Archive for the ‘Firearms’ Category

How It Works: The M1 Garand Rifle

“If They Find It, They’ll Play With It”

A great, on-point (and slightly NSFW) take on an important point of gun safety:

Overheard at the Shooting Range

Range Officer 1: “There’s a guy bleeding over in the rifle bay. He doesn’t look too concerned, but you might want to check it out.”
RO2: “Okay, I can go take a look. What lane is he in?”
RO1: “I don’t recall.”
RO2: “Okay, can you give me a description?”
RO1: “Yeah, he’s got a ball cap on, about 6 foot. Plus, you know, he’s the only person in there dripping blood at the moment.”

Guns + Science = Awesomesauce

I’m a big fan of the Smarter Every Day channel on YouTube. Destin does remarkably good garage science, and the results of his experiments are often surprising. In this case, his hypothesis seemed trivially true to me, right up until it was proved false. Definitely worth watching both for the awesome slow motion video and the interesting scientific outcome.

Another good argument for suppressors

My Sig 556 is a great rifle, but I always feel a little bad shooting it at indoor ranges. The muzzle brake I have on it is awesome, but it means that the muzzle blast is significant, and at indoor ranges it can be uncomfortable for folks in the lanes next to me. Of course, getting a suppressor is a pain in the ass currently, involving a multi-month process of paperwork and a $200 tax stamp, plus a whole new heap of legal liabilities. What should be a $40 trip to the hardware store or a $5 dollar afternoon in a well-kitted garage becomes $1,000 bureaucratic slog.

Fluid Dynamics. Fuck Yeah!

Of Barrel Shrouds, Unlocked Phones, and the Gell-Mann Amnesia

First, a video:

The article mentioned in the video above made the rounds of most of the popular gun blogs a month or so ago when it was written, so any firearms enthusiasts in the audience will probably have already read it. If you haven’t, though, I highly recommend you do.

I tend to stay out of online firearms debates for the intellectually selfish reason that they got boring for me a some time ago. This is because everyone arguing on the Internet is, as a rule, already as informed as they are going to permit themselves to be. At this point, arguing about guns on the Internet can only ever aspire to a frustrated argument about priors, and that’s the extremely unusual best case.

But I think that, wherever you fall on the gun debate, you can watch the video above and marvel at the stunning ignorance of the people attempting to ban “assault-style weapons”. And while I’m absolutely okay with people on the Internet not knowing what a barrel shroud is, to see our government servants trying to outlaw them out of pure ignorance is maddening.

But what’s particularly crazy-making is that this kind of ignorance isn’t the exception, but rather the rule in modern American governance. I would be willing to bet that of all the people involved with writing the currently proposed assault weapon ban, not a single one of them could accurately describe all of the features that it proscribes. No matter how you feel about the substance of the current law, that regulations are drafted under such ignorant conditions should make you sore afraid.

Because let’s face it, the second amendment may not be an issue you care about one way or the other, but even the most apolitical among us has something we care deeply about that the government is trying to regulate. And the ignorance at work in crafting this horrid ban on “assault weapons” isn’t limited to firearms issues. The same levels of ignorance are at play screwing up the regulatory regime around whatever issue it is you do care about, whether it’s educational policy, abortion rights, immigration reform, etc. etc. etc.

So why is this ignorance able to persist? Because most people only see it when exposed to it in the context of their own area of expertise or passion. If you know about firearms, you can look at the AWB and see it for the ignorant pandering that it is. But when the same people suggest an immigration reform bill that flatters your priors, suddenly you just assume that they know what they’re talking about.

Or, to use a more current example: I have a lot of friends in the tech industry who, being fairly typical, garden-variety American liberals, are completely in favor of an Assault Weapons Ban. It seems sensible and common-sensical to them, and they have a hard time understanding how anyone can disagree with them. As such, the proposed legislation seems on-point, well-crafted, and long overdue.

But present them with the fact that it is now illegal to decouple your cellphone from your provider in the United States without express carrier permission, and they will instantly rail against the stupidity and ignorance that went in to crafting the legislation that permitted that to happen. The same legislative bodies that they assumed were well-reasoning and well-informed about gun rights, are suddenly seen for the ignorant charlatans they are.

Of course the punch line is that all topical regulation is equally bad, it’s just bad in domain-specific ways that only the informed will see or care about.

This phenomenon isn’t novel or limited to government. The name for this effect is “Gell-Mann Amnesia”, named for the physicist Murray Gell-Mann and first articulated (as near as I can tell) by author Michael Crichton in his 2002 essay “Why Speculate?”. (Note: I can’t seem to find a copy of the original essay online any longer. If anyone does track down a copy, please drop me a link to it either by comment or by email.) Crichton pointed out that he and Gell-Mann often marveled at the stupidity of newspaper articles about the areas of their expertise. Such articles were often so wrong and confused as to completely reverse causal relationships (“wet streets cause rain” in Crichton’s words) or to be so muddled as to be completely non-sensical to someone in the know. Both men would then turn to an article outside their domain knowledge and read on in happy credulity.

In the context of newspapers, Gell-Mann Amnesia might lead to a bad broadsheet surviving a few months longer than it otherwise would. In the context of modern panarchic democracy, Gell-Mann Amnesia leads bad laws, curtailed freedoms, and a regulatory regime in which good people become felons because they own politically incorrect sheet metal or twiddle the wrong bits on their phone.

Lucid Commentary on Violent Crime Stats

I really like that he focuses on the complexities of social statistics and international comparisons. Excellent, cogent points, well expressed.

And hey, Things Are Better Than You Think: violent crime rates have dropped by half in the US in the past 20 years. In contrast to what the fear mongers in the media and congress would have you believe.

How IPSC/IDPA Videos Should Be Done

I love the post-production effects:

Robert J Avrech on Gun Control and the L. A. Riots

It takes us over an hour and a half to get home. Normally, this drive would take maybe twenty minutes.

But we have to circle round and double back countless times in order to avoid choked arteries, major intersections where madness reigns—traffic lights are ignored—and then there are unknown side streets that cause Karen to observe:

“We’ll never get out of there alive.”

Listening to the radio, we hear about the Rodney King verdict. So that’s the grievance du jour.

The fire department, we learn, is not being deployed because their men have come under intense gunfire.

We hear—and I have trouble believing this report—that the Los Angeles Police Department has been “pulled back for their own safety.”


I thought that was part of the job description.

Dopey me.

Definitely worth reading the whole thing.

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.