Monthly Archives: December 2012

Jewish Marksman’s Suggested 2013 Listening

I am a big fan of podcasts and internet-based radio.  I can download audio to my smartphone or listen live online, and then via bluetooth use my car speakers or a headset.  I listen while I drive and jog, but also while I practice shooting and at the reloading press.  Unfortunately, the tools I use to access the podcasts and audio are a bit hodgepodge.  I use Google Listen, which integrates with Google Reader (a great web and phone-based RSS reader), also tunein.com and now stitcher.com.  Here are a few of the things I listen to:

1. http://www.hebrewpodcasts.com/

There are a few sample .mp3 files on the site, but you have to pay.  The great thing is though, you can pay once and they make it easy to download all of the past .mp3 lessons.  So I paid for 90 days or something like that, and downloaded all the past lessons, which should keep me busy for a year or so.  I think this podcast is the right way to learn a foreign language, which is to listen to conversations, repeat them, repeat them, repeat them, repeat them, repeat them…  This is how children learn.  Learning a language is not an intellectual exercise…like shooting skill it is a habit mastered by rote.  Last year’s new year’s resolution to become fluent in Hebrew failed…hopefully this year these podcasts will help me get there!

2. Dennis Miller via Tunein.com

I really like the former Saturday Night Live and NFL commentator’s daily radio show.  His style is not for everyone, but give him a try, he might be an acquired taste.  I use the tunein.com app on my phone, but also on a TV where I practice shooting dry fire via the tunein channel on a roku.com box.

3. Black Man with a Gun – Urban Shooter Podcast

This podcast is by Rev. Ken Blanchard, a Baptist pastor.  Rev. Blanchard is a scholar, a gentleman, a tzadik and a mensch.  Trust me when I say that if you tune in for a few episodes of his podcast, it will not be what you expect.  Here is how he describes it:

It is here that I passionately, positively and persistently produce this podcast to encourage, educate and enlighten people around the world that want it.

I sing, I joke, I interview interesting people I have met or hear of that are not afraid of coming on a show where they might find a new friend.

The podcast is not just about guns its about the people behind the guns. It’s the unsung heroes of our communities. It’s the women, mothers and sexy grandmothers that choose to arm themselves. It’s those that hunt and compete too, (the women) that folks like to ignore or pimp only on special occasions.

This show is about all nationalities, ethnicities, white, black, brown, yellow and every combination in between that shoot, own guns and fight to do so because of misinformation and racism. It’s for the urbanite and rural shooter. It’s for America.

I would tune in even if he never talked about guns, it’s that good.  There are several ways to hear the podcast, lately I have been using stitcher.com on my phone, I have mixed feelings about that app as I used to use Google Listen which was easier to deal with.  I think there is a way to use tunein to get it as well.

4. Chabad.org

I am part of the “conservative” sect of American Jews, so I do not belong to a Chabad schul, but every time I have been to one I have felt welcome, despite the fact I am far less observant or versed in the siddur (prayers) or kashrut (kosher laws) than more observant, orthodox Jews.  I don’t take the label of me as “not yet frum” as an insult at all.  To be blunt, anybody who tells you Chabad is a cult has no clue what they are talking about, and are probably just insecure in their own beliefs.  So don’t be afraid, give their web site a try.

Well in any case, Chabad has excellent Torah study podcasts for every level of Torah knowledge and every learning style.  Want to take a textual approach?  They have a podcast for that.  More into the emotional and spiritual?  They have a podcast for that.  Only have 2 minutes a week?  They have a podcast for that.

The web site is a little difficult to navigate sometimes, but you can find the weekly Torah portion podcasts here:
http://www.chabad.org/parshah/default_cdo/jewish/Torah-Portions.htm

I like the weekly lectures by Elimelech Silberberg, because he gives a run down of the text (helpful for those many, many weeks I fail to read it) and then transitions to the practical and spiritual applications.  I also like Moishe New, who gives a spiritual, kabbalistic lecture on the week’s portion.

5.  BBC World News

Although I do watch the CBS nightly news (in my opinion it is one of the more fair and balanced mass media outlets out there), I also like the BBC world news podcasts and streaming through tunein.com.  The BBC is not always fair to Israel, but overall I don’t think there is a better news outlet out there for what is happening around the world.

So with that, have a Happy New Year and keep ‘em in the 10 ring!

Mosollom the Archer

Joseph ben Matityahu (“Josephus”) was a first century Jewish historian, and is a somewhat controversial figure.  He wrote several histories of the Jewish people.  In one of his books he recounts a story told to him of the Jewish archer named Mosollom, who lived sometime Alexander the Great, so roughly 300BC:

As we were travelling towards the Red Sea, there was one Mosollam in the company, a Jew, and one of our horse-guards, that was looked upon to be very brave, and a famous marksman with bow and arrow.

As they were advancing on their way, a soothsayer, that took upon him to foretell the fortune of their voyage, bade them all stand, and they did so.  This Jew asked them what they stood for. The cunning man, showing them a bird, replied, “If that bird stands, you are to stand; if it rises, and flies on, you are to go forward too;  but if the bird takes its flight the contrary way, you must all go back again.”  

The Jew, without any more words, let fly an arrow, and killed the bird.  The diviner and his companions fell presently upon the Jew in most outrageous terms.  

“Why certainly,” says Mosollam, “you are all mad to be thus concerned about a foolish bird.  How shall that poor wretch pretend to tell us our fortune, that knew nothing of its own?  If this bird could have foreseen good or evil to come, it would have kept itself out of the way of this arrow.” 

I like that story.

Jewish Legal Minds and American Gun Rights: Gura, Sigale, Gottlieb, and Posner

It has not escaped notice of many gun owners that Jewish politicians like Dianne Feinstein (D-California) are contributing to the efforts of late to destroy Americans’ gun rights.  However, many are unaware how prominent Jewish attorneys have been in protecting those rights.  Here are a few examples:

Alan Gura is a sort of superstar in the fight for 2nd Amendment rights.  First he won the 2008 case  United States Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, which finally settled the notion that the 2A provides a right to firearms ownership independent of membership in any organized “militia.”  Then in 2010 he won  McDonald v. Chicago, which held the 2A and Heller applied to the states.  His most recent 2012 win is Moore v. Madigan, where a federal district court held that Illinois’ ban on concealed carry (the only state to ban all concealed carry) is unconstitutional.

In a 2008 article about Gura:

Gura, in contrast, said statistics indicate that gun ownership tends to reduce crime and increase public safety. Moreover, self-protection is a fundamental right, he added, because citizens cannot always depend on the government to protect them from criminals or tyrannical rulers. He said Jews, in particular, should take note.

“We should examine our history and see that our reliance on governmental officials to preserve our liberties has not always worked out so well,” explained Gura, who considers himself a libertarian. “There is still anti-Semitism. The sad fact is that many Jews have the option of being armed or dead and not that many prefer to be armed.”

Asked why Jews seem disproportionately opposed to gun ownership, Gura said, “It’s puzzling. Many Jews seem to prefer heavy government intervention, and it’s not a good thing.” Jews, he said, often have the mistaken belief “that the government is a beneficent force to always do good and help people out.”

An Israeli native now living in Alexandria, where he attends the Conservative Agudas Achim Congregation, Gura, 37, came to the United States with his family when he was 7. They settled in Los Angeles. He received his undergraduate degree in government from Cornell University and his law degree from Georgetown University. Gura, whose law practice, Gura and Possessky, has offices Alexandria and D.C., focuses mainly on civil rights and intellectual property matters.

Gura, who with his wife has a 1-year-old son, first became a gun owner in the early 1990s because, he said, he wanted to be able to defend himself against crime. Among the contributing factors in his decision to buy a weapon were the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, which Gura said he watched on TV “with a great deal of concern” while he was in college at Cornell. He said he has never used the gun in self-defense.

Gura was hired to handle the case in 2003 by social acquaintance Robert Levy, a nonpracticing attorney and libertarian scholar. Levy and another lawyer recruited the plaintiffs, six D.C. residents who wanted to own handguns. 

Another attorney, David G. Sigale assisted Gura on the McDonald and Madigan cases, and appears to be involved in a Chicago-land synagogue.

The Jewish judge writing the majority opinion in the Madigan case was none other than Richard Posner.  Posner’s opinion is very good for gun rights, because he wrote that “…a ban as broad as Illinois’s can’t be upheld merely on the ground that it’s not irrational…”so substantial a curtailment of the right of armed self-defense requires a greater showing of justification than merely that the public might benefit on balance from such a curtailment, though there is no proof it would.”  That language is critical because the Supreme Court’s Heller opinion did not explicitly tell courts what test to apply when determining whether certain laws restricting gun rights are constitutional or not.  Lower courts are still feeling out the parameters, and Posner’s opinion is a step in the right direction towards strict, or at least intermediate scrutiny.

Finally, Alan Gottlieb is not an attorney (according to Wikipedia) but is  is the Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.  The SAF, as I understand it, funds Gura’s and other gun-rights lawsuits, but also promotes knowledge of the 2A and its history.

Jewish Marksman’s Glock 19 Review

I recently wrote about my experience with a new Glock 17, and on my lunch hour today I played with a new model 19.  They are very similar, except the 19 is smaller in several dimensions.

Overall, I was not as thrilled with the 19 as I was the 17.  Not that there is anything wrong with the 19, but in the ways that matter to me, the 19 is inferior.  The sight radius is shorter, and today with overcast skies I had a hard time getting a good look at the sights.  The trigger on this gun is heavier and mushier than the 17, and I found myself nudging slightly left given how much force it takes to get the thing to fire.  It may be one of the worst triggers on a pistol I’ve ever handled.
Above is my target at 50 feet, two hands standing, about 60 rounds, some slow fire some semi-rapid fire.  Slow fire I basically shot out those two large holes, rapid fire was a little dicier as the lighter gun likes to jump a bit more than the 17.
Now I know some will say that at 50 ft. that is a good target for 60 rounds (mostly fitting in a dollar bill), but I’m used to them all in the 10 ring.  I think the sights may need just a nudge to the right for me, and I do have a sight pusher tool, but the verdict is not out yet as to where the problem lies.  I was not able to ring the 50 yard steel plate at the range as consistently as I could with the 17, even with a very slow and steady trigger pull.  I just had a hard time seeing that front sight center up in the rear, and the trigger took like forever to break.  (I know, I know, a Glock was not meant to be a target gun, and if I track the rear sight just a smidge right I’d have a nice ten-ring concentration and maybe wouldn’t be complaining at all…..)  The elevation (vertical spread) of the shots does look pretty good, especially because I was doing some quicker shooter where elevation can be tough to keep tight anyway.
At the advice of one my readers I did order 3.5# connectors for both the 19 and the 17 and will install them soon.  From hundreds of reviews I’ve skimmed by others, this simple swap totally transforms the trigger feel of the gun and size of the groups one can produce, so I’m looking forward to that.  I’m also thinking to modernize at least one of the pistols with a 3-dot sighting system with night sights and start practicing for more speed at closer range as opposed to being “that guy” who likes ringing steel at 50 yards with a gun never meant for that purpose.  Kind of a culture change for me…
Last but not least, I left the range with more brass than I came with, which is always a good day for a frugal Jewish marksman!

Jewish Marksman’s Year End Tzedakah (Donation) Suggestions

One of the cornerstones of the Jewish faith is Tzedakah, sometimes translated as “charity” (although I think the real meaning is far more complex).  Like many Americans, I sometimes wait until the end of the year to make financial donations.  Aside from the various donations our family makes to various causes (animal shelters, various Jewish causes), this year I added a few more given everything going on in the world of firearms.

1. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership

It may surprise some readers that up until today I was not a member.  Why?  I typically do not like to donate to charities unless there is easy-to-access detailed transparency as to how the money is used.  I looked on JPFO’s web site, and did not see any financial disclosure information.  But now more than ever, I think the message the JPFO puts out is critical and must be heard.  I gave less than I might if more detailed financial information had been made available, with a simple one year membership.  I am thinking about buying one of their bumper stickers which reads “Gun Control is not Kosher”.

2. Gun Owners of America

I have known of this organization for some time, but had not contributed or joined due to the fact that I already maintain a membership in the NRA.  Besides the political arm of the NRA, it is the controlling body of the shooting sports I participate in.  But given the current politics of “gun control,” I became a one-year member in GOA.

3. George Zimmerman Defense Fund

The case has fallen out of the news, but Zimmerman is the man accused of murdering Trayvon Martin.  Zimmerman claims he fired in self-defense.  In my opinion the Florida State Attorney has conducted itself deplorably in this case, and based upon all of the publicly available information, in my view at this time it appears Zimmerman did indeed act in lawful self-defense under the laws of Florida.  So I made a small donation.

4. Friends of the IDF

FIDF does various good works and support for IDF troops, especially American kids who go serve in the IDF.

Fran Saltzman – Jewish Marksmswoman and First Female Jewish Mountie

“I’m a marksman, which means I’m a pretty darned good shot with a gun and a rifle.” 

Today’s Jewish markswoman is Fran Saltzman, who had the distinct honor of being the first Jewish woman in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).  In a recent article she described her experiences in the 1970s:

Saltzman likened her six months of boot camp to scenes in the movies Private Benjamin and GI Jane. As if their rigorous training wasn’t hard enough, women were on the receiving end of every form of sexism, from belittling comments to outright hostility and sexual harassment, she said. Saltzman recalled that one trainer introduced them to ammunition by explaining, “The bullet is like a lipstick; the pointy end goes in first.”

As the first female Jewish officer in the RCMP, Saltzman said, “I experienced very little antisemitism… My major battle was proving that women could do the job. The issue was gender and not religion.”

She spoke of one ugly incident that occurred when her troop was taught how to use gas masks. They donned the equipment and prepared to enter a small building in which gas would be released. According to Saltzman, the sergeant asked, “Are there any Jews in this troop?” When she “proudly” raised her hand, she said, he responded, “Hmm, Aronovitch, your people like gas.”

She refused to give him the satisfaction of crying but was so shaken that she failed the test. However, she stressed, this “was the action of one ignorant, prejudiced sergeant, and was not representative of the attitudes of the RCMP as a whole.”

Saltzman is yet another example of Jews serving proudly on police forces in North America.  She is not the only Jewish Canadian marksperson I know of, but I believe the first Canadian I have covered on the blog.

Jewish Marksman’s Thoughts on Assault Weapons Bans

Short answer: Banning so-called assault weapons will not save lives. Such bans are nothing more than an “assault” on a sub-culture that some do not understand, and therefore fear and demonize.

I. Digression on cosmetics.

A. Color
I have written before about how so-called assault weapons like the AR-15 have been maligned by many simply according to its cosmetics.  It “looks” like something evil and menacing, no doubt due to it’s black color (sorry, but the fact is that throughout the history of Western culture, the color black is associated with evil, death and disease) and prominence in violent Vietnam-era war movies like Full Metal Jacket.

So first let’s look at some examples of fully functional AR-15s which are cosmetically less menacing:

Do you see how powerfully colors effect human perception and emotion?  Changing the color allows you tho view the AR-15 rationally and with intelligence, as opposed to emotion.  It took Americans hundreds of years to overcome using color as a basis to judge human beings, and some of them haven’t quite made it all the way.  Why would the public consciousness about black rifles be any different?  Now you are equipped to use your intellect instead of emotion.

B. Cosmetic/Ergonomic Features
Our legal system is governed by statutes and regulations, not feelings.  This means law makers must define what makes one rifle an “assault rifle” and another not.  Uninformed law makers having conjured up the term “assault rifle” simply fall back on cosmetic features.  For example, a rifle’s having a pistol grip is usually one element of being termed an “assault rifle.”  As you can see in the pictures immediately above, the shooting hand holds the AR-15 similar to a pistol.  And this matters…why exactly?  Below is an example of a M1A rifle, used by the US military prior to adopting the AR-15, and actually making a comeback because in most configurations it shoots a more powerful cartridge than the AR-15.  Note that it does not have a pistol grip like most AR-15s have:

The pistol grip is just an ergonomic preference.  Some people prefer them for comfort, some people don’t.  A pistol grip has nothing to do with the deadliness of a firearm.

Other “assault weapon” features lawmakers have identified is the presence of a bayonet lug.  Yep, the fact that a bayonet can be easily attached to the rifle is, supposedly, a great threat to public safety.  Actually, the reason the bayonet lug remains on many AR-15s today is that tripod manufacturers have developed mounts to attach there, helping shooters who like to shoot from tripods.  I don’t know of anybody who has ever actually attached a bayonet to their AR-15, and I believe that 99% of AR-15 owners don’t even own or care to own a bayonet.

As you can see, once you learn about these so-called “evil features” that define a so-called “assault weapon,” you begin to see that behind the curtain sits an uninformed fool.  The politicians who scrabble together the legislation have no education regarding firearms, and are navigating by feel.  Now you know better.

II. Reasons why an assault weapons ban will not save lives.

A. Pistol vs. Rifle Caliber Irrelevant at Close Range

Modern pistol chamberings are more than effective at killing at close range, including but not limited to: 9mm, .45ACP, .40S&W and .357SIG.  For example, on April 16, 2007, on the campus of Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others using a pistol chambered in 9mm as well as one chambered in .22LR, the latter being one of the weakest pistol calibers available.  In 1999 the Columbine massacre primarily involved 9mm rounds.  9mm is by far the most popular handgun chambering round worldwide, with .45ACP a close second in the U.S.  Therefore, concerns over weapons chambered in more powerful rifle rounds are moot, because common pistol calibers are already extremely effective.  Banning certain firearms, in part because they are chambered in powerful rifle rounds will not save lives.

By way of analogy, this is akin to banning 500 horse power sports cars out of concerns that they have the ability to travel far in excess of a 75 MPH highway speed limit.  Such a ban would be senseless because even a 250 HP motor can accelerate a car to dangerous speeds, and in fact even a 120 HP motor can.  All modern cars can hit 125 MPH and above, even with only 4 cylinders, which is extremely dangerous on trafficked roads in the US.  Worrying about and banning a car that can hit 150 MPH or 160 MPH is somewhat pointless, and in point of fact, AFAIK there is no legal limitation on horsepower or how fast a car is capable of going with respect to being sold, manufactured or possessed in the US.

Concern over cartridge power might be relevant if indeed mass shootings ever took place at distances of 100 yards or more, but these are extremely rare, and in any case, a typical hunting rifle would be a more effective tool for that task.  In 1966, this is what a shooter did on a Texas college campus, killing several students from a tower at long range using a hunting-style rifle.  It is true that in 2002 the so-called Beltway sniper used and AR-15, but in that case the rifle was used in a manner similar to a hunting rifle, i.e. one well placed shot for each kill and not as a rapid-fire weapon.  The shooter took only a single shot from one location hidden inside the trunk of a car, and the driver then sped away to a completely new location.

B. Magazine capacity irrelevant and banning high capacity magazines will not save lives.

I blogged separately on this point, so go read that post for that argument.

C. Semi-automatic irrelevant and will not save lives.

This argument is based on pure ignorance of what revolvers based on 19th century designs are still capable of, primarily because revolvers re no longer featured much in movies and TV.  But some sportsmen still use them, and millions are still used for self defense.  With practice, a revolver is just as capable of being a tool for mass murder:

Even a cowboy lever action rifle can inflict serious damage:

Again, this 1800′s-era technology in the three videos above.

In conclusion, gun ban legislation is conjured up by folks who have very little or any knowledge of firearms at all.  Clearly, any firearm is capable of killing large numbers of people in a short amount of time.  Therefore, bans on so-called “assault weapons” is nothing more than smoke and mirrors designed to:

a. Give the public (and politicians) a false sense of security and control over violence.
b. Distract from the fact that the US has deplorable mental health care policies.
c. Distract from the fact that pop culture pumped out by Hollywood and video game makers contributes to a culture of violence.
d. Attack people on the conservative end of the political spectrum, who are more likely to own firearms and oppose gun bans.
e. Attack people who belong to the sub-culture of gun enthusiasts, who others don’t understand and therefore fear and demonize.  Jews have known and suffered this trait of human culture for centuries.

Jewish Marksman’s Thoughts on Magazine Capacity and Proposed Bans

Short answer: banning high capacity magazines will not save lives.

1. Reason #1: Magazines can be quickly swapped, even before they are empty (i.e. when convenient for the shooter) such that whether a shooter carries one 30-round magazine or three 10-round magazines makes no difference.  Check out USAMU member Travis Tomasie:

If you watched carefully, he only took 6 shots from each magazine!  I think the video speaks for itself, case closed.

2. Reason #2: Magazines are based on the exact same design as a simple PEZ dispenser.  It is very easy to either modify an existing magazine or make a new one into a “high capacity magazine.”  If someone set on mass murder cannot buy one, he/she will just make one.

It seems to me that most people who propose bans on high capacity magazines don’t really know what a magazine is or how it functions.  So hopefully some of them will read this.  If as a kid (or adult) you ever ate PEZ candy with PEZ dispenser, you need to understand that firearms magazines are pretty much designed exactly the same way.  The website collectingpez.com has this diagram of a PEZ dispenser taken apart (and what kid didn’t take his/hers apart?):

And here is a Hello Kitty PEZ dispenser in action:

I think you can see it would not take a mechanical genius to create a “high capacity” PEZ dispenser.  Just lengthen the inner sleeve and inner sleeve spring.  It can be done with simple hand tools, or if you want to get serious, use a “3d Printer” (an inexpensive home CNC machine).

Most firearms magazines are no different.  Here is a diagram of the internals of a Glock handgun magazine:

And here is a disassembled AR-15 magazine:

So unless you are the kind of person that struggles to change a light bulb, I think you can grasp the concept that magazines are primitive devices that can and are made and modified at home.

Why the Jewish Marksman is Armed Part I

I attended college in the Midwest at a Big 10 university.  I lived in an off-campus apartment my senior year, in a relatively quiet and safe part of town.  I had not yet become a firearm owner at that time.

The apartment was on the first floor of the building with an outdoor patio deck surrounded by a waist high gate.  One night I sat in the living area watching TV with the lights on, vegetating as college students often do.  Through the sliding glass door I saw and heard a figure in the darkness outside climb over the gate and enter the patio area.  This in itself was of no concern, because my or my roommate’s friends would often use this form of entry rather than the slower method of being buzzed into the building.  We actually considered this a benefit of living on the ground floor.  College life I guess.

The person proceeded to open the sliding glass door, and enter.  I casually observed this happen, fully expecting to recognize a buddy who decided to pop in for beer or something.  But when this person stepped inside, with one look I immediately went to code red, because the person looked like, for lack of a better term or euphemism, “a homeless person.”

Israeli Mauser Watch 12/20/2012

Today on Gunbroker.com someone listed exactly the kind of Israeli Mauser that I like to see most of all, an old captured German make with a Star of David and other Hebrew markings, as described by the seller:

Very good condition WWII German 98k Mauser rifle that has the “ar 43” code on the receiver for production by Borsigwalde in 1943. This rifle was later reissued to Israeli forces after the war, where is was converted to 7.62 NATO, or .308, caliber. The Nazi eagle proof on the receiver was peened and replaced with a Star of David

Even if you’re not in the market, it’s worth a click to see the pictures of this special part of Jewish history.  Current bid is $155, and my guestimate is that it will go for $300-$500.

As always,  I have nothing to do with the auction and buyer beware!

(If you are researching Israeli Mausers, you can follow the Israeli Mauser tag to see all my posts on the subject.)

UPDATE: It sold for $405.  Mazal tov to both buyer and seller.