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Sport Pistol Powder

Since I haven’t been spending as much time writing about shooting, I’ve been actually shooting more. A lot more, which has kept my reloading press busy. Up until now I’ve used Unique for most of my pistol loads. Recently I got a hold of some Alliant Sport Pistol powder, which was introduced last year. It’s very fine grained, measures very well, and doesn’t have as much of a tendency to jump out of the case and end up all over the press as the plate snaps into index. What does get on the press is too fine grained to really gum up the works, which means I don’t have to stop as often to clean up the mess.

The only downside is it’s harder to detect a double charge in larger calibers visually, and while I’ve had overcharges with Unique that were scary, it’s slow burning enough that I didn’t have a kaboom when I’ve done it. I have a feeling Sport Pistol overcharging will have more of a tendency to blow up the pistol.

The loads feel a little more crisp on recoil than my Unique loads. They also give loading info specifically for polymer coated bullets, and it’s advertised to be formulated to work with poly coated bullets. I don’t know how much that’s true, or how much is just marketing BS. Supposedly poly coated bullets are safe to shoot through pistols with polygonal rifling, like Glocks. I hope that’s true, because I’m shooting ACME “lipstick” bullets through mine. The poly bullets are dirt cheap and work well on steel targets. I’ve noticed they make a nice cloud of dust when they hit the steel, so I’d be careful with the rounds indoors. So far they seem to be working great for such cheap bullets.

The Original Plastic Gun Threat

Dave Kopel has a great article over at the Volokh Conspiracy on the original plastic gun panic that happened in the 1980s.

“Qaddafi Buying Austrian Plastic Pistol.” That was the headline from columnists Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta in Washington Post on January 15, 1986. According to the article, “The Libyans are said to be trying covert methods to obtain these weapons.”

Today, Glocks are ubiquitous, one of the most common pistols, with many models. But in January 1986, they were little known in America, where only a few thousnd had been sold.

Swiftly, the gun control lobbies began warning Americans about the “plastic pistol.” They dubbed them “terrorist specials” or the “Hijackers Special.” Supposedly, this plastic gun was designed to sneak through metal detectors.

I remember that panic about Qaddafi trying to get a hold of Glocks. It’s interesting that quick law enforcement adoption is likely what saved a lot of pistols.

The comment section over there is a den of cliched wookie suitery:

“Thanks for admitting the NRA compromised.”

Of course it did, because the alternative to an “undetectable firearms” law that actually banned no guns was a much broader law that would have banned nearly all small, concealable firearms before the concealed carry revolution even got off the ground. If you say something like this while adjusting your trusty LCP you carry in your pocket, you’re an idiot.

Remember, “Something must be done!” is the impetus for most of this bullshit. NRA gave them “something” that didn’t ban a single gun, and it put the issue to bed long enough for technological change to make Metzenbaum’s position politically untenable.

“Remember Reagan signed the only outright Federal gun ban.”

Yes, as part of a much broader bill that was intended to prevent the gun culture from being extinguished. No one I’ve ever spoken with who was involved in the FOPA fight thinks that scuttling the whole thing over the Hughes Amendment would have been a wise idea.

So far we’re weathering the 3D gun scare a lot better than we weathered the original plastic gun hysteria. I was only 10 in 1986, but I remember the hype in the news. At the time, I wasn’t aware the whole issue was essentially bullshit: I did not come from a gun owning family. The difference is communication is much better these days, and it’s easier to counter disinformation campaigns. Social media has changed a lot, both for good and ill.

Slate: 80% Lowers a Bigger Threat

This Slate article actually shows a reasonable degree of understanding on the home build issue. They correctly point out that home manufacturing is legal in most of the United States, provided they are intended for personal use by the person who makes it. Manufacturing for sale requires an FFL.

If lawmakers are concerned about threats having to do with 3D-printed weaponry, they might consider banning 3D-printed bump stocks, too, which are attachments that can be added to semi-automatic rifles to make them fire faster. Those might work better than a fully 3D-printed gun. But 80 percent lower kits remain a much bigger threat—and should be a higher priority for lawmakers.

If they reclassify bump stocks as machine guns, it will be illegal to 3D print one, just as it’s currently illegal to 3D print a machine gun. However this is feel good nonsense. Of course someone unconcerned with following the law can print a machine gun receiver, or machine a machine gun receiver from an 80% billet, or go to Home Depot and buy all the parts you need for a home made submachine gun. A lot of these fools just don’t get this: you can make this shit illegal, but it’s not going to stop someone who’s intent on committing murder, robbery, or some kind of terrorist act. It’s not going to stop people from manufacturing them for the black market. There couldn’t be a more plain case for, “This is only going to deter hobbyists who are no threat to anyone.”

But as I’ve said, that’s the idea. Stopping criminals is not the purpose of this. That’s just a bullshit pretext. The idea that anyone could just make a gun? Scare bleu! The peasants, in their basement? They might even have fun doing it! They might make a mockery of us, and wouldn’t that be the worst thing ever.

And what about the 80% issue?

Understand the fundamental issue: Generally, our law is structured around the idea that gun parts can break, and owners ought to be able to order replacement parts without having go through a background check and fill out paperwork just to get a replacement spring, firing pin, bolt, etc. This is not a loophole in the Gun Control Act. It was intentionally set up this way.

So we pick one part that is the critical piece, and call it “the gun.” Most of the time, that’s the receiver, which some designs divide into upper and lower receivers, either of which can be “the gun,” depending. There’s a certain stage of manufacturing where ATF considers a piece of metal machined enough to qualify as a firearm even if it’s not fully finished. ATF is generally clear on what those machining steps are.

So how do you “fix” this “loophole?” Say you make ATF remove a few machining steps to qualify as unfinished, and now “80% lowers” are illegal, and we now have the “70% lower.” Think hobbyists won’t get around that? How far do you go? Where does it end? At what point do you start demanding billets of aluminum get regulated? Don’t be ridiculous.

What drives me nuts about the political climate today is what I’ve seen dubbed “aggressive ignorance,” driven largely by social media. Put enough people in an echo chamber, where dissenting opinion is driven out, and the answers become simple. We live in an easy world to the aggressively ignorant. They have charlatans parading easy answers at them all day, and who are you to say it wouldn’t work? What do you know about the topic? You’re part of the evil gun lobby! If it weren’t for people like you, we could solve these problems.

Everyone wants easy answers, and god damn anyone who tries to say there aren’t any. It’s madness.

Can’t Stop the Signal, Part II

Yesterday, Alyssa Milano’s NoRA (wow, that’s just so clever) group managed to get codeisfreespeech.com shut down briefly, but they relocated and have come back online.

I have to admit, it checks all the boxes for being the work of Ladd Everitt, formerly of CSGV. Maybe it’s one of his protégés, because last I checked Ladd was still wasting his time with George Takei. But #DownloadableDeath is the kind of over the top hysterics that Ladd could be rightly proud of.

If you’re looking for an alternate source for all your 3D CAD needs, you need to look no further than here. Also:

Tam’s reaction to that is pretty much spot on. I’m really hoping the civil rights lawsuits here are going to be epic.

If you want to view the actual TRO issued against Defense Distributed, you can find it here. I would actually argue that Pennsylvania has no standing to join this suit, since making a firearm at home is not illegal under Pennsylvania law. There is no Pennsylvania law our Governor and Attorney General can articulate that Defense Distributed publishing CAD drawings would undermine. Pennsylvania’s entry into this suit is grandstanding, and that’s about it.

If you don’t want to read the whole TRO, I can sum it up for you.

“Because I, judge, sez, you have a strong likelihood of succeeding on the merits, and this downloadable plastic gun mumbo jumbo sounds scary, a Temporary Restraining Order you can haz!”

But seriously, I will try to explain the issue as best I can, and as best as I understand it. The Plaintiffs here, the various state AGs, contend that the Trump Administration has to go through the rule making process prescribed by the Administrative Procedures Act if they want to change the USML (United State Munitions List). The Administration has agreed to pursue that rule change. But in the mean time, Defense Distributed was granted a license to share their CAD drawings. It’s hard for me to see how the various state AGs have a strong likelihood of succeeding on the merits. The AECA allows the President to grant waivers. Defense Distributed has argued that the decision to grant a license is not even judicable, and cites ample precedent that shows in similar context, the courts, even the 9th Circuit, have agreed it is not.

This is not even considering the First Amendment claims here.

Bloomberg is Looking for Fault Lines

I suspect that the true goal of all the bump stock and 3D printing hysteria is to limit home gun smithing and make working on your own firearms a legally risky maneuver. Well, I should say, more legally risky than it already is. You can also reach AR-15s this way without going for a full on ban because the fact that it’s highly customizable. Eliminate the ability to customize without going to a licensed pro and you might not have your ban, but you’ll push the more dedicated owners out of the hobby. Once you start cutting numbers, then the ban is more politically feasible. Where the gun control movement has managed to find success over the years is by finding an exploiting fault lines among gun owners.

At the risk of sounding conspiratorial, I don’t think the bump stock bans that also happened to greatly increase the legal hazard of doing ordinary customizations on a semi-automatic firearm were an accident. If they just wanted a bump stock ban, a bit of a wording change to make the language more precise, and they’d have won without much fight. But they keep pushing the same language in state after state.

Then this 3D printing bullshit blows up into a huge thing. If it were the Brady Campaign, I might just see it as something they view as good fundraising, and dismiss any strategic thought being behind it. But Bloomberg didn’t end up a billionaire by being a fool or an idiot, and Everytown doesn’t really have to worry about fundraising as long as Bloomberg is writing checks. So I’m more inclined to think there’s a plan.

If I’m right, it’s a smart one, and unfortunately has a chance of working. Trying to ban sharing CAD files on the Internet is a fool’s errand, but it’s framing the debate in the public in terms that aren’t immediately favorable to us. My worry is Cody Wilson is picking a huge fight on ground I’m not sure is defensible. Most people, including most gun owners, don’t know shit about what dedicated hobbyists are doing with their guns. They know even less about 3D printing or CNC machining. Ground where ignorance rules is fertile ground for people willing to win by waging disinformation campaigns.

While I argue there are topics in the gun issue that are better off flying under the radar, anything that does that is ripe for exploiting by people looking to scaremonger. The antidote to that is familiarity. Defending home gun smithing will actually be easier when every kid has a 3D printer and CNC machining can be done by anyone without having to know much about machining. The more people tinker, even if they aren’t tinkering with guns, the safer every tinkerer is as long as they don’t throw each other the bus. But are we there yet? That’s what I’m not sure about. The question in my mind is whether Cody Wilson is out too far ahead and inviting a counterattack we can’t defend against, or I’m just too cautious. I’m open to either being true, or both.

Get Your 3D Plans

Published over at Code is Free Speech. Also, seen on the Internets:

In a world where there are 3-D printers and thumbdrives (not to mention peer-to-peer file sharing over networks), this fight is already over. About all we can do is pass laws that are 21st-century versions of the 19th-century British law that required a man with a red flag had to precede the dangerous menace of horseless carriages to protect the public.

Yep. That’s exactly what this is.

Shocking News: Some Christians Subscribe to Natural Rights Theory

The WaPo has an article about how Christian Nationalism, as WaPo misdefines it, is a strong predictor for whether you believe in gun control or not. The idea that rights come from God didn’t originate in Jerry Fawell’s basement. It originated during the enlightenment. The whole idea of natural rights it nothing new. The people who wrote the Second Amendment were very highly influenced by the works of John Locke who died in 1704. The whole article reads like “can you believe people are crazy enough to believe this stuff?” Christian Nationalism was actually a thing, founded by Gerald Smith and peaking the 1940s, but its chief philosophy was highly anti-Semitic and racist, a trait you seldom find today in mainstream religious conservatives. So how does WaPo misdefine this?

  1. “The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation.”
  2. “The federal government should advocate Christian values.”
  3. “The federal government should enforce strict separation of church and state” (reverse-coded).
  4. “The federal government should allow the display of religious symbols in public spaces.”
  5. “The success of the United States is part of God’s plan.”
  6. “The federal government should allow prayer in public schools.”

OK. That could possibly mean you’re a dominionist, especially if you answer yes to number one. But even I think the federal government should allow, and actually think it is compelled by the First Amendment to allow, prayer in public schools as long as the schools aren’t compelling it. I even agree that the federal government should allow display of religious symbols in public places as long as the state didn’t put it there, or it doesn’t represent any establishment of religion (like Moses being on the Supreme Court building). And what Christian values are we talking about here? I’m OK with the state promoting not killing, treating other people as you wish to be treated, etc. Am I OK with the federal government forcing people to go to church? No. Am I OK with laws against blaspheming other people’s faith? No. But if you answer yes to most of these, it doesn’t make you a “Christian Nationalist.” Christian Nationalism was disgusting. Conflating mainstream Christian beliefs with that philosophy is wrong. Sadly, most journalists these days know almost nothing about what these philosophies are, where they came from, and what their intellectual roots are.

Can’t Stop the Signal

A coalition of gun control groups are embarking on an epic fundraising effort battle with the Trump Administration to hopefully scare some money out of their base. I was wondering what Bloomberg could want with something like this, because it’s very unlikely to win, and even if it does, it’s not like they are going to put the genie in the bottle. But it’s probably something that will scare up the base and help money flow into the other gun control groups that need the money. This is about raising awareness for Everytown: ground prep for a future fight if they get a pretext. For the other groups it’s fundraising.

Bloomberg is making home building a target. I follow their “Trace” publication, and for a while after State’s announcement, it’s all they’ve been talking about. I don’t like fighting on ground where you have a very small handful of people engaging in something lawful, but hard for other people and even other gun owners to understand. But the idea that they can stop this is absurd on its face.

Does anyone think a law against home gunsmithing is going to stop criminals and terrorists from getting plans, that are still freely available on the Internet, from loading them up and hitting “print?” The idea that you can shut down Cody Wilson’s free speech, even if it was legal, is an evil thing no free society should do.

The Administration has decided to Make Tinkering Great Again, and I’m not going to object. The lords of the manors don’t like the idea of their serfs doing powerful things that they have absolutely no control over. The risk for us is that home gun smithing, and possibly even home 3D printing, will be stamped out by elites trying to wrest control back from the unwashed masses. As I mentioned before, just because it’s an absurd and useless law doesn’t mean they won’t pass it. The goal isn’t really to stop crime. It’s to stop you… you flyover rube.

Winning in Court

We’ve had some pretty significant court wins lately, and I’m hoping it’s just a preview of things to come. The latest is a ruling that there’s a constitutional right to carry openly. This is probably all fallout from the Kennedy retirement. Lower court judges don’t really like to be overturned, and the change is also a signal to supporters if they buck Circuit precedent and rule against the state in a gun rights case, they might get some help from the top. No one wants to stick their neck out.

None of the judges involved here are Trump judges yet. The panel in the magazine case was appointed by George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, with the judge appointed by Nixon dissenting. That is not surprising to me. The Greatest Generation are actually gun unfriendly, for the most part. Silents less so. Boomers even less so.

In the open carry case, it was a Reagan appointee and a George W. Bush nominee ruling in favor of the plaintiff, with another George W. Bush appointee dissenting.

George W. Bush was hardly a perfect President on the gun issue, and Trump won’t be either. But if they put the right judges on the bench they can end up being good enough, and that’s all we need.

The Wages of Never Meeting a Camera You Wouldn’t Jump in Front Of

I have a pretty strict rule: I don’t talk to journalists. I’ve rarely made exceptions to that, but for the most part, that’s my rule. As a result, I’ve given up a lot of opportunities to self-promote and up my profile. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the gun issue, it’s that being an effective self-promoter pays. You can’t swing a cat in the gun rights issue without hitting a dozen self-promoters, at least half of whom will border on shameless.

Definitely in the category of “shameless” is Phil Van Cleave. I understand that as head of a state gun right’s group, Phil can’t take the same policy I do. He has to talk to the media to a great degree. But seriously, you should have walked out of the room long before this:

Since this came out, I don’t think Van Cleave has exactly covered himself in glory. His spin on this is pretty much that he went undercover as a highly trained secret agent, intent on exposing who was behind this charade, and where it was going.

“For better or for worse, I decided that I would play along with the scheme so I could find out who was behind this and where this was going,” Van Cleave said. “I figured if I was right about this being a set up, I could blow the whistle and get a warning out to the gun-rights community across the country to protect as many people as possible and maybe derail this attack.”

Come on, just admit you got snookered. Cohen has snookered a lot of people more prominent than Phil Van Cleave. Or maybe suggest that you were going along with the comedy; that you thought you were participating in an obvious self-deprecating comedy piece and didn’t think anyone would be crazy enough to take it seriously. You’d still be a sucker, but at least you’d still have some dignity left.

Does anyone other than rabidly deranged partisans think anyone, even Phil Van Cleave, endorse a “Puppy Pistol?” I like quality self-deprecating humor, but this isn’t it. My issue with Cohen’s comedy is that it’s just not funny. Borat was a menagerie of cultural condescension, and looking down on others. Punching down is never good comedy. I only wish there weren’t so many people in the gun rights movement that weren’t so desperate for attention as to easily become victims of a con artists like Cohen.

UPDATE: Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on Phil Van Cleave. Watch Larry Pratt laugh about rape. A big part of appearing on television for interviews is to keep your shit in check and to not forget you’re on TV.

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