Guns and Gun Rights
Right now it seems that the Mexican/ATF gun running scheme has blown up in the face of the administration and, unless the media tries to ignore it, has the potential of being a very damaging scandal. The NY Post gives a good summary:
The ATF’s acting director, Kenneth Melson, has been singing like a canary to congressional investigators as he pushes back against administration pressure for him to resign and take the fall for something that, at the very least, had to include the US Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and possibly the Homeland Security Department.
In a letter to Holder released yesterday, Rep. Daryl Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley accused the Justice Department of blocking their investigation into the burgeoning scandal (which has resulted in the deaths of at least two American agents and countless Mexican civilians), muzzling the ATF and involving other federal agencies, including the FBI and the DEA, in funding the crackpot scheme.
"The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons, but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities," they wrote.
"It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns. Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify."
That’s the key to this mess — and the reason that Operation Fast and Furious might turn out to be the biggest Washington scandal since Iran-Contra.
If all of this is true, then yes, it should be. Melson had been prohibited by AG Eric Holder from appearing before Congress in his official capacity. But Holder can’t prohibit private citizen Melson from appearing and that’s how Melson is appearing. He obviously knows a bad op when he sees one and is refusing to be the fall guy.
The ostensible purpose of “Fast and Furious” was to identify the “higher ups” in the Mexican gun trafficking circles. But here’s the problem:
As Issa and Grassley note in their letter, had the other agencies shared information — theoretically the goal of the post-9/11 revamp of the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies — "then ATF might have known that gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ had already been identified."
In fact, inter-agency coordination – something the 9/11 reorganization was supposed to fix – should have revealed those names the ATF sought. So if that isn’t really the reason for the operation, what is?
Well that’s where the speculation occurs, and the administration doesn’t help itself by stonewalling Congress.
Melson testified behind closed doors on July 4, but the country needs to hear him speak — loudly and publicly. "Let me be clear," Issa wrote to Melson in April, "we are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice."
So what’s the purpose of the operation then? If the higher-ups were already known, what is the possible reason for doing this? Then NY Post throws out a possibility:
Law-abiding gun owners and dealers think they already know. With the Obama administration wedded to the fiction that 90 percent of the guns Mexican cartels use originate here — they don’t — many suspect that "Fast and Furious" was a backdoor attempt to smear domestic gun aficionados as part of its stealth efforts on gun control by executive fiat.
"I just want you to know that we’re working on it," Obama was quoted as saying to gun-control advocate Sarah Brady in March. "We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar."
Unfortunately for the administration, this one’s out in the open now.
Now you may be saying, come on, isn’t that a little far fetched? Not really. This is an administration that talks out of both sides of their mouth so anything they’ve said in the past supporting gun rights has to be taken with a grain of salt. And, you have to remember this is an administration that comes from the Chicago tradition of politics. So combined with the DoJ stonewalling and refusal to turn over documents to Congress (you know, the “transparent administration), one has to suspect there may be some fire causing the smoke.
Maybe there’s a better answer – but I haven’t heard it yet. I can understand something like passing traceable funds/"marked bills" to suspects to help expose networks, and even temporarily allowing those suspects freedom of movement to facilitate that. But this – the transfer of weapons – is another matter entirely. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence is an axiom especially true of government work, but in this case it’s hard to imagine someone that incompetent. That’s obviously a factor, along with stupidity, ignorance, hubris and a host of other character flaws Americans can only tolerate to a certain extent in government officials (a vague line well crossed here) – but even all of those flaws combined fail to describe motive.
It think his point is well taken. At the moment, it is the most plausible explanation given the facts we have. With the fact that the names were known within the law enforcement community, it is up to the administration to explain why doing such a stupid thing. And as Greyhawk mentions, it is hard just to write this off to incompetence, unless you believe in total incompetence and, in fact, stupidity, all up and down the line of those who would have to approve an operation like that.
So it’s up to the administration to explain this fiasco. The “plausible” explanation is out there. And right now it is as good an explanation as any. If that’s the case, as Confederate Yankee explains, the consequences could be dire:
If it is confirmed that the worst suspicions are true—that the Obama Administration supplied weapons to narco-terrorists, in order to undermine U.S gun laws—there will not be a stonewall big enough for them to hide behind, and both impeachment and jail time must not be just possible, but probable for those involved. They are, after all, accessories before the fact who aided and abetted the murders of two U.S. federal agents, and an estimated 150 law enforcement officers and soldiers, and an unknown number of civilians, in Mexico.
We’ll see what the administration can come forward with a better one, but I think this scandal has the potential to really shake up this bunch and expose the DoJ for the travesty it has become.
A bill has been introduced in the South Dakota legislature that would require any adult over 21 to buy a gun “sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense.”
The hook – the purpose of the bill is to demonstrate that government shouldn’t be requiring anyone to buy health insurance. Really. Or so say the sponsors:
“Do I or the other cosponsors believe that the State of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not. But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance,” he said.
So now our liberal friends are free to tell us why requiring all the citizens of a state to buy a gun is bad and different than telling all citizens of the United States they have to buy health insurance. If they believe in the power of the Commerce Clause to require citizens buy what the government demands they buy, why not a gun?
One of the reasons I repeat over and over again that "freedom is choice" is to give context to stories like the one that follows and to give the reader an idea of why I am usually against anything that limits choice.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-NY) bill would limit the magazine capacity for pistols. It is another "freedom traded for security" bill which limits choice simply because it makes some people uncomfortable for that choice to be available to you. They simply don’t believe you’re responsible enough to have it.
“The only purpose for the existence of these devices is to be able to shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to her colleagues that accompanied the bill. “There is no reason that these devices should be available to the general public.”
For the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that’s true. That the only reason these high capacity magazines exist is to "shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible". So what? As with most anything it can be used for a good purpose (defense) as well as a bad purpose (murder – in this case, mass murder). So on its face, shooting "as many people as possible as quickly as possible" can be a good or bad thing depending on the situation. McCarthy would like you to believe such a ban would only effect the "bad thing". Obviously, that’s not true.
But, that’s not the line I object too the most. I find "there is no reason that these devices should be available to the general public” to be something that should send chills down the spine of anyone who is concerned with growing government oppression.
Why? It’s an attitude that has gotten us in the shape we’re in today. What she is asking is for like minded legislators to agree with her premise that government should decide what the public can and can’t use responsibly.
Never mind that shoot-ups in Safeway parking lots involving members of Congress by deranged lunatics are as rare as hen’s teeth, Ms. McCarthy has decided that there is "no reason these devices should be available to the general public". She claims that should be government’s decision/choice – not yours. This latest situation provides an excuse to attempt this power grab, not a real reason.
So to you who’ve owned that Browning High Power for 20 years and have the original 13 round mag – she would make you a criminal upon passage of the bill (it would eliminate the exception for mags manufactured before ’94). If anyone finds out you have one and turns you in, you’re up for 10 years in the pokey. The fact that you’ve responsibly had and used it for over 20 years means zip (although it does demonstrate the bankruptcy of her argument).
McCarthy’s reason for attempting to do this is personal:
Gun control is a personal matter for McCarthy, whose husband was murdered and son seriously injured in 1993, when a disturbed gunman opened fire on a Long Island commuter train. Like the alleged Arizona shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman who killed McCarthy’s husband also used a high-capacity magazine.
I’m sorry to hear that. However, it was the deranged killer that murdered her husband, not the high-capacity magazine. I’d love to hear the argument that says a deranged killer would have stopped firing after one 10 round mag if we’d just eliminate access to mags with capacity above that. Of course that’s nonsense. And changing a mag in a hand gun, with even minimal practice, is both quick and easy. It would be done before most realized it was happening.
As I’ve said many times, a free society is a messy society which entails risk. That is the price of freedom. But it also buys many more advantages than disadvantages. An authoritarian society is usually a tidy society with full jails and no choices in life. We’ve seen what they’re like.
Attitudes that say "we’ll decide what you can or can’t have or what should or shouldn’t be available to you" don’t belong in Congress or a free society. Not their job, although unfortunately that seems to be what it has devolved into.
We increasingly see government take more and more choice away from us. The attitude McCarthy enunciates isn’t uncommon at all. In fact it is quite common and reveals itself in much of the legislation that passes through Congress these days.
It is an attitude which we should demand be changed and changed quickly. Reducing choice and making otherwise law abiding citizens criminals with the stroke of a pen won’t change a thing in regards to deranged lunatics shooting up places with or without high-capacity mags. McCarthy’s bill isn’t about high-capacity mags, really – its about control, and not just gun control. And, as with most laws like this, it will only effect the law abiding as criminals and "deranged lunatics" will flat ignore it (and a thriving black market in high-capacity mag will establish itself and thrive).
“The United States Constitution guarantees to our citizens the right to keep and bear arms,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to her colleagues that accompanied the bill. “At the same time that we can all acknowledge this basic right, I believe that we should also be able to come together to develop reasonable laws designed to ensure that the right to bear arms is exercised safely and responsibly.”
That, Ms. McCarthy,is demonstrated by the responsible behavior of multi millions of gun owners in this nation daily. The law she wants passed won’t change that at all. And that’s the point.
It’s about more control and less choice, and for the most part, any proposed law of that sort should be resisted fiercely.
Well the usual over-reaction is under way after the Tucson shooting of Rep. Giffords. I’ve mentioned the silly nonsense about a bill to ban “crosshairs” in political speech (which begs the question, what part of “Congress shall make no law” concerning political speech as laid out in the First Amendment). But Rep. Pete King, a NY Republican, has decided that a “gun control” measure is what is necessary. His solution?
Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, is planning to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official, according to a person familiar with the congressman’s intentions.
Why is it the propensity of these folks to restrict the freedoms of others instead of doing something to increase their own security? Mostly because they can. Look, I can understand the fear this sort of a situation brings, but I’m sorry, restricting the freedom of law abiding citizens because of your fear is not what this country is all about – not if freedom is the fundamental idea upon which it is founded.
Consider this scenario in light of King’s nonsense – a legal possessor of a concealed carry permit is in a diner with his firearm on his hip sipping his morning coffee and minding his own business. Some “government official” drops in unannounced to do a little per-election glad-handing. The man with his legal firearm is now a inadvertent but prosecutable law breaker.
So what’s King going to do – make every government official wear a sign around their neck so those who might be carrying legal firearms can give them a 1,000 foot wide berth? Why not just put – dare I say it – crosshairs on them? Because if this is to become the law then it is incumbent upon “government officials” to ensure that those who might inadvertently break the law otherwise, are fully aware of when “government officials” are in the area.
Secondly, I hate to break it to King, but as with all laws, those who have a criminal agenda will not obey it or even give it a passing thought. Essentially it will only ensnare those who most likely are innocently doing their own business. Guys like Loughner won’t change their plans one iota because King and Congress pass some law about 1,000 feet of space. It will only become another after-the-fact charge, another law broken, to add to the charge sheet. But won’t stop a thing.
It is one thing to say you can’t bring a firearm to within 1,000 feet of a school or government building. They don’t move and they’re easily identifiable. Not so with “government officials”.
Bad idea and would make a bad law – as simple as that. Oh – and when Mayor Michael Bloomberg comes out enthusiastically for this restriction on our freedom, you should automatically know it’s a bad idea, Rep. King.
Don’t make laws in emotional haste after the fact – they almost always end up being bad laws that further restrict our freedoms. And this one would be no exception.
Well, as you can imagine, the Giffords shooting has sucked all the oxygen out of just about every other subject. And, as you can probably further imagine, the "let’s make a law" crowd is busily at work trying to again limit our freedoms in the name of "security".
We have a representative from PA who wants to outlaw "crosshairs" in political advertising. I have to wonder what part of "Congress shall make no law" in the 1st Amendment and political speech he doesn’t understand? Perhaps the word "no" as in none, zip, zero, nada?
The typical overreaction is underway. As is the inevitable. Gun control pops its ugly head up again as a New York Congresswoman prepares to introduce legislation banning high-capacity ammunition clips.
And then there’s Paul Krugman. The historically blind and deaf Paul Krugman. Check out these opening two paragraphs in a piece entitled “Climate of Hate”:
When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised? Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?
Put me in the latter category. I’ve had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since the final stages of the 2008 campaign. I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 — an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing. And you could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again. The Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion: in April 2009 an internal report warned that right-wing extremism was on the rise, with a growing potential for violence.
Notice anything missing in his trip down memory lane? Yeah, 8 years of inflammatory rhetoric and what he now labels as “hate” directed at George Bush and the right. I’m sure you’re not surprised – this sort of memory loss is endemic on the left. The memory hole, which they seem unable to acknowledge, is why most on the right take the likes of Paul Krugman and their hate claims with the grain of salt they deserve. When their rhetoric was pointed out to them, their retort was “dissention is patriotism”.
Note too that the economist turned political hack continues to insist, in the face of almost conclusive evidence to the contrary, that the violence visited on Rep. Giffords was the result of the “hatred” from the right. And he uses the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center’s report (hidden in the just as discredited Homeland Security report) as “proof” of his claims.
Krugman must have sensed he’s on thin ice because a few paragraphs in he throws this out:
It’s true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn’t mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate.
Holy Mars and Venus, Batman – is this guy living on the same planet we’re living on? Of course it can be an “isolated event” and it certainly can have nothing to do with the so-called “national climate”. The guy was a loon. A nutcase. He has serious mental problems. He’s a yahoo who became fixated on Rep. Giffords for no apparent logical reason other than she was a local politician. Trying to warp this into something it isn’t, however, is suddenly becoming the pastime of the left. Well, much of it anyway (there are indeed islands of sanity out there, but they’re becoming less prevalent).
Krugman then attempts to whitewash the left’s very recent past by claiming you’ll mostly hear only caustic remarks and mocking at worst. Michelle Malkin neatly disposes of that myth.
So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It’s really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what’s happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?
If Arizona promotes some real soul-searching, it could prove a turning point. If it doesn’t, Saturday’s atrocity will be just the beginning.
What then, as evidence continues to mount supporting it, if it was indeed a “mere act of a deranged individual” Mr. Krugman. Will we get an Emily Litella like “never mind” from you?
This is the latest in a long line of efforts by the left to shut its opposition up. Political correctness has finally begun to wear thin as most have now recognized it for what it is – an attempt to control speech. This effort is nothing less than that. It is the claim that speech must be modified because others who are deranged might act on it, even out of context. But that lack of memory about their own toxic speech and their spirited defense of it (again, see Malkin’s listing of the left’s happy talk about George Bush) smacks of such hypocrisy that the word is almost insufficient to define them at this point.
Freedom and democracy demand risk to work. They must not be held prisoner to speech codes and “security”. We must not let the priorities that underpin freedom be chipped away or removed by a bunch of scared rabbits. If Congress wants to beef up security around its members, I can understand that. However, that’s as far as I’m willing to go. Restricting the freedoms of the rest of us because of some nut is just flat unacceptable.
And by the way, Mr. Krugman – go see a doctor. I’m told the type of memory loss you’re suffering is the first sign of senile dementia. Have it checked out, will you?
And the EPA seems to be the regulatory agency most bent on doing just that. Attempting to regulate carbon emissions, apparently, isn’t enough for the EPA. Now, it has decided, it may want to ban lead ammunition:
With the fall hunting season fast approaching, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Lisa Jackson, who was responsible for banning bear hunting in New Jersey, is now considering a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) – a leading anti-hunting organization – to ban all traditional ammunition under the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, a law in which Congress expressly exempted ammunition. If the EPA approves the petition, the result will be a total ban on all ammunition containing lead-core components, including hunting and target-shooting rounds. The EPA must decide to accept or reject this petition by November 1, 2010, the day before the midterm elections.
Note the emphasized portion of the cite (emphasis mine). Now that would tell me, as a regulator, that this is outside the scope of my regulatory power to ban, or even address in any meaningful way.
Yet the EPA has decided that it does indeed have the power to do what the law forbids.
It is yet another example of government refusing to obey its own laws (ICE’s refusal to detain and deport illegal aliens found in traffic stops being another recent example).
This is being driven by an agenda, not law. And this goes to the heart of the question of whether we’re a nation of laws or a nation of men who can arbitrarily deicide what laws to follow or not, according to their agenda (and the power they hold).
The National Shooting Sports Foundation points out:
* There is no scientific evidence that the use of traditional ammunition is having an adverse impact on wildlife populations.
* Wildlife management is the proper jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 50 state wildlife agencies.
* A 2008 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on blood lead levels of North Dakota hunters confirmed that consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition does not pose a human health risk.
* A ban on traditional ammunition would have a negative impact on wildlife conservation. The federal excise tax that manufacturers pay on the sale of the ammunition (11 percent) is a primary source of wildlife conservation funding. The bald eagle’s recovery, considered to be a great conservation success story, was made possible and funded by hunters using traditional ammunition – the very ammunition organizations like the CBD are now demonizing.
* Recent statistics from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service show that from 1981 to 2006 the number of breeding pairs of bald eagles in the United States increased 724 percent. And much like the bald eagle, raptor populations throughout the United States are soaring.
The EPA is accepting comment on this petition now.
If you’re so inclined you can include yours here.
Be respectful but be blunt – the law forbids this – back off.
The follow-up Supreme Court decision to Heller that was handed down yesterday marked a significant point in Second Amendment history. And that has not just gun-rights advocates jumping for joy, but also Democrats:
For them, the court’s groundbreaking decision couldn’t have been more beneficial to the cause in November. Now, Democratic candidates across the map figure they have one less issue to worry about on the campaign trail. And they won’t have to defend against Republican attacks over gun rights and an angry, energized base of gun owners.
“It removes guns as a political issue because everyone now agrees that the Second Amendment is an individual right and everybody agrees that it’s subject to regulation,” said Lanae Erickson, deputy director of the culture program at the centrist think tank Third Way.
A House Democratic aide agreed that the court’s decision removed a potentially combustible element from the mix.
“The Supreme Court ruled here that you have a fundamental right to own and bear arms, and that means at the national level it’s harder – whether it’s Republicans or whether it’s the [National Rifle Association] – to throw that claim out: if Democrats are in charge they’re going to come get your guns,” said the aide. “It pretty much took that off the table.”
Despite the fact that there are a fair number of pro-gun Democrats in Congress, members of the Donkey Party are typically slammed as “gun-grabbers” in close elections. With the decision in McDonald, that issue is basically moot for Democrats running red or purple districts.
The likely removal—or at least neutralization—of the gun issue this fall is of no small matter in the battle for the House and Senate. The Democratic majorities in both chambers were built, in part, on victories in pro-gun states and districts that had until recently been difficult terrain for Democratic candidates as a result of the national party’s position on gun control.
For congressional Democrats—especially those in seats outside major metropolitan areas where support for gun rights runs high—the ruling offered a chance to assert their pro-gun bona fides.
John Anzalone, a prominent Alabama-based pollster with a roster of Southern Democratic clients, called it a “win, win, win, win” situation for everyone—and above all, “for conservative Democrats who will be able to use it as a credential that they’re conservative. This is a tough political environment; you’re going to see Southern, Western Democrats use it and stand up for gun rights.”
Unfortunately for the Democrats, gun rights issues weren’t likely to be very high on the list of grievances redressed at the ballot box this Fall. Mired in the middle of the Great Recession, economic issues will be paramount in November, especially on jobs and tax policy.
In fact, although Democrats are cheering the absence of Second Amendment posturing thanks to McDonald, to the extent such issue would have been raised, it would have served as a distraction from the core concerns of voters. Now, with that issue off the table, the Democratic spending policies are cast in stark relief. While out on the hustings, they will be forced to answer for their support of ObamaCare, Stimulus, Cap and Trade, Finreg and the rest of the Democratic agenda that’s done nothing to help the economy, and sure looks like it may have done much to hinder it.
In political time, November 2nd is an eternity away. There is really no telling what might happen between now and then that might influence various elections, whether on a national or local level. Even so, I wouldn’t be surprised if Democrats were wishing they had the distraction of gun-rights issues this Fall instead of being forced to face the economic policy music. It will be a baleful tune.
In a rather interesting ruling which, unsurprisingly, split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court today made it clear that all Americans enjoy the full right and benefit of self-defense guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment. Mary Katharine Ham notes part of the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito:
Alito writes in part, “Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present day, and in Heller, we held that individual self-defense is “the central component” of the Second Amendment right,” while allowing, as in Heller, for sensible gun ownership restrictions.
Alito went on to write:
We repeat those assurances here. Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms.
Of course, the crack left by that sentence will be fully exploited by municipalities and states, calling whatever they try to do "sensible gun ownership restrictions". But Alito makes it clear that the Bill of Rights, as incorporated under the Constitution, doesn’t mean that states have the right or authority to radically change the intent of the constitutional guarantees they provide citizens:
"The relationship between the Bill of Rights’ guarantees and the States must be governed by a single, neutral principle. It is far too late to exhume what Justice Brennan, writing for the Court 46 years ago, derided as “the notion that the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the States only a watered-down, subjective version of the individual guarantees of the Bill of Rights.”
Or, screw with this ruling at your own peril.
As mentioned, the court split 5-4. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent:
He disagreed with the majority that it is a fundamental right, and said the court was restricting state and local efforts from designing gun control laws that fit their particular circumstances, and turning over all decisions to federal judges.
"Given the empirical and local value-laden nature of the questions that lie at the heart of the issue, why, in a nation whose constitution foresees democratic decision-making, is it so fundamental a matter as to require taking that power from the people?" Breyer wrote. "What is it here that the people did not know? What is it that a judge knows better?"
Well that’s a simple one, Justice Breyer – because rights aren’t something one votes on. A right is something one either has or doesn’t. What Breyer is suggesting is it should be up to a majority to “vote” to take away the rights guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution. In my ideological neck of the woods, that dog won’t hunt.
For those of you who understand and can appreciate this – two phenomenal sniper shots (from the same guy at the same target) from a British sniper in Afghanistan:
A BRITISH Army sniper has set a new sharpshooting distance record by killing two Taliban machinegunners in Afghanistan from more than 1 miles away.
Craig Harrison, a member of the Household Cavalry, killed the insurgents with consecutive shots — even though they were 3,000ft beyond the most effective range of his rifle.
“The first round hit a machinegunner in the stomach and killed him outright,” said Harrison, a Corporal of Horse. “He went straight down and didn’t move.
“The second insurgent grabbed the weapon and turned as my second shot hit him in the side. He went down, too. They were both dead.”
The shooting — which took place while Harrison’s colleagues came under attack — was at such extreme range that the 8.59mm bullets took almost three seconds to reach their target after leaving the barrel of the rifle at almost three times the speed of sound.
The distance to Harrison’s two targets was measured by a GPS system at 8,120ft, or 1.54 miles. The previous record for a sniper kill is 7,972ft, set by a Canadian soldier who shot dead an Al-Qaeda gunman in March 2002.
Now I don’t care how good a shot you think you are, that’s incredible. As someone said, with the drop at that distance, those bullets must have almost been at a 45 degree angle. And I can only assume “Kentucky windage” as his method since these shots are so off the charts.
You may remember me writing some time back about my disappointment in the horribly made and extremely jam-prone M1 Carbines that I purchased for Chris and I last year. Horrible rifles. Shoddily made. I’ll never buy anything from Kahr again.
But, I did need replacements for them, and those replacements have arrived, and are all kitted out–while still being California-legal.
The rifles are Czechoslovalkian Sa Vz 58 civilian rifles. The handguards, grips, and buttstock are aftermarket accessories from Israeli Arms, who make a complete tactical package–several of them, actually, for the VZ 58. The accessories are all polymer, and are made to what seems to be a very high level of quality and craftsmanship. When it comes to stuff for guns, you gotta hand it to those Israelis, boy.
Unlike most other states, unfortunately, California has very restrictive–and quite stupid–firearms laws regarding rifles. According to the California Penal Code:
12276.1 (a) Notwithstanding Section 12276 [which contains a list of specifically prohibited models of rifle, such as the AK-series rifles], “assault weapon” shall also mean any of the following:
(1) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:
(A) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.
(B) A thumbhole stock.
(C) A folding or telescoping stock.
(D) A grenade launcher or flare launcher.
(E) A flash suppressor.
(F) A forward pistol grip.
(2) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
(3) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.
Alas, the California version of the VZ 58 has a fixed, 10-round magazine (any rifle or pistol magazines, fixed or removable, with a capacity greater than 10 rounds are strictly prohibited in California), and the overall length, with the stock fully collapsed, is 32.5″.
The “foregrip” is actually a bipod, as you can see. And the magazine accepts loading from the same stripper clips that the SKS uses.
You may notice that the rifle has a very AK-like look, but that’s entirely coincidental. When the Soviets demanded that all Warsaw Pact countries standardize around the 7.62x39mm intermediate rifle cartridge, the Czechs were unamused, since they had an inordinate fondness for the 7.62x51mm round. Apparently, the Czechs believe that when they shoot you, you should know you’ve been shot. Or, maybe, never know at all.
The Czechs were also unamused by the idea that the demand to switch to the AK round also came with the Soviet expectation that their client states would also buy the rifle that chambered it, the AK-47. The Czechs have had a world-class reputation as gunmakers for centuries, and they were unimpressed by the AK. So, they accepted the ammo requirement, then let the world-famous Brno arms factory produce a rifle to fire it, the Sa Vz 58. Other than the cartridge, and a similar gas piston/op rod mechanism, the rifles are completely different. No parts are interchangeable with the AK. The parts are all CNC-machined, instead of stamped. It fires from the closed-bolt position.
Unlike the AK, it is not a side-ejecting rifle. Instead, the bolt carrier exposes a huge, honkin’ “ejection port”, which is actually about half of the upper receiver. I can’t even imagine how you’d get a stovepipe or ejection jam.
The gas piston is in a separate chamber from the short operating rod, very similar to the SKS gas system, so the receiver is isolated from gas system. The chamber and barrel, by the way, are also chrome-lined.
Another nice feature is the design of the safety, which pokes down below the receiver. This means that, even in total darkness, you can feel that the safety is engaged as soon as you grasp the pistol grip. Flock it up with your trigger finger, and you’re ready to rock and roll. In a safe and approved manner.
The sling is also from Israeli Arms. It’s the tactical sling the Israeli Army uses so you hang the weapon across your chest, and bring it up to firing position, if needed, in about a second.
It’s about as accurate as any rifle firing the 7.62×39 round can be, with low recoil, and decently fast target aquisition, especially with a reflex sight mounted on the picatinny rails on the top of the forward handguard. It’s really a hoot to shoot.
It’s reasonably priced, built like a tank, and is still about 1.5 pounds lighter than the AK.
It’s really a very nice rifle, and I highly recommend it, especially for those of you who don’t like the AK, but who despise the lightweight round and nasty direct-impingement gas system of the AR15-series rifles.