Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Couple of Interesting Cases

In this post, Greg and Beth link to an attorney discussing a recent decision regarding a man in Florida convicted of unlicensed concealed carry. A man in the common area of his apartment complex was threatening everybody around with death and empty beer bottles, so he called 911 and confronted the man with his handgun. He holstered the handgun as police arrived, not wanting to have it in his hand and alarm the police and not wanting to leave it on the ground for the drunk assailant to pick up. The police show up and he is charged with ... wait for it ... carrying a concealed weapon. His shirt covered the weapon and his carry permit had expired - so it was unlicensed concealed carry. Open carry is illegal in Florida, period. So I don't know what the guy could have done. From the lawyer's write-up, it appears that his defense counsel wasn't that great and the appellate court opinion makes reference to the judge taking note of the defendant's demonstrated proficiency with guns several times. Anti-gun judge + bad defense lawyer = conviction?

In totally unrelated news, police officers arrived at the apartment of a woman fighting off her irate ex-boyfriend. Her restraining order didn't prevent his attack. Go figure. Anyway, the police show up as the ex is about to stab her and shoot at him. They end up hitting her and the police bullet is listed among the causes of death. Worse yet: she was pregnant.

No legal lesson there. Call your shots. Take ownership of your bullets.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Where do the Barretts Come From?

The eeeevil .50 caliber Barrett sniper rifle is demonized regularly when gun control advocates are pushing for new gun laws to save our neighbors across the Rio Grande. Here's some representative hysteria from the Violence Policy Center. The LA Times has had better coverage than most, and the article at the link mentions all of the black market guns not coming from the US.

Where could these things be coming from? Perhaps these guys have an idea:

Here's the original link: http://www.daylife.com/photo/0gOz0x9ahZdAz

Caption: Mexican Army elite troops shout military slogans during the Independence Day military parade in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008.

Large numbers of Mexican soldiers have defected to the drug cartels and taken their weapons with them. 150,000 in the last six years. These guys have access to Barretts. Connection?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wherein We All Get Free Rifles And Ammunition

Over at the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence website, there is a post up on recasting the Second Amendment as a mandate for militia service. If executed faithfully, this would be a great idea, since every able-bodied male (probably females too, given sex-discrimination jurisprudence) would get a militia-compatible rifle, possibly a pistol, and a bunch of ammunition out of the deal. This new twist on gun control would actually increase the availability of guns and call into question the validity of any “assault weapon” legislation, since those are exactly the arms required for militia service.

The post says that Heller somehow provides a mandate to register all guns and, a la the Militia Act of 1792, all citizens would be enrolled in the militia. Apparently this is supposed to ban private sales of firearms and stop guns going down to Mexico.

A faithful return to the militia model of the early Republic won’t happen. However, the idea merits some discussion. I will cover the firearm implications, how a reduced standing army might impact our foreign policy, and what this new militia model is really about.

Uniform Militia Firearms (Rifles for Everybody)

When you read the Militia Act of 1792, you find that a good deal is about dictating force structure and armament of individual soldiers. If we are to move to a Swiss-style militia, this means our firearms and ammunition have to be compatible. And paid for by Uncle Sam if you can’t provide your own.

I’m not pulling this out of thin air. During my time in Afghanistan, I recruited, trained, and led a 128-man force of local militia in combat. I also trained, advised, and assisted three companies (about 200 men) of Afghan National Army soldiers at the Pakistani border.

When my detachment first began recruiting fighters, we had a room full of outdated and decrepit guns in odd calibers and very few magazines or machine gun links to string our bullets together. We didn’t have many bullets either.

My collection of oddball World War II-era machineguns was insufficient. I needed modern calibers, modern rifles, and compatible magazines. A renewed citizen militia would need the same.

This mathematical combination of Miller (the government can prohibit unregistered ownership of firearms unsuitable for militia service) + Heller (individuals have the right to keep and bear arms) dictates that privately-owned rifles be compatible with what our soldiers have.

The first requirement is ammunition. Militia rifles must be chambered in standard NATO calibers. If you want to get a large caliber hunting rifle, that’s on your own dime. Pistols would have to be chambered in 9mm or .45. Since these are the calibers the military stocks, we would have these available for citizens to practice with when they attend militia drills.

The second requirement is magazine compatibility. Magazine compatibility for pistols is not a strict requirement; the military purchases pistols from a number of manufacturers. Rifles are a different matter. Citizens would have to be able to feed their rifles with the 30-round magazine designed for AR-15 rifles, which are semi-automatic versions of our standard service rifle.

The other feature (or bug, to some) is that the federal government would provide weapons for those that could not afford them. As David Hardy notes, the Virginia Militia Act did this and the deliberations over the federal law took this into account; it was deemed unnecessary since there were so few men who did not have arms. That is not the case anymore – time for a bailout of the unorganized militia!

Reduced Standing Army

Our new “Homeland Security Militia Reserve Act” would have the advantage of making the United States impossible for a foreign army to invade and occupy. If we returned to the small standing army associated with our nation’s early days, we would also take ourselves out of the world policeman business.

The Militia Act of 1792 made sure we had decent defensive capabilities but limited our ability to engage in expeditionary warfare. The militias called up for the Spanish-American War trained up but many fought their deployment orders because they would be overseas when their mobilization periods expired. Several protested any deployment outside of their state borders.

The federal government responded by passing the Militia Act of 1903, also known as the Dick Act. The Dick Act moved state militias toward our modern National Guard model, with mandatory drills, annual training exercises, and unit inspections by regular army officers.

Later reforms further federalized the President’s control of part-time soldiers. Reserve units are completely under federal control. The National Guard and Naval Militia make up the “organized militia.” Though these are state units, the President trumps the state governor when they are federalized. Perpich v. Dept. of Defense. Able-bodied males and female members of the National Guard make up the “unorganized militia.”

The only units that remain under state control are State Defense Forces, state-organized units often made up of volunteers. Perpich makes the point that even these could be subject to call-up under federal statute.

So, a move to a militia system is a major restructuring of our military and might be a good thing. A return to universal part-time service and the limitations of a real “homeland security” militia make it impossible for us to wage wars of choice. There's no way you could convince the citizen-soldiers that we need to head off to another Somalia or impose peace in Darfur.

The Real Motive

Now that we’ve explored the real implications of a return to the traditional militia model, what is this all really about?

Gun control. This is explicit in the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence post: “There are no libertarian individual rights in a conscript military organization.” Once you own your guns pursuant to the federal militia authority, the chain of command makes gun control pretty efficient.

The problem with this idea is that it misreads Heller. Or doesn’t read Heller. It’s not like the answer is buried in a footnote. You can’t get past the syllabus without finding a flat refutation of this militia model. “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”

Sorry if the title got your hopes up. I doubt a Second Amendment stimulus is in the works.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pick My Carry Sights! Fiber Optic for Carry?

I'm thinking of changing my carry sights. I'm thinking of something radical. Should I switch to an iron rear-fiber optic front carry configuration?

Here's the deal. I shoot competition with a full-size Glock, I carry a compact Glock. I'm committed to the platform because common ergonomics translate into proficiency when I switch between the guns.

But the sights are different. For competition, an iron rear with fiber-optic front works better than any other configuration I've seen. But I carry with a different set-up - TFO Tritium Fiber Optic Sights. I'll illustrate the spread of options here.

These are the "dot and bucket" factory Glock sights - the picture gives them more credit than they are probably worth because the front sight caught all of the flash. In a low-light defensive situation they probably wouldn't be worth that much.

Here are my competition sights - Heinie iron rear, Dawson Precision fiber optic front.

With a good amount of light the single red dot in front is very precise; it tracks, traverses, and stands out well against most any background.
The picture doesn't do them justice - the front sight really catches the light and focuses your vision. I've shot the Smith & Wesson IDPA indoor match with these sights; if you're using a flashlight or have a reasonable amount of ambient light the difference between this and a tritium sight is huge and in the fiber optic's corner.
Here are my current carry sights.

They are TRUGLO Tritium Fiber Optic (TFO) sights - a bit of tritium and a fiber optic rod to pick up the light the tritium puts off. Theoretically, they should be the best carry sights available. However, the big dots aren't very precise, and the front sight is fainter than the rear sights after a few years. Plus, I'm used to looking at one dot in a slot, not aligning three dots. I'm seriously considering moving to one dot made of fiber optic, one dot of tritium, or Heinie's top & bottom dot alignment.

If I switch to a new sight setup, what should I use?
Here are the options:
a. Be edgy! Heinie iron rear (ledge configuration for carry cockability) with fiber optic front sight
b. Heinie iron rear with tritium front sight
c. Be two-dotted! Heinie top & bottom dots
d. Be three-dotted! Meprolight three-dot
e. Do something else. I'll explain...
Please give your feedback in the comments.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Suffolk Shooting

A convenience store owner shot and killed an intruder this weekend down in Suffolk; the local newspaper headline notes that the suspected burglar was not armed with a gun.

The store owner claims that he shot in self-defense and I won't speculate as to whether it was or was not; the comments below the article are pretty vitriolic as it is.

What I will say is that he is in a significantly better position if the self-defense claim is deemed credible by the Commonwealth's Attorney or, if things go that far, the jury. The Virginia Supreme Court has held that brandishing a firearm in defense of your property is assault; it follows that using lethal force to protect your property may incur serious criminal (and civil) liability.

Jamaican Me Crazy

I bet you're familiar with the "90% of the guns in Mexico" drumbeat from gun control corners. This has been debunked, but it persists.

Bet you haven't heard about the new push for gun control based on someone else's problems: Jamaica! Jamaica? Seriously?

Yes. H/T to Ride Fast.

By gun control logic, Jamaica has no excuse for gun crime problems. As Dave Kopel explains:

Jamaica played that card out when it replaced an already-restrictive gun
licensing system with the Firearms Act and the Gun Court Act of 1974. The Acts
provided for gun confiscation, house-to-house searches, incommunicado detention,
secret trials, warrantless searches and seizures, and mandatory lifetime prison
sentences for the possession of even a single bullet.
Gun courts sprung up in the Northeast, symptoms of a concerted effort to stigmatize firearms and ultimately their lawful ownership under increasingly restrictive gun control laws. Good thing we don't have anybody in a position of power who would summarily deprive people of their gun rights without due process:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Defensive Force Instructors, LLC Website is Up

If you are interested in getting a Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit or in sharpening your skills in defensive or competitive shooting, visit the Defensive Force Instructors, LLC website.

We offer the following classes:
Virginia Concealed Carry
Legal Seminars
NRA Certified Classes
Competition Training

As a former Special Forces soldier, International Defensive Pistol Association Master-Class competitor, and attorney, I bring a lot to the classroom. You won't be disappointed.

If you have any questions, email me.

New Zealand on the Slippery Slope

Sebastian points out that New Zealand has embraced the "assault weapons" nonsense and intends to make it harder to obtain semi-automatic firearms with pistol grips. Sebastian rightly notes that this is the wrong feature to focus on - perhaps a selector switch that allows fully automatic fire makes more sense.

Never mind all that - this is textbook gun control at work. Go check out the Violence Policy Center's website. The conclusion to their study on "assault weapons" says it in black and white:

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.

More "common sense" gun control at work. Expect some Mexico nonsense to make this issue come back on the home front.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hybrid Holsters

A recent gunblog dustup centered on the utility of nylon holsters. James at Hell in a Handbasket says that "real men carry nylon." Ahab disagrees:
The point is that cheap nylon holsters don’t hold the gun in a consistent location. For self defense or competition shooting, the butt of the gun needs to present in the same place every time, regardless of whether or not you’ve been moving around, getting in or out of a car, etc.
Tam stressed the need to have a belt and holster that work well together. Sebastian says we should all take a chill pill.
I have had positive experiences with carrying in a hybrid holster. The base of the holster is leather, giving a flat surface against your hip. A kydex shell is bolted to the leather base, along with belt clips. This allows all-day carry without the sensation of a Glock merging with your hip bone. The holster is IWB (Inside the Waistband), the clips are tuckable so that you can wear a shirt over the whole rig - you would untuck the shirt to draw.
Mine is "The Answer" from Tucker Gunleather. I have had the holster for about four years and to my knowledge have never been "made" while carrying with this and a shirt or vest on top. The holster holds the profile of the gun close to your body at the 4 o'clock position. The kydex body provides the satisfying *snik* sensation when the gun moves all the way into the holster. The trigger guard is the key part of the gun that mates up with the kydex shell and the bottom is open, so this can accommodate any 9mm/.40 S&W/.357 Sig Glock.

Here is the holster by itself:

Here is the holster with Glock inside:

Here is the back side of the holster, the part that sits against your body:

Uncle covered this online holster brouhaha a bit. He has a similar holster, the Comp-Tac MTAC. Uncle provided a review here, with an update and feedback on their customer service. Uncle had a problem with the contour of the holster pressing the magaine release. I have had no such problems with The Answer.
I have only one complaint with The Answer: the screws holding the belt clips can come loose after a full day of wear - not enough for the holster to fall apart in your pants, but after you take it off they need to be tightened.
If the good folks at Comp-Tac would be so kind as to donate an MTAC, I would be happy to write up the ensuing showdown between hybrid holsters.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Slide-Lock: Practical

Richard Mann recently asked whether a handgun's slide-stop serves a practical purpose or if it is just an administrative function of the handgun.

Here at TDHB, we see it as a practical tool for the simple reason that it lets you know that you are out of ammunition and need to reload. In the endless debate over the respective merits of the AR vs. the AK, the AK loses out on reloads because it does not lock the bolt to the rear when the last round in the magazine is fired (unless you find some magazines with specialized followers - I have some Yugo mags that do this).

The loudest sound you will ever hear is a click when you expect a bang (or a bang when you expect a click).

While Mr. Mann may be comfortable with removing the slide stop from his Glock, I'll keep mine installed.

Uncle has some similar thoughts, and GunPundit as well.

Inaugural Post

I'm a former action guy and attorney who shoots in competition matches. I teach the legal portion of some NRA courses and teach my own concealed carry courses tailored to the law of self-defense in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Email me if you are interested in a course.

I will focus this blog on defensive tactics, legal considerations for self-defense, and generally improving your shooting. Politics may creep in from time to time, but they are not the focus.

Disclaimer: I am not your attorney. You are not my client. Anything posted on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as individualized legal advice. Readers of this blog agree to hold harmless the author of this blog and Defensive Force Instructors, LLC.