RELOADERS CORNER: Standard Deviation

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Before getting into improving bullet velocity Standard Deviation, it’s first necessary to understand what it is, and what it isn’t. KEEP READING

chronograph screen

Glen Zediker

I got started on this topic last time, and kind of came in through the side door. Quick backstory: the topic was how to start on solving unsuitably high shot-to-shot velocity inconsistencies. This time we’ll start at the other end of this, and that is taking steps to improve already suitable velocity deviation figures.

Clearly, the first step in getting involved in velocity studies is getting the velocities to study. Of course, that means you need a chronograph. Midsouth Shooters has a selection and there’s a direct link in this article.

Virtually all chronographs are going to be accurate. A well-known manufacturer of shooting-industry electronics once told me that unless a chronograph displays a reading that’s just crazy unrealistic, you can rely on the number. The reason is that the current state of circuitry is pretty well understood and heavily shared. Pay attention, though, to setting up the device according to suggestions in the instructions that will accompany the new chronograph. The more recent Doppler-radar-based units are not technically chronographs, but they function as such. The advantages to those are many! More in another article soon. For now, for here, what matters is getting some numbers.

labradar
Latest and greatest, in my mind, advancement in data collection is doppler radar based units, like this from LabRadar. Easy to use, and not finicky about sunlight and setup.

Point of all that was this: You don’t have to spend up for the best to get a good chronograph. One of the price-point differences in chronographs is how much it will help work with the data it gathers. Most of us any more don’t have to do hands-on calculations. Me? All I want is a number. However, there are a good many that will record, calculate, and print.

magnetospeed
Barrel-mounted electro-magnetic chronographs like this one from MagnetoSpeed make it easy. I like being able to read speeds without all the setup, and not having to rely on a benchrest-type restriction. It stays on the rifle so can easily be used in the field. There are rail mounts available also.

Terms and Twists
Speaking of calculations, the most known and probably most used expressed calculation of collected velocity figures is Standard Deviation. SD suggests or reflects the anticipated consistency of bullet velocities (calculated from some number of recorded velocities). “Standard” reflects on a sort of an average of the rounds tested. I know saying “sort of” disturbs folks like my math-major son so here’s more: SD is the square root of the mean of the squares of the deviations.

Standard Deviation calculations did not originate from ballistic research. It’s from statistical analysis and can be applied to a huge number of topics, like population behavior. SD calculation forms a bell curve, familiar to anyone who ever had to take a dreaded Statistics class. The steeper and narrower the apex of the bell, the narrower the fluctuations were. But there’s always a bell to a bell curve and the greatest deviations from desired standard are reflected in this portion of the plot. Depending on the number of shots that went into the SD calculation, these deviations may be more or less notable than the SD figure suggests.

Calculating SD
If you have no electronic gadgetry to help: add up all the recorded velocities and divide them by the number of records to get a “mean.” Then subtract that mean value from each single velocity recorded to get a “deviation” from the mean. Then square each of those. Squaring them eliminates any negative numbers that might result from cancelling out and returning a “0.” Add the squares together and find the mean of the squares by dividing again by the number of numbers — minus 1 (divide by n -1; that eliminates a bias toward a misleadingly small result). Then find the square root of that and that’s the Standard Deviation figure, which is “a” Standard Deviation, by the way, not the Standard Deviation.

bell curve
This is a bell curve such as results from plotting an SD calculation, and is given here only an example of how the distribution, the “odds,” graph out.

Knowing a load’s SD allows us to estimate-anticipate how likely it is for “outliers” to show up as we’re shooting one round after another. Based on the distribution based on the curve, if we have an SD of 12, for instance, then a little better than 2 out of 3 shots will be at or closer to the mean than 12 feet per second (fps). The other shots will deviate farther: about 9 out of 10 will be 19 fps, or less, from the mean. 21 out of 22 will be 24 fps closer to the mean. Those numbers represent about 1.00, 1.65, and 2.00 standard deviations.

Now. All that may have ranged from really boring to somewhat helpful, to, at the least, I hope informative.

Mastery of SD calculation and understanding doesn’t necessarily mean smaller groups. It gives a way to, mostly and above all else, tell us, one, the potential of the ammo to deliver consistent elevation impacts, and, two, reflects on both how well we’re doing our job in assembling the ammo and the suitability of our component combination.

I honestly pay zero attention to SD. I go on two other terms, two other numbers. One is “range,” which is the lowest and highest speeds recorded in a session. The one that really matters to me, though, is “extreme spread.” That, misleading on the front end, is defined as the difference between this shot and the next shot, and then that shot and the next shot, and so on. Why? Because that’s how I shoot tournament rounds! This one, then another, and then another. A low extreme spread means that the accuracy of my judgment of my wind call has some support.

Depending on the number of shots and more, SD can be misleading because it gets a little smaller with greater amounts of input. Extreme spread doesn’t. I have yet to calculate an SD that put its single figure greater than my extreme spread records.

Lemmeesplain: The shot-to-shot routine is to fire a round. It’s either centered or not. If it’s not centered, calculate the amount of correction to get the next one to center. Put that on the sight. Fire again. If I know that there’s no more than 10 fps between those rounds, that’s no enough to account for (technically it can’t be accounted for with a 1/4-MOA sight) then it’s all on me, and if it’s all on me I know that the input I got from the last shot, applied to the next shot, will be telling. Was I right or wrong? It can’t be the ammo, folks. Then I know better whether the correction is true and correct.

Some might be thinking “what’s the difference?” and it’s small, and so are scoring lines.

A load that calculates to a low SD is not automatically going to group small, just because it has a low SD. Champion Benchrest competitors have told me that their best groups don’t always come with a low-SD load. But that does not apply to shooting greater distance! A bullet’s time of flight and speed loss are both so relatively small at 100 yards that any reasonable variation in bullet velocities (even a 20 SD) isn’t going to open a group, not even the miniscule clusters it takes to be competitive in that sport. On downrange, though, it really starts to matter.

For an example from my notes: Sierra 190gr .308 MatchKing, in a .308 Win. Its 2600 fps muzzle velocity becomes 2450 at 100 yards and 1750 at 600 yards (I rounded these numbers).

If we’re working with a horrid 100 fps muzzle velocity change, that means one bullet could lauch at 2550 and the next might hit 2650, in the extreme. The first drifts about 28 inches (let’s make it a constant full-value 10-mph wind again to keep it simple) and the faster one slides 26 inches. That’s not a huge deal. However! Drop — that is THE factor, and here’s where inconsistent velocities really hurt. With that 190, drop amount differences over a 100 fps range are about 3 times as great as drift amounts. This bullet at 2600 muzzle velocity hits 5-6 inches higher or lower for each 50 fps muzzle velocity difference. That is going to cost on target. And it gets way (way) worse at 1000 yards. Velocity-caused errors compound on top of “normal” group dispersion (which would be group size given perfect velocity consistency).

This 100 fps example is completely extreme, but half of that, or even a quarter of that, still blows up a score, or creates a miss on an important target.

That all led to this: What is a tolerable SD?

I say 12. There has been much (a huge amount) of calculation that led to that answer. But that’s what I say is the SD that “doesn’t matter” to accuracy. It’s more than I’ll accept for a tournament load, but for those I’m looking for an extreme spread less than 10 fps (the range might be higher, but now we’re just talking terms). More later…

Check out chronographs HERE

This article is adapted from Glen’s book, Handloading For Competition, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information on that and other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

REVIEW-RETROSPECT: Surplus Beretta 92S

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Here’s a retired 9mm with still a lot of fight left! READ MORE

beretta 92s
For a pistol manufactured in the early 1980s my example shows surprisingly little wear.

beretta 92s

Robert Sadowski

“Surplus” has different meanings depending where you are in the world. Surplus firearms in the U.S. means extra on-hand or dated equipment, in other countries it could mean scrap metal. I try to avoid the latter, but I am always on the look out for a diamond in the rough and thought I’d look at the Beretta 92S. I have seen these advertised by a variety of online gun sellers. This 9mm is an early generation of 92FS so it is more of a European gun than the 92FS which definitely has U.S. influence. This is what I found with this old pistol.

The Model 92S is basically a Model 92FS with slight differences.The original Model 92 was introduced in 1976 and had a frame mounted safety similar to the Taurus 92 pistol or a 1911 style pistol. Police and military in Italy wanted a slide mounted safety and in 1977 Beretta introduced the 92S, the second generation 92, and started to sell these pistols to police and law enforcement agencies around the world. Where the 92S differs from the 92FS is in the grip, hammer pin, receiver shape, and magazine release. The 92FS has an enlarged hammer pin to stop the slide from flying off the receiver if it cracks. This was done at request of the U.S. military after testing with high pressure loads. The 92S has the safety lever mounted in the slide. Rotated up it exposes a red dot and the pistol is ready to fire. Rotate it down and the trigger is disengaged but the slide can still be manipulated. The hammer cannot be cocked. With the pistol cocked, rotate the lever to allow the hammer to move forward. The safety is not ambidextrous.

beretta 92s
The 92S was the first of the 92 series to have a slide mounted safety lever.

The receiver has a rounded trigger guard and the magazine release is located in the butt. Press the button and the magazine falls free. If you have ever fired a pistol in snow or tall grass you will understand why the magazine release was located here. Using the support hand to manipulate the magazine drops the empty magazine into the palm of the support hand. Here in the U.S. we are used to dumping the empty magazine and while it is falling insert a full magazine. This is a European trait of the 92S. It’s really all in the training. Most magazines made for the 92FS are compatible with the 92S, so finding extra magazines — both factory and aftermarket — is simple.

beretta 92s
That button is the magazine release, which took some getting used to.
beretta 92s
That D-shaped hole in the magazine allows the magazine to be used in 92s with a magazine butt release. Many current manufacture 92 magazines have this cut out.

The front and rear grip straps are smooth and there is a lanyard loop attached at the butt. The 92S feels rounded in hand, different than the 92FS. The plastic grips were checkered on the bottom portion but not the top which is odd. I would have liked fully checkered grips to better grip the pistol.

beretta 92s
The 92S did not have any front or rear grip strap serrations. They were missed.

My example showed signs of holster wear but little actually firing. The bluing was worn and I would rate this pistol 80-75 percent by NRA standards. The slide had no wiggle — it was tight. The trigger measured 11 pounds in DA mode and felt like it. In SA mode there was a lot of take up and a bit mushy. Not show stoppers by any means, just a typical used service pistol. The sight were small, fixed, and without contrasting dots or lines. On a dark background the sights can get lost.

Since this is an older pistol I did not test with +P+ loads. This pistol was not designed for that type of high pressure ammunition, not that I am implying this is a sub standard pistol. The 92S is safe when used with ammunition originally intended. What I did want to find out was if performance would be affected if I fired different bullets types — meaning FMJs and hollow points. I used off the shelf 9mm ammo consisting of Hornady American Gunner with 115-grain XTP jacketed hollow points, Aguila 124-grain FMJ, and SIG Sauer 115-grain FMJ.

beretta 92s
Sights are small and glare when used in full sunlight.

For accuracy testing I used a bench rest at targets set at 25 yards.

All ammunition cycled flawlessly through the 92S. Magazines seated easily. I would have liked more slide serrations to make the slide easier to rack.

Bench rest accuracy was good, averaging about two inches for five rounds at 25 yards. The 92S had a pleasant recoil. The pistol magazine release took some getting used to and slowed me down when it came to rapid reloads.

beretta 92s
If you’ve spent time under Uncle Sam’s tutelage you know a 92 field strips quickly.

The 92S is no 92FS but still provides an excellent example of Beretta’s 92 series performance, and is a little piece of history too. The 92S is about half the cost of a new 92FS.

92S92S

SKILLS: Cut Your Reaction Time

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Speed is of the essence in any defensive situation, and in most any defensive situation, the fastest solid hit wins. Here’s how to get faster. READ MORE

speed drills

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life

The martial arts offer an age-old perspective on something critically important to your shooting performance — reaction time. Employing a punch, a round kick, an edged weapon, or a firearm in self-defense means that you’re reacting to a rapid and dynamic escalation of force.

Your objective is to stop or gain control of that escalation. The single most important factor in meeting that objective is time.

Tick Tock
In any self-defense situation with or without a firearm, TIME is a double-edged sword — it can be both your dearest friend (when in ample supply), and adamant foe (when turned against you).

Reactionary Gap is a term applied to the amount of space at your disposal in response to a real-world active threat. The greater the reactionary gap, the more time you have. The smaller gap, the less time.

Physical violence that causes you to go to guns in defense of life or limb, usually means a minimal reactionary gap. Relying on precision shooting when fighting for your life at extreme close quarters, may not be your very best bet. However, having true reactive shooting skills in your tool kit will help make optimal usage of time.

Reactive Shooting School
Founded (more than 40 years ago) by former FBI Special Agent and renowned professional competition shooter, Bill Rogers, is a reactive shooting school that trains you to do just that — shoot reactively.

If you’re a student of defensive handgun and you’ve never been, the Rogers Shooting School, located in Ellijay, GA, is a very worthwhile training investment. Reactive shooting is unlike any other, in that, just like the real world, you don’t have much time to react. The Rogers system demands alacrity in both effective gun handling and marksmanship.

According to Bill, we humans have an average “Unit of Human Reaction” (UHR) time measured to be approximately .25 seconds, that’s one quarter of a second. It’s the measurable amount of time your computer (brain) needs to process stimulus response. Although the aggregate may be about a quarter of a second, this is a very subjective measurement and can vary from shooter to shooter.

stopwatch

One way to find your UHR is to use your shot timer. At your next practice session, face down range. Load up. No target required. Point your muzzle into the berm and take up as much slack in the trigger (if any / as possible) without sending the round down range.

Beep, Boom
With the timer set to random (to provide more of an unknown variable — like the real world), have a buddy hold it to your ear. When you hear the beep, break the shot. Beep — boom, it’s that simple. The time registered between beep (stimulus — your sensory input followed by computer interpretation) and boom (response — signal from your brain box down the neural pathways leading to your trigger finger) is your approximate UHR. Run it several times to find your average.

Taking this average as your par time, you can use it to measure that initial critical step (interpretation and processing of life-threatening information) in making rapid and accurate round placement from concealment. Depending upon your skill level, running this drill repeatedly will better familiarize you with operating in fractions of a second and, in the long run, eventually lower your reaction time (UHR).

Reducing your UHR allows you to get to your gun faster because it lessens the amount of time required in decision making — which is a significant and contributing factor in the processing time from initial stimulus to response.

Given that the purpose of defensive shooting is to make combat-effective round placement in a timely manner when reacting to an active threat, time is not on your side. Reducing your UHR by even one tenth of a second shortens your overall time in placing a warranted first round on threat.

Other Opportunities
In addition to using a shot timer at the range, look for and run other “drills” or training opportunities in your day where you may be able to work on reduction of your UHR. Such innocuous training as opening the microwave door during the countdown just as you see the one-second display, but prior to the beep, is a good drill.

Another training opportunity is when driving and sitting first in line at a red light. With your foot on the brake and your eyes on the traffic light – not on your cell phone — the split second you see the light change from red to green, move your foot off the brake pedal, faster than you normally would, but with good control to not stomp on that gas pedal. In fact, you want to make very light placement on that gas pedal. This action is similar to getting on your trigger quickly from the holster, in rapid control, but without disturbing muzzle alignment with the target.

Using these and similar reactionary gap training drills can help you to continually be cognizant of and work on reducing your reaction times. After a couple of months of running these, remeasure your presentation times. You may be pleasantly surprised with the performance benefits of cutting your UHR.

Steve Tarani
Steve is a former CIA protective services subject matter expert who served on Donald Trump’s pre-election protection detail. He is also the lead instructor for the NRA’s new Non-ballistic Weapons Training program offered nationally to 2.3 million members. Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operations Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) and others.

 

Never Enough: New Zealand Government Pushes Even More Gun Control

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In the wake of a failed ban and confiscate measure now there’s a proposed national registry to get it going again… READ MORE

new zealand gun ban

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

On July 22, New Zealand’s Labour-led government announced a wide array of new gun control proposals. The move came amidst the island nation’s ongoing program to confiscate commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms from law-abiding gun owners that will last through December 20. The government’s most recent attack on gun owners is likely to engender further civil disobedience to the firearm confiscation scheme.

In March, following a high-profile shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern moved to ban and confiscate several types of commonly-owned firearms. The “Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Regulations 2019” was enacted in early April and, according to a summary from the New Zealand Police, prohibits the following —

All semi-automatic firearms (including semi-automatic shotguns), but:
Excluding rimfire rifles .22 calibre or less as long as they have a magazine (whether detachable or not) that holds 10 rounds or less; and
Excluding semi-automatic shotguns that have a non-detachable, tubular magazine that holds 5 rounds or less.
Pump action shotguns that:
Are capable of being used with a detachable magazine; or
Have a non-detachable tubular magazine capable of holding more than 5 rounds.

Moreover, the legislation prohibits rifle magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, shotgun magazines capable of holding more than 5 rounds of ammunition, and a host of semi-automatic firearm parts and accessories. Those in possession of the newly prohibited firearms are required to modify them to comply with the Arms Amendment or surrender them at a “collection event” for a predetermined compensation price.

Soon after enacting the new prohibition, some in law enforcement and the gun control community expressed concerns that the government had missed a crucial step in the civilian disarmament process — firearms registration. At present, prospective gun owners must acquire a firearms license. However, only pistols and a small subset of long guns are required to be registered.

This lack of a registry has frustrated the government’s ability to ensure compliance with their firearm confiscation effort. Addressing this issue, New Zealand Police Association President Chris Cahill complained in May, “We really have no idea how many of these firearms are out there in New Zealand… Which really points to how bad our firearms legislation has been, that we have let this get out of control.” Gun Control NZ co-founder Philippa Yasbek whined to the Washington Post, “These weapons are unlikely to be confiscated by police because they don’t know of their existence… These will become black-market weapons if their owners choose not to comply with the law and become criminals instead.”

According to a July 22 press release from Ardern and Minister of Police Stuart Nash, comprehensive firearms registration is the government’s top firearms legislative priority.

Given the government’s recent course of action, one might reasonably wonder how successful such a registration plan would be. Kiwi gun owners are now on notice that their government will confiscate firearms and that a registry would facilitate this task. Gun owners who register their firearms would possess their guns at the temporary pleasure of a state that has demonstrated a willingness to dispossess them of their property at a moment’s notice.

Ardern and Stuart’s message only provided the broad outlines of the government’s legislative proposals, noting that the full legislation would be released in August. The proposed restrictions encumber every aspect of gun ownership in New Zealand. The release stated that the legislation would do the following,

Establish a register of firearms and licence holders to be rolled out over 5 years

Tighten the rules to get and keep a firearms licence

Tighten the rules for gun dealers to get and keep a licence

Require licences to be renewed every five years

Introduce a new system of warning flags so Police can intervene and seek improvement if they have concerns about a licence holder’s behaviour

Prohibit visitors to New Zealand from buying a gun
Establish a licensing system for shooting clubs and ranges for the first time

Set up a new formal group to give independent firearms advice to Police, which will include people from within and outside the gun-owning community

Provide for new controls on firearms advertising

Require a licence to buy magazines, parts and ammunition
Increase penalties and introduce new offences

Enshrine in law that owning a firearm is a privilege and comes with an obligation to demonstrate a high level of safety and responsibility

Aside from the registration requirement, the most concerning proposal is the expansion of subjective government discretion in the firearm licensing process.

A document accompanying the press release titled, “Arms Amendment Bill: Q+As,” made clear just how intrusive the new licensing requirements could be. The Q+A stated that “Police will have a wider range of powers to intervene using a range of compliance and enforcement measures.” Moreover, the legislation will deputize medical officials to infringe gun rights. The document explained, “Health practitioners will have a new responsibility to notify Police if they believe a licence holder should not use a firearm.” The paper cited “gambling addiction” as a circumstance that could disqualify an individual from licensure.

The Q+A also elaborated on the “warning flags being built in to the licensing system.” The paper noted, “Behaviour that will raise flags includes encouraging or promoting violence, hatred or extremism…” In other words, the New Zealand government would be the arbiter of acceptable speech and political opinion and permit the exercise of firearms rights dependent upon an individual’s conformance with their dictates. A prospective or current firearms licensee might also earn a “warning flag” for the nebulous offense of “showing disregard for others property or land.”

In he and Ardern’s press release, Nash is quoted as stating, “Owning a gun is a privilege, not a right.” This is incorrect. The right to keep and bear arms is an extension of the natural right to self-defense and is therefore inherent to all people and not dependent upon a government for its existence. Governments may fail to recognize the right, but have no power to eliminate it.

Some American politicians share Nash’s view of gun rights and many share Ardern’s zeal to control her population through firearms restrictions. Americans should pay careful attention to the New Zealand government’s actions as it provides important insight into the goals and mindset of the Second Amendment’s domestic political adversaries.

 

Governor Abbott Signs 10 Pro-Second-Amendment Bills into Law

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Texas Governor puts 10 NRA-supported laws into effect. READ MORE

texas flag

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

New Laws Will Take Effect on September 1

Governor Greg Abbott has now signed all of the NRA-supported legislation which the Texas Legislature sent him during the 2019 session. Thank you to pro-Second Amendment leaders and lawmakers in the House and Senate for their work to ensure passage of these measures. Here is the list of NRA-backed bills which will become law on September 1:

House Bill 121 by Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) & Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) provides a legal defense for License To Carry holders who unknowingly enter establishments with 30.06 or 30.07 signs, as long they promptly leave when verbally informed of the policy.

House Bill 302 by Rep. Dennis Paul (R-Houston) & Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) prohibits “no firearms” clauses in future residential lease agreements and protect tenants’ rights to possess lawfully-owned firearms and ammunition in dwelling units and on manufactured home lots, and to transport their guns directly between their personal vehicles and these locations.

House Bill 1143 by Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant) & Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) prevents school districts from effectively prohibiting the possession of firearms in private motor vehicles by limiting their authority to regulate the manner in which they are stored in locked cars and trucks — including by employees.

House Bill 1177 by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) & Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) protects citizens from being charged with a crime for carrying a handgun without a License To Carry while evacuating from an area during a declared state or local disaster, or while returning to that area, and allows shelters which are otherwise prohibited locations to decide whether to accommodate evacuees with firearms in their possession.

House Bill 1791 by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) & Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) closes loopholes in the state’s “wrongful exclusion” law that cities, counties and state agencies have been using to restrict License To Carry holders in government buildings.

House Bill 2363 by Rep. Cody Harris (R-Palestine) & Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) allows foster parents to store firearms in a safe and secure manner while making them more readily accessible for personal protection purposes. ?

House Bill 3231 by Rep. Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) & Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) improves and modernizes the state’s firearms preemption law, curbs the ability of municipalities to abuse their zoning authority and circumvent state law to restrict the sale or transfer of firearms and ammunition at the local level, and allows the State Attorney General to recover reasonable expenses incurred when obtaining injunctions against localities which violate the preemption statute.

Senate Bill 535 by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) & Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) strikes “churches, synagogues, or other places of worship” from the list of prohibited locations in the Penal Code, clarifying that these places have the same right enjoyed by nearly all other controllers of private property in the state to decide whether to allow License To Carry holders on their premises.

Senate Bill 741 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) & Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) prohibits a property owners’ association from including or enforcing a provision in a dedicatory instrument that prohibits, restricts, or has the effect of prohibiting or restricting any person who is otherwise authorized from lawfully possessing, transporting, or storing a firearm.

Senate Bill 772 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) & Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) provides civil liability protection to business establishments which choose not to post 30.06/30.07 signs, making them less vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits and giving them an incentive to adopt permissive policies for the carrying of handguns by law-abiding citizens on their premises.

Lastly, there’s been a lot of coverage in the media lately about the state’s role in promoting gun safety and the following rider that was included in the state budget bill, which was also signed into law by Governor Abbott and which NRA did not oppose:

Statewide Safe Gun Storage Campaign. (Department of Public Safety) $500,000 in fiscal year 2020 and $500,000 in fiscal year 2021 in General Revenue to establish and promote a statewide safe gun storage campaign. The public awareness campaign shall begin no later than September 1, 2020. The public awareness campaign may include online materials, printed materials, public service announcements, or other advertising media. The public awareness campaign may not convey a message that it is unlawful under state law to keep or store a firearm that is loaded or that is readily accessible for self-defense.

NRA supported the award of a $1 million grant from the State of Texas to the National Shooting Sports Foundation for the distribution of Project ChildSafe firearms safety kits to Texas residents through a network of law enforcement and community partners. We appreciate Governor Abbott’s recognition of NSSF’s expertise in firearms safety and his effort to bring this proven and effective safety program, which is free of anti-gun rhetoric and bias, to Texas residents.

 

A Pair of Academics Question Gun Control Orthodoxy

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One advantage “academics” have is that they are smart enough to see the truth, when they can speak it. READ MORE

gun ban

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

Given that so much gun policy research is explicitly funded by individuals hostile to our right to keep and bear arms, gun owners are right to be skeptical of academics who delve into the topic. However, there are times when well-respected academics have proven confident enough to challenge the prevailing left-wing orthodoxies on gun control. Such is the case with recent pieces from Northeastern University Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy James Alan Fox and Harvard Kennedy School of Government Research Fellow Thomas Abt.

In a July 23 item for USA Today, Fox pondered why a recent mass killing in Kyoto, Japan did not garner significant attention in the U.S. media. On July 18, a man entered the Kyoto Animation studio and doused parts of the building with an accelerant and screamed “drop dead” or “die!” The individual then set the building ablaze. The resulting fire killed 34 people and injured more than thirty. According to a BBC report, the attack was “one of Japan’s worst mass casualty incidents since World War Two.”

A reasonable person might have expected such a heinous attack perpetrated in a notoriously peaceful country to get the attention of the press, but as Fox explained, the “Kyoto Animation arson killings didn’t get much attention because we couldn’t demonize guns.”

Comparing coverage of the Kyoto massacre to the March shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, Fox noted, “U.S. newspapers and wire services featured the Christchurch massacre five times as much as the Kyoto mass murder.” Fox went on to explain that a significant portion of massacres are carried out with weapons other than firearms and that “It is the politics and controversy surrounding gun control that highlight mass shootings above the rest.”

In short, if a mass casualty event doesn’t fit a preconceived political narrative and policy prescription the media does not consider it worth covering.

In closing, Fox pointed out,
Whatever the reason, the lesser attention given to mass killings that do not invoke guns is disrespectful to the victims whose lives are tragically cut short. Is the crime any less serious if there were no gunshots? Are the victims any less dead? In fact, victims of burns, suffocation or stabbing often suffer a much slower and painful death than gunshot victims.

It is surely fruitless to assess the relative severity of mass killings on the basis of weaponry. Our sense of outrage and concern for the victims should be the same whether they died from a firearm or fire.

Fox is not pro-gun, but has long served as a voice of reason in the hysterical aftermath of high-profile shootings. Since 2012, Fox has repeatedly made the case that common gun control proposals, such as so-called “universal” background checks and semi-automatic firearm bans, are unlikely to curtail high-profile shooting incidents.

In a 2018 research piece titled, “Schools are safer than they were in the 90s, and school shootings are not more common than they used to be,” Fox provided concrete data for his conclusion that “there is not an epidemic of school shootings.” Pouring cold water on the gun control policies advocated in the wake of school shootings, Fox noted, “The thing to remember is that these are extremely rare events, and no matter what you can come up with to prevent it, the shooter will have a workaround.”

In a July 19 piece for the Boston Globe, titled, “Democrats are skipping out on the most important gun fight of all,” Abt took issue with the 2020 Democratic presidential field’s approach to violence perpetrated with firearms. After citing some of the candidates’ gun control proposals, such as a national gun licensing scheme and semi-automatic firearm confiscation, Abt noted, “the candidates are still failing to focus on what is simultaneously the most serious and most solvable form of such violence: shootings and killings on the streets of our cities.”

High-profile shootings garner significant media and political attention, but as Abt pointed out, “Urban violence accounts for the overwhelming majority of homicides in the United States.” Moreover, this urban violence is highly concentrated and necessitates targeted strategies.

Abt explained,
because urban violence concentrates among a small number of people and places, strategies that target those concentrations tend to work best. In most medium to large cities, violent crime clusters among a few hundred individuals and a few dozen micro-locations known as “hot spots.” Less than 1 percent of a city’s population and less than 5 percent of its geography will generate the majority of its lethal or near-lethal encounters.

The researcher went on to promote a handful of targeted law enforcement and social policies that could alleviate the problem without resorting to broad gun controls. Highlighting one problem with the effort to tackle urban violence, Abt wrote, “Mass shootings account for less than 1 percent of all gun deaths annually, yet they dominate the debate on gun violence and distort the search for solutions.”

Abt’s recognition that firearms homicides are highly concentrated is not novel, but is an underappreciated fact of the gun control debate. A 2010 article for the Journal of Quantitative Criminology by Northeastern University Criminology Professor Anthony Braga, titled, “The Concentration and Stability of Gun Violence at Micro Places in Boston, 1980–2008” found that,

Recent advances in criminological research suggest that there is significant clustering of crime in micro places, or ‘hot spots,’ that generate a disproportionate amount of criminal events in a city… We find that Boston gun violence is intensely concentrated at a small number of street segments and intersections rather than spread evenly across the urban landscape between 1980 and 2008.

A 2015 piece for the Hartford Courant by then-Yale Ph.D. candidate and current Assistant Professor at Rutgers University Michael Sierra-Arévalo explained,
The concentration is not just in terms of place, but also people. It’s a tiny handful of the community that’s responsible for the lion’s share of the bloodshed. Turning to Boston again, in the period between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, more than half of all murders, more than three-quarters of youth homicides and 70 percent of all shootings were perpetrated by 1 percent of youth between the ages of 15 and 24.

One percent.

Citing the work of his Yale colleagues, Sierra-Arévalo added, “As shown by Yale University sociologists in a recent study, 70 percent of all shootings in Chicago can be located in a social network composed of less than 6 percent of the city’s population.”

This recognition that a significant portion of firearm homicides take place within a small geographic area and fraction of the population suggests that policies narrowly targeted at problem areas and social networks is a more appropriate approach to curbing violence than sweeping gun controls that restrict the rights of the population at large.

Like Fox, not all of Abt’s positions are laudable. The researcher expressed passing support for so-called “universal” background checks and a semi-automatic firearm ban, both of which have been shown to be ineffective. Moreover, in the Boston Globe piece the academic took an unnecessary and clumsy swipe at President Donald Trump.

Despite these shortcomings, Fox and Abt’s more reasoned analyses of the gun issue expose the gulf between the haphazard rhetoric and policies peddled by gun control advocates and what might emerge from a more thoughtful approach to curbing violent crime.