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Surreal Headline of the Day

You can bet the editors were just itching to run this one: “Lawyer Invokes Porn as Pennsylvania AG Is Ordered to Trial.” I wish I could say Bloomberg must be cringing about the 600,000 dollars he donated to her campaign, but the fact is he already got what he wanted out of her, and Kane’s reciprocity take backs are unlikely to be overturned by any future successor, at least until we can have an election. What’s unbelievable to me is that she refuses to resign. Even Governor Wolf is calling on her to resign.

For those of you who haven’t been following, Kathy Kane’s defense has essentially been this whole indictment thing is just a “stealth political weapon” to get back at her for exposing various high-ranking state employees sharing tasteless jokes and porn via state e-mail, including former Democratic Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery.

Weekend Festivities: Gettysburg Brew Festival

Pardon the late posting today, but I’ve been polishing up a proposal for more business (i.e. paying the mortgage). I didn’t have much time over the weekend, because we were busy attending the Gettysburg Brew Festival. I have never attended a brew festival before, so I was unaware of some of the brew fest cultural items, like wearing pretzels around your neck, beer t-shirts, neckbeards, and in this case at least, field artillery.

They counted off time for the festival with what looks to be a parrot rifle, but I don’t claim to be an expert. It definitely had a rifled barrel. You could see who amongst the crowd wasn’t used to loud noises. Personally, after having fired Civil War era field artillery with live ammunition once, blanks just don’t have the same thrill.

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One thing I noticed at the brew festival is that it was largely composed of what most people would generally regard as the stereotype of NRA members; basically a lot of fat white guys. While I’m pleased to report that NRA conventions are more diverse these days than brew festivals, after running the experience through my trusty Perpetual Outrage Comptabulator, I’m sorry to report the social justice algorithms have concluded that craft beer is racist.

Speaking of NRA, we ran into one of our NRA friends at the brew festival. Sarah Gervase is Assistant General Counsel at the NRA, and puts on the Annual Firearms Law Seminar every year.

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The Gettysburg Brew Festival is located on the grounds of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, and is in fact a fundraiser for it. Behind Bitter & Sarah, you’ll notice Schmucker Hall and its cupola in the background. This is the same cupola from which General John Buford viewed the advancing confederate troops from at the very beginning of the battle.

You can see General Buford (played by Sam Elliott in the movie “Gettysburg“) riding across the same field the brew festival was hosted on.

Confessions of an Ordinary Gun Toter

Summer Time Carry GearIn the comments over on a previous thread, HappyWarrior offers what I’ll call the lament of the non-gun-ninja, regarding the burden of carrying around all the equipment advice on the Internet would have you carry if you took it all seriously. I can sympathize, because I’m no special gun carrying ninja. We all have to make tradeoffs, and it’s OK to make those tradeoffs. It’s your life, not someone else’s.

There are only two things on my belt at all times, and that’s a Leatherman multi-tool and an iPhone. No, I don’t carry a tactical folder anymore. Why? Because I can’t carry it everywhere, and I use the Leatherman enough that grabbing it and one handed opening is quite natural to me. If I’m leaving the house, and it’s winter, and sometimes in summer, there will be a Glock 19 on the belt in a Comp-Tac Infidel holster just behind the iPhone.  Tactical advice is to “dress around the gun,” but realistically, there are times you can’t do that. Tactical advice will dispute this, but it’s your life, not someone else’s.

I’m not carrying the Glock, it’s an LCP in a pocket holster in the strong-side pocket. I’m usually carrying OC spray in the weak side pocket, along with a flashlight clipped to the pocket, and a spare magazine for the LCP. If it’s winter, the OC goes in the weak side coat pocket so my jeans pocket only has the reload and flashlight in it.

Yes, I realize this is not very “tactical,” and I’d be fumbling for a reload if things end up going pear-shaped, but if things end up going that pear-shaped and all I have is an LCP, I’m already figuring I’m pretty well screwed to begin with. It’s all trade-offs, and only you can make them. Sometimes I don’t even carry, which is the biggest tactical sin of all!

And why do I make these tradeoffs? Because I can’t run around looking ridiculous with half a dozen things clipped to my belt in summertime, and having to dress around the gun. Yes, my professional reputation and that of my company are more important than the very unlikely event that I find myself in a situation where a firearm would come in handy. That said, I manage to successfully carry something most of the time I’m out of the house.

But I don’t feel bad about making tradeoffs to accommodate life. You shouldn’t either. As Tam’s original post noted, you should just understand and accept the risk those tradeoffs impose on you.

On Feeling Safe and Self-Delusion

As a community, we often don’t have much patience for people who are just fine with security theater measures, because they want to feel safe. They don’t want to confront the idea that life entails risk, and that bad things can happen regardless of what precautions you take. Tam makes a very excellent point that people in the gun community often exhibit the same behavior.

I still remember the initial hostility I got when I started recommending people who carry a gun also carry a defensive spray. I was initially hostile to the idea myself, because I figured a prosecutor would argue, if I had spray, that I should have used it instead of shooting the bastard.

But I was turned into a believer by a series of articles that disassembled all my assumptions and refuted them. Unfortunately these articles seem to have disappeared from the Internets. A lot of the arguments against defensive spray struck me more as “this makes me uncomfortable, because it threatens the world view I’ve constructed” rather than solid arguments against the practice of carrying defensive sprays. We are all capable of fantastic feats of self-delusion to defend our own world view. No one is immune. The key is to be capable of recognizing self-delusion when someone points it out. Some people will never be convinced.

Pearl Clutching Alert: Range & Restaurant in Daytona Beach

Miguel notes that our opponents are freaking out because a shooting range in Florida is also going to have a license to serve alcohol. He is correct to point out that this is nothing new, and also perfectly safe if done correctly. But since it helps drive the narrative of the reckless gun owner, the media will be happy to run stories on this.

My club has a strict “no alcohol on premises” rule, and it’s against the rules to be intoxicated on club property. But I’ve been to other clubs that have a bar, and even one club that had a pretty decent restaurant on site too. The rule usually is if you come to have a drink, you get flagged and aren’t allowed to use the shooting parts of the facility. Most clubs I’ve ever been to, rules are taken quite seriously and the penalties for serious safety violations are generally ejection from the club.

But Americans have always been a bit puritanical about alcohol to begin with. The Swiss take it even a step further, and it’s not uncommon there to have a glass of wine or beer before hitting the firing line with fully automatic assault rifles. I don’t think anyone would argue the Swiss are irresponsible with firearms. It’s a different culture, and a different set of attitudes. I thought we were supposed to celebrate diversity, and different cultures?

Regardless, there’s absolutely no danger in what this club is doing if it’s done safely, and I’m sure it will be done safely.

Guns Won’t Deter Every Criminal

A man in West Philadelphia was robbed of a gun when the guy behind him in line noticed he was carrying and decided to relieve him of his firearm (warning, news footage will auto-play). You can read Bob Owens’ take here, and Tam’s here. I don’t really have much more to add. My bet, given the neighborhood, and the guy’s apparent age, is that the victim was probably a student living farther out in West Philadelphia than is generally prudent for a naive kid from the ‘burbs. Good on him for thinking enough about his safety to arm himself, but here he paid the price poor concealment, poor holster, and poor training. The 600 block of North 40th Street is not a good neighborhood (at least it wasn’t when I was going to school there).

Still, I feel for the victim. I’ve done more training than your average carrier, which really isn’t saying much, at all, because one thing more training teaches you is that you don’t have nearly enough! I won’t pretend I’m some kind of ninja who would have reacted any better. I am more conscientious about printing than I used to be, because some people know what to look for, and you can’t expect the sight of a carried gun is going to deter every criminal. Most of us get away with a lot of poor choices in self-defense because we live in quiet neighborhoods where, to be honest, you’re more likely to die from a poor diet and bad driving than lose life or limb to a criminal. But that neighborhood? I’d recommend starting with full size pistol and a good holster, and adapt everything else in your wardrobe (and plan) around that.

NY Times Advances Narrative of Brutish Gun Owner

It’s pretty apparent this New York Times article about the impact of shooting on federal land is meant to smear responsible shooters as reckless and irreverent heathen out terrorizing the quiet countryside, but it would do us no good to pretend that every shooter out there is a good steward of the land. Back years ago when I used to shoot at public ranges, I saw a lot of cringe inducing behavior, and I have left a range on an occasion or two because of grossly unsafe behavior. I used to not only pick up my own trash, but would pick up other garbage people left on the range as well. Poor stewardship of public shooting areas makes us all look bad.

But I used to hike too, and I can tell you that not all hikers are good stewards of the land either. Same is true for mountain bikers, ATV operators, snow mobiles — you name it. What bothers me about the Times article is that it paints shooters as being some kind of unique jerks. You’ll find a healthy share of jerks in any recreational activity. The Times is simply working to advance the politically convenient narrative of the dim-witted, reckless, and brutish gun owner.

Flamethrower Company Runs Into Trouble

IonXM42While it’s true that flamethrowers are unregulated, they don’t have a culture surrounding them like firearms do. Which means there’s no preemption law to protect manufacturers, sellers and buyers from the ravages of hysterical local politicians, who are often petty little Napoleons in their own right. Such is the Mayor of the town of Warren Michigan, who is moving to ban flamethrowers. Warren is where Ion Productions makes the XM42. You might think “well, he’ll just have to ban super soakers then too,” but I’m not certain that his proposed legislation doesn’t actually do that:

It describes a flamethrower as “any transportable device that can emit a burning stream of combustible or flammable liquid at a distance of more than two feet.” It doesn’t include open-flame cooking devices as defined by the International Fire Code, torches used for industrial purposes or smaller flame-producing devices, like cigar lighters. It also makes exceptions for any officers, employees or members of the Armed Forces, law enforcement, fire department or local, state or federal government workers on duty and acting within the scope of his or her employment.

I’m not sure how this doesn’t cover a super soaker, since it’s certainly can “emit a burning stream of combustible or flammable liquid at a distance of more than two feet” with a pretty minimal level of creativity. Let me also say how relieved I am that the Mayor decided to make an exception for Law Enforcement, because I guess we never know when we might have to burn people out of their homes, or hose down a rowdy crowd with some napalm — legitimately, and as a function of law, and for their own good, of course.

I like that a lot young people are embracing libertarian ideas and philosophy, but they are coming against the hard reality that most people aren’t libertarian in philosophy or thought, and aren’t going to agree that people can have dangerous things that they themselves don’t see any legitimate use for. I get taking on the man, but without the cultural underpinnings to support a particular freedom, attracting undue attention to it can result in that freedom ending for everyone. At the end of the day, what does it accomplish?

It’s an dilemma I don’t know how to resolve it. I think people should be allowed to have things that aren’t inherently dangerous to others, which a flamethrower is not. You have to do something stupid and/or evil with it in order for someone to get hurt, and the law would be more just to only punish the stupid and/or evil behavior than to ban the instrument that enabled it. Are there places where even using a flamethrower is stupid? I think that’s debatable. But again, that’s restricting use. If I want to take it out to a quarry and have a good old time setting piles of wood chips on fire, it ought to be my freedom to do so.

But most people don’t think this way. They aren’t willing to live in a society where there’s more risk in order to preserve someone’s “strange” idea of fun. These are people who live relatively conventional lives, and don’t exist much outside of convention. For the most part, they run the world. The reason we’ve been successful with guns is because we’ve abandoned the idea of defending firearms rights on the basis of recreation, which doesn’t appeal to anyone who doesn’t engage in the hobby or who lacks any curiosity about it. Instead, we embraced defending it on the basis of self-defense, which a lot more people can relate to. I worry that at the end of the day, preserving people’s right to have fun with flamethrowers, or their right to make guns at home, won’t prove compelling enough to ordinary people to stand against a tide of public hysteria if it were to come this way.

You know, it occurs to me I don’t have a “flamethrower” category. I guess I’ll have to file this under “civil liberties.”

Protecting Profits, Not People

So the news that Regal Cinemas is instituting bag searches at their theaters has been making the rounds.

Honestly, I didn’t even think to blog it when I first read about it because I presumed that everyone knows the real reason – and that it has nothing to do with public safety. It turns out that Sebastian suggested not everyone realizes the extent to which it has absolutely nothing to do with guns.

See, Regal, like every movie theater chain I’ve heard of, bans food and drinks not purchased at their concession stands.

Outside Food or Drink:
No outside food or drink is permitted in the theatre.

As this Time article notes, the theaters see about 85% of every dollar spent at the concession as pure profit. The money isn’t made at the ticket counter, but at the concession stand.

How bad is it? Search on the terms Regal Cinema and candy, and the first page includes Yelp reviews talking about how to sneak candy into the theater to save big bucks over Regal’s inflated prices. I could buy an entire pound of Twizzlers at Wegmans today for less than what Regal discounts a regular size candy to on Mondays for members of their rewards club.

Theater owners know that people sneak food and drinks in so that they don’t have to stop at the concession stand. I have no doubt that they have talked about ways that they could catch these people and toss their outside food for years, but only now feel like they have enough “cover” to do so in the name of public safety. It’s not about catching anything that’s a threat to the safety of patrons, but about catching those people who want to save a buck and forcing them to feed Regal’s profits.

I have little doubt that if you could spend a week watching which bags they choose to search, they will universally be targeted on those who don’t walk up with anything from the concession stand and those who appear poor (as though they might want to save a several dollars). It won’t be some creepy dude who buys a soda while carrying a suspiciously shaped bag.

Look Who’s Spendin’

Bloomberg’s anti-gun movement has been frustrated in many states, except Oregon has recently tilted in his favor. It should be no surprise, then, that Everytown outspend pro-gun rights groups 10 to 1 there too. The other side wants to talk about the well-funded “gun lobby,” but reality is that Bloomberg can outspend us election after election if he really wants to, and money talks. If we don’t match Bloomberg’s cash with real and sustained grassroots energy, he will end up being able to successfully buy legislation, as he succeeded doing in Oregon.

That’s a great pep talking video, except that he can do a hell of a lot of damage with his money. We have to match it with grassroots energy more than cash. NRA only has so much money it can spend in a state in an election year, and Bloomberg has been carefully targeting states he thinks his money can make the difference. The question is whether it makes sense to bite and throw everything at the states Bloomberg has targeted, or stick to making things better in states where we have a definitive grassroots advantage.

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