CSM Looks at Why Democrats are Relenting on Guns

The Christian Science Monitor looks at why Democrats are retreating from the gun issue, in a very detailed article that talks to a lot of people on all sides.  It really comes down to the Democrats having made great strides running people who can win in their districts, and in many cases that means you have to be in favor of the Second Amendment.

BTW, the reporter here is the same one that did the article on gun blogs at the NRA Annual Meeting.   I appreciate that’s he’s continuing to offer fair treatment for the subject, and get views from many different sources.

Quote of the Day

From Chris Cox on Kirsten Gillibrand:

“She took law-abiding gun owners in upstate New York for a ride and tossed them into the Hudson on her way into Manhattan.”

I guess as a politician, Senator Gillibrand’s positions are entirely negotiable if the reward is great enough.  There’s another profession that’s true about too.

Where To Stand on Sotomayor

The GOP is pissed the NRA isn’t jumping in head first battling, taking the position:

But a spokesman for the organization said it’s staying on the sidelines for now.

“Right now we have a lot of concerns and questions and we hope to have those addressed during the confirmation hearing and throughout the process,” said Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman. “As far as our actions, we reserve the right to do anything based on what we find out.

“All options are on the table,” he added. “As we speak today, we’re waiting for the confirmation process. A research team is looking into her record on our issue.”

No doubt they are also going to be taking a close look at the possible alternatives that would come behind Sotomayor if she is rejected by the Senate.  Jim Shepherd thinks she ought to be fought:

Fresh off the win for concealed carry in federal parks, it seems the pro-gun groups are content to take the short-term victory, and let what looks like a losing battle pass without any pushback whatsoever on Judge Sotomayor. This is despite the fact that she has consistently been anti-gun in her decisions. Even in a decidedly thin body of work, her position on firearms has been clear – she’s again’ em for “average folks”

I am not sure Sotomayor is the worst we could get.  She is a political choice, meaning she’s intended to please constituencies in the Democratic Party.  From the point of view of left-wing legal theory, there are greater legal minds Obama could have picked for the seat, even if it was his intention to nominate a woman.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Sotomayor will be a reliable leftist vote on the court, but I don’t think she’ll be an intellectual leader, in the way Justice Stevens has been for example.

My worry in scuttling Sotomayor is what’s behind her, waiting in the wings if she’s not confirmed.  Given that, I think caution is prudent.  The best we could hope to get out of this administration is that Obama digs up someone who hasn’t said much or anything about the Second Amendment, and they say the right things during the confirmation process.   That, however, is no guarantee they’ll be a pro-gun vote on The Court.  In the philosophy of the left-wing legal establishment, there is no room for an individual right to bear arms.  That cuts to the heart their very collectivist core.  For that reason, I don’t believe we will get a pro-gun Justice out of President Obama, no matter what we do.

The key to saving the Heller majority is ensuring that Barack Obama is a one term president, and I don’t care if that means I have to vote and volunteer for Mitt “The Sh*t” Romney.  When the greater evil is an unashamed socialist, any lesser one will do.

UPDATE: See this article by Patrick Ruffini.  I think he makes a good case for fighting her nomination, but correctly points out:

Supreme Court fights are inherently elite D.C. fights. Don’t expect voters, even Latino voters, to passionately engage. Most people correctly perceive the Court as being far removed and even irrelevant to their daily life and whether they will keep their job — and that’s as it should be. Has there ever been a mass movement for or against a Court nominee, even a Thurgood Marshall, a Sandra Day O’Connor, or a Clarence Thomas?

I think that’s actually a significant problem for the pro-gun movement, with these kinds of nomination fights.  Getting the grass roots fired up (and no, a handful of people on the Internet does not constitute the grass roots.  People who read blogs, forums, etc, actually tend to be more in the “elite” crowd discussed here.) is a particular problem.  Also keep in mind that Ruffini is speaking from a GOP point of view, and I’m speaking as a single issue activist that has to work with Democrats to survive in this Congress.  I agree with Ruffini that the GOP, and gun rights folks, can’t just roll over on Sotomayor’s record, but at the end of the day, there’s other considerations as to whether arms get twisted on the eventual vote.

Are the Brady’s Contaminating the Water in Tennessee?

First Lamar Alexander wanders off and votes against National Park carry, and now Phil Bredesen vetoes the restaurant carry bill.  NRA has a statement on it here.  Having been in Arizona, which also prohibits carry in any establishment that serves alcohol, it’s a major inconvenience, especially if you don’t have a car.

When we were in Phoenix, we were going to find some lunch with some of the Arizona bloggers, and found a nice place, then realized they had a liquor license.  Even though none of us had any intention of drinking, we had to go leave firearms in cars and hotel rooms to avoid running afoul of the law.   Critics of restaurant carry, including Bresdesen, express concern about how the law would be enforced.  But wouldn’t that be a concern for concealed carry in general?  The whole thing is based on the honor system, which is why it’s stilly to even require licenses in the first place.  Only those with honor will participate.

Korea Heating Up

This is no time for a war.  All I can say is, it’s lucky for Korea they have a competent military, because I wouldn’t want to depend on 1600 Pennsylvania to change the cat litter, let alone deal with the North Koreans.  Also, if Japan isn’t starting a crash program to develop nuclear weapons, they really should be.

New Jersey Laws Get in Penn Jillette’s Way

SayUncle has the story.  No, in New Jersey there is no dramatic reenactment or entertainment exception, though I understand that’s been talked about.  New Jersey laws on guns (including air guns) is relatively simple: guns are illegal in New Jersey.  You can only own them and possess them under exceptions to the law.  One of those exceptions is a shooting range, and going directly too and from.  A theater is Atlantic City is not a shooting range, so it’s outside of that exception.  The only way to legally possess a .357 revolver in a theater in Atlantic City is to get a New Jersey License to Carry Firearms, which are not really issued to anyone who’s not well connected, and even the well connected can have a rough time.

Incidentally, New Jersey law can create problems for reenactors, because of the lack of exception for entertainment. Even a flintlock pistol in New Jersey is regulated in the same manner as a Glock.  Muzzleloaders are regulated in a lesser manner than modern rifles and shotguns, but New Jersey’s antique cannon laws alone are several pages.  The laws, taken as a whole, are so complicated even most lawyers don’t understand them, let alone police.  The complexity of it is part of the reason I won’t compete there, even though there are ranges that are still very active, and run good matches.

An Interview with Matt at Kel-Tec on the RFB

Here’s an interview I did with Matt of Kel-Tec on their new RFB product.  My questions are in bold italic, and his answers are standard text.  There seems to be a lot of interest in their RFB product, which is a bullpup .308 with a novel forward ejection system.  Here’s Matt:

The .308 market is certainly less crowded than the .223 market, but Kel-Tec is still competing with some old standbys like the M1A, FAL, HK91, and the AR-10.  How do you think the Kel-Tec RFB stacks up to these rifles?

The RFB is shorter, lighter, easier to produce, has a better trigger, and is more adaptable to modern accessories like optics and Picatinny devices. Those other designs could be considered Generation II Semi-Auto designs, the RFB is Generation III.

What made you decide to go with a Bullpup design?

All of these designs are reliable, but they are also over 40 inches long, and that includes some of the carbines. The only version of the RFB that will be that long will be the 32″ model which has only been produced as a prototype thus far. The 18″ model that is being produced now is only 26″ long, 27″ with the A2 style flash hider. That’s shorter than an M4 Carbine with the stock collapsed and comparable to an MP5 A2. That’s why we went with a Bullpup.

Most designers steer away from Bullpup designs because they blow gas back into the shooters face from the ejection port, but this is negated by our forward ejection system. There is also a superstition that if there is a catastrophic failure that the shooter is more likely to be seriously injured or killed if their face is closer to the action, but with the RFB, there are two layers of steel between the receiver and the shooter, so if there was a over pressure cartridge that had a case head separation, the pressure would travel downward through the magazine well, which is the path of least resistance. The shooter would likely be able to drive themselves to the hospital if they were injured at all.

Are you planning to release the RFB in other calibers, like .223 Remington?

Seeing as the intermediate caliber market is almost completely saturated and has more than a couple Bullpup designs, we feel it would be better to focus on the full powered cartridge market first. The first RFBs are of course in 7.62 NATO, but future variants will be chambered in the offshoots of the .308 cartridge case, such as the .260 Remington, 7mm-08, .243 Winchester, .22-250, and so forth. If it has the same sized rim and feeds from a metric FAL magazine, it may be chambered in the RFB. Obviously, we will choose which cartridges we offer based on demand, but since the barrel on the RFB can be easily changed with our Armorer’s kit, we may offer these calibers in accessory barrels even if we never build them in rifles.

What kind of accuracy can you expect from an RFB?

The RFB is an exceptionally accurate design due to its excellent trigger and wonderfully short lock time. I’ve shot Sub MOA with every RFB variant, including the 18″ model. The biggest detriment to accuracy is ammunition quality. American made bulk ammo will usually give you between 1.5-4″ groups depending on the brand, with copper jackets giving better results than steel jackets. I’ve fired some Portuguese, Indian, and Mexican Surplus 7.62 Ammo that gave horrible accuracy. Generally, if you get over 2″ with an RFB using match ammo, it probably isn’t the rifle.

Lock time is the time in between when the sear releases the hammer or striker in a firearm and the firing pin contacts the primer. Lock time is one of the most important aspects to accuracy in a rifle. It’s difficult to test, so most manufacturers don’t bother too, since few people know what it is.

Most semi autos use a hammer that has enough mass to ignite the most stubborn of military primers reliably, this is their only mission. The heavy, slow, and often long travel of the hammer after sear release allows the rifle to move a nearly imperceptible amount in the shooters hands, causing an ever more dramatically increasing error the further out the target is. Bolt Actions have inherently less mass and a shorter travel between the end of the striker and the primer, resulting in a naturally short lock time, usually around 3 Milliseconds for modern actions. This is why bolt actions are preferred for use in Competition rifles. This is also why open bolt GPMGs are not used as Sniper Rifles.

The RFB has a lock time of about 4.5 Milliseconds, which is better than many WWII bolt actions and nearly every factory semi-auto ever built. The AR-15 is considered very accurate for a semi-auto, and it has an average lock time of about 9.5 Milliseconds.

The trigger is usually the Achilles heel on Bullpup designs.  I understand you’ve made the trigger on the RFB considerably better than other Bullpup rifles.  Can you speak to that?

Most Bullpups are simply conventional rifles with their trigger groups put in the wrong place. Witness various Kalashnikov Bullpup conversions. The RFB was designed from the ground up to be a Bullpup, and it has never been anything else. The difference between the RFB and most Bullpups is the lack of linkages between the trigger and the sear trip. The trigger is squeezed, and it moves the sear trip directly, as on a conventional rifle. The sear trip actuates the sear which releases a spring loaded linkage which is attached to the hammer, similar to a Browning High Power. The springs which are attached to the linkage pull the hammer which moves up to strike the firing pin.

The RFB also has a very wide trigger, which increases the surface area on the shooter’s finger and gives the sensation of having a lighter pull than it does. The 18″ models have a trigger that is calibrated to be between 4.5-7.5 pounds for legal reasons. Very early production rifles had triggers that were slightly above that specification, but nobody has complained yet. The standard RFB comes with optimized components that are non-adjustable, but these can be replaced with adjustable components if the customer desires. The RFB was designed to include mechanisms to adjust the take up, over travel, and trigger spring pressure. The sear spring can also be adjusted, but most shooters will not be able to detect a difference in this adjustment. Everyone who’s handled the RFB has commented on how good the trigger is, and we feel that most people won’t feel the need to install the adjustable components, so those will be offered on later models as an option. This will help ease production so that as many rifles can get built as possible.

One concern I’ve heard from folks is the reliability of the ejection system, with fears that could get jammed up, and malfunction.  How reliable have you found it to be in testing?

The RFB is essentially the first semi-auto rifle to have a controlled round extraction system. It uses two extractors to pull the fired case out of the chamber by way of the carrier and gas system. It has proven to be very reliable in testing. Once the fired cases are in the ejection chute, they have no where to go except forward. They have no surface to stick on which could cause enough friction to jam the action, no matter how much dirt got into the ejection chute area. Everything is moved forward by the reward inertia of the weapon firing, which gives a kind of natural ejection force to the cases in the chute. Tubular magazines don’t jam unless they get dented, and the ejection chute on the RFB is inside of the rifle, making it nearly impossible to damage while carrying or shooting the rifle. The RFB is quite possibly the only rifle ever built that will never stove pipe.