In the last week I have noticed allegations made by the maker of a gun oil that FireClean is a) nothing more than Crisco vegetable oil, and b) will cause the action of a weapon to “gum up” if left on the weapon for more than six to twelve months.
While I am investigating both claims, I happened to have a Spike’s Tactical AR15 in 5.45×39 which had last been fired and lubricated with FireClean in September of 2013 and, to be clear, not been cleaned, fired, or lubricated in any manner since. I took this rifle to the range this morning and fired a magazine of surplus 5.45 in order to determine if the action had been “gummed up.” This weapon has only seen surplus ammunition in its life, has been shot a lot, and has rarely if ever been cleaned. I can hardly think of a better candidate for such an experiment and I am, I guess, fortunate that my dad didn’t shoot it much (rather, at all) after I loaned it to him.
After reading the Newsweek article originally known as “It’s Time to Haul Down Another Flag of Racist Hate,” I was moved to write about what I feel is the most racist flag around. After all, we’ve managed to rid Amazon of the Confederate flag and Dukes of Hazzard reruns from late night TV. With this remarkable victory against the forces of evil under our belt, what’s a socially conscious and (inherently guilty) white man to warn America about from the rooftops of the internet?
A brave, intrepid journalist named Rick Perlstein has informed us that the POW/MIA flag that we all thought was a reminder of those who didn’t come home was actually a symbol of how much racism was still alive and well in America. As he said, the silhouette on the flag represents a white man, even though he’s black on the flag. It’s definitely not that the POW/MIA flag represents all those missing in action regardless of race. It’s another symbol of white America’s efforts to keep all the other races under our thumb.
With that in mind, I move that we should move another flag into the museums and history books. The true symbol only used by “right-wing politicians who wish to exploit hatred by calling it heritage” as my new favorite scribe Perlstein put it? Definitely the American flag.
What does it represent, really? Each star represents the fifty states of the Union. A white star, of course, representing the white people who stole each state from the Native Americans. They reside on a blue field, which represents the sky under which these atrocities took place. The sky cries because of the atrocities it has witnessed under the American flag.
The red stripes represent, of course, the blood of all the innocent people we’ve spilled over the two-hundred-odd years of our unfortunate existence. These red stripes are on top of the white stripes, much like the blood of the innocents is all over the skin of white America.
The best way forward for our country is to rid itself of all symbols of racism wherever they exist. Alexander Hamilton, who was probably racist because he existed in the 1700s, should be replaced on the ten dollar bill by Harriet Tubman driving an underground railroad-themed monster truck over a line of General Lees. Seinfeld reruns should come off the air, because Kramer went on a racist rant during a stand up bit. Finally, the American flag should be replaced by a simple white banner with the words WE’RE SORRY, in all the languages of the people we’ve killed, written in non-racist fonts – something like Comic Sans.
I know what you’re thinking – what’s this guy’s address, so I can kill him? But on the long drive from Mississippi to Arizona (go fast, turn left!), please reflect on all the racism you’re perpetrating by continuing to love America. Racism racism racism. I don’t have much of an argument, but I said racism a lot. That’s the key to journalistic success, if Rick Perlstein is to be my guide.
Earlier this year as the 70th anniversary of VE day approached, major news outlets discussed the upcoming festivities and showed interviews with veterans and speeches from politicians about the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation. We were reminded of the evils of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. All of this is, of course, true.
As the 70th anniversary of VJ day approaches – especially today as this marks 70 years since the bombing of Hiroshima – nearlyeverymediaoutlet seems focused on hand-wringing over the use of atomic weapons against Japan. While I noted one interesting article from the LA Times about the Japanese nuclear program, everything else has almost completely omitted any mention of the evils Imperial Japan perpetrated on its side of the world during the war. It’s as if the Japanese have gotten a pass on a lot of the stuff they did because we condensed the killing of many of their civilians into two bombs.
We killed a ton of German civilians from the air too – depending on who you ask, between 350 and 650 thousand, between the RAF and the Army Air Corps. There is essentially no handwringing over this in the modern media. It isn’t even mentioned. Mention Dresden to the average person, they won’t know what you’re talking about. Hiroshima? Most likely. But no one cares about bombing German civilians because the Nazis were really bad, right?
In terms of evil, I think the Germans and the Japanese were about neck and neck. We just don’t hear about what the Japanese did to the Chinese (or the Koreans, or the Vietnamese, or…) nearly as often as we hear about what the Germans did to the populations of Europe. And so we have the term “Nazi” to neatly package all that evil and, in modern times, describe a bad person or someone who is mean to you. But we don’t have a companion term for Imperial Japan. Call someone an “Imperial” and they’ll just look at you funny or tell you they are disturbed by your lack of faith.
The morality and/or necessity of using nuclear weapons against Japan had been discussed in full twenty years before I was born, and so I will not delve into that – but I will say this. Between an almost overwhelming and constant reminder of the evils of Nazi Germany during World War II and a near-total lack of knowledge of what Imperial Japan did during the war, it’s not totally surprising that most people are more concerned about apologizing for American actions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki than efficiently ending a reign of terror that lasted for almost fifteen years, spanned a continent, and cost millions of lives.
His death was unexpected, sudden, and peaceful. Well, it was peaceful for him. For us, less so. His death affected us immediately and has continued to do so over the last three months, even in ways we didn’t initially recognize.
My dad was a very interesting man – I have written about him previously. I’ve learned even more about him after his death from, say, flight logbook entries from Liberia in 1971 with notations such as “natives, spears, g-strings” and “unreal.” But what I knew about him before hasn’t changed – that he cared about me (and my mother) very deeply.
I had a very good relationship with my dad. I probably spent more time with him than almost any guy in his late twenties who hasn’t lived at home since sixteen. My original plan for the week before his death was to go to West Africa, but instead I stayed home and did little things – primarily with my dad.
We didn’t do anything major, just working on cars and planes and flying and doing all the things we normally did together. The night before he died, I grilled him a steak exactly the way he liked it, which we ended up splitting. I had no idea when I said goodbye to him afterward that I’d be saying goodbye again four hours later.
Maybe that’s for the best. In fact, I know it is. And really, in hindsight, I don’t know that I would have done a whole lot differently in that last week. Over time I had decided to turn a few sayings into action – to live every day as if it were my last, to honor my father and mother, and a few other things. I had realized that all those things I butted heads with him about, the things I resented when I was younger- they were a result of him wanting the best for me. Right or wrong, he was looking out for me in the ways only a father can. Years ago I let go of the resentment and embraced him for the man he was, and I became a better person as a result.
My father made my life, and that of my mother, simply wonderful.
The other day, I thought to myself that it might be fun to talk about guns with friends, record the conversation, and release it to anyone who might want to listen.
If this is successful, we will do it again, with more guests/co-hosts.
In this first episode of “Vuurwapen Blog Radio,” we discuss the proposed changes to ITAR, different BCG coatings and platings, flash performance while using a silencer on an AR15, and Battle Rifle Company. These topics come from questions that have been emailed to me by blog readers over the last…well questions that have been emailed over a certain period of time to which I never properly responded.
I have continued to work on the muzzle device test, and am looking to include some highly scientific analysis of a certain factor relating to muzzle flash which will make this second round of testing significantly better than the first. This necessitates a delay in publication, but I think it will be worth the wait.
Also, several months ago, I wrote an article analyzing fatal accident rates of the Cessna 170 over the past several decades. It was recently published in the The 170 News, the quarterly newsletter of The International Cessna 170 Association.
I’ve been working on a second round of muzzle device testing, and light is beginning to appear at the end of the tunnel. Like the first test, this would not be possible without help from multiple industry sources. In addition to the muzzle devices from the first test, I have been provided with the following devices:
– Knight’s Armament Co. Triple Tap
– Smith Vortex/Good Iron
– White Sound Defense FOSSA-556
– Surefire MB556K
– AAC BrakeOut 2.0
– Fortis RED
– Noveske KX3
If you have a device which you would like included in the test, please contact me immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few years ago Arizona did away with the concealed weapons permit requirement for carry. I liked this because it allowed those in dire need of an effective method of self defense to carry a firearm as quickly as possible, but I also disliked it because it made a lot of people think that they didn’t need to have any skill or knowledge in order to carry a firearm safely and effectively. I actually found my initial concealed carry class to be an excellent primer on the legal aspects of carrying a deadly weapon. It was a little light on proficiency, although safety was covered in detail. Overall, though, it was a worthwhile investment of time for an individual serious about defending themselves.
From a civil liberties vs. public safety standpoint, there can be an interesting philosophical discussion here.
From a business standpoint, some people have smelled profit.
I have received several emails from a man named Victor Fabre representing “The Carry Academy.” Mr. Fabre said we could “help each other’s missions” if I shared his business on my blog. I was also offered $6 per referral and/or a free T-shirt (I am not sure whether i was being offered both or just one). Initially I ignored the email, as I ignore the vast majority of people wanting me to pimp their business for them or allow them to write about Top One Best Gun Safes America on my blog, but he emailed again, so I looked at his business.
Their business model is to provide “training” through a brief demonstration video on the internet, after which you may take a certificate to the local authorities and apply to a permit. You can even take the course on Facebook! If you have ever thought it would be okay to carry a gun when the entirety of your firearms training consisted of you having a Facebook tab open behind seven Buzzfeed and Cracked.com tabs, please turn in your firearms to Dianne Feinstein for destruction.
The Carry Academy promises to make your life better – fast! Here’s what their website had to say about their course:
You don’t need range time or to spend an entire day in a classroom learning the basics of firearm safety, in addition to this course. Our course is specifically designed for your convenience. Everything required to apply for your concealed carry permit is provided in our 30 minute firearms safety class! All you need is a computer with internet access and a printer.
A concealed carry permit may be all it takes for you to feel safer, both for yourself and for those you care about.
That’s right! You don’t need range time or a day in the classroom to learn firearms safety! Those people who never talk to their kids about gun safety and end up having their five-year-old shoot their two-year-old, they don’t actually exist.
And hey! It doesn’t matter if you ARE safer, it only matters if you FEEL safer. This reminds me of a Prius commercial I once heard in California. The woman was talking about why she liked her Prius and it came down to “My Prius makes me feel like I’m doing something for the environment.” Not“My Prius is actually good for the environment.”
There was an important distinction in that ad, and there is an important distinction here. The people who run The Carry Academy are not making anyone safer. They are selling a paper-thin security blanket – and encouraging dangerous incompetence with firearms.
Several weeks ago I wrote an article discussing the outright fabrication of military service, the benefits such actions may have, and why the people behind them should not be given a pass. I would be remiss in turning a blind eye to those who have served in the military but felt the need to tell untruths in order to enhance their standing within the community.
Specifically, I want to write about Chris Kyle, and I want to write about the movie American Sniper.
I find the Superdome story disturbing because it is essentially his mental conveyance of the Iraq war to the United States. While it is unlikely that any ROE (rules of engagement) would allow a hypothetically placed military sniper – let’s not forget the Posse Comitatus Act – to shoot people just for the act of looting, the laws and conventions of war would most likely permit lethal force against armed individuals not identifying themselves as part of an allied police or military force. What Kyle described is, essentially, a description of what a sniper would do at the height of a struggle between forces for an urban area. In Iraq, American snipers were like a protective umbrella against the acid rain of insurgents.
But this story took place in New Orleans, which, if you didn’t know, is part of America. And it would not be justifiable, legally or morally, to shoot American citizens simply for the act of being armed in the wake of a natural disaster – especially given his vocal support of the Second Amendment. That Chris Kyle found it acceptable enough to make up stories about it is illuminating.
As for the other story, the ultimate tragic irony is that after bragging about having killed two men who failed to steal his truck, he and a friend were killed by one man who successfully stole his truck. The former story has been thoroughly investigated and found to be without basis, the latter is a matter of legal fact.
The movie American Sniper does not discuss these stories; it focuses on the emotional rollercoaster of deployment cycles and the combat experienced by Kyle in Iraq. Correction: it is a fictionalized depiction of that combat. The majority of plot points are not based in reality, and many of the figures or groups depicted therein are loose representations of reality.
For example, there was no sniper battle stretching over multiple deployments between Kyle and a Dragunov-wielding family man with beautiful eyelashes and excessive amounts of eyeshadow – or if there were, it didn’t make it into the book upon which the movie is based.
There are other SEALs depicted in the movie, but they exist only to be ancillary figures to Kyle or to die in ways that leave Kyle unable to save them. Unlike many of the other things that are discussed in this article, those SEALs did in fact die near Kyle and in ways he could not have prevented. I would like to have had some knowledge of the impact these injuries and deaths had on the SEAL corpsman assigned to that platoon, but we are never given a chance to find out.
The movie relentlessly revolves around Kyle, most likely as he would have preferred, given how many stories he told which were apparently intended to boost the legend of, well, The Legend – Kyle’s nickname for a good portion of the movie. This focus on Kyle is so intense that no mention of Chad Littlefield, the friend who was murdered alongside the SEAL, is made in the movie, although Kyle’s death is addressed.
There is a stateside scene in which a Marine addresses Kyle and his young son and describes how Kyle carried him out of a house while injured, thus saving his life. Of course, no mention is made of any of the other people who were involved in saving his life, such as the other person who most likely was involved in carrying the Marine out of the house. Everything is about Chris Kyle. There can be no other heroes. The scene ends with the Marine, in civilian attire and indoors, saluting Kyle. Yeah, right.
The film is so fictionalized that it becomes less of a representation of Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL sniper, than of the trials and tribulations of many post-9/11 servicemembers. Bradley Cooper worked very hard to become Chris Kyle, or the Chris Kyle that Chris (and Taya) Kyle wanted the world to see, but this New Kyle was in fact an amalgamation of all the positive attributes – and a few of the negative ones – a patriotic American public wants to see in its’ servicemen. And, although I may be slightly biased, I think this depiction was accurate. American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are indeed tough, brave, and kind to the weak, but not infallible and not without a few flaws that make them human like everyone else.
The movie capitalizes on the adoration of a significant amount of Americans for those in the military. Bradley Cooper becomes the definitive American war hero in a way that few other movies have managed to depict. Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of World War 2, wrote an autobiography which became a movie. The movie was all about a scrawny little guy who wanted to join the Army and ends up saving the lives of everyone in his unit over and over again. He played himself in the movie, and he was a true hero, but the family aspect of American Sniper makes Chris Kyle a hero to which most Americans can relate in some aspect.
This may lead the reader who has not seen the movie to think that it is a jingoistic propaganda piece. It is not, at least not to me. All of the servicemen in the movie end up seriously injured, dead, or at the very least having lost close friends. The strain of military service is obviously difficult on Taya Kyle, to the point that she hints to Chris that she will leave him if he doesn’t leave the military. Chris himself is severely affected by his experiences although he denies that he is one of the guys who has problems adjusting. Audie Murphy wrote a followup book about his difficulties in adjusting to civilian life, but no one wanted to make that into a movie.
All told, I found that the movie did not depict military service in a very positive light. Those who feel it is a two hour recruiting film are misinformed. There have been a number of people comparing American Sniper to Nation’s Pride, the faux movie-within-a-movie in Inglorious Basterds about a Nazi sniper who kills hundreds of Allied soldiers.
It would appear that the people making these comparisons have not seen American Sniper; in the faux propaganda piece, the German sniper is shown shooting dozens or even hundreds, including noncombatants and wounded and unarmed soldiers – and revels in doing so. In American Sniper, we see only a few sniper “kills,” none of which would be considered illegal under the laws of war or applicable rules of engagement, and Bradley Cooper’s Chris Kyle is shown to be hesitant to kill those who are not clearly enemy combatants and is relieved at not having had to take certain shots.
That said, while there are many aspects of the film which are Hollywood-movie-playbook-emotion-inducing and clearly inaccurate, such as the final scene of the movie, there are a number of things which are accurate.
The film – rather, Bradley Cooper – accurately shows the psychological anguish of knowing that other men are off fighting a battle that you signed up for, participated in, and then left. Post-traumatic stress can take many forms, but guilt is one of the most insidious and damaging on a long term basis.
Chris Kyle was a SEAL. A significant number of SEALs (compared to other special operations troops) have been eager to write books or give interviews on their experiences and exploits. This was true before Chris Kyle left active duty, remains true today, and will almost certainly continue to be true for years to come. While many SEALs work in the shadows, literally and figuratively, without ever seeking fame, some do not.
To become a SEAL you must (presumably, I am not a SEAL nor have I ever considered going to BUD/S) have a very aggressive personality. Were it not for that, you would likely quit before successfully becoming a SEAL. Given the history of some SEALs seeking fame, it makes sense that the most aggressive of these men would embellish their own histories in an attempt to set themselves apart from their most impressive peers. Furthermore, when every American serviceman is a hero, one must be truly exceptional to be recognized as a hero of the first tier.
Most recently, we saw a public and rather embarrassing squabble between former SEALs over who really shot Osama bin Laden. Enough people are interested in such things that the media will breathlessly recount almost anything a SEAL says. Delta Force? Well, if one of them were to talk about a current operation, it is likely that the media would not treat it as being one tenth as interesting as if it had been said or done by a frogman.
Chris Kyle’s tall tales overshadow some of his most lasting accomplishments – helping returning veterans and working to show that men and women who have seen war should not be viewed with suspicion and distrust. In this he was quite genuine. It is a shame that the lies he told have received far more attention than the good work he did – but there is only one person responsible for this, and that person is Chris Kyle.
Why couldn’t the things he actually did have been enough?