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It’s Not about Background Checks

You’d think that pro-gun control folks would be happy any time a gun is purchased through a federally licensed dealer because it means there was a background check conducted and records will be kept.

But, no, that’s not good enough. The fact that someone is able to buy a gun at all is a problem for them.

That’s the message sent to us with a bill introduced in Virginia to ban all FFLs from selling rifles and shotguns to out-of-state residents who pass the background checks.

Not Every Tactic Works All the Time

After the Colorado recall success, I got the impression that some gun owners online thought that pro-Second Amendment forces could tackle any anti-gun effort anywhere. As any reader of this blog knows, we’re fans of political reality, so cheering on a recall effort should be done only after careful consideration.

There was a minor recall attempt in Exeter, RI that went badly for gun owners there, and now the leaders feel vindicated.

This is just one more reminder that it’s absolutely vital that activist gun owners get involved in their local communities so that they can factor in feelings on the ground about lawmakers and consider all of the details that may make a difference between victory and defeat that might embolden anti-gun forces.

We were both pretty cautious about the latest Colorado recall effort, but then a state resident pointed out important factors (like the length of her term and district makeup) that made the case for recall. And, even though the Democratic replacement is still anti-gun, we won that since it still sent a political message that just like your healthcare plan, you can’t keep your seat.

While being tuned into the gun debate around the country is handy to see what other people do to successfully promote the Second Amendment, it’s more important to be involved locally so that you remind your own lawmakers that you are watching their votes before there’s a need to recall them.

New York Times on the Gun Control Battle in Congress

Link here. It’s a very in-depth article, and there are a lot of potential takeaways, including how remarkably dumb our opponents were. But I would note I’m rather skeptical of the sources of some items in this report, as I suspect they are mostly Joe Manchin’s office, and other people who have a vested interest in discrediting NRA. Generally speaking, NRA won’t speak to investigative reporters, so if there’s a source for, say:

In their conversations, Cox told LaPierre that he did not yet have a clear sense of how their congressional allies were reacting to the Newtown shootings. Cox’s instinct was that the N.R.A. should stay quiet for the time being, as it had done following past shootings. Instead LaPierre decided to respond forcefully, without consulting the N.R.A.’s lobbyists or its full 76-member executive board. One week after the shootings, he stood behind a lectern at the Willard InterContinental hotel a few blocks from the White House and broke into a blistering attack on the news media, the movie industry and video-game manufacturers while defiantly declaring, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

It would be interesting to know who’s talking to the enemy (The NYT is the enemy). I suspect a leak from a member of the Board. A lot of people are upset that the report states they were working with Manchin’s office. I would note the source for this is likely Joe Manchin’s office, who aren’t exactly enamored with NRA these days.

But I’ll accept that it’s true, for the sake of argument. Even if it’s true that they were negotiating over the bill, I would kind of expect NRA to be sure, if there aren’t votes to stop it, that what passes is less of a disaster for gun owners. Note this from the article:

The N.R.A. declared war on those who helped pass the 1994 assault-weapons ban, most of whom were Democrats, but while the bill was being crafted, the N.R.A. worked with two of its House Democratic allies, John Dingell and Jack Brooks of Texas, to weaken it so that if it did pass, it would apply to only a limited number of firearms and would expire a decade later. (It did not pass again.)

As it was this time, we had the votes to kill the Manchin-Toomey deal outright, so it was done. Did GOA have anything to do with that? I’m sure they believe they did, and I’m also sure they likely told that to the author of this article. But does anyone seriously want to argue that we’d have been better off if Dingell and Brooks hadn’t negotiated to get important element like the sunset provision? Does anyone feel confident after failing to outright repeal the bill in 1996, we’d have had any luck now?

Too many people think politics is all binary choices. It’s not that kind of game. If you can buy yourself a little insurance, in case the vote goes badly for you, you do it. If we hadn’t done that in 1994, we’d all still be living under the federal assault weapons ban, and that ban would have looked more like California’s than what eventually passed.

Excellent Observations of Colorado Shooting

From Tim, over at Gun Nuts Media:

Right at the anniversary of Newtown somebody tried to up the score, but because one good guy armed with a handgun was around we instead got a beautiful contrast between the worthlessness of the policy proposals of media figures, politicians, and celebrities and the very effective solutions proposed by the NRA and others who actually have a damn clue on what they’re talking about. Nothing the elites proposed stopped or would have stopped the little coward who went into that school intent on murder prior to the act, but a policy we as the gun community wholeheartedly support proved VERY effective at stopping him dead in his tracks before he could soak the ground with innocent blood.

Yep. The problem is there’s a certain segment of the population, and it’s probably much larger than any of us would be comfortable with, who will never accept it, no matter how much evidence is presented that we’re right.

Monday News Links

Happy Monday. On Wednesday Bitter and I head down to the National Archives to do some research, so posting may be scarce Wednesday. We’ll see. But for now, here’s the news:

I’ve seen gun clubs who can raise more money than this in a single fundraiser.

60% of Americans believe it should be illegal to hit “print” if what you’re printing is a gun. People fear what they don’t understand, and what people fear they usually want to make illegal. We still have a lot of work to do.

Remember, the American Academy of Pediatrics is the enemy. If you’re a doctor, and a gun owner (and there are a lot of you out there) I wouldn’t associate with these groups. Here’s more on the left-wing medical establishment and guns from Howard Nemerov.

Why are anti-gunners so violent?

The most loved and hated gun in America. If it’s a popular gun, they will hate it.

NRA Board aspirant Brandon Webb gets a warm AR-15.com welcome, along with some speculation about who’s backing him. Anyone who thinks America has a “gun problem” has no place on the NRA Board. Fortunately, I don’t think he stands much of a chance.

More recalls over guns, this time in Rhode Island.

The Heller II case is still proceeding.

Why we fight.

ATF contemplating more regulation changes? As Prince Law notes, even the act of considering such a thing is a crime. But who’s going to prosecute? Certainly not Holder’s DOJ. This Administration doesn’t follow any of the usual rules.

Nuclear option for 41P?

Joe asks a good question when it comes to ammunition.

Cuomo is a non-factor for 2016. Now his people are acting like he was never interested in a run. Everyone knows that’s not true. He flushed his political ambitions away on gun control.

So How’d that CNC 1911 Actually Work?

Jason managed to finish, after much frustration, the complete buildout based off his CNC milled M1911 receiver. It was unusual, in that he took a standard M1911 CAD model for an aluminum receiver, cleaved it in two, and then added screws so it could be easily bolted together after milling. By cleaving it in two, it allowed for easier machining. Today we decided to head out, despite the generally awful conditions, and give it a test fire. The results surprised me:

I should note that Jason was TCWing to keep his hand away from the ‘splody parts, should something go badly wrong. I couldn’t help making the joke in the video. I expected it to go bang, but I didn’t figure we’d empty the 50 round box of .45 without trouble, given how much frustration went into fitting it, and given that it was a cheap parts kit. Seriously, the magazine looked like it could have been manufactured near the Khyber Pass.

Jason brought his 7 year old daughter along, because good parenting should involve stoking your children’s curiosity about experimental home firearm building. Jason brought his .22LR AR-15 pistol along to keep the girl amused, and I do have to say she’s an excellent shot! I had never considered the utility of an AR-15 pistol for teaching kids, but it works a lot better than you might expect. It’s long enough that muzzle discipline is easy to enforce, like a rifle, but you don’t have the issue of badly sized stocks. She also seemed to do quite well with the EOtech sight.

But aside from that, while it wasn’t the most accurate 1911 I’ve ever fired, it certainly did well enough for a 1911 that cost a few hundred bucks. The project still isn’t totally complete, since he plans on attempting home anodization, which apparently involves a nice bath of acid, a high voltage power supply, and a wife who is remarkably tolerant about what you are doing in the kitchen.

That Evil Gun Lobby Money …

… was outspent 7 to 1 by gun control groups, according to Adage.com. I’d wager good money the vast majority of that money came out of Bloomberg’s pockets. We can’t outspent Bloomberg; 14.1 million dollars is the change in his sofa cushions. But we can defeat him with real grassroots energy.

Bloomberg Vows to Fight On

Despite no longer being a mayor in 2014, Bloomberg says he will still be a part of MAIG and continue funding the group.

This isn’t too shocking since MAIG has already been trying to pass off other non-mayors as mayors.

The Ryan Budget Deal

This is veering off topic, but while I have the makings of another tab-clearing news link, everyone is all atwitter about the Ryan budget deal. I haven’t been able to get all that worked up about it, to be honest, because it seemed another case of the grassroots conservatives wanting to fight on every front all of the time rather than picking battles carefully. I see this quite often in the gun issue. A lot of people got worked up over UFA renewal, but it’s the wrong battle to fight at the wrong time. The bill has nearly zero impact on every day gun rights, and for a lot of reasons I think it’s fine to kick that fight ten years down the road for now.

Megan McArdle wrote an article today I think is correct in term of analyzing the Ryan deal.

But if they do nothing at all, many reason, they get all the sequestration cuts. Why trade them away?

To avoid another showdown. Though I, too, would like government to shrink, I think this is the right policy trade-off; shutdowns are making it harder and harder to talk about rational budget policy in this town. And tactically, I think this is a clear win for the Republican Party. The last thing they need right now is to take the focus off the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and revive Obama’s flagging poll numbers with an ill-timed budget battle. Their best shot at a budget they really like is, after all, to retake the Senate in 2014.

RTWT. From my reading of it, the Ryan deal is meant to avert another government shutdown, which the Democrats have been preparing to do. Another shutdown would be a disaster for the GOP, because as Megan says, it would take the focus off the flaming train wreck that the ACA is turned out to be. That’s why the Dems would love to precipitate another shutdown in order to distract the low-information voters from their own failures and focus everything back on how awful the GOP is.

Of course, the GOP won’t say that, because they would rather piss on your leg and tell you it’s raining, and that, I think, pretty much sums up the GOP’s problem, which is messaging and communication. That gets back to what Glenn Reynolds noted:

I think that’s right. I think the problem is that a lot of the grassroots don’t trust the GOP leadership to do that. The leadership might want to think about what it can do to build such trust.

No one trusts them because a) the 1994 revolution turned into a non-revolution, and b) the GOP sucks at communicating. The Ryan deal may be necessary, but the GOP leadership would rather kick the grassroots in the teeth and offer platitudes than talk to them like actual adults. Want to understand the popularity of Chris Christie? Because he communicates, and treats voters like adults. Corbett, by contrast, just hiked my gas taxes and then has the nerve to send me a fundraising letter bragging about how he eliminated the retail gas tax (failing to mention that he accomplished this through a massive hike in the wholesale gas tax). Maybe we had to hike the gas tax. Maybe that was the only way to get a transportation bill funded. But don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Level with me. The GOP might be playing a bad hand the best they can right now, but you’d never know it, because they have no idea how to communicate to voters. If you ask me, that’s the GOP’s number one problem.

CNC 1911 Mostly Finished

The 1911 frame I made on the CNC machine has been sitting on my workbench for way over a year now. I decided that over Thanksgiving vacation I would finally finish the gun. I only had a couple of small machining operations to do on the top of the frame and then it would be finished. When I made my own AR-15 lowers, once I finished machining the lower receivers according to the CAD model it only took 10 minutes or so to install the parts. I figured I would be able to finish up the frame on Friday, and by Sunday, I’d be ready to go to the range.

It turned out to be not so easy.

The first problem was that the slide didn’t fit. The slots in the frame weren’t deep enough. After milling out the slots a bit, I was able to fit the slide.

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Next, I tried fitting the barrel. With the barrel and associated hardware installed, the slide wouldn’t move.  As the slide is pulled back, the barrel wasn’t lowering enough for the upper barrel lugs to unlock from the slide. I needed to remove some material from where the bottom barrel lugs hit the frame. From what I can tell, this is normally done going in from the front of the frame with a really long end mill. I don’t have an end mill that long, nor is there enough clearance on my mill to use one on a 1911 frame. But since I had made a two piece frame I was able to unbolt the halves, lie them flat, and go in from the side with a small end mill.

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The trick was to remove enough material so that the barrel would go low enough, but not so much that the barrel’s rear motion is stopped by the barrel link. Now the slide and barrel move like they should.

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But, with the chamber all the way closed, the slide sits a little forward.

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Either the slide, barrel, or frame is slightly off somewhere. I can’t think of an easy way to fix it. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to affect the operation any, so I’m going to leave it as is.

Next came the trigger, which, like the slide, didn’t fit at all. I had to widen the trigger area, again made easy by the fact that the frame can be split into two halves.

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After the trigger came the magazine catch, which also didn’t fit. I had to hand file the hole until the magazine catch would drop in. I then discovered that the CAD model I used was missing the slot for the magazine catch lock. I also don’t have any undercutting end mills, so having the slot in the model probably wouldn’t have helped anyway. Since the magazine catch lock is always held against one side of the slot by the spring, I decided to cut a notch from the inside of the frame down to the depth of the slot.

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It’s at the point that I almost ruined the frame. I was making the cuts “manually” by using the keyboard to control the mill. While doing so I brushed against the touchpad that I use for a mouse. What I hadn’t realized before is that the touchpad was configured for tap-to-click, so the touch registered as a click, and the mouse pointer happened to be sitting on the feed rate slider. So the feed rate suddenly went from 0.3 in/min to 60 in/min, and the mill went all the way through the frame and almost into the mill table.

Luckily the place where I drilled through isn’t where the tab on the magazine catch lock normally sits, so while the hole doesn’t look all that nice, the magazine catch is still functional.

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With the magazine catch installed, I tried to insert a magazine, but it didn’t fit. I had to widen the magazine well.

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Now, it was time to install the sear and disconnector. The sear was too wide to fit in the space for the fire control group, so the frame is split and back on the mill again to widen that area a bit.

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With the fire control group area widened out, the sear, disconnector, and hammer all fit nicely. The leaf spring and main spring housing also went in without problems, so now I had a functioning trigger. I then tried to fit the thumb and grip safeties and discovered another problem with the CAD model, which I probably would have noticed earlier if I had ever assembled a 1911 before. The hole for the thumb safety doesn’t go all the way through the frame like it should. So back on the mill to drill out the hole.

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I also had to use a hand file to widen the hole where the thumb safety interacts with the hammer and trigger. Then I discovered with the full fire control group installed the slide won’t go all the way back.

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The hammer hits the top of the grip safety. It appears that the parts kit I ordered came with a mismatched hammer and grip safety. There are other style hammers that fit fine with that grip safety, and other style grip safeties that will fit with that hammer, but the ones I have don’t go together. I bought the parts kit over a year and a half ago, so its probably to late to do a warranty exchange. But a little work with a grinding wheel on the top of the grip safety and…

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Next was tapping the holes for the grip screw inserts, which of course had to be some oddball-sized tap that I didn’t have, so I had to order a tap.

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The grips themselves and the plunger tube fit with no issues. The last piece that needed to be attached to the frame was the ejector. Here, I discovered a third problem with the CAD model. One of the holes for the ejector was only half as deep as it should be. So back on the mill one more time.

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Now, with the ejector attached to the frame, the firing pin and extractor installed in the slide, and the slide and barrel back on the frame, I have a completed firearm.

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Everything seems to function correctly, and the headspace looks good. (I don’t need to buy a chamber reamer. Yay!) All that’s left to do is to decide how I want to “permanently” join the two frame halves. Currently, they are held together by just two bolts near the center of the frame. My original plan was to use an aluminum brazing rod to weld the two halves together, but looking at the finished frame I think if I add one more bolt in the top front of the trigger guard, and use a bolt instead of a pin to hold in the main spring housing it would work fine without welding.

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