Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Test post - graffiti edition

I'm trying out the Graffiti "keyboard" I just downloaded, and it just works for me. Admittedly, I am using a capacitive stylus, and I have the muscle memory for this left over from many years of using a Palm Vx and then the "block recognizer" of windows mobile...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pointless laws

Assume, for the purposes of this exercise I have a permit recognized in PA. I get up in the morning, place my unloaded handgun in a securely-tied package, and place that and some ammunition in the trunk of my car. I drive from my house to a friend's house in a bad neighborhood in PA, stopping once I have crossed the delaware river to load and holster the handgun. I spend the day in PA, ending up in Bristol, where I purchase a box of hollowpoint ammo before securing my unloaded handgun in a tied package and heading home. In NJ I am pulled over for a minor traffic infraction (my headlight is out or something equally minor) and the police officer observes the box of hollowpoints which I left visible on the seat.
At this point I am pretty sure I am hosed, legally speaking. The hollowpoints are grounds for arrest in NJ, and search incident to arrest gets the gun. Even if I had stopped to shoot at the range where I bought the ammo, my travels in NJ are not direct to and from the range, making possession of the gun and ammo at least potentially illegal. At best I have an expensive court case to clear my name, and at worst, I'm the next Brian Aitken.
Did my hypothetical arrest make anyone safer? It certainly doesn't stop criminals from obtaining, carrying, and using firearms in a criminal fashion. In that I had to handle a loaded firearm, it increases the (miniscule) chance of an accidental or negligent discharge.

A village tale

African Village Uses Tech to Fight Off Rape Cult | Danger Room |

There's a couple of interesting ths about this article. Many people have noted that the villagers are using home-made
firearms, an indication of how easy useful firearms are to make and how futile firearms bans are, so I won't retread that ground.
A weapon system is only as good  as its targeting, and it is the application of intelligence in the military sense that makes these home-made weapons effective against the raiders. The villagers have a scout force and a communication net that allows them to have the civilians retreat to safety and the militia to concentrate at the point of threat in a dual-purpose fm transmitter. That's the titular "tech" of the article, not the shotguns, for the author distrusts the use of weaponry by civilians "outside the control of the government," and worried that the villagers have "written off any hope of aid" from that government.
Of course, the radios the villagers are using come from private effort, not the government, as does everything else that allows the village to stay safe. They had no hope of help from the government before, so I don't see why they should care what a westerner things, our even what their own nominal government thinks. What this village needs from the government they are unlikely to get from their central government: a rapid reaction force that will respond to calls for aid with speed and precision, and not oppress the villagers in their turn. Damn few governments in history were ever capable of providing that; outside of a handful of modern nations. In years gone by, personal weaponry required a  dedication to training that no one could afford to maintain if it wasn't his sole profession to be effective, and also required a certain amount of conditioning and strength to use in combat. So some kind of professional fighting force wa a necessary. It didn't have to be full time professional, the english did well enough co-opting their subjects' free time for training. But with the invention of the cartridge-fed repeating firearm, though, a part-time, relatively unpracticed civilian militia can be effective in defensive situations.

Legacy of a misspent youth

There's a short snippet from the Battle of Yavin music that will, without fail, cause me to check power and shield levels and start looking for inbound TIEs. Every time, even in the car. Thank you X-Wing series and John Williams.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A case where a permit is a ban

Seen on NJ Gun Forums:

Thought I'd post this little story I heard while handing in my permits on Wednesday. The officer said they don't have any more cards and permits to give out! They've contacted the state police to re-order a few times but to no avail. Way to go state police and Bayonne PD!

The “cards” in this case would be the NJ FID (required to purchase long-arms and pistol ammo in-state) and the “permits” would be the NJ Permit to Purchase a Handgun.

If true, there is no way for a resident of Bayonne to legally purchase a handgun, and unless they already had a FID, they cannot purchase a longarm or pistol ammo. Which is a pretty slick deal for the anti-freedom forces. New Jersey is, after all, in a budget crisis. While the FID is a double-sided cardstock card, un-laminated, the Permit to Purchase is a multipart carbon form of at least 3 copies (one goes to the state, one is retained by the seller, and one is retained by the buyer). This can’t be all that cheap for the state to order, relatively speaking. It wouldn't surprise me at all that the supply of forms was run out early by the increase in firearms purchases subsequent to 2008 that is still going on. If they didn’t budget for this (and why should they – in NJ the ability to purchase firearms is a privilege) I can well believe that there are no more available, and that there won’t be until the next fiscal year.

So what are the options for relief for NJ if this is the case? The NJ Court system is stacked against the gun owner ("When dealing in guns, the citizen acts at his peril." – NJ Superior court decision declaring a Marlin Model 60 a banned assault weapon); and NJ Court system has already held that the statutory requirement for issue within a set timeframe is a suggestion more than a reality. But a suit for federal relief would be breaking new ground in 2A jurisprudence, and would be on a generally longer schedule…

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Scattershots at the NFA

Tam calls our attention to some news from the State of Nevada – where the distraught family of a teenager killed by a deranged individual are attempting to assuage their grief by lashing out at (essentially) a bystander. The claim is that a Federal Firearms Licensee should not have sold a pistol-gripped shotgun to an 18-year-old because it was a handgun under federal law; and by doing so the FFL shares liability in the teenager’s death.

That’s an interesting claim. Tam (who has been paid to sling weapons across glass) reads the law as follows: “[A]n FFL can't sell a PGO shotgun to a customer under 21, but shotgun regs in general are a pretty arcane corner of firearms law…” I don’t doubt that’s the prevailing view in the FFL community, but I kind of wonder about that.

(References are from the “Federal Firearms laws” page as maintained by the NRA)

Title18, U.S. Code, Title I, Section 921(a)(3)
(5) The term "shotgun" means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shot or a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.

(29) The term "handgun" means - ;

(A) a firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand…

Any Other Weapon (Title II, Sec 5845)

(e) Any other weapon.:The term "any other weapon" means any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, …

Sec 922(a)((b) It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to sell or deliver:

(1) any firearm or ammunition to any individual who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe is less than eighteen years of age, and, if the firearm, or ammunition is other than a shotgun or rifle, or ammunition for a shotgun or rifle, to any individual who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe is less than twenty-one years of age;

That sets the ground rules about what a shotgun, a handgun, and Any Other Weapon are, and that it shall be unlawful to transfer firearms or ammo to someone under 21 unless the firearm is a rifle or shotgun.

The above, plus the general “conventional wisdom” (backed up by ATF “opinion letters” and other bullying) that the Taurus Judge and other members of that grouping of firearms designs would be AoW if they had (or have, in some cases) smoothbores rather than rifled barrels, leads me to the following thoughts. You could make the argument that a Pistol-Gripped Shotgun (PGW) is not a “shotgun” by federal definition; it’s not “intended to be fired from the shoulder.” If that’s the case, though, I can’t see how it’s a “handgun” either. It’s not “designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.” That makes it Any Other Weapon. Which, if it is, means the FFL shouldn’t have sold it to an 18-year-old, true. But it also means that they should have done the entire AoW dance including $5 tax stamp and transfer paperwork. This is where my unfamiliarity with firearms arcana gets me – is it usual to transfer a PGW as an AoW? And what happens if you attach a folding stock to the firearm? This is dangerous ground for the NFA classifications – because we’re into “arcane corner of firearms law.”Like “void for vagueness” grounds. And if I can figure that out as a not very knowledgeable random gun blogger…

Every time I go and look and think about the NFA classifications of non-select-fire firearms, I realize that the whole thing is built on very thin ice; and it gets thinner every day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Someone break out the smelling salts, I think Ladd Everrett just fainted


(Click for original)

I almost titled the post “Redneck Technical” before I found the source…

Found at That Will Buff Out originally; thanks to commentor Reuben for the source.

Winner of the comments at TWBO is Keith – with “Overcompensating wound be a GAU-8. Because with that you really need a 2 1/2 truck at minimum.”

(Side note: The store advertises their Zombie Defense solutions)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The insecurity of petty functionaries

The Miller posts that he renewed his Totin’ Ticket graciously granted to him by the Commonwealth of Virginia. There are days I wish I was still a resident of VA, and today is one of them. (However, if I hadn’t come to NJ, I would never have met my wife, and if I left, I’d have to leave a job that is both enjoyable and fulfilling). But, that’s not why I’m writing this article.

He made a note that he had to leave his cell phone in the car under a policy that prevents “cameras or audio recording devices,” due to it having a camera and a recording function. One of the commenters mentions that in Fairfax County the jury pool rooms have WiFi, and laptops without cameras are allowed. This tells me that they are profoundly unserious about this policy, and furthermore, that it is essentially unenforceable. Every modern laptop is, inescapably, an audio recording device since it will have a line-in jack; and any random earphone is also a microphone. Most, in fact, have on-board microphones. And any cellphone, regardless of era, is at the least a field-expedient audio recording device. They may as well shut down the public WiFi at these courthouses. And I’m faintly surprised the bar association hasn’t risen en masse over having to give up their cellphones at the perimeter; as iPhones and Androids replace Blackberries, perhaps they will. If this results in lawyers having yet more privileges over layfolk, though, I will be unamused.

This is yet another example of placing the blame for the malicious action on the tool rather than the malicious actor. Presumably the rationale for this is to prevent information leakage in the form of pictures and audio. As far as audio goes, that battle was lost the day stenography was invented, as long as they allow paper and writing instrument. Photography is a little more objectionable, but it’s also more noticeable, and almost as easy to bypass by a trained person. It’s not that hard to remember a face, especially if you can pick it out afterwards from pictures or people. This rule is pure laziness and an exercise of petty power by petty bureaucrats.

I find it mildly amusing that there are ways in which NJ is more free than other states. I’ve done jury duty twice, and the only bans of carriage of electronic devices have to do with (essentially) contempt of court. I brought in both a modern PDA and a laptop with camera capability last time I served, and was able to use them everywhere but the court room during voire dire and the jury box, and during final deliberations in the jury deliberation room (in which we had to give up all distractions including magazines, books, and all personal electronics).

It is getting rather difficult to procure a laptop without a camera, and is essentially impossible to obtain a tablet without one. It is already effectively impossible to obtain a cellphone that is not a camera. The laptop is being replaced by tablets or PDAs. Private businesses are already adapting to this. My first PDA, I deliberately purchased the Without Camera model as I still had an idea that I would return to Pharma IT at the time, and in those days, the “no cameras or recording devices” perimeter was the boundary fence. Today, it’s only the secure areas that have such policies, or security office issues camera plugs if they really feel uptight. This is because other people wouldn’t do business with them if they couldn’t bring their phones along to meetings. Government, not being subject to competition, doesn’t have these pressures, and will be longer to adapt. Perhaps they won’t, but see my note above about the bar association…

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt in Bergen County

North Bergen man found with two illegal soft-air BB guns: cops

This is the kind of thing we have to deal with in NJ, which nicely sums up the issues with NJ. As noted in the comments by BigHayden, “NJ firearms laws are the stuff of legends. Even the police don't know what is legal and what isn't.”

The article quoted a police officer who was fairly clearly making it up as he went along. NJ law does not distinguish between gas-driven and spring-driven weapons - 2C:39-1 f. emphasis mine

"Firearm" means any handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, automatic or semi-automatic rifle, or any gun, device or instrument in the nature of a weapon from which may be fired or ejected any solid projectable ball, slug, pellet, missile or bullet, or any gas, vapor or other noxious thing, by means of a cartridge or shell or by the action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances. It shall also include, without limitation, any firearm which is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun or pistol or other weapon of a similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air, or is ignited by compressed air, and ejecting a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, with sufficient force to injure a person.

If a gas-propelled airsoft is a firearm, so is a spring-powered one (and under the “similar nature clause, an electric-drive one, I guess). They all seem to throw a plastic pellet at around 300 fps

Secondly, you can buy gas-propelled airsoft as well as spring-powered or electric over the counter without dealing with an FFL – I bought one at a sporting goods store that had spun off their FFL into a separate business; and I can go over to a paintball supply house on US 22 and buy as many gas-powered airsoft as I like (and, incidentally, some SERPA holsters to go with, right off a Blackhawk!-branded rack…)

So, a young man’s life is damaged (possibly ruined if they can get the charge to stick) over a pair of toys and a misinterpretation of the law.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Free Ice Cream Machine frozen up

Apologies for the recent lack of content. I have a bunch of interesting stuff sitting in my virtual clippings … and no time to expand on it. Between entering the busy season at work and the excitement of home ownership maintenance (they come with jackhammers Monday to tear up the basement in the name of waterproofing; and that’s where I keep I keep my stuff), I’ve been off of my computer.

Almost famous

My post Where’s the crime? (SBR, SBS, AOW Part 2) is the #2 hit on google for “SBR restriction crime and punishment” behind the Wikipedia article on the NFA.

Though I can’t imagine that’s a very common query.

Imagine the possibilities

So, the Second Amendment has been incorporated via the Fourteenth Amendment, which means “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Therefore, it would be within the power of Congress to pass a law similar to the following:

The US Government and any state government or subordinate entity that requires persons to obtain license, permit, or similar to exercise the right to bear arms must recognize that defense of self as determined by an individual be sufficient, good, or necessary cause to obtain a license, permit or similar to purchase, possess and/or carry a weapon in public by that individual; and that any person who is not prohibited under federal law from purchasing or possessing a firearm must be considered to be “of good character” for the purpose of obtaining any such permit, license or similar.

In short, Congress can and ought to force shall-issue to anyone permitted to possess a firearm; without issuing a nationwide carry permit; similar to the way they have already forced states to issue permits to retired law enforcement.