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dosbears
Over the past week it’s become obvious that there’s an immense gulf between people who think that stricter gun laws would be the most effective way to begin to deal with mass murder, and those who think stricter gun laws would be the least effective way. Specifically, there’s a pervasive belief that Nancy Lanza’s Bushmaster .223 is some sort of super weapon, because it’s based on the military M16 rifle.

The design of the lightweight M16 was the result of the realization that the vast majority of rifle rounds expended in battle never hit anyone, and were, instead, used to suppress heavier fire from the enemy while advancing close enough to use grenades, etc. Therefore, ”intermediate" (more powerful than pistol ammo, less powerful than standard .30-06) ammo was specified so that a foot soldier could carry more ammo, and use higher capacity magazines, than with a standard battle rifle. The original M16 magazines were 20 round. The trend of smaller and lighter combat rifles didn't stop with the M16. The current M4 combat rifle uses the same ammo, but is shorter and has a 30 round magazine as standard. Most combat rifles can be switched between full-auto and semi-auto, while some have a 3-shot burst mode instead of full-auto. The modular design of the M16 and its successors allows for more accurate long-barrel units as well as close-quarter units.

As is standard in the firearm industry, Colt, the supplier of the M16, adapted the design for the civilian market. The civilian model does not have full-auto, and uses .223 Remington ammo, from which the 5.56 NATO round was developed. The civilian model originally shipped with 20-round magazines. The same caliber is used in the very popular Ruger ranch rifles, which do not take the same magazines.

In most jurisdictions, .223 Remington ammo is not allowed for deer hunting, because it isn't considered powerful enough to humanely dispatch a deer with one shot. There is a great variety of more powerful hunting calibers and loads. Because of its light recoil, .223 is popular for 'varmint' hunting (i.e. squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs), plinking, and various 'action shooting' competitions. The only lighter rifle ammo in popular use is the rim-fire .22.

The external-magazine design common to most semi-auto firearms, and many popular non-auto firearms such as the pump-action Remington 7600 and the Browning lever-action BLR, allows for ammo to be pre-loaded into multiple magazines separate from the firearm. For pistols, normal capacity magazines generally don’t extend beyond the end of the grip. Therefore, the standard capacity of a pistol will depend on the caliber. For larger calibers, such as the .45, the magazine might hold as few as 6 rounds. Very light calibers, such as the ubiquitous 9mm service pistol, hold from 14 to 18 rounds, depending on overall size of the pistol. Magazines are generally caliber specific. A .45 magazine is unlikely to fit in a 9mm handgun. However, for some pistols, a magazine for a somewhat larger caliber can be adapted for a smaller caliber firearm by simply bending the feed lip.

Most semi-auto firearms use what is called a ‘closed-bolt’ system. After inserting a magazine into an unloaded firearm, the slide is manually pulled back and released. As the slide goes forward, it strips a round from the magazine and chambers it, while simultaneously cocking the firing mechanism. As each round is fired, the bullet is propelled forward, while the slide is propelled backward. As the slide goes back, it extracts and ejects the spent casing, and compresses the recoil spring. The spring then forces the slide to return, chambering the next round. The rate of fire of a semi-auto is dependent on the overall length of the ammo cartridge, the power of the recoil, and various other factors. The Ruger ranch rifles have a rate of fire similar to semi-auto mode on the M16.

When the final round in a magazine is fired, the slide locks back in the open-bolt position. In addition to the trigger, cocking/decocking mechanism, and whatever external safety the firearm might have, it has a magazine release and a slide release. On a well-designed handgun, either can be reached with a finger or thumb of the shooting hand without compromising the hand position. While the support hand retrieves a fresh magazine from a carrier or pocket, the spent magazine is released. After the fresh magazine is inserted, the slide is released, the bolt closes, and firing can be resumed without recocking the firearm. With a few hours practice, anyone with average dexterity can master this to the degree that she is not vulnerable while reloading. The shooter is not required to wait until the last round is fired, and may swap magazines at any time. In many action shooting competitions, managing magazines well is a major factor. The ergonomics of a rifle may require the support hand to also assist in releasing the magazine, but swapping magazines can still be done very quickly. There are many different strategies used to increase availability of magazines, such as having two or more bound together in such a way that the magazine can be removed, rotated, and reinserted quickly. There are also more unusual after-market devices, such as 100-round drums.

In summary, civilian rifles, such as the Bushmaster .223, derived from the military M16, are not high-powered rifles. They are used for small game hunting, and recreational shooting. They are not unusual in their rate of fire, or in their ability to use high-capacity magazines. There is no reason to believe that banning civilian firearms based on the M16 would have any positive impact in dealing with mass murder. In light of the Supreme Court rulings in 2008 and 2010, there is considerable doubt that semi-auto firearms as a whole could be banned in the US.
 
 
dosbears
04 August 2012 @ 04:17 pm
Interesting article about the misuse of scientific methodology in a fringe reptile evolution theory.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/2012/07/03/world-must-ignore-reptileevolution-com/
 
 
dosbears
11 January 2010 @ 12:41 pm
You may quote me. Please. I'm dying to be quoted by someone for any reason at all. My ego is an eggshell in a hurricane, throw me a bone.
-- Dan Piraro
 
 
dosbears
15 March 2009 @ 04:13 pm
Frisian Oat Curry (from "Hope's Edge: the Next Diet for a Small Planet", by Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé)

This makes a lot, so you could certainly halve the recipe.

2 1/2 cups oat groats
4 cups vegetable broth (or water), divided
4 cups diced apples (about 1 pound, or 3 medium)
4 cups diced onions
3 T. lemon juice
2 T. butter (I use olive oil. I suspect Frisia has more cows than olive trees ;-)
3 T. curry powder (preferably a gingery mix)
3/4 cups raw, unsalted cashews (4 oz. by weight)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds (4 oz.)

Rinse the oats. Put them in a heavy-bottomed large Dutch oven while still damp, and heat, stirring, until the grains begin to burst. Add 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Let oats and broth simmer on low for 30 minutes. Turn off heat, cover pot, and let oats steep another 10 minutes.

Peel, core, and dice apples into 1/2 in. cubes. Sprinkle them with 2 T. lemon juice.

Dice the onions into 1/2 in. cubes. Heat the butter/olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the apple and stew together for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle the curry powder over apples and onions, stir, and cook briefly.

Add the cashews. Add remaining 1/2 cup of liquid and bring to a boil, then turn heat to low. Add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice to taste.

Toast the almonds, let cool, then chop into fine pieces.

Stir onion mixture into oats. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.
 
 
dosbears
19 November 2008 @ 02:23 pm
I'm reading the CA supreme court ruling. Looks like they've decided to hear the case, but denied the injunction. The vote is 6 - 1 to hear the petitions, Kennard voting against hearing the petitions, Moreno joining the majority but also granting the injunction. All responses, amicus curiae briefs, etc to be filed by Jan 21 2009
 
 
 
dosbears
11 November 2008 @ 11:29 am
Yet another picture of the backs of our heads, and our fabulous rainbow kippot. ;-)
 
 
dosbears
10 November 2008 @ 01:00 pm

No on 8 Rally
Originally uploaded by Michael Ingrassia
Rally in front of the San José/San José State University Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library
 
 
dosbears
10 November 2008 @ 12:56 pm

No on 8 Rally
Originally uploaded by Michael Ingrassia
The Billy DeFrank center had a No on 8 aftermath meeting scheduled. They were expecting maybe 25 people. After a one-hour meeting, we took to the streets.
 
 
dosbears
08 November 2008 @ 03:20 pm
I just found out that Camden Pet Hospital donated $3000 to the Yes on 8 campaign, so I'm looking for a new vet. My dog has Addison's Disease, and I spend at least $150/month on his meds.

Contributor name Camden Pet Hospital
Occupation Veterinarian
Employer NONE or N/A
City San Jose
State or country CA
ZIP 95124
Position Support
Amount $3,000.00
Payment type Monetary
Transaction date 9/25/2008
Committee name PROTECTMARRIAGE.COM - YES ON 8, A PROJECT OF CALIFORNIA RENEWAL

Contributor name Walter Hoge
Occupation Veterinarian
Employer CAMDEN PET HOSPITAL
City San Jose
State or country CA
ZIP 95120
Position Support
Amount $100.00
Payment type Monetary
Transaction date 10/14/2008
Committee name PROTECTMARRIAGE.COM - YES ON 8, A PROJECT OF CALIFORNIA RENEWAL

Boycott Camden Pet Hospital!
 
 
Current Mood: infuriatedinfuriated
 
 
dosbears
05 November 2008 @ 05:13 pm
Here's the injunctive petition filed today against Prop 8. http://www.nclrights.org/site/DocServer/CampaignPetition.pdf