Category Archives: Safety

Gunowners Physical Security Plan, Part 1

In conversations with our local police chief, we learned that he’s had an awful lot of trouble with burglary victims having lost property that they can’t describe accurately. That makes a certain amount of sense: after all, do you know the serial number of your computer? Your flat screen TV? Of course not.

But the stolen property he was most concerned with was firearms. While some burglars are still stupid enough to try to pawn firearms, something both the pawnshops and the police are on to, most of them have a higher level of brain-stem activity than that. But burglars by definition have plenty of criminal associates, and this ensures that any stolen firearms rapidly begin circulating in the criminal milieu. And they love stealing guns (here’s an ATF interactive on guns reported stolen in toto and by state).

Since they wouldn’t be criminals if they weren’t losers, a percentage of them get bagged doing routine dumb stuff you probably don’t do, like beating their baby-mammas, or blowing through red lights with veins full of psychoactive chemicals, and the cops recover lots of guns. But it doesn’t work like TV. Unless they know that Walther P.38 serial e5176 is your stolen gun, it’s never connected to your residential burglary. Contrary to TV shows, they also don’t ballistically test every gun that comes in, only guns that come in suspected of being used in assaults or murders, where they have a crime bullet to match. So once Joe Burglar’s woman-beatin’ or DUI case is over and the gun isn’t needed for evidence, it gets disposed of by law and SOP. (Some places auction the guns, some destroy them, basically depending on the general degree of anti-gun attitude of the pols in the area). So once your gun is gone, your chances of recovery are fairly low but nonzero, unless you don’t have a number to give to the cops.

John Sobotta and his stolen and recovered Luger.

John Sobotta and his stolen and recovered Luger.

The guy who’s photo is shown here is an example of a guy who had an inventory: Michigan gunowner John Sobotta. As John Agar of the Grand Rapids Press reported, Sobotta “always wondered — and worried” about his stolen guns (although he didn’t contact the cops until they came to him, using information from a state handgun registry). One came back quickly, and another took longer:

His German Luger turned up a year later, after a parolee shot himself in the leg.

The other, a .38 special Cobra Colt, was found by Grand Rapids Police Officer Robert Kozminski, who heard shots and arrested a suspect running with a gun in his coat.

That was Dec. 14, 2006. It was one of Kozminski’s last felony arrests.

(Kozminski was killed in 2007, fortunately, not by one of Sobotta’s firearms). Disregarding Agar’s firearms illiteracy, his article notes that, at least of his writing in 2010, the average time between theft and recovery in Michigan was fourteen years. The article was part of a series, rather typically blaming legal guns and gun owners for Michigan crime. But Michigan doesn’t punish gun burglars much — one gunstore burglar got six months.

Number, photographs, and any unique identifying features also help. Which reminds us, if you’ve been burgled, but still have photos of your guns, try blowing them up from the RAW files or negatives — you may be able to recover serial numbers. Not an optimum way to proceed, but it beats zero.

Once, we used to have all our serial numbers memorized. But these days, we have a smaller brain, a bigger gun room, or both; so we keep a computer inventory in an Excel spreadsheet. One problem with that is glaringly obvious: any burglar who grabs the guns will certainly boost the computer, too. You can just see that next conversation with the Chief. “So where’s the inventory you told me you had?” “Uh, Crim’s got it.” Major crime-fighting fail. Your inventory needs to be backed up offsite.

Many people have no inventory of their firearms, because they don’t expect to be robbed of them. (But it happens even in upscale communities — often by someone who worked as a laborer for a contractor working on that house or another in the neighborhood). If you have an inventory, the cops can rapidly — within minutes — have those stolen guns listed in the National Crime Information Computer system, which not only increases your chances of getting your gun back (unless it’s recovered by a lawless jurisdiction like Boston, which destroys rather than returns recovered guns), but also increases the chances of catching the burglars and their enablers who buy their stolen property.

ATF publishes a handy inventory sheet for the owner. Here it is, ATF Publication 3312.8, Personal Firearms Record. It’s too small for most of us, with room for only ten guns, but shows you what information to include. Then all you have to do is put a copy in a safe-deposit box, or leave a copy with a family member or trusted friend. (This is the “poor man’s safe-deposit box,” it can’t get opened by your ex’s divorce lawyer’s subpoena, doesn’t need a key, and you and your chosen inventory holder are most unlikely to be burgled same day. Unless you live in Chicago or Detroit, in which case, why haven’t you moved?)

If you want to skip ahead and think up some more physical security measures, ATF publishes a security guide for FFLs and SOTs, ATF Publication 3317.2, Safety and Security Information for Federal Firearms Licensees. The Physical Security section beginning on Page 8 has some interesting parallels to the Army way of doing things, but the bottom line is, it’s good advice, although the ATF version is more advisory, whilst the Army regulation is more directive.

 

Once upon a time, we knew all the serial numbers of our firearms. Now we have a smaller brain, a bigger gun room, or both; so we keep a computer inventory in an Excel spreadsheet. One problem with that is glaringly obvious: any burglar who grabs the guns will certainly boost the computer, too. You can just see that next conversation with the Chief. “So where’s the inventory you told me you had?” “Uh, Crim’s got it.” Major crime-fighting fail. Your inventory needs to be backed up offsite.

 

Exercise for the reader: imagine a burglary of an FFL or SOT. Now imagine getting the hardware and the bound book. D’oh! An offsite inventory is a really good idea. If you’re worried about pervasive surveillance and lax computer security (and you probably should be), then your offsite backup should be a hard copy, on paper and everything.

He pointed out that our dead-bolted gun room we’re so proud of is really nothing but a locked door. Worse, it’s a locked interior door, with no eyes-on, and quite vulnerable to a forcible attack.

We realized we didn’t have a physical security plan. Back in Army days, you had to have a physical security plan for each of your facilities. If the facility hosts firearms, ammunition, explosives, classified information, or anything else deemed sensitive, the Army required a truly elaborate physical security plan.

A good physical security plan provides many layers of security. The first layer should probably be an exterior alarm on the structure, or perhaps even perimeter video. (This assumes a perimeter fence is not practical). The next should be locks and other obstacles. Any soldier will tell you, though, that an obstacle is only an obstacle if it’s under observation and covered by fire… conditions that do not obtain if you ever leave your building unoccupied.

You cannot keep every burglar out. What you can do is deter some burglars, delay and bother others to the point where they give up. In that case, they’ll probably go burgle someone else’s home or workplace, but that’s not your concern. If you do get the rare burglar with no quit in him, or no preference for the easy mark, and he does persist, you can document his depredations so that he’s quickly caught.

As we develop a physical security plan, some options fall by the wayside. Alas, as grand as Hog Manor is, it’s not a good candidate for a moat (and the weather here is uncomfortable for alligators and piranhas, sad to say). Likewise, the neighbors, currently cordial, might take a dim view of guard towers, searchlights, and razor wire — not to mention the pay and benefits for three shifts of guards. (How come no Bond villain ever has to deal with his henchmen’s workmen’s-comp issues? But we digress).

The bottom line, then, is that we’re restricted to measures that do not radically change the exterior of the structure. Our goal is not to make an impregnable Maginot Line, for every Maginot Line has its vulnerable flank. Our goal is to apply some of the techniques of military defense (and, to be sure, physical security) to harden Hog Manor.

And you’re along for the ride.

Bullets with dimples?

Nammo Reduced Range

Nammo BNT 6 Reduced Range 7.62 x 51 mm

We all know that dimples can make a smile irresistible. But a bullet?

Nammo is making 7.62 x 51mm rounds with dimples, and it’s about their physical attraction — sort of. That’s if you’ll accept the meaning of “physical” as in “laws of physics,” and to be more specific, aerodynamics. By making the projectile more physically attractive to the air it passes through — sort of, reversing centuries on progress in making wind-cheating bullets — they can make rounds that work for training on tight, urban ranges.

The Nammo BNT 6 Reduced Range load contains a unique dimpled round weighing 6.2 grams or about 95.7 grains, so it’s very light for a 7.62 round. Its muzzle velocity is in the usual NATO ballpark at 860 m/s (2822 fps). At short ranges (<200m) Nammo claims that the round is equivalent to the usual NATO loads. But it spends its energy very rapidly and can be used in a range fan of only 1500m. (The standard NATO round demands a 4 kilometer range safety area minimum, without safety margins).

The dimples are the key. They are optimized for the round’s Reynolds Number and increase drag two ways, in terms of downrange motion, and, more critically, in terms of spin (which, if we’re doing the back-of-the-envelope right, implies two different RNs based on the different surface velocities). The increased drag and reduced weight make for a projectile that sheds its velocity (both rotational and longitudinal) much more rapidly than normal.

These are quite a different thing from the dimples used to increase the boundary-layer size and reduce drag on golf balls and some experimental target bullets. (Yes, that’s an April Fool’s spoof. And it fooled us on first reading).

Nammo BNT 6 in a belt. (Nammo photos).

Nammo BNT 6 in a belt. (Nammo photos).

BNT 6 is also available in standard links for MG training (including firing from vehicle crew positions), but at present, is only available in ball, not tracer. (A tracer and a “dim tracer” for use with night observation devices are in development). Like most recent Nammo introductions, BNT 6 is “green,” leaving no toxic contaminants behind. BNT stands for “Ball, Non-Toxic,” in the company’s nomenclature, and the BNT 6 projectile reportedly has a soft-steel core only. (Nammo’s combat-load BNT rounds have soft-steel cores with hardened-steel penetrators).

The technology could be adapted to 5.56, at least in theory, if Nammo had a customer for the reduced-range rounds.

Most of the demand for such a round is in Europe, where training areas are at a premium; several European ammo makers often reduced-range non-toxic rounds, although none of them are using the Nammo dimples. (Ruag, for example, uses a near-cylindrical copper round with a central spike). We were unable to find a patent filing for the BNT 6 style projectiles, but suspect one exists.

While the principal use for such reduced-range loads is training, Nammo points out that it’s also useful in urban-warfare and CT applications or “populated sensitive areas,” where minimizing the beaten zone of rounds that miss their targets is a priority.

A mess of accidents, 2014 #1.

ND-shot-in-footFor a long time we didn’t do one of these. But we couldn’t resist the temptation.

Every now and then, some people demonstrate their utility as examples of how not to do something; we tend to concentrate on examples where people rearrange their anatomy or qualify for nomination for the 2014 Darwin Awards… or open the sort of holes in third parties that let air in and blood out, like our poster child on the right side of the page.

And when that happens, we can’t resist doing A Mess of Accidents.

No, we said Rust and Politicians.

Boardman, Ohio, February 26th. This is why the womenfolk don’t have access the vault, here. (If they were lady gunfolk, that would be one thing).

The 24-year-old woman told police she was dusting when she dropped her husband’s .45 caliber semi-automatic Glock she was attempting to move it. She attempted to catch the gun and grabbed it by the trigger, causing it to fire and hit her in the calf.

The woman was transferred to St. Elizabeth Health Center in downtown.

The gun and three other guns were taken by a family member for safekeeping.

via Youngstown News, Woman accidentally shoots self while dusting.

If your Glock needs dusting, you’re not practicing enough.

Guns and Judgment Juice

Pinedale, MI, 23 February 2014. We’ll just let the Detroit Free Press tell the story:

The girlfriend told authorities that the man … was explaining to her that his three handguns are safe when they aren’t loaded, according to Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe. He demonstrated by placing the guns against his head and pulling the trigger.

When he pulled the trigger on the third handgun, it discharged. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

 Oh, and one more thing, the bit we ellipsed’d out above: 

 had been drinking all day…

You don’t say. How many rules violated here, kids? Somehow we don’t think the girlfriend — who was gamely performing CPR when first responders arrived, to no avail  – was persuaded of the intrinsic safety of guns by this particular demonstration.

If everyone were as well trained as cops….

…this kid would still have gotten shot.

The 12-year-old boy shot himself at about 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, and was later treated at Children’s Hospital Oakland and released.

A recording of the incident reveals an off-duty Oakland police officer called 911, saying her son had accidentally shot himself and that she had secured the gun.

Danville police Lt. Allan Shields declined to say how the boy obtained the weapon, who owned the gun and whether it was issued by the Oakland police.

Shields says the boy’s father is an Oakland police sergeant.

Fortunately, Lt. Allan Shields has the mom-and-pop-cops’ backs. It would be a terrible tragedy if this mishap led to a police officer being held accountable, but it won’t happen on Shields’s watch!

At least the officer who phoned in the 911 call admitted that her kid shot himself, and didn’t hide behind the passive voice. She deserves two points for that.

And then there was the son who plugged his mom…

Let’s get right into it:

A Dayton woman was critically wounded when her son’s gun accidentally discharged, shooting her in a leg.

Lyon County sheriff’s deputies said the accident occurred Thursday when the son was showing his new gun to his father.

Investigators told KOLO-TV the young man pulled the gun out of the holster when it went off.

This is not Dayton, Ohio, by the way, but a similarly-named burg in Nevada.

No word on whether this mom is now “demanding action for gun sense.” (Actually she was in critical condition, which sounds to us like a major arterial wound, since it was in the leg. So she’s probably not demanding anything).

How many rules did junior violate? Of the top of our head, the whole pointed-in-safe-direction and booger-hook-off-bang-switch things seem to have been egregiously violated.

Since Nevada’s a gambling center, are they keeping book on whether he told his father, “Hold my beer… and watch this!”?

It’s not always the bozo who catches the round

Macon, GA, 28 Feb 14: A bad job catching a dropped gun left 21-year-old Cedric Patrick dead of a single gunshot wound.

Patrick’s cousin, 27-year-old Dominick Howell, was in the car with Patrick in front of a strip mall at 1090 Eisenhower Parkway in Macon.

According to witness statements, Howell was sitting in the back seat, with his cousin in the front seat.

He had the gun in his waistband, and he said it was a little uncomfortable, so he put it in his lap.

It then it began to fall out of his lap, and as he reached for it, he accidentally put a bullet right through the passenger seat and into his cousin’s back.

For the cost of a cheap holster, the local gun range owner points out, and a little training, that life would have been spared. Instead, one young man is dead, and his cousin’s charged with  involuntary manslaughter. Hard to come up with a funny tag-line about that.

This is why we gun-proof kids, rather than try to kid-proof the gun storage:

Cincinnati, OH. Three young brothers found a gun at their uncle’s house and were playing with it. One pointed it at another, activated the bang switch, and we all know what happend next. Sammy Lorenzo, 8 years old, was rushed to the hospital with a chest wound but surgery could not save him.

Cincinnati police Lt. Don Luck told the Cincinnati Enquirer that one of the brothers “kept telling the story of how it happened, over and over again. It’s so sad.”

Sad isn’t the word. The uncle or some adult might or might have been charged, but in the end they decided charges weren’t warranted. No kidding, that family’s been punished already.

But to us, the alarming thing is that the kid that fired the shot thought the gun was OK because he thought it was a BB gun.

When we were kids, toy guns and real guns had a very different feel to them. A gun like a PPK or a Chief’s Special was a tiny carry gun, and toy guns were light and flimsy feeling. A lot of today’s ultra-micro carry guns feel more like the toys of a 1960s youth. We’re strong believers in demystifying guns for kids early and often. In our living room right now are three AK variants left over from a photo shoot, an 1853 Enfield, and some 9mm ammo left over from the continued battle to master the Glock. The kids (ours, their friends, their cousins) know, before they even learn the big-boy gun rules, the rules of Guns In Da House:

  1. Never touch without express approval of a grown-up who’s got eyes on you.
  2. Never touch without checking clear. Always assume it’s loaded, anyway.
  3. Never point at any living thing or at anything a living thing can be inside or behind.

These rules are taught by repetition and, most importantly, by example.

The same applies to the Taliban Beheading Sword, Randall #14 Package Opener, fireworks, machine tools, and other instruments of mayhem arrayed here and there around the house and outbuildings.

And here’s a cop who’s lucky a criminal got hold of his gun.

Russell County, KY, last week. The criminal? An inmate on a work-release cleaning detail, who found the gun the state trooper had taken out and left behind in a high school gym. The honest con (!), who looks like a blond Tommy Chong, turned the gun in immediately. He says he no longer wants to commit crimes, and the prison authorities are seeing if they can parole him a little bit early.

Now that State Trooper has some ‘splaining to do. If it was Joe CCW Citizen, they’d be charging him with something, but we’re now a nation of ranks, not laws.

 

Foreign & Obsolete Weapons Training

SF NCOs conduct mechanical training on AK rifles for troops of the Malian Army.

SF NCOs conduct mechanical training on AK rifles for troops of the Malian Army.

When we attended what was then Light Weapons School (then Phase II of a Weapons Man’s SFQC), the stress was on mastering the mechanical operation and employment of foreign and obsolete small arms. Given the environmental changes of the last thirty years, the current course has lots more shooting and teaching-of-shooting (big improvement), lots more base defense and tactics, includes heavy weapons training including weapons that were then-novel and not included in a Heavy Weapons NCO’s training (like ATGMs and MANPADs) and is nearly twice as long. (In 2014, it becomes fully twice as long).

One of the things that’s been cut to make room for the course improvements, is a lot of the foreign and obsolete weapons training. We understand why, but believe that foreign and obsolete weapons training is good for not only SF but also for other members of combat units.

In World War II, paratroopers were taught to manipulate the enemy’s small arms, and that seems like a no-brainer. For SF, who are likely to operate with irregulars armed in part via battlefield recovery, this is obviously important, too.

Foreign weapons mechanical training has the following benefits:

  1. It builds confidence in US weapons, which are equal to or better than their world competitors at this time.
  2. It enables troops to use Allied and enemy weapons should they be required to in combat.
  3. It gives troops a chance to see foreign weapons at all ranges, including up close, and at all angles, increasing their ability to identify foreign equipment from photographic or personal reconnaissance.
  4. It demystifies foreign, especially enemy, forces to see and handle their weaponry.
  5. It is mentally engaging and physically confidence-inspiring.

Mechanical training is good, but to take it to the next level, the combat unit should consider foreign weapons firing training. This requires more instructors, armorer-certified weapons, ranges, and ammunition.

Foreign weapons range firing does all the same things that mechanical training does, and adds benefits to each. For example, attempting to zero and fire an AK for record makes one truly appreciative of the sights and inherent accuracy in the M16 and M4 series of weapons.

Live fire training does additional things besides.

  1. Accustoms the students to the sound of enemy weapons. Most enemy weapons have distinct reports that experienced combat troops learn to recognize. Firing foreign weapons on the range accelerates this learning so that it need not be done under fire and at great risk. Along with the individual sound of gunshots, most auto weapons have distinct rates of fire. This benefit is amplified if the troops can hear the weapon from distinct angles safely, particularly from downrange (i.e., in a target-butt trench).
  2. Accustoms the students to the sight of enemy weapons. (Dust, muzzle flash by day and night, distinct tracer appearance, etc).
  3. Prepares the students much better to fire a battlefield-recovered weapon, should that be necessary.

Obsolete Weapons training has fewer distinct benefits, but is still helpful.

  1. It helps them position current US weapons longitudinally in weapons and technological history.
  2. If enough versions of weapons are available, it can prepare students for an encounter with novel weapons, by giving them a wide range of operating principles and maintenance procedures to consider.
  3. It does help in those environments where obsolete weapons are likely to turn up — a set which includes many war zones. For example, Czech ZB-26 light machine guns, Egyptian “Port Said” copies of the Carl Gustav M45B submachine gun, and long-obsolete Russian DP-series machine guns were widely encountered in the early days in Afghanistan. Long-outdated M1 Carbines still turn up worldwide, as do STEN guns; Syrian rebels found a cache of German MP-44s.
Marine fires a PKM light machine gun in training provided by International Police Supply, a contractor.

Marine fires a PKM light machine gun in training provided by International Police Supply, a contractor.

While the US Army once had the capability to conduct this type of training, it destroyed its in-house capability with multiplying and metastasizing bureaucratic regulations. At one time, to fire a foreign weapon, it needed to be “certified” by a specific office at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The office granted a one-year certification that took over a year for them to issue, so that you needed to have three of any given weapon in order to have one available to shoot regularly. In practice, any gunsmith or armorer with his ordinary tools and a set of headspace gages should be able to pass judgment on the safety of a foreign or obsolete gun.

As a result of the Army’s mismanaging its own capability to provide this sort of instruction, a niche has opened up for contract providers. The problem is, of course, that armed forces units seldom have the budget to engage such a contract provider.

How not to learn gun safety

ND-shot-in-footStep 1: Buy a gun from the local criminal community

Step 2: Futz with it

Step 3: Seek medical treatment

Step 4: Hire a criminal attorney

Step 5: Profit!!!

If you’re thinking that isn’t exactly like a Harvard Business School case study, you Just Might Be an MBA. You Definitely Are smarter than this kid, who’s now +1 abdominal orifice and +1 set of legal problems, and -1 gun and -1 sum of money the knucklehead thought he was buying a gun with. If Kipling wrote a poem about this, it would be Arithmetic On The Frontier of the Empire of Stupid.

A 19-year-old who allegedly purchased a stolen handgun accidentally shot himself in the abdomen following the transaction in Federal Way on Tuesday night.

Federal Way Police officers responded to the call at approximately 10:01 p.m. at 30823 18th Ave. South. Dispatch advised police that the “victim” showed up at his friend’s apartment with an apparent gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Upon arrival, the victim stated that he was at an unknown ARCO station and was shot by a black male and a Samoan male. Medics transported the male to Harborview.

Further investigation revealed that the 19-year-old met with a Samoan male to purchase a handgun. Following the completed transaction, the victim accidentally shot himself in the abdomen. His injury is considered non-life-threatening.

via Teen accidentally shoots himself with stolen handgun in Federal Way – Federal Way Mirror.

The injury may be nonthreatening, but stupidity in this proportion can often be fatal, and while the Federal Way, WA, PD, have relieved him of “his” pistol and prevented him from injuring himself that way, Teh St00pid is still upon him and will haunt him all the rest of his days. Which might be less than the actuarial tables would otherwise grant him.

Long Sentence for Powder Plant Explosion

Scene of the explosion. Investigators have been unable to determine a probable cause.

Scene of the explosion. Investigators were never able to determine a probable cause.

We covered the trial of Craig Sanborn, accused of manslaughter by negligence after his black-powder-substitute plant blew up. The jury hit him with a conviction on all charges; last week it was the judge’s turn, and Sanborn drew a stiff sentence of 10-20 years.

Two of his factory workers, Don Kendall and Jesse Kennett, were killed in the blast and fire, and another was seriously injured. Investigators from multiple agencies were unable to determine the exact cause of the blast, but found evidence of bypassed safety standards and negligent operation.

It did’t help Sanborn’s defense that after the blast, but before the trial, the firm and Sanborn were fined $1.2 million by OSHA for safety violations.

NHPR quoted  U.S. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels as saying:

Sanborn recklessly ignored basic safety measures that would have protected their lives. His criminal conviction and sentence won’t bring these men back to life, but it will keep him from putting workers’ lives in peril.

Michaels is being a bit disingenuous with that statement. (In plain English, he’s lying). The settlement that Sanborn reached with OSHA included a promise not to ever work in this or related industries again, pretty much preventing him “from putting workers’ lives in peril.”

One would hope that anyone whose job expected him to do unsafe stuff with explosive or inflammable mixtures would seek alternative employment, but it’s quite possible that the workers didn’t know what they didn’t know about the safety of their industrial plant — until it was too late.

One is further reminded that propellants, when handled safely and responsible, are extremely safe. And when not so handled, tragedy can result.

FMI:

A Mess of Accidents, Deer Season Edition

21 Nov, Georgia: The difference between Deer and Dear can be dear indeed.

Webb mugshot. Facial features: Neanderthal, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Webb mugshot. Facial features: Neanderthal, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Matt Webb’s girlfriend was going to surprise him — on a hunt. At night. And they were both apparently stoned on something or other. There was just no way this was going to end well.

She was last heard from in critical condition but expected to live. He was last heard from in the booking room. The Times Free Press:

Matthew Tyler Webb was hunting deer Thursday night when he heard rustling and saw movement in the woods. But he didn’t know what it was, any of it, he later told police.

The moving and noise quickly stopped. In the silence, police say, Webb fired his rifle.

Immediately, he heard a scream.

About 15 yards away, across a thicket of briar, Webb found his girlfriend bleeding. He had shot Audrey Mayo in the lower leg.

Ah yeah, the old shot-at-a-sound trick. Along with the hunting-at-night trick, and if you Read The Whole Thing™, the ever-popular hunting under the influence of “several illegal drugs” trick. And yes, Mr Webb is in a spot of trouble. With the law, and presumably, once she’s out of hospital, the girlfriend.

3 November, Oklahoma. The Sasquatch Hunters bag…. something.

Get an eyeful of these three worthies:

bigfoot5n-1-web

OK, here’s the story. The space-alien looking cat on the left went hunting Bigfoot, Sasquatch, whatever, and when things went nonlinear, the other two characters, Creepy Uncle and Toxic Chick, helped him by throwing his gun in a pond… turning an accident the cops were curious about to a crime they had to prosecute. 

But then, there’s just not a whole lot of underappreciated genius in this bunch.

The two men were hunting – apparently for Bigfoot – around 177th East Avenue and Tiger Switch Road Saturday night. Omar Pineda [Space Alien] reportedly heard a “barking noise,” jerked and shot his friend in the back, authorities say.

“When you start off with an explanation like that, do you believe anything after that?” [Sheriff Scott] Walton said Sunday morning.

The backshot hunter is going to live, and unlike his pals, he’s not even under arrest. Creepy Uncle (actually Oscar Pineda’s father-in-law, Perry James) is perhaps the most jammed-up of these Three Stooges. The story says that by taking Pineda’s gun for disposal he rendered himself a Felon in Possession. D’oh!

But if trigger-happy Pineda and his hard-of-thinking relatives (Toxic Chick is his wife) bemoan their bad luck now, imagine if they had shot Bigfoot.

First, they might only wound him. Would you want to anger Bigfoot? No way. But worse, they might have killed him… and then they’d really get the book thrown at them.

Cause he’s gotta be an endangered species.

18 Nov., New York. This one’s not funny, just tragic.

A bunch of Long Island buddies who went hunting every year had their hunt turn to nightmare when one of them shot at something — sound, or movement — and killed another.

Charles Bruce, 52, was on an annual hunting trip with friends from the Malverne Fire Department when the tragedy unfolded about 10:20 a.m. Saturday in rural Westford, about 11 miles east of Cooperstown, law enforcement sources said.

“Unfortunately, it was a high-powered rifle. He was dead before he hit the ground,” Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl told The News.

“Charlie had a bad back, so he went back to his room to rest. And when he came back out, one guy saw a tree move and fired,” said a close friend of the victim’s who asked to remain anonymous.

This is often the case with hunting accidents: the victim and shooter are close friends, amplifying the tragedy. Even more often, the shooter fired without having a solid view of the target and backstop. This is a fundamental failure and there’s absolutely no humor in it.

18 Nov. NH has fingers crossed for a safe season.

Source: WMUR-TV Channel 9. Six days into the firearms season, with 60,000 hunters in the field, nobody’s been shot in New Hampshire, to the relief of the Fish and Game Department.

Steven-s-10-point-buck-2013-001-jpgThe deer are plentiful despite a series of harsh winters; 11,600 were taken last year and Fish and Game’s Dan Bergeron is cautiously optimistic for nearly 13,000.

If NH makes it to 8 December, we can celebrate a safe season just as those 13,000 or so hunters celebrate a successful one. Young Steven Williamson shows how it’s done with his 10-point whitetail buck (he hunts with his dad, Sean).

8 November 1954. 60 years ago, accidents were routine.

Here’s a chilling story from the mid-Twentieth-Century, that makes us realize how far we’ve come.

During a Maine gunning season something like 165,000 hunters take to the woods. Of this number, a normal season’s accidents will run to 70 dead and wounded. [Inland Fish & Game Dep't Special Investigator Maynard] Marsh’s casualty report this Saturday evening could be succinctly stated as: three Mistaken Identities; two Line of Fires; two Accidental Discharges. Score? five dead, two wounded. Before the Inspector got to take his shoes off Sunday, his dark itinerary included Benton, where a youngster had fatally shot a man collecting firewood near his camp; Wilton, where a hunter had managed to shoot himself while removing a loaded gun from his car; Parlin Pond, where a Norwegian carpenter had mistaken another Norwegian carpenter for a deer and sent a rifle bullet drilling through his abdomen; the town of Alfred, where a hunter had seen, too late, that his “deer” was a Greek restaurant owner stooping over to pat his beagle; Acton, where a father on a late-afternoon stand shot his son who was hurrying along to meet him on a woods road. And nice shooting that last one was: a direct hit through the neck.

O, the humanity.

Lew Dietz, the author of the piece, goes on to note that “Fatals are usually good shooting,” and that Marsh has observed that the veteran hunter is the most dangerous. (This paradoxical conclusion is borne out by mishaps in the parachuting and aviation-safety investigative fields. Complacency is a bigger threat than inexperience, because inexperience often breeds caution.

Marsh also found that the shooters in accidents tended to be average to above-average in intelligence, and to react more quickly than average on visual-perception tests.

Hunters who slew other hunters in what Marsh called “Mistaken Identity” cases often were sure that they saw a deer, even though what they shot was another man.

Why was it that in 219 cases of mistaken identity, 95% of the shooters were familiar with the firearms they were using; 80% were familiar with the country in which they were hunting; 86% had shot deer before and were familiar with deer hunting conditions?

His conclusion: they were so prepared to see deer that anything they saw, filtered through what we now call confirmation bias, was a deer. Bang. You’re dead. And their very experience, familiarity with their guns, and hunting savvy in general added up to very bad outcomes for the people they mistook for Bambi.

Marsh’s recommendation was bright clothing: red, fluorescent red, was 1954′s forerunner of today’s Hunter Orange.

Marsh also had cases, of course, of inexperienced hunters. A bullet that struck his own house was an unusual caliber, .35 Winchester, already discontinued. He knew the caliber — he had an old gun chambered for it, which he hadn’t used in years. He found a dealer who had had a box of shells but they were missing, apparently shoplifted. It turns out the kid with the gun had stolen the shells. And when Marsh checked his gun rack, it turned out the shells weren’t all the youth had shoplifted. (I presume some judge was soon urging him to the colors, in liew of  stint in Shawshank).

This is one hell of a good article, and definitely worth Reading The Whole Thing™. If for no other reason than to note that Marsh’s efforts, and those of many others, seem to have paid off: no State in the Union will ever see an investigator called out to five fatal hunting mishaps on a single Saturday again.

And the article made us wonder about something else. Does Sports Illustrated still cover outdoor sports? We thought it was nothing these days but the unseemly worship of uncouth loudmouths who throw balls.

ATF blows up some guns

kaboom3D printed guns. Well, they blow some up, and they try to blow others up. These four films (one is “above the fold,” and three more are visible if you click the “more” button)  are the product, we read with some alarm, of an interagency group led by ATF reacting to the “threat” of 3D weaponry. Few things could be more chilling to future technology that government agents looking to ban or criminalize it. On the other hand, the Powers That Be tried to ban those noisy, stinky motorcars (or impose “common sense measures” like having a guy walking ahead with a red flag) and became technological roadkill; many 3DP adherents, like Cody Wilson, think that the technology simply can’t be banned — it’s too widespread, too distributed, and too useful. We’re more inclined to see this technological development as orthogonal to the law: the law will treat a 3D printed firearm or firearm part no differently than one cast from ingots, milled from a forging, or sawn from bar stock.

ATF’s statement with the videos does not go into any detail, and does not in itself justify either complacency or alarm. The bureau says, verbatim:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) led a multi-agency working group testing the use of 3-D printing technology in the making of firearms. This test focuses on the Liberator design.

The first is made of VisiJet material, which is the stuff that kids’ Invisalign braces are made from. As you might surmise, material capable of providing slow steady pressure to Junior’s jaws is less suited to containing a .380 ACP shell. So, here’s the Kaboom:

The catastrophic failure of the gun is evident. The barrel shatters, with at least one short length of it seeming to share off along what was probably a manufacturing faultline. The burst casing flies up, spinning; the nail-sourced firing pin dances in a cloud of plastic fragments. It is evident that this material is not something you are well advised to load a cartridge into and put in your hand.

The kB! gun is numbered 4 with a I with subscript X. The meaning of these numbers is unknown. The other printed guns in ATF’s released videos were printed of ABS plastic and numbered 2 and 10.

Continue reading

What’s a “Shrouded” Bolt Carrier?

And why do you want it?

This picture should answer the first question. (We don’t know the original source; if it’s yours please advise and we’ll give you credit and a link). And to explain what-all you’re seeing, and answer the second question, we have to teach youse guys some history.

(The Image has been removed, after the copyright owner identified himself in comments and asked us to do so. We have sent him a message seeking permission to restore the image (or a similar one) with appropriate credit to him, Randall Rausch, and his site, AR15barrels.com. We regret the inconvenienceto you, our readers,  but we’re sure you also want to respect his rights). 

The original Armalite AR-10 and AR-15 were never designed to be semiautomatic rifles: from day one they were intended to be select-fire weapons, which was the global military preference of the 1950s, while these guns were in the earliest stages of development.

When Colt modified the AR-15 design to create a semiautomatic Sporter (which went to market in the mid-1960s as the AR-15 SP1), the ATF’s Firearms Technology Branch wanted Colt to make a weapon that was not readily converted back to rock n’ roll, and that did not accept full-auto parts. And Colt took a belt-and-braces approach, modifying many parts of the gun compared to the M16 and XM16E1/M16A1 being produced for government contracts. (The sporter rifles did not cut into military production as much as you might think, because Colt used the sporter program to salvage parts that had been running-changed on the military production line, like 601 style lower-receiver forgings). The parts that Colt modified included:

  • Lower receiver. A 601-style forging with no retaining-pin-spring boss (the feature retro-AR heads call a “partial fence”) was used. The pivot pin location and size was changed. The pivot pin was replaced with a screw. The shelf area was not milled out enough to allow insertion of the auto sear, and the auto sear pin hole was not drilled. Some Sporters used oversize trigger and hammer pins, and so were machined to suit. Later changes to the forging and machining of the military lower, such as the full fence (guard boss around the magazine release) and machining for an increased pivot angle, were not made to the Sporter lower for a very long time. The engraving was different, including Safe and Fire instead of Safe, Semi and Auto on the left of the lower.
  • Trigger. The trigger was modified so that the disconnector from a select-fire or burst-fire firing mechanism could not fit into it. what was an open channel in the back “leg” of the selective-fire gun’s trigger was closed off.
  • Disconnector. Its tail was cut short so that it could fit in the slot of the semi-auto trigger.
  • Hammer. The auto hook was removed, and a notch was introduced, the purpose of which is (1) to prevent the hammer riding the firing pin down if the disconnector fails, and secondarily, (2), to jam the gun if an M16 firing pin is installed.
M16 hammer left, AR-15 SP1 hammer to the right. The hook on the upper right end of the M16 hammer engages the auto sear. The notch on the upper left corner of the SP1 jhammer is intended to produce collar lock.

M16 hammer left, AR-15 SP1 hammer to the right. The hook on the upper right end of the M16 hammer engages the auto sear. The notch on the upper left corner of the SP1 hammer is intended to produce collar lock.

  • Selector. The selector was modified so that it had no Auto fire position, and could not be turned beyond the Semi position (labeled Fire on semi-auto guns).
  • Bolt Carrier. Two areas of the BC were radically milled on Colt semi BCs. The cylindrical section of the distal end of the BC, which acted in a select-fire gun to trip the auto sear, was milled off, leaving the BC significantly lighter and with a C-section rather than O-section in that area. And the area behind and beneath the firing pin — the “shroud” — was milled away. This was to allow the hammer notch and firing pin retaining collar to make contact and produce “collar lock” if an oversize firing pin is installed.
  • Firing pin. The semi and auto firing pin are identical except for the dimension of the retaining collar that contacts the firing pin retaining pin. The semi-auto pin is specified at .330″, and the military one was .370″. However, Colt parts during this period can be far out of spec, as much as two-hundredths out. Also aftermarket firing pins show signs of eyeball reverse-engineering; they are seldom machined to the Colt dimensions, and can have collars as large as .400″! The small firing pin collar in the semi-auto gun prevents unnecessary collar lock; installing a larger-collared firing pin risks it. Remember that collar lock if the disconnector fails is a good thing, because it prevents a runaway gun; collar lock without disconnector failure is pathological.
  • Upper receiver. The upper receiver of the SP1 was designed and machined for the pivot screw and can’t be made to adapt to a mil-spec lower without some kind of adapter or modification. (Silver-soldering a 7075 rod in place and redrilling the hole to the correct location and dimensions works, but the solder will not take anodizing). When the Army insisted on the superfluous bolt forward assist on its M16 variant (creating the XM16E1, later M16A1), the sporters remained “slick-sided” for many years.

The parts that Colt modified more than met ATF’s requirements, and since then, ATF has relaxed somewhat on the idea of M16 parts in AR-15s.

In more recent years, bolt carriers tend to be one of three designs:

Three common types of AR bolt carriers:

Three common types of AR bolt carriers, from top to bottom: (1) SP1 type semi bolt carrier group; (2) partially cut-down semi bolt carrier group; (3) M16 style full-auto bolt carrier group.

The creation of collar lock was only necessary in the light of over-fulfilling the ATF requirement to make ARs hard to convert to full-auto; since ATF has ruled that M16 bolt carrier group parts in a semi AR are not ipso facto a machine gun in the absence of any M16 or unmodified fire control group parts, for most builders the best answer for reliability is to use an M16 style fire control group (#1 in the image above). A full collar, semi group like #2 is also good. It has the region of the carrier which trips the auto sear removed, but retains the firing pin shroud. If you must use a Colt or other carrier like #3, be mindful of firing pin collar size and the fact that most aftermarket pins will not function properly without modification. (It’s a decent “beginner’s first lathe job” to turn a firing pin collar down, but the material is stainless steel and tough to cut).

So what can go wrong if you mismatch parts with an open, unshrouded bolt carrier? As we said above, “collar lock if the disconnector fails is a good thing, because it prevents a runaway gun; collar lock without disconnector failure is pathological.” And collar lock is an extreme example of something going wrong, and you’re very unlikely to see it. (We’ve only seen one instance in the wild, and we’ve watched literally millions of M16, M4 and AR rounds go downrange). What’s more likely is wear to your gun. A definite sign of collar size mismatch in an unshrouded-carrier gun is a bent firing pin retaining pin. This is the small shaped-wire pin (often called a “cotter pin,” which is not correct terminology) that holds the firing pin; it’s the first thing out and last in when you disassemble the bolt.

The early AR-10s and earliest AR-15s (pre-M16) had a machined steel pin in this position, satin chromed like the rest of the BCG. Changing to a vastly easier-to-make wire pin was smart from a manufacturing standpoint; this part is normally very lightly stressed. If it’s getting beat up, something’s wrong in your system, and Occam’s Razor points us to the firing pin collar.

In high-round-count guns, the firing pin itself can get all beat up and scarred. In the original AR design, the bolt carrier pushes the hammer down until the disconnector grips it (or trigger grips it, if the trigger is already reset, which is unlikely in normal firing); in the SP1 design, the firing pin can contact the hammer. The FP is harder than the bearing surface of the hammer, but not by all that much; both surfaces get wear and the firing pins look beat up.

Finally, this design, wherein the BC was modified, is a credible response to a designer’s very real concern (to fail-safe the disconnector and prevent a runaway gun).  Even today, some reputable manufacturers ship guns with this form of BCG; Colt persisted in doing it through the HBAR era (our only recent Colt is a Colt Defense LE SBR and has a mil-spec bolt carrier, so we can’t describe their current civilian market product), and Ruger’s SR556 and newly-announced SR762 piston ARs have unshrouded bolt carriers, and they work perfectly fine and hold up well. You just need to be aware of the technology before you go swapping parts.

The extensive modularity of the AR series, which led Colt to the before-its-time CAR family of weapons and now supports a multi-billion-dollar worldwide industry, is not universal. This is because of modifications like this that subsequent parts makers didn’t know about or understand. It’s also because there’s now such a wide variation in ARs and parts out there that even the most conscientious quality-control manager can’t anticipate every combination, or even what the end conditions are.

For 30 years in the Army, we were blissfully unaware that such a thing as an unshrouded bolt carrier existed. When one first showed up in the parts pile, our response was probably unprintable, and in our ignorance we attributed it to the work of Bubba the Gunsmith™. But we looked into it and discovered the logic behind it that made reputable firms like Ruger and Colt adopt this as a safety measure in their semi ARs. For the average shooter, this will never be a concern. It’s more of the problem for the guy who builds his ARs out of parts or who buys ARs built by manufacturers who are mere assemblers without the engineering or gunsmithing depth to address any problems. And even if you have problems, the good news is that the AR’s very modularity makes it typical AR problem: one that gives you several pathways to a fix, and a reliable AR.

Cops and Cauterization

ND-shot-in-footYep, it’s that time again, when cops start holstering and unholstering Glocks, and bad things happen.

Let’s see, 1 century of training police to keep their finger on the trigger (on DA/SA revolvers and pistols), plus 1 “trigger-safety” or Save Action™ (meaning, “no safety”) pistol, plus 1 retention holster that expects the user to keep his or her finger in or near the trigger, plus,  one cop who failed to pay attention in safety briefings = about 1200 feet per second you can’t call back.

Coatesville, PA (Valley Township PD): Do I wrestle the suspect, or draw?

The police officer decided the answer was “both,” and learned to her pain and suffering why that is not the “school solution”. The original headline of the story said “Police officer shot,” and now it has been updated to reflect that she shot herself.

That’s more than just the physical owie. No word on whether the suspect (who was taken into custody by other officers) laughed at her, but the rest of Eastern PA and now national law enforcement is.

And oh, why were the officers able to respond fast enough to nab the suspect? (Aside from him being unable to resume flight because he was paralyzed with laughter?) Well, Officer WWE here did this right in front of the station. Niiice.

Hartford, Connecticut: A Confused Department

Hartford is rather confused about who shot whom Saturday night. The cops were responding to an armed robbery of a Subway. The robbers were gone (apparently they’re still at large) but that didn’t prevent gunplay among the assembled lawmen. Most of the stories are tortured into the passive voice, in which “a gun went off” or “a gun accidentally fired.” By itself! One story explicitly says that the cop may have been “shot by another officer’s gun.” While that officer stood by, helpless, no doubt. No wonder Hartford’s a big gun control town: even the cops’ guns are out of control. Here’s some of the coverage, all of which avoids, elides, or just plain hides the fact that for a negligent discharge to occur, some actual human being has to be, you know, negligent.

  • Saturday, 2037R. NBC Connecticut (tweet): “Hartford Police say an officer accidentally shot himself while responding to an armed robbery….” This is close to pinning causation on a person, but in true TV-news tradition, NBC has the wrong shooter. They did that at the Navy Yard, too.
  • Sunday, 1402R. New Haven Register/AP: “Hartford police say a city officer was shot while responding to a robbery when a gun accidentally fired…. It’s not clear if the officer shot himself by accident or was shot by someone else’s gun.” The gun did it its ownself!
  • Sunday, no time given. The Hartford Courant: “A police officer’s gun accidentally discharged during a response to an armed robbery… and an officer was shot in the arm, police said. It was not clear whether the officer whose gun discharged was shot, or another officer. The injury to the officer’s forearm is non-life threatening….” The guns are doing the negligent discharging on their own, and the shots are arriving in passive voice. This is why we can’t be journalists, we don’t automatically lie about cause and effect.
  • Sunday, 1547R. NBC Connecticut:  “a cop was accidentally shot…. a gun accidentally discharged, striking an officer in the forearm…. Police said it’s unclear if the officer shot himself or was shot by another officer’s gun.” These danged willful guns. (The headline says the cop was “Accidently” shot. Layers and layers of editors!).
  • Monday, 1505R. New Haven Republican-American: “Hartford police say a city officer responding to a robbery was shot when a gun accidentally fired…. the officer suffered a non-life threatening arm injury…. It’s not clear if the officer shot himself by accident or was shot by someone else’s gun.”

Three days post-accident, and the Hartford PD either doesn’t know who fired his weapon, or is lying about it. And if there is a single media source that recognizes that there is a device on a firearm which must be actuated to make it go “bang,” it sure isn’t including that fact in any of the Hartford stories.

"Good thing we city employees don't have to use our personal cars for 0200 bail runs!"

“Good thing we city employees don’t have to use our personal cars for 0200 bail runs!”

The city of Hartford, long a pretty bad place to live, is out of control. (Hartford motto: “It could be worse. We could be Bridgeport.”) After one of the dozens of city employees crashed a car, drunk, and cursed the cops with the old, “Do you know who I am?”, the city swore to crack down on its dozens of unaccountable employees with take-home cars. Well, a few hours before the HPD circular firing squad at Subway, a high ranking city official was on the way home from trying to bail out Junior on threatening and drug charges (no word on whether she said, “Do you know who I am?”) when her car was t-boned by one of the Sanctuary City’s sanctuarians, who promptly bugged out. She wasn’t driving the car. Her boyfriend, another Hartford payroll patriot, was. And the papers discovered the dozens of take home cars have been cut mostly by attrition — wrecks to the cars like this, and arrests of officials like the other DUI broad, and the mayor’s aide who continued taking his take-home car home — after resigning.

Over at the police department, they had to cut something, and it couldn’t be, say, car leases for the big wheels in the department. So they cut the criminal-shooting task force from ~50 to ~20 cops.

The Rev. Henry Brown, whose group, Mothers United Against Violence, holds vigils for victims of gun violence in Hartford, said that the shooting task force needs more resources.

“Ever since they’ve cut back that task force, shootings have increased in Hartford.”

Of course the Rev’s Mothers are the moms of the kids doing the shooting, so naturally they blame everybody else. It must be the guns… those same out-of-control guns that are shooting innocent cops.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.