Closing of the RNC 2012

With the close of the RNC Convention, we only have to endure one more party convention, and then the silly season is officially in full force. The silly season is where I try to pretend that Mitt wasn’t my second choice in 2008, when the other choice was McCain, who was not exactly my first choice when the field was still open. But I have to say, I’m at least starting to think that McCain was really the inferior candidate in the 2008 primary.

Perhaps because I did not start out with high expectations for Mitt Romney, he has managed to surprise me. He’s run his campaign well, whereas McCain’s campaign was a disaster . I’m not worried that Romney is going to go crazy before the election like Col. Tigh did when the financial crisis hit. I can still remember watching that sorry display and telling Bitter “Well, that’s it I think. He just lost the election.” While Sarah Palin is was a breath of fresh air compared to the top of the ticket in 2008, she does not have Paul Ryan’s depth on issues. The Romney Campaign has also hit Obama a lot harder even in this early stage of the campaign, than McCain’s people ever did. I believe that the debates this time will not be as painful to watch, and to be honest, I’d be worried if I were Obama heading into those debates. Good thing he stacked the deck with moderators.

And as for Mitt’s speech, I have to agree with Jim Geraghty on this one. From his Morning Jolt:

At times, he was scary good.

No, really, where has that Mitt Romney been all year? All campaign? Since 2007?

Every time he’s given a nice speech after a primary victory, I would usually joke on Twitter, “ah, looks like those new personality software upgrades are working out, he sounds much more natural now,” or something like that. (It’s a perennial; as Erick Erickson said last night, “Romney v.6.5 is pretty awesome.”)

But the Mitt Romney we saw tonight . . . it’s as if he had been saving up every bit of his inner emotional life, his soft, sentimental side, and let it all out. This was a speech that requires us to reexamine what we think we know about Romney.

Bitter and I are political junkies, who tend to follow this stuff like sports, only a sport where you kind of hate all the teams and most of the players. We listen to a lot of speeches, and most political speeches will bowl you over with a feather, assuming you aren’t sleeping through it. But even I have to admit, Romney’s speech last night was one of the best political speeches I’ve seen in a long time from the GOP.

After watching most of the convention, though sometimes not paying attention when the speech’s were boring or bad (which is honestly most of them), Mitt seems committed to running the party on a message of economic and fiscal conservatism, in other words, the things conservatives and libertarians tend to agree on. There have been about as many bones tossed to the Huckabee wing of the party as there have been to gun owners, which is to say, not many. I think Romney has made a conscious decision to downplay social issues, and if that continues during the campaign, it’ll certainly help me feel better about things, but it ups the stakes considerably. A loss on that message will be a signal to the GOP it needs to go back to the Rove strategy of ginning up the social conservative base, and talking about compassionate conservatism (i.e. big government conservatism) to the soft middle who are happy to let the government do things that make them feel good while it spends itself into bankruptcy. The fiscal problems of this country are not easy, and it’ll be difficult no matter who’s in the White House, but Romney is signaling he’s up to the job. Is he? The only thing I know for sure there is Obama definitely isn’t.

To Crimp, or not to Crimp?

I’ve gotten 50 rounds of 6.8 Remington SPC loaded, and 100 round of .223 loaded. I have a progressive press a reader sent me a while back (a Lee, which he didn’t use anymore and wanted to get rid of), but I only have the necessary equipment to load pistol ammo with it, and the Lee progressive has a rough time with that, so I’d be worried with rifle ammo.

For rifle ammo, I’m loading on a single stage press. For practice ammo, I don’t weigh each charge, and I’ve actually found the Lee powder charger throws a pretty consistent load once you run it five or six times. I’m limited in speed mostly by press time. I do 50 at a time. My process is as follows.

  1. Run 50 rounds through the tumbler to clean off the brass.
  2. Stage them on my reloading block, after running them through the separator.
  3. Spray them with some reloaders KY.
  4. Decap & resize on the press & move to finish block.
  5. Seat the primers, move back to staging block.
  6. Adjust the powder throw, charge 50 cases, move to finish block.
  7. Check all the cases for proper charge, seat the bullets.
  8. Seat all the bullets, measuring the first few for overall length, moving to staging block.
  9. Crimp bullets on the press.

The last part I’ve heard various advice on. Some people suggest you don’t need to crimp the bullets, and that the military only does it because they have to stand up to rough handling in machine guns. When I first starting reloading, I’m pretty sure I was over crimping, which can be dangerous. But I still tend to think a light crimp on the bullet is good for firing through a semi-auto, despite the extra cycle through the press it takes for each batch of 50. What do you think? To crimp or not to crimp?

It’s Reloading Time

Several days of ridiculously nice weather had me itching to take the AR-15 to the range, but suddenly realizing I’m way too low on .223 ammo interfered with my plans. Looking online, ammunition is still scarce and expensive, so it’s time to dust off the reloading bench. Fortunately, I still have plenty of Varget, plenty of 55gr bullets, and a metric crapload of once fired .223 brass. I’m going to fill up all my plastic containers, so my goal is 250 rounds.

I also figure as long as I’m getting everything together, I might as well finish off all my once fired 6.8 Remington SPC and get the rest of those loaded. It’s not more than 50 rounds, but I never really shoot the 6.8 AR. I don’t look all that favorably on boutique rounds these days, and I’d sort of sorry I made an investment in it. My remaining 6.8 once fired brass is stuff I brought back from the Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno, years ago, so it gives you an idea of how seldom I shoot that caliber.

I think the next AR I build needs to be a .22LR. It’s hard to have less than several thousand rounds on hand, and it’s cheap.

Embody Suit Dismissed by 6th Circuit

From the decision:

For his troubles, Embody has done something rare: He has taken a position on the Second and Fourth Amendment that unites the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Second Amendment Foundation. Both organizations think that the park ranger permissibly disarmed and detained Leonard Embody that day, notwithstanding his rights to possess the gun. So do we.

This was a bad case taken forward by someone who doesn’t want to leave things to experts, so SAF went in with arguments that would kill the suit. The Court essentially concluded it was a legitimate Terry stop, so there was no 4th Amendment case to be made:

Embody does not quarrel with this accounting of what happened. To his mind, all that matters is that carrying an AK-47 pistol in a state park is legal under Tennessee law; the gun’s resemblance to an assault rifle, the conspicuous arming of it, his military clothing and the concerns of passers-by add nothing. But the constitutional question is whether the officers had reasonable suspicion of a crime, not whether a crime occurred. Otherwise, all failed investigatory stops would lead to successful § 1983 actions. Having worked hard to appear suspicious in an armed-and-loaded visit to the park, Embody cannot cry foul after park rangers, to say nothing of passers-by, took the bait. The officers stopped him only as long as it took to investigate the legitimacy of the weapon and, at his insistence, bring the supervisor to the park. No Fourth Amendment violation occurred.

The court skirted the Second Amendment issue by upholding the qualified immunity of the officers in question:

To the extent Embody means to argue that the Second Amendment prevents Tennessee from prohibiting certain firearms in state parks (and thus prohibited Ward from detaining Embody on suspicion of possessing an illegal firearm), qualified immunity is the answer. See Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). No court has held that the Second Amendment encompasses a right to bear arms within state parks. See District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) (individual right to bear arms in the home); United States v. Masciandaro, 638 F.3d 458 (4th Cir. 2011) (upholding regulation prohibiting firearms in national parks). Such a right may or may not exist, but the critical point for our purposes is that it has not been established—clearly or otherwise at this point. That suffices to resolve this claim under the Court’s qualified-immunity precedents. See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009).

The Bradys are, of course, treating this like some kind of victory, but the fact is we got what we wanted here, and in a pretty non-damaging way. The Brady folks could have hoped for a lot more from a suit as reckless as this. The standard for overcoming qualified immunity is pretty high, and this dismissal here does not mean what the Brady folks would like it to mean. I am sure, however, we have not seen the last of Leonard Embody’s one man crusade to ruin Second Amendment precedent in the 6th Circuit.

When addressing a crowd of gun bloggers, Alan Gura mentioned the biggest threat to our Second Amendment rights was these kinds of oddball pro se litigants, who take forward bad cases with no legal expertise, and proceed to establish negative precedent that is difficult to overcome. So far, I think we’ve seen less of that than I expected. I applaud SAF and Mr. Gura for intervening in this case, and crushing it like the cockroach in the kitchen that it was.

I Wish NRA Would Focus More on the Courts in Public Rhetoric

NRA President David Keene talks to the Washington Times down in Tampa about the need to get rid of Obama:

Notice one argument missing? Nowhere is the 5-4 thread the Second Amendment is now hanging by even mentioned. Maybe they’ve focused grouped this or something, and the fact is that people just don’t really grasp the enormity of the danger, unless you hit them with “We see him as the most anti-gun president in modern times.” But I’m pretty skeptical that this message is going to be more effective. We all remember Clinton. We all remember him using the bully pulpit ever time there was a mass shooting. We remember eight years of nothing but more gun control. I’m not sure this rhetoric passes the smell test.

But the Supreme Court issue does. I know my biggest fear is spending the next four years hoping that Scalia, Kennedy and even Thomas have really good doctors. There’s also the proverbial bus. Not to mention, at some point that 5 justice majority breaks, and I honestly don’t want to find out where that is without another pick up. Have NRA members become so detached from the issue we can no longer level with them? I mean, we’re talking about the Second Amendment being repealed from the Bill of Rights by judicial fiat. If that’s not enough to scare gun owners, we’re doomed.

Women & Guns

If you weren’t watching the RNC speeches last night, you really missed out. The women knocked every single ball out of the park. The men, save Paul Ryan who brought a little fire to the floor, largely fell flat. Tim Pawlenty’s speech wasn’t a roaring excitement, but he got in one hell of a dig against Obama, noting that many people fail in their first jobs. The humor in the audience reaction was how it took them a second to realize what he said, and then they cracked up.

However, there were a few moments the audience absolutely roared in applause and cheers. One was when Condi talked about how she could grow up in Jim Crow-era Alabama with parents who told her she could be anything she wanted to be – even president – and that the same little girl would go on to become Secretary of State. Another came from New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez when she talked about how hard her parents worked to start a small business – a security business – that she also worked at as a teenager. While this video trims the response by the crowd, you do get the hint that the floor went nuts for her talk of knowing how to defend herself.

The video also cuts off her follow-up line – that the gun weighed about as much as she did. For all the talk about platforms in recent days, those don’t really matter much. The reaction to this kind of comment reflects far more about the motivation of the party members. It’s not about what a few select people who we don’t elect pick out for a party platform, it’s about actual elected officials and candidates seeking our votes representing what people really believe. And we already know that the American people really do believe in the right to self-defense, even with a firearm.

I might add, for the GOP portrayed as the uptight do-gooders, her swear line in prime time tv hours got huge applause. Continue reading “Women & Guns”

The Big Tent

This is why I’m not opposed to coalitions for advancing a political agenda. At the RNC, GOProud had one helluva party from the descriptions and pictures. And they found that there are plenty of true Republican believers in the quote attributed to Ronald Reagan that someone who is with you on 80% of your issues isn’t your enemy.

I love the shirt logos – Freedom is Fabulous. Why? Because freedom is fabulous.

And to tie this into the main theme of the blog, there are allies on the gun issue who also stand up for GOProud.

Go-go boys and ladies wearing “freedom is fabulous” T-shirts and disco ball party favors were features of the party, which was attended by conservative players Dana Loesch, S.E. Cupp, Grover Norquist, Will Cain, Margaret Hoover, Roger Stone, Roger Simon and Richard Grenell, along with more than 600 others — including more than a handful of members of the media covering the party. …

In addition to De Pasquale, [David] Keane had signed on as a supporter of the party.

In that list are the NRA President and an NRA board member. That’s good news.

I also think GOProud’s presence in Tampa can serve as a learning opportunity for gun rights activists. When I saw this picture of the head of GOProud, I really only thought one thing: Who would want to hang out with the angry people? There’s not a single anti-gay protester in that shot who looks like they are happy in life or like they are excited to be out standing up for their cause. At the same time, the guy who is being insulted and called a singular threat to national security looks like he’s having a great time. The lesson? People are attracted to those who look like they are having fun and enjoying life. The way to get someone to the range so they can become your local pro-gun ally isn’t by being the grumpy dude bitching about everything that’s horrible in this country.

RAND Study on NYPD Firearms Training

Chris in Alaska has a link to a RAND study on the NYPD which confirms much of what was said here. From Chris’s conclusion regarding the RAND study:

As for the competency of civilians vs. police…  It looks like best case a NYPD police recruit gets around two to four days at the range plus maybe up to 33 hours of classroom academics that could relate in some manner to weapons.  Every six months they get one day at the range and 95 rounds of ammo for practice on a scripted known-distance target practice style range.

Alaska Tactical’s Defensive Handgun I course is 24 hours of instruction over three range days.  It also has pre-requisites, so applicants probably have some previous experience bringing them up to match or exceed the 33 hours at NYPD.  Finally, the class size is small with a good coach to student ratio.  Front Sight’s basic defensive pistol course is 4 days with 32 hours of instruction.  That is clearly at least on par with if not exceeding the NYPD police academy requirements.

Furthermore, any civilian who attends IDPA or USPSA matches once every six months or more is getting more refresher training than NYPD.  Heck, the civilian who goes to the range once every few months and puts a box or two of ammo through their pistol, along with maybe a little dry fire at home, is doing WAY more than NYPD.

This is not to pooh pooh the profession, but to dispel the myth that a badge imparts magical gun handling competence. I think the officers in the NYPD case were correct to use lethal force, and everyone knows that firing under stress makes your groups go to shit. But a great way to inoculate against that effect is competition. Anyone know of any IPSC or IDPA matches run in New York City? I’d bet there’s not a one.

ATF Given Expanded Forfeiture Powers

Apparently Holder thinks it’s fine for ATF to try out being able to seize large amounts of cash under the assumption that it’s clearly to be used for an illegal transaction. What could possibly go wrong? Are gun owners who take their money out of the bank and stuff it under the mattress going to find it at risk now? I mean, clearly they were going to use it to buy guns illegally.

Great Social Commentary on Ammunition

Over at Joe Huffman’s. I will excerpt a portion:

Hollow points are evil because they’re made to inflict maximum damage upon soft flesh. Jacketed rounds are evil because they’re designed for military use, and penetrate armor. Lead rounds are evil because they poison our beloved vultures. Non-lead rounds are evil because they start fires and/or penetrate armor.

In response to concerns over the innate evilness of so much of their product line, in January of this year ammunition manufacturer ATK/Teksystems began investigating the possibility of crafting bullets exclusively from puppy love and rainbows, to be dubbed their new PLRB line of politically sensitive ammunition.

RTWT. I have nothing to add either.