Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Missed It By . . . THAT MUCH!

I'm pretty sure the "Freedom States Alliance" (Motto: "War is peace, freedom is slavery, antonyms are synonyms!") is still doing it wrong. They sent out an email today trumpeting that one of their board members has just been exposed as an "NRA double agent."

From the tone of the piece, I think they have the idea that they're shaming the NRA, which will now hang its collective head. Well, I have to admit it's too bad she got caught, but personally, I feel more gleeful than anything else. As My Lovely Bride put it, "What do they think we are, gay in the '50's? Are we supposed to be hiding or something?"

The FSA says in their official statement:
What the gun lobby clearly does not understand is that trying to save lives from gun violence is not a game. Real lives and real suffering are at stake.
That's right, FSA. It's not a game. It's very serious business, which is why you're not getting any sympathy by whining about the rules. Go suck on a gobstopper and let the big kids sort this out.

My First Time

It was finally my turn.

My nerves were jangling and the butterflies seemed to have attracted large, predatory birds to my stomach.
"Do you have any questions?"
I knew all I had to do was be silent. I shook my head anyway.
"Make ready!"
I took a mag from my pocket, drew my worn P220 (an old police trade-in made in 1989) and inserted the mag. The slide snapped back and slammed forward, and I holstered the weapon with elaborate care. I dropped the mag, topped it off with one more round, replaced it and dropped my arms to my sides.

How long did they s-BEEP!
Move left. Draw slightly forward; follow the cant or the gun gets stuck. Support hand on, thumbs lined up, gun coming up--hey, cool, I've never done this under pressure before, I'm doing okay--there are the poppers, step back so the gun doesn't go through the window, front sight--
This isn't so bad! These things are falling like magic.
Time to go! Grab a mag. The old one won't drop free--yank it! New mag's in, rack the slide, out pops a live round. Huh. Pull the gun in, muzzle downrange, big step sideways into the hall. That strip down the middle of the target looks small . . . . thrust the gun out, front sight, boom-boom and I'm off down the hall. I'm walking, but it feels fast. . .
Big steps right, there are the last four targets, boomboom--boomboom--boomboom--boomboom and the whole thing is done. I show the RO safe, drop the hammer by dry-firing at a target (hard to get used to this--I have a decocker, but I guess that wouldn't show one last time that the chamber is empty) and I'm done.
"Range is safe, 42 seconds. Brand new shooter, everybody!" The applause was genuine; people were shouting. They sure were happy to see a new guy.

So, most of you know that I recently won a free trip to Blackwater's training facility in North Carolina to take a class in action pistol shooting from Todd Jarrett. That's pretty cool; it's the sort of thing I just wouldn't lay out the cash to do on my own.

But as I started to make arrangements, it occurred to me that I've never competed in action pistol . . . ever. No IPSC, no IDPA, no 3-Gun, not even Bullseye. Obviously, that's not the best way to get the most out of a Todd Jarrett class. Not that I couldn't show up with zero experience and still learn something, mind you, but there had to be a better way.

That led me to my local indoor range, Bullet Express, last Thursday night. The Springfield Tactical Shooters meet at Bullet Express every Thursday night year-round and shoot one stage per week indoors. Plastic construction fencing is hung from the ceiling to make "walls" and both cardboard and steel poppers are used. That was particularly new to me, since my gun club doesn't allow steel targets on the outdoor range. We have a Bad Neighbor Issue, unfortunately, and we just can't take the chance of doing anything that might allow ricochets over the berm. I figure that if I hang the steel by the top and the bottom, I can angle it with the top forward so that anything that strikes it will have to deflect down into the ground . . . . but I can't blame them for not trusting 250 members with keys to do the right thing every day, and it would only take once.

But I digress; we were discussing USPSA indoors. First, the people: Angela, Morgan, Than, and some others whose names I don't recall. Angela took possession of me as I walked in the door, then administered a safety lecture in the "safe room." There were really only two rules to remember, she said--first, the finger must be off the trigger whenever the gun was off target. Second, the gun must not "break the 180"--that is, the gun could never be pointed 90 degrees right or left, 90 degrees up at the ceiling, or 90 degrees down at the floor--it must be pointed downrange at ALL times, even if only slightly. It was no dishonor, Angela explained, to be disqualified for breaking these rules. I could always try again the next week. I began to sweat.

I had walked in with an old Galco IWB holster (a gift from Son Tao, whom some of you may remember, it was meant for a P226, but it fit my P220 well enough.) I had no magazine carriers, but I figured I could get a cheap universal one for single-stack magazines. In the end, I decided to pick up a FOBUS holster and double mag carrier, both with paddles. I was pleasantly surprised by these; they kept the gun and mags tight against the body, were secure, and once I figured out the draw, very smooth and trouble free. I'll probably use them for CCW in North Carolina, assuming I can stand to wear the long covering shirt to hide 'em.

Angela led me to the counter to fill out my score sheet. Name . . . number . . . . production class . . . . minor power. I didn't completely understand all this, but apparently the production class is always scored as minor power, even though I was shooting 230 grain .45 acp.
"Now just put 'NEW SHOOTER' across the whole thing." she told me.
"New? He's not new!" John behind the counter snorted with a smile. "That guy's been coming here for years. You're not gonna let him shoot for free, are you?"
I smiled back.
"Yeah, but I never had to move around and stuff. If I were chewing bubble gum, I'd be a real safety hazard."

That was all well and good, but I discovered that there was skepticism in the peanut gallery regarding my ammunition supply. I had brought three of my four magazines, but the course that night was held to be a tough one, it was thought that I might run out of ammunition. The stage required shooting eight steel poppers through a window, then moving right to engage a cardboard target at the end of a hallway with two hits, then charging down the hall and to the right to finish by putting two rounds each into four more targets next to a no-shoot target. Each of the cardboard targets had a large area covered, so the the shooting had to be fairly precise. Running through with no misses would take 18 rounds; I was carrying 21, 22 if I topped off the magazine at the beginning. The concern was that even the veterans often missed the poppers; I would probably miss several, and then I'd be out of ammo by the end. I told Than that it was no big deal, I was just shooting for fun. Actually, I was wondering how far away these poppers were, that missing was such a concern. Generally, my old, well-worn P220 will do anything I ask of it as long as I do my part. She doesn't look like much, but she outshoots me by a large margin.
That's when Morgan piped up.
"I must have an extra 220 mag around," he said. "Lemme go look!"
Sure enough, he returned after a few minutes with a stainless P220 magazine with a large bumper floorplate. He'd drawn a squiggly line on the back so I would know it wasn't mine. He needn't have worried; I knew mine were the old blued models with the flat floorplates and the shiny spots all over! I was suitably grateful. It wasn't long, though, before I discovered that one of my earplugs had popped off the cord. In swooped Thanh to toss me his electronic muffs, and I was in business.

Angela had shown me in the "safe room" (where guns, but never ammunition, could be handled--everywhere else, ammunition was OK but to draw one's gun without a Range Officer's command was grounds for disqualification for the entire night) how to stand ready, what the commands from the Range Officer would be, how to make ready and how to finish a stage correctly. I moved into the range with her to see what the other shooters were doing. For the most part, they were scoring targets and picking up each others' brass and magazines. It took quite awhile before my name was called; there were 68 shooters all told that night, not counting second and third passes through. Between runs, I asked questions and shot the bull. Angela turned out to be married to the uncle of one of my high school classmates; one of those little coincidences that almost define small-town life. Watching the other shooters would have been entertaining enough. There was the older gentleman who walked the stage and shot a Ruger P97 with his support-hand thumb crossed over his strong hand. That was enough to make me cringe--my wife has a nasty scar on her left hand from doing the same thing with a little .32 a few years ago--but he has apparently mastered his technique; no blood was shed. There was the young guy with dreads and a belt literally full of Glock magazine holders. No kidding--it looked like a Bat-Utility Belt. If there'd been a 350-round marathon stage, that guy would have been ready to go . . . if he'd only had the magazines. Then again, for all I know, they were sitting in his range bag just in case. There was the 11-year-old girl who was only picking up brass that night, but who I was told had been shooting with the group since she was nine. There was the uniformed Sangamon County Sheriff's Deputy who showed up mid-match and was immediately put in the "in the hole" place in line, drawing protests from no one. He stood holding his radio up near his ear protection, and told us he wasn't on lunch, but "training time." His quotes, not mine. He was carrying a 1911 cocked and locked, and he certainly knew how to use it. I could see who you'd want to respond to your mugging or attempted murder up in Sangamon County--I would have felt OK with that guy shooting past me if he'd had to.

When my turn came, I made my run carefully, walking from position to position. I knew I'd been slow, forgotten a popper, and probably reloaded in the wrong places. But I'd done it, I hadn't gotten disqualified, and I'd had a blast. I gathered my brass and magazines. I paid no attention to my score at all. I was just glad, I told myself, that I hadn't gotten DQ'ed for a safety screwup.

"Hey Don!" someone shouted. He was standing next to the 8th steel popper. It was a small one, it was behind a big one, and suddenly I realized why I'd still had a round in the chamber when I left the poppers--I'd taken seven shots at eight targets!

I went out to the shop and filled out another score sheet.
"Now you owe me five bucks!" John crows behind the counter. "It's like crack, only the first one's free."
The second run was a much shorter wait. This time, although I still took my time and wasn't in much of a hurry, I was smoother. I cut five seconds off my first time, apparently, which was nice and all. And I once again went a perfect seven-for-seven shots on the (eight) poppers. I've never been great with numbers.
"Is it too late to go over there and kick that one?" I asked. I think they thought I was kidding.

This Thursday night, I'll be back. I was surprised at how much fun this game is!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bleg: Calling All Mechanics

UPDATE: From comments, it sounds like the original suspicion of the heater hoses or their fittings was closer. These are the hoses for a 1995 Camaro with a 3.4L V6. I'll pull the hoses today and see what I can see. I'm hoping it's an issue with the fittings on the hoses themselves, and not on the heater assembly. I'm imagining a lot more work if that's the case.

I'm trying to get my old Camaro fixed up and sold before school starts. On Friday, I wanted to take the boys to their "camps" and go get some shooting in, since I'd be stuck in nearly-beautiful Springfield for a few hours anyway (City Motto: "Proud Home of Abraham Lincoln's Opium Habit.") Unfortunately, on the way to Springfield, the air in the Camaro grew very warm. Then I noticed that the heat gauge, which reads from 160 to 260 degrees, was pegged at the hot end. That ain't good.

We made it to a service station with a sandwich shop and I called the cavalry and bought the boys lunch so they wouldn't resort to cannibalism (we had over a half-hour to wait.) The engine compartment was full of vapor, but the smell inside the passenger compartment wasn't very strong at all. There was a growing puddle of orange coolant on the ground under the car. After my wife arrived and we took the boys to their stuff, we bought a few gallons of water and drove the Camaro home. It was getting hot by the time we made it home (only about a 10-mile drive, if that) but it made it without adding more water along the way.

I suspected a 'sploded heater core, but my dad pointed out that this should fill the cabin with sweet, sweet coolant fumes. So I suspected a blown attachment where a heater hose connects to the firewall.

So today I needed to jump-start my old truck anyway, and to kill two birds I started the Camaro and let it run. No leaks. I checked, and it was low on water, so I added some, but . . . . still no leaks. Then I looked inside the car--the heat was pegged again. This is making me suspect the water pump is dead, and all the leakage Friday was from the pump's release holes. The problem with that theory is that I was sure the coolant vapor clouds were coming from the rear passenger side of the engine compartment--which is also where the hoses go into the heater core. I have a long history of love-hate with GM water pumps. The hate is paid in full; I expect the love to start any year now. I was too chicken to open up the radiator or a hose with the engine so hot (though the radiator itself didn't feel very hot at all--another reason I think coolant is not circulating.) So I figure tomorrow I'll disconnect a hose and see if the pump is circulating water. If it is, water should shoot out of the hose, even if the thermostat hasn't opened yet, right? I don't think a water pump on this thing would be a HUGE deal, but I thought I'd ask and see if anyone has a better idea.

What's puzzling me here is why I can't induce a leak today? I had more or less pure water running in an engine above 260 degrees. It boiled at around 212 degrees, right? Why isn't it shooting out all over the place?

UPDATE: From comments, it sounds like the original suspicion of the heater hoses or their fittings was closer. These are the hoses for a 1995 Camaro with a 3.4L V6. I'll pull the hoses today and see what I can see. I'm hoping it's an issue with the fittings on the hoses themselves, and not on the heater assembly. I'm imagining a lot more work if that's the case.

This Actually Looks Like a Lot of Fun

But I'm glad I live in the United States. Well, Illinois, but still.

Somebody asked on another forum what the slow-mo guy did wrong. It's hard to tell from the camera angle, but it looked to me like the RO was saying he swept himself with the gun, maybe his hand. Not a huge deal with Airsoft, but still against the rules if it's an IPSC event. I'm not sure what they're actually shooting there, either--if it's Airsoft, it sounds like it's spitting metal balls and popping them out pretty hard, from the ringing on the steel plates.

I suppose these guys see this as no different than playing kendo on the weekend in a country where you can't own a sword, either, unless it costs more than my car.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Family

I just got off the phone with Gracie Barra Springfield. This was not a fun call for me; I was calling to cancel my membership.

The thing is, I didn't really want to do it. I loved the school, I loved the instructors, I loved the other students. The problem was that the school was so far from my home that if I tried to attend, it would take my entire evening during the school year. During the summer, it was still twice the distance I commute to work. It just wasn't working. And frankly, right now, I'm just not in shape to go back to it. So I've actually been out for awhile, but still paying the fees every month. It's just not practical.

I've been re-evaluating a few things I've more or less given up over the years, telling myself that I had to put the family first. I've gone back to shooting recently, doing DCM highpower competition once a month this summer, and tomorrow I'll try IPSC competition for the first time. That's a weekly match, so I hope to get a little bit of experience before I go to Blackwater. It's also shot indoors, so it goes all winter, too.
Another thing I've given up on has been metalworking. I have a forge and anvil out in the shed that haven't seen a spark in a couple of years now. I think it's time to find someone willing to take on a part-time apprentice and try to make some real progress as a smith. I know a smith who sells knives here in my little town. What's stopping me from asking him to teach me? I'm just that shy and that quiet. But if the truth be told, if I could do anything for a living, I'd make knives and write. It's time to do something about it.
I've also let my weight-loss and fitness slip away in the last couple of years. I lost a lot of weight a few years ago, and it felt great, but it didn't last. I didn't sustain it. This is normal for a lot of Americans, but it isn't good enough. The bicycle I used to love to ride has hung in the garage since winter; there never seemed to be time. Now I'll make time.

Now, again, Gracie Barra Springfield is not at fault here. In fact, let me commend them--they have auto-debit access to my checking account, and they could have followed the standard American martial-arts school procedure by losing paperwork, asking me to quit in person, and otherwise making it as hard as they could or stretching out the process. Many schools just keep charging you like some evil clone of AOL, not even acknowledging that you've quit until the third or fourth try. All it took to GBS was a phone call. That speaks well of them. They're a great school. But in the list of things I really feel a need to do at this moment, jiu-jitsu just didn't make the cut.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Your results:
You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)

Dependable and trustworthy.
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.

Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command) 80%

Wash (Ship Pilot)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
River (Stowaway)
Inara Serra (Companion)
A Reaver (Cannibal)

Click here to take the "Which Serenity character are you?" quiz...

Close seconds were Wash and Captain Tightpants. If they'd had a question about high-speed maneuvers in an aging transport, for instance, or wise-cracking while people are bleeding, I think the Wash would have come through. Don't know if I'm tough enough to pull off Zoe.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Visitors From Illinois State Government

Someone with a "State of Illinois" IP address has been googling "Don Gwinn" lately. Well, I will not be intimidated, nor will I be silenced, nor will I be . . . uh . . . intimidated! All Power to the People! And I've got a clear message for the state worker who's probably reading this right now:

I love you, Mom. Now get back to work. :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Well, that didn't work.

In case you ever need to get to Taylorville Rifle and Pistol Club from the south, here's a tip: When you turn off County Road 600E, onto County Road 1275N, make sure you go east. See, if you go east, there's an s-curve and it turns into CR 1250N, and then you come to the club pretty quickly.

But if you turn west, there IS no 1250N, and you'll be checking the directions and driving in circles and checking them again--and these are big circles we're talking about. By the time I found the club, the match had been on for 45 minutes and was probably close to finished.

By that time, the baby was crying and My Bride was having a fairly serious Potty Emergency, and I still didn't know, technically speaking, how to get to Taylorville from where I was. But the thing about Illinois is that it's basically laid out in a giant grid. Long, long ago when this was mostly tall grass prairie full of rattlesnakes, township roads were laid out every mile. Beginning from some point in the county seat, going north, you cross CR 100N, CR 200N, and so on, plus the ones in between. This means that a lot of the concerns I hear about out west and down south, with people getting hopelessly lost, are no big deal here. If you've got enough water in the summer or enough clothing in the winter, you can walk out of just about anywhere if you have to. And luckily for me, it's a lot easier to find Taylorville than the gun club.

Anyway, our plans had seemed so simple the day before. My Bride would drop me off at the match and go into Taylorville to kill an hour or two, then come get me. We'd take some friends to lunch and then catch the new Batman movie at the Marvel Theater on the square, where new movies still cost $2.00. Unfortunately,the best-laid plans of big fat guys aft go agley.

  • I couldn't find the range for the life of me.
  • We couldn't get hold of our friends . . . I think they're out of town.
  • We ended up having lunch early, with two hours to kill in Taylorville.
  • We decided to go to the square and walk around the shops for two hours until the movie opened, since the theater is on the historic square (it has a statue of Abe Lincoln walking with his jacket over his shoulder, looking down with genuine affection at a small pig.)
  • Aside from the theater, there is not ONE business open on the square in Taylorville on Sunday afternoon.
  • By that time, I had two people on my hands who were cranky (not to say bitchy) and needed a nap apiece. At that point, I considered it prudent to withdraw, leaving the field to the foe (Murphy.)
But you know, it's not so bad. Right now I'm melting, but that's only because I'm grilling delicious chicken breasts on charcoal out back. Soon I'll take charred chicken, baked beans and Texas toast up to my wife and baby in the air-conditioned atmosphere of the bedroom. The sweat on my shirt will cool and then grow chilly like the shade coming on in an autumn evening, and as long as I don't get called out to lug a stretcher in this heat, I can just pretend that the whole world is that cool.

Plus, now I know where the Taylorville club is. It's about half the distance I drive to go shooting now, so if it's any good I'm going to have to try to join. If I didn't have to drive a little over an hour to go shooting, I could do a lot more of it.

"Education" My Big, Broad, White Butt

Gotta go! There's a surplus rifle match in nearly-beautiful nearby Taylorville today, and I'm going to give my K31 a workout if I can find the range.

In the meantime, read this and weep for the future of our nation. You know, public education gets blamed for a lot of things in this country, sometimes fairly, sometimes not. But when your system works this well, how can you expect people to bother about being fair to you when there's a problem? How could anyone not blame us first for all the ills of society when our solution to everything seems to be to demand twice the money for solutions that have been proven to be making the problem worse?

Lest anyone think I'm exaggerating, here's the short version: two years ago, Illinois legislative Democrats made a deal with the Governor to get their "educational grants" up to $20,000 rubber-stamped by the IL State Board of Ed. If one of these legislators sponsors a recipient, ISBE sends out the money. With me so far?
The vast majority of the money went to campaign lackeys and ward heelers, and the Tribune found back then that many weren't running any education program of any kind. They were just pocketing the bri . . . uh, money. This year, they looked again, and found out it was worse. The solution?
Next year we're doubling the amount of money available for the grants.

(H/T to Second City Cop for this one.)

That's how education works in Illinois. Succeed and we'll assume you cheated. Fail, lie, cheat, make the problem worse than it was before you came on the scene, and we'll double your budget.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The View From the Porch

No, silly, not that porch. My porch, freshly painted.Not a bad spot to spend a few minutes solving the world's problems. Yesterday, though, I saw something there I haven't seen before. Notice anything odd?

I'm not sure what they are--maybe red-tailed hawks? There were three of them hopping around my front porch. I imagine they were hunting the local rabbits or maybe the big garter snake that lives under the porch. Not something I see every day!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cook County Jail is a hellhole? Not shocked over here.

It seems that Patrick Fitzgerald, the crusading federal prosecutor who got Scooter Libby and inspires many rumors about Daley and Blagojevich going to prison, has been investigating Cook County Jail. That would be the fortress-prison on California Avenue that serves as Chicago's stand-in for the Gates in Mordor.

And you know, it turns out that it's a hellhole. Apparently, they beat people there die unnecessarily, get limbs amputated when they should have been saved by treatment, get beaten on a regular basis by sadistic guards and get terrible medical care.

I've been there once (not as an inmate, thank Dog) and that was enough. You could feel the evil emanate from the walls. It really does look like an evil madman's castle, too, which doesn't help.

Just a quick story about Cook County Jail: my mother-in-law, like my mother, always swore that she'd never bail her kids out of jail. If they did something to land there, they were on their own. But when her son did do something dumb in traffic and end up having to spend the night in jail, he was going to end up in Cook County Jail that night.

She bailed him out. She said she wanted him to learn a lesson, not get murdered.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Machine Gun of the Day

In honor of Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and the Peanut Gallery, I present today's "Washington D.C. Machine Gun of the Day."

Ooh! Scary! Can any of you identify this infernal engine of death, injustice and tooth decay? My grandfather purchased this one for me many years ago--almost thirty now--at a Woolworth's store in Springfield, IL that I can't recall. The medallion in the stock is a Woolworth's Commemorative marking. Grandpa bought it when I was but a babe and put it away to give it to me someday, but life got in the way; he'd bought two others, for two of my cousins of about the same age, and they both had a lot more trouble growing up than I did. He told me years later that he'd wanted to give me "my" rifle several times as I grew up, but he kept waiting for a time when he could give all three away.

Today, my cousins have more or less found their way. Each is successful in his work and has settled down to raise a family. Unfortunately, neither takes much of an interest in firearms, but grandpa decided a couple of years ago that it was time to pass on the rifle. Since it has a built-in smallbore scope rail, I added an inexpensive red-dot sight made for bb guns. My son, Kane, has very poor vision and lining up traditional iron sights is very difficult for him. The single-plane nature of the red-dot sight lets him get hits reliably, so he can have fun plinking. He calls this "his" rifle, but his mom makes sure he doesn't forget that he hasn't earned the right to own a gun yet. When he does, I'll have someone to pass this one along to.

That's right, I dangled that preposition right out there 'cause that's how I roll. You know you don't want none, so don't hate.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Last Golden Ticket!

I just got off the phone with Kerby Smith at Para USA.

He offered me an invitation to the Blogger Weekend with Todd Jarrett at Blackwater.

I said "Yes, please. I would like that ever so much."

I was terribly confused. I feel like Charlie--all the golden tickets had already been found, hadn't they? This isn't really even a gun blog, technically, and I wasn't even on the ballot. What the hell?
I had forgotten that they also drew one lucky voter's name.

But that guy didn't want to take off work and travel from Illinois, so they drew again . . . . and the next guy in line was . . . . me.

I'm going to train at Blackwater. I'm going to learn from Todd Jarrett. I'm going to meet Tamara and David Hardy and Robb Allen in person. If all this sounds a little manic, that's because that's how I feel right now.

Oh, Crap

I think I know what happened to my new PC.

It has a massive air intake with a small venturi-style funnel built in, which tunnels outside air directly to the fan mounted on the processor. It has a grid directly below that one, through which air tends to return to the outside.

Both are located on the right side of the case. My old computer had neither opening, and I kept it on the floor against the left side of my desk. I put the new computer in the same place--which meant there was an inch-thick pine board completely smothering both the cooling intake and exhaust.

That can't be good. And you know who who has to take all the blame, of course. That's right: Tom Kotowski.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

SAFR Success

I'm home from SAFR Chicago, and I'm wiped out. A few quick notes:

1. I would say there were 500-800 people there. Someone said grid counts showed around 500. I wouldn't argue with that. Not huge, but in Chicago, at a rally FOR gun rights, I think we did well. More importantly, our people were perfectly peaceful and treated the city with total respect. People walked through our crowd to get into the building rather than go around!
Moreover, I personally cleaned up the litter in our seating area. It took me one trip through, and I didn't need a garbage bag. The litter left on seats and the ground by hundreds of gun-rights activists could be picked up in my two hands. Try that at a Rainbow Push March for Justice*.

2. My wife and children are all over the internet this morning. You can even see the baby in his little lawn chair. We got him his own little chair because he loves chairs and we hoped he might sit still for awhile. He did, actually, sit in that chair for about 45 minutes, which is pretty impressive. Score one for My Bride.

3. Unovision TV news wanted to interview me on camera. All I could think was "Oh, sure, you'd like that wouldn't you? 'Let's put the 500-pound** redneck with sweat dripping from his beard on TV to talk about his rights.'" I handed 'em off to Phil, the event organizer, who's a harmless-looking little guy with every hair in place, while I left to wring out my shirt.

4. My Bride has never really understood the whole "guns thing," but she tries to be supportive. However, on Friday she told me that both Valinda Rowe (IllinoisCarry/ISRA spokeswoman) and Dr. Suzanna Hupp "gave me goosebumps." Always a good sign.

5. I heard some wacky anti-gun opinions as I filtered along the edges of the crowd, including one woman who had apparently phoned an acquaintance to tell them about the rally and gotten into an argument with them about gun rights. "Well, what good they think it gonna do? It ain't gonna happen. They think it gonna happen?!?"

6. I could have sold all the "Second Amendment Freedom Rally Host" hats and paid for part of the rally, if they'd been for sale. One poor guy, young guy with a spanish accent, kept after me all day. If you're reading this, buddy, I'm sorry I couldn't help you. You can always get an NRA hat instead.

7. Next year, maybe we can sell "Second Amendment Freedom Rally--I WAS THERE!" shirts and hats.

8. If any marshals are reading this, I apologize for numbering you off as if you were middle-school children on a field trip. But, hey, it worked, right?

9. They can try to call us racists and bigots and old white guys, but I was there. I saw the women, I saw the children (and I recruited them to be marshals, because I have no shame.)
I saw the yarmulke and the turban in the crowd--MY crowd. My people.

10. We got some good news coverage, but apparently there's still a blackout on pro-gun events in the Old Media. Not surprising, I guess. I KNOW there was a Chicago Tribune reporter interviewing people at SAFR, for instance, but Chicago-area IllinoisCarry members report no coverage anywhere in that paper.
I watched WGN news at a friend's house Friday night, and there was zero mention there, either, although they had tied up a news truck at the rally from 9:30 a.m. until after it was over. Were they hoping for something that didn't happen, like a violent confrontation or maybe Father Pfleger showing up to try to snuff somebody? I couldn't say.
I did note that they devoted several minutes to some preacher who had five people at a gas station singing "He's got the high gas prices/In His hands/He's got the high gas prices/In His hands/He's got the gas prices/In His hands/He's got all the gas in His hands."
So, you know, hard-hitting journalism there.

*Common usage of "justice" may not apply. Justice to be defined later.
**Hyperbole. May not reflect actual weight.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

SAFR Chicago is Upon Us

It's almost here, and I'm going stir crazy.

It's almost 10 p.m. here and the van is packed. The digicam and the laptop are charging. I don't think I've forgotten anything. My possibles bag is loaded up with everything I might need tomorrow (except any weapons, pocketknives, or my multitool, all of which are contraband in Chicago.) I'm going to put food and water in the basement for the dogs, grab a quick shower and get to bed. We've got to get up and get on the road by about 3 a.m. I'm hoping everyone else will sleep in the car. Personally, I expect to sleep very well tomorrow night.

Wish us luck if you're not joining us in Chicago tomorrow, will you?

I'm the Only One Dumb Enough to File This Lawsuit . . . .

Now, I don't normally spend a lot of time on stupid lawsuits, because who's got that kind of time? It's often said that you can bring suit for literally anything in this country, and inevitably a lot of lawsuits are brought by morons on behalf of morons.

Here's one fine example.

Enrique Chavez of Anaheim was shot in the back by his 3-year-old son after the boy grabbed his father's Glock 21 — a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol — from the back seat of his pickup truck.
Got that? He put his loaded handgun on the backseat of his truck. Presumably, he put his 3-year-old son in the back seat, too. This is the fault of GLOCK, the company that manufactured the pistol, because, presumably they should have foreseen that if Officer Chavez were going to use their pistol, it would need to be adapted for toddlers.

Our new friend Officer Chavez is also suing Uncle Mike's and and a store called Turner's Outdoorsman--because Uncle Mike's made the holster in which he carried the gun, and Turner Outdoorsman had the gall to sell him a holster! He's also, apparently, suing the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic club for selling him the defective pistol in the first place. But that's not the funny part. You think you've seen the funny part, but you haven't. You wanna see the funny part? The funny part is the alleged defect of the pistol. And what was wrong with Officer Chavez's Glock 21?

The lawsuit alleges the defendants knew the safety device was defective and that 5.5 pounds of pressure on the trigger frequently results in accidental discharges.
That is to say, if you pull the trigger on this Glock pistol, it discharges one shot. I'd never really thought much about it, but my own Glock 30 has the same design flaw! I can't think of one time over the years when I've pulled the trigger on that Glock with a round chambered and not been rewarded with a loud bang. I think I've just gotten in the habit of thinking that if you pull the trigger of a gun, it fires, and if you don't pull the trigger, it doesn't. Probably dangerous to rely on a crutch like that, but there you go.

This guy should be thanking his lucky stars instead of looking to shift the blame, because he avoided two very bad things by sheer dumb luck:

1. His kid shot him. Yes, that's bad, but the kid could easily have had the muzzle against his own chest to get the leverage to pull the trigger. If he thinks his medical bills are bad, how about burying your dead son because you were too stupid to care for him? He got a second chance.

2. From the article, it doesn't seem as if California's version of the Department of Child and Family Services removed his son from his care forever, which is a little surprising, but probably shouldn't be. He is, after all, the Only One in the room, that I know of, that is professional enough to leave a loaded pistol next to an unsupervised toddler.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Illinois Has a Gas Price SWAT Team Now?

Geeze, Blagojevich, have a little dignity.

I guess our beloved Boy Governor has decided that Somebody Oughta Do Something about gas prices. To his credit, he appears to have discovered that he can't just order gas stations to charge lower prices--yet--so instead he's put together a super-special squadron of highly-trained, high-speed-low-drag, tactical . . . . . gas pump inspectors. To find gas stations that are selling the 87-octane in the 92-octane pumps, or using doctored meters.

I hadn't realized those were major problems in Illinois. Good thing the SWAT Team is on the case.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Less Than One Week Until SAFR Chicago!

The Second Amendment Freedom Rally (Chicago) is less than one week away. Things are proceeding apace. I have been Shanghaied into serving as "Head Marshal" (I responded to a call for 80 marshals and one head marshal . . . . and was thanked for volunteering to be Head Marshal.) That leaves me without much work to do until Friday morning, when we set up the rally and meet with the Marshals, except one thing: recruiting.

We'd like to have about double the number of Marshals required on our permit from the James R. Thompson Center. They require us to have 44 Marshals for the number of people they estimate will fill the plaza. We'd like to have around 70-80.

Would YOU like to be a Marshal? Shoot me an email at and let me know. Marshals will be required to help attendees find their way, pass out literature, make sure aisles and doors are kept clear, keep people from carrying or posting signs inside the building, and smile a lot. Those who can stay after the rally ends will be asked to help us clean up and de-litter the place so it looks better after we're done than it did when we arrived.

Pay is one free hat for the first 72 volunteers, with the possibility of homemade chocolate-chip cookies.