Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Lest we Forget

17 Years ago, a paradigm changed. Hijacking ceased to be something you could expect to survive so long as you stayed calm, followed orders, and got down on the ground as soon as SWAT/HRT/SAS/whoever stormed the plane, and became something where you HAD to assume you were going to die. Let us mourn the dead, but let us also celebrate the heroism of Flight 93, who upon hearing about the earlier hijackings, acted decisively and with courage.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

National (or Universal) Injunctions and Free Speech

A Washington District Judge has issued a Nationwide Temporary Restraining Order (TRO, also known as universal injunctions) to prevent DEFDIST from distributing the DEFCAD files. Given that at least one SCOTUS justice has commented on such injunctions in a fairly derogatory fashion (see Justice Thomas' concurrence, starting on pg 47 of the PDF), it seems likely that such injunctions are on thin ice... But since the TRO only mentions DEFDIST, and pretty much all the other interested parties are happily distributing the files (See codeisfreespeech.com and fosscad.org, among other places, and note that some of these places only provide links to Magnet URIs for torrents or links to an external download mirror), it's not likely going to have much effect, even if SCOTUS doesn't decide to slap it down ASAP. Especially since at least a few are going to respond to any such TRO with "Make me" at which point the judge either finds out just how little power he has, or the case gets fast tracked to SCOTUS.  The Streisand effect is in full force.
Links to the magnet URIs for the original DEFDIST mega pack (the one that predates the State Department cease and desist, the settling of which set off the current to do), and the current FOSSCAD mega pack can be found on the Gun Related Downloads tab. As Mr. Universe said, "You can't stop the signal."

3D Printed Guns Aren't the Boogieman

The response to the settlement between Cody Wilson’s DEFDIST and the State Department has been nothing short of excessive, for a variety of reasons. If you listen to the right broadcasts, and read the right articles, no one could blame you for thinking that there will be blood in the streets. A district judge in Washington state has issued a temporary restraining order to keep DEFDIST from distributing their files through the DEFCAD portal. Leaving aside the obvious technical problems in his reasoning (the cat is well out of the bag, and trying to stuff it back in just invokes the Streisand Effect), and potential legal issues (at least one SCOTUS justices is less than equitably inclined towards universal injunctions issued by lower courts, not to mention that this WILL get challenged on first amendment grounds), there is absolutely no reason for preventing the distribution of the DEFCAD files.
There are two ways to make a gun with a 3D printer. The first is to 3D print the entire gun. The type example of this is Cody Wilson’s Liberator pistol (named after the WWII era gun). As with it’s namesake, it is a single shot pistol with limited uses, albeit in a smaller (and not terribly adequate) caliber. It is useful mostly for causing freakouts by people who don’t realize how useless it is. Most of the freaking out seems to be due to the the fact that it’s plastic, and the chunk of metal included in the design isn’t structural and can be removed (illegally) without adversely affecting the gun, making a weapon that could theoretically slip past a metal detector. Just what someone is going to do with only one or two rounds of ammunition and a single shot handgun I’m not sure, but it isn’t going go well for them. I’d be more concerned by all the Swiss Army knives , actual useful guns and high explosives the TSA keeps missing. There’s no point in getting all worked up over a single shot, single (assuming you want to keep your fingers) use pistol when it seems like pretty much everything else already gets past the TSA.
The second method of making a gun involves making a receiver (or lower receiver, depending on the gun), which, in a factory produced gun would be the serialized (with exceptions, home made firearms aren’t required to be serialized) and controlled part. AR-15s are quite popular for this, due to the ease of assembly and a multitude of interchangeable options. Of course, most of those parts are metal, so your homebuilt AR isn’t going through any metal detectors. It is, however a useful gun… but people have been building them in their garages for decades, using everything from plastic, to wood, to the traditional aluminum, and even steel, using various tools and techniques, some of which wouldn’t be out of place in the late 19th century.
In fact, 3D printed firearms should be very far down anyone’s list of priorities, and that includes people who want to get rid of guns. Slamfire pipe shotguns are significantly easier, have a lower entry point, have a very minimal cost per build, and require no specialized knowledge to produce. Open bolt submachine guns have been produced using common tools and materials purchased from a hardware store, and there are a multitude of how to manuals that make it so you need only minimal knowledge for production. There are even a couple that are aimed at mass production, as opposed to small and individual scale production. This particular brouhaha is about sixty years out of date.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Today in History....

The Warsaw Uprising started.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

SCOTUS, one of the most effective Checks on the Executive

On Monday, Mr. Trump announced his pick for SCOTUS to fill Justice Kennedy's seat, with Judge Brett Kavanaugh. At this point, assuming that Judge Kavanaugh gets seated (which he likely will), the Trump Presidency, despite some truly bad decisions on the part of the Executive, will be an overall win. Now, I'm still rather displeased with the president on several issues, and I'm not planning on voting for him, but most of his less exemplary decisions are entirely executive in nature, meaning that they only last as long as an executive wants them to. The judiciary on the other hand, can be shaped for a generation, and so far, his picks have been solid. Moreover, his one seated pick so far, Gorsuch, has already once ruled in ways that limit  the Trump administration. A good SCOTUS is a major limiter on executive shenanigans, and so far Trump has strengthened, rather than weakened, that limiter.
Just don't expect me to be happy when SCOTUS has to remind the executive branch that the Constitution, not the personal beliefs of the executive or of the bureaucrats involved, is the supreme law of the land.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Justice Kennedy's retirement

The current Democrat woes over SCOTUS is entirely of their own design. So far, they've had French flatulence blow up in their faces when the Biden rule got invoked to prevent Merrick Garland from sitting on SCOTUS, then again when Reid's filibuster reform got extended to SCOTUS nominations to allow Gorsuch to take a seat. Now, because it benefited them to have the Biden rule only apply to presidential elections, they're about to get another Trump appointee to SCOTUS (hopefully a strict constructionist, originalist, or textualist). It's even worse for them because Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer didn't retire under Obama, when they could've at least ensured that it would only take one justice to tip the balance back in their favor. From here out, Ginsberg and Breyer have to survive until the next president takes office - two to six years from now - at an age where death can happen suddenly and without warning for a variety of reasons, in order to prevent Trump from creating a SCOTUS that would be almost impossible for any single president to flip.
I'm not exactly full of sorrow over their mistakes.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

All gave some, some gave all.
Let us not forget those who gave all.

Oh, gather 'round me, comrades; and
listen while I speak
Of a war, a war, a war where hell is
six feet deep.
Along the shore, the cannons roar. Oh
how can a soldier sleep?
The going's slow on Anzio. And hell is
six feet deep.

Praise be to God for this captured sod that
rich with blood does seep.
With yours and mine, like butchered
swine's; and hell is six feet deep.
That death awaits there's no debate;
no triumph will we reap.
The crosses grow on Anzio, where hell is
six feet deep.

. . . Audie Murphy, 1948

Saturday, May 26, 2018

On "Compromise" Part 2

So you want to stop, or at least mitigate school shootings?
Other than getting rid of public schools (a discussion for another day), your options are pretty simple. You can't get rid of the guns. Even if the political will was there, there are too many already in circulation, and they are too easy to make, for you to accomplish complete gun confiscation.

Here is my proposal:
  1. No one shall be forced to carry. However, all teachers so inclined should be allowed to carry.
  2. If possible, there should be an armed school resource officer in every school. If not possible, for example in many rural schools, and there are no firearms inclined teachers at the school, a firearms inclined teacher should be transferred from another school. The sooner there is an armed response, the better the outcome is for everyone else. They don't even have to win, just slow him down enough for the police to get there.
  3. Single entry, multiple exits. New construction should be set up so that there is a single point of entry for all buildings, next to a manned entry control point (the secretaries can pull double duty on this one), with each classroom having it's own exit. This also makes sense from a fire safety standpoint. Obviously, you can't do this with old buildings, but that's why this isn't a simple point idea.
  4. Instead of "hide in place" teach "run and dodge". Get the kids outside ASAP, and running away and dodging, instead of staying in their classroom to get shot like fish in a barrel.
 Obviously implementation is more complicated than concept, but that at least would mitigate the shootings. As for root cause... There are no simple answers to that, other than to say that it's clearly not guns, or this would've been an issue well before the 1990s.

Reorganize the Militia

The Militia needs to be reorganized.
The current "National Guard, armed and paid for by Uncle Sam" and "Completely Unorganized Militia" system, has serious weaknesses. The National Guard is more akin in practice to the Army Reserve than they are to an organized militia, and the unorganized militia would rely upon "quantity has a quality all of its own" to achieve anything. Thus I propose that we establish a drilling militia, paid for and equipped by militia members, as follows:
1. Allow people to deduct taxes from voluntary militia drill time. Any time spent practicing militia skills or repairing militia equipment shall count.
2. Allow the militia to pool their resources and purchase military surplus weapons and equipment, to be owned by the militia, not Uncle Sam. Also issue end user certificates to allow for purchase of non-US produced weapons and equipment. All NFA items will be permitted for militia service.
3. Create a higher tax deduction for those with certain militia critical skills - Ham operators, medical professionals of all stripes, mechanics, gunsmiths, prior military,
4. Expand and reorganize MARS and any similar groups in other hobbies and fold them into the militia. Require all services to maintain interoperability with MARS.
5. Create certain official militia positions (not really officers, more lead specialist), to be filled by methods determined by state legislatures. These positions should be unpaid, tax deductible at the same rate as those skills noted in #2, and shall be directly related to a militia critical skill. These officers shall be strictly voluntary, but will have to meet certain minimum equipment and time requirements (one weekend a month), or lose the position. One of these positions shall be an administrator, to keep track of drill time and issue proof of drill time for tax purposes.

Of course, I'm assuming that the NFA is still active in this scenario, even though the ability to pass this probably means the ability repeal the NFA.

Monday, May 21, 2018

On "Compromise"

Gun control isn't the answer to the recent spate of school shootings. In fact, there are sources out there that suggest that the most recent one was committed not just with a shotgun, but a sawed off one at that - a class of firearm that has been highly regulated since 1934, such that making one is expensive, and requires government permission and registration. "More gun control" on top of the thousands of federal, state, and local laws is throwing good money after bad, and giving the government power that it not only doesn't need, but shouldn't have.

If you really want more gun control, you're going to need to offer an actual compromise. Not some wishy washy "we didn't take everything we wanted". That's not compromise. Compromise is give and take. For example, we classify bump-fire stocks as machine guns, in return for repealing the Hughes amendment and reopening the machine gun registry. Of course POTUS may very well have rendered that a moot point (we'll see once the legal challenges hit SCOTUS).

More to follow.