Saturday, January 10, 2015

Back in Business Writing the Diva's Blog

Hey, it has been awhile.  I've been busy and I bet you have also.  I think that most of you will agree with me that working for a living takes too much precious time away from really important life activities.

Let me get you  up to date since my last post.  Besides working (ugh) I have been learning how to rebuild and enhance firearms.  The ammo shortage left a lot of time for working on my guns when ammo was too hard to find or expensive to buy and I had to cut out most of my practice and shooting time.

Working on firearms is like sewing: you love it or you hate it.  To me it is as fun as a competition.  However guns are not like a vacuum cleaner where you can use a hammer, kitchen knife and spatula to fix it.  You cannot run to your local home improvement store for tools or parts.  You cannot believe how lively the parts are.  Those little tiny springs on guns can fly faster and further than a speeding bullet and Superwomen.

Lucky for me that I have two great gun shops that allow me to help them out on weekends and holidays in exchange for using their tools and equipment.  MetalXWorks in Cambridge, Ohio and Massey's Gun Shop and Range in Brownsville, Texas.  

If you are afraid of failure, working on guns is not for you.  You have plenty of opportunities to fail, but way more opportunities to learn, excel and succeed.

You cannot believe what you learn about a firearm's inner workings when you are trying to blow out sand embedded in the action of a semi automatic shotgun or, from the dirty shop floor, pick up the shinny red barrel you just knocked off the paint rack or get a gun put back together and notice you have an extra part left over and the gun goes pff..fff..FF instead of BANG.

What I found is that working on guns makes you more comfortable. confident and self assured around them and about yourself.  Plus it really impresses the guys.

To get you all started in the next couple posts, we will be sharing some quick and easy things to do to your firearm that will help you learn more about it as well as have some extra quality time with your firearm.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The New Adventure - DuroCoating

Those of you who have seen pictures of my firearms know that purple is on everyone of my firearms.  My bff, Alan Fomorin, with whom  I graduated from high school a couple years ago, has been my DuroCoat expert.

Alan doing them was well and good but I decided that I wanted to learn how to do my own.  Even though my advanced degrees are in science, my undergraduate degree is in Art.  Long Story.  I believed I could do this.    It is not as easy as it looks.

This belief lead me to another adventure learning how to DuroCoat firearms.  

Lesson One:  The set up for DuroCoating is very elaborate.  Many destributers of paint for firearms has kits with spray cans of paint.  Don't do it!  Spray cans don't give you enough control of the paint spray to guarantee an even paint job.

Lesson Two:  Learn how to clean your air brush properly unless your have lots of miney to buy lots of them.  This can get expensive.

Lesson Three:  You need a lot of room.  One so you don't end up painting your lungs and the other that you don't paint your just finished gold trigger green when you paint your barrel green..

Lesson Four: What can go wrong will.

Lesson Five:  DuroCoating is tons of fun with amazing results

My next blogs will give you examples of my adventures.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


We are hearing a lot in the news about accidents with firearms.  Since I have not looked at the statistics, I don't know if we are having more or that the press is promoting it more.  There is also the Facebook affect as folks on all sides of every argument seek out articles to prove their point.  Sigh.  I am very disappointed that Facebook has not become a place for informed discussion as I had hoped it would be. This will be another blog discussion.

We are now reading about many firearm accidents in the press because firearms are in the national arena.  As gun girls, we can see that most of these accidents happen because someone was not following the very simple safety rules that gun manufacturers, shops, ranges, gun clubs, gun organizations, and gun owners advocate.

We need to stop and think about how us Divas can be part of the solution of firearm safety.  That is us finding ways in which to encourage people to understand safety rules and take safety classes.

Here are some additional rules that you can pass on for people that need to have more explicit information than what is in the simple list of safety rules:

1.  When guests find out you have firearms, especially teenagers and children, they want to see them.  Do assume if you put your firearm down anywhere, including the top shelf of a 15 foot bookcase, back of the refrigerator or in the attic trunk, that they will find it, pick it up in true television gangster style and look down the barrel to see if it is loaded.

2.  Don't let your teenage kid walk out of the house with a firearm without you knowing where they are going and who they are going with.  I have left a range twice because a teenager and three of his friends were taking turns waving a firearm around almost close enough to the direction of the target to hit it.  Peer pressure to be cool around your friends unfortunately blocks the common sense gene of most teens.

3.  Do not let a new shooter shoot anything but a .22 cal. until they get their wits about them, know how to handle a firearm safely and can tolerate the recoil of a larger firearm.

4.  There are videos showing new shooters with high powered carbines and other firearms that they can not and should not handle.  The owner of the firearm hands it to the unsuspecting newbie without training or warning about the recoil.  I don't know why those newbies and their "friends" are not dead when a loaded firearm goes flying, uncontrolled in the air and to the ground.  The people that gave the firearms to the new shooters were one step away from losing a loved one and spending a lot of time in jail.  Tell your friends that these videos are not funny they are pathetic.    

5. This suggestion may see silly or common sense, but I have to add it.  Don't drink and shoot.  Duh.

If I had my way, all firearm owners would have to take a basic firearm safety course.  My club, the RGVShooters provides these courses.  Even seasoned shooters should take them to refresh.  Every time I sit in on one I learn something new.

Action item:  Encourage your local clubs, police department, boy scouts, girl scouts, church groups, YMCA/YWCA and gun shop/ranges to offer affordable safety courses.

If you have more suggestions, please put them in the comment section.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

You think you are ready and are humbled again.

Last Saturday night the Rio Grande Valley Shooters had an invitation only night match.  This is when you do IDPA scenarios and it is dark.  Because it was invitation only we had a small group of shooters that thought we were cool.  Well guess what?  We shot horribly.

One of the members said, "If we had to protect ourselves, it would probably be at night in the dark."  We decided that we needed practice, and lots of it.

The first scenario was we were in our car and bumped into a gun fight.  Headlights from other cars  (halogen lamps) were shinning in our eyes.  We had to shoot out and above of the wood fake car window at targets to the left and right of the lights.

My night sights on my M&P were useless against the bright lights.  Plus I could not see the bad guys because of the contrast of the bright lights making the dark look much darker. It takes your eyes too long to adjust from the bright light to the dark, almost temporarily blinding you.

The second scenario we had a flashlight attached to the bottom rail of our handgun barrel.  I was double embarrassed when I didn't even know there was a bottom rail.

As a person with lots of outside survival training I know that if you use a flashlight it prevents you from seeing all around you limiting your view of dangers and of finding your way.  You have to keep the flashlight off until you need to see some detail clearly.

Putting a beacon of light on your firearm, created a lot of discussion about where to hold the gun.  The flashlight is like third on a match.  You are searching for the bad guy and he/she knows exactly where you are.  Not a good time to hold your gun chest ready unless you have a vest on.

We were able to sight the targets better with this scenario, but we also had to memorize where they were so we didn't have to search around for them and waste precious seconds.  Bad guys usually don't announce their position and give you time to memorize their location before you go after them.  Go figure.

In the third scenario we had to hold the handgun in one hand and a flashlight in another.  This made me a bit more comfortable since you could hold the flashlight further out away from your body, but then.....shooting a handgun with one hand loses your accuracy so you need to find a way to stabilize both.

Again, how you hold it makes you the best target around.  The image to the left is how I chose to hold it, however the members who had tactical training held the flashlight up away from the gun.    I was embarrassed again because I had not gone on the Internet to learn more about night shooting before coming to the match. As it happens there are lots of websites and YouTube videos on what to do.

When we do one handed scenarios during our regular Thursday night completions  I moan and groan.  Awww lets not do these.  Now I am going to ask for more.

We all agreed that this was tons of fun even though everyone was humbled by their scores.  We agreed that we needed to do more of these to redeem ourselves after our pathetic scores.

As we left at midnight we also agreed that we need to do these during daylight savings time so we could meet our spouses where we had promised to be earlier in the evening.  (Sure Honey.  I will be able to meet you around 10 at the party!  I will be back and finish up laying the floor then.)  I think everyone is grounded for a week or so.  Lots of roses being awarded to spouses before Thursday's practice.

Watch this video.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

What I Would Do If I Were Queen of Firearm Reform

I am in education, not because of the fantastic pay; there is none. I am in education because I believe it to be the one sole solution to most of life's challenges.

As the gun discussions grow, twist and turn to address gun violence in the U.S. it becomes more convoluted and fuzzy.  My humble opinion is that too many of the outspoken stakeholders on all sides are repeating information that was fed to them and not listening to the other views.  Everyone needs an education.

There was thought to be a ban on government funded research on the how our gun policies play on the decrease or increase of gun violence. That has now been clarified and, again, money will be released to answer key questions on the effects of our gun policies.  

Now our job is to educate stakeholders on how to use the research to really step back and understand what is happening.

The first thing we teach students who are preparing for a debate is to learn everything they can about the opposing opinion.  The next is to listen carefully to the opponents when they present their side to understand their logic.   This makes for a better debate that is a discussion leading to solutions, not a screaming match of who can get the last word in.

It seems as if we need all of the gun debaters to follow these guidelines.   The current debate has become so far reaching and dramatized  that few debaters have thought the argument through or listened to the other side.  In fact, I see that sometimes both sides really haven't thought through their own arguments or listened to their what they are saying.

Therefore, I will solve the problem for everyone.

1.  The debaters for the firearm advocates should be competitors in gun sports, local gun clubs, hunters, safety and tactical trainers, gun ranges, collectors, investors and criminal justice professionals.  They understand the importance of gun safety which means educating people on how to safely handle and store firearms, maintain them and use them safely.

2.  The debaters for those that want to restrict access to all firearms should be competitors in gun sports, local gun clubs, hunters, safety and tactical trainers, gun ranges, collectors, investors and criminal justice professionals.   These are people that interact with guns and people who use them as sport, investments and collections on a daily basis.   They understand the importance of gun safety which means educating people on how to safely handle and store firearms, maintain them and use them safely.

What I am pointing out here is that this debate should be conducted by the people who are the most educated about gun safety, understand the financial and recreational  benefits and have first hand knowledge of the responsibilities and consequences of firearm ownership.

Let me provide two examples:

Pro - "I want to protect myself and my family".  Unfortunately, too many people purchase a firearm, shoot it once or twice, and then put it fully loaded in a drawer, a glove compartment or tuck it into their belt.  Too many have had no training, are not familiar with the firearm, don't maintain it properly and have no idea of the impact to property and people if they managed to fire a shot.  This article, 7 Biggest Mistakes Concealed Carry Holders Make, goes into what you need to do to protect yourself.

Con - "What would anyone want an AK or AR for?"  First and foremost, they have never fired an AK or AR otherwise they would not ask that question.   The AK and AR are popular firearms; they are not "assault" firearms.  The AK and AR are used in war, but so is every other type of firearm. They are the most visible because they are so cool looking but also effective and practical.  They are not generally used for hunting and certainly a hunter would not empty a 30 round mag into the forest trying to hit a deer.   AKs and ARs are most popular for competitions, target shooting and investments.  They are also used as family fun.

The gun debate should be fueled by real facts and statistics.  This is where we need to educate students again on how to read and evaluate statistics, without biased comments from the sensational entertainment news.    When we teach how to evaluate a research paper, we caution students from gathering information that only proves their point, they have not investigated the validity and comes from authentic research. 

Yep, I am happy to be in a profession that can make a difference.  But I still hate Mondays!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gun Guys: A Road Trip

Just when I though that Facebook was at the end of my interest, one of my friends posted this interview in Mother Jones about the new book Gun Guys: A Road Trip. I am going to comment without reading the book first, however it is now safely on my iPad that thinks it is a Kindle. Shhh don't say anything to it.

What I will comment on are his comments in the Mother Jones interview with Dan Baum the author. (There is also a YouTube interview at the end of this blog).

First of all, he is a liberal, like me. Second, he is a firearms enthusiast, like me. Third he loves AR's. I love his quote, "It's like a guitar that makes everyone play like Jerry Garcia." So I prefer AK's.  I would poetically liken my AK like a bulldozer that lets you go through anything you want. So, he likes ARs and not AKs.   His interview was great, he can't be perfect.

I can relate to his view of gun owners.  I understand his negative feelings toward the NRA and how they portray gun owners.   (The NRA...") It's a catastrophe for gun owners because the face that the NRA puts on gun owners is an angry, intransigent, male, extremist, frightening scowl."  That description that is portrayed is not me.  There are over 100 million firearms owners in the U.S. and only 4 million are NRA members.  Although this gives the NRA clout in U.S. politics, they don't necessarily represent the majority of firearms owners in all issues or in image.

Baum agrees that it is important to fight for our rights to own and enjoy firearms, however as the demographics of firearm owners change with young adults and, more specifically, the largest new demographic to enter the market, women the image of a firearm owner is changing.   "The bulge of the gun guys demographic is middle-aged, rural white men with some college, and that is a demographic that has been losing ground economically and culturally for the past 30 years."

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that liberal firearms enthusiasts have to take a different direction  and project a more realistic image.  We don't know yet why so many women are entering the market.  From my experiences, women are entering just the same reason men do.  They like: target shooting, spending time on the range with friends and family, shopping for the new perfect fit firearm, and the mechanics and physics are fascinating.  Whether or not a gun would really protect you in a situation doesn't matter.  You do feel more confident if you know how to handle and shoot a firearm, even if you are not carrying a firearm with you.  Like anything else that one accomplishes, learns about and masters, your self esteem grows.

What is important to us?  Gun safety for everyone in the household.  Training and practice to build competency and accuracy.  Conversation and friendship with fellow shooters.    Competitions with friends or serious competitions with other shooters.  We also like designer firearms.

Enjoy this video interview.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Small Businesses in Your Town are Struggling!

There is one very important stakeholder that is struggling as the effects of the firearms debate continues.  These are the small businesses in everyone's town that are not able to obtain firearms, ammunition, parts and accessories.  This is killing their business and they are the good folks that put firearm safety first and follow the laws.

The owners of these businesses are members of your church, support school safety programs, create programs for children on firearm safety, support local baseball teams and educate the community.

Without ammunition gun ranges cannot stay in business.  Gun ranges are the new bowling alley for families.  They come out with mom, dad, grandma and all the kids to spend time together.  The kids learn firearm safety, how to handle a firearm and become part of the sports community as they grow older.  Ranges focus on safety and educating everyone how to use firearms.  Ranges have Range Safety Officers who observe and work with shooters on safety and techniques.

Most ranges have youth programs for Boy Scouts, 4H, church groups and other youth organizations.  Many ranges provide those programs free of charge.

Without ammunition local gun and national clubs cannot host competitions and other activities for their members.  Competitive shooting  is a national sport that promotes gun safety and proper use of firearms.  These organizations give youth and adults an outlet for sports.  The fastest growing population of these sports are women.  Below are just some of the types of shooting:
  • CAS - Cowboy Action Shooting (Generally under the SASS -Single Action Shooters Society listing).
  • IDPA - International Defensive Pistol Association
  • United States Practical Shooting Association
  • NSSA - National Skeet Shooting Association
Without ammunition people who teach firearm safety and other courses cannot teach classes.  For these programs participants need ammunition to show proficiency.  All of these classes are skills based and students learn by doing.  This is not good if the places people learn gun safety and skills are not able to teach classes, but people are still buying firearms. 

If you are someone else you know is hording, contact your local firearms shops, ranges and clubs and learn what you are doing to cripple the one industry you are trying to protect.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

What is the difference between a firearms competition and a video war game?

This past weekend was the Texas Carbine's annual Pirates of Texas Championship Carbine match in Corpus Christi, Texas.  The Texas Carbine members volunteer countless hours to set up fun stages where we have to do acrobatics to shoot.  At the end of this post is a video of last year's shoot.

The only casualty is the zombie pirate eating what is left of a worn out volunteer's brain.

This year we were fighting evil aliens who had come down to take over our peaceful planet.  For those of you I just frightened, we won.  Rest assured  the planet is safe for another year. I fear what we might have to fight next year.

It was hard not to notice how much fun everyone was having.  Although with a large match like this, the event attracted some rock star shooters like Benny Hill from Triangle Shooting Sports and me... well maybe I am not a rock star shooter, more like a groupie.

When we look at why violent video games breed aggression  depression and hinted at encouraging kids and adults to violence.  Both firearm competitions and video games include guns, targets to kill, and heavy competition  there are some very distinct differences:

You can lose a competition  Video games are made for people to not lose, to feel competent even when you are not and be rewarded even if you do not deserve it.  This guarantee of success is the built in element to get you to continue playing and paying for more games and editions.  You choose the level of difficulty.  You turn the game off when you want to.  You choose your playing field.  You choose your enemies.  You never have to deal with the reality of your level of skill, knowledge and reality.  No one sees you do poorly.

In firearms competitions you can lose if you shoot badly and you feel bad.  When one of your competitors in your squad is a SWAT trainer, you have to learn to deal with these feelings of "Oh, pooh!", buck up and try hard to shoot better.  Your performance is up to you and you have to deal with the accomplishment level of your opponents to test yourself and work harder.   You have others who see you shoot well or badly.  You have to be a good sport if you win or you lose.   You have to keep up your self esteem, practice more and come back to the next match and hope your squad has a bunch of newbies.

The reality of the power of firearms.  In a video game, you can get killed and buy yourself back with bounty you earned in battle. If you shoot a good guy or shoot up someones house there is no responsibility for your actions.  You don't feel the incredible shove from the recoil, experience the exhaustion of holding a weighty firearm in multiple matches, or see the true impact of what damage the firearm can do.  You don't experience hot, cold or discomfort.  You do not know how hard it is to shoot matches in 100 degree weather, unpredictable wind gusts, blaring sun, cold and rain.  If you shoot kneeling, from a prone position, run to your next target, or do anything physical that you would feel if you were really chasing bad guys.

In competition, you shoot at targets that are close, within a couple feet where you can feel the full impact of the bullet hitting a target as the vibration and noise plows through your body..  You not only feel the impact, you can see the bullet penetrate the target and continue on to hit the berm well beyond the target.  Bullets don't stop.  You also see that the same firearm can hit steel targets 110 yards away.  You use the wrong ammo the bullet will easily destroy the $200 steel targets even at that long distance.  You also get kicked out of the match.  In the seconds you have to shoot and make split second decisions to save a hostage target you end up shooting the hostage instead of the bad target.

You have a clear reality of the damage a firearm can do and the physical discomfort and satisfaction of an day of shooting with friends and competitors.  You feel a plethora of emotions, conditions and challenges.

Safety  In a video game you do not have to purchase safe equipment, check your firearms to be sure it is in good working condition.  You have no safety rules, restrictions on how you can carry your firearm safely, or rules to follow and consequences if you break safety rules.    You can be wearing gravity defying heels, clothes that expose too much and hair that elegantly covers half your face blocking your puerperal views.

In competition, if you are not dressed in clothes that are safe, you may not shoot.  You have to have sturdy shoes, pants that allow you to move quickly, and shirts that protect you from ejecting shells.  Shooters must wear extremely uncomfortable ear and eye protection at all times. Your equipment: holster, belt, firearm, ammunition, loaders, pouches, etc. has to meet strict safety standards.

During the competition, firearms cannot be loaded until you are ready to shoot with a safety office right behind you.  If you accidentally point your firearm anywhere but directly down range, you are expelled from the argument.  Competitors must be in a safe area when someone is shooting, everyone must be attentive of what is happening around them and firearms that need inspection must be in a specified safe place.  Safety officers are trained on the rules.  Every shooter has a safety officer behind them during the entire shoot.  One safety violation can result in a point penalty or asked to leave if it is a serious violation.

When you leave a match you have experienced physical discomfort, satisfaction, personal reward, laughter, defeat, and frustration.  You have experienced all of this with folks who have volunteered their time to create the skill building competition, competitors who have dedicated time and money to learn how to shoot safely, and those who have developed self worth and accomplishment as they gain speed, knowledge and sills.  These are all life lessons that affect how successful you will be at work and at home dealing with the same range of emotions from bad to super good and still accomplish your goals.

So, when your kid or friend wants something to do, get them involved in a real life competition.  Now watch the fun video below:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Responsibilities to Our Household Members

Everyone is concerned with mass shootings, and they should be, but when you look at the figures of gun incidents, the number of accidental shootings far out number those injured or killed in mass shootings.  We need to be more vigilant to protect the loved ones in our household and our guests.

The other day, the New York Times wrote an article, Selling a New Generation on Arms on the NRA and firearm manufacturers focusing on the youth market.  I think they missed the point of how helpful many of the initiatives by engaging youth in firearm sports like going to a range for target practice or participating in youth competitions.

Educating youth about firearms is a good thing.  Depending on who you ask and the number changes every year,  between 40 - 50 percent of U.S. homes have some type of firearm.  That is 57,380,679 and one half households if you trust the 50% figure.  That is 2.6 numbers of persons in each household. It is not good enough to have only one person in a household know how to safely handle, store and maintain a firearm.  Safety is a family affair.

When you go to a range or a competition there are safety officers to help you.  They make sure that all the guests of the range or participants in the competition handle their firearms safely.  If not, they will work with the offender and help them.  Young hunters have to take a gun safety course.  All firearm sports require that children be accompanied by an adult.

If someone owns a gun in the household for whatever reason, they are responsible to make sure everyone in the home knows how to safely handle a firearm.  Kids are curious, firearms not stored safely are time bombs and without knowing how to handle a firearm that has been purchased to protect the home quickly become useful tools for intruders.

As part of new gun laws, people who do own firearms must be responsible and educate and train all the household members about how to handle, maintain and use a firearm safely.  The best ways to do this is to include the family in range visits, seek out educational opportunities through youth organizations, schools and your local dealers and ranges and involve those that are really interested in firearm sports.

This was posted on A Girl with a Gun Facebook account. What a sweetheart this young shooter is!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Hate Horders

OK you ammo Horders, this is not funny!   I can kinda  understand a run on AR and AK ammo, but - give me a break!  22 long rifle?  9 mm?  Why?  Because Horders are thoughtlessly buying out everything they see on a shelf, ammo is in short supply.   This buying frenzy has allowed manufacturers, exporters, wholesalers and dealers to raise prices of all ammo.

Horders are not thinking.  They are not only shooting themselves in the foot they are shooting the debate of gun control in the foot.  There are many businesses that have to have a steady affordable supply of ammunition to stay in business, feed their family and afford to stay in the gun control debate.  Firearm ranges, IDPA, firearm stores and shops, personal safety classes, home safety, tractable and concealed carry instructors and accessory business cannot stay in business if there is no ammunition.  

Businesses, clubs and organizations cannot make money, they cannot deliver services and they cannot retain or attract clients. This will drive away veteran customers who are the loyal base.  It will also stop new folks from learning about and appreciating firearms so there is no new support base following.  If people can't compete or make a living  why would they support or participate in gun control debates?  We are narrowing the debate all by ourselves.  

Folks who do competition shooting cannot shoot.  An average competition requires 100 to 200 rounds to complete.  The Horders have driven up the prices so that only the rich can afford to participate.  Just what we wanted to happen.  Competition shooting is now a rich person's sport! 

Despite what some folks might believe, there are many people who rely on hunting to supplement their everyday food supply.  They hunt to eat.  Thanks Horders for denying them a meal.  

Who gets first dibs on what supplies are available?    Government contracts and the very rich.  Good job Horders.  Well played.

So, if you are hording ammo, take it to a range, gun classes, and local clubs and give it to them.  If ammunition comes back into the market, we can continue the debate with supporters. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Assault Rifle is a Word Like Drinkability

In the news we keep hearing about assault rifles with the only definition as being an AR 15 or an AK 47.  The cry is to get rid of those two models of firearms and magic we are safe.  Not so.

The picture to the left is an AK 47.  It is a civilian version is a semi-automatic carbine similar to that used in the military forces around the world.  It's claim to fame is that it is cheap, reasonably accurate, easy to learn to operate and maintain,  and you can drag it through the dirt, water, snow, whatever and it will still shoot. It was originally a Russian weapon and still made in Eastern Europe, China,  Russia, and other countries.

A better name for this version of the AK, is a sporting rifle.  It looks like the military version but it is not.  Most folks purchase them for target shooting and competitive shooting.  It's distant U.S. cousin is the AR-15 which is made here and also a sporting firearm.

Depending on the type of magazine, it can hold 30 rounds of ammunition.  Take away the large capacity magazine, you have a rifle with a pistol-grip.  ANY firearm can be use in a mass murder.

Large capacity magazines can be purchased for many types of firearms.  If you ban the AK and AR, then you just find another firearm and purchase a large capacity magazine.

The only accomplishment of banning certain "assault" rifles is that it makes people feel good.  Like the problem is over.  Let me give you an example.  We have a border wall protecting us from Mexico.  Right?  Makes you feel safe doesn't it?  Some conservative groups would like you to believe that it is so.  Well, don't.  We don't have a border wall protecting us from Mexico.  We have bits and pieces of border fence.  It takes 10 to 15 seconds to scale.  You can even try to drive your truck over it.

The video shows it going for miles but it doesn't.  It goes for awhile, stops, starts again a couple miles down the road, meanders a bit more, has openings for trains, cows and property owners to go through. If a completed wall is ever built, it would put hundreds of thousands of acres of US land on the "Mexican" side of the fence; including the Rio Grande River the main source of agricultural and people water on the Mexican side.

When I go up north, people talk about the border wall like there is one.  They have a false feeling of security.  Everyone is happy.  Including the Mexicans who are daily walking around it or do what they normally do to avoid the swim, walk over the bridge through the border patrol stations.

Banning AK's or AR's is a feel-good gesture, just like the border wall.  This band aid will not prevent mass shootings.

We are not going to solve this problem with one swift emotion-driven, move.  Like most challenges, it requires mature and knowledgeable adults talking, not public relations folks calling the shots.

Drinkability!  A beer has drinkability.  Silly term but it sells the beer.  I haven't a clue why.  The term "assault rifle" sells AR and AK's to sports people and collectors, and causes misconceptions among the press, politicians and non-gun owners about the firearms and where the solutions really are to prevent mass shootings.  The word assault weapon only generates  claims that focus people's fears and make it seem that eliminating these firearms will stop mass shootings, and that is an illusion.  I'm going to go get a beer  - a Samual Adams that has no drinkability.

Watch the following video on competitive hobby shooting.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Media Delight: Conspiracy Theories and Other Melicious Misinformation

The Newtown shootings were a hoax, a conspiracy for the government to take away our guns.  Right.  Give me a break.  The source or catalyst for the conspiracy seems to be a tenured faculty member at Florida Atlantic UniversityJames Tracy, Ph.D.  This hitting the news now is so wrong in so many ways.

The challenge to prevent mass shootings is complex with so many different factors that are creating these monster shooters.  It is hard enough to get an intelligent discussion going without adding sensationalism to the mix.  But the press continues to hunt out unique individuals who don't mind being the tattoo lady in the circus.  The reason? Well, we like to read about them.  That is what the media does, attract viewers.  That is how they pay the bills and we watch, read or listen for free.

However, we are in a very important debate about what we need to accomplish to stop mass murders.  One of the first things I learned in negotiations is that you cannot irritate and persuade at the same time. These issues being taken seriously when the media promotes them for entertainment is irritating   We have to stop and think about what we are doing.

Lets use Dr. Tracy as an example.  He is a tenured college professor.  This means he has achieved a certain level of expertise in his field and his department and university have rewarded him with tenure.  This also means he can teach and conduct research in a manner in which he feels is best.  He is not guaranteed a job forever, he still needs to show he is continuing on a productive professional path.  His area of expertise is in communications.

Why what he says is not valid research or knowledge that can be repeated as fact or truth.

Publishing:  In order for any theory or research findings or even a professional opinion must be submitted to a panel of peers who discuss the method of research or gathering knowledge to judge if the methods to produce this knowledge was valid..  Dr. Tracey published on a personal blog which has no peer review or academic standing.  He can write anything he wants, his writing is just his opinion, not valid facts.  The National Enquirer is a magazine that has no standard or evaluating the truth of articles.

References:  In academics, all statements need to be backed up with resources, other researches' findings from research, primary source material and other resources that are clearly documented so anyone can also check the material to conduct an interpretation for themselves.  For instance, if I say the glaciers are melting I would have to give some reliable or valid source.  I measured some in Iceland so I can say this.  However I can only say that the glacier I measured was melting and suggest that it is probable that others were melting.

Working for a university as a tenured professor does not qualify you to be an expert in everything.  Trust me.  I work in one.  At a time like this, we need informed, intelligent conversations coming from thoughtful sources.

We are talking about serious life altering issues:
  • How we report, interpret and make available mental health records and then restrict constitutional rights from those that we tag as mentally deficient.  
  • Whether or not to take firearms away from people who enjoy the sport, take away someone's livelihood: store owners, range owners, gun smiths, manufacturers, dealers, collectors, investors.and those in the accessory industry like holsters, ammunition, belts, cleaning supplies, purses, clothing, targets, binoculars, sights, parts, shoes, hats, and purple finger nail polish.  
  • Challenging constitutional rights that have worked to make us a strong nation.  
  • Arming and training over 7 million teachers and hiring over 100,000 security guards (if every school just got one the true figure would be closer to 300,000 is my prediction) to protect over 75 million school children.
All of the actions resulting from our debates will have life altering results on millions of good, law abiding citizens.  We need everyone, the press, legislators, gun owners, metal health activists,  educators and the general public to take this conversation as seriously as it is.

Everyone needs to stop and think:  If I repeat this information am I persuading or am I irritating?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Who are these people who love firearms?

Part Six  This is the sixth in a series of posts informing folks about what is so much in the press, how to deter the mass murders we have been experiencing in the U.S.  It is not an argument for or against gun control; just explanations of terms we hear in the press that are not clearly defined.

For those who are not familiar with firearms, it is had to describe how different they all are in their size, weight, color, design, handling, recoil, trigger pull and the list of physical features that intrigue collectors go on and on.

Collectors collect in various ways.

Competition firearms
In the first post on why people love firearms we talked about competitive shooting.  I am a collector in that classification.  I have different firearms for different types of competitions, shotguns, rifles (carbine), handguns for IDPA and 22's for the Saturday morning friendly competitions at Larry's.  When participants go to the range for competitions, they bring an extra firearm in the event that the chosen one goes bad.

Firearms hold their value and even go up in price over the years.  Many collectors invest in firearms like other folks invest in fine art, cars, or other investments that are an alternative to stocks, savings accounts and retirement.  They are as very safe investment for those that know their firearms.

Even on a small scale, purchasing a firearm is a way of saving money.  They are easily traded or sold.  Even an armature collector can make small investments work for them.  Just be in a gun shop before Christmas and watch collectors cash in a couple firearms.

Historical and story value.  Firearms come with a story that can even alter history.  Many collectors are attracted to those firearms that have a historical significance.  Often it is the technology of firearms that can sway the outcome of a war, has historical value or just is an interesting design and art work.

If you are skeptical  then you just don't know enough about firearms.  As a science educator, I love to clean my firearms and look at how the mechanisms work.  Anytime I see a new firearm, I want to look how the mechanics function, the design of holding the gun and the ammo it shoots.  Change the ammo mixture and you can change how the firearm works.

Bottom line, firearms are fascinating.  This fascination has nothing to do with killing or the power feeling some folks get when they are armed, this fascination is in the engineering, design and history.  The fact that firearms hold value makes them an excellent investment and less risky than gold or commodities.   Unlike the stock market and other investments you can also be a small investor and make or save money.

Think how many times you visit a monument, historical site, museum or other informal educational institute and see firearms.  They are usually the most visited and discussed part of the day.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Who are these people who love firearms?

Four years ago, I, a raging liberal, would have been one of those who would have supported a ban on "assault" weapons.  Today I would not.   However I would support our strengthening and enforcing the laws we have in place,  requiring gun safety courses and would consider limiting carbines  to 10 round magazines.

We are not going to discuss my stand on firearm regulations in this post, because I want to explain to you non-gun folks why people like to collect and own firearms.  This is important to consult with experts, when we need to make informed decisions and take strong actions on stopping the mass shootings we have been experiencing.  Therefore we need to consult the people that know the most about firearms.

The first reason for the change in my beliefs is that in the last two years I have educated myself about firearms, compete in International Defense Pistol Association (IDPA ) competitions, go to a firearm range and I now have a collection of competition firearms. I absolutely love competing in matches, eating lunch or dinner afterwards while going over each play to learn what I need to practice on and bragging and looking superior when I shoot well.

The second reason is that my son, Jon Kydd Tharpe,  is now a Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) Instructor in Ohio and my grand kids all love to shoot.  It has become a family sport we all enjoy.

Here are things I have learned as a competitive shooter:

  • Competitive shooting is a serious sport with very rigid safety rules.  Break the rules, you are asked to leave the competition.
  • There is a huge national and international community of men and women who are involved in competitive shooting sports.  Most of us own multiple firearms depending on the type of competition and we are always on the hunt for a better firearm, superior sights and just that lucky firearm that we bond with.
  • Women are a rapidly growing group who are entering the competitive shooting arena and social groups.
  • Firearms are an engineering intrigue.   Each firearm is very different from theother even within a model and each has a personality of its own.  Cleaning and maintaining your firearm, upgrading parts and fixing broken ones and branding your firearm with you in design and type are as much fun as the competition itself.  
  • Collecting unique firearms is a fascinating hobby.  The historical research, engineering uniqueness and popular culture affects make collecting a very learned hobby.  Collectors will spend countless hours pouring over books, websites and visits to dealers and gun shows to find unique firearms to enhance their collection.
  • To be serious and skilled on how to protect yourself with a firearm takes countless hours of training.  
  • Guns safety is a family and household matter, not just for the firearm owner.
Unfortunately, what is in the popular press are the shootings, accidents and suicides, not the hundreds of thousands of folks who own firearms responsibly or the added number of folks those that really use firearms for defense.  These are the people that should be consulted for what needs to be accomplished to prevent these mass shootings. 

There are many more local organizations that also should be included in the discussions.  Here are the ones I belong to:

Texas Carbine

Local gun shops and ranges are also important to add:

Metal X Works
Larry Massey's Gun Shop and Range
Chuck's Gun Shop
American Firing Range

For those of you who are affiliated with other organizations, please add to this list in the comment section and I will add them to the blog entry.

See the upcoming blogs for others that love firearms.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Will Arming Schools Stop These Happenings?

Part Four This is a fourth in a series of posts informing folks about what is so much in the press, how to deter the mass murders we have been experiencing in the U.S.  It is not an argument for or against gun control; just explanations of terms we hear in the press that are not clearly defined.Probably not.

Economic Reality of Putting Armed Guards in Schools

The cost of putting armed guards in all schools will be the largest hurdle but also may not be economically feasible.  The NRA's offer was to help train school guards on tactical shooting; not to pay for the guards.  Somewhere someone has to pay and it will be taxpayers.  Before we go into what is tactical shooting training, lets look at the economics of paying for an armed school guard.  Remember also that many schools already use guards or the local police force.  Those schools are a bit ahead.

Number of Guards Needed
One guard per school will not be sufficient.  An armed guard would have to be at the school from the first person to arrive to the last person to leave.  This would be about 12 hours a day.  You would need at least one and a half guards to make sure someone was there all the time.  Vacations, personal leave and sick leave could mean that you would need 2 and a half guards.

Personnel Costs
A full time guard with benefits, workman's compensation, sick leave, vacation, uniform, would cost the school between $76,000 to $100,000 a year.  Not all schools are open all year, however, like teachers you would have to pay them enough money they wouldn't go job hunting every summer.  The cost of the guard would depend on the training you would require.  The moire tactical training, the more the guard would cost you.

What type or types of firearms would the guard need? A torch light, batons, handcuffs, boots, guard belts, handgun, magazines, pepper spray, bullet proof vest and ammunition.  What equipment needed would have to be discussed, but above would be a good guess.

The security guard would need tactical training that would meet state requirements for licensing.  Special training would have to be funded by the school.  As with most professional development, this often requires off site training extended over a couple days which means meals and hotel.  The school would have to establish a professional development budget once they have established the type and degree of training the guard would require.

Training would not just be in tactical where they are fighting the bad guy, but in basic medical first responder for victims  crowd control,  and working with local law enforcement.  Depending on the prior training that the armed guard has at a school the training could be two weeks to 12 hours.

We will get into what tactical training is with another post.

Facility security
It would not be enough to have a full time guard, the buildings would have to be secure with locks, preferably ones that could be worked electronically, cameras, and even metal detectors.  A model for this process to secure facilities that did not originally have them is airports who had to upgrade their security after 9/11.  The airports had to establish temporary facilities and eventually all had to do a complete and expensive remodel.

Understanding how schools are financed

This is complicated.  Hold on and read slowly.  The most important consideration is that the federal government, by the constitution, has no rights over schools other than if they violate or need help to comply with constitutional issues such as equal education for all students.  They cannot write a national curriculum, dictate to communities how schools should operate or tell schools who they should hire.

Surprised?  Most people are.

The only thing the federal government can do is to monitor schools to assure that all students are treated equally according to the constitution.  The way they control schools is through the money they provide them for busing, free lunches, and other areas that guarantee individual rights and fair treatment.  They also give schools grant monies for special programs.

For example:  Leave No Child Behind was only effective in getting states to participate because it was a qualification for schools to receive federal funding.  Early on Utah realized the program was bumping into constitutional  issues and announced they would refuse to participate, other states quickly followed.  It would have been an interesting law suit if they had pursued it.  The Department of Education backed down first and made special provisions.

States have pretty much the same function as the federal government.  Their main power over local schools is the state taxes that they collect and dole out and the licensing of teachers.  There have been cases like in New Jersey where the states have taken over a school that has failed, however the cases are rare and extreme measures.  States do have some control by licensing charter schools to complete with local school districts that are not living up to state standards. They have some control in the curriculum, but only by allowing things like only state approved textbooks can be purchased with state funds.  They can also set state standards or state curriculum but cannot dictate how the schools follow them.

The Community
The constitution puts education as the responsibility of the community, hence the local districts that are governed by local boards and run the schools according to "community standards".   Each district has autonomy to establish curriculum and run within the standards set by the U.S., Department of Education and the State Department of Education.  The community can set taxes according to their taxing district.  They can charge what the community will bear.

Who will fund armed guards in each school?  

The Department of Education does not have to act because this is not a constitutional issue.  The Department of  Defense or Homeland Security  would have to find a way to justify that putting armed guards in every school would be a national defense issue.  Airports received federal help because protecting the airlines from terrorists was, and still is, a national security issue.  If it was determined that this was a national security issue, money would have to be found in the budget by taking from someone else or raising taxes.

The constitution issue that gives communities power over schools may make this a job task out of their pay grade.  My son, Jon Kydd Tharpe who BTW gives CCW classes and with great classes for women, says constitutional lawyers are going to get their pockets full on this whole issue of what to do to prevent more mass shootings. I agree.

The states could fund armed guards as part of the funding they appropriate to local school districts.  Because the mass shooters are a matter of defending the state.  This would also be a case of taking money from another piece of the pie or raising taxes.

The burden of paying for the armed guards would most likely fall on the districts.  If the state does not appropriate new funds, the local taxpayers would have to pay.

The National Rifleman Association
The NRA offered to help supply training, not to pay for individual guards.  Training is a complicated issue between licensing teachers to carry concealed weapons, tactical defense, pro-active measures, and emergency and first responder medical treatment.  This training would be a combination of all the types of training they do, something they would have to develop.  Whether or not it could be accomplished for free is another issues.  Steve Brown from Buckeye Firearms Association in Columbus Ohio is planning a comprehensive training.  His sounds like a good model.


  • Most likely the local school districts will have to decide a plan for their community schools as well as fund armed guards if they believe this to be the best way.
  • Many schools already have armed guards, metal detectors and facilities with electronic locks, camera, and build in security.  These schools need to be investigated for how they run their security program, pay for armed or unarmed guards and set up metal detectors and other security.
  • Teachers and administrators need to have some type of emergency training to protect themselves and their students.  This would require a community discussion with local law enforcement, emergency medical personnel and tax payers. 
  • State and national discussion need to determine what the action would be if less well funded schools cannot afford to supply armed guards and other security measures.  Are we now bumping into another constitutional issue?
  • Private schools would have to be considered in this plan.  If the federal government supplied money to support better security measures should they supply the same to private schools who have no local, state or federal funds?
There is no getting around it.  Armed guards in the schools will have to be funded by taxpayers.  The biggest question here is "How much do the tax payers want to support this financially and at what level do they want government to be involved?"  Federal armed guards?  State police?  Community security guards or local police force? 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gun Shows and On Line Sales

Part Three This is a Third in a series of posts informing folks about what is so much in the press, how to deter the mass murders we have been experiencing in the U.S.  It is not an argument for or against gun control; just explanations of terms we hear in the press that are not clearly defined.

Gun Shows
All gun dealers who have a booth or table at a gun show have an FFL.  They must operate under the same federal laws that they abide by in their shop.  Sales and purchases have to be documented, background checks called in, and a permanent record is kept.  They have to indicate in their records that they sold the firearm at a gun show, and where the show was located.

However, there is no law which mandates that a person with table space have an FFL.  Private sales of guns (non-dealers) can be done from purchased table-space.  Note that ATF Agents sometimes visit gun shows under cover.  They check to see if  private sellers with table space are keeping some sort of record of sales.

So, why do you see documentaries and news programs claiming that anyone can purchase a gun at a gun show?   The reason is that the gun show promoters allow individuals who do not have an FFL to have a table or come into the gun show and sell firearms to other individuals.  During the gun show individuals can carry firearms (checked at the door by law enforcement to guarantee the firearms are made safe and unloaded) they want to sell around with them.  They can trade or sell these with a FFL dealer or with an individual.  When they trade or sell with an individual it is a paperless purchase.

Private owners have the right to sell their private property in any way they see fit as long as no law is broken.  Private sales should be accompanied by some sort of exchange of personal information for legal reasons (if the gun sold is used in a crime).  This does not always happen.  Private individuals do not have access to the background checks, only FFLs do.  Private owners can make profits off their sales.  There is a catch.  Private owners cannot engage in interstate commerce.  A collector in Ohio cannot go to a show in Kentucky and purchase a table to sell privately owned firearms.

The exception to this are antique firearms (models manufactured before 1898).  These can be transferred between any individuals anywhere.  Note the model number does not matter. An 1898 Mauser produced in 1944 is not an antique. However it could be classified as a curio & relic fire arm.

C&R firearms require a different type of license.  C&R dealers can perform interstate transfers of firearms that fall under those laws.  The ATF regulations for C&R firearms are found here. Note:  C&R  holders are NOT dealers.  C&R items do not require background checks, but do require log book entries.  For a C&R holder to engage in sales, they have to acquire an FFL.

I worked a gun show with a FFL dealer and it is frustrating to see that individuals are making transactions without paying the booth fee or completing the proper paperwork and background checks.  The people who are buying those firearms have no guarantee they work or that they have not been involved in a crime.  They don't know what they are purchasing.  The only thing they know is that the gun they are purchasing can not be traced to them. 

Online Sales is an online sales site for firearms.  This is a common site for FFL's to sell and purchase firearms.  Again, the online sales are subject to the same federal laws.  Guns can be purchased by an individual, but the FFL seller cannot mail the firearm directly to the buyer.  The FFL seller sends the firearm to the local FFL of the buyer.  The FFL name and address can be supplied by the buyer or the FFL can check on the   

Example:  Alan is a FFL in Ohio and when he sells a firearm to me via  As a resident of Brownsville, Texas, he must send the firearm to Larry Massey, my local FFL and I pick it up from Larry who will charge me a $25.00 FFL fee for him to process the paperwork.  Before Larry can give me the firearm, I must complete the federal paperwork and he must do the background check just as if I purchased it from him. in Brownsville.  He does this because he has to log the gun in when he receives it and log it out to me.  Transfers between FFLs are legal in all intra and interstate transactions.  FFL holders do not require background checks for each transfer. 

You don't have to be an FFL to sell on Gun Broker if you are selling firearms however the sale must go through a FFL.  You can sell firearms out of your collection but you are subject to send the purchased firearm to the buyer's local FFL and they complete the federal paperwork.  They will charge a fee to do so.  The FFL can refuse to process the gun if it was sold by an unlicensed dealer or individual.  

If you are a seller who is purchasing guns from a dealer, manufacturer or wholesale company and reselling firearms for profit, you are an illegal dealer.  You can expect a visit from your local ATF office.  Same if you are sending them directly to the buyer avoiding the paperwork by not sending it to an FFL. is another popular firearm sales web site.  They have listings from FFLs and from individuals.  They advertise that they are only an advertising site and the legality of the sale is up to the seller.  There are plenty listings from individuals and there does not seem to be a restriction that guns must be transferred through a FFL.

Craig's List is complicated.  With lots of clicks they state that firearms are prohibited, however firearms can be seen on Craigs List just by browsing though the listings.   The buyer takes the same risk as at paperless purchase at the gun show:  no guarantee the firearm will work and no guarantee that the firearm had been involved in a crime.  The seller takes a risk of getting a visit by the local ATF Office.


Important Point to Consider  A background check is not the same as registration. (Thanks Anonymous!)

Sales at gun shows and internet sites.
  • Gun Shows and web sites require firearm dealers who have paid for booths or ads to be a FFL.  The FFL must go through the formal process of selling guns, including a background check, just as if the sale were in their shop. 
  • Gun Show Promoters will allow paperless gun sales between individuals with no background check or documentation of the transaction.
  • Gun sales web sites can have paperless firearm sales between individuals if just by ignoring what happens after the sale, stating the burden of legality is on the seller, or just not having any check or balance on what gets listed.  They do have some documentation with the buyer and seller being required to register before they can buy or sell.  There is no background check.
Paperless gun sales
  • Can avoid the buyer paying sales tax, undergoing background checks, and documenting the transfer of ownership of firearms.
  • Eliminates the background checks and documentation.  
  • It is unknown how many sales are occurring without paying sales tax.  This could be another source of revenue for supporting programs like providing more security to schools.
The Gun Show Loophole:

One of the gun show loopholes can be plugged if sales between individuals must be conducted through a FFL who will process the paperwork and do the back ground checks.  This will also make the deal subject to sales tax and be fair to the FFLs who have purchased booths or tables  who burden the expense of federal regulations.

There is another loophole, flea markets.  We are going to save this for another post. I am now exhausted.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Federal Firearms Licensee FFL - Gun Shop Owners

This is Part Two of a series of articles on Firearm issues.  

Like most legislation and laws, they are never easy to understand and laws bump into each other and laws on firearms are very much the example of a web of laws.

Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL):  All firearms sold in a business in any state, must be transferred by a business owner who is licensed by the Federal Government.  The shop owners must keep records of all firearms,  and if applicable, suppressors, machine guns, or destructive devices that come in and go out of their shop.  FFL's are subject to a surprise audit every year or so to be sure they are keeping accurate records.  If the audit shows violations, depending on the severity, the FFL can be reprimanded by being put on probation or even have their license revoked temporarily or permanently 

During a sale to an individual, the FFL records the sale by documenting the firearm's manufacturer, model number, and serial number,  Information about the buyer is also collected:  name, weight, height, gender, date and place of birth, current address, citizenship and the buyer can provide his or her social security number to speed up the process.  All this information goes on an ATF form 4473.  The FFL then contacts the Federal Firearms Licensing Center by phone to do a background check on the person purchasing the firearm.  Click here to read what the regulations are for approval or reject.

This is important.  There is no federally held record of sales and transfers from FFL's.  The 4473 never leaves the shop where it was generated while the owner is in business.  4473's destroyed by flood or fire are just gone.  Instant check information is destroyed 24 hrs after it is called into the FBI and the only existing records of gun sales and purchases are with the FFL shop, the wholesale distributor/importer, or the manufacturer.  When a firearm is found in a crime, it can be a huge job to find who the last owner was.

This is where television lets facts go astray.  You see a crime scene, the law enforcement officer with a too low blouse, in heels, partnered with this hunk put the serial number in a computer and.....Dah Da! Come up with a match.  This is not real life.  Coming up with a match is like winning the lottery

Where the Feds come in:  Before an FFL can sell a gun he needs to contact the feds to get it cleared with a quick background check.  There are many reasons why the feds will deny a sale of a firearm to an individual and they never elaborate on the reason for doing so.   Just one of life's mysteries like where is the match to your bright red stripped sock.  When the FFL calls and gives the required information about the buyer, he can get a proceed, a further review, a delay, or a deny from the federal agent.  The deny sometimes comes with a request for further information on the whereabouts of the attempted buyer.  A deny is not a good situation for the FFL as he tries and figure out what to do with the buyer in front of him until law enforcement gets there..

For example the beginning of an investigation of  an abandoned firearm at a crime scene starts with a call to the manufacturer.   From the serial number of the firearm, the manufacturer will then give the wholesaler distributor's contact information, and they in turn refer law enforcement to the FFL who they sold the firearm to.  Law enforcement will then contact the FFL shop. Using the FFL's  records  law enforcement will contact the owner of the gun. If the FFL cannot provide that information, they will be under investigation, out of business quickly or  may even be prosecuted.  Television leads one to believe there is a computerized  accessible database of the whereabouts of all guns.  There is none.

Now that the gun is in the hands of an individual., he or she can sell or give the gun to another person without documenting it through an FFL.  This is where an individual makes a personal decision on how they want to transfer ownership.  She can take the gun to an FFL and ask him or her  to transfer the gun to the new owner.  That gives a permanent record of who the seller or giver transfers the gun to.   It also forever clears the individual from the gun if it is used in a crime.  Law enforcement can then trace the firearm to the next owner.  I always move firearms through FFL's to keep a complete record of my transfers including gifts.  I'm a pretty damn smart cookie.

The other choice is that the individual can not transfer ownership through an FFL.  If that gun turns up at a crime scene, the last documented owner, whether or not they participated in the crime, can be held liable.

Where the states come in:  States can add more regulations to federal law,  individuals and other issues such as concealed carry licenses.  Regulations vary from state to state.  To find out what your state restrictions are, you need to Google:  Gun laws, and then put in your state.  We will be going into this more on another post.

As a summary:

  • All firearm dealers in all states must have an FFL, a Federal Firearms License, and are audited yearly with unannounced records audits by ATF agents..
  • States can  add to regulations and restrictions for firearm purchases and sales..
  • All firearms have serial numbers that are traceable from manufacturer/importer to FFL and from FFL to individual owner.
  • The only permanent records of gun transactions  are those of the FFL shop owner or manufacturer; there is no common or permanent database..
  • Individuals, once they purchase a gun through the system, can sell or gift it  to a new owner through an FFL or with no record whatsoever.
  • The responsibility of a firearm found at a crime scene rests with the last  individual who is documented through a FFL.  

Because of interpretations of the Second Amendment, Federal laws and record keeping are restricted.  They can do background checks within a 60 day period; most are done within a few minutes.  Once a firearm leaves the FFL shop and becomes the property of an individual, it is up to the individual to choose one of two process when they sell it or gift it:

  1. Documented:  They can choose to transfer it with proper record keeping through an FF releasing themselves o the responsibility of the firearm.  It also keeps a paper trail of owners.
  2. Paperless Gun:  The owner can do the transaction privately without any documentation.  The responsibility of the firearm remains with the last owner that documented the firearm with a FFL.  

Since the Federal Laws are consistent from state to state, the  place to start looking for solutions is to investigate what individual states are doing and the results of the steps they have taken.  States have more ability to regulate firearm sales then federal agencies.

If you thought this was hard to follow, you should have tried writing it!!   My last advanced course in genetics was way easier and logical to learn, figure out and explain than firearm laws. As with firearms,  television and movies amplifies the misrepresentation of the ease of accessibility of common data bases.  However there is a relationship of  the affects of privacy laws that makes investigations of  DNA evidence and firearms ownership difficult for law enforcement.  ..