allowed in any form have failed to come to pass.

*Illinois bars the carrying of firearms almost universally, hunting being the exception. It plainly does nothing for their crime rate and in any event, the state has been ordered to enact a means by which citizens may carry firearms outside the home by early June, when the court order striking down the current laws prohibiting carry will go into effect. Essentially that would make Illinois the sixth state to have “constitutional carry”. If it happens, I expect no problems. Once a criminal gets a gun, the law can do little to prevent him/her from carrying it. 

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DOJ Speaks On Gun Crime

2013/05/11 1 comment

So recently the DOJ has released some data showing the state of gun crime over the last 20 or so years, and it isn’t good news for gun control advocates. The reports are fairly tedious so I’ll put up the link at the bottom but summarize it for ease of reading.

The first thing that caught my eye, even as a supporter of background checks, is that only a very small percentage of criminals report obtaining a crime gun at a gun show, it’s around 1%. There really isn’t any way to determine why that is, but I have a guess.

Contrary to popular belief you do need to go through a background check to get a gun online. You are free to buy the thing without one, but they can only be shipped to a federal firearms licensee (FFL), who must then run a background check and enforce any waiting periods imposed by state government before charging a fee and making the transfer. That explains why online sales are a non-issue, but why don’t criminals use gun shows to flout the system?

My suspicion, and I think I’m probably right, is that in private sales the seller is very likely to be able to identify the buyer later on, making it somewhat more likely police will be able to gain a conviction. On the other hand, criminal sources of firearms hove no interest in cooperating with police and gun dealers sell too many guns to be able to reliably make identifications. That explanation seems a little too tidy to me, but I’m probably on the right track.

The second, more damning, thing to be found in the new data, is that gun crime is dropping faster than a strippers clothes and has been doing so since the 90’s. It’s pretty had to make a diagnosis here also, because there are lots of reasons that are certainly involved, some of which I’ve numbered below:

  1. Policing has improved for many reasons that aren’t just new tactics and better training, forensics has made enormous strides in the past 20 years, making it ever harder to get away with any crime, violent or not.
  2. Some gun control laws have been relaxed and others strengthened. It’s indisputable that armed civilians serve as a deterrent, the only question is how much of one are they, but there is no good data to suggest that gun ownership levels have a major causal relationship to crime rates, either positive or negative. The same is true of concealed weapons. In the places where concealed carry is permitted, crime rates do seem to drop after their enactment, but as they are often passed as parts of larger crime reduction bills, it’s hard to say what is causing what. Further, the penalties for breaking the law while armed have shot up as much as gun laws have been relaxed.
  3. The economic situation has improved since the late 70’s. The biggest problem with measuring the effect of crime reduction policies is that you can’t “unrotten” an egg. No? Okay, I’ll make it clearer. Criminals commit crimes not law abiding people. I realize that sounds like defining round as being like a circle and a circle as being round and other ‘divide by zero’ scenarios, but it’s not. Criminality is not evenly distributed over the population, rather, a small number of people commit the majority of crimes. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that people end up with their propensity for criminal behavior more or less fixed based on their childhood conditions, so crime reduction initiatives and stiffer penalties being imposed deter few people who already live a life of crime, while changing the circumstances for the better for those not already living the same.
  4. Civilian armament probably does serve as a deterrent. As I said in number two there isn’t really good evidence of causation here, but surveys of prison inmates and crime trends indicate exactly what common sense suggests. Criminals, like lightening, tend to take the path of least resistance. Inmate surveys tell us that muggers, burglars, and many others profile people and tend avoid those who they think likely to fight back. We can see this if we take a look at property crime, robbery for example: robbery is down, but burglary is up. With robbery, the victim has to be present and and things must be taken forcibly or under the treat of force. Burglary on the other hand, means only that one enters a structure with the intent of committing a crime. With that in mind, it seems logical that if criminals avoid victimizing those who might fight back, than property crimes involving violence should drop and property crimes without violence should increase, with some relationship to the defensive tools in common use by victims.

Any claim that gun violence is a growing problem is just patently false, the data show the opposite trend, suggesting that stronger gun laws, at least those put forward for consideration, don’t do anything. Particularly useless seems to be the idea of private sale background checks, 40% of inmates got guns from illegal sources, about another 37% got them from friends, family, or other relatives, 11% got them somewhere like a retail store or gun shop, and only about 1% got them from gun shows or private sales. It just isn’t very difficult to obtain guns from illegal sources. We don’t have a thriving black market for guns because it’s too easy to get them.

I’m in favor of background checks, but it seems clear that expanding checks will do nothing but cause inconvenience if the system isn’t improved at the same time. You have some 1 in 14 criminals beating the checks we have in place now, more then 7 times the number that get guns without a check. If you actually want to reduce violence with guns, you need to focus on fixing the system, you just don’t repair a leaky faucet in the kitchen by ignoring it and installing more of them, and you don’t address problems with the background check system by ignoring the major issues and making them more widespread, at least not by doing so exclusively.

Gun control advocates are going to have to come to grips with reality, gun free zones and other controls on the carrying of weapons are contingent on people obeying them and the only ones who are going to do so are those who you don’t need to worry about in the first place. Locks are for honest people and so are gun free zones and concealed carry bans. If you haven’t prevented someone from getting a gun, you can’t prevent them taking it wherever they want to.

Link

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Speed Bump Burial

2013/05/04 Leave a comment

It seems that the dead bomber, the older brother, being dead, needs to be buried, but understandably no cemetery will take him. Personally, I think they should, but I know that a lot of people would be furious that this piece of shit is buried next to Uncle Bob. My reason for thinking someone should let him be buried is twofold.

First, he is no longer a danger and is beyond human justice. If there is an afterlife, he will find his justice there, if not, it’s a moot point, he is beyond all justice if there is no God. The only thing that is going to happen if he doesn’t get buried is other Muslim terrorists will grow in number and stronger in cause.

Second, like I said above, it will just piss off more Muslims. Islam doesn’t permit cremation and requires the body to be buried as soon s possible after death. Private cemeteries have every right to turn his body away, but the publicly owned and maintained cemeteries don’t. I say that on the grounds of freedom of religion. It makes sense for municipalities to have cemeteries, a majority of people desire burial, either for religious reasons or simply because that’s what they chose. They shouldn’t be showing favoritism.

However, I understand no one wants him. If they were going to put him next to my grandfathers grave, I would probably have a fit. So what do we do to avoid him becoming a martyr and his grave a place of terrorist pilgrimage? The same thing we did with Bin Laden, bury him at sea. Another option might be to secretly bury him under a different name or in an unmarked grave and just keep it a secret.

Hell, they can bury him on my property if they want, he can go under where my septic tank is going to be. In that way he will be with his own kind.

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Preasure Cooker Bomb? WTF?

2013/04/26 Leave a comment

When I heard that the bombs used in the attack in Boston were “pressure cooker bombs”, I knew right away what that meant and didn’t think twice about it, at least until I talked to my sister. She had no idea what it was, specifically what good the pressure cooker did. I did something we all do from time to time, I assumed, since it was pretty basic knowledge to me, that everyone else knew, it’s an experts folly.

I don’t claim to be an expert on explosives or bomb making, but I know plenty enough to be dangerous and I’ve made explosives before, I’m going to do so tomorrow in fact but more on that in a moment. I just thought it might be useful to explain how these bombs work and the basic physics and characteristics of some common explosives. Again, I am not an expert by any means, but I can share some knowledge. Obviously I’m not going to get into the details of how one might make a bomb, there is already plenty enough of that floating around the internet.

The Boston bombs were essentially pipe bombs, just without the pipe. They used gunpowder of some kind, from fireworks if the news can be trusted. Gunpowder is a fairly simple concoction of three things: a fuel (charcoal normally, but sugar will also serve), an oxidizer (saltpeter, probably a few others would work) and a stabilizer to help make a smooth and reliable ignition. Gunpowder is a very low velocity explosive, it burns slowly, and this is where the pressure cooker comes into play.

In a gun, generally the longer the barrel the faster the bullet will go, so gunpowder is perfect, it doesn’t go up all at once, but comparatively slowly, providing constant energy to the projectile until it leaves the end of the barrel. Higher velocity explosives would drive pressures too high, so the slow burning is a great feature. Now if you simply light a pile of gun powder it goes poof, a million videos of which you can find on youtube if you are interested. The pressure cooker allows pressure to build much much higher, eventually (a fraction of a second) the cooker fails, expelling unburned powder, a shockwave, and anything else the bombmaker might have packed in there with it, ball bearings, nails, things like that, plus the cooker itself.

A pipe bomb works on the same principle.

Now there are plenty of more energetic explosives out there, so why use gunpowder? Well the explosive I’ll be making tomorrow is called “tannerite” and it is a bitch to set off. It’s perfectly legal to own and use and my use will be as a target for shooting. To make it detonate you have to use a rifle one with some “punch”, because nothing less will touch it off. ANFO is another similar explosive that has the same issue, it is very stable, and requires some kind of a booster to make it detonate.

In contrast, gunpowder will touch off with little trouble, making it a “good” choice for an application like bombing a marathon, as long as the bomb is designed to build some pressure up, a Tupperware container won’t do it.

I’ll say once again that my purpose here isn’t to give instructions for building a bomb or making explosives, just to give a little background so that you understand what exactly they are talking about on the news and what they will be talking about in what I am certain will be a trial indistinguishable from a circus.

You might wonder why explosives like gun powder and tannerite, and their constituent parts aren’t more controlled. It’s a simple answer, you just can’t. Tannerite is a mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder, and I’ve already said what gunpowder is made of, ANFO is the same as tannerite, just with fuel oil instead of metal powder. Fertilizer and heating oil, powdered metal, sugar/charcoal, potassium nitrite and sulfer, all impossible to regulate or restrict. Unlike with guns, there is such a small amount of difficulty involved that there is simply no way to control any of it, except perhaps limiting single purchase quantities.

Hopefully that all will teach you something and fill in what has been a sort of missing puzzle piece for those unfamiliar with IED’s and explosives.

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Common Sense Gun Laws

2013/04/06 Leave a comment

I’m all for common sense gun laws. For example, felons and those with a recognizable propensity to violence (think restraining orders and such) do have a right to bear arms, they have simply lost that right because of their actions. The Constitution allows for this in the same way it allows for imprisonment, censoring and review of prison mail, and gag orders. You can be deprived of certain natural rights through due process.

I support a states right to limit or exclude open and concealed carry, but only one or the other. There are some not bad arguments for banning concealed carry, and there are some arguments that aren’t bad for banning open carry, but we have a right to bear arms, so there must be some way to do that. Personally I support concealed carry, while being opposed to open carry under certain circumstances.

I am not for laws requiring registration*, nor do I support home inspections or licensing ownership of any kind. Neither do I support limits on magazine size, the number of guns one can purchase at a given time, or waiting periods. I have formulated 2 questions, the answers to which I think settle a lot of the debate on what restrictions make sense.

1. In exactly what way does an AR-15 differ from any other magazine fed semi-automatic firearm? A better question still, in what functional ways are the permitted semi-auto rifles different from the banned semi-auto rifles in the senate bill?

I can answer this one easily. There are no differences, none whatsoever. If a gun accepts a magazine and is semi automatic, they function identically and have the same potential lethality. Yet, while the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 would make all AR-15’s illegal to sell, rifles with identical abilities are specifically exempted because of their recognized sporting use’s. If you don’t under stand that, you have no business expecting your arguments to be taken seriously.

2. If an “assault weapon” is unnecessary for my personal defense, why do police officers need the same things to address the same threats? With regard to magazine size, assuming smaller magazines do confer a significant disability on the shooter, aren’t those faced with a need for armed self defense encumbered to the same degree? If not and smaller magazines are equally suitable for defense, why does law enforcement need larger magazines to, once again, address the same threat private persons do?

I can answer this also. Magazine capacity is largely irrelevant. Forgetting for a moment that they can be made easily, few have ever bothered to do so, even during the last ban from 1994 to 2004. I don’t know that there is any better example out there.

There are also serious problems in trying to argue that the “police and military” should be the only ones allowed to own “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines”. The biggest problem I see is that the police deal with threats to the public at large, and there is little reason that they need to be better armed than the average joe.

Whats more, is that I was a soldier, I used 30 round magazines nearly every day for almost 6 years of my life, and I had a fair few jam on me. I have never had a smaller magazine fail, even when more cheaply made and more heavily used and abused. If anything, limiting magazine capacity increases reliability, at the cost of capacity.

A 100 round magazine does offer 100 rounds, but they are notoriously unreliable, in fact, had the shooter at the movie theater in CO used 30 round magazines, or even 15 or 10, the carnage may have been worse, because when his rifle jammed, he tossed it aside, with more than half the ammo unspent.

When it comes down to it, if the goal with magazine size limits is to provide openings for a shooter to be taken down, the same is true of citizens engaged in lawful self defense. The average law abiding person is encumbered exactly as a criminal would be, but a criminal is far more likely to ignore the law and buy, make, or modify a magazine to hold more than the legal number of rounds, leaving only people like me at a disadvantage. But, again, every magazines particular capacity has trade offs that more or less make up for the other, which makes the whole thing even worse in some ways.

A rational review of my 2 questions and all their sub-questions leads me to the conclusion that “type and capacity” restrictions are a waste of time and facially illogical. The laws that are currently under consideration will have no impact on crime, because none of them actually address a recognizable problem. You are more likely to die falling out of bed than you are to be killed by any of the weapons on the “ban list”.

I’ve seen figures indicating that as many as 90% of the murders in the US are committed by those who are already felons. That being the case, it occurs to me that guns laws are hardly the issue we need to deal with.

*They are quite simply a waste, there may be a constitutional argument here, but I don’t think it matters. Canada recently tossed their gun registration scheme because it was discovered to cost money, while not impacting crime at all. For Christs sake, we can’t even get 100 senators to show up for work on a regular basis, who thinks 300 million guns could be registered?

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Gun Reviewers

2013/04/02 Leave a comment

My personal arsenal includes quite a few guns, just a few are:

  • Remington 870 Express with adjustable stock (12 gauge)
  • Remington 700 BDL (30-06)
  • Marlin 925m (.22 magnum)

Those 3 are the ones I shoot most often and most heavily, and they are all 3 excellent weapons. Accurate, durable, and well designed, few would contest those things. A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to get another rifle for more casual shooting, and I didn’t want to put much into it. I wanted something that I could kick around a little without worrying too awful much about causing damage. So I looked around and decided upon a Remington 770 chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum, even with the not so enthusiastic reviews out there.

Most of the reviews were critical of the action, saying it was somewhat rough, others picked on the accuracy, claiming that 300 yards is pushing the limit with the gun. Pretty much all of the rest were idiotic, going after features that have nothing to do with quality and reliability and are simply personal preference things. Most of the bad reviews were from people who have never owned on and I know enough about guns to be wary of reviewers complaining about a weapon they don’t actually own. Still, the prevalence of negative comments did make me a little cautious.

I bought one anyway, and I’m pretty glad I did. It is true that the bolt is a bit rough, but it’s not really an issue. The accuracy is the bigger issue, and that issue is that it’s at least as good as my model 700, at least out to 300 yards.

I’m not going to tell you the 770 is a perfect “10” like my 700, but I give it a solid “8”.

So what explanation is there for the bad reviews? The same explanation there is for Congress’s very low approval rating. You see, everyone thinks their representative is the bee’s knees, while all the rest are crooks. Those reviewers own something else and of course they feel that what they have is far superior than what everyone else has. How else do you explain Ted Kennedy, a man who killed more people than 99.997% of the guns in the US?

I can do a fair comparison, since I actually own both.  I may actually use it rather than the 700, if I ever end up with a moose permit. (damned lottery),  .300 Win Mag is an absolute beast, when you pull the trigger, it hits back.

I do have to point one more thing out, marksmanship matters immensely. As someone who qualified as expert every time I had to qualify while I was  in the Army, I have to stress the fact that a rifle  is only as good as the person who wields it. A good marksman can shoot 1 inch groups with the model 700 at 100 yards all day long, at least I can manage it. On the other hand, I got about the same performance from the 770, and not just out to 100 yards, but all the way out to 300.

The moral of the story is that online reviews are great, but just like in the real word you need to take them with a grain of salt, because people are often full of shit. I only wrote about this because it was a recent experience, but it’s all just as true if applied to electronics, cars, food, whatever.

rem 770

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