Free Markets, Free People

Guns and Gun Rights

Dropping two at a mile and a half

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.

~McQ

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The Twins: A Czech Sa Vz 58 Review

A matching brace of Czech-made SA VZ 58 rifles

A matching brace of Czech-made SA VZ 58 rifles

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″.

Top view of the Rifle, with the stripper clip guide visible at the front of the bold carrier assembly

Top view of the Rifle, with the stripper clip guide visible at the front of the bold carrier assembly

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.

Ejection port open, bolt locked to the rear

Ejection port open, bolt locked to the rear

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.

SCOTUS prepared to “incorporate” 2nd Amendment via 14th?

It appears that may be the case as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the Chicago gun ban case (McDonald v. Chicago).  Great write up at the SCOTUSblog if you haven’t read it.  Per Lyle Denniston, the court appears to be leaning toward incorporating the individual right to keep and bear arms interpretation of the amendment nationally:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday seemed poised to require state and local governments to obey the Second Amendment guarantee of a personal right to a gun, but with perhaps considerable authority to regulate that right.  The dominant sentiment on the Court was to extend the Amendment beyond the federal level, based on the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “due process,” since doing so through another part of the 14th Amendment would raise too many questions about what other rights might emerge.

Make sure you read the whole thing as there’s lots of interesting discussion about why most feel that will be the final decision of the court. Also note that while it is believed the court will incorporate the 2nd Amendment as an individual right, it will leave state and local governments with, as Denniston says “considerable authority to regulate that right”. That part of it, I’m sure, will continue to be fought in the courts over the years. But if this turns out as it appears it might, it will be an almost fatal blow to the “2nd Amendment is a collective right” crowd.

~McQ

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Washington State Supreme Court Rules 2nd Amendment Applies To State Via 14th Amendment

One of the running battles concerning the 2nd Amendment is whether or not it is an individual right or a collective right – i.e. one for the state to limit/restrict.  I think a fair reading of the amendment and the history of the era and those who penned the Bill of Rights clearly puts it (as with most of the other amendments dealing with our freedoms) in the “individual rights” category.

The Washington State Supreme Court weighed in on the question and while I recognize the fact that this is only valid in that state, it is a precedent that moves the argument a little further along – and not in a way the collective rights crew is going to like.

It occurred in a ruling about a recent case involving a 17 year old in possession of a hand-gun who was arrested by police for having it.

The trial court found Sieyes guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm under RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(iii),1 which limits circumstances in which children under age 18 can lawfully possess firearms. We must decide whether the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to the states and, if so, determine whether RCW

“A person, whether an adult or juvenile, is guilty of the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree, if the person does not qualify under subsection (1) of this section for the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree and the person owns, has in his or her possession, or has in his or her control any firearm: . . . [i]f the person is under eighteen years of age, except as provided in RCW 9.41.042.” RCW 9.41.042 enumerates nine exceptions which allow children under age 18 to possess firearms.

What the police contend, of course, is these circumstances didn’t involve one of the 9 exceptions. Washington state had claimed it had the legislative right to restrict who may or may not possess a firearm.

The court disagreed:

41.040(2)(a)(iii) unconstitutionally infringes on the right to bear arms protected by either the United States or Washington Constitutions. We hold the Second Amendment applies to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause; however, Sieyes fails to demonstrate on this record that RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(iii) infringes on his right to bear arms under either constitution.

The courts justification is quite interesting and I encourage you to read it. Essentially they cite the Heller case and note that the Supreme Court “unquestionably recognized an individual right to bear arms and, in the process, rejected a collective right conditioned militia service.” What the SCOTUS didn’t do is determine whether or not that amendment applies to the states via the 14th Amendment and “incorporation”.

Incorporation is “[t]he process of applying the provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states by interpreting the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause as encompassing those provisions.” Black’s Law Dictionary 834 (9th ed. 2009). The Fourteenth Amendment bars “any state [from] depriv[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. Under the original constitutional architecture the federal Bill of Rights protected only enumerated rights from federal interference.

The 14th Amendment changed that “original constitutional architecture” and establshed that those constitutional rights “incorporated” under the 14th applied to the states as well.

What the Washington State Supreme Court found is that it does as indicated by the highlighted line cited above and in their conclusion:

The Second Amendment right to bear arms applies to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

An interesting win for those who believe the right to be an individual right. 5 of the 6 justices on the Washington State Supreme Court concurred with the ruling.  The dissenting justice essentially dissented because the court didn’t go far enough in its protection of the right.  I would guess this will eventually wend its way toward SCOTUS which, as this ruling notes, explicitly avoided this question in Heller.

~McQ

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CA Bans Mail Order Ammo Sales

California Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger did not sign, but did not veto, AB962, the Mail Order Ammo Ban.  Since California has no pocket veto, that means the bill becomes law without his signature.

This means that, as of 1 Feb 2011, all handgun ammunition sales in California will require a face-to-face transaction between buyer and seller, and sellers will have to obtain a thumbprint and other data from the buyer.

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Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Review

For Chris’ last birthday, I purchased her a brand new Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine.  And, for good measure, bought one for myself.  Auto-Ordnance is a brand of Kahr Firearms, and their M1 Carbine is an exact reproduction of the first-gen M1 Carbines produced in World War II.

Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine

Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine

Well, almost an exact replica.  The only difference between the Auto-Ordnance product and the original GI M1 Carbines is that the original rifles worked.

I ordered the rifles brand new through Turner’s Outdoorsman.  On my initial look at the rifles when I picked them up, they looked fine.  When I got them home, however, I noticed that one of the rifles had been improperly stained, with the cutout in the stock for the sling completely unstained, except for a big drip line of stain that had bled down.

This was a disappointment in terms of quality control, but not as big as the disappointment that followed.

When I ordered the rifles, I also ordered 1,000 rounds of .30 carbine FMJ milspec ammo from Georgia Arms.  When I had both ammo and rifle in hand, Chris and I took them to the local shooting club where we are members.  Along with the ammo, we also had both the factory 10-round magazines from Auto-Ordnance, as well as several surplus GI magazines.

The first problem we noticed that on one of the rifles, none of the magazines would seat properly, without slamming the bottom of the magazine with a lot of effort.  The magazine release catch was slightly improperly placed, another quality control glitch, and one that was more serious than improperly staining the stock.

Once we began shooting, we quickly learned that neither rifle could be depended upon to shoot a single 10-round magazine without jamming, stovepiping, or other feeding problems.  The GI magazines were hopeless, and the factory Auto-Ordnance were only slightly less so.  The main difference seemed to be that both rifles would jam every two or three rounds with the GI magazines, while the factory mags jammed every 4 or 5 rounds.

In short, from the example of both brand-new rifles and factory mags, I concluded that the Auto-Ordance M1 Carbine is the most shoddily produced, unreliable rip-off of a firearm that it has ever been my misfortune to shoot.

I called Auto-Ordance to complain about the rifles, which were still under warranty, and telling them that I thought their products were completely useless.  They offered to ship me two new factory magazines to see if that would fix the feed problems.  And they told me not to use any GI magazines in them.  I didn’t want the new magazines, I wanted to get rid of the rifles, which is not something they were interested in helping me with.

In view of my experience, the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine is a complete waste of money, and I strongly urge anyone interested to avoid them like the plague.  They are utterly worthless for any purpose I can imagine.  Kahr should be ashamed to produce these useless hunks of crap, and I will never, ever buy any product from Kahr again.

Now, I’m out 1400 bucks, and I’m stuck with two rifles that I despise utterly, and 750 remaining rounds that I don’t want to shoot through these non-feeding excretions from Auto-Ordnance.

UPDATE:

By the way, apparently I’m not alone in complaining about the disgustingly poor quality and hideous feed problems of the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine.  I ran across this thread at the Firearms Blog, where nearly every commenter has similarly bad opinions of the rifle’s quality, and Kahr’s poor customer service.

This really reinforces my opinion to steer clear of any Kahr product in the future.

MSNBC: Manufacturing Racism

You may have seen it by now, but this simply can’t pass without comment. MSNBC has carefully used footage of a man at a Obama townhall who is carrying an AR-15 and a sidearm to charge racism and imply threats of violence against Obama (HT: Hot Air).

The weapons are legal to carry. But that’s not really the story. As you will be unable to tell in the following clip, the man carrying the guns is black.

That’s just outrageous. Watch this to see why:

Calm. Articulate. Exercising his rights. Black. And, according to the newscaster, one of a half-dozen openly carrying.

But back to the point, and you can hear it in the “analysis” after the very carefully cropped clip is shown, MSNBC and the left want so badly to make this discontent with government in general and the Democratic agenda specifically about race that they’re reduced to manufacturing “evidence” and making implications based on it.

That is just pitiful. And you know full well that all three of those drones pushing the racism line knew full well their example didn’t conform to their racist story line. However, it did give the one commentator the opportunity to bring up the “rise” in right-wing militias and the possibility that someone will try to “hurt” Obama.

When you are reduced to manipulating images to make a false point, you’re no longer a news organization, you’re a propaganda outlet. There’s a reason that MSNBC is the least watched of the cable networks.

~McQ

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The Right’s Emerging Sotomayor Arguments

Some reactions from the right to the Sotomayor SCOTUS nomination:

Roger Pilon, the Cato Institute’s Director of Constitutional Studies:

In nominating Second Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, President Obama chose the most radical of all the frequently mentioned candidates before him.

Ilya Somin, George Mason University Law School:

I am also not favorably impressed with her notorious statement that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Not only is it objectionable in and of itself, it also suggests that Sotomayor is a committed believer in the identity politics school of left-wing thought.

Dave Kopel, Research Director at the Independence Institute:

Judge Sotomayor’s record suggests hostility, rather than empathy, for the tens of millions of Americans who exercise their right to keep and bear arms.

William Redpath, National Committee Chairman of the Libertarian Party:

By nominating Sonia Sotomayor, Barack Obama has made it clear he prefers an activist for his personal causes over a rational interpreter of law.

So the gathering argument from the right seems to be “activist”, “identity-politics”, hostility to the 2nd amendment and “radical”.

I see nothing (unless there is some hidden problem with taxes or nannys we don’t know about) that is going to keep this nomination from going through given the Democrats numbers in the Senate. But it will be interesting to see how long, how hard and how nastily the Republicans choose to fight this. I’m not sure this is the SCOTUS nominee hill to die on.

~McQ

Fun With Statistics

Remember, depending on the message you want to convey, stats can be very helpful:

Physicians:
a. The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
b. Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.
c. Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171. (Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)

Now think about this…

Guns:
a. The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000.
b. The number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups) is 1,500.
c. The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is 0.000188.
_________________

Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

Guns don’t kill people – doctors do!

Ban doctors!

The point, of course, is stats can be used to scare you to death, especially when used in limited context or in isolation. The world is a dangerous place. Accidents are going to happen. When the gun grabbers talk about taking your firearms to prevent accidents, remind them of this statistic. It’s just as “valid” as theirs and it sometimes is helpful to illustrate absurdity with absurdity.

~McQ