Catch .303

Via Mike comes this truly excellent story of Australian Ian “Robbie” Robertson, 77, an Australian sniper during the Korean war. Excerpts:

Snipers were issued with a modified version of the venerable Lee-Enfield .303 rifle used by British Empire troops since the Boer War half a century before. The sniper model had a small telescopic sight and a heavy barrel, but otherwise was little different from a million others lugged by Allied infantry in two world wars.

Robertson could group 15 rounds in a space smaller than his fist at 300 metres, hit a target the size of a man’s head at 600 metres, and was confident of hitting a man from 800 to 1000 metres if conditions were right.

They call Korea the forgotten war, but the old digger can’t forget it. “Every battle happened yesterday,” he says, his voice serious. “When people are trying to kill you, it concentrates your mind. You don’t leave it behind.”

Snipers often had to shoot in cold blood – rather than in the heat of an enemy assault – but that didn’t make them murderers. They were doing their sworn duty, under legitimate orders and the conventions of warfare, against an armed enemy trying to kill them.

Still, sniping is the dark art of conventional warfare. In America’s gun culture, it attracts a fringe celebrity status that supports a growing list of books and websites. Australians are more ambivalent.

The Chinese had a proverb: Kill one man, terrorise a thousand. It was true, and it meant that each day, with each death, his job grew more dangerous.

All snipers were hated, good ones were feared. The better he shot, the more desperate enemy officers would be to kill him to stop the loss of morale. This is the sniper’s dilemma: the more enemies you hit, the more return fire you attract and the more likely you are to die. Call it a Catch .303.

As always, read the whole thing.

For those interested, this is what Mr. Robertson used in Korea, the No. 4 Mk. I (T) sniper version of the British Commonwealth rifle:

More images are available here.

Spain Completes Troop Pullout From Iraq

MADRID, Spain (AP) – Spain has completed the withdrawal of its peacekeeping troops from Iraq, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Tuesday.

“No Spanish member of the Plus Ultra II brigade remains in Iraq,” Zapatero told Parliament in a debate on his decision to withdraw the 1,300 troops.

The Plus Ultra brigade is the name for the Spanish contingent, which was stationed in the south-central cities of Najaf and Diwaniya.

Zapatero said the only Spanish military personnel who remain in Iraq are logistics experts assigned with shipping home military equipment. He said these people should be out of Iraq by May 27.

Or, as Mike Ramirez put it in the LA Times:

He Really Doesn’t Do Nuance

(Via Acidman)

Another reason, despite his being “the best Democrat President in my lifetime” that I actually like Dubya: read this PressThink piece about Bush and how his administration views the media. Money quote:

…a reporter says to the president: is it really true you don’t read us, don’t even watch the news? Bush confirms it.

And the reporter then said: Well, how do you then know, Mr. President, what the public is thinking? And Bush, without missing a beat said: You’re making a powerful assumption, young man. You’re assuming that you represent the public. I don’t accept that.

Which is a powerful statement. And if Bush believes it (a possibility not to be dismissed) then we must credit the president with an original idea, or the germ of one. Bush’s people have developed it into a thesis, which they explained to Auletta, who told it to co-host Brooke Gladstone:

That’s his attitude. And when you ask the Bush people to explain that attitude, what they say is: We don’t accept that you have a check and balance function. We think that you are in the game of “Gotcha.” Oh, you’re interested in headlines, and you’re interested in conflict. You’re not interested in having a serious discussion… and exploring things.

Further data point: The Bush Thesis. If Auletta’s reporting is on, then Bush and his advisors have their own press think, which they are trying out as policy. Reporters do not represent the interests of a broader public. They aren’t a pipeline to the people, because people see through the game of Gotcha. The press has forfeited, if it ever had, its quasi-official role in the checks and balances of government. Here the Bush Thesis is bold. It says: there is no such role– official or otherwise.

Heh. Indeed.

Read the whole thing.

I’m in Trouble Now!

For Christmas I got the game Medal of Honor – Allied Assault for my PC, with the Spearhead expansion pack. I’ve played them both to death. Great games. But I’ve heard that Call of Duty was better. Well, I hunted around and found it for $35 online last week plus $4 shipping, so I ordered it.

It came in today.

Essay or Call of Duty?

Essay? Call of Duty?

I guess I’ll find out when I get home tonight.

UPDATE: 11:05PM. Call of Duty ROCKS!

Sorry About the Lack of Posting

I’m still busy as hell at work. Saturday was my IHMSA match (up at 5:30AM, didn’t get home until 5:00PM), and when I got home I did househusband stuff because my wife was over taking care of her parents. (Her dad just got home from the hospital after having 18″ of intestine removed, and her mother has the flu.) I spent the evening surfing the web but not posting because I have been compiling stuff for a piece I’ve worked most of tonight on. I spent the morning doing other husbandly duties, but like I said, I’ve spent this evening writing. I hope to have the piece finished by Tuesday evening. It will be LONG, it appears – Den Besteian in length and tone. (Unfortunately, I don’t do Whittleian effectively, but a man’s got to know his limitations.)

The IHMSA match was a lot of fun, especially afterward. (I shot a match round for the first time in probably two years. I sucked. I’m really out of practice. I missed a chicken for Jebus’s sake.) After the match was over, we let the target setters shoot. They’re all Boy Scouts, and they work the match for $5/hr and tips. They’re collecting money so that their troop can go on a sailing adventure. This was the first time they’d gotten the requisite permission to shoot, so we dragged out our guns and ammo and did a little introduction. I had seven rounds of 7mm Benchrest left and let one of the guys squeeze off all of them. After he’d knocked down a couple of chickens and a pig, I told him “Just so you know, that load is about twice as powerful as a .44 Magnum.” BIG smile. They all got to shoot a .22 competition pistol, and .357 lever-action rifles, too. Two of them shot .44 revolvers. A good time was had by all. We’ll see what the group wants to do next month.

But Me No Buts

This one’s an op-ed from the New York Journal News. Short, but no less stupid for that.

No reason but to kill

From all indications, Congress intends to let the 10-year-old ban on military-style assault weapons expire on Sept. 13. Unless, of course, public demand that the ban be extended reaches such a pitch that Congress dare not do otherwise.

And it’s the job of our newspaper editorialists to motivate the masses to do just that! That small but influential lobby must stop the small but influential eeeevil NRA from letting the law sunset!

That’s why it is important to make the public aware of the ban’s pending expiration through such events as the news conference held by New Yorkers Against Gun Violence in White Plains on Tuesday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo.

Congressional Republicans showed their intentions in March when they voted down their own bill to give immunity from lawsuits to gun manufacturers after Democrats added an amendment that would have extended the assault-weapons ban at the same time.

Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, who supports the ban, cited FBI figures that listed one in five law-enforcement officers slain in the line of duty between 1998 and 2001 as killed with assault weapons. Indeed, a protective vest offers no protection against such weapons.

Which is standard Violence Policy Center bullshit procedure: stretching the facts, as I pointed out back in May of last year. The VPC report stated that 41 of the 211 officers to die by gunfire were killed with “assault weapons,” but to reach that number, they had to expand the definition of “assault weapon” to include seventeen rifles that are not covered under the “ban.” As I said back then,

Now, according to this site between the years of 1998 and 2001 (inclusive) there were 229 officer deaths by firearm, not 211. And according to this table the number of police deaths, at least for the last couple of decades (and excluding the 72 killed in the Twin Towers in 2001) has been apparently unaffected by the relative explosion in the mid 1980’s of “assault weapons” (as defined by the law) into the general populace. They’re trying to make it sound like the presence of “assault weapons” has somehow added 41 deaths that otherwise would not have occurred. The evidence does not support this. But that’s the conclusion you’re supposed to draw. “Ban ’em, and these cops would have lived!”

To continue:

“Whether you have a right to bear arms or not,” Spano said, “you do not have a right to endanger society with assault weapons.”

Er, what? That means I do have a right to “endanger society” with a shotgun or a deer rifle?

This is logic?

Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro said she “strongly” supported the right to bear arms,

Wait for it…

but there is no legitimate reason to have an assault weapon other than to kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time.”

Let’s parse that sentence, shall we? What is the right to bear arms for? Connie du Toit spells it out succinctly here. The right to arms isn’t about hunting, it isn’t about target shooting, it isn’t about self defense against criminals. If you support the Second Amendment you support the right of civilians to own weapons of military usefulness. Duck guns and intermediate range sniper rifles deer rifles are simply protected under that greater umbrella. No but about it.

“…there is no legitimate reason to have an assault weapon other than to kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time.” As I read that, killing “as many people as possible in a very short period of time” is a “legitimate reason to have an assault weapon”? Huh?

Look, this is just regurgitation of the gun-grabber mantra of “Ooh! They’re scary!” If “there is no legitimate reason to have an assault weapon other than to kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time,” why are our police forces armed with fully-automatic assault weapons? So they can kill lots of civilians?

It’s not the weapon, it’s the intent. But the editorial writer doesn’t bother to think about it, just accepts this revealed wisdom.

She’s right. No reason whatsoever.

Any thinking going on in that brain? Critical or otherwise?

Getting back to the “one in five” police officers killed with “assault weapons” – you know, weapons whose only legitimate use is to “kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time” – what of the other 170 officers killed with firearms in that same period? They were killed with weapons designed to tickle people?

A gun is a device designed to hurl small metal projectiles at high velocity. It doesn’t matter if it’s a handgun, a shotgun, a rifle or an “assault weapon.” “Assault weapons” are not somehow orders of magnitude more lethal than other firearms. The only real difference is their appearance, which is why the AWB was based on appearance, not lethality. It’s why the AR-15 style rifle was targeted, but the Ruger Mini-14 wasn’t.

Voting to extend the ban means opposing the National Rifle Association, which lines up congressional support like target cans on a fence, as well as taking on the rest of the gun lobby. Without the support of public outrage, few in Congress have the fortitude to do that.

And that’s the meat of it. Opposing the eeevil NRA is what must be done, regardless of the fact that the AWB has had no measurable effect on gun violence. Even Tom Diaz of the VPC has said:

If the existing assault weapons ban expires, I personally do not believe it will make one whit of difference one way or another in terms of our objective, which is reducing death and injury and getting a particularly lethal class of firearms off the streets. So if it doesn’t pass, it doesn’t pass.

The VPC’s “objective” is to get handguns banned. They said themselves back in 1988 that “Assault weapon” legislation was just a stepping-stone to that end:

It will be a new topic in what has become to the press and public an “old” debate.

Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. The reasons for this vary: the power of the gun lobby; the tendency of both sides of the issue to resort to sloganeering and pre-packaged arguments when discussing the issue; the fact that until an individual is affected by handgun violence he or she is unlikely to work for handgun restrictions; the view that handgun violence is an “unsolvable” problem; the inability of the handgun restriction movement to organize itself into an effective electoral threat; and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons – just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms – are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons – anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun – can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.

In other words, through efforts such as this op-ed, it is the intent of gun control forces to take advantage of public ignorance to get them to support gun control measures they don’t understand.

How do you like being manipulated like that?

But wait! There’s more!

Efforts to stop restrictions on assault weapons will only further alienate the police from the gun lobby.

Until recently, police organizations viewed the gun lobby in general, and the NRA in particular, as a reliable friend. This stemmed in part from the role the NRA played in training officers and its reputation regarding gun safety and hunter training. Yet, throughout the 1980s, the NRA has found itself increasingly on the opposite side of police on the gun control issue. Its opposition to legislation banning armor-piercing ammunition, plastic handguns, and machine guns, and its drafting of and support for the McClure/Volkmer handgun decontrol bill, burned many of the bridges the NRA had built throughout the past hundred years. As the result of this, the Law Enforcement Steering Committee was formed. The Committee now favors such restriction measures as waiting periods with background check for handgun purchase and a ban on machine guns and plastic firearms. If police continue to call for assault weapons restrictions, and the NRA continues to fight such measures, the result can only be a further tarnishing of the NRA’s image in the eyes of the public, the police, and NRA members. The organization will no longer be viewed as the defender of the sportsman, but as the defender of the drug dealer.

Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns.

Although the majority of Americans favor stricter handgun controls, and a consistent 40 percent of Americans favor banning the private sale and possession of handguns, many Americans do believe that handguns are effective weapons for home self-defense and the majority of Americans mistakenly believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms. Yet, many who support the individual’s right to own a handgun have second thoughts when the issue comes down to assault weapons. Assault weapons are often viewed the same way as machine guns and “plastic” firearms – a weapon that poses such a grave risk that it’s worth compromising a perceived constitutional right.

(See op-ed above for a textbook example of this. And the right isn’t perceived, dammit.)

Although the opportunity to restrict assault weapons exists, a question remains for the handgun restriction movement: How? Defining an assault weapon – in legal terms – is not easy. It’s not merely a matter of going after guns that are “black and wicked looking.”Yet that’s precisely what the “Assault Weapon Ban” did. It went after guns that are “black and wicked looking,” that’s all. As Charles Krauthammer put it in 1995,

Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic – purely symbolic – move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.

Letting the AWB sunset is supporting the right to keep and bear arms.

No “buts” about it.

Wow! How Do I Get a “Terrorist-Grade” Rifle?!?

(Via SayUncle)

Another piece of laughably bad gun control propaganda disguised as straight news reporting, this time from our supposed allies at FOX News. (Actually, you can blame it on the NY Post, FOX just regurgitated it):

Illegal Arms Shipment Seized En Route to U.S.

A Turkish ship headed for New York — and stuffed with thousands of AK-47s and other Kalashnikov assault rifles — was seized en route in Italy, authorities said Tuesday.

Hmm… Other Kalashikov’s? Would that mean AK-74’s? I hate it when they aren’t forthcoming with more details.

The ship’s deadly hoard of more than 7,500 terrorist-grade rifles and machine guns worth more than $6 million was discovered illegally hidden under piles of properly labeled arms in several massive cargo containers, Italian officials said.

Wow! “Terrorist-grade!”

Um, wait.

Does that mean “In generally poor, banged-up and rusty condition because terrorist assholes don’t know how to take care of their guns”? Looking at how they were stored, I think so.

Never mind. I don’t want one after all.

Oh, and $6 million? That’s $800 per rifle. I don’t think so, unless they were planning to unload the entire shipment in Chicago. I can buy a Romanian AK clone from Florida Gun Works for $439. That’s just over half price! And the SAR wouldn’t have been bouncing around in a shipping container in a pile, either.

The ship MS Adnan Bayraktar, which bears a Turkish flag, had come from the Romanian port of Constanta and was on its way to a stopover in New York when the bust was made, the authorities said.

Documents showed the cargo containers were ultimately headed to a large U.S. company based in Georgia.

Officials refused to identify the business, citing security concerns and the ongoing investigation.

“We know that the [ship’s] destination was North America, but we don’t effectively know if that’s where the [suspect] arms were going,” one customs official told Italian state television.

The ship’s cache of combat-style weapons was uncovered several days ago during a routine customs inspection at the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy, officials said. They said they didn’t reveal the bust at the time because of the continuing probe.

The weapons were confiscated by the Italian authorities because of problems with the ship’s customs forms. For example, the arms had been described on some of the forms as “common guns” instead of assault-style.

The smuggled firearms included the lightweight combat Kalashnikov rifles, AK-47 assault rifles and SKA and Mauser rifles, authorities said.

Were the Mausers 98’s? And what the hell is a “SKA”? Could they have meant an AKS? That would be the AKS-74, the paratrooper folding-stock carbine.

And just as an aside, the 98 Mauser bolt-action rifle is a “combat-style weapon.” It even accepts a bayonet.

The weapons’ bayonets were still affixed to them, as were cartridges that can hold up to 30 rounds, they said.

(*sigh*) Such ignorance.

So, they shipped the rifles with bayonets attached and a magazine seated in the mag well. (A “cartridge,” you NYP moron, is the “round” the magazine holds thirty of.)

The AK-47s had been tampered with so they couldn’t be rapidly fired, but the modification was one that could easily have been reversed, authorities said.

So we’re talking about semi-auto AK “machineguns” then? Killer reporting, dude.

The assault weapons are a favorite with terrorists: Usama bin Laden sported one in the now-infamous footage of him taken after 9/11.

Wow. Now that’s reporting! NEWSFLASH! Terrorists like AK-47 assault rifles! I’d have never known.

And, actually Osama Bin Missing favors a Krinkov – a short-barreled, folding stock version of the 5.45×39 caliber AK-74. (Stephen Hunter knows his guns.)

AK-47s also have been the weapon of choice for some infamous military-minded wackos, such as the teens who shot up Columbine HS in Littleton, Colo., in 1999.

BZZZZZT! So sorry. You’ve been caught in an out-and-out lie! Harris and Kliebold carried a Tec-9 pistol, a Hi-Point 9mm carbine, and two sawed-off shotguns! – No AK-47, AKS, or Mauser “assault rifle” of any kind!

The United States has banned such military-style semiautomatic weapons since 1994. The law preventing them from being manufactured, imported or sold here expires in September.

BZZZZZZT! Lie number two! The law limits the number of features such rifles may have, and it does severely limit what can be imported, but it doesn’t prevent all importation, nor does it prohibit sales of guns meeting the limitations. Now, according to the report, these guns had bayonets attached, so that’s obviously a no-no, and the shipment method certainly does raise eyebrows, but I wonder if somebody was trying to import parts and the shipper decided to pass on the irritating dissassembly procedure.

But it’s a journalistic requirement to get in a shot about the “Assault Weapon Ban” sunset whenever remotely possible. Note, however, that these guns were supposedly destined for “the street” in violation of the law.

Hey, it’s entirely possible that this entire shipment was meant for 7,500 Al Qaeda operatives in Georgia, and the Italians caught it, but somehow I find it doubtful.

Update: Curmudgeonly & Skeptical has a picture of the “30 round cartridge.”

UPDATE, 4/23: Via AlphaPatriot, the gun importer involved was Century International Arms.

This would be the second large firearms importer to get nailed trying to bring in verboten weapons, after Interarms was busted for importing improperly demilled Ppsh 41’s.

Something smells here.

Just Heard on the Radio

Is the media finally waking up? I just heard on ABC news at the top of the hour a report of the bomb blasts in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The newsreader made a point of describing the school bus blown apart and the children inside burned alive in Basra. That report was followed – immediately – by an audio clip described as “an American sharpshooter taking aim at a target in Falluja.” As I best recall the clip:

(A few seconds of silence, then a hushed whisper)

“Take your time…”

BOOM! (and the sound of an ejected cartridge)

(one or two second delay)


“Great shot, Lewis!”

(General sounds of celebration and congratulations)

NOW can we go in a flatten Falluja?

An Oversight Corrected

Some time back, Connie du Toit stopped blogging, and I removed her from my blogroll. Well, she started up again, and like an idiot, I forgot to put her back on the blogroll. That’s fixed now.

What prompted recognition of my cranial flatulence, though, was her most recent post on the difference between Europeans and Americans. I am in full concurrance with her conclusion:

In a nutshell, the Euros still choose to be ruled. They even pervert a Constitutional Democracy and surrender individual sovereignty to some body outside their control. They still don’t trust themselves or they don’t want the responsibility.

That is apparently the case for the majority of Europe, and I’m afraid it’s becoming the case here. As Mencken said, “Most people want security in this world, not liberty.”

Liberty takes work. Liberty requires hard choices. Liberty means not being protected by the (smothering) blanket of the State. Societies that give up their liberty can survive, sometimes for a great while, but societies without individual liberty cannot achieve either individual or collective greatness. They are restricted to (at best) mediocrity, and in the end, decay and destruction.

It reminds me of the warning given in Frank Herbert’s Dune: Choosing only the clear, safe course leads ever down into stagnation.

Hey! I Got a Response!

A lame one, but a response!

Yesterday I found this piece about the eeeevil NRA, but instead of writing a post on it, I simply emailed the author. This is what I sent him:

Mr. Heller:

I followed the link back to your site, and found your contact information.

I must say that I find your phillipic misguided at best, regardless of the ad hominem attacks: LaPierre in jackboots, “oily Dick Cheney.” (Ooh! Clever, that.) At worst (and I suspect the latter) it’s merely intentionally vicious with no intent to be anything other than vitriol. That’s your perogative, of course.

I’ve perused a bit of your archive. It’s pretty obvious that your politics are anti-Bush and anti-Republican, but precisely (or even generally) what you’re FOR has eluded me.

So, if I understand it correctly, you hate the NRA because they’re a front for the eeeevil Republicans? If there’s more to it than that, it wasn’t apparent.

I’m sympathetic toward Mr. Mauser and the loss of his son, but how is the NRA responsible for Harris and Kleibold having a (that’s ONE) Tec-9 pistol, a Marlin Camp Carbine, TWO sawed-off shotguns, and knapsacks full bombs? Would it have been the fault of the NRA if Mr. Mauser’s son had been killed with a duck gun identical to the one Sen. Kerry uses and professes to want to protect?

Here’s a link (ten seconds on Google to find) detailing the weapons carried by the pair:

As I said, I’m sympathetic to Mr. Mauser’s loss, but his anger is misdirected.

As is yours.

Here’s his response I received this morning:

I included you in the article, I believe, when I said that some NRA members were no doubt horrified by the hurtful barbs hurled at Mr. Mauser. I thank you for displaying your sensitivity… to me, at least.


Here’s what I sent him in response:

Mr. Heller:

You’re welcome.

It’s almost certain that you’ve received a volume of hate-mail from gun owners over your piece, and that you hold that hate mail as simply more evidence that gun control is an obvious “right thing to do,” but in relation to your “No Reason Allowed” assertion, I hold that it is the gun CONTROL groups that are guilty of that. We’ve “compromised” for years – “compromise” being defined as “giving up only half of what the other side wanted to take.”

As someone said, we gun owners have been the victims of a decades-long slow-motion hate crime. We’re tired of it. Some of us are pretty angry about it, and most are not as willing to discuss the subject any longer. (And some people have a way with words. Others not have way.) So, I’ll apologize for them even though it’s not really my place to do so. Yes, the comments made toward Mr. Mauser were wrong and inexcusable, but Mr. Mauser in his grief has picked the wrong target. Its understandable. As H.L. Mencken said, “For every problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious, and wrong.”

You might find it interesting that I believe the NRA is not protective ENOUGH of the right to arms. I believe the NRA to be too WILLING to “compromise,” and the only reason the recent Senate bill protecting firearm manufacturers and dealers from lawsuit was killed after the “Assault Weapon” (scare quotes intentional) Ban extension was added was because people like me held their feet to the fire.

It’s difficult, I admit, being on the side defending the right of people to possess weapons when one maniac with a handgun can run wild, but for me it’s a matter of the rights of individuals and their corresponding responsibilities. I do not want to live in a society where government acts as parent and citizens are merely children to be told what to do. It’s a philosophy I can defend well, but it requires people to THINK. I’m greatly in favor of that, though most people seem to want to avoid it. You attempted to include me in your article under the blanket heading of “No Reason Allowed.” I assure you, I reason quite well.

But merely FEELING is so much easier, isn’t it?

We’ll see if that draws any response, but I doubt it.

UPDATE, 4/22. I got a response. Here it is, verbatim: “nice.” No capital, one period.