A Prayer For The Dying

A crazed gunman went on a rampage yesterday in my adopted home of Odessa, Texas. As of this writing, 5 people are dead and another 21 are wounded. One of the injured is a 17 month old girl.

It seemed to have started during a routine traffic stop, when officers of the Department of Public Safety (what they call the highway patrol around here) pulled over a car. The driver fired through the rear window of his vehicle, striking and injuring one of the officers.

After that, he roared off to see how many innocent people he could kill before the authorities brought him down in a hail of gunfire. He shot random people, and killed a female mail carrier in order to steal her delivery van in an attempt to throw police off the scent. He was finally stopped in the parking lot of a crowded movie theater. God only knows what the death toll would have been if the police had not stopped the suspect before he could get inside.

Chief Michael Gerke of the Odessa Police Department has described the deceased suspect as an “animal”. Considering how he deliberately killed people who had never done him any harm, it is hard to disagree.

The police are still collecting evidence. Locations of shootings are blocked off by the police, with officers guarding the crime scenes until the forensic teams can get there. I had to make long detours when I was out and about this morning. It seems to me to be a great deal of effort expended for a lone gunman who has been killed by the police. I wonder if there isn’t something wider going on.

I mentioned earlier that 21 people had been injured. It is unknown if any will succumb to their wounds in the coming days or months. If you are a person of faith, please include them in your prayers.

Lost and Alone

It was early morning, and I was waiting for the doctor’s office to open. Daily temperatures get over 100 degrees F (37 C), but the sun had just come up and it was still relatively cool. I had rolled the windows down to enjoy the breeze.

The parking lot was next to a busy street, but I thought I heard something between herds of hurtling traffic. I followed the noise into an overgrown vacant lot and found a crying puppy. Mom had probably been hit by a car and crawled off into the weeds to die. The puppy was terrified, and wouldn’t have lasted through the heat of the day. As for the rest of the litter, not a sign.

Did I keep my appointment? No, I scooped her up and made a beeline for the vet. I didn’t see myself as having a choice.

That is the pup at the vet, maybe seven weeks old, 15 minutes after I lifted her off the remains of Mom. What the pic doesn’t show is how she is shaking, scared out of her mind. I doubt she has ever known the touch of a human before this day, or been indoors. She had finally stopped crying, but she would start to shriek every time I took my hand off her. So I just held on and waited.

The vet gave me the usual litany of woe when it comes to stray dogs. Dehydrated, malnourished, ticks, fleas, intestinal parasites. The baby dog got some shots, some medication to knock the worms out of her guts, and a pill to make the ticks and fleas drop away. Bring her back in 3 weeks for more shots, payment is accepted cash or card.

I named her Katy because I like the sound of it. What to do, what were my options? Try to get her in a no-kill shelter, take her to a high-kill shelter where she would be put down in three days, or take her home. Long time readers already know what I decided. Besides, I had given her a name. You lose your heart when you give them a name.

She had finally stopped shaking by the time I got her to my rented shack. The problem was that she had also pretty much stopped doing anything else.

She had shut down, showing virtually no interest in anything. Not catatonic, not like a human being, but listless and without energy to do anything but breathe. Katy wasn’t acting like a puppy at all.

This wasn’t my first rodeo, and I knew exactly what to do. I introduced Katy to my other rescue dog.

Hotter Than a $2 Pistol

I knew it was going to get pretty hot when I moved from Ohio to Texas. It isn’t unusual for the temperature to climb past 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius).

One of the questions my students would ask is if they could store their defensive handguns inside a car during the summer months. Would it get hot enough for the ammo to cook off?

Some years ago, I reached out to all of the American ammunition manufacturers that I could think of. All of them had the same response. As long as the ammunition is brand new, factory fresh product that has been stored in a cool and dry place, then the primers should not cook off unless temperatures exceed 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 Celsius).

That is all well and good, but how hot does the inside of your car get when parked in the sun with all the windows rolled up?

This study by the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University has some interesting data. It would appear that the interior temperature of a car can rise above the outside temperature by as much as 50 F (27 C). I’ve also seen studies where the interior temperature could rise as much as 60 F (33 C). Any way you look at, the interior of your car will not come anywhere near the temperatures needed to cook off new, properly stored ammunition.

The one thing that has to be stressed is that we are talking about brand new, factory fresh ammunition. High temperatures will cause the components of ammunition, the propellant and primers, to degrade. Give it enough years and the ammunition inside your defensive handgun might well become volatile.

Note that I said “Give it enough years...”

Your defensive arm is subject to a great deal of harsh environments, starting with increased humidity just by being carried close to your skin. That is why I strongly suggested to each of my students that they change the ammunition in their gun for new every year. Take the old stuff to the gun range, shoot it off for practice, and buy new boxes for carry. I do this on my birthday, sort of a gift to myself.

Also note that one should not be using old surplus ammunition for defensive purposes. Reserve that stuff for training, and rely on newer for defense. If you do that, you should never have to worry about ammo cooking off in your car.

Supply And Demand

In my previous post, I discussed a new revolver intended for self defense use chambered for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire cartridge.

2 barrels, 2 shots with each pull of the trigger.

Long time reader knirirr has a question ….

I’ve heard that handgun ammunition prices can be quite high at the moment (the rifle rounds I buy are certainly so). Would there be any significant advantage to the .22 you mention in saving on ammunition costs?

That is a very good question, although a bit tough to answer. To dig out some data I went to Lucky Gunner, a website that not only sells ammunition but also lists the cost per cartridge to help the budget-minded make a decision. Just to make things as uncluttered as possible I decided to compare the cost of .22 WMR with the cartridge I use most often for defense, the 9mm Parabellum.

The page for .22 WMR shows prices all over the map, which is to be expected when the largest possible variety of manufacturers and loads are offered. At the time of this writing, 22 different WMR loads are offered with the price per round ranging from $0.17 USD to $0.75 USD (£0.13 GBD to £0.58 GBP). Ammunition that I consider suitable for defensive use, the hollowpoints, are actually the cheapest on the list with a cost per round of $0.17 (£0.13 GBD).

.22 WMR hollowpoints

Two For The Price Of One

When I started to learn about firearms, I was extremely fortunate that I was mentored by a gentleman named Charles. He was extremely knowledgeable about just about every aspect of the shooting sports, and he was kind enough to share his experience.

One of the things I gained from him was a library of magazines he had been collecting for decades. Some of the articles were a real hoot.


(Picture source.)

One of the old magazines discussed using duplex rounds to increase the stopping power of a defensive handgun. This is where more than one projectile is loaded in to a cartridge, thus turning one shot into two or more as more bullets fly out of the gun with each pull of the trigger. I actually tried this out for myself, and I discuss the experience here.

Shiny!

My conclusions were that it was a neat idea, but loading multiple projectiles into a standard self defense handgun chambered for a reasonable caliber resulted in some pretty wicked perceived recoil and muzzle flip. Not unusable, but it didn’t provide enough advantages to make me switch from traditional self defense ammunition.

Enter a new gun chambered for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, or .22 WMR.


(Picture source.)

The .22 WMR is a potent round for a twenty-two, but it is still a twenty-two. Added to that is the fact that the round is a rimfire, which is not known to be as reliable as standard center fire cartridges.

Click on this link to get the skinny. Two barrels, eight chambers, 4 shots until empty The idea is to have a self defense revolver, compact and light, but which is chambered for a very potent .22 round. The double shot is intended to address the problems with reliability and lethality. If you have two rounds being fired at once, the odds of both of them being misfires is really remote. And, of course, two bullets striking the target at the same time has got to up the chances for stopping a violent criminal.

It isn’t a bad idea, really, and I doubt dual firing .22 rounds will result in the extreme recoil that I experienced when firing .57 Magnum rounds loaded with four projectiles. If it functions as advertised, then I have to admit that it looks like a very well engineered bit of technology.

Does this mean I am going to buy one? No, I don’t think so, even though the price is in the reasonable range for a self defense handgun. The .22 WMR cartridge might have been around for a long time, but it is still off the mainstream enough that I have rarely encountered a gun chambered for that round. I certainly don’t own any, so I would have to lay in a supply of ammunition that would only work in that one gun. That is a big minus for a dedicated shooter right there.

The other reservation I have is that it seems to be a solution in search of a problem. The gun fires two cartridges with each pull of the trigger, resulting in four shots before reloading, but does that provide any advantage over a traditional snubby?

The gun pictured above is an old K-frame chambered for the .38 Special cartridge with a short barrel, hence the 6 rounds. But there are J-frame models chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge, and they offer 5 rounds. I already own one of those.

I think that I would choose five chances to stop the bad guys with a .357 over four chances with double-shot .22’s. If you have a different opinion, that is just fine. Whatever gives you comfort. I am just more comfortable with what I have, is all.

(Hat tip to Glenn for the heads up about this gun.)

History That Deserves To Be Remembered

Do you like trivia?  I do!  But what is it?

The ancient Romans did not have radio, TV or the internet.  If they wanted news from some place, then they had to ask someone that had just come from there.  And the best news was to be had could only be found where three roads came together.

(Picture source.)

So you had to go to the three-road place to get the best news.  Say it in Latin like they did.  “Tri-via!

The above is a perfect little nugget of what I love about most trivia.  A short little story that entertains and informs, even though the knowledge gained is hardly useful except to win a bar bet or two.  It also doesn’t hurt that most trivia is historical in nature, and I love history.

I came across a Youtube video channel that I find really interesting.  It is called The History Guy, and the videos are short snippets where an incident from the past is briefly explored.

Want an example?  Howsabout this.  The people who live in the city of Toronto, Canada are known for the great pride they take in battling corruption, but it wasn’t always that way.  Toronto in the 19th Century was known for being a rough and violent frontier town, where local government was dominated by an all-powerful political machine.  If you were in with the bosses, you could literally get away with murder.  But it all changed because a circus clown and a volunteer fireman walked in to a brothel.

1920’s Chicago was hardly known for being a safe place, but an actual war broke out between famed taxi firms the Yellow Cab Company and Checkered Cabs in that city.  The war started out with fisticuffs, and eventually moved to drive-by shootings and murder in the streets.

An incident that is well known in the United Kingdom but virtually forgotten in the United States, a crazed gunman attempted to kidnap Princess Anne almost within sight of Buckingham Palace in 1976.  He shot four men and was only stopped when a former heavyweight boxer nicknamed “The Geezer”, who only happened to be walking by, punched the crazy man in the face.

I don’t know the name of the author of the videos, but it seems obvious to me that he is a history teacher or professor.  The way that he arranges the details, and the way that he presents it, would be perfect to keep the attention of bored students.

If this kind of thing appeals to you, then give it a look.  Subscribe to the channel to access videos that are twice the length.