Category Archives: Unconventional Weapons

Devilry, Thy Name is Germany

Such was a British headline a century ago. after Germany released poison gas on French Algerian troops in May, 1914. But the Hun actually introduced posion gas into warfare 100 years ago today, making today the centenary of WMD.

The BBC has an interesting article with some of the history, as well as some interesting observations on the effectiveness of gas weapons in the Great War. That first introduction on 31 January 1914 was a disappointment to its Trutonic authors, says the Beeb:

As he climbed to the top of the church belfry in Bolimow, west of Warsaw, General Max Hoffman of Germany’s Ninth Army was expecting a bird’s-eye view of a military breakthrough – and a new chapter in warfare.

The date was 31 January 1915, and he was about to witness the first major gas attack in history.

Gen Hoffman watched as 18,000 gas shells rained down on the Russian lines, each one filled with the chemical xylyl bromide, an early form of tear gas. But the results left him disappointed.

“I had expected much greater results from the employment of this ammunition in – as we then imagined – such large quantities. That the chief effect of the gas was destroyed by great cold was not known at that time.”

But the failure at Bolimow proved to be only a temporary setback.

By April, German chemists had tested a method of releasing chlorine gas from pressurised cylinders and thousands of French Algerian troops were smothered in a ghostly green cloud of chlorine at the second Battle of Ypres. With no protection, many died from the agonies of suffocation.

via BBC News – How deadly was the poison gas of WW1?.

The actual effect of the gas was much less than its large presence in the public consciousness of World War I would indicated:

Casualty figures do seem on the face of it, to back up the idea that gas was less deadly than the soldiers’ fear of it might suggest.

The total number of British and Empire war deaths caused by gas, according to the Imperial War Museum, was about 6,000 – less than a third of the fatalities suffered by the British on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Of the 90,000 soldiers killed by gas on all sides, more than half were Russian, many of whom may not even have been equipped with masks.

Far more soldiers were injured. Some 185,000 British and Empire service personnel were classed as gas casualties – 175,000 of those in the last two years of the war as mustard gas came into use. The overwhelming majority though went on to make good recoveries.

According to the Imperial War Museum, of the roughly 600,000 disability pensions still being paid to British servicemen by 1929, only 1% were being given to those classed as victims of gas.

“There’s also an element of gas not showing itself to be decisive, so it’s easier to… not have to worry about the expense of training and protection against it – it’s just easier if people agree to ban it,” says Ian Kikuchi.

In the end, gas was a psychological weapon, but with war gases and gas-countermeasures such as masks and suits equally available to all sides, the prospect of a decisive employment of gas was unlikely. That makes it a little clearer why postwar conventions banned gases.

Gas After the Great War

Gas research continued, and the Germans made numerous interwar breakthroughs, which then inspired British breakthroughs (producing the nerve gases, G- and V-agents respectively). But Germany never used gas in World War II, perhaps because of Hitler’s experience being gassed at the Front in the First War, perhaps out of fear that the Allies had equaled German research (they hadn’t, until very late). Russia never renounced the use of gas, and used it postwar in various peripheral conflicts (as well as supplying it to numerous client states), but never used it in the Great Patriotic War. Russians, as the Beeb noted, suffered more than anyone from the gas warfare of the First World War.

chlormethine

Clormethine — the form of HN (HN-2) released in the Bari Incident.

In World War I, every nation tried to be the one that used a new gas first. In World War II, every nation held its war gases back, to retaliate if someone else did — and no one did. The most serious gas casualties of World War II resulted from an American stockpile aboard ship in the harbor of Bari, Italy, being inadvertently released by a German Ju88 night bomber attack on shipping in the harbor on the night of 2 December 43. One of the 16 sunken ships contained 100 tons of nitrogen mustard, HN (methyl-bis(beta-chloroethyl)amine hydrochloride). The HN was reportedly not in bulk storage, but loaded into M47 series chemical bombs:

M-47 chemical bomb.pdf

Most of the HN burned off, but the part that mixed with bunker oil in the water injured 617-628 men (numbers in sources vary), of whom 83 subsequently died. Ironically, because of HN’s effect on lymph nodes and leukocytes, follow-on studies on the Bari bombing survivors were helpful in developing chemotherapy for leukemia, Hodgkin’s Disease, and other lymphomas.

War gases (mostly nerve and blood agents) were a critical part of Warsaw Pact and Soviet war plans, and were used widely in Soviet proxy wars, mostly against civilians. The US developed safe-handling binary chemical munitions as a counterweight, but has since destroyed its chemical stockpiles and production capacity.

We’ve come a long way from the Kaisers 1914 “Devilry.”

He’s Feeling Gladius All Over

OK, now that we’ve shown our age with a pop-music pun that 90% of the audience will not get, we want to send you to the imgur link where  Sir Keyboard Commando, whoever he may be, converts this piece of steel stock:

gladius-before

…to this replica of a Roman gladius, the short sword of the legions.

gladius-after

 

SKC made the sword from 1075 steel alloy by, essentially, cutting away everything that didn’t look like a Roman sword.

The page shows a photo essay of the whole process:

  1. laying out the outline with machinist’s layout die and a scribing tool;
  2. cutting the shape with a bandsaw;
  3. grinding to section;
  4. draw-filing to a smooth, ripple-free surface;
  5. heat-treating in a homemade furnace;
  6. quenching;
  7. tempering in a kitchen oven.

And best of all, he can say, “I made it myself!”

The Case of the Traveling Isotopes

Police in Fairfield, Connecticut got more than they bargained for in a traffic stop recently: the junk in the trunk was radioactive.

The cops stopped a car for falsely attached plates1, and found that one of the three or four people in the car (media reports disagree) had a warrant out for his arrest. Nothing special here; happens every day in every State of the Union. But in searching the car, the cops found a yellow box with some scary “Radioactive” labels2.

The cops sealed off the scene with an alacrity worthy of Gecko45:

Kings Highway was shut down in the area of Villa Avenue while police responded to the scene..

troxler gauge and acessories3440The cops then called the Fire Department. “Yep, scary labels.” They took out a Geiger counter. “Yep, radioactive. Not very, but no-$#!+ gamma rays.” The firefighters called out the bomb squad. “Labels sure are scary, but it’s not an A-bomb.” The bomb squad called the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, who ID’d the scary-labeled device as a Troxler gauge, a gadget routinely deployed on road and building construction sites, especially where fill has been or will be used, to make sure the soil has proper density levels and water content to support construction3. It uses gamma rays to measure the density of the earth on site. Each gauge is licensed to a particular operator, whose personnel must be trained in the unit’s operation and in radiation safety. These units are safe as bricks in this context.

The DEEP then called the number of the owner of the gauge, and they sent somebody to come pick it up. The cops took down their barriers — some three hours after putting them up.

american-portable-nuclear-gauge-associations-small-anatomyThis happens from time to time. A Troxler gauge was reported stolen in Colorado in 2012. (A followup suggests that it was actually lost off of a car trunk or roof). There is no indication that this is the same gauge. The gauge is of little use for anything but its intended purpose, although the radioisotopes contained in the one or two capsules within (Cesium-137 for soil density and Americium-241/Beryllium for optional fluid density) could be deadly if removed from their sealed, welded capsules and handled or ingested.

The capsules in these and other practical radiological devices, such as radiotherapy machines, conform to international standards.

The Colorado gauge was never recovered as far as we could discover, but the Connecticut gauge was apparently property of a local company, which was glad to get it back. (It’s not clear whether any of the persons in the car was an employee of the Connecticut contractor or had the gauge legitimately).

In a famous incident, a number of Brazilians suffered from grave radiation poisoning after kids found a radiotherapy machine in a disused clinic, and broke the Cs-137 out and played with it.4 But with most legitimate uses of radioactivity, these isotopes have little application to the dreaded “dirty bomb” of fiction.

The isotopes in Troxler gauges emit alpha particles, neutrons, and gamma rays. There are therapies for Cesium or thallium (radioactive or non) ingestion including Prussian blue (aka cyanide) in therapeutic doses. Americium-241, including the mixed Am/Be source in some Troxlers, on the other hand, is a lasting problem if ingested, but a relatively minor one (increased cancer risk) compared to the Acute Radiation Syndrome death sentence of high exposures to Cs-137.

Notes

  1. This is happening a lot, especially in jurisdictions which are using license plate scanners to maintain 100% surveillance of motor vehicles. If the plate doesn’t match the registered vehicle make, model or color, the cops have PC to stop the vehicle.
  2. We’re not sure whether these markings are a net plus or a net minus. While they warn off anyone with the good sense God gave a lemur, the typical Asset Redistribution Specialist™ may look at that and think, “Homey down the pawnshop be payin’ me fo’ dis.”
  3. If you want to know how the details of how it works, the gauge manufacturers have a trade association that has a free overview and detailed for-pay classes available.
  4. The International Atomic Energy Agency published a thorough and readable report (.pdf) on this incident. Four people died and many others were injured, 20 requiring hospitalization. It would have been a worse incident if not for a local physicist who learned of the accident and began evacuating contaminated areas even as the authorities were notified. Peak exposures were on the order of 6-7 Gy.

Army Will not Prosecute Deserter / Traitor Bergdahl

You read it here first: US Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his unit in combat and aided the enemy with information they used in subsequent attacks of his betrayed unit, is not going to be prosecuted by the Army.

That’s the message sent between the lines by a preparation-of-the-battlefield leak to one of the favorite leakers of the lame-duck SecDef, and of administration DOD political appointees in general, Lolita Baldor of AP.

Baldor has been given a background briefing on how rare prosecution of deserters is, in advance of the announcement. The subtext is, there’s nothing special about this guy, this is all just routine Army administration. 

That subtext is, if we need to say it, bullshit.

The U.S. Army has prosecuted about 1,900 cases of desertion since 2001, despite tens of thousands of soldiers fleeing the service in the face of deadly combat, long and multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and strains on military families.

The data reflects how rarely the military takes desertion cases to court. And it underscores the complexities of such cases as a top military commander reviews the investigation of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who left his Afghanistan post in 2009 and was captured and held by the Taliban for five years.

That’s really rare? Most of the 20k deserters DFR are guys who walked off after basic training, or in their first unit. It’s very doubtful that the nearly 2,000 prosecuted were all overseas or combat desertions. Indeed, Bergdahl is the only  combat desertion we’re aware of, and the only one who went beyond bugging out to aid the enemy.

In some circles, that makes him a hero. Those would be the same circles that bow to our enemies.

More than 20,000 soldiers have been dropped from the rolls as deserters since 2006, Army data show. Totals for earlier years weren’t available, but likely include thousands more.

In trial cases over the last 13 years, about half the soldiers pleaded guilty to deserting their post. Another 78 were tried and convicted of desertion.

….

Soldiers who avoid deployment or leave posts in combat zones are more serious cases, particularly if the deserter is responsible for standing guard or protecting others in dangerous places.

via Army Data Shows Rarity of Desertion Prosecutions – ABC News.

The point being, when they let Bergdahl slide they’re not doing anything special.

There’s also one outright falsehood in Baldor’s column: Army spokesman Wayne Hall is quoted  claiming that GEN Mark Milley, commander of FORSCOM, has “broad discretion” in the decision about Bergdahl. Anyone who believed Milley has free hands in this has less understanding of the Army than we’d expect from someone like Lolita Baldor (who has been writing nonsense about the military for her whole career). In fact, the decision is a political decision, and Milley’s hands are tied; he’s merely the delivery system for a decision that was made in Washington, and almost certainly in the White House.

The problem is, fundamentally, that the President, his advisors, and the lame-duck SecDef are well-attuned to the sufferings, if any, of Bergdahl, and put much less value on those of his unit peers whom he condemned to injury and death when he turned coat. Indeed, they’re much more sympathetic to the views of the five top Taliban and Haqqani Net terrorists they swapped for him. Being the in Acela Corridor crowd means you can transcend obsolete concepts like Duty, Honor or Country. To those people, Bergdahl is a “hero,” in a rare unironic use of the word, for them.

The Bergdahl trade needs to be rehabilitated, after some of the terrorists released on his behalf were implicated in the Taliban’s murder of 140 Pakistanis, mostly schoolchildren, in a Peshawar school. Connected Army folks think it’s going to happen in the next few days, when eyes are not on DC.

Fortunately for the Taliban, for the politicians who value them more than our own soldiers or their families, and, especially, for traitor Bowe Bergdahl, there are people in the press willing to be their Sons of Ham, “the hewers of wood and the drawers of water.”

Like Lolita C. Baldor of the Associated Press. Whose phone rings every time a Big Lie needs some polish, and wide release.

Bombay 2008: A Failure of Analysis

Recall a case where the attack recipient’s intelligence services had all the clues, but didn’t put them together? Yeah, there’s been a few. Pearl Harbor. Operation Barbarossa. D-Day. The Battle of the Bulge. The Nork invasion of South Korea. The Chinese invasion in support of the Norks. Suez. The Six Day War. The Tet Offensive. The Yom Kippur War. The collapse of Imperial Iran. The Russian invasions of Hungary/Czechoslovakia/Angola (true, it was Cubano proxies)/Afghanistan/you name it. Russia’s H-Bomb. Sputnik I. The collapse of the USSR and European Communism.  9/11. The Bali bombing. It might as well be a motto of governments everywhere: “We never saw it coming!”

To that list of operational con jobs (and the implied list of bamboozled intelligence agencies), you can add the 2008 small-arms attack by Lashkar-e Taiba terrorists on Bombay, India.

Once again, an “intelligence failure” turns out, when closely examined, to be an intelligence analysis failure. India (and Britain, and the UK) had all the raw intelligence information necessary to anticipate LeT’s move — but they never processed the sweepings of surveillance into usable, actionable, analyzed intelligence.

[T]he British were spying on many of [Lashkar-e Taibi planner Zarrar Shah’s] online activities, tracking his Internet searches and messages, according to former U.S. and Indian officials and classified documents disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

They were not the only spies watching. Shah drew similar scrutiny from an Indian intelligence agency, according to a former official briefed on the operation. The United States was unaware of the two agencies’ efforts, U.S. officials say, but had picked up signs of a plot through other electronic and human sources, and warned Indian security officials several times in the months before the attack.

What happened next may rank among the most devastating near-misses in the history of spycraft. The intelligence agencies of the three nations did not pull together all the strands gathered by their high-tech surveillance and other tools, which might have allowed them to disrupt a terror strike so scarring that it is often called India’s 9/11.

“No one put together the whole picture,” said Shivshankar Menon, who was India’s foreign minister at the time of the attacks and later became the national security adviser. “Not the Americans, not the Brits, not the Indians.” Menon, now retired, recalled that “only once the shooting started did everyone share” what they had, largely in meetings between British and Indian officials, and then “the picture instantly came into focus.”

via Big clues were missed in 2008 Mumbai terror attack – Worcester Telegram & Gazette – telegram.com.

So, if we’ve got this right, we’ve built a surveillance state that reaches into every PC worldwide — but when it comes to the terrorists who are supposedly the cause of all the intrusive spying, it can’t find its ass with both hands and a GPS grid.

Do read the whole thing. It’s a New York Times report, but by sending you to the Worcester, Mass., Telegram & Gazette website, you dodge the Times’s paywall.

Simple Sabotage Field Manual

simple_sabotage_field_manual_coverWe thought for sure we had featured this already, but if so, we can’t find it on the site. This is a sabotage manual  dating to 17 January 44 . It was classified SECRET but was declassified long ago — 14 June 76, to be precise.

It is only 32 pages long, typeset but with no illustrations. It’s rather typical of OSS training materials in that it seems to use a sort of Socratic method, where the book, film or other training method is not aimed to teach people simple rote skills, but to spur deeper discussions and thought.

Despite its limits, there is a lot to be had here, including from the introduction by BG William Donovan to the closing suggestions, “General Devices for Lowering Morale and Creat­ing Confusion.” (And yes, it does seem like that last part of the manual has been in use by everyone in DC for quite a few years).

Some of the suggestions border on the whimsical:

Saturate a sponge with a thick starch or sugar solution. Squeeze it tightly into a ball, wrap it with string, and dry. Remove the string when fully dried. The sponge will be in the form of a tight hard ball. Flush down a W. C. or otherwise introduce into a sewer line. The sponge will gradually expand to its normal size and plug the sewage system.

Here is the book in .pdf:

SimpleSabotageFieldManualStrategicServicesProvisional.pdf

Or, if you want it in .mobi for Kindles and Kindle-reader apps, or, in .epub for iBooks, or several other file formts, you can find it at web.archive.org.

 

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Are Sneakers a Deadly Weapon?

Question before the Court: is this a deadly weapon?

Question before the Court: is this a deadly weapon?

This case is before the Supreme Court, as a small-time criminal unhappy with the way a violent assault landed him in the big time, and an army of pro-criminal lawyers, try to lawyer him out of the pickle a bad temper and bad judgment got him into.

And yes, alcohol was involved; the incident happened at closing time at the city’s notorious bar-cum-fight-club, where a weekend night without flashing blue lights in the street was an occasion worth remarking. The bar has since been closed (after this and many other violent incidents).

PORTSMOUTH — The New Hampshire Supreme Court is deliberating whether a sneaker-clad foot can be a deadly weapon, based on an appeal by Josiah Mayo, who knocked a man to the pavement with a roundhouse kick to the face, outside the now-closed Page Restaurant and Bar.

via Page assault moves to Supreme Court – News – seacoastonline.com – Portsmouth, NH.

During a July 15, 2012 fracas outside The Page, Mayo “turned to wind up, swung his shod foot around in a martial arts-style roundhouse kick and hit the victim’s face with so much force that the victim was immediately knocked unconscious, fell back and fractured his skull,” according to a brief filed with the Supreme Court by Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan McGinnis.

Sounds like deadly force to us.

One of the victim’s friends was punched in the head and kicked in the leg and when he turned around to see who did it, he saw “a bunch of angry faces and people ready to fight,” the attorney general summarized. Mayo and his cousin, Daniel Mayo, both of Portsmouth, started yelling “and racial slurs may have been used” by others in the crowd, the attorney general reports. The victim and his friend “were not arguing, making threats or being aggressive,” McGinnis wrote.

Josiah Mayo

Josiah Mayo, small-time thug unhappy with his lot.

This is the weakest part of the prosecution case: the racial slurs (Mayo and his family are black; the victim and his friends are white) and general nature of the booze-fueled violence that night. Mayo had a case for self-defense, albeit a weak one; he presented it (and testified) in the lower court, but he had a credibility problem, as he’d given contradictory and incriminating statements to the police and the press.

In these days of fraught racial politics, some want to make this a case about race. We’re not seeing this. Unlike some states, New Hampshire has very little black-on-white crime. This is often ascribed by locals to our enlightened ideas about race relations and our abolitionist past, but it may simply be a statistical consequence of having relatively few blacks or other minorities, and having low crime all round. In all the nation, most crime is intra- rather than inter-racial, and with our almost all-white population, violent crime here is usually white-on-white. (There was a Black Lives Matter demo in Portsmouth Friday night, attended by about 80%

Anyway, here’s another description of Mayo’s crime, which we take as coincidentally interracial, but deliberately violent:

At that point, according to the state’s brief, Mayo kicked the victim in the face and “his entire body went rigid, he fell back like a tree and his head hit the pavement with a loud crack.” The victim’s friends said he was bleeding and out cold, according to court testimony.

Again, that sounds like deadly force with a deadly weapon to us, using the Forrest Gump’s Mama’s standard (“Deadly is as deadly does.”) However, as Andrew Branca would teach you if you attended one of his seminars or took one of his webinars, no court in the country uses Forrest’s Mama’s Standard; those hard-headed judges persist in using their own state’s statutes and case law. So there arises what lawyers call “a colorable argument.” Meaning, a question of law and of fact where advocacy for both sides before a neutral tribune is required to make a best resolution of the case.

Portsmouth police officer Christopher Worthington responded, kept calling the victim’s name and shining a flashlight in his eyes, but didn’t get a response, the attorney general reports. When an ambulance arrived, the victim regained consciousness and began vomiting blood, according to the attorney general’s brief.

We would describe that as a victim of assault with a deadly weapon. There is absolutely no question that if the victim had expired, which as we’ll see in a moment, he very nearly did, Mayo would have been charged with murder or manslaughter.

The kick was not the only blow landed by Mayo on the victim, but it’s the only one that has had appellate legs. He’s still going to be in prison for assault, regardless of the appeal’s outcome. What the appeal can do for him is pull his release day years closer.

The victim, who had previously worked as a bouncer at The Page, was hospitalized for five days, three of them in intensive care, for a skull fracture and inter-cranial hemorrhage, according to the attorney general. Mayo was identified as the assailant by witnesses, then later by video surveillance images, court records state.

Here we see another clue in the story: the victim was a former bouncer. It would not shock us to  learn he had been a bit forward in helping the current bouncers, probably buddies of his, to push the drunks out at closing time.

Ah yeah. Most choirboys have multiple mugshots of various vintages, right?

Ah yeah. Most choirboys have multiple mugshots of various vintages, right?

Mayo is a career criminal with numerous other convictions, and was on parole at the time, which is one of the subjects of the appeal: his lawyer argues that these facts should not have been used to impeach his credibility, lest they prejudice the jury.

His other two points of appeal are the lack of a self-defense instruction, and that a sneaker can’t be a deadly weapon:

The second part of Mayo’s appeal states that the trial court judge wrongfully failed to dismiss the assault with a deadly weapon charge. Mulvey argues that Mayo’s foot in a high-top sneaker doesn’t fit the definition of a deadly weapon, which is defined by law as “any firearm, knife or other substance or thing which, in the manner it is used, intended to be used or threatened to be used, is known to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury.”

“The defendant’s foot, in a regular sneaker, used in the manner described above, does not meet the definition of a deadly weapon,” Mayo’s lawyer contends. “The force of the impact of the cobblestone ground caused the skull fracture and not the kick itself.”

For some reason, we hear this legal argument in 1930s comic Brooklyn accents: “Oy! It wasn’t me, Yer Honna. It was th’ skreeet what attackled him!”

One of the issues not before the Supreme Court, but that might help readers in evaluating Mayo’s credibility, is that Mayo fled the scene after assaulting the 32-year-old Maine man. He fled to Maine and was picked up coincidentally there on a probation violation a couple of weeks later, whereupon Maine cops discovered he was wanted in NH.

Nothing good eventuates in the small hours of the clock.

Ever see a “Flute Gun”?

This is a new one on us. It’s a little old — it was turned in during a gun turn in (which they did not, mercifully, refer to as a “buy back”) in Tampa, Florida in February, 2013, making it practically matchlock-era by blog standards, but it’s new to us.

Hillsborough FL flute gun3

Yep, that’s exactly what it looks like — a .22 bolt rifle built into a flute. It looks like an unfinished project, but the details are completely unknown.

Hillsborough FL flute gun

Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull was not available for comment. Naturally, the press fixated on the flute gun and two inert, fired AT weapons, an M72 LAW and an AT-4, to the exclusion of interesting weapons — including one far more deadly than any of these, at least, potentially.

Two rocket launchers and a flute fashioned into a gun were among the weapons turned into the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office’s Gun Swap program on Saturday. A total of 2,541 weapons were exchanged for $75 and tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays home game at five locations throughout the county.

via Rocket launchers, ‘flute gun’ among weapons turned in at gun buyback | wtsp.com.

Here’s a close-up of the muzzle area, where it looks like two flutes were grafted together to make the needed length. Or maybe that’s where a flute takes down. We’re guitar guys, we don’t pretend to know boo about flutes.

Hillsborough FL flute gun2

In all their fright over the flute gun and the harmless-but-scary-looking “rocket launchers,” the media ignored the heavy quantities of sawn-off shotguns in the turn-ins, and they missed the gun in the background here.

Hillsborough FL flute gun etc

Yeah, if you go past the Jennings pistol and the flute gun, and past the crude sawn-offs, that’s a Browning AN/M2 or M3 aircraft machine gun. It looks like an M2 to us, because the buffer is not the full width of the back plate (the dead give-away of the M3 is that huge buffer). Either way, that;s 1,000 to 1,200 RPM of 12.7×99 mm coming at you right there. (Of course, it looks to be in $#!+ state, maybe from a crash site).

The guns from the turn-in were sent to Jacksonville to be torched (which may add more costs). The leadership of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office opposes the private ownership of firearms, which is why they dropped $200k buying these odd guns, and a lot of armed robbers’ older sawn-off shotguns. Your tax (and forfeiture) money in action.

The $200k expenditure (so far) against a $60k budget tells you a lot about the fiscal management and overall priorities of the HCSO.

Improvised Weapons in Africa

“While expertise is high and growing in the art of weapons manufacture, the know-how in the production of cartridge [sic] and other ammunition is still lacking.” — Abdel-Fatau Musah, pull quote from the report in the Brown Journal of World Affairs, Spring 2002.

Weapons recovered by South African police in 2010.

Weapons recovered by South African police in 2010.

Abdel-Fatau Musah is an anti-gun activist sponsored by Holocaust collaborator George Soros’s Open Society Initiative for West Africa, and while much of what he wrote in a 2002 article in the Brown Journal of World Affairs, Small Arms: A Time Bomb Under West Africa’s Democratization Process, was tendentious nonsense, he made some comments on improvised weapons that illustrate a point we keep hammering on: you can’t really ban guns, because you can’t uninvent the technology. From the thatched secret armories of Mindanao to the Tribal Trust Lands of Pakistan, humans who believe they need to arm themselves find entrepreneurs that arm them.

Improvised firearms are not new; they were once a reaction to colonialists' disarmament schemes. Smoothbore gun used by Mau-Mau terrorists in the 1950s.

Improvised firearms are not new; they were once a reaction to colonialists’ disarmament schemes. This smoothbore was built and used by Mau-Mau terrorists in the 1950s.

These third world armories have yet to produce a John M Browning, but it just might happen. As Musah notes, after deploring the existence of massive war stockpiles and ill-protected government armories, and blaming the great powers for the fact that the end of colonialism could be mistaken for the end of civilization in much of Africa, if there’s no handy stockpile a gunsmith will invent himself and start building one.

And the more he does it, the better he gets.

If one looked up the Small Arms Survey of 2001 for the list of arms producers, one would find that only Nigeria and Guinea possess the capacity to produce limited quantities of light weapons and ammunition in West Africa. Throughout the sub-region, however, cottage industries with the capacity to produce sophisticated firearms and imitation assault rifles dot the countryside. Originally established to meet local demands for hunting, these secret factories have grown in expertise and capacity to satisfy ever-growing demands brought about by general insecurity.

He also notes that the unauthorized gunsmiths react rationally to government pressure.

To avoid detection and repression, producers in Ghana have established networks of parts manufacturers, with each cell specializing in the production of specific components of the rifle. The components so produced separately—barrels, triggers, butts—are later assembled at a secret location for distribution. While expertise is high and growing in the art of weapons manufacture, the know-how in the production of cartridge [sic] and other ammunition is still lacking. The high rate of inward smuggling of ammunition is a consequence of this fact; this dependence offers options to control the overall trade.

He writes the conclusion to that paragraph as if he didn’t understand what he just said in the preceding lines.

If you try to restrict ammunition, yes, they’ll just make that, too. It’s not rocket surgery.

FIR 11307

Here’s another Mau-Mau blaster from the IWM. We struck out on images of the recent Ghanaian weaponry. Even the Impro Guns blog doesn’t have any.

Ghana, for instance, banned the local manufacture of firearms in 1962. Ten years later, they amended the Arms and Ammunition Act to allow manufacture with a license — and no license has ever been granted, or, for that matter, applied for. Yet guns are widely made.

Ghana, under the ECOWAS treaty and with the help of the EU and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a German foundation named after a Weimar era politician. The foundation’s politics are best understood by its veneration of the Karl Marx Haus in Trier, Germany, where it maintains a library of the “scientific socialism” it supports, and a hagiographic museum of the man who inspired the world’s greatest mass murders. It even says the baroque setting of Marx’s birthplace will “take you captive with its charms.” Well, if there’s one thing Marx’s ideology produced, it’s plenty of prisoners!

The Polish officers of 1939 were not available for comment, neither were the Old Bolsheviks of 1936-38, the 18 million who went into the Gulag, the millions that never came out, etc., etc.,

In Germany, the FES seems to overlap politically with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, which is descended from the East German quisling government and which has an anti-semitic tilt (ironic, as Luxemburg was Jewish. But many of the founding “Communists” of East Germany were resprayed Nazis, and by 1945 the original Communists, many of them Jewish, had been exterminated under red star as well as swastika, so maybe not so ironic).

ECOWAS, the EU and the FES consider minimum small arms regulations to be national and international registration, extremely restrictive may-issue permitting, and confiscations “as needed”.

His ultimate conclusion is even further afield — that SALW (the international ban seekers’ term for “Small Arms and Light Weapons”) — need to be controlled internationally, like nuclear weapons. 

At least two problems with that conclusion arise:

  1. the nuclear nonproliferation regime is extremely costly, which has only been justified by a strong international consensus for it at most times; and,
  2. the nuclear nonproliferation regime has failed repeatedly, and is failing again with respect to Iran.

No one is likely to sanction homegrown revolver development like they do, say, homegrown enriched-uranium manufacture. And as he noted with respect to the Ghanian bush gunsmiths, bans have consequences, but never the intended ones.

This is just one more attempt by Africans and their enablers in international organizations to try to shift the blame for misconduct by African individuals and governments onto other powers.

X Products AR Can Launcher

There’s modular, and there’s crazy modular. Here’s an AR upper with a twist — it contains a plugged, ported barrel, and launches an ordinary 12 oz. soft drink can out to 100 yards. Coming soon from X Products, you can preorder it (as an upper) now with a $20 deposit.

Can_Cannon_Right_Hand_View_with_Logo

More fun than anyone should have… The Can Cannon is a patent pending launching device that uses a propriatary gas ported barrel and pressure tube to launch heavy, thin wall objects, without burning a hole in them or directing hot gas directly into them. Currently set up for launching full un-opened 12oz soda cans, when used with standard mil spec blanks it can reach an average distance of 105 yards!
Why would you launch a soda can? Because it’s fun! Plus, it’s an incredibly fast and fun decoy to shoot at. Every demonstration leads to more smiles and laughs than any product we’ve ever introduced. BATFE approved design is not considered a Destructive Device or firearm.

via AR-15 Soda Can Launcher – Accessories Launcher – X Products.

Expected cost of the whole thing will be $399 or less (again, this is upper only) and it works with GI M200 blanks.

X Products is, of course, well known for its line of 50-round drum magazines for ARs and various other rifles in 5.56, 7.62 and 9mm. One is shown above in the Can Launcher, and the one below is in a Black Rain Ordnance AR.

X-15_Drum_in_Black_Rain_Rear_ViewThe metallic X Products drums are heavy for a 50-round mag, but reliable (although they can be… selective… about the supposedly-STANAG weapons they’ll work with, X is pretty up-front with this information).

You’re probably wondering a few things. Like: how does X make this work? And how did they get ATF to sign off on this as a non-gun? And we wouldn’t be Weaponsman.com if we didn’t have answers for you.

That big, soda-can-caliber cylinder threads on like a free-floating fore-end, but the barrel of this AR is radically different. It’s short, and ported, and capped. When you drop a can in, it rests on the cap and creates a de-facto high-pressure-low-pressure system like that going on inside a 40mm grenade.

The blank’s high pressure in the barrel exits through the ports into the large area behind the can, pressurizing it and sending the can downrange with a satisfying toonk!

The pressure in the “low pressure chamber” behind the can is sufficient to launch the can.

The ATF, for their part, appears satisfied that the capped blanks-only barrel is not intended for live-ammunition use. (And indeed, if you tried it, you would not be pleased with the result).

There are videos of this in action at the link above. So, how much did we like it? Enough to put ourselves down for one:

order_screenshot

 

We have absolutely no earthly, practical use for the thing (X Products suggests launching decoys for training gun dogs, but our dog only thinks he’s big enough to do that). But we are buying it because it’s neat, it will be fun if we can figure out where to shoot it, and because imagination ought to be encouraged, and we know no better encouragement than the profit motive.