Monthly Archives: August 2013

That Was the Week that Was: 2013 Week 35

That was the week that was TW3

In the last TW3 we got up, for Week 33, we wrote that we’re “so far behind that whole bunches of Matinees and TW3s are not up yet.” That hasn’t changed but we did get the TW3 up this week, more or less on time (you’re reading it, right?) and, will wonders never cease, we not only got a Saturday Matinee up, but a 2,000 word monster of a Saturday Matinee, about a movie as big in its ambition, and daunting in its inaccessibility, as China herself.

When this initially goes live, the links will be dead. We’ll gradually liven them up.

The Boring Statistics

This week’s output was, measured by word count, light normal: around 13,700. We only put up 18 posts, less than normal. We continue to plan for three posts a day, six days a week, and a trivial Sunday post. Comments tied last week at 74; we were impressed by the quality of the posts.  The average post was about 750 words, and the median was close to the mean for a change.

Most Commented Post of the Week

In this case, nothing else could compete with the tale of the kiddie-diddling Major General (Gilbert & Sullivan must be looking down in absolute horror). He’s going to have plenty of time to contemplate the square of the hypotenuse where he’s going; he might not be able to do all ten years, at age 71, but hey, it gives him something to strive for. That post drew 16 comments, and the runner up, about some wretched white supremacist criminals in New Hampshire, drew 12 — including a surprisingly tame discussion of race and IQ. But then, our commenters rock.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t note that commenter Daniel E Watters corrected us on a gun-ID quiz, and many commenters caught our brain-dead error (reporting an M249 as an M240). We’re lucky to have such sharp-eyed, and just plain sharp, readers.

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week:

Again, these will be linked later. We wanted to get this post up before next week.

How we did on last week’s promises

Pretty awesome as we didn’t make any promises, so whatever we did is all good. Well, we did say two weeks ago we

[S]till owe the technical post on Bull’s HARP, we’re going to discuss the .40 S&W a little, and we have a horror story from an anti-gun state that makes the kid run in for dummy ammo in Mass look like crimefighting at its best. We also haven’t done a WWWW in a while (that’s Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week for those who are not naturally acronymble).

So of those four promises in the Week 35 TW3, we accomplished two in Week 34 (the .40 post, The Problem with .40, and a WWWW,  Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Gun-Deals.com. We didn’t get to the horror story post (which is from NJ) or the Bull opus, so they roll over. And while we got the Matinee and TW3 this week, we missed the WWWW.

For Next Week

Our goal remains to post three times a day, six days a week, and more specifically  one gun-tech post and one SOF, UW, or war-related post up daily. We promise, along with the rolled-over posts from two weeks back, to give you a WWWW, a Saturday Matinee, and a TW3 before the week ends at midnight Saturday. What’s more we’re going way out on a limb to promise one back Matinee — at least. And this a short, holiday week!

Saturday Matinee 2013 035: Back to 1942

back-to-1942-dvd-coverThe word most used describing Back to 1942 is “epic,” and that it surely is. Its entertainment value is limited, though, by the sheer misery of the tale it tells, a tale of grinding, unrelieved suffering. It is a Chinese film with a predominantly Chinese cast; western actors like Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins are cast in supporting roles. The film is mainly shot in Chinese, with foreigners’ parts in Japanese and (often accented) English. Everything’s fortunately subtitled.

It tells the story of the events of the war in Hunan Province in the captioned year. Hunan is a breadbasket province and one of the ur-sources of the Chinese festival cuisine loved worldwide, thanks to the Chinese restaurant diaspora. But in 1942, drought, war, and central planning by the Kuomintang (nationalist) government harvested a whirlwind of crop failure, misallocation, and privation. Three million Chinese starved to death; untold millions were dislocated. Neighboring Shansi Province, traditionally the succor of disaster-struck Hunan, had its own woes and turned its neighbors away. The Japanese had a brilliant stroke of UW thinking, and began to feed the starving refugees, co-opting them as laborers. For the average Chinese peasant or smallholder, life then was as near to Bronze Age slavery as makes no difference.

Misery: Zhang Guoli as Master Fan

Misery: Zhang Guoli as Master Fan

Back to 1942 is unsparing in its evocation of this bleak time in Chinese history. It is hard to sit and watch. In fact, we metered it out over three nights, in part because it uses a cat as a plot device and we have just lost a cat — our suffering, and our cat’s probable end at the teeth and claws of a fisher, don’t compare in any way to the miseries brilliant director Feng Xiaogang metes out to his characters (not to mention what looks like tens of thousands of expendable, and expended, extras), but the little guy’s absence did not leave us in the right frame of mind for this exercise in cinematic masochism.

Out of touch? Or grace under pressure? Chen Daoming's subtle Chiang lets you make up your own mind.

Out of touch? Or grace under pressure? Chen Daoming’s subtle Chiang lets you make up your own mind.

In part, perhaps, this tale is meant to tarnish the escutcheon of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, the wartime Chinese leader and postwar rival to Mao, and his Kuomintang government. But any such intention is undermined by the excellent performance by Chen Daoming as Chiang. He fully gets across that this is a man who must be publicly confident whatever his private feelings. Chen is clearly capable of great things, and we’d like to see more of him.

The story tells several interlocking plots of Chinese people at every level of society and status; it’s reminiscent of a Russian novel, or one of James Michener’s later works, that way. The central story is that of a small landholder (Master Fan) and his family, young daughter Xingxing, pregnant daughter-in-law Huazhi, and loyal, if dim, servant Shuanzhu. But we also follow a traveling judge whose court rolls in an oxcart and whose authority comes in the form of two soldiers; a Chinese priest who confesses to his expat bishop a complete loss of faith; Chiang himself and his advisors, who have to select their war decisions from a menu of bad options; and the melancholy Governor of Hunan. Brody has a solid supporting role as American Communist newsman Theodore White. Brody is a fine actor, probably best known to American audiences for his brilliant performance in the gripping The Pianist (which we can’t recommend only because its director is a kiddie diddler. If you can separate that out in your mind or moral system, it’s a great film).

In the course of the movie, one disaster after another quite believably cascades down on the long-suffering shoulders of Fan and his clan. For them it is TEOTWAWKI; they lose their wealth and position, their health, and one after another, their lives or liberty. It almost doesn’t matter if the disaster is natural, man-made by depersonalized Japanese war machines, or man-made by China’s own corrupt warlords or routed, fleeing soldiers. When those disasters are not horror enough, the characters are given choices, but only between greater evil and evil still greater yet. It’s just one disaster after another.

There is a miracle of survival, but not for everyone and not without terrible cost.

Acting and Production

Father Simeon faces a crisis of faith.

Father Simeon faces a crisis of faith.

The acting is excellent. We’ve already mentioned some of the actors, but Zhang Guoli’s Master Fan is an incredible performance, stoic in the face of unimaginable horrors. Zhang Hanyu has a powerhouse role, too, as Father SImeon, the Chinese priest whose originally solid faith can’t bear up under the weight of privation and human depravity. A Japanese attack on a refugee column is the last straw, and Simeon asks the question theologians ever struggle with: “Why does God let this happen?” Robbins as his superior responds that what Simeon has seen is not the work of God, but of Satan. At the end of the scene, Simeon’s faith is not restored one bit. Zhang’s performance as Simeon is so strong, you scarcely notice Robbins’s lines.

The production is epic, also. As we mentioned, it’s reminiscent of a Russian novel, and some of Feng’s long camera shots and other cinematographical effects are reminiscent of two movies with Russian themes, the excellent Dr. Zhivago and the dreadful Reds. Feng seems to enjoy juxtaposing beauty — the classical landscaping of China’s leaders’ gardens, for instance — with repulsive ugliness. But as the film shuffles on, the ugliness gets uglier and more front and center.

Accuracy and Weapons

If you’re reading this, you want to know about the arms. While it’s a film set in war, it’s not a war film per se; despite that, the producers clearly worked like dogs to ensure the military hardware depicted was accurate, whether they were using original or repro equipment, cosmetic replicas, or CGI.

Tim Robbins in a Lord-vs-Sword kind of dilemma. The gun is a Nambu, but which one?

Tim Robbins in a Lord-vs-Sword kind of dilemma. The gun is a Nambu, but which one?

The small arms are correct for time and place: the various Chinese Mauser types, including lend-lease Springfields, and the right machine guns — ZB26, MG08 — are there. The Japanese have Japanese rifles. Many Chinese carry Broomhandles, and one shows up on the church doorstep with an early Nambu, either a Small Guard Type 14 or a Papa Nambu (it wasn’t clear enough, and we’re not Nambu-savvy enough, to be sure).

When guns are fired, in most cases there are realistic sights and sounds. One execution scene, in which Chiang’s men make an example of some profiteers, shows some unusual, probably CGI, muzzle-to-target effects. It’s probably explained as cinematic license.

Guns can be central to a scene without a shot being fired. The ox-cart court (ox-court?) at one time has Shenzhou in its grip, for possession of a firearm, and intends to give him up to the Army as a draftee. Nothing about this film’s depiction of the Chinese Army makes enlistment look desirable. In the end, the loyal servant is sprung by Master Fan paying a bribe, in what has become the currency of starving Hunan: cups of millet. The bribe is sufficient to save the servant, but not the gun; which is good enough, one thinks, because against the human, national, and celestial forces arrayed against our heroes, one Mauser isn’t going to cut it.

Bet you can't hit that Betty bomber.

Bet you can’t hit that Betty bomber.

The powerless of an individual with a gun on this vast Bosch canvas of Hades is hammered home when a frustrated Theodore White (Brody) abandons his photographic efforts amid the chaos of a Japanese air attack, and blazes away at the Japanese planes. It is the .45 scene from Patton, but it isn’t; in Patton, George C. Scott played the scene with heroism, even an eerie fearlessness. Indeed, he hits the German plane. But here, Brody is not firing in anger and determination. It is not a heroic act, but a desperate one. He is firing at the Japanese out of frustration and impotence. He has no expectation of striking a plane, and he doesn’t, he’s just expressing futile, inchoate rage.

This is not to say that the movie is “anti-gun” (or “pro” for that matter). It exists in a world apart from such American political concepts. In Back to 1942, guns just are, and they’re just one more externality that usually brings tragedy and suffering into the lives of ordinary people.

So the guns are realistic, if somewhat orthogonal to the story. Aerial attacks (all delivered by the Japanese) are more problematical. The Japanese aircraft are, of necessity, CGI (very few survived the war, none at all of many important types), and in their sleek perfection they contrast markedly with the ox- and human-drawn carts of the Chinese refugees in their bombsights. The static renderings of the airplanes were done with great care, they’re lovely work; but their motion in the air is phony and unrealistic, and the fall of bombs and shot is grossly out of whack. The aircraft are not shown reacting to wind or one another’s wake, and they’re at patently different altitudes from inside shots to outside views and back again. They’re not depicted in any tactically sensible manner: level bombers attack from 100 feet AGL, using a sophisticated drift bombsight. What all that adds up to is that the plane CGI and the scenes involving it look fake, even dated (They’re reminiscent of the bad CGI in 20-year-old Hollywood fare, like Die Hard 2: Die Harder. That’s not what a director of Feng’s vision or talent should be seeking for a comparison). Don’t fire the CGI guys, get them more exposed to the things they’re modeling.

Vehicles and armor are shown, however they did it (the DVD has no making-of featurette) in generally accurate types and behavior. The Chinese have lend-lease Jeeps and trucks; the Japanese vehicles, including Vickers-like light tanks, seem accurate, mostly. A few times they substitute a later military vehicle (like a GAZ 69) that’s an anachronism if you’re a truck nerd. But this movie mostly takes place on foot (and at a burdened pedestrian’s pace too).

The bottom line

Back to 1942 is 2 1/2 hours of miserable suffering on-screen. Your heart goes out to compelling characters, only for them to be as doomed, in the end, as Master Fan’s innocent daughter Xingxing’s cat. (Trust us, not entirely a spoiler. If you know there’s a famine on, and you know — or will quickly learn from Back to 1942 — that Feng is a strong adherent of the principle of Chekhov’s Gun, don’t show it in act one if it won’t be “fired” in act three — you know that a beloved kitty’s on-screen destiny is a question of when, perhaps how, but never what).

You will learn something of Chinese history, assuming that Feng’s care with the details is matched by care with the setting — we don’t know enough to say. But the movie was, for us, depressing. It was a huge success in China, but not here; along with subtitle-phobia, US audiences are perhaps too conditioned to films that follow a Blake Snyder formula. The late script doctor Snyder advised screenwriters to use a “beat sheet” and at certain predictable run-time points to raise the odds and deliver defeats and setbacks to his characters, so that their final triumph delights the audience. Feng does that, except that the defeats and setbacks just lead to more defeats and setbacks. The result is a film that is cinematically and dramatically powerful, but disturbing and dissatisfying. Who goes to the movies to escape his grind of a life by immersing himself in a much more arduous grind?

Of course, it could have been worse. Feng could have tackled the Cultural Revolution.

We round up lawyers on the Obama NFA Trust NPRM

The bottom line appears to be that it undermines and complicates (but does not ban) NFA trusts. “Why do I care?” you may ask. “I don’t have an NFA trust, or an NFA gun, even.” Here’s why you ought to care: you may want one of these weapons some day, and the NPRM is designed to make it harder, and in some jurisdictions, impossible, based on the whim of a political police leader. Or your son or grandson may want one, only to have a county sheriff elected by a political machine or felon suffrage lock him out. “No sweat,” you counter, “our local Sheriff / Chief is a stand-up, pro-gun guy.” Well, that’s great (so is ours), but who’s going to be at that desk in 2030?

“How the hell would I know?” you counter, and we say, exactly. One excellent way to remove worry about his discretion is to remove his discretion. (The alternative path is eternal vigilance, which will be required anyway, but we’re belt-and-suspenders Weapons Men around here).

So what are the legal experts saying:

David Goldman, Esq., of Florida, whose law practice has created many of these trusts and partners with law firms across the nation to do so, has weighed in.

It looks like an attempt to remove the CLEO certification by the NFATCA which began in 2009 has backfired and now the ATF is wanting a modified CLEO signature, NICS check, fingerprint cards, photograph, certificate of citizenship for every responsible party of a fictitious entity. You can obtain a copy of the proposed rule here [.pdf].

Joshua Prince, Esq., of the Prince Law Firm in Pennsylvania notes an embuggerment in the proposal that most commenters have missed:

[I]t gets worse. “The NFATCA requests that the instructions on applications to make or transfer a firearm be revised so that they are consistent with those on a Form 7 (5310.12), Application for Federal Firearms License.” This means that the NFATCA requested the implementation of responsible persons for purposes of applications in the name of fictitious entities. And much to everyone’s surprise (sarcasm), the ATF agrees!

Prince’s comments deserve your attention; he works in this area of law. Tom Odom, Esq., also of Prince, has written some beneficial advice to would-be commenters on the NPRM. It’s good, as is the site he recommends.

Simply saying that you oppose a proposed rule is the least effective way to participate.  Rulemaking is supposed to be about reasoned decision-making, so provide ATF with reasons for your views.  Even when expressing your reasons, it is better to your own language rather than simply signing and sending in your own copy of a form letter.

To Tom’s advice, which he promises to extend in the future has already extended, and that he and Josh will continue to extend here, we would add some emphasis: never copy a recommended paragraph word for word. Paraphrase it, even if the pro’s words are better. Why? Because ATF and any other agency will simply discard any comment they think is part of a mass comment-writing push (unless it agrees with their intent). They have to go through the motions here, and are very unlikely to seriously consider any comment, but you must take commenting seriously (public comments become part of the legislative history of the rule, and may be useful to a court moving to overturn the rule in the future).

We have been hoping to hear from Evan Nappen, Esq., whose opinion in these matters we highly value (we’ve worked with him on a trust that is hanging fire due to would-be trustees’ dilatory responses on paperwork). So far he has not weighed in, but when he does his opinion may appear on his NH gun law website.

David Hardy, Esq., also has not posted an opinion, but when he does it will likely be at this link.

The NFATCA you see mentioned as the villain here is the National Firearms Act Trade and Collectors Association, a would-be NFA trade group that has been excoriated in the past for being far to cozy with ATF. The Association actually helped write the initial version of the NPRM, which traded off increased background checks for elimination of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) signoff requirement. (Here are Hardy’s comments on that original NPRM, which is no longer operative; note the cynical comments, borne out by events). The new language gives local, unelected CLEOs absolute veto authority over NFA weapons in their jurisdiction, whereas before they only had this veto on individually owned weapons. (In effect, the NPRM extends the reach of anti-gun municipal governments on NFA weapons).

Administration figures are citing, as the NPRM itself does, NFATCA’s support for the NPRM. But they don’t support the revised NPRM now; they got baited and switched, or their leaders, long rumored to be jammed-up ATF informants, bate-and-switched the rank and file. Their comments on their web page:

There is also a lot of consternation over today’s (08/29/2013) Presidential executive action item regarding trusts and corps. We have been keeping you up to date on this. It STILL must go through the official rule making process in order to become real. As soon as it hits the Federal Register, everyone MUST voice their opposition. Otherwise, fingerprints and photos will be required for responsible persons, however that gets defined.

These are Executive ACTIONS, not orders. It is the President saying “hey, I wanna get this done.” It is not circumventing the rule making process.

A slightly more reasoned version is in a long, but still extremely self-serving, letter by NFATCA honcho John K. Brown III on the NFATCA website (.pdf). The letter admits that the current NPRM started at NFATCA, but claims that ATF moved their cheese. Excerpt:

While the NFATCA® has acknowledged in our petition that there is concern regarding prohibited persons receiving firearms without background checks via trusts and corporations, the draft NPRM does not reflect any discussions or negotiations we have had with the Federal Government regarding same. We did not support or advocate for the efforts of the Executive Branch that were recently published as the proposed NPRM. The proposed NPRM is being used as a political expedient to address areas of negligible concern. The Executive Branch proposals unduly burden the law- abiding public, will restrain lawful commerce and bury an already overwhelmed agency with an administrative infrastructure that will not serve the public safety interest.

The NFATCA® supports the elimination of the CLEO signature requirement. The NFATCA® is willing to engage with DOJ/ATF and the Executive Branch to investigate reasonable, effective and manageable approaches to preventing prohibited persons from acquiring firearms. We cannot and will not support the NPRM in its current form. We will vigorously challenge this NPRM when and if it is published during the mandatory public comment period required by the Federal Rule Making Process. The NFATCA® urges all of its members and the entire firearms community to do the same.

We welcome Mr Brown, however belatedly, to the opposition to ATF’s creeping encroachment on gun rights. But he can’t please both his ATF masters and the NFA community. He’s going to have to choose sides.

We note, as we did above, that publicly commenting on this “fix is in” NPRM which proceeds with Presidential force will have the approximate effect of whizzing into a hurricane. But we’re all going to do it anyway, right?

We don’t find NFATCA trustworthy, so we’re not members. YMMV.

Mags with a Message: Noveske Johnny Mag

This is a rifle that AR aficionados will recognize: it’s a Noveske. John Noveske built a company that builds some of the most out-of-the ordinary “ordinary ARs” that there are.

johnnymag_4d

The Noveske ARs are evolutionary more than revolutionary, but they’re built to a very high quality standard. The company has kept to the standard after the untimely death of John Noveske in an auto accident this past winter. Which brings us to the rifle in the picture — or one part of it, anyway. If you look closely at that rifle, you’ll see a mark on the magazine. Noveske’s trademark.

johnnymag_1dThe Noveske iron cross is emblazoned on this magazine — a MagPul PMAG — for a reason (and the other side has the Noveske “flaming pig” trademark, for that same reason). These limited-edition $40 Noveske magazines, which they modestly call the “Johnny Mag” after their founder, don’t just perfectly accessorize your Noveske AR. You see, they also help to take care of John’s children. Of that $40, all goes into a trust for John’s kids.

Somehow, $40 doesn’t seem all that pricey for an AR mag, now, does it?

John Noveske, 1976-2013. Honor the legacy, support the posterity.

Fascinating project at GunLab and Weaponeer

This image of a VG 1-5 (original) came from a Weaponeer thread linked in the story.

This (embiggenable) image of a VG 1-5 (original) came from a Weaponeer thread linked in the story.

There are projects and there are projects. 

This one deserves the italics. Chuck Kramer is an 07 FFL (that’s a manufacturer) and 02 SOT
(special occupational taxpayer, means he can make NFA stuff). He’s also pretty creative around a metal shop, to include machine tools, sheet metal work, and welding. All of those skills are going to be necessary, because he’s building a replica of the Gustloff VG 1-5.

If you don’t know what that is, go over to Ian’s place for a how-it-shoots video, and/or read this overview on Weaponeer, then come back (or go to Chuck’s build threads).

He has other ambitions — he’s worked out, for example, that an MP-44 lower receiver requires 60 operations to produce — but his first task is to build a VG 1-5. He’s not absurdly committed to originality — for example, he’s already improved the Heath Robinson trigger mechanism of the original — but he’s using processes remarkably close to the cottage workshop techniques used in the original, a last-ditch Volkssturm weapon produced in 1945 as Russian, American, British and French forces were squeezing the Third Reich like four angry anacondas.

So far, he’s built the lower receiver and is working on the receiver cover, both of which require metal pressing, cutting, and welding skills. He had to take a break whilst installing new digital readouts (DROs) on his lathe.

One more thing…

The DRO’s are important because Chuck’s not just building one of these. He’s planning to build sixty. Are you in line yet? (We expect they will be NFA Short Barrel Rifles). Sorry, New York — it’s expected to come with a 10-round mag. It won’t be available in North Korea or Cuba, either.

There are two essential sources:

GunLab is where Chuck will post deeper explanations and videos, in conjunction with Ian of ForgottenWeapons.com and GunLab.net. The first couple are already up:

  • Part 1 introduces the project and sets up the series. There are images of computer 3D models and a cutaway of the original firearm.
  • Part 2 examines how the receiver pressings are made, with Ian hosting a video. This really combines well with the Weaponeer thread (linked below) to ensmarten one on how small shops can press fairly complex sheet metal shapes without million-dollar presses and $10k’s in tooling per part.
Stamping Evolution: a single stamped flat, with several versions of the receiver cover -- all but one an evolutionary dead end.

Stamping Evolution: a single stamped flat, with several versions of the shaped but unwelded/machined receiver cover — all but one an evolutionary dead end.

Of course, the pressings != receiver by themselves. There is quite a bit of cutting, fitting, welding and machining before the raw stampings are an actual receiver.

The Weaponeer thread describes his processes, his progress, and his learning curve. (There is as much art as science to die-pressing sheet steel, it turns out). He can post stills here, but not videos.

So the GunLab.net and Weaponeer versions of the story combine to inform you. GunLab has a much higher signal to noise ratio, but some of the commenters at Weaponeer (same as at GunLab or Forgotten Weapons) are really well-informed, and interesting things come out in the comments if you have the patience to read them.

The best argument against White Supremacy…

… is the White Supremacists. Consider this lovely couple, who make Trayvon Martin look like the saint that TV news viewers think he is:

White Supremacist I: Peggy Sinclair. While this image came from the cops REAL LARGE, we suggest you don't embiggenate. She ain't any prettier up close.

White Supremacist I: Peggy Sinclair. While this image came from the cops REAL LARGE, we suggest you don’t embiggenate. She ain’t any prettier up close.

The hard-used woman in the first mugshot is one Peggy Sinclair. If she looks like she’s fifty, well, that’s because she is fifty. So she must be relatively new to the drug culture, which adds years like Mallomars add pounds; she’s a former teacher, which is, as we’ll see, rather germane to her life of crime.

She’s entangled with a prison gang called the Brotherhood of White Warriors, or BOWW. She’s apparently the reward they pass around for being good at whatever white supremacists value, which we don’t even want to think about. (Does that make here a BOWW Wow? Enquiring minds, etc. )

Peggy’s back in the jug, which she’d been last been in for, this will shock you, drug charges, this spring. What’d she do this time? She sent love notes to her boyfriend in prison, or one of her boyfriends. (Apparently BOWW is a very sharing group, that way, IYKWIMAITYD). Now, writing to a con is not part of the usual everyday for most of us, but it’s not against the law.

Until you stuff the letter with film Suboxone, a mild opiate used legitimately to treat heroin addiction and, under the street name Subu, illegitimately to… do we need to draw you a picture? (The New Republic had a story on Subu in the Republic of Georgia this year, which will tell you most of what you need to know about the drug).

White Supremacist II: Matthew Peters. Asking the prison photog, "Can't I wear a burkha?"

White Supremacist II: Matthew Peters. Asking the prison photog, “Can’t I wear a burkha?” and bummed out that the word will hit the street he “dates up” to AARP level.

Then we have the swain in the ever-popular bright-colored jail t-shirt. He’s one Matthew Peters, an incarcerated BOWW member, and the reason for his miserable expression is that the word is going to be out that he’s the boyfriend of a junkie teacher older than his mom.

Matt is 22 years old, and he met and began “dating” (eww… yuck) Peggy when they were both at the Broken Ground School in Concord, NH. To the best of our knowledge, she is on paid leave from the school while she deals with her, and her boyfriends’, legal issues. (According to the Concord Monitor, “The Concord School District confirmed last week that Sinclair would not return to her position.” Another story says the teacher’s union negotiated a deal for her to resign, presumably including a severance. Let it never be said that the union failed to speak up for a drugged-out criminal).

Peters from 2002-03 yearbook -- start of their relationship.

Peters from 2002-03 yearbook — start of their relationship.

You know, she was his fifth-grade teacher. There’s a story in how she fell from middle-aged, middle-class schoomarm to well-worn pass-around of a prison gang right out of The Blues Brothers, but we are deterred from pursuing that story by the Ick Factor. Besides, she doesn’t want to talk to reporters: “I’m not talking to you guys,” she told the Concord Monitor in April. “You already ruined my life once.”

Sinclair from 2002-03 yearbook -- start of their relationship

Sinclair from 2002-03 yearbook — start of their relationship. Sick, sick, sick.

Have we got that straight? She’s on the back stretch of life, and by her own decisions she is doing drugs and whoring herself out to a disreputable prison gang (note to Eds: is that phrase overkill? It’s not like there’s reputable prison gangs running around, no?). And she’s only “one of Peters’s girlfriends.” (We shudder to think, etc.). But it’s the reporter who wrote about it that “ruined her life.” Suuuure.

There are basically two schools of thought on how someone ends up in mugshots like these. In one, character defects and bad choices lead you to the place where you’re told to “face the camera” during Inprocessing. In another, the gun made you do it.

And yeah, these creeps and their BOWW pals have guns, despite, as Peters put it during an earlier arraignment,

Your honor, I have never ran from a case. I have never ever been a flight risk. And I have only been convicted of two, no, the three Class B felonies that he said. Other than that it was misdemeanors, a couple of misdemeanors.

Niiiice. That one was for armed robbery (gun made him do it, we’re sure). It’s still pending, but that doesn’t stop him from being a man of conviction, er, with convictions. He’s also had some other legal issues:

[T]he prosecutor mentioned that [other drug] case but also said Peters is currently facing charges in Massachusetts for threatening homicide on a police officer. The prosecutor said Peters’s criminal history includes convictions for witness tampering, second degree assault, possession of a controlled drug, resisting arrest and conspiracy to receive stolen property.

Peters was also involved in the 2009 stabbing of Michael Guglielmo, the ex-con widely known for his attempt to save his son Giovanni through bone marrow drives. The police have said Peters stabbed Guglielmo multiple times, but he never faced charges.

Maybe it’s just us, but we kind of think that these people would be losers even if the Chinese had never figured out gunpowder all those centuries ago.

When guns are outlawed, you’ll still have outlaws.

Breaking: Obama bans surp reimports, attacks CMP, NFA trusts

obama-general-IDi-Amin-DadaLegislating from his desk without a Congress he dismisses for its unwillingness to bend to his will, His Excellency Field Marshal President For Life Idi Amin al-Hadji Dada Barack Hussein al-Hadji Obama vastly expanded ATF powers, rewarding Fast and Furious figure B. Todd Jones for his loyalty. At the same ceremony, Jones was sworn in, vowing to make gun owners pay for violent crime.

Administration lapdog Josh Lederman, writing for the Associated Press, squeed with delight at the news:

Striving to take action where Congress would not, the Obama administration announced new steps Thursday on gun control…. President Barack Obama added two more executive actions to a list of 23 steps the White House determined Obama could take on his own to reduce gun violence.

With Jones’ confirmation at ATF, the White House has completed or made significant progress on all but one of the 23 executive actions Obama had previously ordered in January.

Jones’s statement hinted at ATF’s organizational insecurity vis-a-vis the better-established, more-professional FBI and other federal agencies:

“Today is a historic day for ATF. “he agency is now in line with its sister components and has been given the respect it deserves as a federal law enforcement agency with a permanent director. I want Americans to know, ATF is full of hard–working, devoted public servants who are committed to the mission of professional law enforcement. I will lead with the same enthusiasm and dedication that I see daily from the team tasked with protecting our communities from the most violent criminals.”

The problem, from the standpoint of an ATF director, is that the agency is already getting the respect it deserves, which is not much.

Jones, while serving as US Attorney in Minnesota, attended planning meetings for several gunwalking operations, including Fast and Furious, in which thousands of guns were provided to Mexican drug trafficking organizations. The ARTF managers’ and US Attorneys’ intent was for the guns to be used in crimes in Mexico, leading to new American gun laws and more power for ATF. Surprising no one but the scheme’s architects, the crimes spilled over the border. While some hundreds of murders of Mexicans were perfectly acceptable to Jones and his fellows, their “walked” guns were soon used in murders and assaults of several front-line American law enforcement officers. Inside ATF, no one has been held accountable. Indeed, since becoming acting director, Jones has promoted or rewarded all the Fast and Furious figures, except the whistleblowers, whom he has persecuted relentlessly.

Jones personally approved a questionable deal that let one figure escape to a job with a federally-dependent bank — in a subpoena-safe foreign country. And while the man drew his six-figure corporate salary from his new employer, he was still in a no-show position at ATF, drawing a six-figure government salary.

Lederman asserted that the milsurp reimport ban is justified because these guns, mostly World War vintage rifles, “may end up on the streets.” (We’re trying to remember the last time MS-13 rolled with Garands. Help us out in the comments).

Among the entities that will now be forbidden to acquire US-made rifles from their foreign rusting places is the CMP.

He also savaged NFA trusts as “a little-known loophole that lets felons and others circumvent background checks.”

Here are some facts that are well known to the NFA community, and trivially available to Lapdog Lederman, if he were interested:

  1. Number of violent crimes committed with a registered NFA weapon, since 1934: 1 (possibly 2).
  2. Number committed with a weapon that was held by a trust trust: 0.

That one crime was a murder committed, by the way, by a police officer. You know, the only ones that Barack Obama — and Josh Lederman — trust with guns. Patrolman Paul Waller shot one of his informants with a registered MAC-11 in Ohio in 1988. There was reportedly another MG murder in Ohio by a physician, but all internet sources link back to the same .pdf file, which is not online.

The new ATF rules are subject to a legally-required comment period, but it’s a bagatelle. They will neither read nor act on the comments; some low-level flunktionary will be assigned to write responses in the vein of, “the ATF will not reconsider/change/modify the NPRM because the modification would not enable our objective to harass lawful owners combat gun violence.”

As if anyone in ATF has any concerns about gun violence, which they’ve done more to produce in the last few years than La Cosa Nostra. Somewhere in Mexico someone was killed today with a gun provided to the Sinaloa cartel by the ATF. Someone else will be killed with another tomorrow. In a few years it will just be a killing a month — unless Jones resumes his gunwalking policy.

The NFA Trust rule appears to replace an earlier one which removed the CLEO (Chief Law Enforcement Officer) sign off requirement. The most common reasons for employing an NFA Trust are not, as the White House says, to allow “felons, domestic abusers, and others prohibited from having guns can easily evade the required background check and gain access to machine guns or other particularly dangerous weapons”, but to get around an obstreperous anti-gun CLEO, for estate planning, and to allow lending of firearms (which ATF has previously ruled is illegal for individuals to do).

When guns are outlawed, the ATF will still be providing them to outlaws.

 

Update 2000R

Sorry for the intemperate language, but we reckon you guys understand.

John Lott has responded (he also did not care for the AP article’s slant). Hat tip, Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned.

Update 2010R

Commenter Alan at SNBQ (same link as above) has posted both the old and the new NPRMs on  NFA trusts. The original one eliminated the CLEO signoff and was supported by some NFA folks, including the ATF-cozy NFATCA (If we recall correctly).

We are not lawyers here, and our analysis therefore may be all wet (you not only need to be a lawyer to handle this stuff, but a gun-law lawyer, in our opinion). Don’t ever construe a word we say as legal advice: that’s not our department.

Engagement Dynamics: Expect the Gorilla

We tend to believe what we see with our own eyes, and we tend to extend that belief to what others saw with theirs. But there are several problems with this: one of the major ones is that we don’t always see what’s right in front of us.

That’s a pretty famous video by now, and you probably know what to look for. But many others have replicated Simons et al’s research. For example, a couple of high school students’ version of this test of perception and cognition is less polished than the Simons group’s, but they note that only 50% of the viewers catch the changes and discontinuities in the video.

Of course, brainteasers depending on this kind of thing: “What seven items are different in Picture 2?” — have long been a staple of activity books for children. But as adults we forget how hard it was to find every missing cufflink or changed shoelace in a sketch. (Or we assume that we could do it now that we’re grown-ups a lot easier than we could at Age 9. Exercise for the reader: next trip to the dentists’ office….)

Simons and other researchers have gone on to note that if the change is gradual, humans are remarkably blind to it:

We can’t go into all the details here, but in the 1930s the world’s militaries developed sophisticated tenets and tools of imagery analysis. From the 1960s, overhead imagery of even the most aggressively-denied areas became possible with artificial earth satellites. Beginning in the 1980s, the cascade of data emerging from these satellites was more than humans could process unaided, even in the wealthy nations that could afford to launch and maintain satellites on station over points of interest.

So the first, halting steps towards computerized analysis were begun under very great secrecy. And one development that shocked the analysts was that the computers, using change analysis algorithms, were finding changes on sites, the imagery of which had been thoroughly examined by human eyes.

What does this mean to you as an operational soldier, working cop, or armed citizen? It means you need to be humble about the quality of your perception, and cautious about not only the “known unknowns” but also the “unknown unknowns.”

A bunch of innumerate, credentialed but uneducated reporters beat up on Donald Rumsfeld 10 plus years ago for using those terms, but they’re venerable engineering concepts that need to be part of your constant self-assessment of your situational awareness. Known Unknowns are things that you don’t know, but at least know that exist, and so that you’re able to plan for. A Known Unknown might be: how hazardous a particular street in Philadelphia is if the Sixers are playing an important playoff game tonight, or how hazardous the registered sex offenders in your community are to your kids. And Unknown Unknown might be: whether there is an uncaught, unsuspected sex offender in your community (like the creepy general this week).

The thing is that, while Unknown Unknowns are obviously unknowable in detail, what Rumsfeld’s point was, was this: they can be anticipated as a group or as a concept. You need to know that they’re out there, even when you can’t tell what they are. Insurance companies are good at this. They have learned from long experience to include on their balance sheets, not only reserves for known claims, even when the amounts of the claims are unknowable; classic known unknowns. But they also include a reserve, the setting of which is more actuarial art than actuarial science, for claims that are “incurred but not reported” — classic unknown unknowns.

As good as the insurers, with in some cases centuries of experiential records, are at this, Beltway public policy intellectuals, particularly the young wunderkind sort of baby duck for whom every event is an unprecedented novelty, are hopelessly bad at it. Hence the excoriation of Rumsfeld. They didn’t see any gorilla, so there is no gorilla.

Unlike the Beltway intellectual set, we play real-world games for real-world stakes. A very high percentage of losers at the games of gunfight and ambush make that same mistake — and die complacent, or if they last a second or two longer, surprised. Don’t make that mistake. Broaden your palette of information sources. Question your own assumptions. Expect the gorilla.

He’s really there.

Let’s Build Retro: Part 3: Parts Inventory

The question arose: did we have everything we needed to proceed?

We knew the answer was no. We’re waiting on some parts to be delivered, including a backordered receiver from the premier maker of “retro” receivers, NoDak Spud LLC. They’re heavily backordered (we are waiting for several uppers, and multiple sets of “prototype” style AR parts). If we are still waiting too long, we’ll repurpose one of our currently deploted NDS receivers.

We were also waiting on some recent orders, including a gas tube from GunBroker, a barrel nut from Bravo Company, and several front sight base parts also from BCM. So we thought that it would make some sense to do an inventory.

Method 1: the rough sketch.

We made this rough sketch to show what we had and what we didn’t. It came in handy identifying some of the shortfalls in our stack of parts.

AR_build_sketch

 

Yeah, this isn’t Michael Freaking Angelo. It’s a sketch, and a sketch done with a coarse point Sharpie at that. And it was worth doing, because it reminded us that we needed to get a carbine length gas tube, a barrel nut, and hit the parts box for an M16A1 vintage pistol grip.

That’s why you do the sketch. It’s also helpful in explaining where and when everything goes together.

Method 2: the interactive approach.

Before building your gun in meatworld you can sketch it out online, for example at Brownell’s AR15Builder.com. ARFCOM is also about to introduce one: their Gunstruction will be released from restricted- to public-beta status in September.

We have not participated in the Gunstruction beta, but have used Brownell’s configurator. It is limited to late-model parts; obviously, it’s biased towards things that Brownell’s sells.

Method 3: the inventory checklist.

Maybe you absorb the written word best. Heck, maybe you’re so uptight you have to have a written checklist to do anything. In that case, a checklist is for you. Brownell’s, again, has one that lets you account for all the parts you need for an AR build. Here’s the Brownell’s checklist; it even incorporates a tools checklist.  We’re going to give this to the Building Kid so that he can start to internalize some of the terms we use.

A spreadsheet is simply a variant of the written checklist that exploits digital technology. Each has its place; a workshop may not be the best place for a computer, especially if machines are spewing cutting oil or tiny, conductive metal chips. But a paper document, unlike a digital one, can only be in one place at a time.

As you see, it’s possible to manage parts inventory with any of these methods. (And there are many more — whiteboards, toe tags, etc.). Just go with one of them, whichever one works best for you.

Short term and long term parts

We have more of some parts than we need, and that’s because we’re probably going to alter the living daylights out of this gun even after it’s built. We’re going to substitute a lot of “short term” parts temporarily for the real “long term” parts we want, but don’t have on hand. Then, as the fates (and the auctions) deliver up the right parts, we’ll swap the more correct ones in.

For example, the sketch shows two different flash suppressors. One is a long, replica moderator. The other, a short M16A1 cage. We consider the 16A1 cage a temporary part while we source a decent slip-over moderator.

We also, as we have noted, have substituted some parts. Because we’re using a 1960s Colt Model 604 upper receiver, which came from our parts rack, we’re using the matching 1960s chromed bolt and carrier assembly. This is not correct for any model of CAR-15; they all had parkerized bolts. We like the chrome for ease of cleaning, actually. (The Army ordered the change because it got some bad bolts where the plating had concealed flaws. Colt struggled with quality control amid trade-union troubles in the 1960s).

As we previously discussed, we are using a later barrel, specifically a Daniel Defense lightweight barrel, which promises more reliability with M4 feed ramps, and better accuracy with later, heavier bullets.

We also are waiting for the “correct” vinyl-acetate dipped aluminum Colt stock. In the meantime, the parts box offers us a Colt military fiberlite stock and a Bushmaster commercial-spec aluminum one. The Bushmaster looks more correct than the later-vintage 1980s Colt part, but the Bushy buffer tube is “commercial” spec and won’t fit a “correct” stock when we go to install it.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have baseball bats

Watch out for the one with your name on it.

Watch out for the one with your name on it.

Time for the old “clinging to life” metaphor. A cop trying to break up a fight got his head beaten in instead. There’s nothing in this Chicongo Trib report that indicates a suspect is in custody. (We’re linking to the Print version of the article because the main page is infected with the AdChoices spam malware).

A Chicago police officer was hit in the head with a baseball bat while trying to break up a fight in the West Englewood neighborhood, according to authorities.

The officer is in serious condition at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County. Sources have said that the officer’s vital signs have improved since he was first hospitalized.

He was hit about 12:40 a.m. in the 5700 block of South Winchester Avenue. According to police sources, the officer was hit on purpose while trying to break up the fight possibly involving “dozens” of people and police are looking for “multiple” people in connection with the incident.

via Cop hit in head with baseball bat – chicagotribune.com.

There’s one reason it’s better when criminals use a gun rather than a baseball bat or other impact weapon, or a knife or other edged weapon. And that is that the criminal usually retains the gun for future use, increasing the probability that he’ll ultimately pay the judicial price (however discounted these prices get for volume “buyers”) for the crime.

Conversely, cheap weapons like, say, a baseball bat, tend to be thrown away. So while it’s a lead-pipe lock that this particular assaulter will wind up in the brig — his level of impulse control makes it a certainty — he won’t wind up in the brig for this, unless Chicago cops caught a break. (The Chicago FOP confirms that no one is in custody).

Our go-to guy for Chicago inside baseball (no pun intended, because if it was we would be sick, sick, sick) is Second City Cop, and he notes that “the Officer is improving slowly and looks to have a bit of a recovery ahead of him” as part of a roundup on violence against Chicago coppers last week (wow.  2CC’s bosses in HQ might think he’s paranoid, but his department’s beat cops have real enemies).

Ever-Drunk-Garry-McCarthy

“So, one of my cops got beaten brainless, and another used for target practice, but hey, I had an MAIG event. What can I say, Bloomie had an open bar!”

2CC also wants to know why a cop would be working in a one-man radio car in the notorious West Englewood area. His commenters may have answered that, indirectly, by pointing out that the city’s boozy stumblebum Superintendent, Gerry McCarthy, hasn’t bothered to visit the hospitalized cop. (Maybe if they guy’s family wheeled a keg into his room McCarthy would come. But maybe, they are better off without him).

In another event in gun-free Chicongo, in fact, a few blocks from the bat battery, someone fired up a CPD unmarked car. McCarthy blames this, like all his failures, on other people — specifically, if ranchers in Wyoming, retirees in Florida, and office workers in Virginia didn’t have a right to buy guns, felons in the Southside wouldn’t be a problem.

Ask the guy in the Louisville-Slugger-induced coma whether felons without guns are a problem. When he comes around. Meanwhile we have a whole room of guns without felons, no problem. But McCarthy says that makes us the problem.

Then again, he’s an alkie. When he opens his yap, at least half the time it’s the booze talking anyway. The other half it’s himself. Good luck figuring out which is which; they’re both stupid.

If you know McCarthy, you know his one real achievement in NYPD was winning a drunken streetlight-shooting competition (see #6 on the list) with other bibulous cops. Does he have an alibi for the car shooting?