On a blog we read from time to time, one of the team posted this remarkable sentiment: “Good Riddance, 2014.” This is the last Sunday we’ll have in 2014, and as usual at year’s end, we’re taking that arbitrary1 point in time to look back. And we cannot have such a bleak view of the year that has passed.
Gun Technology in 2014
On gun technology, we’ve seen the proving-out of customer Tracking Point systems, something we find very interesting. Meanwhile, historic firearms continue to be resuscitated, with GunLab’s VG 1-5 at the ATF’s Firearms Technology Branch for approval even as we write these words. Sure, it’s a limited production thing, but a gun that only a few museums have ever held is going to be in private collections in a working, and little changed except for legally-required modifications, replica. We’ve seen the continued explosion of manufacturing technology for the little guy: industrial processes like injection molding are now in reach for the small or home shop, while advanced prototyping and additive manufacturing tools are taking off like computers in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, hobbyists pursuing firearms design, engineering, and manufacturing have never had more information, more tools, and more options than now.
The Gun Market in 2014
Ammunition returned to stores and internet sellers, with the notable exception of rimfire, which remains scarce and high-priced; and while prices are higher than before the 2012 political and media gun-ban push began, they’re at a stable equilibrium, and you can find everything.
Some manufacturers and dealers who overextended themselves in the post-2012 boom have had to retrench, but sales remain at very high levels. Some of the new entrant and non-traditional customers behave differently from our historic customers, but many of them don’t; a significant percentage of them become gun-of-the-month club, avid shooters.
The pace of innovation in gun developments slowed even as it accelerated on the manufacturing side. Your gun buyer tends to be small-c conservative, that is to say, old-fashioned, and new ideas take time to catch on. (It has taken a generation for polymer-framed pistols to go from curiosity to mainstream).
Politics and the Gun Culture
On the legal and political front, 2014 had some wins, as some of the predictions in law professor Glenn Reynolds’s “Second Amendment Penumbras” article have come to pass exactly has he has foreseen, and the vast majority of high-profile anti-gun candidates in competitive districts went down in flames. The one big victory for the zillionaires who would disarm all but their own Praetorians was in the Washington initiative petition, where they managed to win on the strength of a politically favorable jurisdiction, deceptive advertising, and — to be brutally frank — ineffective opposition.
They are nowhere near giving up: the human impetus to enslave your fellow man is a strong one, and it drives people like Mike Bloomberg, Ladd Everitt, Josh Sugarmann, and Shannon What’s-her-face. They believe, based on the legislative history of things like the Hughes Amendment and the Nazi-derived Sporting-Purposes Test, that they only have to win once, while we have to win every time. That’s the challenge, and we have to face it, because they’re not going to give up their dream of absolute power over you, not while they’re on this side of the Judgment Day they consider a quaint superstition. The same urge drove our enemies past, and most of them are unknown today. Unless you have been defending gun rights for decades, names like WWII draft dodger Howard Metzenbaum, crooked senator Thomas Dodd (the who copied Nazi laws), trust-fund columnist Cleveland Amory, shifty William Hughes and more mean nothing to you. But these evil men once drove gun policy in the United States.
Yet — the gun-ban regime that the Hugheses and Metzenbaums worked for has never been more in retreat, nor has the gun culture ever been more ascendant. More Americans (and more citizens of other nations, too) have more access to their rights to own arms and defend themselves than at any time since Jim Crow ushered in gun laws in the late 1860s. A number of those victories took place, under the media radar, in 2014, in municipalities and state houses, but also outside the political sphere, where someone took a nervous housewife, or musician, or white-collar worker to a range for the first time, and empowered him or her quite literally. Just incidentally demystifying firearms and teaching that their owners are not necessarily some 300-lb neckbeard brandishing a tapco’d-out piece of stamped crap in Starbucks, but normal and healthy neighbors and friends, engaging in a variety of enjoyable activities. That is why we have won so much, that is why we are still winning, and that is why we will win further in 2015.
UW in 2014
We’ve seen a continued retreat from US responsibilities worldwide, and an abandonment of the troops in the field by their soi-disant betters, the Acela Corridor crowd. These things are without much in the way of counterweight, but note that in Iraq, Kurds, Shias and downtrodden Sunnis have nervously banded together and held a line everyone expected to see fray. In Libya, Syria and Egypt, misguided US support for Islamists has failed utterly, leaving the nation in better hands (Egypt) or has failed partially (Libya and Syria), leaving the nation in chaos, which still beats Islamist slavery.
Most of the militant dystopias of the world share a single vulnerability: they depend for their power on oil revenue. US oil production, despite attempts by NIMBYs2 and BANANAs3 to curtail it, has grown, and the Saudis have put downward pressure on oil prices for their own reasons.
Of course, when one applies pressure to a system with weaknesses, what happens is more amenable to analysis after the fact, than prediction before. But anything that works to disarm the destabilizing leaders of the world is, on balance, a good thing.
We can predict this: it’s going to be an interesting year ahead.
- Arbitrary? Well, yeah. The merciless savages who celebrated the solstice, and phases of the moon, had more connection to rational, physical processes, than we do when we make a big deal about January 1, a date that owes its name to one of the least of the forgotten pagan gods of a fallen empire. Then again, maybe that is our connection, not to the physical world but to our own ancestors as civilized humans. For we’re all the inheritors of the Romans and Greeks even if our personal bloodlines are African, Australian-aboriginal, or Inuit.
- A moderate “environmentalist,” the most usual kind; driven by selfishness to pull the boarding-ladder up: Not In My Back Yard.
- An extreme “environmentalist,” typically leaders of the movement; Luddites whose war cry is: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.