Monthly Archives: May 2013

OT: Happy Birthday, Richard Wagner

Richard WagnerRichard Wagner would be 200 today, if he, unlike his music, were immortal.

Wagner was one of the most interesting (and one of the last) of the great composers; his reputation took a hit in the mid-20th Century because Hitler was a fan*, but the music has endured.

As war, if only supernatural war among Gods, poisonous dwarves and Nibelungs, was a constant theme of Wagner’s work, it’s not surprising it’s had some military echoes, most famously in the helicopter assault from Apocalypse Now. That’s a fairly ridiculous war movie if you take it seriously, but greatly entertaining: a bit like the Ring Cycle that way.

 

As well as being stirring, the best of Wagner is also intelligent and thoughtful, and he used very sophisticated harmonies but kept the music sounding natural and, well, good. That’s rather hard to do, as anyone who’s suffered through a jazz performance of great technical virtuosity, but no melodic or thematic interest, can tell you.

It’s good music to fight by — the moral content of your fight is up to you.

* Hitler, actually, had rather good taste in music, as his record collection, long held in Russian captivity, reveals. The guy was a monster but he had decent musical taste. He even had Mendelssohn and Mahler works in his catalog, which must have caused the world’s most legendary antisemite some profound cognitive dissonance — his whole ethos was based on the fundamental belief that Jews were no good and Mendelssohn is one of the many obvious and glaring disproofs of that belief (even if he never wrote a note, and he wrote some excellent notes, Mendelssohn deserves the . While there was a splash about Hitler’s music library turning up in Russia in 2007, the New Yorker’s Alex Ross noted at the time that hundreds of his records — Adolf’s, not Alex’s — are held in the Library of Congress special collections, and have been since 1945; and the Russian find may have authenticity issues.

There is one Hitler/Wagner nexus that would really be a great find if it turned up: Hitler had collected many of Wagner’s original manuscripts (Wagner lived in the time of Mad Ludwig, not Mad Adolf). Ross recounts the sad history of these missing documents in the first of the two links just above. A more recent update on these missing scores is here at Arts Journal.

Terrorist might do 2 years for 4 bomb murders

One John Anthony Downey is under arrest as British prosecutors seek to close a 1982 mass murder by IRA terrorists. In July, 1982, they charge, he set and detonated a massive car bomb that destroyed an element of one of the units that guards Buckingham Palace. The bomb, one of two coordinated bombs set by the IRA in London’s Hyde and Regent Parks that day, killed seven horses and three men, two of them just married; a fourth member of the Blues and Royals died of his wounds four days later. Many other men and at least one horse suffered serious wounds.

John Downey, from County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, is accused of being responsible for the car bomb that targeted a troop of the Royal Household Cavalry, Blues and Royals, as they rode from their barracks to Buckingham Palace.

Mr Downey is charged with the murders of Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36, Lieutenant Anthony Daly, 23, Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, and Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, 19, on July 20 1982.

Sue Hemming, the Crown Prosecution Service’s head of special crime and counter-terrorism, said: “The Metropolitan Police Service has been investigating the explosion near Hyde Park in London which occurred on July 20 1982.

“It is alleged that Downey is responsible for the improvised explosive device contained in a car parked in South Carriage Drive, London, which resulted in the deaths of four members of the Royal Household Cavalry, Blues and Royals, as they travelled on their daily route from their barracks to Buckingham Palace.”

via Man, 61, charged with murdering four soldiers in IRA’s 1982 Hyde Park bombing – Telegraph.

But thanks to an agreement the British Government and the terrorists reached in 1998, Downey need not be acquitted to get out of jail soon. If Downey is convicted, he can apply for a transfer to a prison in Northern Ireland (rather than one in England, where most of London’s murderers end up). Then he can apply for release after two years, regardless of his nominal sentence.

Meanwhile, of course, Downey’s victims are still dead, and their family members are still bereaved. Not that any of the IRA goons (or the Protestant terrorist goons, who were as bad and arguably worse) gives a damn about them. 

The British were handling terrorism better when they were just having the SAS show up and blow these creeps away. Go easy on terrorism, and what do you get? Most everybody has seen the news from Woolwich. That’s what you get.  It’s almost as if the nation had a suicide pact with its political elite.

Beretta: not quite leaving Maryland

beretta USA logoThe largest single employer in Maryland’s depressed Eastern Shore, Beretta USA, isn’t leaving. But neither are they staying put, like Remington has decided to do in New York. The question only came up in the first place because of the respective states’ hostility to the companies, their products, and their customers.

Beretta can’t just up and move — there are licenses and permits, and difficult and complex heavy-industrial processes, that are hard to shift, and the company is handcuffed to its current location by the M9 production contract, which requires a delivery schedule that can only be met by flat-out production without interruptions (the only real way they could boost M9 production is go to a second shift or get the DOD to accept imported parts — a non-starter of an idea). Instead, they’re going to relocate planned expansion out of Maryland. Left unsaid, but strongly implied, is that Governor O’Malley has earned himself  a political enemy that comprises an extended family that started off making arms for the princes of Italian city-states, back when those city-states were known for intrigues using daggers and poison. They survived that, so who are you going to bet on to come out of this on top? (What O’Malley’s ancestors were doing back then went unrecorded in mostly-illiterate Ireland, but his instincts today suggest that some ancestor introduced sheep into his bloodline).

O’Malley is one of those people for whom dislike of guns, their associated culture, and the people who don’t share his Mr Yuk reaction to them, is emotional, even visceral. When Beretta warned that O’Malley’s anti-gun bills would make it difficult to continue to operate in the state, he had two answers, delivered in tones of dripping contempt:

  1. Beretta is bluffing
  2. Even if they’re not, we’re better off without them.

As we reported at the time, the Beretta family replied directly: they don’t bluff. O’Malley’s aiming at higher office, and confident he doesn’t need the 400-odd workers at Accokeek. Those workers are going to see more and more new work bypass them and go straight to other states — Beretta’s not saying where, but Virginia, where they moved some warehousing under a previous legislative assault in Maryland, is a likely beneficiary.

O’Malley remains confident in his political base in the two most powerful constituencies in Maryland: the government workers in the Washington bedroom communities, and the welfare culture of post-industrial Baltimore. The demonized Beretta workers include quite a few of his voters from previous elections; what will they do now? From the outside, we can only say it’s going to be interesting in Maryland. O’Malley’s blue-state appeal depends in part on the expectation of every-growing tax revenues from industry. A Beretta USA board member, General Counsel Jeff Reh, testified that Beretta has paid $31 million in Maryland taxes, while investing $73 million in the state, in the last 15 years.

Beretta’s Matteo Recontini posted to the Beretta USA blog:

The question now facing the Beretta Holding companies in Maryland is this:  What effect will the passage of this law–and the efforts of Maryland government officials to support its passage–have on our willingness to remain in this State?

In that respect we are mindful of two objectives:  We will not let passage of this legislation prevent us from providing on-time delivery of our products to our U.S. Armed Forces and other important customers.  We also will not go forward in a way that compounds the insult made to our Maryland employees by their Governor and by the legislators who supported his efforts.

That sounds a bit like the Judgment of Solomon. They’re going to split the baby.

On our first reading last week we didn’t notice a disclaimer, that this post was Recontini’s personal view, and did not necessarily represent the corporation. But the most controversial statements in Recontini’s post are tracked word-for-word by statements that Jeff Reh made to the Washington Times’s Emily Miller, a reporter who found herself assigned to the gun beat — and co-opted by the gun culture. With Reh and Recontini speaking in practical unison, it’s hard to take any disclaimer too seriously.

So, what does this mean to the gun world? First, Beretta pistol production will continue. Beretta lobbied a generally anti-gun potentate in the legislature enough that they don’t have to move production of the guns, just production and warehousing of standard-sized magazines. That’s already on its way to VA. Beretta’s modern sporting rifle, the ARX 100, is almost certain to go to one of the other states that are wooing blue states’ hated gun makers now, but its initial production is underway in Accokeek. Some processes, like chrome-lining barrels, involve heavy machinery and hazmat approvals, and probably aren’t going anywhere fast. 

What does this mean to the shooter and collector? First, A lot of M9s have been produced in Accokeek, so if and when production moves — a lead-pipe certainty if O’Malley’s punitive laws stand — they probably won’t bear much of a premium, at least not for a long time. (There’s currently an invisible difference between values of used Italian and Maryland 92s, for example). But an early ARX 100, a weapon that is more reminiscent of the FN SCAR-L than the AR-15 (this is not a bad thing), might one day be as valuable as a Costa Mesa AR-180 — or a Hollywood AR-10. 

3D-Printed Guns: Lulzbot Liberator fires 9 shots

Lulzbot Liberator firingA Liberator 3D printed handgun with several modifications has successfully fired nine shots from a single barrel. The shots were fired with a tether from a platform for safety.

This is the Liberator we previously showed you, printed on a Lulzbot, an under-$2k machine. This unit’s modifications from the original 3D-printed Liberator include:

  • Longer barrel
  • Rifled barrel (helps with regulatory compliance, avoiding NFA, but it’s doubtful that it imparts any stabilization to the round, for reasons we’ll soon see)
  • Screw instead of printed trigger and hammer pins
  • Different resin

Lulzbot-Liberator-firing-fixtureLike Cody Wilson’s Prototype #1, this Liberator contains enough metal to comply with the so-called Undetectable Firearms Act. 

Andy Greenberg of Forbes still seems to be torn three ways by his newsman instincts to cover this story, his techie instincts to applaud this, and his liberal instincts to condemn this technology. But his newsman side is winning and he continues to cover 3D gun developments in Forbes.

Meanwhile, the gun is discussed in this thread in the DEFCAD forums.

 

Takeaways:

  1. Yeah, you can do this on a low-cost printer.
  2.  The generic ABS actually has better mechanical properties than the proprietary stuff Cody Wilson’s Stratasys requires.
  3. Nobody has tested a .380 barrel to failure yet, so nobody knows where the failure point is. However, these guys were getting close. The headspace was increasing — and they think the bore diameter and chamber diameter were, too — with each shot.
  4. Lulzbot_barrelThe lack of rigidity of the barrel, compared to a steel barrel, takes a lot of velocity away from the .380 cartridge. They only captured 2 of the 8 shots’ velocity: 498.2 and 465.1 FPS. That’s half or less of typical .380 FMJ muzzle velocities, which range from around 900 to 1100 (per Ballistics 101). That would be a even larger proportional decrease in muzzle energy (because velocity is squared in the energy formula).

The best use for this, then, is as a technology demonstrator, and a proof of concept (as Wilson has consistently argued). But then, you couldn’t do much with the Wright Flyer either, yet there’d be no SR-71, Airbus 380 or UH-60 Black Hawk without the Wrights’ proof of concept and the other flimsy powered kites of wood and muslin that followed it into the air in the early years of the last century.

The Liberator also has a couple of other possible uses: a defense arm in places where people are so disarmed that even a marginal weapon like this is the best you can do. And there’s always the purpose of the original Liberator, as illustrated on its comic-strip instruction sheet: to whack some henchman of a tyrant, and take his factory-made gun.

That last use is probably keeping some wannabe henchmen up late at night. But if they were thinking henchmen, they’d be a lot more worried about the fact that it is the first raindrop of a deluge; or to put it another way, the Wright Flyer of a new technological era.

Don’t bring a gun to a sword fight

Small-Ridged-BroadswordWait, what?

As we say, over and over again, a weapon is what you have, and self- and home-defense is about mind state more than arms locker.

A California man proved this recently when two home invaders wielding an ax and a gun barged in, intent on whatever deficiency in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that home invaders are addressing (we’ll guess, self-actualization). The news report from the Fresno Bee is so brief it’s practically telegraphic, so we don’t know if the crook left behind, one Aaron Baeza, was Gun Man or Ax Man, but he was unquestionably Dead Man when five-oh rolled up.

japanese-swords-samurai-ryumon-phoenix-katanaThis other story identifies the EDW (Edged Defensive Weapon) as a samurai sword. If one must use a sword, a samurai sword is an excellent choice, with a single curved edge (for maximum “terminal ballistics” in a slashing weapon, which is why they — and all but the last generation of cavalry sabres — are configured that way) and a blunt-shaped but sharp-edged point for penetrating thick clothing or armor. Personally, we prefer a double-edged sword, and just as it is with guns, shorter is more maneuverable in CQB. Think a gladius iberius. But the Japanese had swords so advanced that they didn’t mess with firearms for hundreds of years, and serviceable replicas of the katana and wakizashi are widely available.

As it is, the same article suggested that the point of that sword terminated Baeza; that it was a stab rather than a slash that saved the citizenry costs of trial and incarceration for the fellow (and in that  jurisdiction, incarceration is a luxury good, with prison cage-kickers paid about as well as New York’s infamous Nassau County PD.

Back to the scene of this crime. While they had no problem locating Baeza (at the center of the pool of blood, at ambient temperature displaying an absence of vital signs), the police are still seeking the other invader, reported as one Christopher Rupe, 30, who “left the home and remains at large.” Now, we’re just gun bloggers here, but if you just saw your fantasy of a criminal score, along with your partner’s mortal existence, sliced and diced, or speared like a cocktail shrimp by some madman wielding cold steel, would you too “leave the home?” With rather more than deliberate speed?

Indeed, Rupe could scarcely be blamed if he’s still running next Tuesday.

While we don’t recommend a sword as a go-to, first choice home defense weapon, we admit we have a few lying around. They’re legal in more places than guns (although Presser v. Illinois set the open carry of swords back to the status quo ante the Bill of Rights of 1689 in some jurisdictions), definitely intimidating (especially if wielded with a display of confidence), and 5,000 years of history speaks to their lethality.

They’re also affordable. Worst case, you can sell your cloak and buy one.

Hat tip: Jay G at MA-rooned, whose title we could not improve upon.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Packing

Eleanor Roosevelt? Yep, Eleanor her ownself, the patron saint of Women In Sensible Shoes™, got a New York state permit (seldom a problem then or now for a white, impressively politically-connected, and stinking rich person) and toted a gun — we’d guess a small revolver but the source doesn’t say.

EleanorRoosevelt-LTC

 

At Slate, a writer avers that Roosevelt carried the permit, not the pistol, but that’s not what she said at the time. According to the same writer (and period newspaper reports), Mrs Roosevelt’s pistol-carrying was intended to get the Secret Service to back off of their insistence on bodyguarding her.

This New York permit has a couple of features that persist to this day in New York licenses. One is that a license granted in New York City is valid throughout the Empire State, but licenses issued in the rest of the state are invalid in the City. And another is the requirement for a permit to purchase. (Again, this was and is a may-issue permit that is more likely to be issued to an organized crime figure than an ordinary middle-class person without political connections).

Nowadays, a New Yorker’s purchases are tightly bound to his or her permit. You must get each new handgun added to your permit. You can only buy ammunition in calibers for which you have a pistol on your permit. These restrictions predated the 2013 SAFE (Strangle All Firearms Entities) Act, the one written by governor Andrew Cuomo (D-Cinque Famiglias) on a napkin between hits on a crack pipe. They have, of course, had no impact whatsoever on crime, any more than making Eleanor Freaking Roosevelt get a permit served any rational public purpose (seriously, did anybody weigh the odds of her taking up bank robbery?)

Update:

Eleanor Roosevelt shootingBack to Eleanor, it seems de rigeur on the left (for example, at the dependably Democratic AARP blog) to say she didn’t actually carry the thing, but the AARP guy ultimately gives in and quotes testimony on both sides of the issue. A few years back, Narodniy Politicheskiy Radio mentioned the revolver in what was otherwise predictable propaganda about a Designated Role Model™. Dave Kopel has more on her revolver-toting, from 2002. He used those same facts in a 2012 New York Times symposium — pearls before swine, but you have to credit him for trying. This Kopel thread suggests (in the comments) that her gun was provided by the then-head of the Secret Service, and was more likely than not a Colt Official Police revolver. Some good commentary on other shooting Roosevelts at all those links, too. Finally, this instructor’s page has a grainy copy of her application for the 1957 license shown above, and it suggests that she has had a permit continuously since 1933.

Why Carbine parts don’t match

If you pick up a typical M1 Carbine (or almost any US military surplus weapon, but let’s stick to carbines for reasons that will become obvious) at a gun show, you’ll find that it’s a mélange of parts from various makers and vintages. But occasionally, someone will have a gun that is, for example, all Inland parts. Obviously, the first one is a parts-gun junker, and the second one’s “as issued” back in W-W-Two, right?

WWII_M1_Carbine

carbine-overhaul-flowchart-1947Maybe not right. It could actually be the other way around: the first gun is just the way some GI carried it in WWII or Korea, and the second was carefully assembled from parts to catch a collector’s eye. Whaaat?

It has to do with how carbines were handled, maintained, and redistributed in the theaters or war and in the Zone of the Interior, as the US was still often called in the mid-20th Century. The flow chart on the left (which you’ll probably have to expand to read) spanned two pages of the M1/2/3 Carbine overhaul manual (FM 9-1276) and explains the steps in an overhaul.

Not every gun got overhauled, but every time Ordnance units got their hands on a gun, it was considered for it. To decide if they needed to do it, they had to inspect the gun, of course. Ordnance got guns when they were turned in by armorers as having “issues”, turned in as entire unit sets by traveling units, recovered from battlefields and field hospitals (to this day, if you enter a hospital with a weapon, some Gorgon of a nurse will take it away from you, muttering incantations to the Gods of Geneva), and various other means fair and foul. At lower echelons, any guns passing inspection or readily reparable would quickly go back out to line units as battlefield replacements.

Guns that needed depot attention would be greased up in Cosmoline and packed together in wooden crates, and shipped to that facility, where they’d enter the top left of the chart. They’d be taken out of the crates, which themselves would be sent to a specialty shop for repair and reconditioning, and dismantled. Individual parts would be inspected — some by eyeball, and some using gages — and repaired, if possible; serviceable parts whether from inspection or repair benches would be refinished and then go to a central parts bin.  (U/S parts were discarded).

In addition to the parts from the incoming carbines, the parts bins also held parts acquired under replacement-parts contracts, some makers of which never made complete carbines, only individual parts. None of the parts in the bins were labeled to a particular serial number of carbine. It was by way of this parts bin that most USGI carbines became mixmasters.

M2 Carbine

A very few parts were not removed from a carbine in this process. If the front and rear sights were serviceable, they stayed on board (Carbine rear sights were staked firmly in place, four times; front sights are simply a bear to remove and replace). And if the gas system worked and wasn’t visibly corroded, it wasn’t always disassembled. It’s possible to test the carbine gas system, on a field-stripped weapon, by the simple expedient of plugging the chamber with a finger or thumb, and blowing into the muzzle.

At the other end of the depot’s small arms bay, technicians (probably different ones from the ones stripping carbines at the intake end of the production line) would assemble carbines from the refinished, repaired or recertified parts in the parts bins. It had to pass a complete inspection and a live-fire function test, or it was repaired until it did. After test firing, the weapon was cleaned, inspected again (and sent again to the repair bench if need be, in which case it would be reinjected  at the test-fire station again), and greased and packed.

Then, cases of carbines (the same cases that carbines came in in, after they, too, were overhauled and repaired as necessary) were shipped to users worldwide, or stored in the depots until called for. The cases held 10 M1 or M2 carbines, and weighed 83 pounds, measured 39 3/8 x 10 3/4 x 10 3/4 inches, and displaced 4 cubic feet; 10 M1A1s in the same case weighed 91 pounds.

As you see, this means that the odds are astronomical against any carbine that has been through this process still possessing parts made by its original maker. Modern guns are made with precision, interchangeable parts with almost zero hand fitting, and this high-throughput WWII-vintage overhaul system took maximum advantage of that.

So if you have an Inland carbine with all Inland parts (or Winchester, etc.) then that gun either has never been through the overhaul process, or has been carefully reassembled by some collector, carefully hoarding parts over the years. And there’s no really obvious way to tell; even a couple of late-carbine parts might have been refitted to an early carbine at the unit level, and the Air Force, which kept toting carbines into the 1960s, was especially slapdash about rebuilds and repair parts (a tradition they kept up with M16s and GAUs).

Our advice: don’t get too wound up about Carbine originality — if you do, you’re probably going to get fished sooner or later. The officers, signalmen, medics, mortarmen, support troops and others who toted these in every theater of war, didn’t worry overmuch about these details. Neither should we.

It’s early, but this police shooting looks really bad

ncpd-emblemA Hofstra University student is dead after being taken hostage by a career criminal, released (as is normal) by New York’s courts to prey again, and armed (as is normal) with a weapon illegal in New York (or anywhere, as its serial number was defaced) but obtained through criminal channels.

But the worst bit of it was that Andrea Rebello was not killed by the criminal, Dalton Smith. She, and the criminal, died in a hail of bullets from a Nassau County, Long Island policeman. The New York Post:

Smith also made his way down the stairs — holding Andrea in a headlock and using her as a human shield, police said. The officer began talking to Smith, saying, “Put the gun down and let the girl go.”

“I’m going to kill her,” Smith replied. Kourtessis ran into a bedroom. Then he heard the shots.

“I hear ‘pop, pop’ — two shots,” he said. “I run out and I run toward where they are.”

Andrea Rebello. RIP.

Andrea Rebello. RIP.

By then the cop had maneuvered the criminal into the basement area of the home, said Kourtessis. He then watched as the officer shot twice more. He saw other officers outside, and dropped to the floor.

“Andrea! Andrea!” he screamed.

But Andrea didn’t answer.

Both Smith and Andrea were felled by bullets fired by a Nassau officer, cops said.

It’s still early and it’s highly probable that initial media accounts (as is normal) are incomplete and incorrect, so we shouldn’t tee off just yet. But the message coming from Nassau County police is, essentially, that she had it coming for being a victim of crime. They’ve circled the wagons around the shooter, whom they’ve refused to identify, and given a few days of nonchargeable vacation.  Their commissioner actually linehauled his “tough shit” message to the victim’s family in the middle of the night. That’s depraved, but our observation is that police senior management, like commissioners, tend to be rather lower on the character totem pole than those below them on the rank totem pole.

Victims of crime aren’t exactly unusual in the violent, depressed cities of Hempstead and Uniondale that surround Hofstra. The University publishes a tendentious “public safety report” that glosses over the fact that the college sits smack dab in the middle of a ghetto teeming with drugs, crime and brutality. They do this by selecting the data to comprise primarily violence inside the private school’s gated, locked-down residential campus, which is, as you might imagine, pretty mild as violence goes. Meanwhile, Hofstra students warn the newly accepted that walking on the side streets around school is “asking for it.”

No doubt this incident will be seen differently by different people. Cops may see a guy who was trying to do his job, and had a bad outcome, but not bad enough that there should be any consequences for him. Hofstra administrators may see bad publicity needing to be broomed. Libertarians may find a way to blame the war on drugs, liberals may bog down in a battle to discern the “root causes” of Smith’s criminality, and conservatives may well see this as a predictable consequence of revolving-door justice for violent criminals.

And here at WeaponsMan we see another police shooting that speaks to bad training and worse personnel selection. But we’re self-aware enough to see that we, like all the others, are simply applying our own cognitive template — our bias, if you will — to the information we’ve received. Everyone’s ideas are subject to change when the investigation emerges from its present lawyered-up, self-protective cocoon and spreads any factual wings it might have.

Still, two things seem clear: even in California of all places, Dalton Smith would have been incarcerated under what’s left of their three-strikes law, after a violent armed robbery spree that began in 1999 and has only let up while he has been incarcerated. And his criminal activity is over now, but at a price a civilized society shouldn’t have to pay.

But then, this is New York we’re talking about.

Update I:

Nassau County actually had someone on the tube this morning suggesting that, because Dalton Smith was a really really bad guy, it was a lot better for Andrea Rebello that their cop shot her, too. Because otherwise, Smith might have left with her, and whatever he did would far worse than a mercy killing at the hands of the still-unidentified, still on “sick leave” (Nassau County’s term of art for “bad-shooting vacation”) copper. We do agree that Smith was a rotten guy, and the world is well rid of him; but we can’t follow the logic to where the police should be going all Kevorkian on his victims. Lord love a duck. They’re really going all out for this shooter; is he the Chief’s nephew?

Whatever he is, he apparently fired eight rounds at point-blank range and scored eight hits — 7 on Smith and 1 on Rebello. The Nassau County spokescreature said that Smith used Rebello “as a human shield” by way of justifying their cop’s unjustifiable marksmanship, but the other witnesses reportedly said he had her in a headlock. Again, early reports are usually pretty weak.

Several gun bloggers have pointed out there are standard IPSC targets and stages addressing this kind of hostage-taker shot under stress, and even a novice IPSC shooter wouldn’t miss. It comes back to what they initially said in justifying the cop’s manslaughter of the innocent hostage here, that standard guilty cop’s mantra: “he was in fear for his life.”

There’s a word for a guy who panics because he’s so afraid.

In a just world he would be in fear for his liberty right now.

Update II:

No markmanship skills or personal courage required!

No markmanship skills required or wanted! (The “courage” thing must have been a typo).

The Nassau County cops might be badly trained, but they’re staggeringly well paid. The shooter they’re still protecting might be on this list of cops pulling down CEO-level wages; even many patrolmen walked off with a half million or more. The 1% is out there — who knew it was blue-collar (literally) government workers?

As far as the leadership goes, top cops in the department were indicted for running a scheme where financial donors could buy immunity to arrest for themselves and their family members (note the many related stories linked at the bottom of that one, and the case is still ongoing). One of the cops is still awaiting trial; the first to face justice, Deputy Commissioner Bill Flanagan, was convicted on three counts including conspiracy, but beat the rap on the most serious one; shortly thereafter, former Chief John Hunter pled guilty to similar charges and accepted three years’ probation (Flanagan’s lawyers keep postponing his sentencing). The local gadfly paper suggests that the cops are now hostile to the DA, which may be newsman wishful thinking.

But taken together, all these reports suggest a department that was not focused on a mission to serve and protect the public, and did not select and train its officers to that end. Q.E.D.

Update III: 

The weapon Smith had contained two cartridges, one in the chamber and one in the magazine. The police have confirmed that he did not fire a shot. The serial number of the weapon was scratched off, suggesting an illegitimate provenance (Smith could not legally purchase a firearm. He was a felon, and so violating Federal law, and could not obtain a New York permit with his record, unless he was politically connected. In New York, one cannot purchase or possess a firearm, even at home, without a may-issue permit).

We are told the weapon was a SCCY Industries CPX-2 9mm DAO pistol. If you’re not familiar with it (we were not), a capsule NRA review is here. If that is the right designation, the gun does not have a mechanical safety (the CPX-1 variant does). Manual here (PX-1) (pdf).

Veterans too under IRS attack

Mathis Pissing on IRSThe IRS has a long history of political action, for which it’s in trouble again, but along with Tea Party nonprofits and religious groups (“report to us the content of your prayers!” WTFO?), they’ve also been cueing up veterans. There was existing law that exempted military and veterans’ disability income from IRS garnishment (USC 38 §5301 if you want to look it up), but the IRS stopped recognizing and obeying the law, leading Congress to amend it in 2010 (Veterans Disability Act of 2010) to send a message to the IRS.

The Tea Party guys could have told us, the IRS apparently didn’t get the message:

A couple of months ago, when I logged into my online bank account to make sure that my VA disability check had been deposited (I am a 60% disabled veteran of the Iraq War) I saw red and a negative balance, beside which read the word “hold.”

I called my bank and was informed that the IRS had sent a letter demanding that the bank take all of the available funds out of my account on the first day of the month and then wire them to them. The bank gave me a telephone number at which to call the IRS. After being placed on hold for a very long time- long as in a biblical age- I finally spoke with an agent.

Long story short; they claim I made $157,000 in 2010 and that I owe them tons of money, and that until I pay it, a lien will remain on my personal bank account.

At the beginning of 2010, I was still in the hospital recovering from injuries I’d sustained while serving in Iraq. I was released early in the year, but still did not find employment until October, and even then, it was only part time. I can assure you, as I did the IRS, that I did not earn $157,000.00. Actually, I earned less than $10,000.00 in 2010.

I kindly read the federal code mentioned above to the lady I spoke with at the IRS, reminding her that VA disability money is 100% exempt. She placed me on hold for another age (I could see a man coming- bearing water- over the horizon) and then she came back on the line and told me, “We do not take veterans’ disability money. We wait until the funds are deposited from the VA and then we take all of the funds from your bank account.”

via Disabled Veterans Have Checks Stolen By IRS : Freedom Outpost.

The vet in question got his money back in the end. (A likely reason for the IRS thinking he had greater earnings is that several criminal aliens are using his social security number. The IRS generally does not pursue illegal aliens for unpaid taxes, even if it finds out who they are).

We’ve also heard stories of judges dividing disability income in divorce proceedings (a no-no under that same Federal law. Your nondisability retirement can be prorated to a non-serving ex-spouse, but your disability — the pension, and the pain both — are yours alone).

How this ties into the current IRS outrage isn’t clear. Maybe it doesn’t. But we see from the talking heads that the IRS’s detractors are screaming for blood, and the IRS’s defenders have fallen back to the talking point that it’s not criminal conspiracy, it’s just really bad mismanagement.

2013 - 100 years of IRS comradesWhich brings us to the obvious remedy. Like many government agencies, the IRS not only pays extremely generous salaries and benefits, but is positively profligate in distributing bonus money — bonuses, it seems, that are ostensibly for performance. Since even the agency’s leaders and defenders admit gross, persistent, and still-unremedied errors, the most obvious solution, and one that will also benefit the Treasury in this fiscal times, is to claw back, say, the last ten years of performance bonuses. These bonuses have obviously been awarded in error.

The IRS can just disappear the money from its workers’ checking and savings accounts. After all, they’ve been practicing on disabled veterans all that time.

Update

The People’s Cube reminds us that 2013 is the 100th Anniversary of the IRS. Image added above.

Monday Links to start the week…

emptycalendar2Guns

Item: ever hear of Chekhov’s Gun? Nope, not the phaser carried by the bit character on 60s Star Trek. We’re talking about the other Chekhov here, the 19th Century fin de siècle master of the short story. He famously said, in different versions at different times, “if you show a gun in the first chapter, you had better fire it in the third.” This has since become an enduring trope in the literary arts, amusingly described here at TV Tropes.

Item: Young Braxton Bielski and his dad just set a Gator record in Texas:

Bielski, 18, caught an 800-pound, 14-foot, 3-inch specimen, the largest to be certified in Texas.

via Texas teen bags state-record-sized alligator – CNN.com.

Gator hunting is not like hunting anything else. You catch the gator on a baited line left overnight, then you pop him one. Bielski used a slide-action rifle, but a powerful pistol would do the job also. Gator hunting is tightly controlled in Texas, and permits are distributed by lottery. So Braxton and his father Troy, a Houston cop, got lucky. The gator, not so much.

Item: alas, no link yet, as it’s from the viral-infested Examiner, and we’re not going to do that to our readers. But the head of the Perazzi shotgun company was arrested by Denver police based on a tip from a cabbie. The cops there have organized the cab drivers into a Stasi-style informer network, and for Denver cops it was enough for a guy to be in a cab with ZOMG GUNZ!!!1!!!. The GUNZ were Perazzi’s high-end sporting shotguns, no laws were ever violated, and the Denver cops manage to look at once like they’re trying to be totalitarians, and they’re monumentally incompetent at police work. Well done.

Unconventional Warfare

An American soldier has been reduced to E-1 and sentenced to life in prison for a shocking crime in Iraq:

As part of last month’s plea agreement, Russell described to the court how he killed Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle, Army Maj. Matthew Houseal, Sgt. Christian Bueno-Galdos, Spec. Jacob Barton and Pfc. Michael Yates Jr.

The Signal Corps soldier and his lawyers tried to deflect blame and attribute the murders to combat stress. Well, whatever stress he has is on the road to Leavenworth with his worthless self. (Why not hang him? There was a plea agreement that took that off the table).

 

Weapons Usage and Employment

Item: A cop went from hero to zero in a few short years and is now in jail on $60 million bail.

Then a rookie on the Philadelphia police force, [Richard] DeCoatsworth had followed a group of men in a car, whose activities he found suspicious. They parked and three men got out of the vehicle.

As he followed them on foot, a fourth man emerged from the car and fired a blast from a shotgun at DeCoatsworth’s face. He briefly lost his eyesight.

“But when his vision returned, he was still standing. Bleeding from the face, DeCoatsworth chased the perpetrator on foot for nearly two blocks. The officer returned fire and put out flash information on the subject during the pursuit, before he finally collapsed,” the White House statement said.

But DeCoatsworth’s life took a nose dive after he recovered and returned to duty. He wounded a citizen in a shooting deemed unjustified, and banged out on a disability retirement. He’s now charged with rape.  A sad story. One is reminded of Tom Wolfe’s admonition, that “the Right Stuff could blow at any seam.”

Item: In a complicated tale, a non-family member living in the family’s house shot a 14-year-old in the leg. It’s not clear whether it was intentional. So, where’s the complication in that? It’s in what came next. Junior’s mom didn’t call 911, or take him to the hospital. She spent seven hours trying to find a how-to on treating gunshot wounds on WebMD. (There isn’t any, which you would think most people would have figured out in, maybe, six hours or less). Houston, Texas, which normally cuts some slack for gun accidents short of gross negligence, isn’t cutting any slack here yet, with both the shooter and the mom facing felony charges. Junior is in stable condition.

Items: it was a busy weekend for powder and ball in Houston, apparently. Apart from the accident(?) above, there was the party with one dead and two wounded; the DEA bust where an agent had to go to .40 to persuade one of his suspects to come along; and five guys’ attempted robbery and successful wounding of one George Ramirez, 27. Ramirez’s wound is not life-threatening, but one of the suspects is dead and another wounded and in custody. Clock’s probably ticking on the three still at large. George has a license to carry and will not be charged. Well done, George. But seriously, what does Houston think it is, Chicongo?

Naah. Chicongo managed nine shootings, one of them even accidental, supposedly: a 12-year-old shot himself once in each arm, according to two unreliable sources: family members and the Tribune. Police didn’t shoot anybody there, but police there long ago reached a modus vivendi with crime.

 

Update: oops. Now displaying on the right day. D’oh!