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Happy New Year Everyone and Welcome 2013!!!

It’s not quite midnight yet, but I still want to wish everyone a very happy new year :D

I know 2012 has been a doozy for me and quite a few of my friends.  I’ve moved from Las Vegas to rural central Utah, changed jobs, and I GOT A DAUGHTER!!!  I’m learning to live in the snow and ice as well.

I’m currently battling a cold, but pharmaceutical chemistry is helping that a bit :wink:

I don’t know most of what this coming year has in store for my friends or myself, but I have a few ideas of what’s scheduled to happen.  The Road Runners should have their reunion in Las Vegas in October, I’m going to do my best to make it to an airshow somewhere (preferably Reno, Nellis AFB, or both), and a very dear friend of mine is going to move to a place very close to me in the spring.  I haven’t seen this friend in close to a couple of decades, but I’ve never stopped missing her :)

I’m going to stay up a little while longer so I can ring in the new year before getting some sleep so I can get to work on time in the morning.

Once again, Happy New Year everyone :mrgreen:

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Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!

Ember and Santa two days before Christmas 2012

Ember and Santa two days before Christmas 2012

The presents are all wrapped and tagged and it’s late enough that I’m finally about ready for bed, but I wanted to post something here first.  Christmas is so much more special this year because of that little girl in pink sitting in Santa’s lap in the picture above.  I can’t say just how awesome Ember is or how much of a blessing she is :cool:

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

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Larry Correia on Mass Murder and Gun Control

I apologize for not posting as frequently as I used to.  It’s this whole life thing that keeps getting in the way.  Having a wonderful daughter, a good job, and trying to get actual housework like cooking and cleaning takes more time than living alone in an apartment.  I’m sure most of my readers can understand this.

I haven’t posted about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School for a few reasons.  I’m as sad as anyone else about the loss of innocent life at the hands of someone who was mentally ill, evil, or possibly a bit of both.  I don’t know all the facts of the case and I can’t stand to listen to any of the news outlets.  It’s enough for me to know that someone committed unspeakable acts and to allow the families to grieve for those they’ve lost and those families have my heartfelt sympathy.

What I truly can’t stand are the people in the media and on social networking sites who are dancing in the blood of children crying for curtailment of my civil rights and my means of defense.  The Second Amendment has been found to be an individual civil right by the Supreme Court in the Heller and McDonald decisions.  I can’t think of any other civil right that has come under such persecution and outright attack in my lifetime.

There are many different arguments for more “gun control laws” as I’ve mentioned.  Larry Correia is one of my favorite authors, but he’s also a supremely qualified individual when it comes to firearms.  I’m not going to list his qualifications as he’s done so much better than I can.  Larry wrote a great article which he’s given me permission to republish with attribution.  Click here to see this article on Larry’s website or just keep scrolling to read the entire thing.

I’d like to thank Larry for taking the time and making the effort to write this and to allow us to share the information.  It’s sorely needed at this time more than any other.

Without further ado, here is Larry’s article:

An opinion on gun control

Posted on December 20, 2012 by correia45

I didn’t want to post about this, because frankly, it is exhausting. I’ve been having this exact same argument for my entire adult life. It is not an exaggeration when I say that I know pretty much exactly every single thing an anti-gun person can say. I’ve heard it over and over, the same old tired stuff, trotted out every single time there is a tragedy on the news that can be milked. Yet, I got sucked in, and I’ve spent the last few days arguing with people who either mean well but are uninformed about gun laws and how guns actually work (who I don’t mind at all), or the willfully ignorant (who I do mind), or the obnoxiously stupid who are completely incapable of any critical thinking deeper than a Facebook meme (them, I can’t stand).

Today’s blog post is going to be aimed at the first group. I am going to try to go through everything I’ve heard over the last few days, and try to break it down from my perspective. My goal tonight is to write something that my regular readers will be able to share with their friends who may not be as familiar with how mass shootings or gun control laws work.

A little background for those of you who don’t know me, and this is going to be extensive so feel free to skip the next few paragraphs, but I need to establish the fact that I know what I am talking with, because I am sick and tired of my opinion having the same weight as a person who learned everything they know about guns and violence from watching TV.

I am now a professional novelist. However, before that I owned a gun store. We were a Title 7 SOT, which means we worked with legal machineguns, suppresors, and pretty much everything except for explosives. We did law enforcement sales and worked with equipment that is unavailable from most dealers, but that means lots and lots of government inspections and compliance paperwork. This means that I had to be exceedingly familiar with federal gun laws, and there are a lot of them. I worked with many companies in the gun industry and still have many friends and contacts at various manufacturers. When I hear people tell me the gun industry is unregulated, I have to resist the urge to laugh in their face.

I was also a Utah Concealed Weapons instructor, and was one of the busiest instructors in the state. That required me to learn a lot about self-defense laws, and because I took my job very seriously, I sought out every bit of information that I could. My classes were longer than the standard Utah class, and all of that extra time was spent on Use of Force, shoot/no shoot scenarios, and role playing through violent encounters. I have certified thousands of people to carry guns.

I have been a firearms instructor, and have taught a lot of people how to shoot defensively with handguns, shotguns, and rifles. For a few years of my life, darn near every weekend was spent at the range. I started out as an assistant for some extremely experienced teachers and I also had the opportunity to be trained by some of the most accomplished firearms experts in the world. The man I stole most of my curriculum from was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Special Forces, turned federal agent SWAT team commander. I took classes in everything from wound ballistics (10 hours of looking at autopsy slides) to high-speed cool-guy door-kicking stuff. I’ve worked extensively with military and law enforcement personnel, including force on force training where I played the OpFor (i.e. I got to be the bad guy, because I make an awesome bad guy. You tell me how evil/capable you want me to be, and how hard you want your men to work, and I’d make it happen, plus I can take a beating). Part of this required learning how mass shooters operate and studying the heck out of the actual events.

I have been a competition shooter. I competed in IPSC, IDPA, and 3gun. It was not odd for me to reload and shoot 1,000 rounds in any given week. I fired 20,000 rounds of .45 in one August alone. I’ve got a Remington 870 with approximately 160,000 rounds through it. I’ve won matches, and I’ve been able to compete with some of the top shooters in the country. I am a very capable shooter. I only put this here to convey that I know how shooting works better than the vast majority of the populace.

I have written for national publications on topics relating to gun law and use of force. I wrote for everything from the United States Concealed Carry Association to SWAT magazine. I was considered a subject matter expert at the state level, and on a few occasions was brought in to testify before the Utah State Legislature on the ramifications of proposed gun laws. I’ve argued with lawyers, professors, professional lobbyists, and once made a state rep cry.

Basically for most of my adult life, I have been up to my eyeballs in guns, self-defense instruction, and the laws relating to those things. So believe me when I say that I’ve heard every argument relating to gun control possible. It is pretty rare for me to hear something new, and none of this stuff is new.

Armed Teachers

So now that there is a new tragedy the president wants to have a “national conversation on guns”. Here’s the thing. Until this national conversation is willing to entertain allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons, then it isn’t a conversation at all, it is a lecture.

Now when I say teachers carrying concealed weapons on Facebook I immediately get a bunch of emotional freak out responses. You can’t mandate teachers be armed! Guns in every classroom! Emotional response! Blood in the streets!

No. Hear me out. The single best way to respond to a mass shooter is with an immediate, violent response. The vast majority of the time, as soon as a mass shooter meets serious resistance, it bursts their fantasy world bubble. Then they kill themselves or surrender. This has happened over and over again.

Police are awesome. I love working with cops. However any honest cop will tell you that when seconds count they are only minutes away. After Colombine law enforcement changed their methods in dealing with active shooters. It used to be that you took up a perimeter and waited for overwhelming force before going in. Now usually as soon as you have two officers on scene you go in to confront the shooter (often one in rural areas or if help is going to take another minute, because there are a lot of very sound tactical reasons for using two, mostly because your success/survival rates jump dramatically when you put two guys through a door at once. The shooter’s brain takes a moment to decide between targets). The reason they go fast is because they know that every second counts. The longer the shooter has to operate, the more innocents die.

However, cops can’t be everywhere. There are at best only a couple hundred thousand on duty at any given time patrolling the entire country. Excellent response time is in the three-five minute range. We’ve seen what bad guys can do in three minutes, but sometimes it is far worse. They simply can’t teleport. So in some cases that means the bad guys can have ten, fifteen, even twenty minutes to do horrible things with nobody effectively fighting back.

So if we can’t have cops there, what can we do?

The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by law enforcement: 14. The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by civilians: 2.5. The reason is simple. The armed civilians are there when it started.

The teachers are there already. The school staff is there already. Their reaction time is measured in seconds, not minutes. They can serve as your immediate violent response. Best case scenario, they engage and stop the attacker, or it bursts his fantasy bubble and he commits suicide. Worst case scenario, the armed staff provides a distraction, and while he’s concentrating on killing them, he’s not killing more children.

But teachers aren’t as trained as police officers! True, yet totally irrelevant. The teacher doesn’t need to be a SWAT cop or Navy SEAL. They need to be speed bumps.

But this leads to the inevitable shrieking and straw man arguments about guns in the classroom, and then the pacifistic minded who simply can’t comprehend themselves being mandated to carry a gun, or those that believe teachers are all too incompetent and can’t be trusted. Let me address both at one time.

Don’t make it mandatory. In my experience, the only people who are worth a darn with a gun are the ones who wish to take responsibility and carry a gun. Make it voluntary. It is rather simple. Just make it so that your state’s concealed weapons laws trump the Federal Gun Free School Zones act. All that means is that teachers who voluntarily decide to get a concealed weapons permit are capable of carrying their guns at work. Easy. Simple. Cheap. Available now.

Then they’ll say that this is impossible, and give me all sorts of terrible worst case scenarios about all of the horrors that will happen with a gun in the classroom… No problem, because this has happened before. In fact, my state laws allow for somebody with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun in a school right now. Yes. Utah has armed teachers. We have for several years now.

When I was a CCW instructor, I decided that I wanted more teachers with skin in the game, so I started a program where I would teach anybody who worked at a school for free. No charge. Zip. They still had to pay the state for their background check and fingerprints, but all the instruction was free. I wanted more armed teachers in my state.

I personally taught several hundred teachers. I quickly discovered that pretty much every single school in my state had at least one competent, capable, smart, willing individual. Some schools had more. I had one high school where the principal, three teachers, and a janitor showed up for class. They had just had an event where there had been a threat against the school and their resource officer had turned up AWOL. This had been a wake up call for this principal that they were on their own, and he had taken it upon himself to talk to his teachers to find the willing and capable. Good for them.

After Virginia Tech, I started teaching college students for free as well. They were 21 year old adults who could pass a background check. Why should they have to be defenseless?  None of these students ever needed to stop a mass shooting, but I’m happy to say that a couple of rapists and muggers weren’t so lucky, so I consider my time well spent.

Over the course of a couple years I taught well over $20,000 worth of free CCW classes. I met hundreds and hundreds of teachers, students, and staff. All of them were responsible adults who understood that they were stuck in target rich environments filled with defenseless innocents. Whether they liked it or not, they were the first line of defense. It was the least I could do.

Permit holders are not cops. The mistake many people make is that they think permit holders are supposed to be cops or junior danger rangers. Not at all. Their only responsibility is simple. If someone is threatening to cause them or a third person serious bodily harm, and that someone has the ability, opportunity, and is acting in a manner which suggest they are a legitimate threat, then that permit holder is allowed to use lethal force against them.

As of today the state legislatures of Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma are looking at revamping their existing laws so that there can be legal guns in school. For those that are worried these teachers will be unprepared, I’m sure there would be no lack of instructors in those states who’d be willing to teach them for free.

For everyone, if you are sincere in your wish to protect our children, I would suggest you call your state representative today and demand that they allow concealed carry in schools.

Gun Free Zones

Gun Free Zones are hunting preserves for innocent people. Period.

Think about it. You are a violent, homicidal madman, looking to make a statement and hoping to go from disaffected loser to most famous person in the world. The best way to accomplish your goals is to kill a whole bunch of people. So where’s the best place to go shoot all these people? Obviously, it is someplace where nobody can shoot back.

In all honesty I have no respect for anybody who believes Gun Free Zones actually work. You are going to commit several hundred felonies, up to and including mass murder, and you are going to refrain because there is a sign? That No Guns Allowed sign is not a cross that wards off vampires. It is wishful thinking, and really pathetic wishful thinking at that.

The only people who obey No Guns signs are people who obey the law. People who obey the law aren’t going on rampages.

I testified before the Utah State Legislature about the University of Utah’s gun ban the day after the Trolley Square shooting in Salt Lake City. Another disaffected loser scumbag started shooting up this mall. He killed several innocent people before he was engaged by an off duty police officer who just happened to be there shopping. The off duty Ogden cop pinned down the shooter until two officers from the SLCPD came up from behind and killed the shooter. (turned out one of them was a customer of mine) I sent one of my employees down to Trolley Square to take a picture of the shopping center’s front doors. I then showed the picture to the legislators. One of the rules was NO GUNS ALLOWED.

The man that attacked the midnight showing of Batman didn’t attack just any theater. There were like ten to choose from. He didn’t attack the closest. It wasn’t about biggest or smallest. He attacked the one that was posted NO GUNS ALLOWED.

There were four mass killing attempts this week. Only one made the news because it helped the agreed upon media narrative.

  1. Oregon. NOT a gun free zone. Shooter confronted by permit holder. Shooter commits suicide. Only a few casualties.
  2. Texas. NOT a gun free zone. Shooter killed immediately by off duty cop. Only a few casualties.
  3. Connecticut. GUN FREE ZONE. Shooters kills until the police arrive. Suicide. 26 dead.
  4. China. GUN FREE COUNTRY. A guy with a KNIFE stabs 22 children.

And here is the nail in the coffin for Gun Free Zones. Over the last fifty years, with only one single exception (Gabby Giffords), every single mass shooting event with more than four casualties has taken place in a place where guns were supposedly not allowed.

The Media

Every time there is a mass shooting event, the vultures launch. I find it absolutely fascinating. A bunch of people get murdered, and the same usual suspects show up with the same tired proposals that we’ve either tried before or logic tells us simply will not work. They strike while the iron is hot, trying to push through legislation before there can be coherent thought. We’ve seen this over and over and over again. We saw it succeed in England. We saw it succeed in Australia. We’ve seen it succeed here before.

Yet when anyone from my side responds, then we are shouted at that we are blood thirsty and how dare we speak in this moment of tragedy, and we should just shut our stupid mouths out of respect for the dead, while they are free to promote policies which will simply lead to more dead… If the NRA says something they are bloodthirsty monsters, and if they don’t say something then their silence is damning guilt. It is hypocritical in the extreme, and when I speak out against this I am called every name in the book, I want dead children, I’m a cold hearted monster (the death threats are actually hilarious). If I become angry because they are promoting policies which are tactically flawed and which will do the exact opposite of the stated goals, then I am a horrible person for being angry. Perhaps I shouldn’t be allowed to own guns at all.

But that’s not why I want to talk about the media. I want to talk about the media’s effect on the shooters.

Put yourself in the shoes of one of these killers. One nice thing about playing the villain and being a punching bag for cops, soldiers, and permit holders is that you need to learn about how the bad guys think and operate. And most of the mass shooters fit a similar profile.

The vast majority (last I saw it was over 80%) are on some form of psychotropic drug and has been for many years. They have been on Zoloft or some serotonin inhibitor through their formative years, and their decision making process is often flawed. They are usually disaffected, have been bullied, pushed around, and have a lot of emotional problems. They are delusional. They see themselves as victims, and they are usually striking back at their peer group.

These people want to make a statement. They want to show the world that they aren’t losers. They want to make us understand their pain. They want to make their peer group realize that they are powerful. They’ll show us. The solution is easy. It’s right there in front of your nose.

If you can kill enough people at one time, you’ll be on the news, 24/7, round the clock coverage. You will become the most famous person in the world. Everyone will know your name. You become a celebrity. Experts will try to understand what you were thinking. Hell, the President of the United States, the most important man in the world, will drop whatever he is doing and hold a press conference to talk about your actions, and he’ll even shed a single manly tear.

You are a star.

Strangely enough, this is one of the only topics I actually agree with Roger Ebert on. He didn’t think that the news should cover the shooters or mention their names on the front page of the paper. So whenever the press isn’t talking about guns, or violent movies, or violent video games, or any other thing that hundreds of millions of people participated in yesterday without murdering anybody, they’ll keep showing the killer’s picture in the background while telling the world all about him and his struggles.

And then the cycle repeats, as the next disaffected angry loner takes notes.

They should not be glamorized. They should be hated, despised, and forgotten. They are not victims. They are not powerful. They are murdering scum, and the only time their names should be remembered is when people like me are studying the tactics of how to neutralize them faster.

 

Mental Health Issues

And right here I’m going to show why I’m different than the people I’ve been arguing with the last few days. I am not an expert on mental health issues or psychiatry or psychology. My knowledge of criminal psychology is limited to understanding the methods of killers enough to know how to fight them better.

So since I don’t have enough first-hand knowledge about this topic to comment intelligently, then I’m not going to comment… Oh please, if only some of the people I’ve been arguing with who barely understand that the bullets come out the pointy end of the gun would just do the same.

 

Gun Control Laws

As soon as there is a tragedy there comes the calls for “We have to do something!” Sure, the something may not actually accomplish anything as far as solving whatever the tragedy was or preventing the next one, but that’s the narrative. Something evil happened, so we have to do something, and preferably we have to do it right now before we think about it too hard.

The left side of the political spectrum loves it some gun control. Gun control is historically extremely unpopular in red state and purple state America, and thus very hard to pass bit stuff, but there’s a century’s accumulation of lots and lots of small ones. There have been a handful of major federal laws passed in the United States relating to guns, but the majority of really strict gun control has primarily been enacted in liberal dominated urban areas. There are over 20,000 gun laws on the books, and I have no idea how many pages of regulations from the BATF related to the production and selling of them. I’ve found that the average American is extremely uneducated about what gun laws already exist, what they actually do, and even fundamental terminology, so I’m going to go through many of the things I’ve seen argued about over the last few days and elaborate on them one by one.

I will leave out the particularly crazy things I was confronted with, including the guy who was in favor of mandating “automatic robot gun turrets” in schools. Yes. Heaven forbid we let a teacher CCW, so let’s put killer robots (which haven’t actually been invented yet) in schools. Man, I wish I was making this up, but that’s Facebook for you.

We need to ban automatic weapons.

Okay. Done. In fact, we pretty much did that in 1934. The National Firearms Act of 1934 made it so that you had to pay a $200 tax on a machinegun and register it with the government. In 1986 that registry was closed and there have been no new legal machineguns for civilians to own since then.

Automatic means that when you hold down the trigger the gun keeps on shooting until you let go or run out of ammo. Actual automatic weapons cost a lot of money. The cheapest one you can get right now is around $5,000 as they are all collector’s items and you need to jump through a lot of legal hoops to get one. To the best of my knowledge, there has only ever been one crime committed with an NFA weapon in my lifetime, and in that case the perp was a cop.

Now are machineguns still used in crimes? Why, yes they are. For every legally registered one, there are conservatively dozens of illegal ones in the hands of criminals. They either make their own (which is not hard to do) or they are smuggled in (usually by the same people that are able to smuggle in thousands of tons of drugs). Because really serious criminals simply don’t care, they are able to get ahold of military weapons, and they use them simply because criminals, by definition, don’t obey the law. So even an item which has been basically banned since my grandparents were kids, and which there has been no new ones allowed manufactured since I was in elementary school, still ends up in the hands of criminals who really want one. This will go to show how effective government bans are.

When you say “automatic” you mean full auto, as in a machinegun. What I think most of these people mean is semi-auto.

Okay. We need to ban semi-automatic weapons!

Semi-automatic means that each time you pull the trigger the action cycles and loads another round. This is the single most common type of gun, not just in America, but in the whole world. Almost all handguns are semi-automatic. The vast majority of weapons used for self-defense are semi-automatic, as are almost all the weapons used by police officers.  It is the most common because it is normally the most effective.

Semi-automatic is usually best choice for defensive use. It is easier to use because you can do so one handed if necessary, and you are forced to manipulate your weapon less. If you believe that using a gun for self-defense is necessary, then you pretty much have to say that semi-auto is okay.

Banning semi-automatic basically means banning all guns. I’ll get to the functional problems with that later.

We should ban handguns!

Handguns are tools for self-defense, and the only reason we use them over the more capable, and easier to hit with rifles or shotguns is because handguns are portable. Rifles are just plain better, but the only reason I don’t carry an AR-15 around is because it would be hard to hide under my shirt.

Concealed Carry works. As much as it offends liberals and we keep hearing horror stories about blood in the streets, the fact is over my lifetime most of the United States has enacted some form of concealed carry law, and the blood in the streets wild west shootouts over parking spaces they’ve predicted simply hasn’t happened. At this point in time there are only a few hold out states, all of them are blue states and all of them have inner cities which suffer from terrible crime, where once again, the criminals simply don’t care.

For information about how more guns actually equals less crime, look up the work of Dr. John Lott. And since liberals hate his guts, look up the less famous work of Dr. Gary Kleck, or basically look up the work of any criminologist or economist who isn’t writing for Slate or Mother Jones.

As for why CCW is good, see my whole first section about arming teachers for a tiny part of the whole picture. Basically bad people are going to be bad and do bad things. They are going to hurt you and take your stuff, because that’s what they do. That’s their career, and they are as good at it as you are at your job. They will do this anywhere they think they can get away with it.  We fixate on the mass shooters because they grab the headlines, but in actuality your odds of running in to one of them is tiny. Your odds of having a violent encounter with a run of the mill criminal is orders of magnitudes higher.

I do find one thing highly amusing. In my personal experience, some of the most vehement anti-gun people I’ve ever associated with will usually eventually admit after getting to know me, that if something bad happened, then they really hope I’m around, because I’m one of the good ones. Usually they never realize just how hypocritical and naïve that is.

We should ban Assault Rifles!

Define “assault rifle”…

Uh…

Yeah. That’s the problem. The term assault rifle gets bandied around a lot. Politically, the term is a loaded nonsense one that was created back during the Clinton years. It was one of those tricks where you name legislation something catchy, like PATRIOT Act. (another law rammed through while emotions were high and nobody was thinking, go figure).

To gun experts, an assault rifle is a very specific type of weapon which originated (for the most part) in the 1940s. It is a magazine fed, select fire (meaning capable of full auto), intermediate cartridge (as in, actually not that powerful, but I’ll come back to that later) infantry weapon.

The thing is, real assault rifles in the US have been heavily regulated since before they were invented. The thing that the media and politicians like to refer to as assault rifles is basically a catch all term for any gun which looks scary.

I had somebody get all mad at me for pointing this out, because they said that the term had entered common usage. Okay… If you’re going to legislate it, DEFINE IT.

And then comes up that pesky problem. The US banned assault rifles once before for a decade and the law did absolutely nothing. I mean, it was totally, literally pointless. The special commission to study it said that it accomplished absolutely nothing. (except tick a bunch of Americans off, and as a result we bought a TON more guns) And the reason was that since assault weapon is a nonsense term, they just came up with a list of arbitrary features which made a gun into an assault weapon.

Problem was, none of these features actually made the gun functionally any different or somehow more lethal or better from any other run of the mill firearm. Most of the criteria were so silly that they became a huge joke to gun owners, except of course, for that part where many law abiding citizens accidentally became instant felons because one of their guns had some cosmetic feature which was now illegal.

One of the criteria was that it was semi-automatic. See above. Hard to ban the single most common and readily available type of gun in the world. (unless you believe in confiscation, but I’ll get to that). Then what if it takes a detachable magazine! That’s got to be an Evil Feature. And yes, we really did call the Evil Features. I’ll talk about magazines below, but once again, it is pretty hard to ban something that common unless you want to go on a confiscatory national suicide mission.

For example, flash hiders sound dangerous. Let’s say having a flash hider makes a gun an assault weapon. So flash hiders became an evil feature. Problem is flash hiders don’t do much. They screw onto the end of your muzzle and divert the flash off to the side instead of straight up so it isn’t as annoying when you shoot. It doesn’t actually hide the flash from anybody else. EVIL.

Barrel shrouds were listed. Barrel shrouds are basically useless, cosmetic pieces of metal that go over the barrel so you don’t accidentally touch it and burn your hand. But they became an instantaneous felony too. Collapsible stocks make it so you can adjust your rifle to different size shooters, that way a tall guy and his short wife can shoot the same gun. Nope. EVIL FEATURE!

It has been a running joke in the gun community ever since the ban passed. When Carolyn McCarthy was asked by a reporter what a barrel shroud was, she replied “I think it is the shoulder thing which goes up.”  Oh good. I’m glad that thousands of law abiding Americans unwittingly committed felonies because they had a cosmetic piece of sheet metal on their barrel, which has no bearing whatsoever on crime, but could possibly be a shoulder thing which goes up.

Now are you starting to see why “assault weapons” is a pointless term? They aren’t functionally any more powerful or deadly than any normal gun. In fact the cartridges they normally fire are far less powerful than your average deer hunting rifle. Don’t worry though, because the same people who fling around the term assault weapons also think of scoped deer rifles as “high powered sniper guns”.

Basically, what you are thinking of as assault weapons aren’t special.

Now, the reason that semi-automatic, magazine fed, intermediate caliber rifles are the single most popular type of gun in America is because they are excellent for many uses, but I’m not talking about fun, or hunting, or sports, today I’m talking business. And in this case they are excellent for shooting bad people who are trying to hurt you, in order to make them stop trying to hurt you. These types of guns are superb for defending your home. Now some of you may think that’s extreme. That’s because everything you’ve learned about gun fights comes from TV. Just read the link where I expound on why.

http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/carbine-vs-shotgun-vs-pistol-for-home-defense/

I had one individual tell me that these types of guns are designed to slaughter the maximum number of people possible as quickly as possible… Uh huh… Which is why every single police department in America uses them, because of all that slaughtering cops do daily. Cops use them for the same reason we do, they are handy, versatile, and can stop an attacker quickly in a variety of circumstances.

When I said “stop an attacker quickly” somebody on Twitter thought that he’d gotten me and said “Stop. That’s just a euphemism for kill!” Nope. I am perfectly happy if the attacker surrenders or passes out from blood loss too. Tactically and legally, all I care about is making them stop doing whatever it is that they are doing which caused me to shoot them to begin with.

The guns that many of you think of as assault rifle are common and popular because they are excellent for fighting, and I’ll talk about what my side really thinks about the 2nd Amendment below.

We should ban magazines over X number of shots!

I’ve seen this one pop up a lot. It sounds good to the ear and really satisfies that we’ve got to do something need. It sounds simple. Bad guys shoot a lot of people in a mass shooting. So if he has magazines that hold fewer rounds, ergo then he’ll not be able to shoot as many people.

Wrong. And I’ll break it down, first why my side wants more rounds in our gun, second why tactically it doesn’t really stop the problem, and third, why stopping them is a logistical impossibility.

First off, why do gun owners want magazines that hold more rounds? Because sometimes you miss. Because usually—contrary to the movies—you have to hit an opponent multiple times in order to make them stop. Because sometimes you may have multiple assailants. We don’t have more rounds in the magazine so we can shoot more, we have more rounds in the magazine so we are forced to manipulate our gun less if we have to shoot more.

The last assault weapons ban capped capacities at ten rounds. You quickly realize ten rounds sucks when you take a wound ballistics class like I have and go over case after case after case after case of enraged, drug addled, prison hardened, perpetrators who soaked up five, seven, nine, even fifteen bullets and still walked under their own power to the ambulance. That isn’t uncommon at all. Legally, you can shoot them until they cease to be a threat, and keep in mind that what normally causes a person to stop is loss of blood pressure, so I used to tell my students that anybody worth shooting once was worth shooting five or seven times. You shoot them until they leave you alone.

Also, you’re going to miss. It is going to happen. If you can shoot pretty little groups at the range, those groups are going to expand dramatically under the stress and adrenalin. The more you train, the better you will do, but you can still may miss, or the bad guy may end up hiding behind something which your bullets don’t penetrate. Nobody has ever survived a gunfight and then said afterwards, “Darn, I wish I hadn’t brought all that extra ammo.”

So having more rounds in the gun is a good thing for self-defense use.

Now tactically, let’s say a mass shooter is on a rampage in a school. Unless his brain has turned to mush and he’s a complete idiot, he’s not going to walk up right next to you while he reloads anyway. Unlike the CCW holder who gets attacked and has to defend himself in whatever crappy situation he finds himself in, the mass shooter is the aggressor. He’s picked the engagement range. They are cowards who are murdering running and hiding children, but don’t for a second make the mistake of thinking they are dumb. Many of these scumbags are actually very intelligent. They’re just broken and evil.

In the cases that I’m aware of where the shooter had guns that held fewer rounds they just positioned themselves back a bit while firing or they brought more guns, and simply switched guns and kept on shooting, and then reloaded before they moved to the next planned firing position. Unless you are a fumble fingered idiot, anybody who practices in front of a mirror a few dozen times can get to where they can insert a new magazine into a gun in a few seconds.

A good friend of mine (who happens to be a very reasonable democrat) was very hung up on this, sure that he would be able to take advantage of the time in which it took for the bad guy to reload his gun. That’s a bad assumption, and here’s yet another article that addresses that sort of misconception that I wrote several years ago which has sort of made the rounds on firearm’s forums.http://www.northeastshooters.com/vbulletin/threads/45671-My-Gunfight-quot-Thinking-Outside-Your-Box-quot  So that’s awesome if it happens, but good luck with that.

Finally, let’s look at the logistical ramifications of another magazine ban. The AWB banned the production of all magazines over ten rounds except those marked for military or law enforcement use, and it was a felony to possess those.

Over the ten years of the ban, we never ran out. Not even close. Magazines are cheap and basic. Most of them are pieces of sheet metal with some wire. That’s it. Magazines are considered disposable so most gun people accumulate a ton of them. All it did was make magazines more expensive, ticked off law abiding citizens, and didn’t so much as inconvenience a single criminal.

Meanwhile, bad guys didn’t run out either. And if they did, like I said, they are cheap and basic, so you just get or make more. If you can cook meth, you can make a functioning magazine. My old company designed a rifle magazine once, and I’m no engineer. I paid a CAD guy, spent $20,000 and churned out several thousand 20 round Saiga .308 mags. This could’ve been done out of my garage.

Ten years. No difference. Meanwhile, we had bad guys turning up all the time committing crimes, and guess what was marked on the mags found in their guns? MILITARY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT USE ONLY. Because once again, if you’re already breaking a bunch of laws, they can only hang you once. Criminals simply don’t care.

Once the AWB timed out, because every politician involved looked at the mess which had been passed in the heat of the moment, the fact it did nothing, and the fact that every single one of them from a red state would lose their job if they voted for a new one, it expired and went away. Immediately every single gun person in America went out and bought a couple guns which had been banned and a bucket of new magazines, because nothing makes an American want to do something more than telling them they can’t. We’ve been stocking up ever since. If the last ban did literally nothing at all over a decade, and since then we’ve purchased another hundred million magazines since then, another ban will do even less. (except just make the law abiding that much angrier, and I’ll get to that below).

I bought $600 worth of magazines for my competition pistol this morning. I’ve already got a shelf full for my rifles. Gun and magazine sales skyrocket every time a democrat politician starts to vulture in on a tragedy. I don’t know if many of you realize this, but Barack Obama is personally responsible for more gun sales, and especially first time gun purchases, than anyone in history. When I owned my gun store, we had a picture of him on the wall and a caption beneath it which said SALESMAN OF THE YEAR.

So you can ban this stuff, but it won’t actually do anything to the crimes you want to stop. Unless you think you can confiscate them all, but I’ll talk about confiscation later.

One last thing to share about the magazine ban from the AWB, and this is something all gun people know, but most anti-gunners do not. When you put an artificial cap on a weapon, and tell us that we can only have a limited number of rounds in that weapon, we’re going to make sure they are the most potent rounds possible. Before the ban, everybody bought 9mms which held an average of 15 rounds. After the ban, if I can only have ten rounds, they’re going to be bigger, so we all started buying 10 shot .45s instead.

You don’t need an assault weapon for hunting!

Who said anything about hunting? That whole thing about the 2nd Amendment being for sportsmen is hogwash. The 2nd Amendment is about bearing arms to protect yourself from threats, up to and including a tyrannical government.

Spare me the whole, “You won’t be happy until everybody has nuclear weapons” reductio ad absurdum. It says arms, as in things that were man portable. And as for the founding fathers not being able to see foresee our modern arms, you forget that many of them were inventors, and multi shot weapons were already in service. Not to mention that in that day, arms included cannon, since most of the original artillery of the Continental Army was privately owned. Besides, the Supreme Court agrees with me. See DC v. Heller.

Well we should just ban ALL guns then! You only need them to murder people!

It doesn’t really make sense to ban guns, because in reality what that means is that you are actually banning effective self-defense. Despite the constant hammering by a news media with an agenda, guns are used in America far more to stop crime than to cause crime.

I’ve seen several different sets of numbers about how many times guns are used in self-defense every year. The problem with keeping track of this stat is that the vast majority of the time when a gun is produced in a legal self-defense situation no shots are fired. The mere presence of the gun is enough to cause the criminal to stop.

Clint Smith once said if you look like food, you will be eaten. Criminals are looking for prey. They are looking for easy victims. If they wanted to work hard for a living they’d get a job. So when you pull a gun, you are no longer prey, you are work, so they are going to go find somebody else to pick on.

So many defensive gun uses never get tracked as such. From personal experience, I have pulled a gun exactly one time in my entire life. I was legally justified and the bad guy stopped, put his gun away, and left. (15 years later the same son of a bitch would end up murdering a local sheriff’s deputy). My defensive gun use was never recorded anywhere as far as I know. My wife has pulled a gun twice in her life. Once on somebody who was acting very rapey who suddenly found a better place to be when she stuck a Ruger in his face, and again many years later on a German Shepherd which was attacking my one year old son. (amazingly enough a dog can recognize a 9mm coming out of a fanny pack and run for its life, go figure) No police report at all on the second one, and I don’t believe the first one ever turned up as any sort of defensive use statistic, all because no shots were fired.

So how often are guns actually used in self-defense in America?http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdguse.html

On the high side the estimate runs around 2.5 million defensive gun uses a year, which dwarfs our approximately 16,000 homicides in any recent year, only 10k of which are with guns.  http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm Of those with guns, only a couple hundred are with rifles. So basically, the guns that the anti-gunners are the most spun up about only account for a tiny fraction of all our murders.

But let’s not go with the high estimate. Let’s go with some smaller ones instead. Let’s use the far more conservative 800,000 number which is arrived at in multiple studies. That still dwarfs the number of illegal shootings. Heck, let’s even run with the number once put out by the people who want to ban guns, the Brady Center, which was still around 108,000, which still is an awesome ratio of good vs. bad.

So even if you use the worst number provided by people who are just as biased as me but in the opposite direction, gun use is a huge net positive. Or to put it another way, the Brady Center hates guns so much that they are totally cool with the population of a decent sized city getting raped and murdered every year as collateral damage in order to get what they want.

Doesn’t matter. I don’t like them. We should ban them and take them all away like a civilized country.

Well, I suppose if your need to do something overrides all reason and logic, then by all means let’s ban guns.

Australia had a mass shooting and instituted a massive gun ban and confiscation (a program which would not work here, which I’ll get to, but let’s run with it anyway.). As was pointed out to me on Facebook, they haven’t had any mass shootings since. However, they fail to realize that they didn’t really have any mass shootings before either. You need to keep in mind that mass shooting are horrific headline grabbing statistical anomalies. You are far more likely to get your head caved in by a local thug while he’s trying to steal your wallet, and that probably won’t even make the evening news.

And violent crime is up in Australia. A cursory Google search will show articles about the increase in violent crime and theft, but then other articles pooh-pooing these stats as being insignificant and totally not related to the guns.

So then we’ve got England, where they reacted swiftly after a mass shooting, banned and confiscated guns, and their violent crime has since skyrocketed. Their stats are far worse than Australia, and they are now one of the more dangerous countries to live in the EU. Once again, cursory Google search will show articles with the stats, and other articles saying that those rises like totally have nothing to do with regular folks no longer being able to defend themselves… Sensing a trend yet?

And then we’ve got South Africa, which instituted some really hard core gun bans and some extremely strict controls, and their crime is now so high that it is basically either no longer tracked or simply not countable. But obviously, the totally unbiased news says that has absolutely nothing to do with people no longer being able to legally defend themselves.

Then you’ve got countries like Norway, with extremely strict gun control. Their gun control laws are simply incomprehensible to half of Americans. Not only that, they are an ethnically and socially homogenous, tiny population, well off country, without our gang violence or drug problems. Their gun control laws are draconian by our standards. They make Chicago look like Boise. Surely that level of gun control will stop school shootings! Except of course for 2011 when a maniac killed 77 and injured 242 people, a body count which is absurdly high compared to anything which has happened America.

Because once again, repeat it with me, criminals simply do not give a crap.

That mass killer used a gun and homemade explosives. Make guns harder to get, and explosives become the weapon of choice. Please do keep in mind that the largest and most advanced military coalition in human history was basically stymied for a decade by a small group using high school level chemistry and the Afghani equivalent to Radio Shack.

The biggest mass killings in US history have used bombs (like Bath, Michigan), fire (like Happyland Nightclub) or airliners. There is no law you can pass, nothing you can say or do, which will make some not be evil.

And all of this is irrelevant, because banning and confiscating all the scary guns in America will be national suicide.

You crazy gun nuts and your 2nd Amendment. We should just confiscate all the guns.

Many of you may truly believe that. You may think that the 2nd Amendment is archaic, outdated, and totally pointless. However, approximately half of the country disagrees with you, and of them, a pretty large portion is fully willing to shoot somebody in defense of it.

We’ve already seen that your partial bans are stupid and don’t do anything, so unless you are merely a hypocrite more interested in style rather than results, the only way to achieve your goal is to come and take the guns away. So let’s talk about confiscation.

They say that there are 80 million gun owners in America. I personally think that number is low for a few reasons. The majority of gun owners I know, when contacted for a phone survey and asked if they own guns, will become suspicious and simply lie. Those of us who don’t want to end like England or Australia will say that we lost all of our guns in a freak canoe accident.

Guns do not really wear out. I have perfectly functioning guns from WWI, and I’ve got friends who have still useable firearms from the 1800s. Plus we’ve been building more of them this entire time. There are more guns than there are people in America, and some of us have enough to arm our entire neighborhood.

But for the sake of math, let’s say that there are only 80 million gun owners, and let’s say that the government decides to round up all those pesky guns once and for all. Let’s be generous and say that 90% of the gun owners don’t really believe in the 2ndAmendment, and their guns are just for duck hunting. Which is what politicians keep telling us, but is actually rather hilarious when you think about how the most commonly sold guns in America are the same detachable magazine semiautomatic rifles I talked about earlier.

So ten percent refuse to turn their guns in. That is 8 million instantaneous felons. Let’s say that 90% of them are not wanting to comply out of sheer stubbornness. Let’s be super generous and say that 90% of them would still just roll over and turn their guns when pressed or legally threatened.   That leaves 800,000 Americans who are not turning their guns in, no matter what. To put that in perspective there are only about 700,000 police officers in the whole country.

Let’s say that these hypothetical 10% of 10% are willing to actually fight to keep their guns. Even if my hypothetical estimate of 800,000 gun nuts willing to fight for their guns is correct, it is still 97% higher than the number of insurgents we faced at any one time in Iraq, a country about the size of Texas.

However, I do honestly believe that it would be much bigger than 10%. Once the confiscations turned violent, then it would push many otherwise peaceful people over the edge. I saw somebody on Twitter post about how the 2nd Amendment is stupid because my stupid assault rifles are useless against drones… That person has obviously never worked with the people who build the drones, fly the drones, and service the drones. I have. Where to you think the majority of the US military falls on the political spectrum exactly? There’s a reason Mitt Romney won the military vote by over 40 points, and it wasn’t because of his hair.

And as for those 700,000 cops, how many of them would side with the gun owners? All the gun nuts, that’s for sure. As much as some people like to complain about the gun culture, many of the people you hire to protect you, and darn near all of them who can shoot well, belong to that gun culture. And as I hear people complain about the gun industry, like it is some nebulous, faceless, all powerful corporate thing which hungers for war and anarchy, I just have to laugh, because the gun industry probably has the highest percentage of former cops and former military of any industry in the country. My being a civilian was odd in the circles I worked in.  The men and women you pay to protect you have honor and integrity, and they will fight for what they believe in.

So the real question the anti-gun, ban and confiscate, crowd should be asking themselves is this, how many of your fellow Americans are you willing to have killed in order to bring about your utopian vision of the future?

Boo Evil Gun Culture!

Really? Because I hate to break it to you, but when nearly six hundred people get murdered a year in beautiful Gun Free Chicago, that’s not my people doing the shooting.

The gun culture is all around you, well obviously except for those of you reading this in elite liberal urban city centers where you’ve extinguished your gun culture. They are your friends, relatives, and coworkers. The biggest reason gun control has become increasingly difficult to pass over the last decade is because more and more people have turned to CCW, and as that has become more common, it has removed much of the stigma. Now everybody outside of elite urban liberal city centers knows somebodythat carries a gun. The gun culture is simply regular America, and is made up of people who think their lives and their families lives are more important than the life of anyone who tries to victimize them.

The gun culture is who protects our country. Sure, there are plenty of soldiers and cops who are issued a gun and who use it as part of their job who could care less. However, the people who build the guns, really understand the guns, actually enjoy using the guns, and usually end up being picked to teach everybody else how to use the guns are the gun culture.

The media and the left would absolutely love to end the gun culture in America, because then they could finally pass all the laws they wanted.

Let’s take a look at what happens when a country finally succeeds in utterly stamping out its gun culture. Mumbai, 2008. Ten armed jihadi terrorists simply walked into town and started shooting people. It was a rather direct, straight forward, ham fisted, simple terrorist attack. They killed over 150 and wounded over 300. India has incredibly strict gun laws, but once again, criminals didn’t care.

That’s not my point this time however, I want to look at the response. These ten men shut down an entire massive city and struck fear into the hearts of millions for THREE DAYS. Depending on where this happened in America it would have been over in three minutes or three hours. The Indian police responded, but their tactics sucked. The marksmanship sucked. Their leadership sucked. Their response utterly and completely fell apart.

In talking afterwards with some individuals from a small agency of our government who were involved in the clean-up and investigation, all of whom are well trained, well practiced, gun nuts, they told me the problem was that the Indian police had no clue what to do because they’d never been taught what to do. Their leadership hated and feared the gun so much that they stamped out the ability for any of their men to actually master the tool. When you kill your gun culture, you kill off your instructors, and those who can pass down the information necessary to do the job.

Don’t think that we are so far off here. I recently got to sit down with some fans who are members of one of the larger metro police departments in America. These guys were all SWAT cops or narcotics, all of them were gun nuts who practiced on their own dime, and all of them were intimately familiar with real violence. These are the guys that you want responding when the real bad stuff goes down.

What they told me made me sick. Their leadership was all uniformly liberal and extremely anti-gun, just like most big cities in America. They walked me through what their responses were supposed to be in case of a Mumbai style event, and how their “scary assault weapons” were kept locked up where they would be unavailable, and how dismal their training was, and how since the state had run off or shut down most of the gun ranges, most of the cops couldn’t even practice or qualify anymore.

So now they were less safe, the people they were protecting were less safe, the bad guys were safer, but most importantly their leadership could pat themselves on the back, because they’d done something.

Well, okay. You make some good points. But I’d be more comfortable if you gun people were force to have more mandatory training!

And I did actually have this one said to me, which is an amazing victory by internet arguing standards.

Mandatory training is a placebo at best. Here is my take on why.

http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/mandatory-training-for-ccw/

 

In conclusion, basically it doesn’t really matter what something you pick when some politician or pundit starts screaming we’ve got to do something, because in reality, most of them already know a lot of what I listed above. The ones who are walking around with their security details of well-armed men in their well-guarded government buildings really don’t care about actually stopping mass shooters or bad guys, they care about giving themselves more power and increasing their control.

If a bad guy used a gun with a big magazine, ban magazines. If instead he used more guns, ban owning multiple guns. If he used a more powerful gun with less shots, ban powerful guns. If he used hollowpoints, ban hollowpoints. (which I didn’t get into, but once again, there’s a reason everybody who might have to shoot somebody uses them). If he ignored some Gun Free Zone, make more places Gun Free Zones. If he killed a bunch of innocents, make sure you disarm the innocents even harder for next time. Just in case, let’s ban other guns that weren’t even involved in any crimes, just because they’re too big, too small, too ugly, too cute, too long, too short, too fat, too thin, (and if you think I’m joking I can point out a law or proposed law for each of those) but most of all ban anything which makes some politician irrationally afraid, which luckily, is pretty much everything.

They will never be happy. In countries where they have already banned guns, now they are banning knives and putting cameras on every street. They talk about compromise, but it is never a compromise. It is never, wow, you offer a quick, easy, inexpensive, viable solution to ending mass shootings in schools, let’s try that. It is always, what can we take from you this time, or what will enable us to grow some federal apparatus?

Then regular criminals will go on still not caring, the next mass shooter will watch the last mass shooter be the most famous person in the world on TV, the media will keep on vilifying the people who actually do the most to defend the innocent, the ignorant will call people like me names and tell us we must like dead babies, and nothing actually changes to protect our kids.

If you are serious about actually stopping school shootings, contact your state representative and tell them to look into allowing someone at your kid’s school to be armed. It is time to install some speed bumps.

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7 December 2012 – Rember Pearl Harbor

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a speech following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 71 years ago today.  Documentaries always seem to include photos of the devastation on Battleship Row and the part of Roosevelt’s speech which says “A date which will live in infamy” but we don’t often hear or read the rest of that speech.  I found it in its entirety at American Rhetoric.  I’m including it here for you to read while you remember.

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Please say a prayer and remember those who lost their family and friends along with those who gave their lives that day.

Remember Pearl Harbor.

 

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5 December 2012 – Birthday Thoughts, Ember, & Some Bad Astrophotography

Yes, I know my birthday was on the first and it’s 5 December now.  I’d have posted this sooner, but I’ve been a combination of busy, flat out tired.  Some people might claim that there’s a woman to blame, but I know it’s my own damn fault :)  When it comes to  my blog, I’ve had to take the position that anything is better late than never as priorities have shifted just a bit :wink:

It’s certainly been one heck of a year since my last birthday!  January 2, 2012 brought momentous news.  That was the day I found out Cindy and I were expecting.  It was also the day I knew I was pulling up stakes and moving to central Utah.  Having visited her up here a few times, I knew I liked the area, but it would be a big change :)

15 June 2012 - My V-Star at the Wedge Overlook on the San Rafael Swell :cool:

15 June 2012 – My V-Star at the Wedge Overlook on the San Rafael Swell :cool:

My move to Utah was not the smoothest of events, but it got done thanks in no small part to Cindy and her family.  This picture was taken shortly after that move when I decided to go for a short ride and see how my V-Star dealt with dirt roads.  I ended up going something like 80 miles on washboard and loose sand roads.  While the mirrors shook loose, everything else held together.  It’s not a dirtbike, but it’ll get the job done if you go slow enough :cool:

22 August 2012 - Ember when she was just a few minutes old :)

22 August 2012 – Ember when she was just a few minutes old :)

22 August 2012 - Ember & me in the nursery

22 August 2012 – Ember & me in the nursery :thumb:

22 August 2012 - Ember & Cindy the day after :)

22 August 2012 – Ember & Cindy the day after :wink:

0814 hours on 22 August 2012 turned out to be the time and day everyone had waited for – Ember finally arrived :D  She was 9 lb 11.5 oz and 21.5″ long when she finally got around to greeting everyone and the doctors all said she was just as perfect as could we could hope she’d be  :thumb:

27 September 2012 - Cindy had Ember wrapped up because she was a bit cold ;-)

27 September 2012 – Cindy had Ember wrapped up because she was a bit cold ;-)

15 September 2012 - Cindy and Ember out in Nine Mile Canyon

15 September 2012 – Cindy and Ember out in Nine Mile Canyon

4 October 2012 - Ember sleeping in a 100+ year old crib

4 October 2012 – Ember sleeping in a 100+ year old crib

21 October 2012 - Ember and her grandma Cheryl

21 October 2012 – Ember and her grandma Cheryl

Ember’s got a whole lot of growing ahead of her, but already done quite a bit!  She’s also done a fair bit of traveling having gone up to Salt Lake City, down to Capitol Reef, and out in Nine Mile Canyon.  Her grandma Cheryl even came up from Arizona to visit her :)

I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better daughter than Ember has been.  Seriously – She’s been sleeping through the night for some time now, usually wakes up happy, very rarely hollers unless she’s got gas or hurts for some other reason, and she really doesn’t seem to run out  of the cutest little smiles :cool:

I’m more thrilled with my daughter than I can express in words.  The future looks like it’s going to be great and Cindy and I are already planning some stuff for a few years down the road.  We’re going to be sure to take her down to San Diego for the zoo, Wild Animal Park, Sea World, and all the usual places.  We’ve also got tentative plans to get something like a small motorhome for weekend camping trips in the mountains and deserts around here.  Oh yeah – there’s probably going to be a few international trips which we’ll find some way to afford!

I’m really looking forward to doing all sorts of stuff with my little girl :)  Not just trips to faraway places, but maybe some astronomy in the desert, picnics on the mountain, and visits to museums.  I can’t say how happy I am to have Ember in my life :thumb:

23 November 2012 - Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ - My first telescope!

23 November 2012 – Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ – My first telescope!

Last, but not least, I finally got a telescope!!!  It usually sells for somewhere around $100+, but Walmart had it under $40 on Thanksgiving night and I just could not pass it up :)

1 December 2012 - Jupiter and three of the Galilean moons

1 December 2012 – Jupiter and three of the Galilean moons

1 December 2012 - Jupiter, Callisto, Ganymede, and Io with labels

1 December 2012 – Jupiter, Callisto, Ganymede, and Io with labels

About that bad astrophotography…

My Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ is a huge improvement over everything else I’ve ever had.  It’s allowed me to see Jupiter and the Galilean moons (see the handheld point and shoot digital camera through the eyepiece pics above – it looked much better in the eyepiece), the Pleiades, Betelgeuse, Rigel, and a few other things so far.  It’s been fantastic :)

That said, I’m already looking to to upgrade my eyepieces and then my whole telescope.  The eyepieces that came with my scope are Huygens  design and cheap ones at that.  I can already see why this design is considered to be one of the worst these days.  They have a very narrow field of view and a very short eye relief (distance your eye has to be from the lens to see the whole image) which is a problem for me with my glasses.  The lenses in the scope itself don’t look to have any anti-reflection coatings and it’s still a somewhat small scope.  I think I’ll invest in some Plössl eyepieces (reasonably priced ones) before too long and then I’ll get something like an Orion SkyQuest XT8 later on.  The  eyepieces are much cheaper and make a huge impact on their own :wink:

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30 November 2012 – Astronomy Update

I’m sure everyone’s heard the news by now that I finally got a telescope.  I haven’t had a chance to post much of anything about what I’ve done with it yet, but I figured I’d take a few spare minutes here to bring everyone up to speed.

As I said, I took it out for a brief glimpse of the moon the night after I got it.  I’d intended to do more observing the next night, but I somehow fell asleep on the couch.  I finally took it out the night after that and pointed it at what I thought was Jupiter…  And I was right on the money :thumb:  There in my scope at only 35x magnification was Jupiter and the four Galilean moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto!  I played around with magnification and was able to see some of the cloud bands :)  There may be an eyepiece filter set (similar to this one) in my not too distant future :wink:

Yes, I’m already hooked and I’m thinking an 8″ reflector might be in my not too distant future :cool:

Have fun and I’ll be back again soon :mrgreen:

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23 November 2012 – I Finally Got a Telescope!!!

Long time readers might remember quite a while back that I’d been considering the purchase of a telescope.  That post was just over three years ago, but nothing really happened.  Until last night that is :wink:

I was perusing the Walmart circular for Black Friday when I saw one heck of a deal.  They had a Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ for $37.86 :shock:  No, really – here’s the ad online!

I wasn't making that up and it was one heck of a deal :D

I wasn’t making that up and it was one heck of a deal :D

I know Celestron telescopes aren’t the absolute best out there, but they’re by far no where near the worst and I didn’t think I could go too far wrong at this price.  I checked out quite a few reviews on different sites and people seemed to think it was a good beginner telescope overall.  Celestron sells this telescope for $89.95 on their website, but this is even a better deal than it first appears.  Walmart has an exclusive deal with Celestron for the way this telescope is packaged.  There’s an extra eye piece (more details later) and they’ve included a zero magnification red dot finder sight similar to one you’d use on a rifle instead of a small, low power telescope with cross hairs.  One last little detail is that this telescope is on an altazimuth mount and an inexpensive one at that.  You can’t just turn one knob and follow something through the sky – you have to manually point the telescope and you must do so continuously.  It’s not set up for photography, but that’s OK considering the price.

23 November 2012 - Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ - My first telescope!

23 November 2012 – Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ – My first telescope!

So, here’s what you get.  The tripod is aluminum and feels sturdy.  The yoke that the telescope sits in appears to also be aluminum and it all fits well with no inherent instability or wobbles.  I believe the optical tube is also aluminum, but the lens hood (I think that’s what it’s called) and caps are plastic.  The focusing wheels are also plastic as are the bodies of the eyepieces.  None of the plastic feels too cheap or flimsy.

There was plenty of stuff in the box and it was all neatly packaged.  The tripod was already assembled aside from screwing on the eyepiece and accessory tray, the slow motion control rod was already attached to the scope and only needed to be inserted into the lock nut on the tripod, the keeper knobs had to be screwed into the telescope through the sides of the tripod fork, and the finder site had to be mounted with thumb screws.  That’s all there was to the basic assembly of this instrument.

Also included in the box was a decent set of directions, TheSkyX First Light Edition software for creating star charts, three eye pieces, a 3x Barlow lens, and a correct image diagonal.

This telescope has a focal length of 700mm which is important in figuring out what magnification a given eyepiece will give you.  The formula for magnification is telescope focal length divided by eyepiece focal length.  The eyepieces included are 20mm, 10mm, and 4mm which means that the magnification with each eyepiece would be 35x, 70x, and 175x.  The Barlow lens triples the magnification for each eyepiece giving  us 105x, 210x, and 525x.

That sounds great, but there’s a limitation to how much magnification is usable.  That limitation is primarily based on the aperture of the telescope.  This telescope has a 70mm aperture which is adequate for beginners, but nowhere near huge.  Celestron lists the maximum usable magnification as 165x for this telescope, so you can see that it’s possible to try to overuse it.  What happens when you try to use too much magnification is that objects will be overly dim and you’ll have poor image quality.  Additional eyepieces are easy to find and can be very affordable should you desire more options.

One other thing I almost forgot about that came with this telescope is the diagonal.  Not only does it allow the viewer to look into an eyepiece at a 90° angle to the telescope (which is more comfortable with the scope pointing skyward), it also presents the image to the viewer upright and non-reversed.  Now, this isn’t too big of a deal for astronomy but it means that the telescope can be used for terrestrial viewing.  Yes, you could use it for watching wildlife.  I, however, plan to use it as a supremely overqualified spotting scope at the shooting range :D

What we really have here appears to be a decent introductory instrument for someone who thinks they might be interested in astronomy.  It’s not top of the line by any stretch of the imagination, you won’t get views resembling pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, and it’s not really set up for photography, but it’s a lot better than nothing and it gets the new observer into the hobby at a truly affordable price!

I haven’t gotten the chance to use my telescope much yet as things have just been busy.  The most I’ve done so far is try it out on the moon tonight.  And what a sight :cool:  I’ve never seen anything quite like the moon at 70 power with sharp definition and all the small craters and such!  I’m going to try to align the red dot finder sight this weekend and then I’ll try to see the rings of Saturn for the first time :thumb:

That’s all for now, but I’ll be back soon!  Have fun everyone :mrgreen:

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23 November 2012 – New Ember Pics!

Yeah, I know it’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything with some actual photographs.  Like I’ve said, life’s gotten quite a bit busier than it was this time last year and I don’t have nearly as much time as I did then, so I hope you’ll understand and excuse me for that.

I finally got a chance to sit down and edit a few new pictures of Ember so that I can post them and they’ll look decent :)  I’m not going to go into much detail about what, where, when etc – I’ll let the captions do most of the talking.  Please feel free to drop any questions into the comments :wink:

9 September 2012 - Ember really slept a lot back then!

9 September 2012 – Ember really slept a lot back then!

15 September 2012 - Ember trying to sleep in the sun out in Nine Mile Canyon

15 September 2012 – Ember trying to sleep in the sun out in Nine Mile Canyon

15 September 2012 - Kyleigh, her son David, Cindy, and Ember trying to do a group picture

15 September 2012 – Kyleigh, her son David, Cindy, and Ember trying to do a group picture

15 September 2012 - Cindy and Ember out in Nine Mile Canyon

15 September 2012 – Cindy and Ember out in Nine Mile Canyon

27 September 2012 - Cindy had Ember wrapped up because she was a bit cold ;-)

27 September 2012 – Cindy had Ember wrapped up because she was a bit cold ;-)

4 October 2012 - Ember sleeping in a 100+ year old crib

4 October 2012 – Ember sleeping in a 100+ year old crib

21 October 2012 - Ember and her grandma Cheryl

21 October 2012 – Ember and her grandma Cheryl

21 October 2012 - Ember all dressed up in her fancy dress

21 October 2012 – Ember all dressed up in her fancy dress

21 October 2012 - Ember has the most expressive non-existent eyebrows ever!

21 October 2012 – Ember has the most expressive non-existent eyebrows ever!

Thanksgiving 2012 - Yes, those are mashed potatoes and she liked them!

Thanksgiving 2012 – Yes, those are mashed potatoes and she liked them!

Well, that’s it for now but I hope you’ve enjoyed the new pics! Have fun and I’ll catch y’all in the near future :mrgreen:

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SITREP – 19 November 2012

Well, it’s taken quite a while, but I finally have some good news to report :D

We’ll start with the important stuff.  Ember and Cindy are doing great :cool:  Yes, I’ll post more pics soon :wink:

Now for the rest.  I finally got a full time job with the local telephone, internet, and cable TV provider :mrgreen:  It’s a very good paying job and comes with employee discounts for all of the above services.  This means that I once again have real internet on a real computer and don’t have to rely on a slow and limited cell phone or a computer at the library :)  We also now have digital expanded cable TV so I get things like the Military channel, Speed, and other good educational TV.

Oh yeah – I almost forgot!  My motorcycle is still mine (I didn’t sell it or anything) and it’s still being ridden as often as possible :D  I’m fine riding without the windshield or grip deflectors down to at least freezing for an hour or so :wink:  Not even winter in Utah will keep me from riding :twisted:

I don’t have too much free time between work and Ember, so I don’t know jut how often I can actually post, but I promise it will be much more than I have since I left Las Vegas :thumb:

Have a great day everyone and I’ll see you again soon :mrgreen:

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22 August 2012 – EMBER HAS ARRIVED!!!

As everyone here probably knows, I found out in January that Cindy and I were awaiting a bundle of joy sometime in August.

My daughter, Ember Celee Wood, finally arrived at 0814 hours on 22 August 2012 :)

22 August 2012 - Ember when she was just a few minutes old :)

22 August 2012 – Ember when she was just a few minutes old :)

We knew Ember would be a bit on the big side, so the doctor decided to do a C-Section to minimize chances of injury to her & her mom.

22 August 2012 - Ember & me in the nursery

22 August 2012 – Ember & me in the nursery :thumb:

Ember was 9 lb 11.5 oz and 21.5 inches when she was born.  So CUTE :D

22 August 2012 - Ember & Cindy the day after :)

22 August 2012 – Ember & Cindy the day after :wink:

Cindy had a bit of a reaction to the anesthetic in the spinal block used during the C-Section, so it took her a little while to get out of recovery.  This pic was taken the day after the big event as Cindy was feeling a bit better :)  Cindy says she looks like crud in this one, but I think she looks pretty good :thumb:

We’re all doing well now except for the sleepless nights.  I’ve got a steady job (more on that later) so she’s been letting me sleep, but I still love holding my daughter, feeding her when we have to use a bottle, and I don’t mind changing her diapers, either :wink:

That’s all for now, but I’ll post again soon!  Have a great day, everyone :mrgreen:

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