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An Open Letter to Virginia Gun Owners and Lovers of Freedom

The Great Seal of VirginiaMy fellow Virginians,

New York has now passed the most draconian gun restrictions in the nation, surpassing even California’s hodepodge of laws. Andrew Cuomo even requested a special waiver to implement the laws immediately, rather than the three days prescribed by the New York constitution. They passed the laws so fast, they forgot to exempt police officers, and now have to go back and amend the laws. Massachusetts, New Jersey and Colorado are all set to follow, You might think Virginia is exempt, but we are not. A raft of similar bills are making their way through the General Assembly. Today and tomorrow, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee convene to discuss these bills and determine their fate. Our great Commonwealth appreciates tradition (just look at the names of these committees!), but we also appreciate liberty. The American Revolution may have begun in Massachusetts, but it ended in Virginia at Yorktown — the product of determined yokels with guns, led by a great Virginian.

But as Masachusetts went, so Virginia could go. Terry McAuliffe, former DNC chair and campaign manager for both Clintons, is set to win the governorship this year. Polls show him ahead of Ken Cuccinelli across the board. Every paper and news outlet in Virginia has made it their mission to paint Cuccinelli as a hard-line extremist, concentrating on his contentious battles against climate change advocates and limiting abortions while ignoring his support for restoring the rights of ex-convicts and his battle against foreclosure fraud. In one year, we could have an extreme-left governor, two moderately leftist senators and most likely, a Democrat-controlled state Senate.

This is about more than just gun rights. This is about who gets to write the character of our state and nation, and I have never felt like the character of our nation is in danger as I do now. McAuliffe, Obama and Holder don’t just want to eliminate gun ownership. They want to eliminate, in a way, gun owners. They want rural outdoorsmen, military veterans and other God Country Family types to take a back seat in designing our destiny, leaving it to the intellectual elite of academia, amplified by the tireless warriors of ignorance in the media and fronted by the photogenic smiles of entertainers. And to the politicians who follow their lead, of course. I don’t want to exclude these people — they are Americans, after all. But they want to exclude every religious person, every gun owner, and every intellectual dissenter from a place at the table.

That’s why I feel like Virginia is a bellwether for what comes next. We are geographically and politically moderate, typically liking Democrats to lead the state and Republicans to lead the nation. The media and Washington are trying very, very hard to shift that balance, and they are winning. If you are not a member of the NRA or Virginia Citizens Defense League, I urge you to join. Call and email your representative. My Democrat state representatives may hate guns, but my guess is they hate losing their power more. The Republican Party is imperfect and often represented by some out-of-touch characters. Cuccinelli is one of them. The Virginia media have guaranteed that you know him as a pinch-nosed puritan Birther. But he is a tireless, unequivocal advocate for the Second Amendment and against the encroaching power of the Federal Government, evidenced by his lawsuit against Obamacare.

President Obama’s charismatic leadership, bolstered by the cheerleading of the media, makes me unsure Republicans can hold the governor’s mansion (although one never knows — our current governor, a Regent University graduate painted during the campaign as “extreme,” enjoys popular support in Virginia and would likely win re-election if allowed to run). So we have to try really hard to make sure the General Assembly can stand up to McAuliffe. And I mean hard. Emboldened by Obama and the vector of his party, he will undoubtedly try to ram a lot of “progress” down our throats — progress beloved by many Northern Virginians (who work for the ever-inflating Federal government). Just as the New York City machine has taken the mostly rural, mostly conservative New York state captive, so too can Arlington and Fairfax Counties force Virginia permanently into the blue column. This is not to say I advocate Republican-only leadership. But under Obama’s mysterious sway, Democrats are no longer their own. Formerly pro-2A public servants like Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Joe Manchin have turned against us. They have forgotten their duty in a government of checks and balances. That amnesia has only one end: tyranny.

Which is why the wise and prescient founders of our Commonwealth chose our state motto: SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS. Get in the fight, Virginians! Hold the line here!

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Houston, we have a blog name

Things That Shoot. That’s what “Liberal Gun Owner” is now. I explained last year why I was dropping that name, which originated in a dare by a friend. There’s no grand design behind “Things That Shoot.” I like guns. I love cameras and work as a film artist. I also like bamboo. What more reason do I need?

All the guns I need

Hoploplenophobia: n. (from Greek hoplon “arms” + Latin plenus “full” + phobos “fear”) The fear or dread one feels upon realizing he has all the guns he needs.

“What does cocaine make you feel like? It makes you feel like having more cocaine.” – George Carlin

There are two kinds of gun people: gun users and gun nuts. Gun users are those for whom a firearm is a tool – peace officers, security guards, warfighters, hunters and even farmers. When you hear the cryptic old saw “Beware the man with only one gun…,” this is that man (or woman, of course).

Then there’s the gun nut. This is the person for whom guns are more than tools. They admire them for their mechanics, their finish and — let’s admit it — the feeling of power it confers, and not necessarily physical power – sometimes it’s the power of having the coolest gun on the range or having a gun that “makes a statement.” Or (stop me if this sounds familiar) having the “right” gun for [insert unlikely event here – anything from “zombie apocalypse” to “neutralizing an assailant at 300 yards through five inches of steel-plated cover.”] Some people accessorize their personalities with shoes, some with gadgets. Gun nuts do it with guns.

I am a gun nut. And today is a terrifying day.

Today is the day I realized I may have all the guns I need.

Check out My Four Guns for the End of America. USA Carry’s Jason Hanson, late of the CIA, renders his practical opinion for the battery you’ll need for the Collapse of Western Civilization. Ready?

Glock 17 or 19. Check.

Remington 870. I have a Mossberg Maverick. Close enough.

Ruger 10/22. The Remington 597 is more accurate and again, it’s close enough.

AR-15. Got it.

Uh oh.

I’ve spent countless hours making charts to determine if I have just the perfect gun to fit particular scenarios. For example (click to see a larger version):

Like you haven’t done this yourself. Maybe not as methodically as I did, but come on. “What about bears on the trail?” “What about a Katrina-like situation?” “A pandemic?” There’s always a reason to get just one… more… gun.

And there are many reasons to be satisfied with the guns you have. For one, guns cost money. For another, contentment is a truly wonderful virtue. But most of all, you probably have all the guns you need. It’s a strangely unsettling thought, probably akin to what a multimillionaire feels when he realizes, “Holy crap. I’ve got more money than I can possibly ever spend.” I even coined a word for it: hoploplenophobia.

The trouble is, multimillionaires tend to hang out with billionaires. And hoploplenophobics hang around with other, better-equipped gun nuts. So it won’t be long before I’ll be feeling the bug for that .308 scout rifle.

That’s when I have to remind myself: I have all the guns I need.

Cartridges go in. Bullets come out. A writer’s guide to terminology

Novelist Collen Collins wrote this blog post on the “Top Five Mistakes Writers Make at a Crime Scene.” Her number one pet peeve? Using the terms bullet and cartridge interchangeably.

As gun people know, a cartridge contains a bullet, powder, case and primer  ̶  the complete ballistic package necessary to send lead downrange. A bullet by itself is just a hunk of metal. It’s what shoots out of the barrel and causes damage. You don’t load bullets into a gun. You load cartridges or rounds. Possibly shells, if it’s a shotgun or artillery piece.

And to rehash another common mistake, that metal box that holds the cartridges is a magazine, not a clip. A clip is just a piece of metal that “clips” rounds together for storage or for loading  ̶  perhaps into a magazine. So when hero cop expends the 50 rounds from his Beretta 92FS, he’ll reach for a spare magazine, not a clip.

And you can’t switch off the safety on a revolver because revolvers don’t have safeties. Neither do Glocks. And Glocks don’t have hammers, so no cocking the hammer back for dramatic effect. And if you’ve been in a gunfight with a semiautomatic, you wouldn’t do that anyway because the hammer’s already been cocked by the slide action. And so it goes.

Are there any terminology mistakes that make you want to blow your wad?

Glock 19: the Swiss Army Knife of handguns

2011 saw two incredible (as in “hard to believe”) events — I shot my first competition match and the Swiss Special Forces dumped their homegrown SIGs in favor of the Glock.

The competition was a Glock Shooting Sports Foundation (GSSF) indoor match, and I was inspired to enter by a recent purchase. My wife never warmed up to the .380 we kept in the bedroom safe, so she authorized an upgrade with the following parameters: easy to use; reliable; enough stopping power with manageable recoil; and not too big. And no pink guns. She really hates pink guns.

I knew exactly which gun to get — the Glock 19. Now, I have never drooled over a Glock the way I’ve salivated over Hi-Powers, 1911s and even SIGs. But the mother of my children is a practical person, and the Glock is the epitome of easy-to-use and reliable. The 9mm round strikes a good balance between recoil and power and the Glock 19 offers a four-inch barrel in a package not much bigger than our Bersa Thunder 380. And it doesn’t come in pink.

My wife does not like guns. She appreciates their utility, but she’s nowhere close to being a gun nut. The first time we shot it, she admired its simplicity and the lack of safety levers or decockers that could slow deployment. She found the 9mm round very manageable. The first time she shot the 19, she managed to keep the holes in a four-inch group at seven yards. Eventually, she closed it down to a two-inch group, with the group opening back up to four inches at twelve yards. Keep in mind this was her first time with a Glock and a round heavier than .380 ACP. We loaded up a magazine full of Cor-Bon +P and Winchester Ranger +P+ loads and she did not report a substantial increase in recoil or manageability. Frankly, neither did I. After a few magazines of man-stopping JHPs, she was beginning to actually like the Glock 19.

U-dot Glock sightThe wife also likes the fact that Glocks have an unassailable record of reliability and durability. She likes the U-dot sight arrangement (I prefer the bar-dot pattern on SIGs and Kahrs.). But what she really likes is that I don’t get all starry-eyed when I see a Glock. To her, it’s a tool and nothing more, and where Glocks are concerned, I must agree. Maybe that’s why the Swiss Special Forces jumped ship for the Austrian tactical plastic. The Swiss are nothing if not practical when it comes to arms.

A bonus to owning a Glock was being able to shoot in GSSF matches. At only $35 to join and $15 per match, it’s an ideal place for beginners to start competing. I was a little worried my 19 wouldn’t give me as much of an edge as the 17, but it’s what I had. The first time I shot, the range officer took one look at my gun and said, “Glock 19 — best all-around gun.” Again, I must agree with that comment. The Glock 19 is light, neither cheap nor unaffordable and allows civilians the parity with police and military our Founding Fathers wanted. I discovered very quickly that the Glock 19 is amazingly concealable. I never considered carrying my Ruger SR9 (with a 4.14” barrel) inside the waistband. But when I tucked the Glock 19 in a cheap IWB holster, the compact pistol surprised me — it was comfortable and invisible, even on my small frame. I could only imagine how easy it would be to carry the Glock 26.

Shooting the GSSF match was fun, even if I did end up placing dead last. I forgot to control my breathing on the 25-yard shots and put my holes all over the paper. In addition, I confused my magazines, so I shot the ten-round course with five rounds. Yeah, that didn’t help. And then, as if I couldn’t be even more emasculated, I ended up shooting next to a woman who would end up in second place. I tried not to feel too bad. I know when I suck.

My Glock 19, on the other hand, performed exactly as expected. It’s only a tool, after all.

Glock 22 giveaway

Still working on a new name for this blog, but I think I’m down to the semifinals. In the meanwhile, I’m posting a link to this giveaway from Glock Forum:

http://www.glockforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=319

Go there and read up on how to enter the contest!

Don’t be jealous of my EDC!

Now this is funny. Fo’ shizzle.