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Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Gear of Team Bogatyr

Those of you who have been following the story of Three-Line Rifle may be wondering what kind of equipment they use. I'd love to go into detail about it (especially since in the latest installment of Three-Line Rifle they've deployed to their mission and things are going to get shooty soon), but going all gun-nerd about it would bring the story to a screeching halt and I don't want to do that.

On the other hand, I am a gun nerd and like talking about things like this, so here's a non-immersion breaking blog post about it that I suppose I could add to the story as an appendix or something.

The symbol of Team Bogatyr is the yerihonka, the helmet of the Russian knights who were also known as bogatyrs. Therefore, calling themselves "Team Bogatyr" carries the same connotations as a western team calling themselves "Team White Knight" or "Team Dragonslayer".

The yerihonka is the onion-y looking helmet on the right. Yes, it manages to look somewhat Viking and somewhat Turkish at the same time. Some yerihonka extend further downward to protect the nose and/or the nape of the neck.

(If you want to get into deep nerdery regarding Russian medieval armor, this page is an amazing place to start.)

The patch for Team Bogatyr is a silver yerihonka on a black background.

Their standard field uniform is a black ripstop blouse and trousers with riot armor covering their arms from shoulders to wrists, and their legs from knees to feet. Their helmets have visors to protect them from things like infectious blood spatter and sprayed toxins. A plate carrier covers their chest and abdomen.

All front-line combatants wear Level 4 body armor inserts (rated to stop six 7.62×51mm NATO rifle shots or a single 7.8mm AP round). Support personnel like the Professor, Irka, or snipers Bronia and Grisha when shooting from a blind can wear Level 3A soft body armor, which will stop knives (both slashing and stabbing attacks) as well as .44 Magnum rounds.

Unlike their American counterparts, Bogatyrs have standardized weapons that they take from the team armory as mission parameters dictate.

Sidearm: All Bogatyrs, even the support personnel, carry 9mm GSh-18 pistols with a minimum of three magazines.

Submachine gun: The PP-19 Bizon is the team's preferred choice for close-in fighting. It is based on the Kalashnikov platform and each helical magazine holds 64 rounds of 9x18mm Makarov.

Battle Rifle: Various AK-74 pattern rifles are used by the team. For urban work, they use the AKS-74U; for more open areas, the AK-74M with universal upgrade is chosen. In either case, 60-round casket magazines of 5.45x39mm are used.

Sniper Rifle: Grisha's main rifle is a Dragunov SVD and he is quite adept at using it in the role of designated marksman. However, when he has the time to set up a sniper's nest, he prefers the 12.7mm (.50 cal) KSVK anti-materiel rifle.

Bronia's M91-30 Mosin Nagant is categorically non-standard, and would not be allowed were it not for the fact that Grandmother Rifle is obviously magical and that it shares the same 7.62x54mmR ammunition as the SVD.

Shotgun: The Saiga-12, another Kalashnikov pattern firearm, has been modified for select fire and is the weapon of choice for those Bogatyrs whose job is to be the first through a door. 30-round drums serve as primary magazines, with 10-round box magazines carried on-body. In situations where a high volume of fire is needed or resupply is limited, a backpack capable of carrying several hundred rounds uses an electric motor to force aluminum-hulled shells down a linkless feed system into the magazine well. The feed can be easily removed and replaced with a magazine in the backpack runs out of ammunition, the system malfunctions, or the Bogatyr needs to un-encumber himself. 

It's a lot like this, only with 12 gauge shells and no disintegrating links.

Team Bogatyr's transport, lovingly (?) called The Crotch, is a 6x6 KamAZ-63968 Typhoon-K MRAP vehicle.

It has room for three people in the cab and 16 in the troop compartment. The engine compartment is between the first and second set of wheels, and there is a passage that connects the cab to the troops.

The top picture is from the inside of a 16-person Typhoon-K. The one on the bottom is from a different model but demonstrates the door between compartments. The Bogatyrs ripped out one of the seats, installed a door, and made the other seat at the back into a computer & communication system.

It has a drop-down ramp in back and six roof hatches (three per side). It is sealed against nuclear, biological and chemical hazards. (Supernatural hazards are a different matter.)

It is 29.5 feet long, weighs 23 tons, has a top speed of 65 mph and a range of 746 miles. Its tires are run-flat.

Team Bogatyr may, or may not, have a heavy weapon that can be mounted on the crotch for heavy engagements. If so, it is not mounted for this mission.

Monday, August 13, 2018

ACP Episode 019: 3D Print ALL the Guns!

In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d banter about sinus irrigation, and then for the main topic discuss how some people are losing their minds over 3D printed guns and why that’s dumb;
  • the General Purpose Egghead talks about the management and storage of charged batteries;
  • David shares his experiences in taking to the range new shooters who didn’t run in pro-gun circles;
  • Weer’d begins a series of fisks on 3D printed gun freak-outs, starting with David Hogg’s appearance on Full Circle with Anderson Cooper;
  • and we close with a segment by Sean Sorrentino, host emeritus of ACP’s parent podcast The GunBlog VarietyCast, about being a witness in a criminal case and how that might relate to those of us who carry firearms for self-defense.

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that’s $1/podcast) and you’ll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Show Notes

Main Topic

General Purpose Egghead

Weer’d Audio Fisk

Friday, August 10, 2018

Pictures from the Rally in Tally

I was pointed to an forum thread which featured pictures of both rallies. I'm going to repost some of those pictures here.

That's Mr. Jon Gutmacher, author of Florida Firearms Law, Use & Ownership and the man who organized the rally. The podium is in front of a tall building that I think houses the various offices of Florida state senators and representatives.

You can see that the courtyard is made of bricks which had been baking under direct Florida sun for hours. It was hot, y'all.

The capitol building itself, on the other end of the courtyard.

One of the two pieces of shade in the courtyard. This is on the left side from the perspective of the speaker. Look, there's Hickok45 on the right!

The other side of the courtyard, to the right of the speaker. There was much less shade here.

So the rally ended up with a large empty chunk in the middle and deep sides, giving the impression that there were fewer of us present than there really were. I estimate between 250 and 500 people were there.

Here's a composite view, sorta:

Here are a few shots of me.

The photographer captioned this picture with:
Erin spoke especially well since she's transgender and believes that 2nd Amendment rights and LGBTQ rights are both basic human rights. I'd have to say, out of the entire line-up. She got the most applause and the Gun Grabbers can't spin it in any way to be negative. the 2nd Amendment applies to everyone and it is a Civil Right, just as important as the 1st Amendment.
Clearly, I need some sort of box to stand on the next time I speak so that more of me can be seen from behind the podium.

Photo courtesy of Halls Firearm Training, LLC
Photo courtesy of Halls Firearm Training, LLC
These are amazingly good pictures of me. Most of it's due to good lighting and skilled photography. 

This is one of the photographers there (no idea if he's the person who took the above pics for Halls Firearm Training). Yes, that's a velvet tricorn hat he's wearing. Yes, it was as amazing as you imagine.

This is me with a bunch of ladies who bussed in from Orlando. The gal in front with the flag blouse is LuAnn Moyer, who took an immediate shine to me and asked me to pose with her and her friends in several photos. This photo was taken before the speaking began, and I suspect that many of these women wondered who the heck I was and it was only after I got on stage to speak that they realized why LuAnn had me pose with them. But they were all very nice to me, an awkward stranger, and I appreciate that.

In front of the Utah Gun Exchange truck with LuAnn and the Orlando gang.

LuAnn also told me to stand with these two ladies. I don't even know why! They probably didn't know who I was, either. But they were great sports about the whole thing!

LuAnn meant to get a picture of this person's t-shirt, but instead captured my beautiful tresses!

And this is me posing with Hickok45 (he's 6'8" and slouching, no less) at the speaker's reception the night before the Rally. Did... did I do good, internet?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Two Posts Elsewhere

Part three of my story Three-Line Rifle is available to Patrons. If you aren't a patron, here's a taste to whet your appetite:
We called it The Crotch because that’s what it smelled like. It was a six-wheeled armored truck that had been bought used from the Army, and based on the smell it had been the locker room for a squad of barely toilet-trained cossacks for a month… and that’s what it was like with the roof hatches open for ventilation and the diesel exhaust cutting the funk. With everything buttoned up for combat or inclement weather, it quickly became a hot, moist steel box filled with the thick odor of cigarettes and ball sweat, and maybe a hint of vomit in some corner that had never been cleaned. It was ostensibly air-conditioned, but that only seemed to work for the fortunates in the cab. 
I've also written a post at Blue Collar Prepping where I show the tools I carry in my Get Home Bag. Feel free to tell me if you think I'm carrying too much crap or if I've missed a vital tool. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

ACP Episode 018: Of Rallies and Doorknobs

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss Erin's appearance at the Big Gun Rally in Tally;
  • the General Purpose Egghead continues his series on batteries with a discussion about the various types of rechargeables;
  • in Washington in Plain English, Connie makes the case for the United States remaining in NATO, and then gives a eulogy for a friend who lived an amazing life;
  • David gives a primer on New York City gun laws in Gun Lovers and Other Strangers;
  • and Steve tells us all about how to interact with the Police as a PI in Tales from the Trunk.

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that’s $1/podcast) and you’ll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Show Notes

Main Topic:
  • Article from the local paper about the rally the day before
  • Article by the same paper after the rally finished
  • A recording of the entire rally thanks to Utah Gun Exchange
  • Just Erin’s speech on YouTube
  • David Hogg running away from a debate with Kaitlin Bennett, the Kent State Gun Girl

General Purpose Egghead:
  • Excellent general-purpose resource for understanding rechargeable batteries
  • GoalZero Guide 10 NiMH battery charger, good for solar charging (also can be used as a battery bank!)

Tales From the Trunk:

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Free Speech and Prior Restraint

You've probably heard by now that the Federal Government settled a lawsuit with Defense Distributed to the tune of $40K in legal fees and admitted that publishing online instructions for how to 3-D print a firearm (the Liberator pistol) isn't subject to ITAR regulations and is, in fact, protected free speech.

This is an echo of the old PGP criminal investigation where Phil Zimmermann, the inventor of the Pretty Good Privacy encryption algorithm, was the subject of a criminal investigation for the "export of munitions without a license". Charges against Zimmerman were dropped when he published the entire source code of PGP in a book, thereby making the argument that encryption wasn't a munition but rather speech and therefore protected under the First Amendment.

There are of course some loony politicians and celebrities who are having the expected vapors, conniptions and hissy fits over this (I understand the hashtag #DownloadableDeath is quite popular, and I must confess it's rather catchy) because they don't understand how 3-D printing works and they don't understand how guns work. I'd go into detail about how they're stupid, but odds are you've already read about this on other fine gun blogs or heard about it on podcasts and I don't need to re-invent their wheels.

Also rather predictably, many state's attorneys (20, last time I checked) are suing to block the release of these files on the internet by shutting down in a virtue signal that completely misses the fact that these files are already on the internet and there's no way to get them off because they've been uploaded to dozens of sites. Social media is also doing its best to embrace censorship by deleting links to the most prominent non-DefCAD hosting site for these files.

I'm not here to talk about that. Rather, I'm here to talk about how I, a damn-near Free Speech Absolutist, can reconcile my desire for unlimited speech with a similar desire not to see "harmful forms of expression" flourish.

In the meantime, here is a picture I made. It is art, and therefore protected expression.

Title: Routing Around Damage  (2018)
Artist: Erin Palette
Medium: Ones and Zeroes

So when, in my worldview, is expression not protected? The simplest way of putting it is "When that expression violates the rights of, or causes harm to, others." For example:
  1. Defamatory Speech such as slander and libel is not protected, because defamation is legally defined as a false statement of fact and defamatory speech causes harm to reputation which then affects income. In other words, falsehoods which harm others aren't protected speech. 
    • Truths which harm others are protected speech, which is why truth is an absolute defense to an accusation of defamation.
    • Falsehoods which don't harm others are protected speech, because if it doesn't harm anyone, who cares?
  2. Theft of Intellectual Property. Artists deserve to be paid for their work, and passing off their work as your own is theft. 
  3. Fraud. Another form of theft, this time of money or material goods. 
  4. Invasions of Privacy. You have a Fourth Amendment Right to Privacy, and so anyone who invades your privacy without your consent or a warrant violates your rights. Therefore, anyone who takes pictures of you in a state of undress without your consent is not engaging in free speech, nor is someone who distributes them without your consent.
  5. Incitement to Commit Crimes. This one is tricky in that it actually depends on whether or not people actually follow your instructions and commit a crime. If they didn't, you're fine; if they did, you're now an accessory to their crimes in the same way that someone who drives the getaway car is an accessory to the crime that the other criminals are trying to get away from. 
  6. Breaking a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Oh hey, you signed a legal contract saying you wouldn't do a thing and that you'd be penalized if you did. This isn't a free speech issue, this is breach of contract. 
  7. Treason. This is actually a highly specialized form of breach of contract 99% of the time. In order for speech to provide aid and comfort to the enemy, the speaker is usually giving away state secrets and that's not the kind of thing that the average citizen can do. Instead, it's usually politicians or members of the military or intelligence agencies which have that kind of access, and they have sworn oaths -- which are contracts -- that they will faithfully serve and defend the country and/or the Constitution. Furthermore, anyone with security clearance is going to have sworn more oaths and signed more contracts before receiving that clearance.
    • That other 1% is a very rare, very specific "Tokyo Rose" situation whereby an American citizen aids in the propaganda against the USA. This is the only situation I can think of where the speech of someone without a security clearance can in any way be treasonous.

This brings us rather handily to a concept known as prior restraint. I am not a lawyer and I don't pretend to be, so a generalized definition of prior restraint is "the government forbids certain types of speech before it's uttered."  A good example of this are the FCC decency standards that prohibit certain types of profanity, nudity and violence on network television -- and even then, standards are relaxed further on cable channels.

Essentially, prior restraint goes "We think you might say or depict something we don't like, so we're going to pre-emptively forbid you from doing it on pain of punitive fines or worse." It's rather like saying "You might falsely shout 'fire!' in a crowded theater, so before you go inside, we're going to gag you."

I don't like prior restraint for the same reason I don't like gun control laws: they're all based on trying to stop something which most people won't do anyway, and which won't stop those people intent on doing evil to others. For example, those people whinging about "undetectable firearms in the hands of criminals" don't seem to grasp the fact that criminals can already get their hands on fireams via theft or the black market, and those firearms won't be one-shot plastic pistols that fail after a few uses.

So let's look at my examples and see how they interact with prior restraint.
  1. Defamatory Speech. The police won't come after you if you defame someone; rather, the defamed must sue them in court. No prior restraint here.
  2. Theft of Intellectual Property. Again, police will not come after those who violate copyright; that's another civil suit. 
  3. Fraud. I can make all the fraudulent statements I want so long as I don't promise something I don't give in return. (See: satire, parody, performance art.) If I do deprive you of money without a fair exchange, that's theft and not a speech issue. 
  4. Invasions of Privacy. This isn't a speech issue, this is a 4th Amendment issue. That's why nude pictures of you taken and published with your consent are fine.
  5. Incitement to Commit Crimes. Well, did anyone do what you told them to do? After all, I can think of many situations where public figures riled up their listeners and yet nothing happened. This tells me that we aren't punishing the speech, but rather the actions afterwards.
  6. Breaking a Non-Disclosure Agreement. This is prior restraint, but you entered into it voluntarily. Don't want to be restrained? Don't sign it. 
  7. Treason. Also prior restraint, but again, also contractually based 99% of the time.

For me, what it comes down to is this: Speech is not inherently good or bad, it simply is. To consider information to be a priori dangerous and therefore restricted or banned is the absolute antithesis of liberty. While I can see some exceptions being made on the level of national security -- and indeed, that's where most cases of prior restraint apply and they are most definitely not a priori cases -- publishing instructions on how to make and assemble a mostly-plastic gun does not fall into that category.

Prior restraint is largely regarded as unconstitutional, and for good reason. Let's keep it that way.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

My Speech at The Big Pro-Gun Rally in Tally

If you weren't able to be in Tallahassee this weekend, here's my speech courtesy of Utah Gun Exchange.

Despite the entire rally being recorded by UGE and the large UGETube banner at bottom right, I can't find the rally actually posted to UGETube. Instead, you can only find it on Facebook.

I had a great time at the rally and was surprised at how much applause I received and how people appreciated my message. While I never once expected hostility or rudeness, I confess that I anticipated a bit of reticence along the lines of "Well, I see that you're on our side, but I don't know if I should believe what you're saying." As you can see, though, I received such applause that I had to keep talking over it because I'd have run out of time otherwise.

I'd say we had between 250 and 500 attendees. It's hard to tell because most of them stayed out of the middle (which was a big open area filled with bricks that retained heat) and instead were to the sides and back, sheltering in the shade. I'm told we had more people than the March For Our Lives / Road to Change/ Whatever Bloomberg Is Calling It This Week people, which is both satisfying and wholly unsurprising.

The media was fair to us, which I found astounding. Here's an article from the Tallhassee Democrat which covers both events, including some very nice pictures of us (you can spot me in a few of them). I also get a nice mention at the end of the article, so in effect I get the last word:
More than just a counterpoint to the Road to Change tour, the event was aimed at showing something the pro-gun movement lacks: diversity.

In a campaign largely dominated by white, straight males, Erin Palette offered a stark alternative as a transgender supporter of the Second Amendment. Her message centered around her belief that “gun rights are queer rights.”

As founder of the pro-gun LGBTQ training group Operation Blazing Sword, Palette’s goal is not to sell guns, but to help people make informed decisions about them through training and education. She hopes that gun owners and the LGBT community can bridge the political and cultural gaps that divide them.

“I want both sides of the country to stop seeing each other as opponents or enemies,” Palette said. “We need to see each other as people.” 
More information on what the rally was like and how it went will be available on ACP episode 17, releasing Friday for patrons and next Monday for everyone.

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