Maniac with Gun, meet Shrink with Gun

1911_muzzleAn experience every concealed carrier prepares for, but no reasonable carrier wants, came to a Pennsylvania doctor Thursday, when, for reasons that are unclear (except that the guy is a certified nutball), a certified nutball opened fire on his caseworker and the doc.

The doctor pulled out his own firearm, and when the shooting was over, the doc was grazed, but standing; and the nutball was on his way to another wing of the hospital, where his three gunshot wounds (one in the arm but two in the torso) have been treated.

The suspect, Richard Plotts, of Upper Darby, Pa., was reported in critical condition after the shooting at 2:20 p.m. in an office at the Mercy Wellness Center of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said at an evening news conference.

The unidentified 52-year-old doctor shot Plotts three times and suffered a graze wound when the suspect returned fire, Whelan said at an evening news conference. Two guns were recovered.

Another doctor and caseworker tackled Plotts in a hallway and held him until police arrived.

Whelan said Plotts, who has a history of unspecified psychiatric problems, and his caseworker arrived at the doctor’s third-floor office about 2 p.m., Whalen said. Soon after, another staffer heard a loud argument and opened the door to find the suspect pointing a gun at the doctor. The worker then closed the door and call 911.

via Pa. doctor shoots patient who killed caseworker.

Unfortunately Plotts’s caseworker, a 53-year-old woman who has not been identified, was killed by Plotts’s shots. According to another story, Plotts was known to be combative.

The doctor who saved his life, and who knows how many others (possibly even nutball Plotts’s, because these nutballs’ shooting sprees usually culminate in self-destruction) may have lost his job in the process.

Hospital spokeswoman Bernice Ho described Plotts as a “victim” in a prepared statement, and condemned the doctor for violating Mercy Health Systems’ corporate weapons policy, which is to die in place in the 20 minutes it takes for a 911 call to turn into a cop on the scene.

Not everyone was as quick as Ho to blast the doctor. (Well, Potts was apparently all for blasting him, in his own way). District attorney Jack Whelan said the doctor, “from all accounts, would have acted in self-defense… his life was in jeopardy.” Police Chief Donald Molineaux was even more explicit in his praise for the defensive doctor:

I believe the doctor saved lives. Without that firearm, this guy (the patient) could’ve went out in the hallway and just walked down the offices until he ran out of ammunition.

Even after receiving life-threatening wounds, Plotts still tried to flee, but another doctor and caseworker tackled and disarmed him. They were also praised by the authorities.

It is as simple as this: will you take responsibility for your safety, or will you trust to luck or chance that no Richard Plotts will insert himself into your life? If the doctor had taken the advice of Michael Bloomberg or Shannon Watts he would be dead. Hell, even Bloomberg and Watts don’t take their own advice — they’re wealthy enough yto have paid bodyguards.

O.S.S. Training Film: the German Infantry Squad

By and large, all infantrymen of all nations from the era of cartridge firearms “went to the same schools.” But there are subtle national and organizational differences. This OSS-developed training film from World War II shows some of the peculiarities of German infantry tactics, as observed by American and Allied intelligence.

The OSS had a Field Photographic Branch that made a large quantity of such films, although few were in color; it was staffed, in part, with Hollywood talent on both sides of the camera. This particular film unfortunately appears truncated at both ends and we’re seeking a full version.

They mention the distinctive woodpecker sound of the MG34 (which has a rate of fire much faster than Allied weapons like the M1919, or the submachine gun carried by the German sergeant. However, they don’t call it out when it occurs. You can hear it in the soundtrack, which appears to be largely dubbed; it is the fast one, quite unmistakeable. An MG42 is about 1/4 still faster than that!

As noted by the narrator (whose voice sounds very familiar; is he one of the legions of actors who found wartime employment with Bill Donovan?), the German Wehrmacht devolved rather more command authority on sergeants than Allied armies, with the one most likely to do so being the American, and the least likely, the French and Russian, who then had little respect for NCOs. (The Russians would, in the end, achieve similar excellence by a proliferation of junior officers doing jobs the NCOs would do in the West).

German practice also was unusually fluid with respect to officer selection and promotion. An effective sergeant in 1940 might well have been an effective colonel in 1944. This happened across the German services, except for the surface ships of the Kriegsmarine, who hewed to older naval traditions. The only Allied forces that offered similar advancement to other ranks were the Allied air forces, although the US did not employ sergeant pilots at all once the war got cooking, and in the British service advancement to officer rank also depended on things beyond pure performance and leadership potential (such as perceived class).

The high flexibility of German tactics and excellent tactical leadership pushed down all the way to squad level is one reason that the Wehrmacht, man for man, outfought the much larger Allied armies until overwhelmed. Many German ideas (including the highly mobile general purpose machine gun, which enabled these flexible tactics) were adopted worldwide in, and after, the war. But the German Wehrmacht is still a wellspring of ideas for the military leader, even today.

It is tragic that such a fine force fought with such valiant tenacity in such a bad cause. But that, too, is part of the nature of war. We can admire the valor of King Leonidas and his warrior elite, without wanting to have been part of a nation that assessed every newborn for warrior potential and fed the rejects to the wolves; we can thrill to the story of Hannibal’s doomed audacity, while relieved that no one expects us to make human sacrifices to Baal; we can ride, through the magic of the written word, with Stuart or Mosby while having no truck with slavery.

In some way, the warrior and war experience is universal, and we can consider it apart from history’s judgment on the warriors’ society, a cruel, cold, dispassionate judgment that no society long can escape.

Gabriel and Savage’s Crisis in Command is a widely read professional book of the 70s and 80s that contrasted the leadership style (and results) of the Wehrmacht, with that of the United States Army in Vietnam, much to the detriment of the Americans.

Apart from the MG34, a couple of other weapons are called out in the video. The sergeant’s MP40, or, as the moviemakers call it, incorrectly, “Schmeisser,” was dismissed as a mere noisemaker, deadly only at close range.

And the Stiehlhandgranate 24 comes in for discussion. As they note, it was an offensive, concussion grenade, which served to injure personnel and destroy equipment by blast, not fragmentation (later in the war a frag sleeve was made that could be slipped over the sheet metal casing of the explosive end of the grenade).  It was an improvement of WWI grenades containing ammonium nitrate and tolite fillings inside a similar sheet metal, non-fragmentation can, and contained about a quarter-kilogram of TNT, about half the total weight of the grenade.

And the narration says, “Often six or seven of these potato mashers are tied together for a demolition charge.” The narrator is quite right; the Germans called this a Geballte Ladung, or “concentrated charge.” It was taught to engineers as well as infantry as an improvised anti-tank and anti-bunker tool.

The term geballte Ladung is also used colloquially where an English speaker would say, “a whole mess,” or perhaps, vulgarly, “a shitload,” of something.

Off Buying Guns

Sorry for limited gun content the last couple of days, been finalizing a deal to buy a small US WWII collection, all original stuff except, alas, for the M1 SMG, which is a recent Kahr-produced Short Barreled Rifle.

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit we never owned a 1903A3 before. It was actually still part of SF Light Weapons training back when your humble editor stumbled through that evolution.

As far as the Kahr is concerned, we’ll see if it’s any good when the Form 4 clears, sometime around when the Sun goes nova at the rate ATF has been doin’ ‘em. It’s a small fraction of the cost of buying one (and a small multiple of the cost of the one we’ve rented in Manchester from time to time). If we don’t like it, we’ll GunBroker it off.

We’re working on something others have worked on before us: trying to pin down what was the first submachine gun. The candidates are the Villar Perosa, which we discount on not being a shoulder-fired individual weapon; its individual-weapon offspring the OVP and Beretta M1918; and our original candidate for the honors, the German Bergmann MP.18. We only know the name of the designer of the Bergmann (Hugo Schmeisser). As is usual on any real quality post, it takes time to research these things, and not enough of the primary sources are digitized and online.

This is what Accountability looks like

What would you do if you were police chief, and video surfaced of your officers… doing this?

In most places, the answer comes down to “obfuscate and run out the clock.” It even shows in what people call this: defense lawyers and, God help us, “community activists,” call it “police brutality.” Even the most censorious and judgmental cops call it “excessive force,” recognizing that in police work, especially with intoxicated, noncompliant suspects, sometimes force is necessary, but a good man keeps a lid on it. These guys recognized no lid.

So, you’re the Chief, what do you do? Remember, too, you have to lead this department and every officer will want to know whether your actions show intolerance of bad behavior, or just a white shirt who doesn’t have any of his blue shirt’s backs. What do you do?

Here’s what Lee Bitomski, the Chief (he was #2 at time of the incident, but the then-Chief retired before it came to light) in the small, decidedly blue-collar beach town of Seabrook, New Hampshire, did, according to Seacoast Online:

The town fired two of its police officers and reprimanded two others Wednesday for their involvement in or failure to report an alleged police brutality incident that occurred inside the station.

Police Chief Lee Bitomske has previously described the assault of then-19-year-old Michael Bergeron Jr. as a “dark cloud” that was hanging over the department since station surveillance video of the incident went viral in January..

He and other officials said Wednesday, though, that the termination of officers Mark Richardson and Adam Laurent, the two-day suspension of Officer Keith Dietenhofer and the demotion of Lt. John Wasson, the three officers’ supervisor, may have “lifted” that cloud.

via Seabrook fires two police officers accused of brutality | SeacoastOnline.com.

The two guys who were fired are Richardson, the big gorilla who slams the stoned kid’s face into the wall, and Laurent, the guy who pepper-sprays him after his second bounce off the wall and down. Dietenhofer and Wasson were complicit more in the non-reporting and cover-up of the incident, and Wasson, who before the incident was exposed was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant wasn’t just “demoted,” he rocketed all the way back down to Patrolman for his failure of ethical leadership in this case.

Dietenhofer was not fired, because his report was more a lie of omission than commission, but the report was critical enough of his integrity that he will have considerable difficulty testifying in cases contested by capable criminal defense attorneys.

Laurent’s stated reason for spraying Bergeron was interesting: he had observed that a person can’t spit after being sprayed, and Bergeron had been trying to spit on the cops. He didn’t do that any more after he got a face full of wall followed by pepper spray. But other facets of Laurent’s report and testimony are contradicted by the video, calling his credibility into question.

Richardson also faces criminal charges for assault while a police officer, which is a specific crime in New Hampshire. (Everybody holds cops to a higher standard, but the Granite State writes it into the law books).

Is that a perfect outcome? We don’t know. We have read the independent report (a very good technique for a small PD that’s too little and too tight to do its own internal investigation, by the way) and we’ll let you read it yourself and draw your own conclusions. The report does make it clear that Bergeron (the kid who dents the concrete-block wall with his face) was a problem suspect, alternatively cooperative and belligerent, but it also makes it clear that the officers were wrong, did wrong, and knew they did wrong. Here it is:

Seabrook-Police-Department-Internal-Review-Report-July-2014.pdf

So is the outcome (one charge, two firings, one big demotion, one small suspension) perfect? Probably not. But we do think it’s about as good as you can expect from a government agency. Compare, for example:

  • Who’s been demoted and fired in the VA’s policies that scammed the taxpayers out of millions in undeserved bonuses, and led to the deaths of scores if not hundreds of deaths? Nobody and no one.
  • Who’s been fired in the ATF’s gunwalking operations, still not fully exposed, which provided thousands of powerful weapons to ATF pals in Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations, guns that have gone on to be used in the murders of at least two US Federal Agents and literally hundreds of Mexicans? Nobody and no one.
  • And who’s been fired in the egregious case where an untrained cop on an untrained SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade in a 19-month-old baby’s crib? Nobody. No one. (Aside: in that case, the baby’s come home, having relearned to walk after suffering from burns, a coma, and possibly some degree of permanent brain damage — something you’ll only learn in the English press as our guys are too busy pitching in on Hillary!’s book tour).

The key failure, and the key problem, of representative government and particularly of law enforcement in the 21st Century is Accountability. 

Bergeron, the suspect, asked to play this video at his trial. The judge said no, so after the trial was over he put it on YouTube, where it went viral — and ultimately unleashed this investigation, and these consequences. Truth wants a way out. And everybody knew the truth of it.

Officer Dietenhofer said as he recalled his thoughts about the incident that he was concerned
about Bergeron after he was sprayed with OC, also thinking “oh, shit, that must have hurt”
referring to the slam against the wall.

 

A wall, by the way, has a lot of utility as a weapon. You just have to use it when your use of force is justified. Officer Richardson, the 6’6″ 270-lb cop who applied the wall to the face of the 6’2″ 145-pound Bergeron, gets to make that argument to a jury of his peers soon. We would not exchange places with him.

We recognize it’s hard to make hairsplitting decisions about use of force when some mouthy kid is trying to spit on you, and full of beer (or drug) muscles and the associated belligerence. But that’s just when you have to do it. It’s not fair at all, but there it is.

Now, you might wonder what happened to Michael Bergeron, the belligerent teenage suspect who got his belligerence knocked out of him that night in 2009, and went on to post the video that started a couple of misfit cops on their way to a more suitable career. We wish we could report he went to MIT and is a research chemist, but you probably know that’s not coming — any research chemistry he ever did was of the recreational pharmaceutical variety.

Presently, he’s doing 3 1/2 to 7 in state prison for burglary. One supposes you could argue that the cops beat him into criminality, but what are the odds? More likely, he’s living proof that sometimes a second chance is wasted on a guy.

UPDATE

This post has been updated from its original posting. We replaced the image-based .pdf of the Seabrook report with an OCR’d version that allows you to select and copy text. We haven’t checked the OCR, but it’s usually pretty good with the program we use. -Eds.

Update II — we added some links to Bergeron’s unrelated criminal cases. He appears to be a career burglar (or maybe more comprehensively, a career druggie who supports his habit with burglary).

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Soldier Systems

Screenshot 2014-07-23 22.17.21If you were to Google soldiersystems site:weaponsman.com, you’d see we’ve cited this useful site from time to time, but it’s never been our W4. How we overlooked it, we’re not sure. Time to rectify that oversight.

About 90% of what’s on Soldier Systems.net is press releases from military, weapons, tactical-gear (and “tactical” gear) vendors, and that kind of thing. Think of it as a kind of heads-up, a PEO Soldier for the rest of us. There’s also a little filler or crap — airsoft and other toys and novelties. Hey, their site, their rules, and it’s easy enough to scroll past the greasy kid stuff and on to useful things.

But while they usually just deliver the facts as they’re given ‘em, it’s on the occasions when they go into depth that they’re most interesting to us. An example is their SHOT Show coverage.

Still, they have incredibly weird and wonderful stuff all the time, because the range of press releases they suck in include not only the usual guns, and knives, and 300 variations of crap made of Cordura, but also oddities like Chain Mail Shoes (why? Well, why not?) and the Cash Cannon (a clever idea, but it’s either out of stock or vaporware).

Quick, Where’s this Combat Operation?

Now taking place somewhere in the world: a couple squads of infantry in ninja suits, an armored truck with a gun turret.

where_is_this_combat_operation

But where?

Where is this Combat Operation?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Answer after the jump.

Continue reading

MD Governor Creates Jobs! — in TN

beretta USA logoIn the past, Beretta General Counsel Jeff Reh has made it clear that the ancient Italian gunmaker’s American operations would be much more comfortably conducted in a State where the Governor and Legislature didn’t get their jollies vilifying gun manufacture. But moving Beretta is an enormous pain, because of ongoing Government contracts, hassles with local authorities, and the permitting process involved in some industrial processes that use hazardous materials: chroming bores, for example.

So, they figured that since new production lines would be the same hassle anywhere, they’d stand those up in the new place, and keep making the old stuff in the old place as long as it would sell. This also let them take care of their workers — something that matters to the Beretta family, even if it doesn’t mean much to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who’d rather see ‘em on welfare and dependent on him.

Then, Beretta’s folks actually dealt with the authorities and neighbors in their new factory location, and were astounded to find that, unlike Maryland, where they’re hated despite being one of the best employers for many miles around, in Tennessee they’re welcome. Very welcome. And not just because they’re spending nearly $50 million and bringing hundreds of jobs; Tennesseans are actually proud to be the New World home to everybody’s favorite 16th-Century Old World gun maker.

Meanwhile, O’Malley is beating the drum for more restrictions on guns and on manufacturing. Beretta USA General Manager, with the auspicious name, Jeff Cooper, in a Beretta PR:

“While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility,” Cooper added.

They’re announcing it now, well in advance; the lines won’t be moving until next year, and the last one out before they turn out the lights will be military M9 production. Beretta seems to know that the venerable M9, adopted three decades ago amid controversy that’s never really abated, is reaching the end of its run; it’s been a good run for Beretta (and is probably the only reason the Italian decision-makers ever greenlit US production in the first place).

And, contrary to the press, it’s an OK gun for a service pistol, which is the least important weapon a military service ever buys. There’s a terrible mismatch of ink (or pixels) spilled and combat utility, probably because every clown who’s ever pontificated at a gun store thinks he’s an expert on pistols, and the only thing he knows about mortars is that they use the bombs as grenades in Saving Private Ryan, so he guesses that mortar bombs explode.

The transition of production from Beretta U.S.A.’s Maryland facility to the Tennessee facility will not occur until 2015 and will be managed so as not to disrupt deliveries to Beretta customers.  Beretta U.S.A.’s production of the U.S. Armed Forces M9 9mm pistol will continue at the Accokeek, Maryland facility until all current orders from the U.S. Armed Forces have been filled.

What will happen to the workers? Well, their jobs in Maryland will end, and it’s very unlikely another manufacturer will step in to such a hostile environment. The managers will give employees a chance to move to youthful, growing Tennessee from aging Maryland; those that don’t want to move will be kept on as long as possible; a few will remain in office jobs, as Beretta doesn’t plan to move those.

Of course, they hadn’t planned to move the production jobs, either. And O’Malley and many other politicians really, really hate the company and its workers and products. No doubt, some of them voted for him: turkeys for Thanksgiving.

“We have not yet begun groundbreaking on the Tennessee facility and we do not anticipate that that building will be completed until the middle part of 2015,” continued Cooper.  “That timing, combined with our need to plan an orderly transition of production from one facility to the other so that our delivery obligations to customers are not disrupted, means that no Beretta U.S.A. Maryland employee will be impacted by this news for many months.  More importantly, we will use this time to meet with every Beretta U.S.A. employee whose Maryland job might be affected by the move to discuss with them their interest in taking a position at our new facility in Tennessee or, if they are not willing to do so, to lay out a long-term strategy for remaining with the Company while our production in Maryland continues.”

Beretta U.S.A. anticipates that the Gallatin, Tennessee facility will involve $45 million of investment in building and equipment and the employment of around 300 employees during the next five years.

Beretta U.S.A. has no plans to relocate its office, administrative and executive support functions from its Accokeek, Maryland facility.

That’s from the official press release; do Read The Whole Thing™.

Once they experience the delta between MD and TN taxes and regulations, who thinks the remaining office jobs are safe? The only thing keeping companies in Maryland at all is the desire to be close to government contracting offices in the National Capital Area. If there’s no follow-on  to the M9 in Beretta’s future, what’s the use of maintaining the Accokeek office?

TSA Mongs Reach Deeper in Your Pocket

tsa-security-theaterFor the billions wasted on the Transportation Security Theater Agency (the direct cost of the failed agency is approaching $10B a year), and the complete lack of performance of the agency (the number of terrorists caught and/or terror plots thwarted by TSA is holding at 0), the agency is doing what government agencies do: grabbing more money. Directly from travelers.

A security fee that the government charges airline passengers more than doubled on Monday, from $2.50 to $5.60.

Lawmakers last year approved an increase in the fee, which is tacked onto the cost of airplane tickets, as part of a budget agreement.

Additionally, passengers will be charged twice if they have a layover for a connecting flight….

“Due to new @TSA fee hike, travelers will pay a billion dollars more per year in added taxes/fees thanks to U.S. [government],” Airlines for American President Nick Calio tweeted recently.

via TSA fee on plane tickets more than doubles | TheHill.

There is no limit to the greed of these payroll patriots. And there’s no accountability for their failures. The director who built a multimillion-dollar Xanadu office? No consequences. The hundreds, if not thousands, of TSA agents who steal from travelers? No consequences (in the worst case, they are quietly fired with a neutral reference). The abuses of Behavioral Detection Officer quackery? No consequences. Mismanagement at every level? No consequences.

No one good, decent, honest, competent, moral, ethical or intelligent has ever been employed at TSA in any capacity whatsoever.

Looking at the Layoffs at SIG-Sauer

sig_sauer_logoThey’ve been playing coy about the numbers, and calling it a “workforce adjustment” (hot tip for corporate PR dweebs: that kind of mealy-mouthed, nutless spin fools no one, and is why all productive workers hate you as much as Mauch-era HK hated its customers). But there’s no question there was a big layoff at SIG last week. This is in addition to a layoff announced just a week or so earlier, and another layoff just over a month ago. The most credible numbers we’ve got indicate that the total layoffs (circa 8 July and 15 July) are 240 workers out of 800 SIG Sauer workers in the USA. This may or may not include the unannounced layoff of 57 in May.  (A plan to grow headcount to 900 in 2013 was quietly scuttled last year). No class of worker, except senior management, has been spared (and we’re not sure about senior management). Manufacturing workers, engineers, warranty & rework gunsmiths, logistics and facilities workers; direct and overhead employees, salaried and hourly, all of the ranks have been thinned.

The Union Leader (New Hampshire’s largest paper) reported that high-tech manufacturing workers comprised a large portion of the latest layoff:

[Michael] Power [of the state unemployment office] said workers laid off at Sig Sauer in Newington could have new options for employment, citing New Hampshire’s growing aerospace and advanced composite industries.

“A lot of these workers are skilled, particularly in (computer numerical control) machines and advanced manufacturing,” Power said. “We have a good need for these people.”

As in any layoff, the ultimate cause is that the company does not expect these workers to make enough money for the company to justify paying them. One of the reasons given by company spox Allen Forkner was “to control costs.”

Forkner is not a company employee, but an outside PR consultant from Nebraska who works for many industry firms, including SIG. It’s not very likely he really knows what is going on; it is very likely that he’s the author of the timelessly brain-dead “workforce adjustment” spin.

We think we can offer a better analysis

Being a lot closer than Forkner to SIG-Sauer (both physically, and in contact with current and, now, former, employees) we think we can offer a better analysis.

There are two factors in this one: the first is an inventory glut (or, if you prefer, a sales holiday). It’s caused by easing off of the ban-threat-motivated sales spike as anti-gun Democrats lay low during an election year, and market saturation as everybody ramped up production at once. Now SIG is sitting on high inventories of some guns that were expected to be big sellers. Price cutting and sales incentives in recent months did not move the overstock guns, including SIG’s ARs and centerfire pistols, in the numbers SIG managers needed to sell.

The second factor is that some of SIG’s biggest R&D spending in the last few years has not turned into sales.

  • ITEM: The MPX carbine has been in lawsuit limbo due to an ATF ban, and the LE SMG version arrives in a market where DOD is trying to turn every Sheriff’s office into a Stryker Battalion — the appeal of a $2k-plus 9mm carbine pales compared to a “free” 5.56 from Uncle.

MPX-SD-Detail-L

  • ITEM: The very expensive SIG P250 modular program is in trouble, with one Federal agency that tried to adopt the ingenious 21st Century “Man from UNCLE” gun having quality control nightmares. The P250 isn’t new, but it was an important technology demonstrator and a harbinger of things to come.

Sig P250 modularity

  • ITEM: The P250 problems, and rumors of similar QC issues with the new gun, threaten the P320 modular striker-fired program, just as the Army has written a request for proposal that seems like it was written with the plastic SIG in mind.

P320-FS-Nitrondetail-L

A Deep Dive into P320 Sales. Or… no-sales

The P320 issue deserves a deeper look. The list price of the P320 is $719, but we doubt one has ever been sold at full retail. A glance at GunBroker shows 204 of the new guns listed, inviting initial bids to buy-it-now of $519.30 to $629; there’s one guy desperate for action with the initial bid at $100 (he has a higher reserve price). How many of these guns have drawn bids?

None. Not one. Not even the guy trolling for a $100 start bid. So that’s part of the math: 204 guns + 0 buyers = fewer jobs at SIG. But while none are selling right now, is it possibly true that none have sold? Of course not… since the gun’s introduction, we know some have sold, because we’ve run into a couple at the range. And for the record, no complaints from the owners of the new guns, no visible QC problems, no polymer chassis coming apart (cough *P250* cough). But how many of them have sold at GunBroker? It’s probably the main auction site used both by people who buy and cycle stuff through their local FFLs, and FFLs trying to lay hands on something their jobber or distributor has not got (no fear, there, on the P320. SIG even has rebates!)

This next search will only work if you are a GunBroker member, and will require you to log in. It finds closed or completed auctions or sales of P320s, and organizes them by price, high to low. There are 591 completed auctions. Of those:

Let’s add ‘em up: 1+1+1+… that’s 22 guns sold, on the first of 8 pages, and these are the highest priced ones. We’ll spare you a list of all the others, and spare ourselves checking to see if they sold or were no-sales for reserve, but add up the bid-on guns per page: Page 2, 14 guns bid on, all for $549. Page 3, 32 bid on, from $525-545. Page 4, 50 guns bid on, from $5 to $525.

Over time, the rate of sales seems to be declining. We’d have to pull more data manually from GB to confirm if that’s the case, but that’s how it looks — exactly what a manufacturer does not want to see, assuming the sell-through numbers that SIG is getting from its distributors show a similar slackening of demand.

OK, we can’t resist, let’s go back and spot check the guns that were no-sales due to reserves. Here’s an alarming little clue to the P320 zeitgeist: on Page 3, all the guns that had reserves (8 of them) were no-sales. So only 24 guns sold, not 32. Page 2 had no reserves. Page 4 had almost all guns under reserve.  The guns that sold were exclusively no-reserve guns; the reserve guns, even when bid up higher than some sellers’ buy-it-now prices, did not sell. The lowest-priced gun that seems to have actually sold was $499. It seems many sellers placed the reserves in the $600 neighborhood, which is just more than the current SIG market can bear. As a result, only 12 guns out of the 50 that drew bids actually sold.

Since prices lower than the $5 at the bottom of Page 4 could only be low-ball bids on reserve guns, we didn’t bother to look at the other four pages of futile auctions.

To sum it up: Of 591 auctions found in a search of GunBroker, this highly promoted new pistol accounts for 56 sales over a period of more than 90 days (April through July). The prices the sellers, all dealers selling new guns, want are about $100 below list; the market is only interested in paying about $200 below list.

SIG was Counting on these guns (MPX, P250, P320) to Sell Well

One reason for SIG’s expansion into a new (to them) facility on the former Pease AFB was the expectation of higher sales, driven by new product introductions. At least three of the company’s new product introductions are not driving those sales.

Even lobbying won’t help much: the small NH delegation (2 Representatives, 2 Senators) has only one pro-defense member and three anti-gun defense cutters who would just as soon let the Air Force hold a bake sale for its next bomber.

It’s an Industry Problem, not just a SIG Problem

They’re not the only ones downsizing in the industry, or suffering with failed product launches. Covering the latter first, Remington is dealing with the failure of its R51 pistol, a marketing plan that shipped without a working gun attached. But Remington seems to have cut its losses, at least for now; Guns Save Lives reported that the R51 had been given the Leon Trotsky treatment on the Remington Central Committee website. So they stopped the bad press, but they did it by strangling the baby. Only time will tell if that’s temporary, while the R51 is fixed, or if all the R&D, manufacturing, and marketing time and money will have to be marked off as sunk costs.

In New Hampshire alone, two other firms have also struggled with declining firearms demand: Green Mountain Barrels in Conway, NH, has shed half its headcount (roughly 100 of 200 pre-layoff jobs), and the behind-the-scenes Latva Machine Co., a supplier of precision-machined parts to Ruger and other firearms manufacturers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection two weeks ago. Latva, which is over $3 million in the hole, will try to reorganize and stay in business, at the expense of its owners and creditors (which is how bankruptcy works).

Ron Cohen’s merry men must be looking at Remington’s silent assassination of the R51 with envy. They probably don’t have the luxury of being able to do that: they have a warehouse full of plastic SIGs, and a dealer network that has to be getting vocal about the sell-through of these arms. (Would you want to be the guy who reports 159 P320s in inventory right now? What if he borrowed money to buy them?)

Yet, we’re not aware — yet — of problems with these SIGs. So why are customers staying away? Two possibilities, both of which could be operating to some extent. First, it could simply be sales exhaustion. We know people who bought dumb stuff during the panic. Heck, we bought dumb stuff. (Glock drum magazines? They work, but they’re still dumb). Second, reputation is what we MBA dweebs call a “trailing indicator.” That means that Ron and the guys could start cranking out the best pistols ever made with the remaining crew in Newington, and it would still be years before their reputation recovers from some of the turkeys they shipped from Exeter.

Is that fair? Not really, but it’s the way human minds, and the reputations of humans and their organizations, work.

Kyle Trial — a Lawyer’s View

Law-ScaleAndHammerSince American courts are not particularly about justice or law, but are places where Random Stuff Happens depending on the influence of personalities, the best clue to a legal outcome is usually an inside track to the judge’s character, beliefs and personality. About the next best thing to hearing from associates of the judge, is hearing from associates of the attorneys arguing one side or the other, especially when the fellows reporting are attorneys themselves.

Two of the attorneys at the group legal blog Power Line were or are associated with the firm handling Chris Kyle’s widow’s defense in Jesse Ventura’s defamation trial. While Scott Johnson has been out of the firm for 17 years, he knows some of the attorneys. It is obvious that he has not asked them for inside information in the case, and his judgment is based on a lawyer’s reading of the press and a visit to the courtroom during defense testimony and cross-examination, but his opinion carries weight. In a very cautiously worded piece – he actually says we should discount his opinions because of his closeness to the players – he concludes:

Ventura may come away with some measure of vindication. Nevertheless, as he pursues his case against the estate of Chris Kyle, I can’t help but think this is the most misguided defamation claim since Alger Hiss sued Whittaker Chamber in 1948 for saying on Meet the Press that Hiss had been a Communist (and might still be).

Do go Read The Whole Thing™. Hiss, of course, was a Communist, and was actually a code-named and tasked agent of Soviet espionage (a charge that Chambers did not make, but that was proven true by the release of KGB/MGB/MVD/NKVD archives).

Ventura’s certainly not a Communist, although what ideas actually nest under that broad forehead are any guess, given his wooly pronouncements over the years. But we don’t think there are many people of whom Chris Kyle would say, “I hate that guy.” And the PowerLine post describes when, and probably why, he said it about a fellow SEAL.*

 

*Yeah,we know, the guy was UDT. They’re all officially part of the frog brotherhood, right?