Friday, July 4, 2014

 The Much Maligned “9”

     It happened again at an afternoon barbeque a few months ago.  One new acquaintance commented he was looking at buying a new pistol.
     “What caliber?” Asked the other new acquaintance.
     “I dunno,” first guy said.  “Nine millimeter, I think.”
     “Huh,” sneered second new acquaintance.  “Just going to tick him off.” 
     The first new guy shrugged helplessly as if to say, “Well, what do I know. I bow to your superior experience and ballistic knowledge.”
     I generally try to not comment when people make stupid statements about guns.  It’s like arguing with a drunk or a dog.  When it’s over, the guy will still be drunk, and the dog will be confused.
     But this fallacy has become so entrenched in our gun culture, I can’t keep quiet—at least once monthly someone makes a disparaging remark about the effectiveness of the 9MM cartridge in handguns.
     I try really hard not to sound as smart-ass as the second guy when I comment—sometimes, I’m successful.
     “Lessee,” I chimed in at that moment.  “That shooting that occurred up there in Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007 at Virginia Tech.  That South Korean nutcase, Seung-Hui Cho—he killed 33 people with…oh yeah—a nine millimeter.”
     “And the Luby’s Cafeteria shootings in Killeen, Texas back in 1991—that guy killed 24 people—with a—oh yeah.  A nine millimeter--but a nine millimeter won’t kill anybody...”
     The current disaffection in this country with the 9MM pistol cartridge can be traced back to the infamous Miami shootout in 1986 between two heavily armed armored truck and bank robbers and the contingent of FBI agents that had been hunting them.
     Armed with an arsenal of weapons including a Ruger .223 semi-auto rifle, these two killers had decided they would not be taken alive.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012


There has been much talk in the Louisiana firearms community over a proposed constitutional amendment known as Article 874.  This amendment will change current constitutional wording pertaining to gun ownership, and the legal vernacular has confused many people, giving rise to fear our much admired gun freedoms would be hindered, or limited some way.

This is a letter I received from Dan Zelenka, a New Orleans attorney and president of the Louisiana Shooting Association. The LSA ( is the de facto state rifle and pistol association for the state of Louisiana. 

The LSA actively supports and defends our firearms rights in the legislature through lobbying and actionable calls to their members.

I think Dan does a better job here than I have seen anywhere in discussing and explaining this proposed legislation.  It (the proposed amendment) has caused much discussion in the firearms community--the most common complaint being couched in the general terms of worrying that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  

Many folks have discussed how this proposed amendment might be used to change and limit our rights to concealed carry.

I think Dan explains here how easily it (meaning our concealed carry rights) could be "broken"--and this proposed legislation defends that right.

I plan to vote in favor of Article 874 in November.  I hope you will also do so.

To: Members of the Louisiana Shooting Association
From:  Dan Zelenka, President

Several uninformed "authorities" have recently released false information about the upcoming ACT 874 that will be on the Louisiana ballot in November.

Under our current Louisiana constitution, the legislature is not supposed to pass any laws abridging our right to keep and bear arms unless the law involves concealed carry. Note that they can pass any restriction on concealed carry that strikes their fancy, even an outright ban. That in itself should cause you to support Act 874. The legislature, however, on any number of occasions has refused to believe that constitutional limits apply to its power. Laws that restrict our gun rights do get passed.

Enter the Louisiana judicial system, the branch of government that is supposed to protect us poor citizens from the legislature when it oversteps its constitutional authority. Unfortunately, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that a law that infringes on your right to keep and bear arms is constitutional if it passes the "rational basis" test. Under the rational basis test, the court asks itself whether the legislature had a rational basis for passing the law in question. If the court can discern any rational basis for the law, it will declare the law to be constitutional. This is the current state of Louisiana law under the existing Article I, Section 11 of its constitution.

The 1974 Constitution currently reads:
§11. Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Section 11. The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person.

Act 874, should it pass in November, provides NO carte blanche authority for the legislature to restrict concealed carry.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

S.A.A.M. Learning the Art of the Rifle— Expert Training in the Texas Hill Country with the RUGER American Rifle

     The recoil of the 168 grain Hornady Match A-Max .30-06 rammed the rifle stock backwards, pushing it straight into my shoulder—in line with the prone position I had taken in the gravel shooting pit of the rifle range.
     “Riding the Bull” as Tim Fallon called it, I rocked back down onto the bipod and my rear support, a backpack, my cheek welded securely to the cheekpiece we had attached to our rifle stocks.
     If we were perfectly welded to the stocks of the .30-06 Ruger American Rifles, we would be able to see the reaction of the target to the bullet strike—in other words, going up with the recoil and returning to the shooting position while never losing sight of the target—some people call it “follow-through.”  Tim, ever colorful and an excellent instructor, makes it stick in your mind with defining metaphors like “Riding the Bull.”
     To my satisfaction, I saw the 12” steel gong, over 500 yards away, swing violently.  A  second after the muzzle blast died, I heard the distinct ringing “bong” of the heavy steel plate being struck by the bullet.
     We, gun writers all, had been brought into this rugged escarpment hill country some 80 miles northwest of San Antonio, Texas by Ruger to the FTW Ranch, a 12,000 acre exotic game ranch that offers trophy hunting for whitetail deer, and Asian and African plains and mountain game. 
     The ranch is home to huge whitetails, and wild introduced species, many of which can no longer be hunted in their native lands.

     Tim Fallon, the owner of this rugged, rocky landscape, saw a need for a shooting school for hunters and long-range rifle shooters in law enforcement and the military, and founded SAAM—Sportsman’s All-Weather, All-Terrain Marksmanship.
     SAAM focuses on hunter training for mountainous and plains game, and offers safari training which focuses on dangerous game hunts.  The schooling has gained such a reputation, military and law enforcement special ops are using the facilities to hone their skills at long-range shooting.
     Ruger Firearms had brought us to this game ranch and training facility to shoot and experience their Ruger American Rifle--the innovative bolt-action hunting rifle that incorporates numerous manufacturing designs to reduce cost, and enhance accuracy.  (
     The result was far more than a media “shoot” to try out a new gun.  Tim Fallon and his former SEAL lead instructor, Doug “Dog” Prichard, put us and our rifles through a three-day version that incorporated aspects of SAAM 1, SAAM 2, and their Safari Course.

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     The Jeep was almost sliding down the rocky, shale-strewn mountainside at a steep 15 degree angle when Larry Wieshuhn, our driver, stood on the brake.
     These Texas rock piles, small mountains in the hill country northwest of San Antonio, are treacherous and slippery, particularly when following another vehicle. The Jeep in front nearly slid off the road in front of us, and Wieshuhn slammed on the brakes.
     My new Ruger American Rifle, outfitted with a Harris bipod, strap-on cheekpad, and Zeiss 3 X 9 Conquest scope, broke through the bungee cord holding it upright in the gun rack, and came slamming down between me and Weishuhn, hitting the top of the dash with the barrel hard enough to ding the sheet metal.
     Mouthing a curse, I stood the rifle back in its stand and tied it in place, while trying to maintain my equilibrium in a tilted vehicle.
     I glanced back at the rear passengers on the elevated safari seat who were bracing themselves against the Jeep’s padded roll bar.
     Mark Gurney, Ruger engineer, and project manager on the new Ruger American Rifle, shrugged his shoulders slightly. “It’s OK,” he deadpanned, looking at the disgust on my face.
     “Even so,” I said, “before I get into another shooting contest with this crowd, I want to check it again.”
     The next range was located a couple hundred feet up on the top of another shale pile. It overlooked three intersecting canyons with target gongs placed on the sides of the canyons out to 1000 yards away.
     But because it is a distance and down angle range, there is a 100 yard test range next to it.
     I have seen blows like that knock a scope/rifle out of alignment up to 18” from point-of-aim. But in testament to the strength of the Weaver mounts (included with the package when you buy the rifle), or the quality of the Zeiss Conquest scope, the rifle only fired 1.5 inches high and 1” to the right—still in acceptable hunting accuracy.
     I brought it back to its baseline zero of dead point of aim at 100 yards, and fired two shots for group. They landed on the center of the 3” round orange target within ½” of each other. I was ready.

     Ruger had flown a group of 12 gun writers into this country about 80 miles northwest of San Antonio to introduce this innovative new bolt gun, and let us try it out while experiencing SAAM—Sportsman’s All-Weather, All-Terrain Marksmanship school.
     SAAM is the brainchild of owner Tim Fallon, owner of the FTW Ranch, who is also one of the world-class riflery instructors with the school.

     His cohort, compatriot, and chief instructor is Doug “Dog” Prichard, a 26-year Navy warrant officer, with 25 years in SEAL, most as a sniper-instructor.
     The FTW Ranch encompasses 12,000 acres and specializes in exotic game, whitetails, specialized accuracy training, safari and dangerous game training, and rocks. Lord, the rocks. This is a rockhound’s paradise.These craggy low mountains have an almost moon-like desert atmosphere, and Jeeps are utilized to go all over it, because you are generally going in one of two directions—up, or down.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Taurus PT 709--Excellent 9MM Defense Pistol

     David George DeMersseman was 54 years old, an insurance executive and on a road trip. He was sitting in a Waffle House on a major thoroughfare next to an entrance/exit off Interstate 12 in my town, having an early breakfast or a late dinner — the newspapers didn’t specify.
     What they did specify was that DeMersseman was the victim of yet another senseless killing by another useless waste of human skin enveloping a body that couldn’t approach being the type of person DeMersseman apparently was.
     By early reports, he was a hard-working individual who gave back to his community in Valdosta, Ga. He was civic-minded, worked with youth, was involved in his home town and, according to his son, was the type of guy who would do exactly what he did that resulted in his death.
     A cretin piece of trash walked in the Waffle House where DeMersseman was the only customer at 1:20 a.m., and announced a holdup.  He tried to take DeMersseman’s wallet, DeMersseman tried to take the gun away from the slug, and was shot and killed. The animal still robbed the restaurant before running out and jumping in a car.
     DeMersseman was dead.

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The Ruger 10-22 From Caterpillar to Butterfly

I remember the first Ruger 10-22 carbine I came across.
Home on leave from the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the early 1970s, I took my father’s brand-new Ruger .22 rifle to my grandparents’ dairy farm in Tangipahoa Parish.
I was a little surprised my father had bought the rifle — he really wasn’t into guns like me. I guess he saw it, and the new and innovative 10-shot rotary magazine intrigued him.
Walking underneath a large hickory tree next to one of the pastures, I started popping individual nuts off the limbs at various heights with the iron sights on the gun.
As the nuts continued to ricochet off into parts unknown, I became more and more impressed with the accuracy of this little gun, and decided I had to have one.
Within a year, I had my first Ruger 10-22. Mine was one of many thousands sold since the introduction of the design in the mid-1960s.Since then, this rotary-magazine carbine, made purposely to look and feel like the popular Caliber .30 M-1 Carbine used during World War II, has become one of the biggest selling rimfire rifles in the world.
Easily replaceable parts make the 10-22 an experimenter’s dream.
Tim Brunett, a retired lieutenant with the Louisiana State Police, has a jones for accurate rimfires, and introduced me to the vast and ever-expanding cult that has grown up around this ubiquitous little rifle.
“It is easy,” he told me, “to build a highly accurized 10-22 without using a single Ruger part.”

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

I wanted the most all-inclusive website around on getting a Louisiana concealed handgun permit.

We hear the same questions over and over--and there are lots of misconceptions about the training, where you can and can't carry--and entirely too many armchair experts expounding too much about that which they know not. The amount of misinformation is both staggering and frighteningly stupid.

After months of work, missteps, corrections, changes, and typos, we finally got the site finished and operating. It was at times frustrating, rewarding, tiring, and finally, a cause for celebration.

I can highly recommend Tim Elsea, my graphic artist and webmaster--it is to his immense credit the site looks and performs as it does. He also has the patience of a saint, and never lost his cool once when I would come up with yet another idea or suggestion for an illustrative photo, video, or art.

I told him I wanted a website that would answer any question about getting a Louisiana Concealed Handgun Permit. I think we have succeeded in that Tim can now educate anyone on Louisiana's concealed handgun laws, and he has yet to take the training!

I also challenged him to build the best-looking site on concealed carry training and courses in the state. He may have answered that challenge with one of the best sites on the subject on the entire web.

You be the judge, and let us know if you think it can be improved, and what you would like to see included.

Click here to read more!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Warrior Mindset: Homeowner Shoots an Armed Invader

It was a drizzly, miserable December, 2009 night in Marrero, a small river town located across from New Orleans on the West Bank.
He and his wife are active in their church--she is the youth pastor--and they had gone to services that night.
Upon leaving church, they decided to get something to eat, but the restaurant they chose was closed. Their teenaged daughter was out with friends, and would be coming in soon, so they decided to go home early.
They live in a nice, upper-middle income neighborhood—it is a small development consisting of six dead-end streets, three on each side of a main thoroughfare coming off the highway. When you enter their street, you can only leave by coming back the way you entered. They lived about nine houses down from the corner.
When they turned onto their street, it was about 8:15 PM, still raining. They saw three individuals wearing “hoodies”—hooded sweatshirts--pulled up over their heads. The strangers were at the entrance to their street, walking in towards the dead-end.
They drove past them about 100 yards, pulling into their driveway.
“We were suspicious,” he said. “We waited about 20 seconds in the car, looking for them, but couldn’t see them anymore, and decided to go on inside.”
He carried a Heckler & Koch USP Compact in .40 Smith & Wesson caliber. This is a smaller double-action pistol with a polymer frame and a de-cocker button. It carries ten rounds in the magazine. He had it loaded with Golden Saber hollow point ammunition.
He did not have a round in the chamber. This would prove significant.
His wife had paperwork from church in her hands, and he was carrying the H-K as they exited the car. They did not see the three strangers, so they walked quickly to their front door, unlocked it and he entered first, going to the alarm pad to type in the code.Paragraph
Rest of the Post he punched the keypad, his wife screamed, and he turned to see a man in a hooded sweatshirt forcing his way into the house, a .357 Magnum revolver in his outstretched hand. He was screaming “You’re gonna’ die.”
It’s strange what the mind focuses on in times of stress—he noticed the invader had wrapped cloth around the gun, probably to hide his fingerprints. He realized in a split second of razor-sharp clarity that an armed man had hit his door as his wife was closing it and was about to enter his home—and he basically had an unloaded gun.

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Training Protocol--Teaching Women to Shoot...

Training Protocol--Women to Shoot

Here's Vy, the star of the class and we can see why!

I had a number of friends, young women, who kept mentioning to me that they wanted to learn to shoot–but didn’t have time to take the entire 8-hour concealed carry course.

I told them to come out to the range for a 3-4 hour course, and all they would have to pay for would be the range time, ammo, and targets–no charge for the instruction. A bunch were invited–the day before Easter wasn’t the best timing, but it was all the weekend I had available. Five showed up. One brought her mom.

I gave them a little over two hours of classroom instruction, then spent about two hours on the range. The little Vietnamese sweetheart, Vy, had never touched a gun in her life–she shot the best group of them all–a natural! Of course, excellent instruction had a lot to do with that!

As you can see, they all had a ball. There were a few guys down the other end, one of them a former student–he kept walking down to watch, and kept saying “Gordon, you shouldn’t be working this hard and having this much fun.” He had his son and a young friend who is going in West Point in June–so he was giving him some pointers on the AR-15, and on 9MM pistols. They let some of the girls shoot some of their stuff, too.

Gordon and two women from class.

It’s always fun to turn someone on to shooting–and when it is women, who were scared of it in some cases, it is very fulfilling.

Several of their friends have said they regretted missing it, and want to know when we will be doing it again. And now, several of the girls in the class want to get their concealed permits, and buy their own handguns. One emailed me and told me her husband has promised to get her a handgun for Mother’s Day!

Watch out guys, they’re armed, trained, and dangerous! ~Gordon Hutchinson Paragraph
Rest of the Post

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

SB2099 AND THE BLAIR HOLT BILL- Don't Forward These Internet Rumors

It’s called “going viral,” and it refers to what happens to information that is of interest to a large number of people when it is published on the internet.
Suddenly, with no checking whatsoever, thousands, hundreds of thousands of people forward this information to anyone they think might be interested in it.
It can be an amazing call to action, this going viral--getting people involved in a grassroots movement that can affect how politicians vote--or it can be a real pain in the neck.
Such are the shrill warnings forwarded to me daily on SB-2099, a purported bill in the United States Senate that will require listing of all your firearms on your 1040 income tax form. I have personally received hundreds of warnings by concerned readers and friends who forward the different versions of this foolishness, frequently adding their own warnings of doom unless we all get active and call our Congress-Persons.
Of course, these well-meaning individuals have done their good deed—they got involved—they sent the warning on. Surely the people they are sending will get involved, and they will contact their elected representatives, right?
A pox on whatever idiot wrote this sensationalized piece of poppycock. It takes a small grain of truth and a lot of exaggerated tales and makes it sound as if the jack-booted thugs are only a short time from standing on your porch, beating on your door to demand your guns.
According to the most widely disseminated version of this urban legend, SB-2099 will do the following:
1. It will require listing of all your firearms on your 1040 income tax form.
2. It will become public knowledge within 30 days after it is voted into law (whatever that means.)
3. It is an amendment to the Internal Revenue Act of 1986—which means the Senate Finance Committee can pass this into law without the Senate voting on it at all (didn’t he just say it would be voted into law?)
The idiot that composed this false call-to-arms even gives a link to as proof the bill exists—and asks you to check it out.
Obviously, no one bothers to check Snopes, or if they do, they fail to read further than the first paragraph, because Snopes points out that no such bill currently exists.

Click here to read more!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Concealed Carry on Campus--No More Victim Disarmament Zones

The Honorable Clif Richardson
Louisiana House of Representatives
State Capitol
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Dear Clif,

Thanks for your phone call today asking for my opinion and background on concealed carry of handguns on college campuses. Representative Ernest Wooton’s bill to allow such recently passed out of committee, and is due to be considered soon by the full Louisiana House.

I appreciate your trying to find out more about the subject, and I appreciate your calling me. As the senior instructor of state-certified concealed handgun courses in Louisiana, the author of numerous articles and one book (“The Great New Orleans Gun Grab”) on firearms ownership, I have some definite opinions on allowing concealed carry on college campuses.

You will likely hear from dozens of administrators and some law enforcement that it would be a mistake to allow concealed carry on college campuses. I disagree with them for a number of reasons, but first, let me tell you a couple of stories and quote some statistics.

The media trumpets to the heavens every time a youth uses a gun to kill another person in one of our schools. Unfortunately, the opposite is not true.

Have you ever heard what happened on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 at the Appalachian School of Law at Grundy, Virginia?

It’s a small, private, and highly respected school of law that has gained quite a bit of notoriety because of the actions of a foreign student.

His name was Peter Odighizuwa, a Nigerian and naturalized U.S. Citizen who had flunked out of the school in 2001, but had been allowed to come back in and change his academic course. On the day in question, the 42-year-old Odighizuwa was due to speak with L. Anthony Sutin, Dean of the school about his grades—Odighizuwa had just been dismissed a second time for poor grades.

Odighizuwa had a history of mental instability that was disclosed in a report by the Newport News (VA.) Daily Press.

Odighizuwa spoke first with Professor Dale Rubin when he arrived at campus that morning. Upon leaving Rubin's office, he asked him to pray for him. He then went to the offices of Dean Sutin, and Professor Thomas Blackwell.

Upon arriving at their offices, Odighizuwa drew a .380 caliber pistol and shot both these respected college educators to death.

He then went downstairs and opened fire in a common area, hitting a student, Angela Denice Dales, killing her.

He fired three more shots, wounding students Stacy Beans, 22, of Berea, Kentucky; Rebecca Brown, 38, of Roanoke, and Martha Madeline Short, 37, of Grundy.

He then stopped shooting and went outside as students were diving out of windows and running for cover.

Two students, Tracy Bridges and Mikael Gross, ran to their parked cars and retrieved handguns from them. They then ran back and pointed their guns at Odighizuwa, who quickly dropped his pistol. Another student, Ted Besen, ran up to Odighizuwa who hit him in the face, and then there was a pile of the students with a gun was an off-duty police officer, and Odighizuwa was quickly in handcuffs.

You may not have heard of the incident at the Appalachian School of Law—it was not heavily reported, and there was practically NO mention in the media that students with guns stopped what would have surely been more bloodshed. Most media reports stated that Odighizuwa was “tackled” by a group of students. According to researcher (and college economics professor) Dr. John R. Lott, there were 280 separate news stories (from a computerized Nexis-Lexis search) in the week after the event—and just four stories mentioned the fact that the students that stopped the attack used guns to end it.

Of course. Certainly the national media is not going to publicize a positive intercession by citizens with guns.

But I’ll bet you remember the incident on Wednesday, October 1, 1997 in Pearl, Mississippi. That’s where 16-year-old Luke Woodham murdered his mother the night before by cutting her throat, then showed up at Pearl High School with a .30-30 caliber rifle.

He opened fire on his former girlfriend, Christina Menefee and her friend Lydia Dew, killing them instantly. He then swung the rifle around and fired it into a group of students. He ran to the parking lot and climbed into his dead mother’s car—he later stated he intended to drive to a nearby junior high school and kill more students.

Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, a shooter, and a member of the National Guard, ran to his car and retrieved his .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun, loaded it, and rushed to intercept Woodham who was by that time behind the wheel of his car. When Myrick pointed his handgun at Woodham, the student tried to drive around another vehicle and crashed into a tree. Myrick ran up and pointed his gun at Woodham, ordered him out of the car, and held him on the ground at gunpoint until the police arrived.

There was little media reporting of the fact that Myrick stopped what was sure to be further carnage with the use of his own handgun—I guess we are to assume he ran up to Woodham, pointed his finger at him, ordered him to stop, and Woodham meekly complied.

Finally, I know you remember the horrible incident which occurred on Monday, April 16, 2007 at Virginian Tech University at Blacksburg, Virginia.

Korean-born Seung-Hui Cho took a 9mm Glock pistol and a .22 caliber Walther pistol and went on a murderous rampage —the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, murdering 32 students and instructors before taking his own life.

There was legislation introduced into the Virginia legislature in 2006 which would have allowed concealed carry on campus, but it was derailed, and no such freedom existed on the campus—it was a “Gun-Free Zone.” These have now become more accurately described as “Victim Disarmament Zones.”

The first thing Cho did was shoot two students to death in a dormitory. He then showed up at Norris Hall, a classroom building, where he chained the doors shut, walked up to the second floor, and began rushing from room to room, shooting at will. In all, he wounded 60 people, killing 30 of them. Police believe he fired more than 170 rounds in this attack. He had two 32-round replacement magazines for the Glock, and a large number of spare magazines.

Among the victims were five college professors, including Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor who blocked the door of his classroom to give his students time to escape through the windows. Cho shot him five times, killing him.

There were 11 dead students in Room 211—this is where Cho eventually took his own life. There were nine dead in Room 206. There were four killed in Room 2007, and another died in Room 204. More died later.

Enough. You get the picture. Possible mass slayings are averted or lessened because someone produced a handgun and stopped the killing. Where none are present in these “Victim Disarmament Zones,” dozens die needlessly.

No amount of law, statutes, or regulations are going to keep a madman from going where guns are least likely to be used against them and killing people. Yet, administrators seem to feel that allowing a small number of well-trained adults who have undergone extensive criminal and mental background checks to carry concealed on campus will result in some sort of Armageddon, where students will go crazy and start shooting everyone.

Need I point out that if such a person is going to submit to such violent tendencies, the fact he is breaking the law by having a gun on campus is going to do little to deter him.

But I ask if only ONE student had been able to produce a handgun and engage Cho on Monday, April 16, 2007 inside Norris Hall, how many innocent lives might have been saved?

“According to an estimate by the National Shooting Sports Foundation—a Connecticut-based firearms industry group—there are more than 290 million privately-owned firearms in the United States today. The number of American households with at least one firearm has risen to an estimated 47.8 million.”

That quote comes from “America Fights Back—Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age,” an excellent book by Alan Gottlieb, Director of the Second Amendment Foundation, and Dave Workman, Editor of “The New Gun Week,” a weekly newsmagazine on firearms, sport shooting, and politics. I count both of these gentlemen as personal friends, and much of the information stated here has been gleaned from their book, writings by Professor Lott, and by Dr. Gary Kleck, a criminology professor at Florida State University.

Now that I have thrown all the facts and figures at you, let’s look at some of the histrionics you will be likely to face when listening to opposition to this bill to allow concealed carry on campus:

1. Allowing students to carry guns will only result in shootings and bloodshed on campuses.
This is the same argument that has been produced in every state (now about 40) where shall-issue concealed carry laws have been proposed. This is a fallacy that has been proven wrong over and over again—Professor Lott has found that mass public shootings declined by 85%, and injuries fell 82 per cent in the 14 states that adopted shall-issue carry laws between 1977 and 1995.

Professor Gary Kleck, in his book “Point Blank—Guns and Violence In America,” found that guns are used over 2.5 MILLION times a year to stop crimes from occurring—and only in a miniscule number of those cases is the gun actually discharged. Incidentally, Dr. Kleck’s methodology has never been disproved in this study—it is generally accepted as a watershed study in the use of guns and violence in the United States.

2. The students will more likely shoot each other, than a gunman.
As I have told you before, my daughter is currently a college student. If a crazed shooter opened up in her dorm, classroom, or a campus building she was in, I would take that chance, and prefer someone in the building had taken a Louisiana Concealed Handgun Permit Course, was licensed by the state to carry, and had a gun which which to stop the killings. I’ll take the chance he/she might accidentally shoot my beloved daughter. Rather that chance, than her more certain death by an assassin in a gun-free zone.

Incidentally, she is over 21 years of age, has her own permit, knows how to shoot, and when to shoot. And if you were ever someplace where someone opened up with a gun, killing people indiscriminately, you would be most glad she had her revolver...she won’t shoot anyone else accidentally, and she won’t be afraid to stop someone from shooting others. She is trained, competent, and cool-headed.

3. The police, upon arriving, won’t know the difference between the shooters and the students—and might shoot a student.
Give me a break. I worked for 25 years as a reserve law enforcement officer. I came on scenes where citizens had guns and were holding other people—lawbreakers—at bay. It happened to me once—dressed in plain clothes, I stopped a crime from occurring in another jurisdiction. Holding a lawbreaker on the ground, pointing a .38 Special revolver at his back, I had the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office roll up on the scene, and they leveled their guns at me until I put mine down, and convinced them which of us was the bad guy. I never shot anyone in such a case, and never knew another law enforcement officer that did, either. It might be unnerving at first, we might have pointed guns at them until they put them down, but we worked it out quickly. I think this is a red herring here.

Finally (here, we hear the breathy sound of a sigh of relief), I would like to point out a couple of things:

From 1987 to 1995, the state of Florida issued almost 315,000 concealed carry permits. In that eight-year time frame, the state of Florida rescinded a sum total of 54 permits from permit holders for illegal activities with a gun.

Louisiana now has almost 40,000 concealed carry permit holders—a far cry from the approximately half-million over in Texas—mainly because we have always considered the vehicle an extension of the home, and allowed citizens to carry their guns in their cars.

I think you can call the Louisiana State Police Concealed Permit Section and they can give you the same statistics for our state. You will find the numbers of permits rescinded to be correspondingly low. Statistically across the nation, concealed carry permit holders are the most law-abiding subsection of our citizenry you can find—folks that undergo the training and get the permits don’t commit the crimes.

Should we allow concealed carry on campus?

Absolutely. I don’t understand the reasoning against it. By denying it, you are saying that reasoned, thinking adults, which the state has determined can legally carry, cannot do so on campus—but they can practically everywhere else, where nothing has occurred. The people arguing against this are saying adult college students are likely to go berserk and start shooting one another.

I would point out here that the Louisiana State Police conduct an extensive and thorough background check on every applicant—mental, criminal, every aspect of a person’s background is evaluated before the permit is issued. And the training is equally thorough and extensive, requiring hours of shooting time, lectures on safe use of handguns, use of deadly force, and child-access prevention.

Allow concealed carry on campuses? Why has it ever been denied in the first place?

Thanks for taking the time to inquire about this upcoming legislation. I hope I haven’t dragged it out too long for you—but you said you wanted to gain some facts and figures on the subject, to be able to make up your mind on the subject. I appreciate your keeping your promise to call me for background when the legislation came up. You are a man of your word, and I appreciate that.

Best wishes,

Gordon Hutchinson
Author, “The Great New Orleans Gun Grab”

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Friday, May 15, 2009

A Memorial Weekend

Across the green hills, cobbled with white gravestones, a rolling thunder reaches into our souls.

Nineteen times the cannon speaks, a hollow boom hidden in the solemn recesses of Arlington.

The sign posted at the entrance as you enter the nation's cemetary for its war dead says it eloquently, its message poignant, stating there must be no bike riding, no children playing, no picknicking. "Please respect the sanctity of any funeral you see occurring...This is Hallowed Ground."

We are on a whirlwind tour of Washington, D.C. We have toured all the memorials: Jefferson, Lincoln, Vietnam, Korea, Iwo Jima. We have ended up, Memorial Day morning, on the steps of the amphitheater, overlooking the Tomb of the Unknowns. My wife Ti Lou, Greg and Peggy Vidrine, and most importantly my 15-year-old daughter, Jessica, have come to the nation's Capitol on this most sacred of weekends to see all the tourist things. But more than that, I want Jessica to understand the meaning of being American, and what hundreds of thousands of men and women have given up that she might live the life she lives--blonde, carefree, imbued with Britney and Backstreet fever, gabbing on the phone with girlfriends, talking always about boys.

She must understand what it means to be American, that people die across this world envying one simple thing about her--that she lives in and is a citizen of this country.

Every person that has "done" Washington has told us "If you do nothing else, you must see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns..."

Unwittingly, we are here at the most solemn of the Nation's rites--the Laying of the Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. A full military contingent, representing every branch of the services, and the U.S. Army Band conduct the ceremony. I see tears in my daughter's eyes--it is strange that I can see them through the wetness of my own.

Back in Baton Rouge, I am describing the trip to a friend, Lynn Burgett, who spent some time as a young woman working for the Navy in Washington, D.C.

Lynn was very excited about our trip, even going to her congressman's office and picking up maps and tour guides for us before we left, drawing us an itinerary.

Our conversation wanders across the history of the Capitol, Arlington, what people have done to be buried there...

You know, she says, Daddy got the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II.

C'mon Lynn, I say, ever the cynic. Are you sure of this? The DSC is the second-highest award for valor given by the armed services. The only thing higher is the Medal of Honor. Lots of folks get all that confused...the ranking of awards is Bronze Star, Silver Star, DSC, Medal of Honor...

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Remington 700 VTR—The Tacti-Coolest Yet!

Many riflemen will tell you if there is one company that knows how to get it right, it is Remington. The frequent comment heard is “Remington shoots straight, right out of the box.”

And that has been my experience, both with personal guns, and the numerous rifles I end up tuning for friends each year.

Sometimes, it might take a little experimenting to find the right bullet, but Remington almost always performs better than adequate, right out of the carton.

When the unusually-configured barrel of the new Remington Model 700 VTR caught my eye, I decided my usual practice of signing for a test gun from the manufacturer wasn’t necessary. Experience proved the gun would shoot. And the features Remington built into this bolt gun intrigued me.

First off was that barrel. Talk about stand out on a gun rack--who ever saw a triangular-shaped barrel before? And it was the right length, too—just 22 inches.

The VTR stands for “Varmint Tactical Rifle” which falls into the ever-growing category of “tacti-cool” rifles with standard applications made to look like tactical guns with law enforcement or military uses. Of course, tactical rifles are no-nonsense, utilitarian rifles, spare to the point of Spartan with no unnecessary parts, everything designed for a purpose with no frilly cosmetics.

The new VTR is the long-proven Model 700 action with a patented triangular barrel, a design that offers more rigidity and less weight than a round barrel of equal diameter. With the larger surface area, greater heat dissipation is also claimed. An integral muzzle brake also acts as a protective crown for the rifling, extending past the crown for two inches.

The camo green composite stock has black grips overmolded into the forearm and pistol-grip—and it has two sling swivels on the front end—one for the sling, the other to attach a bipod for the varmint fields.

The gray, almost rough finish on the barrel and receiver is reminiscent of the old military “Parkerized” finish—a handsome, no-nonsense finish that seems to soak up oil, and sheds moisture with equal aplomb.

Since I’ve been planning a varmint hunt for prairie dogs this summer, I intended to build a rifle to take with me—in either .223 Remington, or .22-250 Remington. Once I spotted the VTR, knowing from experience it would shoot, the decision was made, and I ordered one.

After a lot of discussion with friends, some of whom have actually made prairie dog hunts, I settled on one of the icons in the long-range varmint fraternity, the classic .22-250, standardized by Remington in 1965.

Long considered one of the most accurate, easily adapted cartridges around, the .22-250 is known by old-time shooters by the nickname “.22 Varminter”—which gives you an idea of the status the cartridge holds in those ranks. I had never owned one, but the history of the cartridge, that it was developed by necking down the old .250 Savage centerfire deer cartridge, and its proven ability as a super long-range, accurate round all intrigued me, and I started buying different weight bullets in anticipation of its arrival.

Remington has installed a new trigger mechanism on the 700 which they call the X-Mark Pro Adjustable--which means they want it adjusted by a factory-trained gunsmith. I couldn’t stand the approximately 4.5 lb pull that came from the factory, so I took it to Reynerson’s Gunsmith Services ( for a trigger job. When I asked them to bring the trigger down to my preferred two pounds or so, I was informed the factory would allow them to set the triggers no lower than three pounds—

Lord, save me from lawyers, litigious societies, and heavy rifle triggers. I took what was offered.

I have to say, the gunsmith did an excellent job—we put a trigger-pull gauge on it after it came back, and found little creep and a crisp break right at the specified weight—I’ll live with it.

At the same time, I had them mount a nice 4-16X50 Alpen scope ( with an adjustable objective on high mounts, and I was in business. I could hardly wait to start testing loads and seasoning the barrel.

My normal practice with a new rifle is to buy an array of factory rounds and shoot them, scrubbing the barrel with Butch’s Bore Shine, or other copper solvent after each two or three shots for about 20 rounds. Then I go to cleaning after 5-6 rounds for another 20 or so, then after every 10 rounds for another 20.

Besides gaining brass to work up loads, I am breaking in the barrel and at the same time determining if the rifle has an inherent accuracy that can be enhanced by reloading and finding the perfect combination.

At first, the rifle frustrated me. It would shoot slightly above minute-of-angle (one inch) in a three or five-shot group, then climb out to almost two inches—which was rapidly determined to be cleaning-related. If I let it go past five or six shots without a good scrubbing, the groups widened considerably. This didn’t make sense as friends familiar with the caliber assured me their guns didn’t require excessive cleaning to maintain accuracy.

I also suspected I wasn’t reaching the full potential of the barrel because of bullet weight. Most of the rounds I could find were in the 55 grain or larger sizes—these would require a faster rifling twist for optimum accuracy. So I called the factory, and asked to speak to an engineer or someone in the sales department.

I was given the number of John Fink, who turned out to be the project manager on the VTR. I couldn’t have done better if I tried.

John told me the twist rate was 1-in-14. This is the recommended rate for the .22-250 as specified by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers, Inc. (SAAMI). Thus, he told me, the early weights originally designed for the cartridge were probably going to give me better performance. I should begin experimenting with weights in the 45 and 50 grain range, he said.

Talking to John Fink reminded me of the time we took a fisheries biologist down in the brackish Louisiana marsh, fishing for bass, redfish (red drum), and specks (speckled sea trout). We nearly wore the poor guy out asking him questions about the terrain, marsh loss, damage from nutria (a large South American rodent that adapted to our marsh, and is eating it away), and everything else we had been questioning for years. An expert is a great thing to have along when you are practising your favorite hobbies.

I had the project manager for the Model 700 VTR Bolt on the phone--I wasn't going to let him off without asking the question that has been gnawing at me for years: Just why does Remington insist on putting those two small protusions insided every forearm, supporting the barrel, and ruining what would be a perfectly free-floated barrel?

"We've tried it both ways," he said. "Free-floating the barrel, and using pressure points. We've found in the test results the pressure points actually have an effect on the harmonics of the barrels, and stabilize them. When we remove the pressure points the accuracy actually deteriorates--so we build them into most forearms."

"I've tried it both ways," I said. "I have a Model 7 in 7MM-O8 that I couldn't get past minute-of-angle with any ammo I bought, so I ground the pressure points out, and polished them down. I completely free-floated the barrel."

"Did it do any good," he asked?

"Not much," I admitted. "But the rifle shoots a little under 1 inch at 100 yards with 140 grain Remington Core-Lokt, and I've never bothered to work a load up for it."

My daughter uses it every season, and she doesn't need any better than that anyway. Until I get the Buck Fever out of her, it won't matter if she can drill one-hole groups, or shoot one inch. If it's a doe, she slays them, even out to 200 yards.

But a buck can walk out at 75 yards broadside, and Jessica will shake herself until her fillings fall out.

After talking to John Fink, I decided maybe the factory guys actually do apply some science to manufacturing these rifles, and decided to leave the pressure points in the injection-molded stock. I had found the same features in the laminated stock on my Remington Guide Rifle in .300 SAUM, and it shoots 150 grain factory loads in under an inch. I guess I need to quit second-guessing the experts.

I don’t know if the 80 rounds or so of factory ammo had finally done its job, polishing the bore and filling the microscopic imperfections with copper shavings, thus making a perfectly smooth tube, but suddenly, the rifle came alive for me.

Hornady V-Max ammo in 50 grains with a ballistic tip claimed 3800 fps, and gave up a five-shot group that measured 1 1/8” at 100 yards. But that was one flyer. Four of the five were touching, and printed inside of 5/8”!

I’ve always found you can go buy the most expensive ammunition on the market, and a Remington rifle seems to have a natural affinity for Remington ammo—don’t ask me why. This rifle proved no exception, and bulk-purchase 40 round boxes of 50-grain Jacketed Hollow Points (JHP) consistently fired 5-shot groups that grouped inside 7/8”.

An early 3-shot group of Winchester 45 grain JHP gave an exciting 5/8” group, but a later group fired around the time of the Hornady and Remington light-weights was very disappointing. I suspect either wind, or barrel fouling.

After over 120 rounds fired through the barrel, I’ve reached the point my friends told me about. Now, a quick swab with a dry patch is all the barrel seems to need when the groups seem to be growing. They tighten right back up, if I do my job.

I’m most pleased with my new “tacti-cool” rifle and caliber—it should prove to be an affordable and really accurate sniper rifle on prairie dogs out past 300 yards.

Now I’m hitting the reloading bench to tighten those groups into the proverbial “one-hole” for which this caliber is famous.

Then, on to the varmint fields for the ultimate test—I’m sure I’ll be telling you about that hunt before the summer’s over.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Let's Give Everyone A Gun...

The Second Amendment Foundation, and their publication, "The New Gun Week," are the most informative and timely sources of information on gun issues I have found, and I highly recommend both.

Recently they released the news that 65 Democrats--members of Congress--sent a joint letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that they would not support any form of assault weapon legislation the new administration proposed to push.

Perhaps that is why Queen Nancy instantly denied and disavowed Holder's statement that the administration wanted to do something about the problem of "assault" weapons.

Perhaps that mindset has had something to do with the less than noisy outcry over the spate of multiple shootings in the last few weeks. Criminals have killed cops, family members, and innocent citizens, using all different kinds of firearms to do it, and the normal media furor over gun use has been noticeably lacking...

Certainly nothing has been made of the fact that Richard Poplawski, 23, a misfit who killed three police in Pittsburgh, came from a broken family, was dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps, and couldn't hold a job.

Ann Coulter, in one of her biting columns, pointed out the following information about the recent crop of murderers--most of this has already been reported in bits and pieces in the news--but Ms. Coulter, as usual, brought it all together with acerbic wit. I have added what I gleaned from news reports:

--Jiverly Wong was a former crack addict who told co-workers "American Sucks." He was bitter over not being offered a job as a speechwriter for Barack Obama. Wong is the one who blockaded the people studying for their American citizenship in a civic center and shot as many as he could before committing suicide.

--Robert Stewart was a 45-year-old three-time loser at marriage, with "violent tendencies" according to one ex-wife. I noticed in one news report she stated she hated to say it, but it didn't surprise her when it was reported he shot up the nursing home in Carthage, N.C. where his present, and newly estranged wife worked. Guess all those elderly Alzheimer's victims were the cause of his marriage breaking up.

--Lovelle Mixon--this sweetheart was a 26 year-old paroled felon who got out shooting at a traffic stop, killing two police officers. He executed one--shooting him on the ground according to Coulter. He then killed two more cops in a shootout after he ran from the scene of the first killings.

--Michael McLendon--you remember him--he's the one that went across miles of Alabama, hunting down and killing members of his own family. Of course, he took potshots at innocent bystanders while driving from one killing field to the next. Coulter reports he was 28 years of age, and boycotted family funerals because he hated his relatives. Thus he killed 10 of them and their neighbors when he decided to ride the mad steed into oblivion.

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