Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Followup commentary on my last post

There has been some extended discussion over in the comments section at Aunt B's blog. Dolphin has replied to my commentary, so I have posted a response there. I'm posting his response and my followup below, for your reading pleasure.

UPDATE: dolphin has once again responded, and so have I. Additional entries added below.

dolphin wrote:

John the Texaner,

For not wanting to make a partisan argument, you sure are trying your best to do just that.

You ask why there are no Texan cities on the list? Good question, why not any New York cities, or Maine, or Virginia, or Illionois, or Maryland? The reason is simple. Because it’s a list of 15. There are over 10,000 cities in the US (according to the 2000 Census, a little outdated I know), so it’s obvious that ALOT more will be left off the list than included on it.

I think you’re dismissing the very logical conclusion of higher population = higher crime rate, while jumping to embrace conclusions that are far more dubious. You can’t simply dismiss the correlation between population and crime on the basis that the 6th highest population missed the list. I’m not suggesting that high population is THE factor that causes higher crime rates. I’m suggesting that it is a major one that interacts with a near infinity of other factors.

If a person who is willing to rob my house is walking down the street in the city and sees a 50″ HDtV sitting in my living room through my window, I’m likely to get robbed. On the other hand, if the exact same person is walking down my street in the country, they are far less likely to walk an acre and a half to my house just to see if there might be something inside they want to steal. I don’t think they care whether I am “dependent on government assistance in their everyday lives,” it’s a matter of convenience.

Then of course the question is whether that person would be walking down my street in the first time. If, for math simplicity, we assume that 10% of the population are potential criminals, then in a town of 1000, there are only 100 people who I’d have to worry about, where as I’d have to worry about 10,000 in a city of 100,000. And because of population density, I’d be even more likely to come in direct contact with 1 or more of those 100,000 in the city.

All of these make far more logical sense in explaining higher crime rates than wild speculation on people’s political views or attitudes towards the government.


John The Texaner wrote:


As I noted at the beginning of my post, I was exploring Jim's suggestion that the violent cities were democratic-leaning. They were. I left that argument where it ended.

I do admit that I didn't look at all the specific reasons for why Forbes listed the cities as "most violent", and it's likely an over crime/accident indicator they're looking at. Reviewing it now, the list includes both violent crimes and property crimes such as theft and larceny - which don't seem to me to be an accurate indicator of "danger" as applicable in this discussion.

As a note, you will never find Chicago on any of these lists. The reason for this is that Chicago does not report rape to the FBI, making it impossible to calculate a comparison to other US cities with regards to violent crime.

If we want to get more specific, we can look at murder rates per 100,000 as an indicator. Forbes has another list of most Murderous Cities, and it is a top 10 list. You can find the article here, and get a rundown of each city by clicking the "In Pictures: America's Most Murderous Cities" link.

Detriot (47.3) still tops the list by far, followed by Baltimore (43.3), New Orleans (37.6), Newark (37.4), St. Louis (37.2), Oakland (36.4), Washington (29.1), Cincinnati (28.8), Philadelphia (27.7), and Buffalo (26.4).

Still no Texas cities in there, but only one in the "South", being New Orleans.

I'm not dismissing that large cities tend to have higher rates of crime. In fact, I said that I do agree that it is a factor. I should have phrased it better. Correlation does not equal causation, and that was the specific point I was trying to make. While crime is higher in larger cities, there are plenty of large cities that lack the level of violent crime of smaller cities, so it is obvious that other factors come into play. I believe societal attitudes towards crime are a significant factor, and this was the point I was trying to make.

As for your HD TV example, you missed my point. In a society where criminals have little fear of resistance to the commission of crime, crime will flourish. If conditions exist that make a burglar or robber more likely to meet armed resistance, logically the risks to the criminal are higher and the criminal will be less likely to commit a high-risk crime.

Taking this instance of robbery as an example and the two cities I cited earlier - Houston and Philadelphia, let's compare statistics. I'm pulling these stats from the FBI crime statistics for 2007, which can be conveniently found on Wikipedia at Numbers are again per 100.000 in population.

Houston is a city of 2,169,544, with an instance of robbery of 529.

Philadelphia is a city of 1,435,533, with an instance of robbery of 715.

Despite its greater size and a significant influx of crime post-Katrina, Houston still comes in considerably lower than Philadelphia in robbery statistics.

I find it significant that a violent crime against a person is less likely in an environment where the possession of firearms for self-defense is considered the norm, as opposed to Philadelphia, where it is actively condemned by local authorities. The essence of my point here is not the guns, but the accepted societal norm of defending one's self, family, and home.

Guns are simply the best tools for accomplishing these aims when faced with criminal deadly force. They are tools of last resort, and an equalizer when push comes to shove in a life-threatening encounter.

As for your static example of 10% of the population to be flawed. While there is certainly a portion of the population that will be inclined to commit crimes, you completely ignore the social influence on the choice of an individual to pursue a life of crime. Where the personal risk and consequences of committing a crime are more severe, an individual would be less likely to pursue those paths. Were risk is low to an individual, the rewards may outweigh the possible risks involved, making criminal acts more attractive. If we want to talk in degrees of severity, one may find the low risk involved in petty theft more attractive than the high-risk robbery or burglary. When a population has been conditioned to offer no resistance to a criminal involved in a severe or violent crime, the low risk versus high reward in such an act transcends that of petty theft, and a criminal would be more inclined to commit the act.

To use recent international events as an example, we have a situation off the coast of Somalia where the violent act of piracy has gone almost completely unchecked. The risk in such a venture has become nearly zero, while the rewards of the crime are incredibly high. We have an environment where shipping companies and entire nations have written off the payment of huge ransoms as a part of doing business, and effectively encouraged Somali criminals to engage in acts of violent and organized crime. In the absence of risk and the presence of great reward, the crime of piracy has flourished.


dolphin wrote:

John, unless I’m severely misunderstanding you, you’re still basing your entire argument on speculation about people’s motivations, which you have no way of knowing. That and the fact that Houston doesn’t happen to appear on a few lists of 10-15 of 10,000+ cities.

Here’s your (apparent) assertions that I’d either outright dispute or at the very least argue that we need much more information before we could argue the validity of them:
1. Guns are the only way (or even the most effective way) one can defend oneself against a criminal.
2. There are a higher proportion of people who choose to pursue criminal activity in the city than in the country.
3. That there are a lower proportion of people willing to defend themselves in the city than in the country.
4. The notion that widespread gun ownership has a deterrent effect on crime.

And here’s the thing, I’m not a gun control proponent. Own all the guns you want, I’m just opposed to drawing really shakey conclusions on not enough information just because those conclusions might fit into your preconceived notions and agenda.



I'm basing nothing on motivations. I'm talking about social influence. I'll give you a very simple example:

A person may be motivated to break into my house and commit robbery or other heinous crimes against me and my loved ones. When I meet him with my shotgun ready to defend my family, I act to influence him to choose another path or pay the consequences of his choice to persist against me.

I chose Houston as an example because it is similar in size to Philadelphia, and provides a contrast in violent crime trends. I also chose it to provide a conservative example, knowing full well that Houston has a crime problem.. If I had wanted to make a drastic example with a closer population number, I would choose San Antonio instead. Here is a comparison of statistics between San Antonio and Philadelphia, with data taken from the FBI 2007 statistics that I referenced in my previous post.

San Antonio: 1,316,882
Philadelphia: 1,435,533

Murder (per 100.000):
San Antonio: 9
Philadelphia: 27

San Antonio: 186
Philadelphia: 715

I was being generous with my Houston comparison. Other large cities in Texas fare as well or better.

I'll address the assertions you claim I make individually.

1. As I have already stated above, my assertion is not that guns are the issue. The issue is when governmental restriction serves to influence public perception on the social acceptability of defensive force, deadly or otherwise. What I did say is that the gun is the absolute best and most efficient tool in a specific set of violent encounters where other options are unavailable or ineffective. When the government disarms law-abiding citizens, it sends a message that we cannot be trusted to protect ourselves against crime and must rely on the police (who have no duty to protect us).

2. If we are to go by your HDTV example in your earlier comment, then rural living provides less opportunity, less likely reward for effort, and less frequent incidence in crime. And yes, I am saying that both violent and property crime rates are higher in urban areas. The U.S. Burea of Justice agrees with me.

To quote specifically:
"Urban residents had the highest violent victimization rates, followed by suburban resident rates. Rural residents had the lowest rates."
"Urban households have historically been and continue to be the most vulnerable to property crime, burglary, motor vehicle theft and theft in the United States."

You can find the report I pulled that from at

3. That really depends on your city. If you want to go with your 10% criminal rule, obviously the cities with lower crime rates have fewer citizens who are willing to be victims. To more specifically address the assertion, it is not so much a matter of will than it is ability. As I've stated previously, rural populations are more self-sufficient by nature. The need for self-protection is a much more distinct reality, as police assistance is often immediately unavailable. City-dwellers (again, this varies depending on the city) have been conditioned to rely more exclusively on police response against crime - they are generally not as mentally prepared for the reality of a self-defense situation.

4. Yes, that is a correct assessment. The only modifier here is that owning a gun is not on its own an effective deterrent. To be truly effective, the gun owner needs to be proficient with the weapon and be willing and ready to use that weapon if the need arises.

For all your claims that my opinions are shaky conclusions and speculations, your own arguments in this thread have been based completely on supposition. You have yet to point out a single piece of data or study to support your position. Essentially, your side of the conversation has been "you're wrong, you make bad assumptions".

In effort to address your concerns, I've provided you with statistical data and my own observations as to why I think that data is significant. While these may be conclusions to fit into my preconceived notions, you've countered with your own conclusions with no data or even anecdotal evidence to back them up.

An agenda would imply that I have some specific goal in mind. I have no goal other than to live my life with liberty and in the pursuit of happiness. I'm flattered that you believe I have some sort of agenda, but in reality I'm just a guy in Texas who values his civil rights.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A liberal comes out against gun control.

SayUncle linked to a post by Aunt B about the recent addition of two Tennessee cities to Forbes' list of the top 15 Most Dangerous Cities. Her take on it was unexpected, and refreshingly she comes out against gun control. It is good to see a self-described liberal looking at the issue rationally. Of course, I am no stranger to this phenomenon, as famously liberal Austin is full of liberals (and even a self-described socialist friend of mine) who see the sense in firearms used for self-defense. Here is one personally-observed example I've noted in the past.

I posted a reply to her post and some of the commentary, but it seems to have gotten caught in a spam filter or is awaiting approval - I'm not sure which. I'm going to post it here in the meantime for your reading enjoyment, and hopefully it will show up there.

Aunt B: If the comments are moderated for approval, sorry for the double-comment post. I thought perhaps that it had not gone through. Not seeing any notation that comments were moderated, I attempted to post again.

Jim made the statement that the democratic-leaning counties are the ones where violence is worst, and said he may look it up later.

I took it upon myself to research the entire Forbes list you linked, and compared it against the recent 2008 election results by county. Red represented a majority of Republican votes, Blue represents Democrat votes. Want to guess what I found? Every single one of them went to Obama. Here's the list. I used the NY Times map as my source, and you're welcome to go look it up.

1. Detroit, MI Blue
2. Memphis, TN Blue
3. Miami, FL Blue
4. Las Vegas, NV Blue
5. Stockton, CA (San Joaquin County) Blue
6. Orlando, FL Blue
7. Little Rock, AR Blue
8. Charleston, SC Blue
9. Nashville, TN Blue
10. Baltimore, MD Blue
11. New Orleans, LA Blue
12. Baton Rouge, LA Blue
13. West Palm Beach, FL Blue
14. Charlotte, NC Blue
15. Philadelphia, PA Blue

Now, far be it for me to make a partisan argument out of this. I don't identify myself with either the Republicans or the Democrats. I consider the pros and cons of each candidate in each election. It is nearly always an issue of who is the least despicable of the candidates. Both parties enjoy the lion's share of corruption and self-servitude. Gun control has been, however, a pet issue of our President and the current Democratic leadership in Congress, so for the purposes of this discussion, the data is corollary. After all, the only point Jim made was that the violent places are all Democrat-majority.

And please do not lump California in with the South. That is an insult to southerners. Also, Las Vegas would be considered "West", not South.

In response to dolphin's comment, why are there no Texas cities on this list. Last I checked, Houston is the 6th largest city in the U.S., but somehow it didn't make the cut. While it does have its share of crime, especially post-Katrina, it still pales in comparison to the other much smaller cities on the list. I agree that crime does tend to increase with population, but it's not directly corollary.

An interesting side note, Houston is another blue city in an otherwise red state, comparable to Philadelphia. Texas has preemption laws governing the the regulation of firearms, where Pennsylvania allows its cities to create local ordinances banning possession and carry of arms. Somehow Philadelphia with its strict gun laws beats out Houston in this most dangerous places list.

Beyond the gun issue, I believe this reaches much further into the perceived role of government in the daily lives of citizens.

If the issue were proliferation of gun ownership, then it would seem logical that the most dangerous places to live would be more rural areas where gun ownership is highest. On the contrary, people living in rural areas are inherently more independent and self-sustaining - less likely to be dependent on government assistance in their everyday lives. Rather than turning to the police as a talisman against crime, these people have a personal interest in self-preservation against criminal acts, knowing full well that they are responsible for their own safety.

By contrast, city-dwellers have been lulled into the notion that crime against one's person is to only be dealt with by the police, and are largely mentally powerless against a criminal. This is only pushed further when conditioned by laws that prohibit citizens from possessing the most efficient tools for self-defense, making not only self-preservation difficult and often times illegal, but actions of self-defense themselves socially taboo as well. How many times have we heard public officials claim that if we just "give the person what he wants, no one will get hurt"? In practice, that doesn't work out so well, and we're slowly becoming a nation of victims with social convention running counter to our inherent instincts for self-preservation.

Aunt B, I appreciate your willingness to look at facts on this issue. Your post was quite refreshing.

[UPDATE]: My comment was indeed caught in the spam filters, and Aunt B. has graciously fished it out for me. Hats off to her for the quick response!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Superb addition to the blogroll...

...and an incredible source of information!

Clayton Cramer and David Burnett's Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog. They have gone and documented over 4000 accounts of civilians defending themselves with guns, starting in late 2003. The number continues to climb daily. Incredible.

Everyone needs to go read this stuff.

Thanks to Robb Allen over at Sharp As A Marble for linking to this.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More blogroll additions for your reading pleasure.

Here's a couple of folks I'm adding to the blogroll:

A Day In The Life Of An Ambulance Driver
I've known about AD for a long time, by way of LawDog (my first blog to ever follow, incidentally), so this add is long overdue.

Lucrative Pain
The adventures in the life of a Licensed Massage Therapist in Las Vegas. Christina is a regular over at the Gunblogger Conspiracy, who I somehow missed adding to the blogroll in the past.

Welcome to the blogroll!

Enjoy the reading, it's good stuff.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another addition to the blogroll

Via ASM826 over at Random Acts of Patriotism, I have been made aware of CmdrFenix. A hearty salute and welcome to the blogroll!

Where I've Been and Some Commentary

Via several folks on my blogroll, I have this nifty "where I've been" map generator.

First: States in the U.S.:

visited 34 states (68%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or jurisdische veraling duits?

And secondlly, Where I've been in the world:

visited 6 states (2.66%)
Create your own visited map of The World or Best time to visit Nakano

... Not nearly as extensive as my travels in the U.S., with the Asian countries from my early years growing up as an Air Force brat. Canada, however, was done via an extended road trip on a shoestring budget during my early 20s. Lots of great experiences during that trip, and much of the western US states from the first map were covered during that trip.

Some places I'd like to go:

Germany - The homeland of my ancestors. I can trace my family back to the 1790's in the Oldenburg area - the generation that left the Old Country. It appears that most folks with my family name in Germany still reside in that general vicinity. With some genealogy work, I'm hoping to find some very distant relatives and meet them. Fortunately, my last name is relatively rare. Every person I've encountered with it in the U.S. can trace their roots back to the same family in the midwest that I come from. Hopefully, the same is true in Germany. Acquiring a working knowledge of German is one of the things I want to do before this trip.

Switzerland - Renowned for its rifle shooting and marksmanship among the common population. Yes, I know they have skiing and good food, but the shooting is what draws me. My wish is to visit a hundreds-of-years-old rifle range, and do some target practice with a K31 (the first rifle I ever fired).

Thailand - This one is for the food, beautiful landscape, and culture. I don't think I've mentioned it before, but I'm a Capsaicin nut. Spicy food is the cat's meow for me. Thai Chiles are among my favorite peppers - lots of heat and good flavor. Thailand has beautiful mountains, monestaries, and people. I have no desire to visit the tourist trap areas along the coast. When I travel, I seek a route where I will encounter people as they really are, not a manufactured image for me to consume. A bicycle tour is a possibility here.

Belize - At one point long ago, I made preliminary plans for a road trip to Belize via Mexico. Now, such a plan would be foolish, to say the least. Mexico has become a very dangerous place to be a foreigner these days, especially away from resort towns. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of visiting Belize, but I fear there's no place to go anymore where I wouldn't get the tourist treatment. Still, it remains on the list, in case an opportunity falls in my lap some day.

Iceland - Its stark beauty and wilderness have been a draw to me for a long time. The prospect of backpacking through that kind of country has an entrancing quality about it.

Alaska - Yes, it's on my map of places I've been. My time there was limited to passing through as a toddler on the way stateside from Asia. There is a stamp on my old passport to prove it, but I have no memory of it. Alaska draws me for a variety of reasons. It is perhaps the only place that surpasses Texas in the qualities I value for living. Rugged self-reliance, a frontier spirit, and respect for the liberties and rights of men. The gun laws (or lack of) are icing on the cake. As I have alluded to in previous posts, I have made preliminary plans for a backpacking trip through the Alaskan wilderness. Specifically, it's my desire to travel across a large portion of the state, backpacking through Gates of The Arctic National Park and rafting the entire length of the Noatak River within the Noatak National Preserve. The Alaskan wilderness has the same kind of draw for me as Iceland. Being in a place where very few bother to venture is a desire that is simply part of my being. Visiting a remote corner of the world where people simply do not go to on a whim has some sort of profound value for me which I cannot explain - and the state is full of those kinds of places. Alaska is also a place I would be proud to call home.

Antarctica - Again, the remote, seldom-traveled road holds its appeal for me here. At one point in my life, I considered applying to work at McMurdo station in a technical capacity. The place is desolate and beautiful. Few people ever make the journey to Antarctica. Other life priorities prevented me from sending in the applications and making a serious run at it, so Antarctica will probably never be on my "Where I've Been" list. I'd still like to go if the opportunity ever presented itself.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

While there's still a few minutes left in the day...

Happy National Librarian Day to Breda!

To the the rest of you librarians out there, I salute you!

Austin's Tea Parties

The Austin Gun Rights Examiner has a review of yesterday's Austin Tea Party events, and it isn't overwhelmingly positive. Sadly, I'll have to agree with the bulk of Mr. Nemerov's sentiments.

Unfortunately, I didn't make it out to the event at city hall where the Governor spoke, but did make it to the Capitol for the demonstration at 4:00. This may have been a good thing - if the first protest was anything like the last one, I may not have bothered with the Capitol event. It wasn't all bad, so I'll start with the good.

A lot of people showed up. I heard the number to be estimated between 5,000 and 7,000, which seemed to be right from what I saw. I was surprised at the number of folks who made it. I got there a little before 4:00, and was able to get a parking spot at 14th & Guadalupe about 5 blocks away. I had intended to bring the Nikon along to get some photos for this post, but forgot it on the way out and didn't realize I had left it until I was halfway there.

There were a lot of flags flying, with the Gadsden Flag being the most prominent. There were a few Gonzales Flags as well, a US Marines Flag, and a few US Flags of different versions. A couple of other oddball flags few as well, including the Bonnie Blue Flag, perhaps meant to approximate The Burnet Flag.

Overall, the event was relatively disorganized. There was a semblance of a schedule, but none of the speakers or performers were visible to anyone beyond the first couple of rows in the crowd. There was a speaker system set up at the Capitol for the event, and that worked pretty well.

There was a disappointing partisan vibe that permeated throughout the Capitol grounds part of the event. This was reflected in the speeches as well, and it was evident that these folks were treating the Tea Party as a Republican rally, rather than the grassroots single-issue event that it was supposed to be. I'm sure I'm far from the only one to have noticed this, as I observed that when the talking points became increasingly partisan, crowd participation and cheers died off significantly. Given the Republican Party's recent departure from its core beliefs on spending with the Bush administration, it was a big mistake to turn focus towards the GOP during a protest against runaway government spending.

U.S. Representative Michael McCaul was probably the biggest speaker at the event, and reinforced this partisan rhetoric. In his introduction, he threw bone of a welcome to the Libertarians, a hearty welcome to the Republicans, and then went on to jokingly welcome Democrats, if there just happened to be any in the crowd. While his speech was good, it seemed to be more of a set of talking points to save his own hide - pointing out that he didn't vote for any of the pork "stimulus" bills. He went on to make some more partisan rallying points about taking back the congress "for the party". This is not what I came expecting to hear.

There was another speaker whose name I never caught after McCaul. The speech was well-delivered, though it strayed into the standard Conservative (and mainly Republican) talking points on a wide range of issues not related to government spending. It was mainly a "God and Guns" speech, with minor points on government spending. I'm in general support for the points made, but that's not what a Tea Party was supposed to be about.

In general observation of the crowd, the posters and banners and whatnot were generally on-topic. From what I could tell, there were a lot of folks geniunely interested in making a stand against runaway government spending. This made it all the more disappointing that the event played out like a Republican political rally. I could tell by the reactions (or lack of reactions) of several of the more independant/centrist-looking folks in the crowd that they shared my disappointment in the tone of the event.

In attendance were some of the more extreme right-wingers. I noted a spattering of "Vote From The Rooftops" shirts and other similar slogans. Apparently some of the black helicoptor conspiracy theorists thought it would be a good venue to try and have their voices heard, as we were treated to shouts of "9/11 was an inside job!" during the march procession.

The crowd was in significant enough size to warrant blocking off Congress avenue, and APD did an admirable job of facilitating the march. It was quite impressive to see the size of the procession. We walked a mile down Congress Avenue to 1st Street (aka Cesar Chavez), headed west, and went south on the South First Street bridge across the lake and ended up on Auditorium Shores. This is where things pretty much fell apart. No one seemed to know what to do once we got there. There had been mention of a dumping of symbolic tea crates from boats into the Town Lake (aka Lady Bird Lake), but no one knew when or how this was going to happen. People stood around, with the Veteran flagbearers occcasionally leading in a song, like the US Marine Corp hymn or the Army hymn. We all stood around for a good 30 minutes until the last of the procession made its way into the park. The veterans with the flags wandered over to the numerous news vans and made some news-worthy chants and cheers for the cameras.

The crowd was wandering and dwindling at this point, for lack of guidance or closure. After a while, people started leaving the park on the pedestrian portion of the South First Street bridge. I figured it was over, so joined them. It was on the bridge that we saw the tea crate demonstration going on in the water (no one seemed to ever announce that it was happening). Essentially, the demonstration consisted of the throwing floating boxes in the water from covered tourist boats, with some other folks manning canoes picking them up 30 feet away.

In the end, the event was anti-climactic and I left somewhat disappointed. Most disappointing, though, was the fact that a rather universal event was turned into a partisan Republican preaching pulpit. It could have been so much more.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Discussion on Home Defense Firearms

I started this post as a comment to Hsoi's post over on Stuff From Hsoi. I soon realized that the comment rivaled the original post in length, so it warranted a post of my own. You should probably read it first to get a context of the discussion.

For what Hsoi posted, I'll agree for the most part - with the stipulation that this deals with new shooters. Honestly, an optimal solution would be to make sure the new shooter gets enough range time and shooting experience to make a logical personal choice on his/her own. This not being an ideal world, we end up in a lot of discussions as to what weapon would be best for these new and inexperienced folks.

I've got a Remington 870 18" 6+1 shotgun as my primary home defense gun. I practice with it frequently, to the point where I am quite confident that I can put all my shots squarely on multiple targets while moving and shooting.

The rub of the shotgun for the uninitiated is the recoil, and practicing enough for its operation to assimilate it into muscle memory. Not long after I got mine, I took my girlfriend to the range so that she would know how to operate it if the need were to arise. Unfortunately, the only range option that day was Red's. As those familiar with the range know, Red's has the usual restrictive rules of typical indoor ranges, and I was informed that we could only shoot slugs. This does not make for a happy introduction to the shotgun for most first-timers. She only put a couple of rounds through it and decided that was enough. Not good when you want someone to be intimately familiar with a defensive weapon.

To deal with this problem, I later replaced the rear stock with a Knoxx SpecOps stock. The difference it makes in felt recoil is amazing. This particular stock provides an M4-type 5-position adjustable/collapsable stock with a pistol grip. Additionally, it has two sets of recoil compensators that take all the bite out of shotgun recoil. I tested it out at the range and found that 3" Magnum slugs approximate felt recoil of a 2 3/4" bird hunting load. It's really that spectacular of a difference. What's more, follow-up shot delay is shortened to however long it takes you to rack the slide - the normal muzzle rise and operator movement experienced with heavy defensive loads is marginalized to the point where the sights remain on target after recoil.

In addition, Blackhawk makes an add-on shell-holder/cheekpad kit that provides on-gun storage for an additional 5 rounds. The "low" cheek pad provides the perfect cheek weld height for shooting with the bead sight (the "high" pad is made for rifle-type sights or optics). My girlfriend has picked up on my enthusiasm for the recoil-reducing capabilities of the stock, and has promised to give it another try the next time I can get her to the range.

I've taken it skeet shooting, and found that quick sighting on moving clays to be very natural and effective. This was only my third time shooting skeet, and I managed to get a score of 14, shooting doubles.

As for the "racking the slide" deterrent discussion, I bought into this initially. After thinking about it logically, I came to the conclusion that this was tactically unsound. Any element of surprise I can get on an intruder benefits me and my loved ones. The shotgun lives with one in the pipe these days, and the only sound it's going to make is a little "click" from the safety disengaging.

I agree with Hsoi on semi-auto vs. revolver. Practically, the issue comes down to what a person is willing to shoot with. My girlfriend is much more comfortable with the idea of a revolver as a personal defense weapon, and has favored them at the range when trying them out. For her, the operation is straigtforward and easy to understand, so she's simply more confident with them. That's the most critical part of the equation - whatever your choice in defensive weapon, you have to be confident, willing, and ready to use it.

Personally, I agree that more rounds available is better. I do, however think that the devistating effect of 9-12 (depending on your load of choice) simultaneous 00 buckshot pellets in a defensive 12ga makes the shotgun my #1 pick for home defense. I am confident of this because I've put in the time and effort to practice with it in varying scenarios. I do keep a high-capacity semi-auto as backup, should circumstance warrant it.

As for new shooters, it really depends on the individual. Generally, I will recommend a shotgun for a few reasons.

Long guns in general are easier to be accurate with, and my experience has shown me that muscle memory learned on a long gun (and shotguns in particular) is retained far longer than with a handgun. This is helpful for the individual who wants a weapon for self-defense but doesn't go to the range all that often.

Secondly, shotguns are cheap and require relatively low maintenance. Ammunition is relatively easy to find, especially given the recent run on handgun and common rifle ammo. This means that a defensive shotgun and ammunition can be acquired quickly and more readily on a tight budget. These days, that's an increasingly important factor.

Lastly, there is the firepower factor. A shotgun is simply unmatched when considering how much damage it can inflict in a close-quarters defensive scenario with a single pull of the trigger.

I'm no expert, and just about any choice a person can make for a defensive firearm is better than nothing. Again, the weapon you're willing and able to use is what you should go with. If you think revolvers are the bee's knees, then by all means go with that. The universal suggestion I give anyone asking about a self-defense weapon is to practice with it, and know it well.


Hsoi has updated his post with a couple of points in response, and I'll address those here.

Just to clarify, the above mentioned range trip with the girlfriend wasn't her introduction to shooting. We had made her introduction something like a year prior, with a good friend and experienced shooter doing the instruction. For her first range trip, we started her on a Ruger Mk II (.22) pistol. She worked her way up to some revolvers and semi-autos in .38 and 9mm. We also touched on rifles with a nice little .22 he had. She'd also been to the range another time before the trip to Red's. As you noted, starting off with something light and easy to shoot is critical with new shooters, and this is my standard practice. I have a Walther P22 and a Marlin Model 60 that I purchased specifically for this purpose.

I also agree that indoor ranges are a bad place to introduce someone to shooting. I never have and will not take a new shooter to an indoor range for the reasons Hsoi listed. Also, they're no fun because of lane restrictions (which make it difficult to instruct), the noise, and time constraints due to hourly rates common at most indoor ranges. In fact, the only time I'll go to an indoor range is if I'm meeting up with another experienced shooter who can't make the long trip out to the outdoor range.

This trip was, however, her introduction to shotguns, and I was unaware of the restrictions on shotgun ammo in place. I'd brought along plenty of light #4 Buck loads for use on our trip, and ended up unable to use any of it. Being on a time constraint, I tried to make the best use I could from the situation. The result was negative, and I've learned from the experience. Put in the same situation today, I simply would not have gone to Red's at all and scheduled a trip to the outdoor range for another day.

As for our disagreements on what's best for a new shooter, I'm cool with that. As posted above, the weapon you are comfortable with and will practice with is what you should use. If someone is more inclined to get a revolver, pistol, or rifle over a shotgun, that's fine by me. I'll point out the strengths and weaknesses of any weapons system so that person is able to better make an independant and educated personal decision. As an example, while a M4-style rifle (as Hsoi suggests) is appropriate for some people, others who have apartment neighbors to consider might find that a rifle presents too high a risk of third-party injury or death; Handguns allow one-handed operation, so the weapon is at ready when opening doors or for defensive hand strikes at extremely close range, but are more difficult to make quick and accurate shots with under stress.

As Hsoi also noted, a plan is essential for effictively defending your home and loved ones. Evaluate your options, know where your line of fire will be in relation to where your family members and neighbors are. Come up with plans for as many possibilities as you can. I take these factors into consideration when running drills at the range. This can mean taking kneeling or crouched shots against an intruder, shooting from your weak side, shooting one-handed, transitioning to backup weapons, reloading, drawing and shooting from a seated position, failure drills, etc. The more you know and have trained for, the more options available to you under the stress of a life-threatening situation.

Thanks for the response, Hsoi.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Blogroll Additions.

In response to my post about 20/20's most recent bit of investigative reporting fellatio for the Brady Bunch, I've gotten a lot of traffic and links from several better-known bloggers. My traffic has gone through the roof - relatively speaking - and many have been kind enough to add me to their blogrolls. I will do my best not to disappoint.

Here is a list of the many who have been added to my own blogroll over the past few days:

Bore Patch

extranos alley

Found: One Troll

Just The Library Keeper

Sensibly Progressive in Politically Correct America

Stuff From Hsoi

the munchkin wrangler

The Real Gun Guys

Women of Caliber

Give 'em a click and a read. Lots of good stuff is being written.

That is all for now.


2A Musing and Alphecca have also been added to the blogroll.

I've also just found Random Acts of Patriotism and saw that it was good. Another add to the blogroll.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Solving the Pirate Problem

So it looks like the Navy bucked up and did the deed. Finally. Unfortunately, the hemming and hawing for the past few days isn't going give other pirates the impression that we're serious. Were it the clear and resolute policy of the United States to use overwhelming and devastating force against pirates whenever they are encountered, this problem would be resolved quite quickly.

Our government will tell you that there's too much international law and whatever else they worry about to adopt a policy like this. Stingray over at Atomic Nerds has a simple solution, and it only requires a letter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Quite irritated.

I just wasted an hour of my life watching ABC News pimp the Brady Bunch and their drivel with their 20/20 "If I Only Had A Gun" special.

One of the more infuriating segments to watch was the "scenarios" played out, headed by a willing police trainer stacking the deck in a lop-sided argument. Here's how it went:

20/20 took some college-age kids, mostly unskilled with handguns, NONE of which had defensive handgun training, and set them up for a force-on-force scenario. They were given simunition glocks and some rudimentary training, then thrown into an unexpected force-on-force scenario. In this scenario, the student is planted in a "class" with nothing but unidentified police officers as other "students" in on the ruse. The student is given a Glock in a holster - supposedly for later use - and told to conceal it under a t-shirt in a holster. In the middle of the class, the plain-clothes police officer in street clothes bursts in and starts firing to test the response of the student. There are multiple flaws that set up these students to be the patsies of this lop-sided piece of propaganda. I'll list a few here.

(1) This was the most obvious to me. The officer immediately targets the student with a gun before the student gives any indication he is armed, because he knows who this person is already. This isn't how it happens in the real world.

(2) The officer immediately opens fire in a rapid fashion. If we have learned anything from school shootings (which this is supposed to emulate), mass murderers in these scenarios don't spray bullets. They take aimed shots and execute their victims one-by-one, usually starting with the closest person and continuing along at a calculated pace.

(3) When faced with armed resistance, the first things these murdurers inevitably do are either run or kill themselves (or both). This has happened at every mass shooting I can think of - both those that play out until the police arrive, and those where the shooter is met with an armed civilian. The officer running this program does exactly the opposite in these manufactured scenarios by continuing and prolonging a shootout against armed resistance. I doubt the officer would be so confident about not being hit and continuing the assault had that been a real gun he was facing.

(4) Regardless of how realistic they are trying to make this, these students still know that these guns aren't real. These students are untrained in any kind of self defense techniques, are not intimately familiar with their weapons, and their issued cover garments look to be specifically intended to cause a hang-up during a draw. While considering all of that, these students are also forced to make sense of a situation that they've been put in, delaying reaction time. They know they have training guns, they know the officer is using a training gun, and they have to think about what they're supposed to do in reaction to all this in the context of this "training" class. All of this before they're unrealistically singled out before even drawing.

The answer ABC News gives us? You shouldn't have a gun. The police trainer in this video comes off quite smugly as one of "the only ones". Us little people aren't fit to carry weapons because we don't train all the time like the police (even though everyone I know who carries gets more range time in than the average cop). No, the answer isn't to know your weapon and get training in self-defense techniques. The answer is to die while you wait for the police to arrive and barricade themselves outside while you and your classmates are slaughtered. Thanks for clearing that up, ABC!

I'd invite these same people to set up this same scenario with a shooter possessing gun-handling skills similar to the garden-variety mass-murderer (see very little), and do not let him know who is armed. Then put in an average CHL holder who has bothered to get defense training in the classroom seat, with equipment he or she practices with and carries daily. The outcome is quite likely to look very different from what these shills gave us. But we all know that's not going to happen.

Really telling were the defense success stories that were glossed over. They ran tape from a convenience store robbery where the clerk was armed. The only point made was that 14 rounds were fired by both sides (clerk and 2 robbers), and not one person was hit. Ya know what? THE CLERK LIVED, DIDN'T HE?

There was another video all of us in the gun blogosphere have seen. A thug walks into a motel lobby wielding a shotgun. The clerk responds by tactfully drawing at the right opportunity and shooting the guy multiple times, center-of-mass, without missing a single shot. But all of this was glossed over because there was a lady with a baby in the room, and they were in close proximity. What they FAILED TO MENTION was that the motel clerk was a very well-trained handgun instructor. Know what else? He didnt' hit the baby. HAD THEY SHOWN THE ENTIRE VIDEO, we would have seen that he didn't simply draw and fire, but positioned himself in a calculated manner to minimize risk to any of the innocent individuals present.

HEY ABC! DO YOU KNOW WHY NO ONE WATCHES 20/20 ANYMORE? IT'S THIS UTTER SHIT YOU FOIST UPON YOUR VIEWERS! Pre-determing your conclusions before you set out to make the story isn't journalism, it's PROPAGANDA. You made absolutely no effort to show even a single interviewee on the pro-gun side of the argument. You are shills, the lot of you.


Adding a link to Eseell's play-by-play analysis over at Found: One Troll: Eseell has also been added to the blogroll.

Caleb over at Gun Nuts Media (the Blog formerly known as "Call Me Ahab") has his own take as well:

Additional commentary from the Virginia Shooting Sports Association here:

Sebastian from Snowflakes In Hell expands upon the VSSA's commentary:

Another good review over at Sensibly Progressive in Politically Correct America: Another good blog added to the blogroll.


The Denver Gun Rights Examiner has an article here:

The LA Gun Rights Examiner has an article here:


Women of Caliber has another detailed review:

Taking New Shooters To The Range

Think of it as planting seeds.

One of the greatest things an individual can do to counter the irrational hatred of guns in this country is to take someone new to the gun range. Most of the anti-gun sentiment is rooted in ignorance. We have been conditioned by TV, movies, and the mainstream media to believe a gun is an object of evil which somehow turns an ordinary person into a killer. We are subjected to a constant barrage of this propaganda, reaffirming a fact that we only know because it is something we have been told over and over again.

The only way to effectively counter this brainwashing is with an ample dose of reality. As with anything else, a gun is only a tool. What is done with that tool is up to the individual, not the gun itself.

As an example, take the automobile - a device much more readily employed as a lethal weapon than a gun. Incredible numbers of people are killed each year by cars in this country. A car is easily purchased at a moment's notice and can be used to mow down large crowds of people at once by a determined killer. Given the potential for incredible destruction and loss of life, why is there no uproar calling for car control and "smart" vehicles that require some sort of biometric pairing so that only the owner of the vehicle can operate it? After all, cars are used as tools of robbery, burglary, murder, kidnapping, and just about any other crime you can think of.

The difference is that most people own one and can see its usefulness in everyday life. And this is where the ignorance about guns must be fought. It is easy to ban or legislate crippling restrictions on an object that you've never used and see no use for.

To make this more personal, I'll use myself as an example. Roughly two and a half years ago, I saw no practical purpose in owning a gun. My only exposure to them was during my childhood, when I went bird hunting with relatives. I saw no reason to own a gun, and when asked if I ever thought about owning one, I'd answer that maybe I'd one day get a shotgun for hunting, but didn't see a reason to get anything else. Look at that statement for a minute. I saw shotguns as reasonable because I'd had personal experience that showed me that they were useful.

Around this time, I was interested in taking a backbacking trip through the Alaskan wilderness. I'd been doing my research on what I would need for such a trip, and found that everyone with knowledge on the subject said you need a gun for bear defense, should the need arise. I was completely ignorant on the subject, so I started looking for something suitable. Because this was a backpacking trip, I looked for something light and powerful, and landed on the Taurus 444 Ultralite .44 Magnum Revolver.

I was at my usual coffee shop hangout, browsing the Taurus site and looking at the details page for this particular handgun, when a friend asked what I was looking at. I mentioned my plans and that I was looking at getting one of these guns in connection with my trip. I knew well enough that i'd need to practice and become proficient enough with my firearm of choice and told him so. He immediately said "that's not what you want". It just so happened that my friend was a shooter and used to own a gun shop and range. He explained to me that a gun that light and powerful is going to be terrible to shoot and practice with, and told me what I really needed was a rifle. I wasn't terribly rich at the time, so he suggested that I start out with some sort of milsurp rifle - as they were cheap and a good way to get started at developing shooting skills without spending a lot of money. He suggested I take a look at the AIM Surplus website, as they had a pretty large selection at the time.

I got to researching, and asked all sorts of newby questions of my friend. Sometime during all of this, he invited me to the range. We set a range date and met up at his place. He reintroduced me to the 4 rules of gun safety (I had learned them from my family during my childhood hunting days, but had long since forgotten them) and proper range etiquette and made sure I knew them. We headed out to the range and started out with a Ruger MkII and some close-range targets. We shot a couple more revolvers after this, and then moved on to rifles. We'd brought a couple of different rifles - a Marlin 60 and a Swiss K31. He'd let me know what we were bringing beforehand, and I'd gone to a gun shop and bought a couple of boxes of 7.5 Swiss for the occasion. By the time we'd made our range trip plans, I'd already decided on ordering a Mosin-Nagant rifle, so I was excited to shoot something similar on our range trip. I'm proud to say that the first rifle I ever shot was that Swiss K31. What a beautiful piece of precision engineering it was. I went through all the ammo I'd bought and absolutely loved it. I also learned something new and quite unexpected that day - shooting is an incredibly relaxing and therapeutic activity.

As can be surmised, I'd found a love for guns and shooting - all because a friend took the time and effort to take me to the range once. That was all that was required to show me that guns have a number of useful purposes, and cure me of my ignorance on the subject. I've taken new shooters to the range from time to time myself, and it's always a rewarding experience. There's always the universal Grin That Cannot Be Removed (see the photo to your left) on the face of my new shooter - something that no amount of propaganda or fear-mongering can subdue. Even the self-described anti-gunner Anthony Bourdain took pause on his position when the venerable Ted Nugent made the effort to take him shooting. Even Mr. Bourdain couldn't stifle the big grin on his face.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sprucing things up a bit.

I finally got an idea of what to do for my title banner photo, so there you have it. I incorporated items related to all three topics of the blog. I tried to go with a whisk instead of the kitchen knife, but it just seemed too large and obtuse to really fit properly. Plus, it's a nice knife and framed the bottom of the photo pretty well.

While I refuse to purchase Canon products any longer for reasons of principle (you can read specifically why here), The AE-1 Program was my first serious camera, so it gets a special place - despite the sins of its manufacturer.

I'm still trying to figure out something good enough to put as a profile picture. Any suggestions are welcome. I don't want to just use a picture of my face. [EDIT: put up the "photographer behind a camera" generic photo for the time being]

That is all for now. I'm still trying to decide which topic mulling around in my head I should pursue as my next post.