Saturday, January 24, 2009

Browning Firearms Design Meme

John Moses Browning
21 OR 23 January 1855-- 26 November 1926

Without doubt, John M. Browning was the foremost designer of firearms, ever, in the entire world, bar none. There are several others who made extremely significant contributions to firearms design and production, but this is THE prolific “Big Gun” of shootin’ design.

Proper birthday homage has been paid to JMB by several other, more eloquent gun bloggers. One of the foremost has been my friend Tamara. She lists JMB’s designs, including only those which were commercial successes.:

By way of tribute to JMB, I propose a sort-of meme for real firearms enthusiasts, collectors, acquisitors, and tinkerers only. Take Tam’s list below and see which of the grand ole guy’s brain children you have. Better, add more detail: Embolden or put a + (plus sign) by those you currently own. Put an asterisk (*) next to those you HAVE HAD but don’t currently. (So many are financially unable to keep ALL the neat guns they’ve had. There was a period that I could only own them sequentially and had to sell or trade off some in order to obtain others.)

Single Shot Rifles:
Winchester 1885

Bolt-action Rifles:
Winchester 1900

Lever-action Rifles:
Winchester 1886
*Winchester 1892
+Winchester 1894
+Winchester 1895

Slide-action Rifles:
Winchester 1890

Recoil-operated Semi-automatic Rifles:
Remington Model 8 and 81

Blowback-operated Semi-automatic Rifles:
Browning .22 Semiauto

Double-barrel Shotguns:
Browning Superposed

Lever-action Shotguns:
Winchester 1887

Slide-action Shotguns:
*Winchester 1897
Remington Model 17 (later the Ithaca 37)
*Stevens 520

Recoil-operated Semi-automatic Shotguns:
*Browning Auto 5 / Remington Model 11 (+ Rem 11-48 revision of same action)

Blowback-operated Semi-automatic Pistols:
FN M1900
+Colt 1903/1908 Pocket Hammerless
FN 1906 Vest Pocket/Colt 1908 Vest Pocket
*FN 1910
*Colt Woodsman (+Browning Buckmark is a direct descendant)

Recoil-operated Semi-automatic Pistols
Colt 1902
Colt 1903 Pocket Hammer
+U.S. M1911
+FN G.P. 35

Gas-operated Machine Guns:
Colt M1895
U.S. M1918 BAR

Recoil-Operated Machine Guns:
U.S. M1917/M1919
U.S. M2 Heavy Machine Gun

Automatic Machine Cannon:
Colt-Browning 37mm

If you’ve read this far, chances are you like guns pretty well, and you are hereby
tagged. If you do play the game, please insert a comment or drop me an e-mail.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sentence Commutation and Extra-Judicial Punishment

There is a great deal of controversy concerning President Bush’s commutation of the prison sentences of former Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, convicted of shooting a Mexican drug runner in 2005.

There are, indeed, two different sides to this story. Many think it was a miscarriage of justice to charge the BP agents to begin with. They are scandalized that the agents were prosecuted for shooting --and not even killing-- a dope smuggler. This faction --and a huge faction it is-- think that President Bush should have totally pardoned both agents. The other side is gladdened that there has at least been an attempt to apply to federal officers a similar standard of justice to that applied to private individuals. It is clear, though, that the 11 and 12-year sentences were far heavier than some given in arguably more serious convictions. That side decries any reduction of the sentences.

It did not reduce the controversy about the case that the incident and trial took place during the height of the “illegal immigration” and “porous borders” furor. Many tried to make out that the USPB agents, instead of interdicting drug smuggling, were actually doing God’s Work in stemming illegal immigration.

It might be useful to attempt to examine some of the facts of this matter.

17FEB2005, USBP Agents Ramos and Compean, on patrol SE of El Paso, stopped Osvaldo Aldrete Davila for illegal border crossing. The van he was driving was found to contain 743 pounds of marihuana. Aldrete Davila ran from Compean, who testified that he thought the suspect had a gun. Compean fired at Aldrete Davila but missed. Ramos testified that he had been out of sight of the two, heard the shot, and thinking his partner was under attack, also fired at the suspect, striking him in the buttocks.

The agents testified that they later saw the suspect on the Mexican side of the border and thought he had not been hit, so they did not file a report on the matter.

The suspect later filed a complaint against the USBP and both agents. The agents finally filed false reports on the matter and lied to their supervisors. They also altered the scene of the shooting and picked up their cartridge cases, to cover up the incident.

Upon the disclosure of the deception by the agents, an investigation was conducted. They were taken to trial on a number of charges, including causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, evidence tampering, and a civil rights violation. Ramos was sentenced to 11 years in prison and Compean to 12.

It is rather tragic that the situation played out the way it did. Had the two agents simply stuck with a very plausible, and likely essentially true, story, the result would probably have been entirely different: Agents in the discharge of their sworn duties, detected illegal activity. They stopped a suspect and found him smuggling near-800 pounds of marihuana. He ran away from custody, and could arguably have been armed -- smugglers so often ARE heavily armed. A shot was fired and the second agent fired, in apparent defense of the first. The suspect escaped to Mexico and the agents chose not to pursue him. The van was impounded, the evidence marked and turned in, and a routine report filed. It later developing that the smuggler HAD been wounded would have made small difference. Exchanges of gunfire along the border are traditionally treated in a casual manner, unless there is notable bloodshed.

The Agents were likely “out of policy” in firing on a suspect not KNOWN to be armed or posing a threat to the agents. BUT - - they had interrupted a smuggling operation, and a person under arrest was fleeing. OF COURSE they shot at him. A certain quantity of contraband and the transport vehicle were seized, but the smuggler escaped. Another day on the Rio. If Patrol Supervisors HAD chosen to make a follow up investigation, you’d think that the agents would cooperate and apologize for their poor marksmanship.

Instead, the agents chose to lie about the matter. They engaged in a fairly elaborate cover-up, altering the scene, destroying evidence, and falsifying official reports. They showed clear guilt in so doing.

During the prosecution of the case, the smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Davila was given permission to enter the United States to testify and was granted limited immunity for his cooperation. He was later arrested on additional smuggling charges and is pending trial on them. It remains to be seen if this prosecution will be carried forward.

In a 2007 CNN interview, Ignacio Ramos apparently contests much of the testimony given at trial. It is difficult at this late date to tell exactly how much of his own testimony this now contradicts.

For whatever the worth of my personal opinion, I strongly believe that President Bush did exactly the proper thing. After examination of all aspects of the matter, he chose to grant Compean and Ramos, not full pardons, but a significant commutation of their sentences. Both men are now due for release on 20 March 2009, completing two year sentences. The sentences are far more merciful than the earlier 11- and 12-year terms. The men will remain convicted felons and will never again hold law enforcement employment.

It pains me to publicly disagree with several individuals for whom I hold high respect, some of them personal friends . Some of them have expressed opinions which are entirely sympathetic toward the convicted BP Agents, and others not so strongly. I must respect the rights of others to their own opinions. I trust that forthright individuals will always be able to honestly disagree without harming their relationships.

Marko probably wrote the best and most encompassing blog entry I’ve seen on this matter. He hits pretty strongly on the “justice for all” aspect of it.

I’m well aware of the frustration of many peace officers who see some notorious evildoers “beat the rap,” time and again. I’ve heard all too many rants by cops who fantasize about “dishing out a little street justice.” - - Ranging from administering a savage beating right on down to cold-blooded murder. “Hey, so you spoil the court case? Hell, he’s probably gonna get off anyway.”

It may be a great temptation for those out on the pointy end of any conflict to take some actions that do not precisely comport with the intent of their bosses. Sometimes, these actions may simply circumvent official policies, while remaining within the strict confines of the law. Other times, some otherwise well-meaning troops are ready to cross right over “the line,” on the theory that the end justifies the means. There is no doubt that the smuggler Aldrete Davila would not have subsequently committed additional crimes, had the marksmanship of Ramos and Compean been better. Choices are made by officers right on the spot, in light of the information at hand, the conditions then obtaining, and the officers’ own viewpoints and values.

Decisions are made, depending upon the given fact situations. Several times in my career, I went in search of certain criminals with the full intent to kill them, given certain legal justification. It never actually came to that. Sometimes they surrendered immediately upon confrontation. Other times, I was not present when they were apprehended. Had push ever come to shove, though, I knew that I would report and testify with complete candor and truthfulness. A peace officer with accepted credibility and a clear conscience will usually be successful in the long run. Yes, there are different types of “spin” that may be put on a given situation, each arguably as true as the other. It is an entirely different thing to file false reports, to lie under oath, and to alter physical evidence. There is, purely and simply, a true difference between being a zealous cop and becoming a criminal oneself.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Some More GOOD Laws

Amid all the doom crying and predictions of ultra-restrictive gun laws to come during the next several years, it’s nice to be able to pass along a couple of bright spots.
From the Texas State Rifle Association Home page.

Pre-filed House Bills

House Bill 267, State legislation to allow Texans to purchase rifles and shotguns in non-contiguous states. Currently, federal law allows the interstate sales of such firearms, but a conflicting Texas law only allows residents to buy long guns in directly-neighboring states (AR, LA, OK, and NM.) This state law has prevented the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) from approving sales of long guns in 45 other states to Texas residents.

HB 410 by State Rep Carl Isett (R-Lubbock). Legislation to repeal the requirement that Texas concealed handgun licensees display their license when carrying their handgun when stopped by law enforcement. Currently, failure to display the license when carrying a handgun may lead to a 90-day suspension of the CHL and/or the person charged with a class A or a class B misdemeanor. Law enforcement is now made aware of the status of the concealed handgun licensee during the wants and warrants check. Modern technology has made the old law unnecessary and a potential hardship.

Both these laws are worthy of support. One, they’ll make life just a little easier for us. Two, word will get around the rest of the country that Texans TRUST one another to carry guns.

It’s worthwhile to click the above link. There are a number of other tidbits that shooting enthusiasts, especially Texans, will find interesting. (Image copyright Texas State Rifle Association.)

Hat tip to friend Stephen A. Camp

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Maybe I'm Not Really Qualified . . . .

I'm an embarrassment to Barack!

I only scored 14 on the Obama Test

Barack Obama has very high standards. As your president, Barack will demand that you do your best and that you don't embarrass him.

Take this test to determine whether you're qualified to be one of those who Barack will be president of.

Go ahead -- click on the link and take a look. See if you're more highly qualified -- or less of a disappointment than I.

Hat tip to Tamara