Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chicagoans Go Outside of Hermit Kingdom, Protest Scary Guns

Yep. Jesse J's at it again. The funny part is Jesse's lack of proof when he accuses the gun shop owner of having sold all the guns that are being used in crimes in Chicago. At least the good reverend admitted he couldn't prove it when pressed.

More disturbing, though, is Reverend Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Parish in Chicago. According to the stories posted on the Illinois State Rifle Association homepage from May 29, 2007, Father Pfleger has called for the murder of the gun shop owner at this rally.

So, I listened to the remarks posted on the website. If this is legitimate, Father Pfleger should be ashamed at the language he used. Calling out the gun shop owner by name then saying "we're going to find you and we're going to snuff you out" (starts at 0:49 in the recording), and during the crosstalk he apparently says something about dragging the gun shop owner out like a rat and snuffing him out.

Great. Just great, Father. Let me guess, it's okay when you talk about Jesus purifying the Temple with a whip (used to drive out the sacrificial animals, the merchants, and the moneychangers) in the Gospel of John (John 2:14-17, New American Bible) but don't even realize that it shows that sometimes you've got to use violence to protect what you love. How about the Gospel of Luke when Jesus instructs the Apostles with the words that a time is coming when a man should sell his cloak and buy a sword with it (Luke 22:36-38)? Was he talking about how they should just prepare for the world's hostility and people not liking them, as the explanatory footnote says? I think the footnote writer got it wrong there. No, I'm no expert on classical Greek, but if the context and translation are close to correct, it sounds like Jesus is saying "Look, you're going to have some nasty run-ins with the authorities, both Jewish and Roman. Be ready to protect yourselves with argument and with force if argument fails."

So, why is Father Pfleger calling for aggression towards a gun shop owner? No idea, short of "he wants to be noticed."

What makes it worse is that situations like this make being Catholic that much tougher. I'm a member of the Knights of Columbus. We're supposed to stand up for priests when others won't. I'm also a big believer that the right to keep and bear arms is what protects my ability to say what I want and worship how I want. I can't support Father Pfleger's words. I cannot support them because they are irresponsible. I cannot stand up for this priest's calls to disarm the residents of Illinois when I see the results of disarmament in Chicago: I see African-American kids shooting others with stolen guns because they know they have that power over others. I see white guys, cops no less, attacking and overpowering women who don't give them another beer at the bar. Why? They realize there's no restraint to their use of power. There's no equalizing force to stop them immediately, to make them realize their actions will have a less than desirable and immediate reaction.

I think this is ultimately why I cannot become a priest as much as I'd like to become one. I have a right to bear arms, and with that comes the responsiblity to defend those who cannot defend themselves. My right to bear arms comes with many inherent responsibilities. I will not disarm myself because someone else has misused a weapon and caused suffering. I will not tell someone to weaken themselves. If that makes me a bad Catholic, so be it. We're supposed to conquer sin with forgiveness, hate with love. However, we also forget that some people don't want forgiveness or love, they want power. Man is sinful by nature; the very nature of Christianity is to reconcile a sinner with God's love. There are a lot of us sinners out there, and some among us not only deny the right of others to live peaceably, but also want to deny God's very existence, erasing Him from the heart of all believers. These people don't get the symbolism of offering yourself up to God. Instead, they see weakness. Blind to God's grace, they end one life after another. They cause us to suffer further. Though we have the power to defend ourselves, we refuse, submitting to what we think is God's will.

Pardon my rough language here. Frankly, that's fucking stupid. God wants us to defend ourselves. He wouldn't have given us the tools to do so if He hadn't wanted it. God gave us the brains to realize that the strong should not dominate the weak by physical force. He gave us the hands to make the tools to defend ourselves, to keep the strong in check.

Father Pfleger, go out and preach non-violence, renounce your poor choice of words, and understand that your words might fall on deaf ears. Understand there are some who see your calls to disarm as a sign that they've got more victims lined up. Understand that there are some of us who refuse to be victims. Some of us understand that the Good Shepherd uses sheepdogs every so often to keep the wolves at bay.

Richard Pearson, director of the ISRA, I understand your concern with Father Pfleger's choice of words. It's a shame, and inflammatory to boot. I hope, however, you don't expect Father Pfleger to reveal any sins confessed to him. The seal of Confession is absolute. I also hope you're willing to forgive him in the name of Charity, love that flows outward. Absolution is completed only with a proper penance. If Father Pfleger does penance, forgive him.

This is a very difficult situation for a Catholic who likes being able to use guns for purposes of sport and defense. People like me, we want to be faithful and to listen to God's Word as transmitted through his priests. When our priests say something to effect that we should renounce all violence regardless of what non-Catholics do to us, it always comes off as insincere. It makes us wonder when our Church became a suicide cult.

(Hat tip: Jeff Soyer at Alphecca)

Monday, May 28, 2007

To the crew of the USS Levy (DE-162):

Thank you for serving so gallantly and for making sure that one of your boatswain's mates, my grandfather, survived his tour of World War II.

Friday, May 25, 2007

One week of difference

I did so much better than the previous week at the IPSC match. Trigger finger position made the difference in keeping bullets in the center of the target. I was shooting a little high, though. Most of my shots were head shots. That's great for a shooting game like this, but I use practical shooting as training for shooting in defensive situations. In a defensive situation, I also have the legal ramifications to consider. Aiming at center mass is a lot easier to defend than head shots. Center mass shows you were shooting to stop your opponent, shooting them in the head shows an intent to kill. That's one of the best things I ever learned from being around police officers all my life. Shoot to stop them, and you'll most likely kill your opponent if you hit center mass. Aiming for the arm or leg is also one of those lawsuit-enhancing shots. Why? You were deliberately trying to cripple your opponent. So yeah. Aim for center mass. It's the responsible thing to do. I was aiming for center mass, or so I thought. At the end of my second run I heard a lot of "Alpha" and "Bravo" scores. "Alpha" or "Zone A" is one of two areas on an IPSC target that roughly equates to either center mass or the area of the face that surrounds the eyes and nose. "Bravo" or "Zone B" is the area that covers the rest of the head on an IPSC silhouette target.

The one thing I've got to work on is making sure that my finger is obviously out of the trigger guard during reloads. That cost me some points at the end of each run. I also apparently need a better holster as the forward cant of the XD "Extreme Duty Gear" holster isn't acceptable. The forward cant comes from the weight of the gun and the holster not being able to fasten tightly enough to my belt. So, either I need a better holster or a wider belt. Feh. Looks like I'll be buying a gunbelt or a fixed paddle holster.

Other than that, though, the night was good. 18 shots, 18 hits per run. Go me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Next I'll be Hugging Whales for Al Gore

So, I replaced the lightbulbs in my bedroom with compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Now to see how well they work, if they're long lasting, etc. So far I like them. The two 15-watt bulbs I installed have replaced two 60-watt incandescent bulbs that both died after three or four months.

Pros: I'm getting the same amount of light.

Cons: The bulbs barely fit inside the glass diffuser on the light fixture.

Neutral: The warm-up time. Unlike the instant-on blindness you can get at night, the few minutes it takes to completely light up helps my eyes adjust. That's an unexpected benefit. However, as it gets colder the lightbulbs will take longer and longer to come up to full brightness. It's almost like there needs to be the CFL equivalent of an oil warmer for cars. I doubt, however that the power needed to maintain the "bulb heater" would still keep the place more energy-efficient. So I can live with it.

So, why did I do this? I love the gee-whiz types of technology that you find in magazines like Popular Mechanics, especially when it comes to more energy-efficiency. That leads to lower utility bills in the long term despite a higher investment at the outset. Basically, I'm running my own test to see how well the room does with the new lights. As time passes, more bulbs will be changed out around the house (I hope) if all goes well.

So, am I doing this in some show of solidarity for Gaia? No. Am I a guy who likes to spend more money on things I want than on boring stuff like bills? You betcha!

Al Gore can hold his breath until I hug a whale, though. Fewer CO2 emissions that way.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Like Night and Day

So, after Thursday's execrable performance at the IPSC shoot, I headed to the range today to go over what I may or may not have been doing to ruin my aim. Yep. I thought as much. Not enough trigger finger. The XD40 has a trigger safety and unless I put my finger in far enough to cup it with the first joint, my accuracy suffers. The real problem with that is that I have move my whole hand to get that safety cupped properly. It's tough to do during a draw-and-shoot situation like the IPSC matches require. I think this tells me what I need to practice for next week's run.

I also had an opportunity to run a few rounds through a Springfield TRP Operator, one Springfield Armory's variations on the venerable Model 1911 handgun. I love my XD40 dearly, and I would bet my life on it working all the time. Then there's the TRP. WOW! I loaded up 5 rounds and all five hit center mass like they're supposed to. That fifth inch of barrel really helps out in terms of accuracy. Plus the barrel is a bit heavier to reduce recoil. I was amazed. Springfield makes some fine guns, and maybe one of their .45s will follow me home someday. Too bad our idiot politicians in Chicago and other gun-negative locales are driving out Illinois gun manufacturers with things like the gross receipts tax and the anti-gun legislation like SB16 and SB1007. We're going to lose business because of their policies. Way to go, morons!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tonight's IPSC report:

Good grief, I shot horribly tonight. The weirdest part, though, was that I could hit smaller targets without a hitch but not the larger ones without missing.

That's fine, though, because I'm putting those steel targets ON NOTICE. You got the upper hand this week, but next week is payback time!

I think I'll be heading to the range this weekend, though. I need to go through my basics again.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

IL Senate Approves 10-round Limit

So, SB 1007 has been approved by a bunch of upstate politicians. Typical. Of course, naturally, military and police personnel may have larger-capacity magazines than us peasants. The breakdown is that no one outside of the Chicago area voted for this.

Senator Dan Kotkowski (D-Park Ridge) shows his stupidity by saying that 10-round magazines would have prevented some of the deaths in the Virginia Tech shooting. Why? Because Seung-Hui Cho would have had to reload more often! Ahem... BULLSHIT.

Personally I think the Senators are scared of their constituents and want to be able to use superior firepower on said constituents whenever they feel like it. So, give the police and miltary more ammunition capacity, right? Look, spending a second or two reloading wouldn't have given those students any more chance than they already had. Why? The students there were conditioned to cower and take whatever happens to them. They were never taught to resist even if it gets you killed.

The bill is going to the House, where it will probably get passed as well. To all the gun manufacturers in Illinois, please go elsewhere to restart your companies. Cook County and its collar counties are filled with very stupid politicians who are willing to scapegoat you and ruin your business if it gets them even just one more vote. Please leave so I can continue to purchase your products without threat of a GRT or further weapons ban hanging over your heads.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Newspaper Determines Right To Know Greater Than Right To Privacy

Idiots. The folks at the Nashville Tennesseean have decided that concealed-carry permit holders have no right to privacy. I don't think they realize what a slippery slope they're taking. What's next? A full list of teenage girls who have had abortions without telling their parents? Gays of any stripe who don't want to be lumped in with the "Fab 5" stereotypes? African-American Catholics? Ooh! Got it! How about up-to-the-second locations of news reporters?

Spread the word about the Tennesseean, and help the editors realize the trouble they face in a calm, polite, and logical manner. That way, when we call for them to be fired we will have the upper hand by showing that they had a chance to change their minds.

UPDATE: The database is down. Good riddance, but I still think that whoever did that needs to be held publically accountable. In a vengeful world, they'd have to have all of their address and sensitive (possibly even security-threatening) information published for a few weeks in 96-point print on the first page of the paper. Then they could worry about the sanctity of their home and person. I'm happy to say we're more charitable than that. We'll just settle for the names of those responsible for publishing the database in the paper (and its online version), the public front-page notification of their firing, and the front-page printed assurances that those responsible for publishing that database will not be rehired by any section of the newspaper's holding company. Both notification and assurances should be in big print above the fold on the front page, by the way. This way the newspaper staff, editors, reporters, printers, etc., will be publically accountable for its actions should the offenders be re-hired.

Besides, this will help bruise the egos of the reporters, making them feel important that they "Stood up for the First Amendment." Sorry, Nashville Tennesseean staffers, but people's private lives are not for your perusal. There is a big difference in what you've done here to private citizens as opposed to the usual research and writing about the lives of public citizens such as political figures. In this I'm also standing up for the First Amendment by telling you what you've done wrong. I think I'll stand up for it again when I tell you to exercise better judgment and keep your freaking traps (verbal or otherwise) shut about the lives of private citizens. Just because there's nothing to hide doesn't mean that everyone can still look.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tonight was my first night at the weekly IPSC shoots with a USPSA number. Yes, I'm trying to improve my shooting skills by joining one of the largest practical shooting groups in the world. I hit my targets with everything I fired tonight, which is good. Now I just have to be able to hit the targets faster and faster. All in all, it was a pretty good night.