Happiness is a Warm Gun
Just for shits and grins, last month I dug out the venerable S&W Model 10 and three speed loaders, and went to the range. In the wake of New York passing a 7-round restriction on what an active weapon can carry, I wanted to conduct an experiment with my wheel gun.
For those liberals who are unfamiliar with firearms and their associated jargon, a Model 10 is a large-frame Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum, in this case one with a six-inch barrel. A "wheel gun" is a revolver, a.k.a. a six-shooter. A "speed loader" is a type of spring-loaded clip with a twist knob that holds six rounds that can be inserted into the cylinder of a revolver and released with a single motion.
For the purpose of the experiment, which was basically to re-create a scenario of a crazed gunman opening fire on a crowd of innocent bystanders, thus de-bunking the notion that a ban on hi-cap magazines will somehow affect the outcome, I hung the speed loaders off my waistband instead of placing them more accessibly on the range bench. Even though I fired from my chair, I wanted to reproduce the effect and motion of a normal, standing shooter.
Now, do the math, kids. Three speed loaders at six rounds per is 18 shots. Added to the six already in the gun, that's 24. With a fresh box of 50 wad cutters [target rounds] I was able to run the experiment twice, with Ms. Possum operating a stopwatch on the re-load cycle. (I also only had three speed loaders available. If I’d had more, I could have hung six on each side of my jeans, for a total of 78 available rounds, counting the six in the gun.)
Since I use the Hickock "one-shot, one-kill" method of firing deliberately, the sought-after result wasn't how quickly I could get rounds downrange, but how long it took to reload a wheel gun versus a magazine-fed semi-automatic pistol. Still, the average time to fire six well-placed shots was about three seconds; slightly less than the reload time. If you want to see something truly scary and impressive, attend an exhibition by a professional sharpshooter/quick-draw artist. These people—who spend hours on the range daily—can empty a revolver so quickly you can’t differentiate the shots being fired, and all six are on target. They also perform the mythological feats of marksmanship, like splitting playing cards lengthwise, or firing at axe heads so the bullet splits and hits targets on both sides.
For the experiment, Ms. Possum started the stopwatch after each sixth shot, and stopped it when the cylinder went back into the frame. We practiced the motions and timing a few times before I went hot with the weapon.
My best time on the reload cycle was 3.2 seconds. The motions involved were (1) thumbing the cylinder release button and pushing the cylinder out with my right index finger, (2) batting the shell ejection lever with my left hand as I reached for a speed loader, (3) inserting the fresh bullets and twisting the release knob, and (4) dropping the clip while batting the cylinder back into position with the heel of my left hand. My worst time for doing this was 4.6 seconds.
For comparison purposes, I also ran three magazines through my faithful Browning BHP .40, a semi-automatic pistol that will put 16 rounds onto a target without reload. Average time for a reload there was about two seconds. When the slide locks back—indicating the pistol is empty—you simply press a button with the right thumb while reaching for a new magazine. The expended magazine drops out of the grip, a new one is inserted, and the slide release is then thumbed to chamber a round. (I know I'm being pedantic about the mechanics of this, but I'm trying to explain stuff to liberals who want to "control" guns without having ever touched one in their lives.)
Overall result: a time differential of 1.2 seconds in reloading a six-shooter versus what some people would call an "assault weapon." Seconds count in a gunfight, but since the average madman is going to target a "gun-free zone" like a school, a movie theater, or a political rally where the victims are chaotically trying to run away or cowering in terror, I don't think those 1.2 seconds are going to matter much. What might matter is if one person in that crowd of potential victims drew their own sidearm, fired once with an accurate head shot, and saved 23 people from being shot in the back as they attempted to flee.
This article started life as a post in a political group on Facebook. One of the first comments I received was the standard liberal red herring: “Okay, that settles it. All guns should have 100-round magazines.” This was in keeping with an oft-repeated remark that gun-grabbers offer in place of logic; I’d heard Bob Beckel say it the day before on “The Five”, and it came around again the next day in a congressional hearing: “So, people ought to have a bazooka on their roof if they want one, eh?” This apparent fascination with anachronistic rocket launchers, combined with an imaginary equivalency with firearms, is apparently what passes for witty sarcasm on The Left.
No, there are already plenty of laws on the books regulating access to military-grade weapons like bazookas, RPGs, and LAWs rockets. If you don’t have a Class III federal firearms license, you’re also not permitted to own a fully-automatic firearm of any sort. These licenses are expensive and require rigorous, above-average background checks to obtain. Shotguns with a barrel length of less than 18 inches, and suppressors—commonly known as “silencers”—have been outlawed for civilian ownership since the 1930s.
One of the points I was trying to make was that I could show up in a “gun-free zone” with a six-shooter and three reloads, kill 24 people in less than a minute, and not violate the laws of the state of New York by having more than seven rounds at a time in my handgun. (There might be some legal consequences for those two dozen corpses in my wake, but if I’m a madman to begin with, I don’t think I’m going to be too concerned about that.)
Fortunately, most psychotics are disorganized, and there is always a flaw that will disrupt their plans for a massacre, no matter how well-organized their delusions inform them they are. Lanza at Sandy Hook, Klebold and Harris at Columbine, and Holmes in Aurora were balked by “stovepipes”—jams in their AR-15s resulting from cheap, reloaded ammunition they bought in bulk. They never considered anything so mundane, and the resulting suicidal panic caused Holmes to flee and Lanza, Harris and Klebold to do the world a favor and take their own lives.
Although I consider a suicidal terrorist to be clinically insane, Nidal Hasan is sort of the poster boy for an “organized” shooter. I don’t think he expected to leave Ft. Hood alive that afternoon, and his bitter disappointment at not becoming a martyr for Allah is the only bright spot in that incident. Still, this was a professionally-trained shooter, courtesy of the U.S. Army. He went into a “gun-free zone” and wreaked more havoc and death with two handguns than any punk with an “assault weapon.” And, to address the other “hot-button” issue of background checks on firearms purchasers, HE WAS A PSYCHIATRIST! While I agree in principle that guns should be kept out of the hands of crazy people, all this rhetoric about “universal background checks” drives me up the wall when I think of Hasan. Who doesn’t fit the profile of a potential mass killer more than a psychiatrist? These are the doctors we expect to sit in judgment of everyone else’s emotional stability regarding gun ownership. I’m slightly bothered by the notion that a psychiatrist who might be counseling me for my chronic depression can make a notation in my soon-to-be-“universal” medical record that, in his opinion, I probably shouldn’t be allowed access to a firearm; then he strolls into his waiting room and shoots everyone waiting for their Prozac refills.
One last point about background checks and the regard of psychotics for the already-extant gun laws:
A big story this week has been the murder of the Chief of Corrections of the Colorado prison system. A few nights ago, he answered a knock at his door and received an “IRA telegram”, i.e. someone shot and killed him when he opened the door. (This was a standard tactic during the “unrest” in Ireland some years ago.) The apparent shooter was a recently-paroled ex-con with a history of violence and an unresolved grudge toward the correctional system. This scumbag was later shot and killed in Texas while fleeing law enforcement. (He fought the law, and the law won.) Last I heard, this ex-con is also a suspect in the murder of a pizza delivery driver.
Okay, this is a guy who just got out of prison. He wasn’t going to pass a background check in a gun store or a pawn shop. I don’t think he was concerned with that. This is America; I can go to an ATM, withdraw $300, and have a pistol in my pocket an hour later. It isn’t just a uniquely American “problem”; I can go to the marketplace in Mogadishu, Somalia and buy a fully-automatic AK-47 for about $40. Every kid over the age of 12 in every Third World country has an AK or an M-16, and I’ll bet none of them have Class III licenses, or passed background checks.
It’s the intent and purpose of the person possessing a firearm that matters, not the nature of the weapon they’re wielding. Phillip K. Dick dealt with our ability to judge that purpose and intent in his beautifully paranoid Minority Report. It can’t be done. We can never judge, with certainty, the behavior of others until it manifests itself. We cannot reverse the principle of cause-and-effect, and blame the behavior of a human being on the tool that human uses to express that behavior. A concept, good or evil, is first born in the mind, then carried out by whatever means available. The best we can hope for is that a person behaving badly will be stopped by someone capable of responding with whatever level of force or lethality the deranged individual is displaying. Ostensibly, this is why we have police officers, but they are never called until a crime has been committed. Ideally, the cops show up while a crime is still in progress, but more often, they arrive to hand out Band-aids to victims of domestic abuse, take descriptions of robbers, or call the coroner’s office to pick up dead bodies. Just as seconds count in gunfights, the only sure way to prevent crime and horror is to be prepared to answer it in the first moments an event occurs. The behavior of criminals and psychotics can no more be regulated than the machinations of the human mind. Those starry-eyed, well-intentioned fools who think restricting the means is somehow going to affect the end are mistaken on two basic premises. What the mind of man can conceive, it can achieve. A potential killer denied a gun will use a knife, a stick, or a rock. As Robert Heinlein said, an armed society is a polite society.
Just some food for thought. Gun control is hitting what you aim at. Peace and love, y'all...