Sunday, November 19, 2017

Time to disarm you say? I disagree, and not respectfully.

"Ban Guns" by Alex Pareene

I pride myself on trying VERY hard to be fair to all parties involved, and taking everyone's point of view into account when I formulate my thoughts.  The above linked article by Alex Pareene, on the other hand, has my jimmies righteously in a twist.  "Time to ban guns" he says.  The problem is, I think he missed a couple of intellectual stops along the route he travelled to arrive at his conclusion.

Firstly, gun violence is hardly an epidemic.  FBI statistics have firmly pounded home the point that when one separates gun deaths which occur concurrent with the illegal drug trade and suicides from the bulk statistic, you have a better chance of dying from being obese than you do from a gunshot.  Rifles, in particular so called "assault weapons" account for an even SMALLER number of these deaths, the majority are attributed to handguns.  NRA members and bearers of concealed carry permits are virtually NEVER found to be the subject of mass shootings, despite how much time the media and anti gunners spend gnashing their teeth at that group of people.

So then, Alex, WHY is it time to disarm?  Because someone committed a mass shooting?  Did we demand everyone park their cars or submit to more stringent background checks or restricted capacity fuel tanks when a madman ran people over on a New York street with a Uhaul truck?  Did we ban pressure cookers after the Boston Marathon bombing?  I hate to keep using the same analogies over and over again, but you and your kind really should exercise some intellectual honesty when you make broad, sweeping statements that impact the lives of MILLIONS of gun owners nationwide.  Your stated reason is insufficient to curtail a constitutionally protected right.  Pound sand or come up with a better argument.

Now, on the other hand, let me take a stab at your real motivation.  I have always held that the majority IF NOT ALL anti gunners really don't have an issue with guns.  You fundamentally can't, because you aren't screaming for the government to be disarmed.  You don't seem to have the numbers to call for the police to be disarmed.  If you have your way and a nationwide gun ban were to be passed, who is going to implement it?  You?  No, you'll expect the state and the police to enforce that on your behalf.  No, you aren't anti gun, you just don't like ME having guns.

And that's where you and I will never see eye to eye, and where my civility and my calm fades dramatically.  I have no intention of being disarmed: not by the state, not by police, not by the UN, and certainly not by you.  What you are purporting would cause an immediate unravelling of this country, because for every one of you there is one of me.  For every one person throwing a tantrum about how we have to melt our guns down the for good of everyone, there is a person like me yelling "Hold on a damned second, I didn't shoot anyone, why do I have to be punished."  There is a person like me that respects the ideals of our Constitution, that would defend your right to speak your piece EVEN as you call for my rights to be taken from me.

At the end of the day, I'm at least thankful the toddlers' tantrum is finally being revealed for what it is.  You have no interest in reasonable restrictions, or safety, or the general welfare of the public.  You'd happily plunge this country into civil war if that was the end result of a gun ban, and probably sit back quietly while millions of people lost their lives.  That is why I will continue to speak out against your proposed gun ban, because the lives saved by my firearms grossly outweigh the lives lost, because my firearms have never harmed a person, and two people in this house depend on me and those firearms for their protection.  I, as an advocate of the 2nd Amendment, am perfectly happy to allow you NOT to own guns and to live in peace because I am a reasonable person that believes in your rights.  All I ask is that you respect mine in kind.  - Phil Rabalais

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Non-Permissive Environments

I will preface this article by saying I live in Louisiana, a state in which cute little signs on windows in store fronts do not have the force of law.  In layman's terms, I'm not guilty of a crime by ignoring them and carrying my concealed firearm right through the door past them.  Please, PLEASE, check your state laws before you do the same, as the consequences could very well include loss of your concealed weapon's permit.  A Non-Permissive Environment is one in which state and local law does not preclude you from exercising your right to carry a firearm, BUT store policy does.  In such locations many of us that choose to conceal carry are faced with a decision to make: Respect the opinion of the property owner, or disregard it in favor of exercising what we view as an inalienable right not subject to such restrictions.

Personally, and again I can only speak for myself and my state's laws, I now refuse to disarm.  I have in the past, and upon further reflection decided that my right to protect myself trumps such nonsense.  In cases in which armed guards, metal detectors, etc. prevent my entry into the establishment with my firearm I choose to disarm (because if I can't sneak a gun in, neither can anyone else) or not enter at all (I don't particularly like the idea of patronizing such establishments, and believe in voting with my dollars and feet.)  Each person has to make that decision, and be prepared to suffer the consequences of doing so (being asked to leave if discovered.)  The stakes are even higher if their is a possible misdemeanor charge attached to your non compliance.

On the other hand, I so strongly believe in my right to keep and bear arms and my duty to protect my family and those in the community that I find the idea of disarming to patronize a business to be extraordinarily upsetting.  I'm not the media stereotype of a trigger happy, gun toting, toothless redneck that slept through his CCW class.  I'm a military veteran, a regular at my local gun range, and intimately familiar with the operation and employment of my defensive firearms.  A dozen men or women with my mindset and training is an ASSET in a world full of sheep that do not have the ability to defend themselves, and I wish more business owners believe the same.

That said, whether or not they see me as an asset or a liability, my actions will not change.  I will continue to disobey arbitrary and capricious demands that I disarm so long as the consequences are not a felony.  My right to protect my life and those lives around me is more important than a sign on a storefront window.  If more people in the gun community though the same, and were as vocal as I were, perhaps the opinions around us would change, but silence is agreement.  Every dollar we spend in such places is a dollar enabling those that would see us disarmed. - Phil Rabalais

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Why and how I reload? An editorial, not a how to.

This is not a "how to reload" post.  For those interested in the general method and procedure hit the above video as I walk you through reloading a single round of 357 magnum on my single stage press.  This article is more of the brain work behind the process.  I especially hope those of you interesting in reloading/handloading your own ammo take this to heart and consider if the benefits of handloading ammunition tip the scales in favor of you following suit.

Of the various justifications for reloading your own ammo, cost savings is probably the most oft cited and the least applicable.  The savings is there in most cases, more evident in the case of more exotic or expensive factory ammunition.  I save about a nickel per cartridge reloading common 9mm and 357 magnum, a little more on 45 ACP, over a dime on 357 magnum, and forty cents on 308 Winchester.  But, as a result of having so much loaded ammo at my disposal I often spend far more time at the range shooting that I would otherwise.  Also consider the investment in equipment and time, and  you'll quickly find you could make up your cost difference between reloaded and factory ammo working a few extra hours at your day job.  No, cost isn't a great reason for reloading, so what is?

Consistency, accuracy, repeatability; I can manufacture in my own garage far more consistent ammunition than I am able to purchase off the store shelf.  I can also tune the powder load, seating depth, and crimp of the round to what my individual firearms prefers.  Even in pistol ammunition, I've seen a difference of tenths of a grain (a grain being a measurement of weight equivalent to 1/7000th of a pound) having a tremendous impact on the accuracy of my 357 magnum cartridges.  The full power stuff hits steel harder, but backing down from 11.5 grains to 11.2 tightens up the groups noticeably.  The right combination of bullet, powder, and loading variables produced a load for my 308 bolt action that turned a 2 MOA hunting rifle into a 1/2 MOA rifle just by virtue of which cartridge goes in the chamber.

How I reload is well established; read the manuals, watch some YouTube videos, you'll get the gist pretty quickly.  But, behind the process is the brain work.  I have to take the time to insure my dies are correctly set, resizing a fired case and verifying it precisely fits in the chamber of it's intended firearm.  I then slowly adjust the expander die, a quarter turn at a time, until the bullet will JUST fit in the neck (note, a change in bullet changes this setting, and even a difference in lot number among the same bullet type could introduce a variance.)  Then, I always seat a primer by hand to verify it isn't being crushed, and start at my minimum recommended powder charge and the prescribed seating depth for that load.  If I have to err, I'll err on the side of seating slightly long BUT I will double check that the rounds fit the magazine or cylinder before I start cranking them out.  In the case of a tight chamber or magazine, I'll seat slightly short, but this will raise chamber pressure.  Not a huge issue on a minimum load, but one to keep in mind.

To all of the above, I always start with making a handful of dummy cartridges without powder or primer.  These will have the bullets colored with permanent ink and the primer pockets filled with silicone to be used as snap caps/dummy cartridges for dry fire training after they're done, but they also serve to insure that all of the die settings are in fact appropriate for feeding and function in the firearms.  Then, I brew up a small test set, typically 20-50 rounds depending on the application, and have a reasonable volume (3-5X as much handloaded ammo) of factory ammo.  I want to insure that my ammunition is working well, and I like to have some factory ammo on hand as a control.  If my ammo will not reliably run in the firearm, but factory will, I know I have an issue.  If neither runs reliably, may an issue with the firearm itself.

Per all of the above, I always encourage serious shooters to reload, by serious I mean those that are shooting regularly to frequently.  On the weekends I can't get away to drive to my local range, I can pop out a few hundred rounds and still feel connected by this hobby and lifestyle I enjoy so much.  I produce better quality, more consistent ammunition that I can buy for less money, and while my young daughter isn't quite big enough to join us at the gun range she is PLENTY excited to spend time in the garage "helping Daddy make bullets."  Reloading isn't for everyone, but it certainly has it's appeal, and I hope you'll give it consideration and come find us at Facebook or YouTube if you have any questions at all.  - Phil Rabalais

Thursday, November 2, 2017

EDC: Every Day Carry

I break up the words Every and Day very intentionally.  Not because the abbreviation EDC makes more sense that way (vs. Everyday Carry), but because that's the entire point of EDC.  You have to carry every day, everywhere, every time, no matter what, otherwise you're fundamentally missing the point of carrying.  It isn't a trend, or a fad, or a box to be checked on your gun guy/prepper card, it is a lifestyle and a fundamental shift in your way of daily life.  The point of EDC is to make the effort to have those items on your person every day, just in case you need them.

To that end, I'm going to dedicate a single paragraph to WHAT I think you should carry, and the rest of the article to where and why.  A handgun, in those municipalities in which you can obtain a permit (or those freedom loving places you don't need one) is a given.  A knife is a good backup, or even a primary if a handgun is out of the question.  In the absence of those two, figure out WHAT your options for defense are within the laws of your state.  Nowhere in there do I mention anything other than law, because I don't frankly care if a business has an opinion on your right to defend yourself and I don't advocate you disarming yourself at their whim (look for a future article about Non Permissive Environments.)  I also recommend a good flashlight, a charged up cell phone (all sorts of utility to be found in modern smart phones), and if not on your person then close by and accessible some sort of medical gear with a focus on hemorrhage control.

As for where to carry:

Grocery store - I'm going to assume your family is somewhat similar to mine, and you make weekly if not more often trips to the grocery store (kids these days do their best to eat you out of house and home).  Regardless of the length of time you spend out, it goes without saying you're going to be there fairly often, and surrounded by a lot of people in a place where entrances and exits are consolidated to prevent theft.  These attributes make grocery stores attractive to a person looking to commit a mass shooting.

Theatres - Where legal, I will always be armed when out with my family.  The fact that a threatre shooting occurred here in Louisiana a few years ago, and have occurred in other states every so often, reenforces the idea that I should be armed.  Again, controlled access and lots of people distracted by lights and sounds makes an attractive target.

Restaurants - As before, lots of people, distraction, many people consuming alcohol.  Every state I'm aware of insists that if you are consuming alcohol, even with a concealed weapon's permit, that you disarm.  It is for this reason I carry and do not order beer or other alcohol with my dinner.  I can wait till I'm home to drink a beer rather than leave my family defenseless.

Retail stores - Lots of people, controlled access, lots of distractions.

I could go on and on for pages, but the gist is if you are not facing a FELONY charge for carrying in a place, I advise you do so.  Whether or not you consciously avoid places in which you are legally prohibited from carrying (like state/local/federal buildings, one day someone will explain to me how I can be legally required to enter a place and legally disarmed simultaneously) is a decision each person individually must make.  Personally, I avoid spending my money in places with public declarations that their patrons not carry firearms, or I just willfully and flagrantly ignore them.  If you disagree, I encourage you to hop on the Facebook page or group and tell me how you feel about it.

At the end of the day you have to ask yourself WHY you train, why you spent the money for the handgun, why you paid for the training and the class and the permit, if you didn't intend to exercise the right your purchased back from your government.  I have always said, if you only intend to carry where you "think you need to" then you're missing the entire point.  Crimes happen where we don't intend them to, and if we feel that we need a firearm to protect ourselves in a specific place we would be better served by NOT GOING THERE in the first place.  We have to shift our frame of mind away from EDC being a cute little phrase we whisper with our prepper and gun guy buddies, towards a lifestyle and an entire personality.  - Phil Rabalais

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Open Carry vs Concealed Carry

To open carry, or conceal carry?  That is a question around which a raging debate exists in the gun community.  I'm an advocate of carrying a firearm for personal and the common defense under any and all circumstances, and I've argued till blue in the face that BOTH concealed and open carry have their place and their strengths.

Concealed carry seems to be far less objectionable to the gun community at large, and yet more objectionable to those with less firearms experience and knowledge.  Oftentimes charges of public endangerment surround concealed carry, that the very inability to determine if a person is armed or not emboldens and enables criminal elements.  Those same people will insist that a firearm carried about one's person is inherently dangerous to those around the individual in question.  I dismiss both of these comments quite readily by pointing out that most LEO's in this country would readily admit that criminals have very little difficulty obtaining firearms regardless of the law, and a firearm in a holster is as safe as a parked car.  They're only dangerous when they're in motion and in the hands of an inexperienced or negligent user, or one intending malice.

Concealed carry, on the other hand, bares several advantages to open carry.  Anonymity could give a potential victim an element of surprise because their assailant may not realize they are armed at all.  I also cite a potential umbrella effect, in which the mere potential for an encounter with a concealed carrier (as you can't tell who is and isn't armed) tends to have a marked effect on violent crime within the municipality governed by those laws.  This seems to be born out in statistics, as those provinces within the US in which concealed carry permits are readily available for law abiding citizens tend to show fewer instances of violent crime, while Chicago, IL displays an epidemic of gun violence despite extremely restrictive civilian gun laws.  Mostly in my case, I appreciate being able to carry and defend my family without being hassled by busy bodies in the community that view a man carrying a firearm with distrust.

Open carry on the other hand is much less common, I tend to think because it is viewed in a poor light by both the gun community and those outside of the community alike.  Many will cite that the lack of anonymity places someone at a greater risk of being targeted, either that they would be targeted for the theft of their firearm or simply to remove the threat of an impedance to their intended criminal activity.  Others simply point out (correctly I tend to think) that open carry is a show of force that many in the community find intimidating....

to which I reply "That's the point."  Open carry is an advantage in only two aspects.  First of all, often additional speed of draw/implementing your firearm can be found with open carry.  There are no cover garments to clear, and holsters can be optimized for draw speed without consideration for concealment, not to mention the ability to carry long guns which would be near impossible to do concealed.  Also, there are instances in which a show of force is warranted if not advantageous.  Consider a WROL (without rule of law) situation like what I saw in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where law enforcement was what you could manage on your own while the police response time climbed to hours if not days.  Carrying a long gun, openly and in full view of the public, would certainly give Johnny Gangbanger an opportunity to find another place to be that doesn't involved an armed confrontation with a citizen defending his home.

More important than the debate about whether to conceal or open carry is to simply carry in the first place.  The more law abiding, armed citizens we have in the community the better able we are to defend ourselves and each other against violence.  So, while we are all entitled to our individual opinions, I ask that we all stand together and demand that ANY method of carry be respected and honored.  Too often the gun community is quick to throw out the baby with the bathwater and denigrate those among us we disagree with. - Phil Rabalais

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Bug Out: What to take.

Today in SE Louisiana, we are looking to our West with worried eyes for our neighbors, and to the East with concern about quite a nasty storm that may be heading our way. Hurricane Irma is, in scientific terms, a huge storm that I'm not willing to play with. My family would not hesitate to ride out a Category 1 or 2 hurricane at our home. We have adequate food, water, and means of self defense to make that happen with ease. What I don't want is to be stuck in the path of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane when we have the means to escape the damage path. But, what do you take?

 First and foremost is the essentials. No, I don't mean your stamp collection (unless it is particularly valuable or sentimental), I mean you take your box of paperwork and family photo albums. You take heirlooms that have been in the family for generations. You take the things you simply CAN NOT replace for any reasonable amount of money. Box it up, pack it, and keep it with you. My family keeps a box (affectionately known as the "box of crap") under our bed filled to capacity with my discharge paperwork from the military, medical records, birth certificates, social security cards, marriage license, insurance paperwork (though this is now all available online, a paper copy isn't a bad idea). In short, it is a box full of things we do not want to have to replace or do without. It stays loaded at all times, paperwork removed to make copies goes straight back in. We grab that one box, we know we have the important documents in one place.

 Firearms. Firstly, as a means of self defense, secondly to keep them from the hands of possible looters. A reasonable stock of ammo for the ones intended for self defense should be a given. I wouldn't in good conscience leave anything more capable than a BB gun home.

Food, water, toiletries. I would bring a reasonable amount of food and water with you. Even though the whole point of evacuating is to remove yourself and your family from the area where interruptions in the food and water supply are likely, you are most likely evacuating with thousands if not hundreds of thousands of other people. A sudden population influx could strain grocery stores. Best to bring some with you. Having to do without food, water, and toilet paper becomes quite uncomfortable very quickly.

Clothing, and everything else. I would suggest packing for comfort and utility, not fashion. You're an evacuee, you're not going to walk the runway at a fashion show. Keep things in perspective, and leave anything with special washing instructions at home. If room permits, I'd suggest packing a minimum of tools (working on cars, fixing things, you never know), extra fluids for the vehicle (a quart of oil and a gallon of coolant will save you from being stranded on a road side, at least get you to a gas station), things to entertain kids (and adults), and anything you could conceivably consider needing for at least one week. The idea isn't that you're never going home (I pray that doesn't become an eventuality), but that you need to be prepared to rough it for an extended period.

Most of all, keep your common sense and your wits about you. Panic kills far more than disasters, and poor planning in a situation like this can turn a bad situation to lethal very quickly. I would encourage each of you to read this and take it to heart, leave me your feedback if you feel I missed something, and start having this conversation with your families TONIGHT if you haven't already. - Phil Rabalais

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why a weapon mounted light?

 CZ P-09; Surefire X300U;

As I mentioned in my recent YouTube review, my preference is for each home defense firearm have a weapon mounted light.  In the absence of that, I insist on a good, reliable, BRIGHT yet compact flashlight be stored with a home defense firearm.  The reasons for this are self evident, we really shouldn't be using a firearm to engage an unknown target and MOST home invasions tend to occur in evening or nighttime hours.  But, WHY should the light be mounted on the weapon, instead of being handheld?

Firstly, the reasons to employ an independent, handheld light are numerous.  You have the ability to use the light WITHOUT drawing or muzzling your target.  That adds an element of safety and utility to the light, and would be my preference for a conceal carry firearm. Many firearms were built without any provision for a rail.  It adds weight to the muzzle end of the firearm.  Yes, correct on all counts.

But, mounting a weapon light also insures that every time that gun hits  your hand you have the ability to both illuminate and disorientate your potential opponent.  I'm not sure if any reader has had the displeasure of having 600 lumens rammed into your retinas, but the above picture gives you an idea of how little you can really see when a weapon light shines into your eyeballs.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, on top of an instant reflex to squint, and a wicked pain and big white blog in the center of your vision for a couple minutes (practice room clearing and shine your light into a mirror, no it isn't pleasant.)

Also note that I have the ability to free a hand while keeping a target illuminated and held at gunpoint.  Think about drawing down on a home intruder, he surrenders, you need to call the cops.  If you have gun in one hand and light in the other, exactly which one do you WANT TO PUT DOWN to call the police?  In my case, I have a small child, and the likelihood is I will have to pick her up and forcibly move her in the middle of the night.  Having the light on my gun, at my fingertips, let's me have a free hand to get my family to the fall back room in our home.

There are perfectly justifiable and defensible reasons to eschew a weapon mounted light.  There are perfectly justifiable reasons to mount one.  Consider your options, your pros and cons, your situation, and let us know what you think?