Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And Again, Idiot Parents

I'm a gun owner.

I've spent my entire life around guns, both in and out of the military.

My dad taught me to shoot at a young age. I've had extensive professional training since. I'm a graduate of numerous weapons' schools. I attended the Smith & Wesson Range Master Academy. I've been to Tactical Survivor School. I've been through the USMC Tactical Officer's Weapon School, and US Navy Boarding Officer's School, and special operations ground combat training. I've been through security forces training and marine (marine, not Marine) SWAT team training. I'm rated expert with both long guns and hand guns, both with right hand and left. I've shot competition. I've carried guns in every conceivable situation. I've handled everything from small pistols to the M-16A1 and A2 to the MP4 to 60Cal squad machine guns to large 25mm autocannon and grenade launchers all the way up to US Navy 5"54 main guns. And I am rarely very far from a weapon, even today. I'm extremely comfortable around guns, I'm a certified gunsmith, and I can field strip a government model M1911A1 .45ACP and put it back together blindfolded in under a minute. I live in Alaska, and rarely venture into the bush without my reliable Colt Anaconda .44magnum, or my Colt M1911 .45ACP at the very least.

So, you might think I'm a gun nut.

Not so.

As I mentioned elsewhere today, I'm a strong advocate of gun control. While I understand and support the 2nd Amendment, I don't think just any jackass should be able to own a gun. Hell, some people shouldn't be left alone in the kitchen with a Cuisinart, let alone be allowed to handle a pistol. I think a fifteen day waiting period for any gun purchase is a damned fine idea (Seriously, a guy runs into a gun shop all wild-eyed and wants a gun RIGHT NOW, that's probably not somebody we need to be armed, just saying). I think background checks should be mandatory for all gun purchases, every time. I think mandatory training for first time purchases should be required - we make people take drivers education, but any idiot can own and operate a gun, yeah, that makes sense. I think that there is no conceivable need for any civilian to have a military grade weapon in his house. AK-47's and AR-15's (the civilian version of the M-16) are not sporting weapons, they are designed to kill people, period - and the people who buy these weapons are exactly the kind of people who shouldn't own weapons in the first damned place. I'm not a fan of national gun registration for the average gun owner, but I do think that "Gun Collectors" should be registered and licensed and regulated, period, with major fines, jail time, and confiscation of all weapons for any violation. And I think all gun owners should be held strictly accountable, with severe penalties for allowing a weapon to fall into the hands of a child or for any other negligent act. You buy a safe, you lock your guns up, you take responsibility. Period.

And gun shows? Well, gun shows just plain piss me off.

Ever been to one? It starts in the parking lot. With the giant trucks and the Confederate flags and the stupid pseudo patriotic bumper-stickers and it gets worse, a lot worse, inside the convention hall. Gun shows are where every drooling idiot with a gun fetish goes to rub uglies with other rednecked retards. Gun shows are tables and tables of deadly paraphernalia for sale by idiots who think they know something about guns to idiots who learned about guns from reading Soldier of Fortune magazine and watching the military channel. Gun shows are full of grade-B ignorant morons in camo pants who jerk off to the Guns & Ammo centerfold with a fist full of Break Free CLP pistol lube. It's a place where deals get made under the table and guns change hands for cash without any form of accountability. The average IQ at a gun show is roughly that of a troop of termite eating baboons. If I had my way, I ban gun shows altogether, and I'll tell you flat out that the people who go to gun shows are the kind of people who shouldn't own guns in the first place.

Sound harsh?

Let me give you an example:

With an instructor watching, an 8-year-old boy at a gun fair aimed an Uzi at a pumpkin and pulled the trigger as his dad reached for a camera. It was his first time shooting a fully automatic machine gun, and the recoil of the weapon was too much for him. He lost control and fatally [shot] himself in the head.

That's right, last weekend at a gun show in Westfield, Massachusetts, 8-year Chris Bizilj (Bay-seal) was given a fully automatic .45cal Uzi submachinegun. He aimed at a pumpkin, and pulled the trigger on full-auto. Instead of helping to control the weapon, the 'instructor' was standing back watching. Instead of helping to control the weapon, the father was taking pictures. And apparently, it did not occur to anybody present that giving a fucking machine gun to an 8-year old was a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad idea.

If you've never fired an automatic weapon, well, it's nothing at all like in the Rambo movies. Even a big guy with a patented GI-Joe kung-fu grip and forearms like Popeye the Sailorman has a hard time controlling a weapon on full auto. All guns kick, it's basic physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That's why when you pull the trigger the muzzle tends to move up in recoil (that's assuming you're holding the weapon correctly and you have sufficient strength to manage the recoil. If you don't, well, then then muzzle tends to move in unexpected directions, including straight back into your face. Seen it happen, many times). Even a light weapon will kick, and that recoil is magnified many, many times with an automatic weapon - and especially one with a high cyclic rate of fire and light weight - like the Uzi. Even a relatively heavy automatic rifle like the Navy M-14A2 in full auto will knock the shit out of you. I once saw a petite Sailor, a young female Petty Officer firing an M-14A2 in full auto from the prone position, get pounded backwards by the repeating recoil. Once the weapon began to fire and she began to lose control, she automatically clenched her hands on the rifle in a attempt to just hold on, thus jamming the trigger back and emptying the entire 15 round magazine in one burst. The recoil knocked her backwards off the firing platform and the line of fire described a perfect arc over her head as each round raised the muzzle another six inches. She blew the roof off the firing platform and damned near killed fifteen people, including me. And she had training.

A light machine is worse. The weapon doesn't weigh enough and the barrel isn't long enough to help offset the recoil. The cycle rate is very high, several hundred rounds per minute as opposed to the much lower firing rate of a large caliber machine gun. They tend to get hot very, very quickly and if you're not holding them correctly you get seriously burned, which means you lose control or drop the weapon. They are extremely difficult to aim, extremely. An Uzi for example is commonly called a scatter gun or a fire hose, because the bullets tend to fly all over the damned place in full auto. Despite what you see in the movies, most modern light automatic military weapons are burst weapons as opposed to being fully automatic, i.e. when you pull the trigger and hold it down they fire a burst (usually 3 rounds), then you have to release the trigger and pull it again. Why? Because even a big beefy leatherneck who lives and dies with his weapon (All Marines are riflemen first) usually can't maintain aim past about three rounds in automatic - plus it saves ammo, big time. A couple of other things: automatic weapons are loud, startlingly so for the uninitiated, and they eject a stream of hot flying brass, which often ends up under your feet like marbles (or dropping down neck of the guy standing beside you like red hot ingots, which is why I always wear a boonie hat on the firing line).

And this is exactly my point.

Gun shows are full of rampant hard-ons who only think they know something about guns. Note the 'instructor' in the article, who obviously, obviously, didn't know shit about firearms instruction to children - let alone anything about teaching automatic weapons fire. Second, note the utter fucking moron of a father who thought it was cool to give his 8-year old son an automatic weapon, and not just any automatic weapon, but an Uzi submachinegun. Note how both the father and the idiot instructor were obviously ignorant of the points I outline above regarding automatic weapons. Third, the Uzi. Somebody please explain to me why there were automatic weapons at this gun show. Somebody please explain to me why there were automatic weapons being fired at this gun show. Somebody please explain to me why any idiot with a bloodstream full of viagra and no damned sense whatsoever was allowed to fire an automatic weapon at this gun show. Somebody please explain to me why an 'instructor' didn't have the basic common sense of any Range Master when presented with an 8-year old child, who had neither the physical development nor the maturity to handle a regular hunting rifle let alone an Uzi.

Predictably, or at least predictably to anyone with an once of common sense and a modicum of training, when Chris Bizilj pulled the trigger, the weapon's muzzle rose with each succeeding round, he immediately lost control and because the Uzi is a very short barreled weapon and the muzzle was below his head when fully vertical, the kid shot himself in the forehead.

I feel deep sadness for any father who looses a child under such tragic circumstance. But I feel nothing but rage for the shear and utter stupidity that precipitated these tragic circumstances in the first place. The operators of the gun fair, the instructor, the venue owners, and especially the father should be held strictly accountable for manslaughter. The show operators for failing to adhere to basic firearms safety guidelines. The venue owners for failing to determine those guidelines in advance and for not ensuring that they were enforced. The instructor for criminal negligence and criminal stupidity.

And the father, for child endangerment.

See, this wasn't the first time Chris had fired a weapon beyond his capability. He had fired pistols too and it would seem that his father is enamored with American gun culture. I can see a child learning to fire a small caliber (.22 rifle, 410 shotgun) around eight years of age depending on his maturity and development. My son is twelve, and has not yet fired a weapon and will not for another year or until I'm satisfied that he is mature enough to understand my rules and stick to them. But no child should be firing a handgun of any kind until well into their teens, they simply do not have either the maturity or the physical development to operate handguns safely. You can argue with me all you want, but I'm a professionally trained range master and firearms instructor and I taught small arms for twenty years to military people and I have extensive experience in this, so if you're going to argue think carefully before you comment.

It's long past time to get rid of the hodge-podge mishmash of city, local, and state gun regulations, and long past time to impose a unified set of federal gun regulations. We can easily protect our 2nd Amendment rights and still have common sense regulation that reduces the likelihood of the kind of tragedy that occurred in Massachusetts last weekend.

Call it the Chris Bizilj Act.


  1. Back when I was learning to fire machine guns, we occasionally had the problem of a runaway gun which (as I'm sure you know) is what happens when the sear on a machine gun wears down to the point that releasing the trigger won't halt the automatic action, and you either have to break the belt or ride it out. Our M240Gs at school were awfully prone to this, in that they got fired heavily on a regular basis. (Our instructors and our guns were also used for the "fam fire" for Marine Combat Training--the infantry training for all the non-infantry MOSes, effectively tripling our quadrupling their use.)

    A runaway gun wasn't a big deal when stabilized on a well-placed tripod, but it was potentially deadly when firing from the bipod, one of the reasons we always fired with a spotter/a-gunner so that we'd have one Marine to wrestle the gun down and keep it from bucking, and another to break the belt. One day on the range, the team on a gun went with instinct rather than training and jumped away from a runaway gun. It ran dry before I even realized what was happening, but those two got chewed out for a good long while by our instructors.

    Automatic weapons are absolutely no joke and, aside from machine guns (which you never, ever, ever "rock and roll" on unless you're in a "final defense" situation), I never fired a weapon on full auto. It's wasteful and dangerous and stupid.

    As much as it might pain me and my "Chesty's Gun Club" heritage, you're absolutely right about ownership issues. There's very little call for the kind of free-wheeling trade that goes on with most firearms these days.

  2. Christ on a Crutch, what a mess.

    Poor kid.

  3. David, I never had a runaway 204 happen to me personally, though I've seen it happen. I originally trained on the M16A1, and though we rarely had a sear failure we did occasionally have cook-offs once the weapon heated up on full auto - one of the reasons to always keep a hot weapon pointed in a safe direction.

    I have seen a seen failure with a .45ACP once, all seven rounds bang bang bang BANG! Major major malfunction.

  4. Reading shit like this makes me think that maybe one ought to have a certification course to have a child.

  5. So much stupid to spread around.

  6. [@ Chris G: child licenses have been mooted before. Biggest problem seems to be that in that direction lies eugenics, sorta; and control over another's reproductive rights is (although some at that gun show might contest it) more basic than control over their weapons. Niven has some decent background in his Known Space universe that assumes licensed breeding, though, and I would certainly have sympathy for the approach there: you get (I think) one {half of a} child as of right, but more than needs to be earnt.]

    Sorry - digression. Jim: (i) thanks for the commentary, and (ii) a question: in your opinion, what's the value - if any - in random non-military types like me learning to shoot? I can't see myself leaving a loaded gun around the house for at least the next 18 years or so, having had our second son last week, so self- or home-defense is pretty much out; is there another reason that I've missed? (Other than for fun, which I can see, but suspect that the heavy bag is more satisfying)

  7. OMG. There almost are no words for that level of stupidity.

    Many years ago some friends of mine thought, as a newly single woman living alone, I should get a gun. I knew nothing about guns, so it was decided the guys would take me out to the deer hunting camp and teach me how to handle a gun and shoot so I could make an informed decision on the subject.

    So off we went, me, my friend (Army vet), their son (12), another friend (police officer & weapons instructor) and his son (13). And a whole lot of guns! They took me out, taught me the basics of loading, unloading and cleaning, and then taught me how to aim & shoot.

    Fortunately, we were out in the middle of nowhere on a private range. The boys had been hunting with their dads from an early age, and were fairly good shots, and had been trained well in all aspects of gun handling. I was given the chance to do some target shooting with everything from a 22 all the way up to a very large hunting rifle.

    When I got ready to shoot the big rifle, both men stood behind me and leaned into me to try and brace me for the recoil. And I STILL landed on my ass!! After a couple of shots with that rifle, the only thing I was able hit was the 3-inch sapling about 10 yards behind the target. The boys were highly amused.

    Which brings me to this point - you have to have responsible people teaching responsible students, which applied in my case.

    You cannot, and should not, be handing weapons of any type to anyone, OF ANY AGE, who is not trained to use them. And then only if the weapon is appropriate for the age, size and education level of the user. In a show (or in this case, show-off) environment, since you don't know the experience of the shooter, you need to be even more careful. Which this gun dealer failed to do, and he should be thrown under the jail.

    And as for the father, I'm thinking let's start with child endangerment, some level of involuntary manslaughter, and throw him under the jail with the gun dealer. The level of people's stupidity continues to astound me.

    And just how did he explain that to the child's mother? Unimaginable.

    Oh, decided I didn't need a gun at that point in my life. Still don't. But I know how to use one should I ever have need of the knowledge.


  8. The death of the kid with the Uzi is a tragedy, and clearly a failure of leadership by his father and, presumably, the rangemaster.

    It is not, however, an argument for gun control.

    Gun control was never about the "safety of children", it's about the safety of liberty.

    The founding fathers were unequivocal that the right of ordinary citizens to possess military weapons was dead essential to the preservation of of freedom. There's overwhelming evidence they were right, and scarce evidence to the contrary.

    It is easy, however, to find cases such as this one which can be used to provoke an emotional response to the effect of "people don't NEED those guns, so lets take them away, _for the children_.

    It's specious.

    I was that 8-year-old with the Uzi (and the Thompson, Sten, BAR, etc), and I was closely supervised (as were the rest of my Boy Scout Troop) and none of us shot ourselves or anyone else.

    I was also the 40-year-old, unarmed and disgusted in a war zone in the service of my country for about the 25th time, who saw gun control taken far beyond the realm of comprehension by a government ready, willing, and able to sacrifice its own people for momentary political convenience.

    Want to know how many times I've been threatened by someone with a gun in some foreign land because the US gov't wouldn't allow me to defend myself in its service? Approximately 28 times. Twice I was forcibly detained by what we would call "illegal combatants", and survived only by my wits and ingenuity.

    And how many times has that happened in the United States, where there is still some freedom to defend yourself? Once - and that went badly for the assailant. And that one time was in Washington DC, where the right to bear arms was abridged.

    The idea of it happening where I live (or where you live) is almost unimaginable - thanks to the 2nd amendment.

    That's why I live here - this is sort of a free country. Take away that essential freedom and I'll move to Australia - which is better in lots of other ways besides that one.

    The problem with all the gun control schemes is that the government will use them to deliberately deny ordinary people the right to defend themselves. The government does it to its own highly trained servicemembers and employees, under the most extraordinary, dangerous circumstances - when domestic laws don't even enter into it. You don't think they'll do it to ordinary Americans with a vengeance?

    The founding fathers fought the Brits for a lot less than this.

  9. Make a post that merely mentions gun control and the NRA nuts show up like clockwork.

    It's all or nothing with these people, any mention of regulation or common sense and it's the end of liberty. If we don't teach our 8-year old children to handle machine-guns, why the tyrants will just kick in our front doors and enslave us all.

    Thank you, Anonymous, you've proven the validity of my post exactly.

    Oh, and 28 times you say? Anon, you might want to consider different employment. You know how many times the government has prevented me from defending myself or my shipmates overseas? Zero. And you handled a Thompson and a BAR as an 8-year old cubscout? Color me just a little skeptical here, sparky, but I'm calling bullshit on that.

    There's overwhelming evidence they were right, and scarce evidence to the contrary.
    And I'll call bullshit on that too. While I am a strong supporter in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, there is plenty of evidence that countries with strict gun laws do just fine, liberty wise. Canada, Spain, England, Iceland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, would you like me to go on here? And plenty of evidence that in countries were guns are unrestricted liberty is in peril, the Congo, Afghanistan, Liberia, Columbia, again would you like me to go on? I don't think 'specious' means what you think it means, unless you're applying it to that logical fallacy you made there.

    Reread the post, you're just exactly the kind of guy I'm talking about.

  10. Ewan, sorry missed your comment the first time around.

    Shooting is a valuable skill - one I'd call a life skill, one of the Heinlein essentials. I think most people should at least know how to handle a weapon, even if they have no desire or need to own one.

    With kids in the house, and more importantly other people's kids in the house (your kids are gonna have friends, right?), having weapons is a major responsibility. I own a number of hunting weapons, and both my wife and myself have a number of handguns. All are locked in the safe, unloaded, with trigger locks. I keep one shotgun, my Mossberg 12ga pump in the shop in a quick release combo mount, unloaded, with ammo in separate lock box in case of bears or moose (I get both in the drive upon occasion - usually the dog scares them off, but last year I nearly had a full grown bull moose walk into the shop).

    People talk about owning a handgun for home defense, bah, get a cell phone and call the police. Fire a .357 in the house and see how many walls you punch through - got kids? you really might want to think about that.

    And despite Anonymous' concern, I really don't see you fighting off the tyrants with your home armory. Look how that worked out for Koresh and his band of crazies.

    If you decide to take up shooting as a hobby, have at it. Find a good range and a good instructor - not some fucking rambo wannabe and learn to shoot properly.

  11. Dear Anonymous,

    First off, I'd love to hear more about all of the times you found yourself unarmed in a war zone in service of your country.

    Also, I see that you're making the argument that the Founders intended citizens to have "military weapons", presumably so that some patriot could repeat Paul Revere's ride and all the patriotic citizens could grab their guns and go defend liberty. The big problem with that is that even if you've got that BAR all ready to go in the basement, you'll be outgunned. Or maybe you're planning to have bought a couple of surplus MIG's, a Cobra, an Apache and a stock of Hellfire missiles.

    In short, if you don't have the most up to date tank in the garage, your fully automatic Uzi isn't going to do you all that much good.

    Yup. That's what specious means.

  12. Hi-Jack:

    Congratulations, Ewan, on your new addition!

    We now return to your regularly scheduled opinions.

  13. OH. Right. Meant to mention that myself. Congratulations on the birth of Keiran, Ewan. You're a lucky guy.

  14. Thanks, guys :-).

    [Lucky? Oh, *damn* right!]

  15. I read about poor Chris Bizilj yesterday and was incensed. What parent in his/her right mind lets his/her child hold a freaking loaded Uzi? And then is mystified when the child is killed? Quote from the father: "This accident was truly a mystery to me," said Bizilj, director of emergency medicine at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford, Conn. "This is a horrible event, a horrible travesty, and I really don't know why it happened."

    That is so many levels of stupid I can't comprehend it.

    Wendy's experience with the rifle is somewhat similar to my own experience in my youth. My boyfriend of the time was a gun enthusiast, but had gone through training multiple times because he wasn't totally stupid. We went to gun ranges on a fairly regular basis. Once he rented a Desert Eagle and allowed me to fire it. I was not a petite woman at the time (nor am I now), he stood behind me - all 6'4", 300 lb, linebacker build of him - and braced me, and the recoil still kicked me back hard - I would have been on my ass if it weren't for the BF. Granted, the Desert Eagle uses a much larger round than the micro Uzi (which is what young Chris Bizilj was handling), but the recoil of a 9mm fully automatic Uzi would feel the same to a child as a .44 Magnum round would feel to an adult.

    So yeah, handing a child a loaded fully automatic weapon is moronic to begin with. Not even trying to brace the child? Goes beyond the pale of idiocy. It's a wonder no one else was killed.

  16. Oh, and congratulations, Ewan!

  17. Ewan - I was being more then a little factious about the licensing for kids thing. Although unless some critical aspect of this case isn't getting into the press, you wonder how the kid made it to age eight.

  18. Carol, yeah, the .50cal Desert Eagle, Viagra personified in stainless steel.

  19. While I appreciate the idea that military grade weapons really don't have a place outside of the military, I do happen to appreciate well crafted machinery of many kinds. So I'd really like to own and "plink" (snort) with an HK91 and certain other species -- that I don't is a combination of fiscal responsibility and the knowledge that I don't really need the damned thing. (grin) 'Course that's why I don't own a Nikon D3 SLR or a Lotus Europa John Player Special, either.

    Recoil -- it's Physics. And intellectual knowledge is something that finally sinks in a tenth of a second after you pull the trigger.

    Dr. Phil

  20. You're doing it wrong, Phil.

    Ask not "Do I need this?" rather ask "Do I deserve this?" Which is, of course, how most Nikon D3's are purchased.

  21. If anything this incident is reason enough to load every weapon on every table in the show and thin the surplus population of stupid people. I feel the same way about gangs, BTW, why bother trying to get them to stop shooting each other? They only disadvantage is the innocent. Poor kid, stupid father and range master. That is a misnomer if I ever heard one - he wasn't a range master - he was a nutjob.
    I am a retired range master who taught Canadian Army Cadets to shoot competitively. I taught kids as young as 13 to fire 7.62mm FN CI sem-auto rifles. The full auto version - the FN C2, was NEVER an option to kids FOR A REASON. Even in the strict confines of an armed forces range, every shooter had a coach, every three coaches had a supervisor, and every supervisor reported to me. I have several times kicked people off my range for the smallest of infractions, many of which had nothing to do with the actual shooting, but with safety violations. I have seen these kids, in their senior years (17-18) earn the right to represent Canada at Bisley, England at the world competitive championships. I have seen kids as young as 15 outshoot me, a Canadian Forces expert shot. The difference is the safe environment the events were confined to. The strict regulations kept people alive. Shooting is an Olympic sport!

    Living in Canada guns and rifles are quite rare, not unheard of, I could get one if I so desired, but not with kids in my house. Just my opinion. I do believe that the quantity of firearms has alot to do with it. The simple fact that so many weapons are available, as this gun show proved, sheer logic dictates that eventually stupid people will get one. Just because there aren't as many here, doesn't mean we have our own lack of stupid people, just today on the news two teenager girls mugged a cabbie with a hammer. Scares me to think if they had something more deadly. My sympathies to the mother. She has to live with the fact that the man she married is this stupid as to facilitate the death of their child.

  22. Keith, so load 'em and lock the doors from the outside? :) Evolution in action.

    Funny how the Marine, The Navy Senior Chief, The Navy SWO, The Navy CWO, and the Canadian Range Master - i.e. the professionally trained people - all agree, isn't it? With the NRA dissenter coming in from the MassLinks forum. Funny how it's the people who actually fought for their country's freedom who think that maybe some common sense and control might just be good idea. yeah, it's just us.

  23. Deserve it? Ahhhhh! But, but... my ego will trip over my humility! I'll get hurt.

    Though I've never served in the armed forces, I was taught to shoot by a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant, though he was a smidge nicer to those of us in the Riflery class than the midshipmen in the NROTC unit at Northwestern. (grin) Wonder where my NRA Expert Marksman certificate ever got to? No, don't say it... it's in a box in the basement.

    Dr. Phil

  24. I really have never understood why there's any room for dissent here. We license people to drive cars. Why in the world wouldn't we license for guns? Both, mishandled, are quite capable of killing.

    I have no problem with people owning guns. I never have, never felt the need. Jeri (my wife) has handled them more than I, but neither of us feels the need to have one.

    I'm a fairly conservative type politically, but this is one I've never understood the other side on. I don't think it's a close question.

  25. [Thanks again, all, for the congrats. Don't want to hijack the thread, but Keiran is really thus far a delightful child. OK, topic...]

    Jim (or anyone else, I guess): first, thanks for your response. Please believe that the following question is purely one of genuine curiosity! So: why do you (and/or your wife) own multiple handguns? Enjoyment of firing? Pleasure in skill of use? Do different guns give different pleasures?

    Yeah, this is naive - when it comes to guns, partly because I'm a Brit, I *am* naive - I think I have seen exactly one gun in my life. Hence the attempt to better understand.

    Thanks :). And kudos for creation of an atmosphere where I'm willing to risk being ridiculed here ;)

  26. Ewan,

    I meant to answer you question when you posted it, but I was overtaken by events. Sorry about that.

    The simple answer is this: A gun is a tool. Now, the basic rule of tools is that in a pinch any tool can be used as a hammer. But the truth of the matter is that tools are usually designed for a specific purpose, and guns are no different in this regard.

    My preferred handgun is the Colt M1911 Government Model.45ACP. I carried this weapon for many years in the military and I'm exceedingly familiar with it. I can strip, assemble, load, and clear it without looking at it (which, if you must handle a weapon in the dark or when you need to keep eyes on target, is a good skill to have). It is ideally suited to my particular grip and hand size, the rounds are fairly low speed but are very heavy and deliver maximum stopping power. I prefer this weapon for practice shooting on the range or in a situation where the primary threat is people. The 1911 only carries 7 rounds, however used properly every one of those rounds counts - unlike a smaller caliber 9mm which carries 14 rounds but usually those rounds are fired in pairs, i.e. double tapping, in order to maximize the smaller round's stopping power). Mine is modified for both left and right handed operation - unlike many semi-autos which are fixed right handed weapons. The 1911 is a very safe weapon, with multiple safety systems, however it cannot be safely carried in condition 2 (hammer down on a live round, commonly called de-cock) because it lacks a hammer block and de-cocking system, it must be carried in condition 1 (round chambered, hammer cocked, thumb safety on) or Condition 3 (hammer down on an empty chamber, the weapon must be cycled first - chambering a round and cocking the weapon - before firing). In combat I normally carried the .45 in condition 1, but for civilian use I very much prefer not to.

    Now, the 1911 is a semi-automatic weapon, i.e. it is prone to jamming when dirty or in very cold climates (sub zero temps cause the gun lubricant to thicken considerably) or if not gripped properly. It is also difficult to handle properly with thick gloves on (you know, like winter in Alaska). Additionally, while the round is excellent for stopping people, it's not much good for large wildlife. And the .45 lacks range - it's ideally suited for close encounters (3-7 meters) but not much good beyond that.

    Here in Alaska, the primary reason I carry a weapon in the field is for bears or moose. Additionally, because a bear charge can happen suddenly I want a weapon that is utterly reliable under any conditions, dirty, wet, sub-zero, and etc, and instantly ready and in battery. So, in that situation I normally carry a revolver. Unlike a semi-auto, a revolver will almost always fire without fail. My preferred bear gun is an Colt .44mag Anaconda with a 7" barrel. This is large frame handgun, heavy and extremely powerful. Loaded with special purpose ammo (300grain magnum sabot bear rounds) it will stop a charging grizzly or bull moose, the .45ACP probably will not. And it will fire every time, no matter what. The Anaconda does not have a safety per se, but it doesn't need one. It can be carried safely in condition 3 because it has a firing train disconnect and hammer block. I normally carry five rounds in the cylinder with the hammer down on the empty chamber. Because the Anaconda is a DA/SA (double action/single action) weapon, there is no need to cock or cycle the weapon. To fire, you simply draw and pull the trigger. The first shot is double action, i.e. the trigger cocks the hammer and rotates the cylinder into firing position (DA). The next shot the hammer is already cocked (SA). And the weapon can be safely decocked from SA mode, and the cylinder rotated back to safe position. I carry two full cylinder reloads in speed loaders in my shoulder harness and can reload my revolver faster than most people can reload an automatic magazine. However, if five rounds from a .44mag don't neutralize the threat, more probably won't help :) My .44 is ported and compensated and is dead accurate at 50yards. It's also stainless steel, which means I don't have to worry about keeping it clean.

    The .44 is a big-ass gun though, and very heavy. If I'm backpacking and don't want to carry the weight, I will sometimes carry a 4" Colt .357mag Python. Same operation as the Anaconda, and almost as powerful. But a lot lighter in weight. Accurate range is only about 15 yards though. It's also stainless.

    My wife is a very petite woman (5 foot, and about 90lbs), and while she can handle all of our handguns and normally carries a .357 Python in the field, she prefers a smaller weapon on the range. Her target gun is a Colt MKIV Government Model backup .380 (a short 9mm). A very good weapon for close range personal defense, often carried by combat pilots as a backup weapon. Very reliable, light, and safe. But not much good for stopping anything bigger than a man (however, you don't want to be that man, she's deadly accurate, seriously).

    My preferred plinking and target shooting gun is a Browning .22 longslide. Very accurate, and very cheap to fire (about $10 for a 1000 rounds).

    I have various rifles and shotguns for hunting. And usually carry a Mossberg MIL500ATP 12ga shotgun on the ATV when fishing (seriously, you don't don't want to be unarmed in Grizzly country - not when you smell like salmon. Just sayin')

    As I said in the post, I keep all of my weapons locked in a safe, unloaded with the ammo locked up separate. Additionally, all weapons are stored with trigger locks at all times. And everything I own is registered.

    In the summer I keep the shotgun in the shop, unloaded and locked, just in case a bear wanders in. With the dog keeping watch, it's unlikely though.

    Hope that answers your question.

  27. Small typo here - thought you might want to correct it. Lose/loose mistakes drive me nuts. But I love your blog!! Thanks so much for the voice of reason!!

    "I feel deep sadness for any father who looses (LOSES!!) a child under such tragic circumstance. "


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