Category: Safety

I’m quite sure that the idea of applying free market solutions to gun safety gives the typical gun hater the heebeegeebees. They’re usually the sort that want government to drive solutions to this, that , or the other societal concern. The thought of “the rabble” deciding what’s best is, well, unthinkable. When it comes to gun safety, their ideas are as a rule unworkable or impractical. Their solutions also come with laws that attempt to force you to use their “product”. One of their bright ideas is mandating the purchase of a “gun lock” with every new firearm. These usually end up locking everything but a firearm. (The last one I was forced to buy is a nice lock, but it’s better suited to securing the dressing room door on our horse trailer than a handgun.)

So why is this the case? It’s simple: You cannot market a product that no one wants. There’s a reason why there’s no such thing as celery flavored beer, sweet-and-sour birthday cake, or Carolina Reaper flavored bubble gum. This also explains the wild success of smart guns in the retail market. Nobody wants them.

At first blush, they may sound like an interesting idea. But, as you dig in a little bit, you realize that this is a product being marketed to gun muggles, not gun owners. It’s just not practical to put a hackable computer between you and your self defense firearm. Strike 1.

And they’re expensive. Strike 2.

And they have yet to prove themselves capable of withstanding common gun cleaning chemicals or harsh environmental conditions. Strike 3.

Gun haters bemoan the lack of these gizmos on gun store shelves. They blame the NRA, of course. Their stock solution to this “problem” is, no surprise here, to demand laws mandating their sale. The real reason they’re not flying off the shelves is that there’s no demand for them. The free market has spoken, and its answer is a resounding “NO!”. Does this mean that there is no market whatsoever for gun safety products? Of course not.

Gun users design some handy and thus marketable tools for increasing gun safety. For example, the ZØRE gun lock from Israel was designed with defensive use in mind. Once it’s unlocked, racking the slide on your pistol disengages it, throws it clear, and leaves you with a ready-to-go handgun. It comes with an app for monitoring the lock for tampering as well as a feature for timing yourself to see how quickly you can disengage it. The app can even be set up to “surprise” you as a practice drill. Hornady offers its Rapid Rack empty chamber indicator for AR platform rifles and some shotguns. It does more than indicate an empty chamber, it’s designed to act as a charging handle. Pull on its big, red handle and it strips itself away from your firearm to make it instantly available for use. The market already has products like retention holsters and gun safes to prevent unauthorized access. All of these are gun safety products offered to gun owners who actually want to spend money on them. In other words, these are free market solutions.

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Most people can delude themselves into believing they’re safe from a multitude of unfamiliar dangers. This is probably because we want to be safe from these things, but do not really know how to actually achieve that goal. Call it whistling past the graveyard, but we accept what someone else calls safety when it comes to a subject where we lack experience. Firearms safety is a case in point. Many a gun muggle will accept without question what someone with a teleprompter and a nice suit tells them.

No one, unless they’re utterly devoid of decency, wants unsafe firearms in our society. As gun owners, we drill the basic rules of gun safety into the heads of new shooters: Do not load a gun until you’re ready to use it, do not put your finger, or anything else, on the trigger until you’re about to shoot, and never, ever let the gun point at something you’re unwilling to see destroyed. We know guns and we know what they can do if mishandled. No one is more interested in gun safety than a gun owner. So when a gun owner balks at using a “safety” device, you should wonder about the device and not the gun owner.

The latest “safety” device to fail to earn the trust of gun owners is the “smart” gun. President Obama has ordered the DOD, DOJ, and Homeland Security to investigate use of these devices by government personnel. But Ars Technica founder Jon Stokes questions the efficacy of this technology. He wrote in the L.A. Times:

Gun owners are terrified of anything that might make their guns less reliable. And when they consider the frequency with which their $700 smart phone’s fingerprint scanner fails when presented with a clean, dry, perfectly-positioned thumb, they rightly conclude that putting any type of electronic lock on their Glock will likely make them less secure, not more.

Stokes also notes that “smart” guns that communicate with some sort of external device, like a big, ugly watch that only the authorized user is supposed to wear, could be detected by the same hardware credit card thieves use to sniff out RFID equipped cards. This either makes the gun owner a target for theft or it marks them as something to avoid; which then puts you, the unarmed one in the crowd, into the thief’s crosshairs.

There are other safety concerns…

  • If the “smart” part of the gun fails, does it let the gun fire for anyone or no one? Either can lead to disaster if gun is in the hands of someone who can’t answer the question.
  • If they’re having a really, really bad day on the job, can Officer Smith pick up Officer Jones’ “smart” gun and use it? Or does he have to get Officer Jones’ big, ugly watch first?
  • Stokes notes the potential for hacking. How many police officers or soldiers would want a service weapon that the bad guys could shut off with a smartphone app?
  • How many gun owners would want that same gun with its hidden remote kill switch?
  • When it comes to water or gun cleaning chemicals, can the “smart” part of the gun take a joke? Most electronics don’t play well with moisture or oil.

It’s these unknowns and others that make “smart” guns so unappealing to gun owners. We realize that they make our guns less safe for us and our loved ones. This is why there’s no market for them, not some nefarious plot by the dreaded gun lobby.

So why is the President pushing the technology?

I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that, like all decent people, he wants guns to be safer. But bless his little heart, he has no idea what he’s talking about. He doesn’t understand firearms, let alone ones with untested features. He doesn’t understand how safe guns are. The number of gun related accidents has been falling in the US for decades. But rather than seek advice from the nation’s premier gun safety organization, the NRA, he sought out the opinions of other, equally ignorant, gun muggles.

And he’s going to bitterly cling to their bad advice.

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We call them gun muggles; people with almost no familiarity with firearms. Yes, they’ve seen them in movies, but that’s about it. Smart gun muggles, however, know that this does not make them conversant in this particular subject. But then there’s the dumb ones; people like “gun guy” Wes Siler at Gizmodo. They don’t let their lack of knowledge get them down. They let fly with opinions no matter how goofy they sound.

“Elmer” Siler has decided that Texas Senator Ted Cruz isn’t holding his shotgun correctly in this picture…ted[1]

Elmer sez:

Staunch gun rights advocate Ted Cruz is here seen holding a shotgun while being interviewed by CNN. Can you see what he’s doing wrong? That’s right, he’s violating the first two rules of gun safety.

No, Elmer… He’s not.

First off, here are the rules Elmer’s not very familiar with:

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never allow the muzzle (That’s the bangy part Elmer!) to cover something that you’re not willing to see destroyed.
  3. Keep your fingers away from the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.

Rule 1 applies until you personally know that the gun is, in fact, not loaded. You know… Like the one that Sen. Cruz is holding. Unless you’re blind, you can see that the break action shotgun is open and there are no shells in either barrel.

Rule 2 takes a bit of thought and depends on your actual surroundings. Elmer thinks, probably because he saw it in a movie once, that the only way to “shoulder carry” a break action shotgun is with the barrels forward. But that would, in fact, point the muzzle (Again, that’s the bangy part Elmer!) toward the reporter. That would be a Bozo-No-No. Instead, Sen. Cruz has the (unloaded) barrels pointed to the rear and away from the nearest people. There’s a barn back there, but it’s 200-300 yards away. I don’t care how pricey your shotgun is, it ain’t gonna hit something 200 yards away; not unless you fling it with a trebuchet.

Rule 3 is being meticulously observed here. Sen. Cruz’s fingers are well away from the trigger guard.

Rule 4 doesn’t apply since Sen. Cruz isn’t actually shooting at anything here.

So there you have it. Another fine example of why gun muggles aren’t a source of knowledge when it comes to firearms. Wes Siler may know a thing or two about man-buns, but he doesn’t know squat about guns.

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Anti-gun zealots are, generally speaking, a very ill informed lot. They are, as one Soviet defector once described the average Party apparatchik back in the day, “militantly ignorant”. They know what they know and they refuse to let any pesky little facts creep into their confident skulls. “Ignorance is strength”. That line was supposed to be a warning; they see it as an admonition.

But there is one belief they hold that is grounded in the truth: The public’s appetite for gun control evaporates when they learn about firearms. When you teach your friends and family about guns and gun safety, you demystify these everyday objects. And once the mystery and fear have been removed, your friends and family are less susceptible to anti-gun propaganda. The Antis know this and fight tooth and nail to keep the ignorant from learning about guns, or even just gun safety. They count on the public’s ignorance to advance their cause.

Thus clips like this one from NRA contributor Colion Noir are the stuff the Antis’ nightmare are made of…

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There are some news stories that are next to impossible to pick apart. What do you write about when a story that appears, at first, to be about poor gun safety is about someone who took proper precautions to prevent an accident?

On December 30, 29-year old Veronica Rutledge was accidentally shot and killed by her 2-year old son while shopping. Initial reports made sound as if she tossed a loaded gun into a shopping bag and headed off to Wal-Mart. That wasn’t the case. Rutledge, a chemical engineer at the Idaho National Laboratory, had her firearm in a purse designed for concealed carry. She was a CWL holder and an experienced shooter. It sounds like she did everything right.

So what went wrong?

Her father-in-law is quoted as saying that “She generally carried on her person”, which I presume to mean that she usually carried “on-body” as opposed to in her purse. He also implied that this was uncomfortable for her, hence the purse.

This brings us to a dilemma that concealed carry permit holders face: How important is comfort? On body carry offers us better accessibility to a weapon as well as better control; it’s “right there” and you know when someone or something is touching it. It’s also uncomfortable having a chunk of metal jabbing you in the side all day long. It’s also human nature to not want to do something that’s uncomfortable. This is one of the things that makes off-body carry attractive. If carrying a firearm is more comfortable, we’re more likely to do it on a daily basis.

Why is this important? Because only carrying sometimes is the same as being unarmed sometimes. (Or, as we Californians who aren’t Hollywood A-listers like to say, “Welcome to my world.”) When things go wrong, a gun and a carry permit aren’t of much use if they’re sitting at home. If off-body carry makes taking your gun with you a daily exercise, then that’s the option you should explore.

There’s also the issue of “printing”. This is where the outline of a concealed firearm is visible through one’s clothing or the gun or holster protrudes from under your clothes. Depending on where you live, this may be illegal. Off-body carry reduces this problem.

On the other hand, off-body carry can leave the weapon outside of your control. If the gun is in your purse, backpack, or briefcase, then the only way to ensure that you always have control over it would be to never let go of that item. Unless you’re like my great grandmother, who maintained a death-grip on her purse, that’s probably not practical.

So now let’s look at the what ifs. What if Mrs. Rutledge only carried on-body? What is that made her carry infrequently? What if she needed the gun one day? What if it was a day when she left it at home? Now let’s back up. What if she always kept the purse on her shoulder? What if lugging the purse and pistol around became the cause of discomfort? What if that caused her to carry infrequently? Now we’re back to “What if she needed the gun one day? What if it was a day when she left it at home?”.

The terrible truth is that we could consume megabytes on other what ifs and never reach a satisfactory conclusion. Sometimes there is no right answer. Kobayashi Maru. Unfortunately, this won’t stop some people from demanding new laws to prevent something that can’t be prevented.

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I came across this video from NSSF on the steps necessary to safely load and unload the AR-15…

Now that you’ve watched the whole video, you California shooters go back and replay the video from about 2:10. Gunsite instructor Jay Tuttle tells us that to safely unload the AR-15, “The first thing we need to do is remove the ammunition source.” This is true for any semi-automatic firearm. Merely racking the slide or the charging handle loads the next live round in the magazine if the magazine is still there. Mr. Tuttle then reaches up with his trigger finger and, just like they do in Free America, he touches the magazine release and drops the magazine. Unlike us Californians, he doesn’t fumble for a tool of some sort to activate his State-mandated “bullet button”.

So for the non-shooters out there, let me be a little more pedantic about this. Here in California, the “experts” in Sacramento outlawed semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines. Mind you, I’m talking about a feature that’s been on firearms for over a hundred years. More specifically, what the Legislature banned were centerfire rifles with magazines that can be removed without using a tool of some sort. The stated purpose of this law was to “slow down” the reloading process.

To get around this ban, manufacturers replaced the magazine release button on firearms such as the AR-15 with a shroud. The purpose of this shroud is to force the operator to use a tool of some sort to operate the magazine release. Since a bullet’s tip will suffice as a tool for the purposes of the law, these got called “bullet buttons”. There are after-market “buttons” that stick to the release pin using a magnet, but it’s illegal to leave these on the rifle. Others attach to the magazine itself. There are also rings one can buy with a small point for activating the release. None of these are anywhere near as efficient at the MK-I fingertip. (The magnetic buttons come close; but like I said, it’s illegal to leave these on your gun and you can be charged with a felony for doing so.)

“So what?” you may be asking. “Isn’t that the point of the law? To make reloading difficult?” That was certainly the intent of the law. However, one of the real effects of the law is that it makes it more difficult to unload the firearm to render it safe. If you compare the video above to some out there demonstrating various bullet button tools, you will see that Mr. Tuttle does something that the people in those other videos can’t: he unloads the firearm blind. Everything he does is by touch alone so he can keep his eyes downrange and on his target. In the other videos, the shooters are taking their eyes off the target and refocusing their attention on the side of the gun. Mr. Tuttle also keeps his rifle pointed safely downrange the whole time. The other shooters are moving their guns around to access the button in awkward, and potentially unsafe, ways.

So the end effect of a law that was marketed as a “gun safety” measure is to make operating a firearm less safe. Kinda par for the course when talking about the California Legislature.

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Over at The Truth About Guns, Dan Zimmerman asks “How do we make guns normal?” Dan writes…

That’s the bottom line — we need to make guns normal, and it has to be done in popular media. If we can have gay characters on TV shows and have it not be a big deal, why can’t we have characters open-carrying on TV shows and have it not be a big deal?

This is a common refrain from many conservatives. “If only the mainstream media would present our point of view.”

They won’t.

They never will.

So how do we make guns normal to the non-shooting public if none of the characters on The Big Bang Theory or Parks & Recreation will be packing heat anytime soon. We do this “IRL”; in real life.

The best way to make your non-shooting friends, relatives, and neighbors see gun ownership and gun use as normal is to take them shooting. Ask them if they’ve ever gone shooting. If the answer is “no”, ask them if they’d like to go with you to the range. If the answer is “yes”, ask them how long it’s been since they last shot, and then ask them if they’d like to go to the range with you. Whether their answer is yes or no, you still take the conversation to “Would you like to go to the range with me?”.

When you get them to the range, remember to start them off with a discussion of safety.We want them to see that we value safety. This contradicts the media stereotype of you as a drunken redneck waving a gun about. Pick a .22 as a first gun to try. As they get more comfortable, move up to something with a little more umph; like a self-defense handgun or a 5.56mm black rifle if you have one. Again, we’re trying to contradict those media stereotypes. We want them to see that the AR-15 isn’t a super-gun that shoots through schools and downs airliners flying at 30,000 feet. We also want them to see that your Glock or Sig is just another handgun. There’s no magic to it; no voodoo. After they’ve tried something a little bigger, if they really prefer the .22 then move them back to that and let them have fun. The idea here is to make this a positive experience and not the murder and mayhem that Hollywood would have them believe happens around guns.

Even if your friend turns down the chance to go shooting, you’ve still made an impact on their thinking. You just politely offered to involve them in something you think is fun. You just showed that your anything but the grunting Neanderthal that Michael Bloomberg wants them to imagine when the words “gun owner” are spoken. So whether you get them to the range or not, you’ve just made guns and gun owners “normal”.

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Tony Canales reported from the SHOT show last week that Ruger will be allowing its handguns to fall off of the California “not unsafe” firearms roster. Ruger CEO Mike Fifer issued this statement clarifying the company’s situation here in the Tarnished Golden State…

Now we learn that Ruger isn’t alone. Smith & Wesson will be allowing its M&P handguns to fall off of the roster as well.

Of course, this was the intended effect of the law. It’s not about allowing police “another tool to solve crimes”, but rather to dry up the supply of handguns available to law abiding Californians. Many many people floated ideas about how to defeat microstamping when the law was being debated. Their thinking at the time was to show legislators that the law is pointless as a law enforcement tool. The engineers in the crowd, however, pointed out that the law requires manufacturing techniques that are nonexistent. Furthermore, instead of making handguns “safe”, or make that “not unsafe” (Yes, that’s really how the law refers to the list!), irregularities in a gun’s chamber will eventually lead to a failure of the metal. But none of that registered with our betters in Sacramento. Why? Because safety and law enforcement weren’t the point of the law. The point was to stop legal handgun sales in California. Need proof? Compare these two lists…

Let’s be glad that the 2nd list wasn’t actually printed on dead trees.

The Calguns Foundation produced this graph showing what handgun availability will be like in the coming years in California…

Calguns_Roster

The effect of the law is going to be more immediate than most people expected. You would have been dismissed as an unhinged gun-nut had you suggested a few years ago that the supply of new handgun models would dry up by 2020. But that’s what’s happening. By mandating manufacturing processes that require unicorn spit to work, the State is making the clever workarounds some people proposed way back when a moot point. You can’t use a Scotchbrite pad to remove the pesky microstamp from your new gun if there are no new guns.

There is hope, however. The NSSF has filed suit in Fresno County to stop the State’s mystical microstamping mandate.

Stay tuned.

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From NRA-ILA:

Horses and Cows Breathing Easier After College Cancels Firearm Safety Classes

Posted on September 6, 2013
As the saying goes, there must be something in the water.

A popular firearm safety class taught by NRA Certified Firearm Instructors at Pierce College, part of the Los Angeles Community College District, has been nixed for purely ideological reasons, and because–well, you will just have to see for yourself.

The Los Angeles Daily News reports that the cancellation of an NRA Basic Pistol Course was achieved by the district’s hasty adoption of a “Rule 2420,” introduced by board of trustees member Scott Svonkin. The rule prohibits all firearms on campus, other than those carried by law enforcement personnel and those used for “theatrical performances.”

We’ll let Svonkin explain it for himself. “The one thing we wanted to prevent was Pierce College being the Wild Wild West. . . . By preventing guns on campus, I wanted to prevent people who took the class from shooting a horse or cow on campus.”

Attorney C.D. Michel has filed suit on behalf of the safety class’ instructor. As Michel details on his website, Svonkin freely admitted that his rule was targeted at the NRA. “Recently the Board of Trustees found out that on two of our campuses we had classes about guns being taught for the community with the support of the NRA,” Svonkin said during a radio interview. “We did not want community members coming on campus to an NRA-supported class, if they were going to bring guns to demonstrate for these people from the community on how to use guns.”

In a separate interview, Svonkin added, “I believe that the NRA’s goal is to promote gun ownership, and that guns lead to death. So, not having the NRA teach classes, not having the NRA classes on our campuses, is a good thing . . . . I’m much happier with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department protecting our students and our staff and our faculty than having some random person who took a three-hour class and thinks that they’re Dirty Harry.”

Michel notes that the background section of Svonkin’s rule attempts to justify the ban on the grounds that “[t]he presence of firearms, even when nonoperational and in the instructional setting, lends itself to the potential for panic and fear.” But, as Michel further notes, since 2008, the NRA course has instructed over 660 students, mostly female without injury or incident or anyone erupting into “panic or fear.” Also, while we enjoy the arts as much at the next person, we still don’t understand why having actors potentially pointing firearms at each other during theatrical performances is okay in an academic setting, while having instructors detail their safe handling and use is not.

Like we said, there must be something in the water.


ED: I’m embarrassed to admit that this den of stupidity is only about a mile away from where I’m sitting right now. My guess is that their water travels through different pipes than mine.

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