Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Gators

alligator and sewerOK, it was a prank, not at attack. In universities across the land, anthropologists and ethologists who study the strange throwback known as Florida Man have a new data point:

Officials said 23-year-old Joshua James pulled up to the drive-thru for his order. After a server handed over a drink and turned around, James reportedly reached into the back of his truck and tossed the 3.5-foot gator through the window.

James is facing charges of aggravated assault and unlawful possession and transportation of an alligator.

Sounds like the prosecutor is a Seminoles fan. (For non-USians, Gators and ‘Noles are a Florida college football — American football, and yes, we use our hands — rivalry).

His parents said the incident was a harmless prank and it’s being blown out of proportion. “He’s not a bad kid. He’s a stupid kid. He did a stupid prank,” said Linda James, Joshua’s mother. “He had no problem turning himself in.”

via Man Throws Live Gator Into Drive-Thru Window | NBC 6 South Florida.

This happened a few miles from the Winter Hog Wallow, and we know where this Wendy’s is, but have never gone there. (Not big on fast food, and there’s literally thousands of good restaurants and mom-n-pops around. Some of which serve gator) We’ve heard some other news outlets said James was charged with assault with a deadly weapon… we think the gator needs to grow some before he’s a deadly weapon, and it’s too late to get a witness statement from him, as animal control has already returned him to his aquatic environment.

Russia Reactivates 1st Guards Tank Army

Guards Tank ArmyAccording to Jane’s, Russia has reactivated a storied Soviet-era unit, and will soon fill its ranks with two “new” tank divisions (which will also be, almost certainly, designated with the flags and honors of fabled Great Patriotic War units.

The 1st Guards Tank Army stood before Stalingrad and was ground up by the Wehrmacht in 1942. Reconstituted, it pursued dwindling numbers of those Germans all the way back into their homeland over the next three years.

About four or five years ago, the Russian MOD announced it would be reforming the unit. It’s taken a little longer than expected — they thought they’d be at this point in 2014 — but they now have a reactivated Army headquarters, and are forming tank divisions to fill it out. The divisions will be equipped with T-72M3 and T-80 tanks, although the unit is a natural fit for the new T-14 Armata, when it becomes available from production.

The Russian Ground Forces has completed the reactivation of the 1st Guards Tank Army in Russia’s Western Military District (WMD) and is to form two new armoured divisions, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced.

A session of the Defence Ministry Board, chaired by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, discussed the reactivation as part of the development of Russia’s quick reaction force. The session also revealed that Russia will form two new armoured divisions near the cities of Voronezh (in the WMD) and Chelyabinsk (in the Central Military District: CMD) in 2016.

According to the MoD, the 1st Guards was reformed on 1 February and will be equipped with T-72B3 and T-80 main battle tanks (MBTs). A Russian tank army is typically equipped with 500 MBTs.

Meanwhile, Colonel General Vladimir Zarudnitsky, commander of the CMD, said that the mainstay of the new Chelyabinsk-based armoured division will be cutting-edge MBTs. Chelyabinsk is close to Nizhny Tagil, home of Russian tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod, and Col Gen Zarudnitsky’s comments could well indicate that this unit will be the first to receive the new T-14 Armata MBT and other new Armata-based vehicles.

As for the armoured division in the Voronezh Region, the 1st Separate Armoured Brigade has been garrisoned there in the town of Boguchar since 2015. It looks like this brigade will be transformed into a division.

via Russia completes reformation of 1st Guards Tank Army | IHS Jane’s 360.

Unit Markings of the 1st Guards Tank Army, 1944-45

Unit Markings of the 1st Guards Tank Army, 1944-45

One of the dumbest things the Soviets did early on in their reign, was to eliminate the lineage and honors of the best Tsarist units and most successful Russian Imperial generals. Gradually, and then, in the GPW, suddenly, these men’s honors were restored and their history embraced — as, now, the history of the 1st GTA in Europe in the 1940s will be embraced. Indeed, unlike the other unit honorific, “Red Banner,” the honor title “Guards” has both Imperial and Soviet history. The best of the Russian Army traces not only to the days of Stalin and Molotov, but to those of Peter the Great.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry says, quote, “Our Russian partners do not want peace in Syria.” Good Lord, John, are you just figuring that out? The Russians do want peace, but on their terms… so what they want, in the near term, is that good old Russian word, Pobeda. Victory. It’s not just the name of a crummy Soviet-era car, it’s a real concept. Kerry should explore it some time.

You can’t peace yourself to victory. Someone in Russia understands that. Someone in Washington does not.

Riyad Hijab, a former Prime Minister in Bashar Assad’s government, turned chief of the anti-Assad rebels, is bitter.

The failures of the negotiations end up lowering the credibility of the moderate opposition in front of the Syrian people. United States credibility is plummeting within the population of Syria but also in the region as a whole.

Analysis: true. But this is what happens when we send a gigolo to do a man’s job. Who would Putin send? Well, if he’s interested in pobeda, and he probably is, he’s got the 1st Guards Tank Army. And we’ll send a diplomat to scold them… after creating the situation we have, where there is essentially no resistance to Assad except Islamist extremists (ISIL, al-Qaeda) who are considerably worse, both in terms of abuse of their fellow Syrians, and their menace to people and institutions abroad, than poor old chinless Bashar ever dreamt of being.

How to Sell Guns, 1947 Style

Here’s a training film from the legendary Jam Handy organization, sponsored by Remington, to prepare the salesclerks of 1947 (when the long shadow of wartime shortages still loomed) for the coming day when “merchandise will be plentiful.” Follow Bill Turner as he learns from his Better Self, from a trade show executive and from Elmer, America’s Greatest Salesman, how to sell.

That was a hell of a long time ago, 1947. Cars had yet to grow (and then outgrow) tail fins, let alone be Made in Japan. Many Americans still lived on farm and in the smallest of small towns. Consider what this video tells us about the Elmer Fudd-centric gun market of 70 years ago, and the quaint idea of guns being found in a “hardware and dry goods store”.

In those days, your gun choices were defined by your choice of field pursuit: hares or ducks? Today, you can still hunt Bugs and Daffy, but a lot of new choices are available. That’s the kind of diversity we can celebrate!

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Tactical Anatomy

Tactical Anatomy logoAs much as the word “tactical” is overused in Gun Nation, it definitely fits here. Dr. (yes, he has a DEA number, sorry all you PhD doctor-impersonators) James Williams has a very interesting background that provides a scientific basis for his Tactical Anatomy concept and training.

He offers training classes in gunfight anatomy, yclept Shooting with X-Ray Vision, in versions for both sworn law officers and for “civilians” (wait, cops are civilians, as are we retired soldiers, NTTAWWT), and in treatment of gunshot wounds, and occasional posts to a blog that are entertaining as hell. He also publishes an instructor manual. We’ve ordered it based on his description of its content, which is highly congruent with the practical instruction one gets in anatomy at a place like SOT, SFARTAETC, or SFAUC, but we doubt it’s as useful or as much fun as attending one of his classes.

James S. Williams, M.D. … used his experience as a hunter and a competitive shooter in conjunction with his extensive trauma medicine experience to develop the Tactical Anatomy model, targets, and instructional systems. He has a wealth of firearms training experience and is an NRA-certified instructor.

via About Tactical Anatomy – Tactical Anatomy.

He served as the MO on a SWAT team for many years, and has practiced, taught, and shot in Canada and several American States (he’s now in Texas). We found his blog whilst contemplating a post on the limitations of “center of mass,” the hoary old military standby, as an aiming point in the sort of close-in social work that police and defensive shooters in general usually face.

You see, the military chose “center of mass” for very deliberate reasons, which are not applicable in a non-military-combat, often one-on-one, self-defensive shoot. We’ll probably go into that in depth in that contemplated post, if and when we get to it. We assume that military training, given the presence of vets in just about every police force and the military experience that many (not all!) of the best firearms trainers share, was the vector by which this idea infused itself in the defensive handgun world.

What Doc here says about it is pithy and, well, correct, apart from the fact that the term does exist outside of police work, in the military, and is useful there precisely because a soldier’s objective in shooting an enemy is often not the same as a policeman’s or defender’s. Here’s the meat, occasioned by a hairy firefight at short range with limited cover between a cop (Officer Peter Soulis) and a felon (“Tim Palmer,” pseudonym, who unbeknownst to Soulis was wanted for murder):

But here’s a hint as to the root of a correctable problem: the author of this article states that  “Palmer had taken 22 hits from Soulis’ .40-caliber Glock, 17 of which had hit center mass“.

The author’s implication is that a “center mass” hit is a good hit. And that, my friends, is where we descend from good tactical analysis into the Land of Bullshit.

If you’ve attended my Shooting With Xray Vision class (SXRV), or you’ve read my book, you have heard me say this before:  there is no such thing as Center Mass.  In 6 years of undergraduate and graduate level science, I never once read or heard of an anatomic structure called “center mass”. In all my years of medical school and postgraduate residency, I never read or heard of a medical term called “center mass”. And in 40 years of hunting animals for food with rifles, handguns, bows, blowguns, atlatl’s, and other weapons, I never once heard another hunter tell me to aim for “center mass”.

The reason for that is that outside of police circles, the term does not exist. And for good reason. It’s a bullshit term that has no relevance to reality. People use the term “center mass” because they’re lazy and ignorant. Sorry if that offends you, but that’s the bottom line. People who use the term “center mass” are admitting for all intents and purposes that they have no idea that critical structures of the human body exist in the human body that need to be interdicted by a police bullet to stop a felon’s violent actions. They are admitting that they have no idea where those vital structures are, and they have no idea how to visualize those anatomic structures in a real live human body.

The link in Doc’s article does not work, but the story is still there at — here’s a corrected link; if that one too goes bad, just do a search at LawOfficer — it was a hell of a fight and it’s a hell of a read, despite Doc’s quibble about the “center mass” term. Here is a period news story about the shooting — one of at least five Soulis was involved in during his time as a cop — and reading it probably explains why thought it worthwhile to change the name of the criminal. We know you guys have too much class to hassle a criminal’s innocent mother, unlike newspaper reporters. And the shootout became a made-for-TV episode calling Soulis an “action hero” last year, the season finale of ABC’s “In an Instant,” available online for viewing. But we digress; back to Doc’s site.

Wile-E-Coyote-Genius-Business-CardIf you think his view of Center Mass as a concept is entertaining, you should read his post occasioned by some Wile E. Coyote Super Genius asking him why it was a good idea to — we are not making this up! — shoot an assailant or hostage taker in the kidneys. One more taste, but you then have to go Read The Whole Thing™.

Military snipers train to incapacitate their targets with a single shot. Incapacitation on the battlefield is highly congruent with rapid death of the target. Centerfire rifle bullets are designed to produce incapacitating injury as quickly as possible. Incapacitation by GSW entails putting the bullet into the primary or secondary target anatomy. The primary target is the CNS, and the secondary target is the cardiovascular system that supports the CNS. The kidneys are part of neither. The kidneys are small, deep in the body, and in anatomic locations that medically-untrained snipers would have significant difficulty visualizing in the 3D human body. As such, deliberately targeting the kidneys is so far from practicable I actually laughed out loud in disbelief when I first read your email.

Let me be perfectly clear: shooting an enemy combatant anywhere other than the CNS/CV bundle target zones would be, first, a failure to fulfill the tactical mission (incapacitate your target asap), and second, wanton cruelty. This is at best comic-book mall-ninja material, and should be rejected out of hand.

Exercise for the reader — point to your kidneys, from the front, back and side.

Q1: Are you sure?

Q2: For extra credit: Describe that target in terms of size, criticality, recognizability, vulnerability, effect — hell, do a full CARVER on it — vis-a-vis the brain stem and cerebellum.

Stolen Gun Alert

We didn’t see this alert on Facebook, because we don’t do Facebook (we promised a client as part of a pile of security paperwork. Strangely, we can blog to heart’s content, but Facebook is a “security risk.” YMMV).  But we did pick it up thanks to Miguel at Gun Free Zone, who’s a near-daily read around here (would be “daily”: if we didn’t have to work, write books, fix ceilings, build planes, maintain canine recovery program, etc.).

It looks like a trio of thieves, two white men and a white woman, hit the Great American Outdoor Show — the huge sporting and gun show held annually in Harrisburg, PA — and made off with a National Firearms Act registered firearm. It’s a 9mm Short Barrel Rifle.


This 9mm SBR was stolen last Sat the 6th of Feb, from our booth at the Great American Outdoor Show. We are offering a $3000 reward for formation leading to the return of rifle and arrest and conviction of perpetrators. Serial number F150153. Precision Firearms PF15F. It was our one and only prototype 9mm Subgun.

Share this post and make it as difficult as possible for the thieves to sell it or use it. 2 guys and a woman. White.

via B.O.L.O.: Stolen 9mm SBR Prototype – Gun Free Zone.

While our heart goes out to Mark Hostetter of Precision Firearms, we can’t help but believe he’s thought of three ways he could have prevented this, in every five minutes since the theft went down. We sure can.

Here’s hoping the ATF does a better job going after these thieves and this gun than they did going after the ATF M4 that was one of three firearms stolen from a G-ride in Milwaukee while two agents (who remain unreprimanded) advanced their extramarital affair on the clock.

It gets better. A controversial ATF undercover storefront bought one of the handguns back — and let the perp walk.

The day after the theft, Sept. 14, Marquise Jones sold the ATF its own gun, along with a second, for $1,400 at the Fearless Distributing store, according to court documents.

But ATF agents let Jones walk. It would be about a week before agents questioned him, according to sources familiar with the investigation who asked not to be identified.

The sources said Jones was allowed to leave because ATF officials worried an arrest would expose the undercover storefront operation and embarrass the agency. Court records show agents continued to buy guns at the Fearless storefront in the week after the agent’s guns were stolen.

The operation was shut down a short time later. It is unclear if the decision was made by ATF or the U.S. attorney’s office in Milwaukee, which had been briefed on the investigation.

Indeed, the whole disastrous Fearless Distributing uncercover operation produced four of the most minimal reprimands ATF can do, a “memorandum of caution.” From 2014:

[Rep Gwen] Moore (D-Wis.) issued a statement in response to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative update that revealed the ATF gave four agents involved in the operation what is known as a “memorandum of caution” — the most mild punishment for an agent. Veterans called it a “slap on the wrist.”

Hey, ATF had agents at the Great American Outdoor Show. Two men and a woman? All white?

One highly suspects these thieves are career criminals, but this particular theft was opportunistic in nature. Here’s hoping they’re rounded up a little more quickly (and conclusively) than the Milwaukee machine-gun thieves (the M4 and the thieves remain at large, there, and what progress was made in the investigation was all made by the local cops).

And if you’re a licensee, you’re responsible for the firearms you stock, work on, or manufacture. It would behoove you to act like it. 

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Gravity

Wait, didn’t we just have one of these? Ah, we did, but this one’s a BASE jumping fatality. Well, actually, it’s three fatalities in two incidents… including one guy with 2,500 BASE jumps.

Item: 14 Jan 16, Flagstaff, AZ. Wingsuit fatality.

Gerry Mooney's original poster (From Asimov Mag 1977). Available here.

Gerry Mooney’s original poster (From Asimov Mag 1977). Available here.

29 year old Matthew Kenney told a Phoenix TV station last year, according to another station, KSBW:We get a bad rap from everybody because there’s a lot of misunderstanding as to what we do. They just think we are crazy adrenaline junkies that are jumping off cliffs with primitive parachute technology, when really what we do, if practiced properly, is pretty safe and pretty cool and pretty fun.

Fast forward to this year:

Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that it is devising a plan to recover the body of 29-year-old Mathew Kenney.

His body is trapped in a crevice about 600 feet below where he jumped Tuesday in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness – a rugged, desolate landscape that is hard to navigate, sheriff’s Lt. Bret Axlund said.

Kenney hit a rock wall. Once crews reach his body, they will examine his equipment, Axlund said.

Hitting a rock wall at maybe 150 mph wearing nothing but a jump suit, a lightweight brain bucket with a GoPro on it, and an optimistic smile. The deputies who climb or chopper in better bring a basket.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a BASE death without someone praising his skill and experience:

Kenney’s friend, Matt Frohlich, said he was an experienced, talented jumper who had traveled around the world. …

“It’s a pretty big hit to the community,” he said. “It is sad.”

You’d think they’d be used to it by now.

And if this is what happens to the “experienced, talented” jumpers, how does anybody ever survive his time as a green newbie?

ITEM: 23 Jan 16, Big Sur, CA double fatal.

wile_e_coyote_gravityActually, this couple survived their jumps from the Bixby Bridge in Big Sur. It wasn’t the jumps that killed them at all, despite the bridge’s mere 280-foot height. It was unpreparedness for what they’d encounter on landing. KSBW again:

[Victim Mary “Katie”] Connell completed a BASE jump on Wednesday, landed near the ocean, and got into trouble when a large set of waves came.

“She lands right about the area where the Bixby Creek feeds into the ocean,” [Monterey County Sheriff Steve] Bernal said.

Connell was engulfed by waves and vanished from the surface. Her partner realized she was in trouble and jumped after her.

He ripped off his parachute and helmet after jumping from the bridge and before diving into the water, Bernal said.

Some other media said her partner jumped off the bridge without his parachute, which is just silly; he jumped, landed, and then took off his parachute and gear, like a sane man.

And then he dived into the waves slamming the rocks, like an insane man.

Other media have identified her partner as Finnish national Rami Kajala, a veteran of 2,500 BASE jumps and owner of a wingsuit company,

A friend of theirs said that they were:

…experienced jumpers and were operating well within their limits.

Ah, but were they? The site has a very small LZ, right next to the raging Pacific. The same natural majesty that makes it beautiful makes it very dangerous.

VA to WWII Combat-Wounded Vet: “Prove it. Again.”

VA-veterans-affairsIn our opinion, Legal Insurrection (great law blog, and where we first encountered Andrew Branca of Law of Self Defense fame) writer Kemberlee Kaye buried the lede of her story in the closing paragraphs, here:

Embroiled in scandal, mishandling like Limpert’s case magnify the Veterans Administration’s growing list of ineptitudes.

Last year, $142 million in bonuses were awarded to VA employees despite the wait time for veterans needing assistance increasing more than 50%.

Democratic presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, contended the VA scandal was not, “as widespread as it was made out to be.”

Do Read The Whole Thing™ as it recounts how the VA has kept demanding Emil Limpert provide more documentation — including affidavits from the guys who were killed when he was wounded in the Phillipines in 1944.

(In fact, read the comments, too. There’s a great comment there by frequent commenter here redc1c4. More than one, actually).

Limpert is a rare vet whose records were really destroyed in the 1973 fire in a records warehouse in Overland, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. (This is a common claim by Vietnam phonies; while a lot of WWI, WWII and Korean era Army and AF records burned, in fact, no Navy records (including USMC) were lost, no records at all with discharges after 1960 (Army) or ’64 (USAF), and the National Personnel Records Center has built shadow records for many of the affected vets)

Fortunately for Limpert, proving his service should be routine for a decent researcher. The National Archives probably contains his unit’s “morning reports,” which will show him as Present for Duty up until the day he was evacuated to the rear for medical treatment. (Indeed, someone in the LI comments notes that documentation of Limpert’s service is readily found online).

Jonn Lilyea at This Ain’t Hell has a typically pithy comment. And Jonn is right. If Emil Limpert was a blowfish claiming some nebulous twauma, VA would be showering him in Richie Rich levels of coin.


Larry Wayne from Tennessee found this, and posted it in the comments to Jonn’s post:

Emil Limpert’s enlistment record. VA Nuclear FAIL in the megaton range.

Update II

This screen shot of his discharge papers apparently ran on a local TV station. We found it in the British paper, The Daily Mail. It looks all in order to us, and Lists the General Order Dates and Numbers for his PH and Combat Infantryman Badge. The General Orders will also exist in the National Archives.



Tell us again that the payroll patriots at the VA rate $140 million in bonuses. Pull the other one.

How to FOOM! a Springfield

Here’s a Springfield M1903A1 rifle that’s been subjected to a bit of the ol’ FOOM.

M1903 fired with 8mm "S" Patrone

As the image’s text makes clear, the cause of this kinetic reversion to kit form was chambering and firing a German “8mm” cartridge, which is what American users called the 7.92 x 57mm Mauser cartridge for most of the 20th Century. The nominal .317 bullet of the German “S-Patrone” has two possibilities: it can swage down to .308 and exit before pressure peak exceeds the strength of a Mauser action (which is what the ’03 is), or, well, not. This image is what “not” looks like.

The plate is from a remarkable manual that collects images and lessons learned from a variety of American small arms: TM 9-2210 Small Arms Accidents, Malfunctions & Causes, dated 1942. A digitized version is available from

The weapons are those that were common in US service in the years before the manual’s date: Springfields, the 1917 Enfield, the Browning machine guns, the 1911.45 caliber pistol, and the 1917 .45 caliber revolver. The M1 rifle is notable for its absence, six years after its original acceptance. (Perhaps GI’s hadn’t kB!’d enough of them yet).

Apart from the .30 caliber weapons, whose 7.62 x 63mm chambering was a comfortable fit — at least, until fired — for the 7.92 x 57 round, you couldn’t blow these guns up by putting the wrong ammo in. You needed to use proof rounds (which shouldn’t ever pass into troop hands) or bad ammo. Here’s an illustration of some Springfield barrels that were fired with bore obstructions.

Springfield Rifle Obstructed Barrels

The original text explains what each bore obstruction was, but the file is missing a significant number of pages, and so does not. Obstructions can include cleaning rods or materials, grease (as in Cosmoline for storage), or a previously-fired bullet from a squib round. (See the bullet seized in the barrel, third barrel from the top).

Even the oversized S-Patrone might only have cause a bulged barrel, if it were a conventional jacketed lead bullet. If it was the late-war jacketed steel bullet, the pressure wasn’t going to be sufficient to swage it down — and the receiver and barrel wasn’t going to suffice for retaining  the barrel.

In addition to user-operation problems, the Springfield Rifle was also plagued by manufacturing deficiencies. The manual contains a number of illustrations of barrels and rifles destroyed by faulty manufacturing, particularly excessive temperatures (in manufacturing).

Springfield Overtemp Barrels

The manual advises the would-be investigator that a key indicator of this type of failure is that the barrel has burst whilst the cartridge case does not show such markers of overpressure as a bulged case, blown primer, or separated case head. If the case appears normal in all respects, chances are good the round made normal pressure, and the gun failed for some other reason, probably metallurgical.

 Cracked rifle barrel -- bad metallurgy

Likewise, a barrel that fails due to obstruction has a way of telling you how it happened. An obstruction near the chamber causes such a rapid overpressure that the case head usually blows out and the receiver of the firearm suffers. An obstruction midway down the barrel leads to a bulge, if a bulge is enough to release it; otherwise it leads to a blown-out barrel. And an obstruction near the muzzle usually just causes a split.

Despite the missing pages, this obscure manual is a worthwhile read. Along with these shattered Springfields, there are similarly enlightening pictures and tales of busted Brownings and pranged pistols.

We’re willing to digitize & host a better copy, if we can get our hands on one. (The UWORL hosts a Fujitsu book scanner).

Russian OSV-96 12.7x108mm Sniper Rifle

To put things in perspective, the Barrett M82A1/M107 fires the Browning 12.7 x 99mm round; the case of this one is about 3/8 of an inch longer. These pictures of a Russian analogue, the OSV-96, come from former Weapons Website of the Week KardeN, via Imgur and Reddit.

Karden OSV-96 01

How big is it? Here it is next to an AKSU.

Karden OSV-96 02

But, it folds for convenience and portability.

Karden OSV-96 04

Here’s a look at the welding on the receiver, and the takedown latch. Looks like it locks overcenter to provide both solid grip when locked, and quick release.

Karden OSV-96 03

And here’s a close-up of the magazine being released. The mag release is the familiar type from many Russian weapons, like the AK and Tokarev rifles.

Karden OSV-96 05 Mag Release

One more shot — the bolt mechanism, with some AK DNA in there, and some other stuff. The wedge-shaped locking lugs suggest a very strong mechanism.

Karden OSV-96 06 bolt

The whole thing looks like a product of the Chelyabinsk Tractor Works — not overly well-finished, but perfectly fit for purpose. Kind of like a Barrett, that way, actually.

He has some 80 pictures of this rarely seen rifle on his site, with a brief (Russian language) explanation of each.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Trains

german train crashIn Germany, where strict gun control is the rule, at least nine people died (two remain missing) in a gruesome head-on train collision this morning. German news magazine Der Spiegel has posted online a transcript of the press conference with the Transport Minister, the local Chief Emergency Physician, and other officials.

Here’s the key information from the first two paragraphs (bottom two if you read the whole thing), in our quick and dirty translation.

Dear reader, this morning a serious train accident took place near Bad Aibling in southern Bavaria. At least nine people died, as two local trains collided together head on. The trains of the private line Meridian were operated by the Bayerischen Oberlandbahn, which belongs to Transdev.

According to the most recent press release from the police, there are 18 seriously injured and 90 lightly injured [people\. The accident happened at 6:45 AM on the single-track railway between Rosenheim und Holzkirchen.

Two persons are reported missing, also; that would seem to bode ill, but sometimes accident survivors wander off and are not initially counted by first responders.

german train crash2So far, there’s no idea why the accident happened. The rolling stock is reported as new; the stretch of track has an automatic-braking system if a train violates a signal (although the signals themselves are not automatic, but under human control). There has never been any trouble on this stretch of line, and the crews were qualified (in one locomotive, a trainee was under instruction by an experienced instructor.

On the other hand, the accident happened on a curve in a rural, wooded area. The opinion of the investigators so far is that the engineers would not have had time to brake; there would just have been a momentary sighting of the other train before impact.

The two trains contained a total of three data recorders, two of which had already been recovered this morning. Heavy cranes were enroute to the site, as were investigators. Unlike the United States, which has one Federal agency to investigate all interstate transport accidents, Germany has a dedicated agency of railway investigators.

Most likely possibilities at this time are a simple human error (i.e., somebody didn’t set the signal when one train went into this rail segment), or a systems error (some previously unrecognized hole in procedures and processes). But we won’t know until the investigators have had time to do their systematic work.

What we do know is that almost anything can kill a human being — including the train ride to work on a Tuesday morning.

Bad Aibling (actually, its suburb Mietraching) is a name that may resonate with former American GIs, as it was the site of a significant electronic operations field station for the duration of the Cold War and up to 2004. The American installation was built on the site of a former POW camp, which was built on the site of a Luftwaffe training (not operational) airfield.

After the Cold War ended, Balkan instability prevented the originally-planned closure of the station. When the US departed, the mission and control of the site was handed over to the German Federal Intelligence Service, but for fifty years Americans served and lived in the small community.

We regret the loss of life — and note that more people have now died in German trains in 2016 than in the worst mass murder in Chicago this year (which was, as it happens, committed with a knife or knives, and remains unsolved.


According to the CBC, the count of dead is now 10, and one person remains missing. Utility boats were being used to ferry injured survivors across the Mangfall river to waiting ambulances.