Arbitrary and stupid

Did you know that there are certain holsters that are considered to be in the same class with machine guns? These holsters are controlled by the National Firearms Act, and are called ‘any other weapons.’ They require a $5 federal tax stamp to own one with the gun.

Here is the funny part: you can own the holster, and that is legal. You can own the gun, and that is also legal. Own the holster AND the gun that fits in it without the form and the tax stamp? Federal Felony. 
Can you tell them apart? One of the following pictures is an AOW, and one is not:

There is no real difference in form or function, but if you should buy the wrong one at your next gun show, or make one yourself, you will get five years in club fed as a result.

Gun control laws are stupid and arbitrary. (and it is the top picture that is the AOW)

Ammo standardization and Paqlites

I have been working on a plan for TEOTWAWKI as a part of my continuing prepping hobby. Of course, there are many things that we need to consider: Communications, food, water, transportation, etc. Bug out kits.

In the area of defense, we have selected the 9mm cartridge as the defense round of choice. Although there are handguns in the house that are capable of firing all of the popular pistol ammunition: 9mm, .357Sig, .40S&W, .45ACP, we felt that the 9mm was best for a number of reasons: it is light to carry spare ammo, recoil is manageable, and it is available in firearms that everyone in the family will carry. The round is also widely available. This doesn’t mean that I will be selling the other guns, but this is the round that I will plan our BOBs around, with each BOB containing a 20 round box of 115 grain +P.

I have selected the M&P40 as my personal handgun, and have fitted it with a 9mm conversion barrel from KKM. That gives me the capability of .40S&W, .357Sig, and 9mm in one handgun, with only a quick barrel change.

Also, for room and area lighting, we have elected to go with the UVPaqLite. It needs no batteries, doesn’t break, and provides excellent light for dark-adjusted eyes. Take a look, it is a good product for a reasonable price. It is easier to cart this around than a pile of batteries.


So a cop on a SWAT raid spies what he believes is a threat and discharges his weapon into the finger of a fellow officer. This smells like bullshit to me.
1 If there was a threat, then why did the only shot fired hit another cop? Why was the ‘threat’ not shot as well?
2 If there were no other injuries during the raid? Couldn’t have been much of a threat.

This smells like a cop with poor trigger discipline trying to cover his ass after having a negligent discharge, and his fellow officers going along with it.

The biology of self control, part 2

This is a continuation of the post on the physiological origins of self control and criminals. For the first part, click here.

The next neurotransmitter that is important is Serotonin. Serotonin is not capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, so the brain must produce all that it needs. Serotonin is produced by converting an amino acid called tryptophan into Serotonin. (Serotonin is also used for other purposes in other parts of the body, but that is not within the scope of this post.)

Serotonin is the chemical that causes us to feel loved, safe, and comfortable. This is why meals high in tryptophan are called comfort foods. This is also how the drug Ecstasy (MDMA) works. That drug causes a massive release of Serotonin from your neurons. Long term use of MDMA actually causes a decrease in Serotonin, though, as the cells that produce it begin to “burn out.” Various other drugs that are centrally acting also work on Serotonin and its receptors, like SSRIs.

When we do what we know that we are supposed to do, the frontal lobe rewards us with a rush of Serotonin. This is the brain’s reward system for good behavior. The Midbrain rewards pleasurable behavior with Dopamine. The balance between the two is the way our behavior is controlled: Midbrain rewards us for pleasure seeking, the Frontal Lobe rewards us for controlling our bad behavior. Most people are fairly balanced between the two, and mostly seek out pleasurable but good behavior.

There are things that can upset this balance:
A mother who exposes her unborn child to alcohol can damage the frontal lobe, and giver birth to a child with impulsive and unsocial behavior. Remember hearing about how the prenatal exposure to alcohol affects the corpus callosum? That’s the membrane between the left brain and the right brain that passes information between the two hemispheres of the brain. The corpus callosum of kids with fetal alcohol syndrome is damaged, and in some cases it is absent. This is very similar to what happens when a “normal” person drinks alcohol. After a few drinks, alcohol shuts down the left side of the frontal lobe, which no longer functions the way it should and this suppresses the frontal lobe, causing the person to act on impulse, disregarding consequences, and seek more reward from the Midbrain. A person will act to do things, even  when they know that it is wrong and will cause them trouble in the end. With long term alcohol and drug use, this condition becomes a permanent dysfunction.

Since much of this is biochemical and not conscious thought, people with frontal lobes that are damaged by congenital defects or drug use have no way of stopping this behavior.

That brings us back to recognizing a person’s potential for becoming a killer. We can look for people who:
 – chronically use alcohol or drugs,
– have displayed a history of not producing enough Serotonin. They are easy to recognize, as they have problems controlling their impulsive behavior (in other words- criminal records). However, this only is a reliable indicator if the criminal KNEW that what he was doing was wrong. After all, the person must know it is the wrong thing to do, if the frontal lobe is to be expected to control the impulse.
– Identifying others who have problems with their impulse control center. This suggests that there may be a test that can be performed that will indicate a person’s proclivity for committing crimes, which may mean that there is a medical solution for some criminals.

You also can see why gun control has little effect. The criminal is a criminal because his brain doesn’t stop him from committing acts that he knows are wrong. He knows it is illegal to rob someone, but he doesn’t care. He knows as a convicted criminal that it is wrong for him to own a gun, but doesn’t care.

On the other side of that, a man convicted of an obscure felony like owning more than 5 sex toys is not a threat to public safety and is unlikely to commit a crime with a firearm, as his impulse control is most probably fully functional.

Range Report

I finally got to take my new M&P 40 to the range. I had been hoping to be able to test my Storm Lake 9mm conversion barrel, but they are on backorder. It seems that no one has any, which tells you that they are selling like hotcakes. I wanted one to make shooting for practice cheaper, but we will have to wait on that.

The second thing I was testing was my new XS sights. I had them installed last week, and was not able to try them out yet. The sight consists of a large front dot and a vertical line on the rear. To aim, you simply make the front dot sit on top of the line, like a lollipop, like this:

This has got to be one of the fastest sights that I have ever used. It was accurate, with me shooting a rapid fire 8 round two inch group at 10 yards. My only complaint was that the gunsmith did not Locktite the screw for the rear site in place, so it backed off after 20 rounds or so, and my shots were going wild. It took me another ten rounds to realize that it wasn’t me that was causing the wild shots. Three more shots to get the sights realigned, and a dab of Locktite, and I was back to shooting tight groups.

I fired 250 rounds without a single malfunction. Something I was never able to do from the two 1911s that I got rid of. In fact, the two 1911s that I still have were not able to do that right out of the box. Those pistols needed a break in period of about 500 rounds to get working. In all, I am happy with this pistol, and I am comfortable with carrying it as a defensive piece. Now all I need to do is get some leather for it. I am thinking about a Brommeland Max Con V. I like leather and not plastic holsters. Anyone have opinions?

Killers, biology, and control

There are always people who think that keeping people from owning guns is the answer to preventing murder. These people say that anyone is capable of being a criminal, and therefore guns are too dangerous for anyone but cops and the military. Others say that there is no way to predict who will be a killer, but is this true? Why do people become criminals, addicts, or killers? The answer is in our brains.

The neurological system of human beings is controlled by chemicals called neurotransmitters. The brain manufactures more than 60 different neurotransmitters that are responsible for everything we do from breathing, to pupil contractions, and even our thoughts and emotions. For the purposes of emotion and this discussion, there are three that we are talking about: Dopamine, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine.

Everything that we do that brings us pleasure involves Dopamine. If it makes you happy, Dopamine is the chemical that is responsible. The nervous system uses dopamine as the reward for good behavior. Serotonin is the love and comfort chemical. This neurotransmitter gives us our feelings of belonging, self-confidense, and calm. Norepinephrine is responsible for the “4 F’s” (feeding, fleeing, fighting, and f*cking).

In the human brain, there are components that control our emotions and behaviors without our conscious control. Among these is the midbrain. A small area of the midbrain called the Substantia Nigra makes dopamine, and passes that reward through a structure called the nucleus accumbens, past the frontal lobe, and to the rest of the brain. Since the midbrain is out of our conscious control, there are no ethics or morals involved in this level of control, this is pure instinct. In this way, the midbrain causes us to do whatever brings us pleasure.

We can exhibit a certain amount of control by utilizing the frontal lobe of the brain to interdict some of these impulsive, hedonistic impulses. You see, the frontal lobe of the brain is where our sense of morals, self control,  and duty originate. In children and young adults (up to about age 25) this area of the brain is not yet fully developed, and this is why people in that age group do stupid and irresponsible things.

In addition, various genetic and environmental factors either damage or prevent the development of this part of the brain. Individuals that do not have a fully developed frontal lobe have little self-control, no sense of right and wrong, and no morals. In short, they are out of control criminals.

Part two of this post can be found here.

Gun update

So I traded my poorly functioning Kimber Pro Carry II for an M&P40 and a little extra cash. I was considering trading my Colt Combat Commander in for another, but instead I sold it for cash. I am using the cash to buy magazines, leather, some ammo, and a 9mm barrel for the M&P.
The reason that I made this decision is that I could not find a single M&P40 compact anywhere. The local shops were all out, and even CDNN was sold out. The dealers that I spoke with all said that they cannot keep concealable pistols in stock because they have been selling so many. The M&P compacts are on back order, and there is no expected delivery date.
The same was true for conversion barrels and magazines. Magazines are hit and miss, with some dealers having 9mm but not .40 mags, and others having the opposite problem. Even Brownell’s is out of the conversion barrels. So is cheaper than dirt.
Ammo is also flying off the shelves, with many of the more popular self defense ammo shelves looking pretty empty. This is all flying in the face of the Brady claim that gun ownership is falling.

Reliability… 1911s don’t have it

Guns are tools. I buy guns because I like to shoot them. There isn’t much room in my gun safe for safe queens. Every gun owner has a gun or three that they would say is not as reliable as they wish it could be. During the last presidential campaign, I was on a one gun a month buying spree. That is, I was buying a gun each month from October of 2007 until January of 2009.The gun of the month for October 2007 was a Colt Combat Commander and the gun for January 2008 was a Kimber Pro Carry II.

I had problems with both of them right out of the box. The Colt failed to feed 2 or 3 times per 100 rounds. The Pro Carry II failed to feed at about the same rate. I consulted people that I respect on the subject, and was given a lot of advice. They told me to break the pistol in for 500 rounds and that would fix it. It didn’t. I was accused of “limp wristing” by people who hadn’t even watched me shoot. I was told to change ammo, because some 1911s are finicky. I was told to lube them more, and have also been told to lube them less. Both guns were returned to the factory under warranty, and “repaired.” The Kimber was worked over and had new springs, a new slide release, and other repairs. Both pistols continued to malfunction. The Pro Carry and the Colt became safe queens.

So this past weekend, I thought that it had been awhile since I had taken the Pro Carry for a spin, so I took it to the range. I brought 100 rounds with me, and I stopped after firing only 50 rounds because I had already had about 6 failures of the pistol to go into battery. I had the gunsmith there look at it, and he told me that the recoil spring was in need of replacement. It had been replaced at the factory only about 300 rounds before. I pointed that out, and he told me that Kimber 1911s needed new springs about every 500 rounds.

The funny thing is that both my Kimber Ultra Carry and my Kimber Eclipse Custom work well. I finally came to this conclusion: The Pro Carry and the Combat Commander were never going to be carry pieces for me. I just can’t trust my life to a pistol that has a mean failure rate of 300 rounds or so. I also don’t need a pistol that is finicky about ammo or about anything else. Above all, I want my tools to work when I need them. There are plenty of reliable firearms out there that function more reliably out of the box that can be had for less than $600. Why should I spend a kilobuck or more for an unreliable safe queen?

Before any 1911 fanboys out there tell me that there are 1911s that are perfectly reliable, I know that. I own two of the reliable ones. I also own two that aren’t. I know that there are M&Ps, Glocks, and Sigs that are not reliable. Overall though, a 1911 owner needs to spend hundreds or thousands more on average to get a firearm that is consistently reliable than does the owner of a modern pistol. JMB was a genius. His influence is seen in many firearms today, but the 1911 is an imperfect design, because many of the machine processes and materials available today were not in existence when JMB designed the 1911.

So, I traded that Pro Carry in for a Smith and Wesson M&P .40. I  really like the idea of the M&P .40 being convertible to .357 Sig and 9mm with a barrel change (and magazine for 9mm). It’s like having three guns in one. Reliability is unknown to me at this time, but I will be testing that this coming weekend.

I am also considering trading the Combat Commander for something else. I don’t yet know what, but I will shop around. Maybe an M&P compact, or a.45. I don’t have a .45 that isn’t a 1911. (I ave my Sig 220 to my son for his 21st birthday.)

All I know is that this has been a bad month so far for my firearms. I rusted a Sig and broke a Kimber. Makes me wonder what is next.

Gut punch

So I retired from my jobs as a paramedic in November so that I could move several states away for the next two years, so I could return to school for my graduate degree. I packed up some of my favorite handguns and moved 1,200 miles. I now own a house in Florida, and rent an apartment a few miles from the school. I am a dual resident of two states, and maintain a house in both of them. I guess I am technically a snowbird.

One of the problems that this caused relates to the way that I packed my handguns. I guns into four padded Pelican cases. There were four 1911s, a pair of Sig 229s in Stainless, and a Beretta Tomcat in one case, and a Sig Mosquito and 3 Glocks in a second, an AR-15 in the third, and a Springfield M1A in the fourth. The problem is that the Pelican case is air tight, and I packed them in hot, humid Florida, and transported those cases to the cool, dry north.

Three weeks later, after finally getting settled in, I opened the locked cases, and it felt like I had been punched in the gut. The humid air trapped in the Pelican cases had condensed, and began corroding some of the guns. In the end, only two were damaged: The AR has some surface rust on the barrel which cleaned off with some work. The sad part was one of the 229s (the .357Sig) was rusted so badly that the takedown lever, mag release, and slide stop were all rusted in place. Apparently, the 229 Stainless doesn’t use as much stainless as I thought.

I took it to the gunsmith, and the guy behind the counter told me that my gun couldn’t possibly be stainless steel, because you can’t blue stainless. I tried to explain Nitron finishes to him, but he looked at me like I was stupid and told me that there is no way to blue stainless. I then asked him why it says “stainless” right on the slide, and then told him to hand me my gun back, because he is obviously not the guy I want working on my guns. It turns out he is only a helper, and the real gunsmith actually knows what he is doing. The total repair estimate on the Sig is about $400. Rebarreling the AR will be expensive, too.

Expensive lesson.

Defenseive gun use

One of the lies that is told by anti gun forces in this country is how guns are not used for lawful defense that often, and that your risk of being killed by that gun is higher than your chances of using that firearm in self defense. The flaw with this statement is that firearms are used in self defense millions of times each year without a shot being fired, uses which of course don’t make it into any sort of statistics.

Here is one such case.
A man is in custody after Greene County deputies believe he and a companion broke in and ransacked a home…  A brother of the homeowner, who lives nearby, interrupted the burglary in progress and held the man at gunpoint until deputies arrived.