He Didn’t Want the Cops to Catch Him

ND-shot-in-footThis is a great twofer. It’s a crime story. And it’s a gun-safety story. And it’s a morality parable, so we guess it’s actually a great threefer.

Ralik Hansen, the sad-faced mook pictured on the right below, was one of a crew of at least seven professional jewelry-store robbers. Of course, for armed robbers, getting busted and doing a stint Upstate is part and parcel of a career, so the knock on the door or the ring on the bell could well be taken as the arrival of the cops and an end to one’s criminal progress for a while.

But Ralik mistook the FedEx guy for a cop, and now he looks considerably sadder than he originally did.

Ralik Hansen“In his paranoia, he ran to the bathroom and grabbed a .357 and was trying to shimmy under his couch to hide in his apartment when the gun went off,” a law-enforcement source said.
“Hansen erroneously thought it was the police coming to get him,” added Leon Krolikowski, the police chief in New Canaan, Conn., where Hansen and his crew allegedly hit a jewelry store a year ago.

So if you think he had the long face in this mug from a previous stint in pokey, imagine how he felt in the instant he knew he’d blasted himself to perdition. Sad and stupid, maybe?

It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.

Want another laugh? Bloomberg’s coin-operated activists marked him down as a “victim of gun violence.” Well, gun violence and criminal stupidity, but mostly criminal stupidity.

They say your life passes through your mind in your last moments. But in Ralik’s case, it was just a 158 grain jacketed semi-wadcutter or something similar.

He had a legitimate reason to be concerned about John Law seeking him out, as his next trip Upstate could have been a long one:

Hansen had faced possible life behind bars on robbery and weapons charges, authorities said.

He and his accomplices hit a Cartier store on New York’s fabled 5th Avenue on 31 January 14, and they were also suspected in four other violent robberies of jewelry stores in New York, New Jersey, and Virginia. Four of the suspected robbers are already in the jug awaiting trial, and these two remain at large, possibly under couches with 357s in hand:

Cartier Robbery At Large Suspects

Funny that the cops would have mugshots on file for them, just like Ralik, eh? But we’re open to proof that these were their library card photos or something.

The two at-large mutts’ names are Courtney Hardin and Jamal Dehoyos, and they, too, fear the knock or the doorbell.

One last thing: Ralik might have committed a scam that led to his own untimely but unlamented demise. (Either that, or he wasn’t the only criminal at 360 Snediker Ave. in Brownsville, New York). See, the Fedex package addressed to a nonexistent name at an actual address, without any apartment number, is a common way for criminals to rip off merchants. They hope the delivery driver will just leave the package in the vestibule, and they can pick it up at leisure. Postal or other investigators then have nothing to go on but an address with a whole bunch of apartments in it, all of which are probably full of people steeped in the ethos of “stop snitchin'” and more aligned with criminals than victims culturally, leaving the investigation high and dry.

But when this delivery driver rang, the paranoid (hmmm… wanna bet he was on recreational pharma at the time?) Hansen freaked out, and the rest — including Hansen his ownself — is history.

Think of it as evolution in action.

via Man wanted in Cartier robbery accidentally shoots himself dead | New York Post.

Hat tip, Jazz Shaw at Hot Air.

The 1968 LRRP Conference on Weapons: Vol. I.

usarv_conference_coverA great deal of mythology about the M16, CAR-15 and other weapons in Vietnam continues to circulate. Here are real lessons-learned as discussed in a period document, the 2-part USARV Long Range Patrol Conference Summary, which discussed a conference held from 9-12 August 1968, in other words, at the height of the US Army’s combat involvement in the Vietnam War. While those attending were primarily officers in grades of 2LT through MG, they clearly brought the experience of the units most involved in running long-range patrols, including the “letter” Ranger companies then of the 51st Infantry Regiment, the greek-letter projects, Mike Forces, MACVSOG, the SAS from OZ, and the Special Forces-run RECONDO school, where LLRP leaders from many US and Allied units trained.

So what did they say about weapons (with, maybe, some operational and equipment digressions)?

f_51 LRP ScrollII Field Force Vietnam (Co. F., 51st Infantry (LRP)), p. 22-23:

Equipment carried by the patrol includes as little food and water as possible, M-16s, a Light Antitank Weapon (LAW), an M-79, and an M-60 MG with 700 rounds. The patrols remain in the area for five days and are extracted only if they have wounded personnel. If the wounds are slight, they will be treated and then reinserted.

Note that this is a 5-6 man patrol. F Company Rangers practiced what they called “saturation patrolling,” where 10 to 14 of these teams would be on the ground seeking the enemy. The heavy firepower assisted in breaking contact by “impersonating” a larger unit. Unlike some other long range patrol elements, they would not be extracted unless a member was wounded; their instruction, and ethos, was “break contact, continue mission.”

Harassing and interdictory (H&I) fire continues in the AO even while teams are being inserted or on the ground. To stop the fire signals the enemy something is happening. The teams move between the fires. The fires are plotted 800 meters from the team, except at night when defensive concentrations are as close as 300 meters or closer if desired.

Details like this, which would have been extremely useful to the enemy, are why the report was classified. It would not be declassified until 31 December 1974, long after the withdrawal of American forces.

In the III CTZ operation areas where shots are heard in the jungle all day, the teams snipe at close ranges. A noise suppressor would be beneficial to assist the sniping.

Another tactic especially effective at night is to set up a trip flare behind a team that is being pursued. If gunships are on the scene, they can fire at the trip flare when the enemy trips it.

Some of these TTPs would work just as well today as they did 50 years ago. Case in point.

The teams use the starlight scope and have found it effective. The LAW is used mainly as a psychological weapon to make the enemy think twice before assaulting a team. The weapon deceives the enemy as to the size of the team. Time pencils and fragmentation grenades are used, especially at night to mislead him on the location of the team. Claymores are used extensively. Wrist compasses are used also. .It saves the man from fiddling with the lensatic and getting it caught in the brush.

Many of these small defensive possibilities have been eliminated since then, by unilateral anti-mining decisions taken by American political leaders. No more grenades with a time fuze, or tripwire Claymores on your back trail. Note that these less-well-resourced patrollers didn’t get toe-poppers and minigrenades like SOG elements did. They didn’t even have CAR-15s:

Survival knives are on the MTOE but extremely hard to obtain. The M-l6, while a good weapon, is not as suitable to LRP operations as the CAR 15 because it is too long and catches in the brush. The present camouflage uniform tears easily and mosquitoes bite through the material. The CIDG tiger suit is better.

It was complaints like these about the ripstop ERDL camouflage uniform that led to the sweat-bag first edition of the abominable BDU — 12-15 years or so later. The survival knives were, of course, pilfered in the supply chain. That still happens; team guys would stop in at Camp Vance and see every clerk in the S4 wearing the high-speed gear intended for the teams but mysteriously never issued.

SAS CrestSpecial Air Service Regiment (Australian Army), pp. 24-25.

The XM 148 is used extensively by the Australians. The trigger arrangement is dangerous as issued–it catches on vines and fires unexpectedly–so it is cut off and the sear is used to fire the weapon. The sights are removed also. Since contact range is normally five to ten meters, the sights are not needed. One XM 148 is carried per patrol.

Another piece of equipment is an anchor device for the McGuire rig or for rappelling ropes. It can be fitted to the UH-l series helicopter in about five minutes and deploys six ropes, three on each side. A pull of a lever releases the rope in an emergency. The UH-IH can extract a six-man patrol with full equipment using this rig. The present McGuire rig lifts only three people and cannot be cut· away in an emergency.

The XM-148 was a Colt-designed grenade launcher (Colt nomenclature was CGL-1 through -4) that preceded the M203. AAI’s M203 would, a few years later, provide the same capability, but without any of the 148’s problems.

Yes, SASR really did roll with XM148s. Three troopers on right have them (left hand guy has an M203) on M16s and L1 FAL. Image source.

Yes, SASR really did roll with XM148s. Three troopers on right have them (left hand guy has an M203) on M16s and L1 FAL. Image source.

The SF STABO rig ultimately adopted that Australian innovation which was, as SAS Major Wade noted, quite superior to the improvised (but working) McGuire rig.

25th Infantry Division, Company F, 50th Infantry (LRP), p. 35:

75th ranger 25th ID scrollThe old AR belt is a very useful item of equipment. It has numerous pouches for ammunition or grenades, which distributes the weight and does not have to be taped. The wrist compass could replace the lensatic if it had a sighting device on it. It is accurate and handy, and is immediately available not in a pocket. Light weight web gear made from CS cannisters [sic] is being experimented with at the present time and also the M-16 noise suppressors. The new face camouflage made by Elizabnth Arden that is used by the SEAl.s seems better than our issue camoufhLge. The time pencils are very useful but hard to get.

The “old AR belt” that Captain Dawson of the 25th mentioned is the BAR belt. The then-standard Army issue equipment, the M-56 field gear, had metal buckles and snaps and, without a liberal application of green tape or duct tape, would make a patrol jingle like Santa’s reindeer. (Garrison-oriented commanders and especially sergeants major and first sergeants tended to oppose addition of tape to issue web gear, and it was a constant source of friction between combat troops and chairborne REMFs, until the M-56 and its equally shoddy successor, ALICE, passed out of service).

101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), Company F, 58th Infantry (LRP), pp. 37-38:

This is actually the later L/75th Ranger scroll. All these scrolls come from this site, airborne-ranger.com.

This is actually the later L/75th Ranger scroll; we didn’t find one for F/58. All these scrolls come from this site: airborne-ranger.com.

The 101st’s program seemed particularly mature and well-thought-out to exploit the Division’s copious helicopter mobility. While their notes on operations and ARVN integration were most personally interesting, they had some interesting observations on weapons and equipment, too:

The use of CS dropped by helicopters has proven successful but required the team to take a gas mask along. This is deemed worth the extra effort. …

Air support is preferred to artillery in the AO due to triple canopy vegetation. It is difficult to observe and adjust ar tillery and a LFT can respond in 10 to 15 minutes.

The first light insertion is utilized most frequently. It allows reaction in case of contact on or near the LZ and an air relay, a U-1A Otter from Phu Bai. can standby during insertion or until the team establishes communication with the base camp or ground relay station. The teams do not move during the noon period or when another team is in contact because a team is less likely to be discovered when it is stationary.

The standard 65-foot Chinook suspension ladder cut in half and strung through a UH-1 model helicopter so that about 12 feet hangs down on each side is effective for insertion and extraction in stumpy areas, thickly vegetated areas, over uneven ground or where rotary clearance is needed. Rappelling is used also but its use makes McGuire rig extraction required, and this is avoided when possible. However, one McGuire rig wHh handcuffs on the riser is used to extract prisoners.

The company has three British Sten guns with silencers which are extremely quiet. They have not been fired in the course of an operation although they were taken along.

36th Mobile Strike Force Command, Vol. 1, p. 42:

(probably fake) mike force patchThe patrols carry one AN/PRC-25 radio with two headsets per patrol (the headset has proven to be the most likely part of system to fail). Their base station has an RTT capability and single side band in addition to the AN/GRC-46 radios. The Americans a.re armed with the CAR-I5 and the Cambodians carry the M-16. There are Sten guns and two pistols, all with silencers, available in the unit. Three of the American members carry the Swedish K submachinegun.

“Swedish K” was the Special Forces nickname for the Swedish Carl Gustav M45B submachine gun, which was commonly carried with 36-round box magazines but could also use 50-round Suomi magazines by removing a retaining pin and magazine housing. We think they could also use the Suomi drum but never tried it ourselves!

The Swedish M45B was copied in Egypt as the "Port Said." It is a typical 2nd-Genrration SMG.

The Swedish M45B was copied in Egypt as the “Port Said,” which is the version seen here (file photo). It is a typical 2nd-Genrration SMG.

The MACV Recondo School, p. 49:

recondopatchPersonal appearance is deemed important by the school. While a student is at school, the individual is required to maintain a high standard of personal hygiene and appearance. Mustaches must be nearly trimmed, haircuts must be short, and the normal appearance ·of an elite l.RP trooper does not include rings in ears Qr bracelets. The school is a MACV school and these standards must be maintained.

The school had previously mentioned some problems they were having with unmotivated students (definitely a problem as Recondo school used the enemy as a training aid). It attributed these woes to poor selection and neglect of published selection standards by sending unit. The school listed the goodies each student got, as well as some problems with what he was expected to bring along:

… provide each graduate with six Recondo patches and a diploma. Honor graduate receives a
special knife purchased from the fund.

USARV Regulation 350-2 contains a list of equipment that the individual should bring to the school with him. Many students do not realize this and the school does not have enough facilities to provide this equipment for every student. Critical items are camouflage fatigues and M-16 magazines.

So as early as 1968, the training base and the troop units were already scamming M16 mags (in those days, 20-rounders) from one another.

One little detail: everywhere in this report M16 (which is the weapon’s actual designation, although the Army model was always the XM16E1/M16A1) is rendered as M-16. This instantiates the well-known idea that, even though an item’s official nomenclature is one thing, the troops may call it something different — even in official reports.

IIIrd Marine Amphibious Force (1st & 3rd Recon Battalions), p. 45.

Once again, the Marine contribution was most interesting for their tactics and operation art, very different from any of the Army approaches. But they did have this to say about weapons, and interesting take on CS gas (non-lethal tear gas):

One way of using CS is to employ it by fixed wing. A ton of it can be placed in the napalm tanks with sand to get it through the jungle canopy. It can saturate 4,000 square meters :in five minutes. It is a good technique for taking prisoners but an extra gas mask must be taken along for the prisoner or he will die.

So, even with normally non-lethal gas, the dose makes the poison. One suspects that was learned at the expense of some fellow named Nguyen.

Note well: these comments are all from Volume I of the Conference proceedings. There’s more cool stuff in the shorter Volume II but we’re already knocking on the door of 2,000 words, awfully long for a web article.

UPDATE

The documents, if you please: Part I is the conference, 50 pp: LRRP Conference 1968 Part 1.pdf; Part II is a presentation on Recondo School, 10 pp:LRRP Conference 1968 part II Recondo School.pdf.

Sunday Starts Submerged

… as in, in the hole.

We had the following posts planned for Saturday that you haven’t seen yet:

  • The Underground & Auxiliary: a Case Study
  • When guns are outlawed…
  • Saturday Matinee 046: …
  • That was the week that was: 2014 Week 46

We may get to some of ‘em today. We may not. And we may or may not get Monday’s stuff all set up like we like to do. Just the way it is on this day, 16 November, 2014 AD.

We know that not everybody loves the TW3 posts, but we find them useful for blog management, and a good way to call attention to some back stories that didn’t get a lot of hits for whatever reason. The Matinees are just time consuming, as the Underground Case Study has been.

How Many Guns Should You Practice With?

How many guns should you actually practice with,? That’s a common question, but maybe it’s not a common enough question. On one extreme you have the aphorism that says, “Beware a man that only has one gun, he probably knows how to use it.” On the other extreme you have the idea that someone who’s a “weapons expert” can pick up any firearm and instantly use it to trim gnats’ eyelashes a mile away.

This picture dates itself: Kevlar, BDUs, and M16A1 = 1982.

This picture dates itself: Kevlar, BDUs, and M16A1 = 1982. But he’s practicing with his one gun.

There’s an element of truth, and of falsehood, in both extremes. So we suggest a middle road.

Some Considerations on Training with One Gun

There is one gun that is most important. It is the one you carry regularly, whether it’s a holstered revolver or a slung carbine. It is the one that will almost certainly be with you when you need to shoot (a deer, a jihadi, a Wealth Redistribution Specialist, whoever’s on your menu).  It’s true that this gun should be the focus of your training and you should be able to put it into action and in a safe condition, fire accurately as the sights allow, point fire it at close-in targets in pitch black or otherwise without sights (an often neglected skill, but guess where most gunfights take place?), reload it eyes-off (because your eyes will be on the target, or visibility will be restricted), and reduce probable, and possible, stoppages, again, without relying on your vision. That’s a lot to master!

You should conduct most of your training with the gun you are most likely to use, because that is where most of your proficiency should be.

But this does not mean you should neglect training with other firearms, your own, your potential enemies’, common weapons and ones with unusual features. Nothing is quite so sad as seeing a recent-grad 18B stumped by one of the WWII or Cold War weapons that are no longer covered in training and have unusual controls. We sent one guy searching a Vz26 submachine gun for the selector switch in 2007, and we think he’s still looking, because he’s the sort of guy who would only crack a book under extreme duress. (The trigger acts as the selector and enables both semi and auto fire). In a perfect world you’d train with all that stuff, but not more than your main gun. At a dance, you always pay most attention to your own date, right?

Some Considerations on Training with Many Guns

It’s silly to have too many guns for practical use. This scene, from the dreadful movie Tremors (1990), not only shows you what Hollywood thinks of us members of the gun culture, but also illustrates a rather extreme case of firearms dilettantcy:

Yeah, you saw that right. (This wiki post purports to describe the guns on the wall, and here’s a 3D tour of Burt’s Basement. Dunno why Hollywood picked such a rank beginning collector to model). Anyway, you probably cringed at the video. They grabbed a random gun willy-nilly, fired a mag, dropped the gun, and then New York reloaded, only going to the classic .600 or 8-bore elephant/dangerous-game gun at the very end (and reloading that). We dunno about you, but we made the dangerous-game call a lot earlier.

The right answer is not to be the movie’s loopy Burt Gummer. Instead, it’s to master the one gun you are most likely to use first and to apply most of your efforts to getting better with that one.

But many people (police officers, soldiers, citizens) also have a secondary firearm. If we want to make it an SAT Test analogy game, for the soldier primary:secondary may be carbine:pistol or crew-served-weapon:carbine; for the cop the situation is reversed, because his or her pistol is the officer’s primary self-defense and criminal-control firearm. Even though the long gun is vastly more effective (both in accuracy and terminal effect), the pistol is the one Officer Friendly has when he or she meets someone less friendly.

sight alignment and placement

Skills transfer from one kind of weapon to the other is not zero, but it’s weak. Imagine the chaos your muscle memory turns into, if you’re like us and like to shoot 33 different guns on one range trip (we’re getting over that, actually. Better to make more trips with less variety in the hardware each trip).

There are some exceptions, but…

Certainly, there are ways to get shooting experience in general that will enhance, not detract from, your performance on your primary weapon. For instance, lots of shooting of a rimfire gun is likely to improve your firing overall, as is the often-neglected airgun option. This is more so if their grip angle, controls and most importantly sights and trigger are like those of the service weapon.

And effort spent improving your accuracy in one environment pay off in others. Other things being equal, the officer who’s a high-power rifle competitor as a hobby is probably going to bring more fine-motor-skills, and less performance anxiety, to an alley or roadside gunfight, than one who spends off-duty time gardening or fishing.

But the focus of your training effort should be proficiency with the weapon you are most likely to have when you need a weapon (every rifleman can operate an M2, M240, M249 (M27, Marines) or M203/320, but if they’re not his assigned weapon, he spends most of his training time on his rifle or carbine). If you find you can sustain a level of proficiency you’re comfortable with, then you can soften that focus a little and bring other weapons into the mix — one at a time.

And your range time is most effectively spent when you bring one gun and one session’s ammo for that gun to the range, unless you are working on something exotic like transitions — and you shouldn’t be doing that unless you have basic accuracy and precision in the bag. But that’s another blog post.

Did you dry fire this week?

Remember the Trayvon Martin target? Yeah, bad taste.

Remember the Trayvon Martin target? Yeah, bad taste.

‘Member our discussion on the importance of dry fire? You probably left that discussion, like many people, vowing to yourself to do it a little more.

Did you?

Or did you make it to the end of the week without making your firearm go click? If you are that guy, there still time.

Don’t be that guy. Take twenty minutes this coming weekend, clear your carry or home defense gun, and “fire” at something (something safe, naturally, in case you brainfroze during the “clear your gun” phase).

Here’s a pro dry-fire tip: Work your way to smaller and smaller targets as your front sight control and follow-through gets better. If you’re dry-firing at your reflection in the mirror (don’t worry. We’ll never tell) then “hits” are easy to come by. If you’re dry-firing at a 1/4″ rivet in a binder in a bookcase across the room, you will need to work harder on your grip, trigger control, and follow-through.

Start on a target you can consistently call good shots on, and then work your way to the next size smaller. You can never have too much consistency, precision and accuracy in your fundamentals, whether you’re shooting bullseye, benchrest, or bad guys. (If you’re shooting good guys, first tip: hold your Glock with the sights to the left and the magwell right, and stab it at your target).

If you are getting frustrated trying to “hit” the target you chose, pick one two sizes larger and continue doing that, if need be, till your skills are meeting the target. Practice with that for a while, and then move one size smaller.

You’re not trying to achieve perfect Zen mastery in one session. You’re just trying to make your very next shot the perfect shot, and you’ll do this for just a little while before reloading, holstering, and moving on (or locking the gun back up, if that’s how you roll. But the point of a defensive handgun is to have a defensive weapon with you).

Follow-through is especially important and it’s one of the things that separates pros from schmoes. You may not be a pro but there’s no harm in trying to shoot more like one.

So, you did dry-fire this week, right?

 

(Note: this is another one that spent all night in the queue. So Saturday is off to a way slow start, as we’re chasing light fixtures here anyway. Perhaps you should wander back and read How to Deal with Pool Guns — for the Border Patrol or What’s New in 3D-Printed Guns & Enabling Tech if their length daunted you before. Or use the search engine to find something you like in the 3,000-plus posts on this blog, 1,000-plus of them from 2014).

The Joys of Shop Improvement

So, after having a cop buddy warn us off fluorescents that are also used as “grow lamps” (“You’ll never get the DEA to stop bugging your phone and reading your mail after that”)  we settled for LED lamps, and bought a pair of GE lamps.

Loaded them in the truck. Got them home. out of the garage, up the stairs, across the length of the Manor, down the stairs, around the corner, onto the bench. Unpack the lights.

Simple as they come. The light has two cables, and there are two cable anchors that go with it, in a little bag of parts.

In one of the two brand-new GE light units.

So there’s an 800 number on the instruction sheet. Can we get replacement anchors? “Your call is important to us,” a machine lies. “Our usual hours are Monday to Friday….” Lord love a duck, it’s Friday now. Sumdood’ll be answering his phone three days from now. Maybe.

So we google up the unit and see if the anchors are available separately. If so, Amazon can get them here before GE can get off its dead ass and answer their phones. But no joy; you either get the anchors, or you don’t. Dumb us for buying this product!

We could return them to the big-box store, where they were the last two on the shelf. And get something else, or go to another store.

Here’s a Shocker (not): Red Cross Squandered Disaster Donations

Hurricane Sandy press conference, CEO McGovern in front of trucks pulled from relief efforts to be her backdrop.

Potemkin Relief exposed at a Hurricane Sandy press conference, CEO McGovern in front of trucks pulled from relief efforts to be her backdrop.

When someone says non-profit, our impluse is to reach for a revolver. While the term conjures, for many Americans, mental images of saintly do-gooders, the cold hard fact is that the bigger the non-profit, the more the top ranks are Political Class insiders running the soi-disant charity for personal gain.

Take the Red Cross. A recent report from the left-wing journalistic organization ProPublica savages the non-profit for its incompetent and corrupt mishandling of Hurricane Sandy relief.

At ProPublica, it’s baby duck day, but does anybody beyond the down-on-his-cheeks stage remember the ARC’s response to 9/11? It collected a fortune — and sat on it, to the extent that its vast army of headquarters drones didn’t award it to one another. Remember the Red Cross’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Neither do many of the displaced and ruined victims, because the ARC sent empty trucks and staged empty press events. Its focus was, as always, on raising money — it raises, and blows, a billion a year, whether there’s a disaster or not.

In fact, the Red Cross brass welcome disasters, because there’s nothing like some photogenic devastation to tentpole a fund-raising campaign.

Hurricane Sandy led to a fund-raising windfall of almost $400 million. But very little was spent on actual relief, something obvious to people on the ground:

“The Red Cross would have been helpful if it had offered food, water, shelter, cleaning supplies, blankets,” says Rich Wieland, whose house in Toms River, New Jersey was flooded and whose neighborhood lost power for 16 days. His first contact with the charity came two months after the storm when Red Cross workers finally called to offer aid. “It was too little, too late.”
Richard Sturiale, who saw the basement and first floor of his home in the Rockaways destroyed by flooding, recalls that “the only Red Cross truck my neighbors or I saw came two weeks after the storm.” In contrast, he says, Mormon and Amish volunteers “appeared at my doorstep offering much-needed help” just three days after Sandy.

There were plenty of Red Cross trucks, but they were assigned at the personal direction of vastly overpaid CEO Gail McGovern for fund-raising PR duty, standing in the background of press conferences.

That’s the Red X for you: jet-setting to the scene of a disaster — for a fundraising photo op.

Yesterday ProPublica was back with news of an employee survey that found that 39% of employees trusted “senior leadership,” i.e. McGovern and cronies, and only 60% were comfortable with the organization’s ethics.

….[The] survey, which was conducted by IBM, notes that other companies scored better on the questions about trust. About 20 percent of respondents at other companies expressed concern about their organization’s ethics, compared with nearly 40 percent for the Red Cross survey

The charity condemned the journalists for investigating it. Earlier this year, they hired an expensive law firm to conduct a scorched-earth fight against disclosing where the Sandy money went (a fight that was partially successful). Spokeswoman Anna Maria Borrego said at the time that information documenting the charity’s penchant for blowing relief money on fundraising and image-polishing activities was…

proprietary information important to maintaining our ability to raise funds and fulfill our mission.

Here’s a link to ProPublica’s complete Red X coverage.

The Red Cross, in fact, as a hierarchical, centralized, command-driven large enterprise is a lot like military units: a lot depends on the character of the person at the top. The last several people at the top have been the kind that ran the org with a view to their personal bottom lines. It shows.

What’s New in 3D-Printed Guns & Enabling Tech

From time to time we take a look at developments including technologies as well as designs, to see if this field is progressing as rapidly as everyone originally expected it to. Today, we’ll put up the data and let you be the judge of progress.

First, New Tech in Additively-Manufactured Guns

And we have a couple of those to begin with: one all additive but the springs and grips, and one a hybrid of additive and subtractive (lathe turning) technology.

Radically Customized Stainless 1911

As everyone has read here before, Solid Concepts of Texas built a proof-of-concept .45 of stainless steel, another of exotic Inconel, and then a short production run of historic (and priced accordingly: $12,000!) printed pistols.

Solid has to tread lightly these days, having been acquired mid-2014 by the militantly anti-gun lefties of Stratasys, whose diet of “that enchanted stem, laden with flower and fruit” has cause these hermits of Eden Prairie to believe that wishful thinking, and banishment of deodands, can erase evil from the world1. But the guy who headed up Solid’s pistol projects, VP Eric Mutchler, built himself a fully-customized 1911 that he calls The Reason (as in, “Who dares argue with Reason?,” or maybe along the lines of Bourbon cannon labeled in relief, “Ultima Ratio Regum“).

the_reason_3dp_solid-concepts

We found the story when Reason Magazine (no relation) ran the story on 27 October:

It was made by him and for him, merely as his personal example of how interestingly personalized 3D printing allows metal weapons to be. (Solid Concepts, now owned by a bigger, and publicly held, 3D printing interest Stratasys, is trying to avoid being too connected with the weapons field these days.)

The weapon was made mostly out of stainless steel with store-bought grips, using an EOS M280 3D printer. It chambers 10mm ammo and features the word “Reason” printed in the slide, and the preamble to the Declaration of Independence on the front of the grip.

Some other details actually ran the day before in 3D Print.com, which is where we found the picture of the gun (we think it came from Mutchler himself). Frankly, we wouldn’t have customized a 1911 that way. We’d have customized it completely differently. Which is one of the incompletely-exploited gifts of 3D printing — the age of mass personalization. We think it would be a gas to build one in Titanium. We don’t have an EOS gathering dust in the lab, though.

Machined-steel Cartridges Extend Utility of Plastic Gun

There are several conceptual approaches to the limits of consumer 3D-printing plastics in firearms applications. You can accept the limitations of a short-lived, low-rigidity firearm. You can print the gun in metal, like the Reason above. You can seek better 3DP materials than legacy plastics like ABS and PLA. (We’re getting a demo of a printer from 3D Systems next week, that prints nylon for much more structural parts than ABS or PLA. Nylon enables a lot of things).

And then, you can hybridize a 3D-printed gun to use a metallic (or carbon fiber, perhaps) insert of some kind. There’s a new design that’s conceptually similar to Cody Wilson’s original Liberator, but that uses heavy-duty steel cartridge cases to contain a lot of the energy of firing. Brass cartridge cases remain popular a century and a half after their initial adoption because of their excellent obturation, but neither they nor any of the alternative materials provides any strength; that comes from the barrel and breech or cylinder. A cartridge that provided strength as well as containment and obturation would be wastefully heavy, but ought to work in a flimsy gun.

Michael Crumling is a machinist who has developed such a product, which he calls the .314 Atlas. This has produced a lot of hyperventilating in the so-called tech media like Wired and The Register, which amusingly insults Wired with supercilious British contempt for gun-happy colonials like ourselves, while writing a similarly shallow article that does at least note that: “Crumling makes them using a lathe — a machine tool.”

The author of the Register piece, Lewis Page, contends that he’s a great expert on firearms because he spent eleven years in the Royal Navy, during much of which he had to qualify on individual weapons. We’re so impressed. (Of course, that means he probably does edge out the Wired guy on hands-on experience). If we ever need an expert opinion on rum, sodomy, or the lash, we know where to turn.

Crumling’s own blog, Mike’s Custom Weaponry, is worth a read. He has not released the design files for his Liberator-based pistol that he uses with the .314 Atlas. He’s keenly aware that this is not a complete weapon equivalent to manufactured firearms (which kind of takes the air out of Wired’s and Mashable’s freak-outs, and Page’s attempt to be the veritable Nelson of battles against strawmen). You may want to check his post on the .314 Atlas. It’s named, by the way, after his vintage lathe, which like any true machinist he builds parts for himself.

Future metal printing technologies

As we have pointed out over and over and over again (damn. Dave Clark Five earworm), the immense investment in physical plant and where’s-the-hydropower-dam electrical demands of the SLS and DMLS technologies used on prototype firearms today, won’t be state of the art forever. Since a lot of the key technology involved in repeatably positioning a print head in three dimensions is already mature and commoditized, it’s only a matter of time before metals printing is in hobbyist hands.

Indeed, a Michigan Tech team demonstrated 3D metal printing with a welder-based printer two years ago. And now there are at least two different new startups promising to bring low-cost (relatively) printing to the shop or office, and more new technologies appearing the the academic literature.

New Startups — Aurora Labs and Weld3D

Aurora Labs, based in beautiful Perth, Australia, hit with a splash in September, and then sank with a bubble in October. The company claims it has new SLS-like technology, which it refuses to detail, that allows it to sell for $AUD 4,000-8,000 the capabilities that 3DS sells for hundreds of thousands. It launched a Kickstarter campaign on 23 September 14, which met the company’s goals of $100k AUD in three days and soared to over $300k in a couple of weeks — before being yanked 9 October 2014. The company’s head, David Budge, told StartupSmart (an Australian tech publication):

They essentially wanted us to give them and everyone else a tour of every inner working of our machine. After various discussions back and forth it just wasn’t enough. I understand they have to protect their position and model… but I decided to pull the site down.

Reading between the lines, it sounds as if Kickstarter shut him down.  The Aurora website is currently in chaos, with warnings not to use the ordering software and promises of the site being up by various dates, the latest of which appears to be 5 November 2014. If the company really has the revolutionary technology, and ability to deliver product, that they have promised, they’re a game changer. But so far, all they’ve shown is press releases, claims, and two small photos, one showing a pyramid of supposedly printed material 4mm high, and one showing a simple, flat part.

In the StartupSmart article, intellectual property attorney Brian Goldberg explains that they might be best advised not to disclose their innovations, “if there’s no [intellectual property protections] in place. … [J]ust to publicly disclose it hoping that no one will copy it … is a high risk.”

If and when Aurora rises from its present hibernation, you’ll probably see it in their Facebook timeline or Twitter feed first.

On the other hand, Weld3D produces steel parts with a crude surface finish, but can make geometries impossible (or, at least, extremely difficult) with traditional, subtractive manufacturing. The company is simply a couple of engineers in Huntsville, Alabama, working to commercialize what appears to be the arc-welding-deposition process pioneered by Michigan Tech. They’re not selling anything at present, but they’re gaining know-how that has great potential. Here’s their machine in action:

Weld3D_process

Looks like a welder to us, but it’s not joining metals, it’s building up a shape from the bead. 

And here’s an example of a roughly-finished, but solidly-welded, part with a radical geometry:

Weld3D_complexity_and_finish

How would you make that on a milling machine? Beats us with a stick.

A number of Weld3D’s demo parts appear to be bare-bones de Laval rocket nozzles. Makes sense, in Huntsville. Post-manufacture machining can bring the surface finish into tolerances. This part is a nozzle, machined on the outside. (Other pictures show that it is still rough on the inside).

Weld3D_finish_machined

We, of course, wish both these startups all success, and we think they each show a dimension of the shape of the wave of the future. Weld3D shows that two guys in a garage, standing on the shoulders of academic experimentation, can make something new that has not been made or even imagined before. And Aurora Labs shows that there’s a lot of money out there seeking startups in this field. 

We leave the utility of these technologies for firearms development to the reader’s imagination.

Entirely New Technologies: SIS, ?, and Multi-Jet Fusion

So, with so many smart minds working on the problem of building up things in three dimensions, there are more developments than you can easily keep up with. Liebert Publications publishes a journal called 3-D Printing and Additive Manufacturing, edited by 3-D expert Hod Lipson, PhD (professor at Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering). You must register for ongoing access, but the individual articles linked here should be accessible for about 3 weeks.

New Tech 1: Selective Inhibition Sintering

Selective Inhibition Sintering is a new approach to laser sintering that offers potential for what its inventors call “consumer metal additive manufacturing”. Here’s the paper from 3DP v. 1 No. 3. In this process, rather than apply a sintering enabler (the laser) to the part of a bed of raw powder intended to be sintered, this process applies a sintering inhibitor outlining the perimeter of the intended part.  This requires a different slicing algorithm than traditional 3D slicers. (Disregard figure numbers, they’re from the paper).

3dp_sis_fig_2

Then, the whole metal unit is sintered, but the inhibitor ensures that the part can be broken out of the extraneous material (this obviously does impose a recycling burden, but the much lower cost of a sintering furnace versus an industrial sintering laser produces enormous overall savings).

3dp_sis_fig_1

 

Using a bronze alloy material, the experimenters, Torabi, Petros and Borshnevis from the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies (CRAFT) laboratories2 at the University of Southern California, successfully produced parts, including a crescent wrench and an impossible-by-subtractive-methods Möbius Strip. That was the good news:

[A] consumer metal AM machine was prototyped and its capabilities were demonstrated in the successful fabrication of metallic parts. The SIS-metal process has proven adaptable for use in a consumer-level machine by way of an inkjet printhead.

So, proof of concept is successful. Now for the bad news: the .stl files need editing, the software and hardware remains prototypic, experimental, and problematic, and so far, dimensional tolerance is so-so and surface finish bad. And there may or may not be shrinkage problems: too early to tell.

While the proof of concept for a high- resolution and affordable metal alloy 3D printer has been established, there is much room for improvement. Software and hardware upgrades are necessary to improve the robustness of the process. In addition, part strength and porosity have not been characterized for the finished bronze parts. Shrinkage and surface quality of parts may be improved upon as well. It is currently unknown if the intradirectional shrinkage percentage is linear with respect to part length in a given direction. More research will be conducted on variation in interdirectional shrinkage (X vs. Y vs. Z) as well. Lastly, overpenetration of liquid inhibitor results in surface defects in up- facing surfaces of the sample parts. A fine-tuning of inhibitor deposition is planned to avoid these defects.

New Tech2: Laser Solid Forming

From the same edition of 3D Printing, we learn of this highly-developed Chinese technique. Starting in 1979, the United Technologies Research Center of the State  of the Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xian, China, has been working to develop an energy-beam material-deposition technology for prototyping, manufacturing,  and repair. Their objective, which they claim to have partially reached, was to make an additive manufacturing technology that can produce Titanium alloy, steel alloys, and superalloy parts with mechanical properties equal to or superior to wrought and even forged alloys. It is unclear whether what they describe is identical to extant western methods like SLS or DMLS, or is entirely new Chinese know-how.

3dp_lsf_dual-alloyThis is obviously not going to be a desktop technology, but the Chinese have employed it with imagination, as in this hybrid additive/cast engine casing using two separate Inconel alloys:

The additive manufacturing characteristics make it easy to combine LSF technology with the conventional processing technology, such as casting, forging, and machining. Figure 10 shows In718/In961 dual-alloy casing of an aero engine by hybrid manufacturing with LSF and casting. The main body of the In961 alloy of the casing is made by casting, and the complex parts of the In718 alloy in the casing are built by LSF.

They have also put this technology to work doing high-value, high-precision repairs on Inconel and titanium parts. They’re not perfect yet, but:

For repairing by LSF, the mechanical properties of the repaired zone can be matched with the main body to achieve high-performance repairing through the composition and microstructure control of the repaired zone with a synchronous material feeding technique.

Prediction: sometime in the 21st Century it will be practical for an arsenal, or even a gunsmith or restoration shop, to fix pitted barrels and other steel parts as good as new. You read it here first. 

The Chinese paper is both delightful and frustrating: delightful because it describes in detail what Weidong Huang and Xin Lin and their colleagues have done, but frustrating in that there is little detail on how they do it. That was, however, beyond the scope of their article, and the answers may line in the many references Huang and Lin cite.

 

New Tech 3: A Nonmetallic Technology to Watch

HP is planning to introduce a new plastics printing technology, Multi-Jet Fusion, which uses a bed of materials, much like laser sintering, but then applies chemical fusing and “detailing” (which seems to mean “inhibiting”) agents to define the shape of the printed part, and then fuses the part with energy, generally laser-delivered.

HP_MultiJetFusionThese printers are years from the market, but they offer two very interesting potential capabilities: very high precision and parts with variable properties in different parts of the part. (Now, any machinist who ever heat-treated one end of a tool is thinking, “I do that all the time,” which is true). One wonders if the unfused material is as easily recovered in this process as it is in laser sintering. Most of the hype around HP MJF seems to focus on its ability to make parts of multiple colors, but we think multiple hardnesses and flexibilities are the real long-term winner of this technology. Time will tell.

Notes

1. The Direct Metal Laser Sintering used by Solid Concepts to print guns of stainless steel and Inconel is not a Stratasys technology; DMLS was developed by EOS of Munich, Germany, and Stratasys’s own technology is restricted to plastics. Indeed, Stratasys may have acquired Solid Concepts and Harvest Technologies not only as going businesses, but also to get eyes on competitors’ technologies that those two service bureaux own and use.

2. The URL for the CRAFT lab in the paper itself is wrong (yes,the guy’s own link to his own lab 404s). The correct link is this: http://www.craft-usc.com. CRAFT has been working on SIS for at least 10 years, and has demonstrating printing of ceramics with this technology already.

He’s a Real BUFFALO! From Buffalo.

Welcome to Buffalo, New York, home of most of OJ Simpson’s pre life-of-crime career, and what appears to be a completely crime-free environment. There must be no crime, because the police aren’t chasing their hundreds of cold and cooling homicide cases, nope: their priority is confiscating guns from dead guys. (Well, when it isn’t stealing $130 from a turned-in wallet. More on that Buffalo cop in a bit).

Because nothing says pro-active crime-fighting than SAFE Act-enabled cops shaking down widows and orphans for their loves one’s heirlooms, instead of solving the murders they’re not bothering to solve. WGRZ-TV 2 Buffalo reports:

“We recently started a program where we’re cross referencing all the pistol permit holders with the death records, and we’re sending people out to collect the guns whenever possible so that they don’t end up in the wrong hands,” said Police Commissioner Daniel Derrenda. “Because at times they lay out there and the family is not aware of them and they end up just out on the street.”

Some police agencies give families of the deceased permit holder 15 days to sell or transfer a weapon or weapons held with the permit to another permit holder or a dealer.

Not Buffalo.

Police say the goal of reducing the number of guns on the street is also why they have offered the gun buyback, no-questions-asked program which exchanges pre-paid cash cards for guns. Many question whether criminals would ever do so, but police claim it is still beneficial to take in weapons each year.

We’ll get to how Daniel Derenda and his slacking, loafing (and pilfering, as we’ll see) cops perform in a minute, after we hat tip Bob Owens at Bearing Arms for the story. (Bob is almost as furious at this as we are, and he didn’t even check to see if Buffalo was solving crimes).

It’s things like this that make us remember BUFFALO. Not the city: the acronym. It was coined, best as we can recall, by a young trooper named Lee Sandler1 in the 10th SF Group’s MI Company, and it referred to a stunningly incompetent officer, Captain Winston G. “Wink” Custis2. Vain, insecure, and mistrustful of nearly everybody, Custis really had it in for Sandler, until he heard the SP/4, in tones of admiration, say “Sir, you’re a real BUFFALO.”

Later, Lee explained to us that the acronym broke out to: Big Ugly Fat F’ing Administrative Leg Officer. While Custis wasn’t technically a “leg,” or non-airborne person, he had adopted great parts of the leg persona and had a definite whiff of leg about him. From then on, Captain Custis was a BUFFALO.

Derenda (l.) and the Buffalo mayor, Byron Brown (r.), deplore the existence of firearms, but don't want to pursue murderers.

Derenda (l.) and the Buffalo mayor, Byron Brown (r.), deplore the existence of firearms, but don’t want to pursue murderers.

It seems pretty clear that there’s a BUFFALO in Buffalo, and his name is Derenda. Here’s a quote from an earlier story about him, which he proudly posted to the BPD website:

And while efforts to halt the flow of these weapons is a priority, Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda says the guns serve no useful purpose.

“In my opinion, they exist for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to kill,” Derenda said. The Buffalo Police Department, he says, has made significant progress in removing thousands of guns from the streets in recent years, including assault weapons.

“Since Jan. 1, 2006, just under 7,000 guns have been taken off city streets. They include assault weapons, handguns, shotguns and other rifles,” Derenda said.

Mayor Byron W. Brown says he is well aware of the devastation assault rifles can cause when in the hands of criminals. “Illegal assault weapons are even more lethal,” he said last week, 11/18in vowing to continue providing resources to police for removal of those and other guns from city streets.

The cops will dispose of your murder weapon for you, no questions asked (en español tambien).

The cops will dispose of your murder weapon for you, no questions asked (en español tambien). One more indicator that they’re not solving murders because they’re not really trying.

So, what’s happening crime-wise while the cops prioritize looting familes of their dead relatives’ property? Well, they’re not trying very hard to solve crimes. There are forty to sixty murders in Buffalo every year. In 2014 there have been 41 murders so far, of which the Buffalo flatfeet have solved a whopping 11 — 26.83%. But hey, maybe they’re waiting for leads. They did better with 2013 murders, so far, clearing 13 murders. That’s out of 47, for a staggering 27.66%. In other words, if the doer isn’t a brain-dead skell standing there covered in blood when a patrol car rolls up, this department probably isn’t going to catch him. Ever.

Consider this: if you get murdered in Buffalo, Derenda will send cops to take your guns while your relatives are still trying to find a funeral home that isn’t solidly booked with other murder victims. But he won’t put anywhere near that much emphasis on his department’s half-hearted half-effort to find your killer.

Of course, what do you expect from the guy who set the ethical tone where a beat cop thinks it’s OK to clean out a citizen’s lost wallet? (By the way, Derenda lifted that cop’s without-pay suspension… while he’s waiting for the courts, he’s been drawing full pay and benefits, and enjoying free extra vacation).

buffalo_homicide_ppt_2006About 3/4 of the murders, and 3/4 of the murders solved, are shootings. The rest are stabbings, strangulations, and blunt force trauma. They may solve those at a slightly higher rate than the shootings, but they leave most murders, regardless of etiology, unsolved. They have been failing for a while. In 2006, they did a shiny powerpoint (.pdf) effervesscent with promises of how they were going to improve their then-dismal clearance rate: 45%. (The national rate was, and is, over 60%). Since then it has declined steeply, even as the overall number of murders has trended lower. They’ve got fewer mysteries to solve, but they’re much poorer at solving them — and they were already lousy in 2006.

Hey, no time for canvassing for witnesses. There are widows to shake down and orphans to expropriate.

Apart from the murders, what kind of garden spot is Buffalo? It made Forbes’s “10 Most Dangerous Cities” list a couple years ago. AreaVibes.com explains, using FBI statistics:

  • The Buffalo crime index is 175% higher than the New York average
  • The Buffalo violent crime rate is 216% higher than the New York average
  • Buffalo is safer than 3.4% of the cities in the nation.
  • The crime rate in Buffalo is less than 0% of the cities in New York.
  • The chance of being a victim of a crime in Buffalo is 1 in 16.

City-Data.com has a similar compilation. Including the cheerful fact that Buffalo’s crime rate soars above other local cities, and that the city is home to over 600 sex offenders. And some nice graphics:

buffalo_crime_comparison_charts

If you’re paying attention, it’s the highest-crime city in New York and it barely escapes that honor on the national scale. It’s in the top 4% of crime locations nationwide, more dangerous that 96.6% of cities.

Could it be the crappy police force? Oh, wait, they must be under-resourced, right? Back to AreaVibes:

There are a total of 923 Buffalo police officers. This results in 3.5 police officers per 1,000 residents which is 25.1% greater than the New York average and 7.7% greater than the National average.

Oh. So it’s a large, crappy police force. Got it. That’s what you get with a BUFFALO in charge.

Notes

1. This name has been changed, but if you were there you will know who we mean.

2. This name has barely been changed.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have windshields

This one won’t buff right out, although we can’t help but wonder if the driver in this case is counting on an executive amnesty to resolve his legal problems.

godfather carlo rizzi strangling windshield

After all, he was just running down the guys sober Americans weren’t willing to run down.

Ocean County prosecutors say the accident occurred Monday night on Route 9 in Ocean Township.

The pedestrian, 61-year-old Kenneth Moeller of Lanoka Harbor, remained hospitalized Wednesday in critical condition. Further details on his injuries have not been disclosed.

Prosecutors said that around 6:40 p.m. Monday, an Ocean Township police officer responding to reports of an erratic driver on Route 9 northbound saw what appeared to be a person lying on the hood of a vehicle that was traveling on another nearby roadway. The officer stopped the vehicle and, as he approached it, saw the victim lodged halfway through the windshield.

As Kid says, “You can’t unsee that.” Exercise for the reader: walk into a crowd and say, “What the [bleep] is wrong with people these days?” The first ones to agree with and respond to you are the retail frontline of public service: beat and road cops, ER nurses, school teachers.

Well, one thing that’s wrong with people is nothing new: Judgment Juice, which when combined with other common substances like gunpowder or gasoline can wreak more havoc than the worst industrial spill of FOOF or ClF3.

Investigators said it appears [perp Marcos] Ortega crossed into the northbound shoulder of Route 9 and hit Moeller, then continued driving for about 1 ½ miles before he was stopped.

Samples of Ortega’s blood were collected for analysis, but the tests have not been completed.

We think we could start a pool on the number his sample will ring up. DWI in New York is .08. We call .21. What have you got?

“It’s incomprehensible that law enforcement would have to reiterate that the privilege of driving includes a driver’s responsibility to report immediately any incident where they believe they have struck or injured an individual,” said Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office.

via Man accused of hit-and-run, victim in windshield – Yahoo News.

There is no mention of the driver’s place of birth or citizenship. Certainly there are probably more guys in the US named Marcos Ortega who are citizens than who are not.

If you didn’t get the image reference at the top, perhaps this source video will refresh your memory:

Maybe not a perfect match, but it was the only windshield death we could think of today.