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Archive for July 6th, 2018

Things to Do: Fire a gun with a switch

July 06th, 2018 | Category: Life,Opinions

So, two Saturdays ago I got to scratch another item from my Things to Do list, and it was quite the ballyhoo; I went to a local shooting range, Reload, and I got to fire a Glock 17 with my switch. Now, for those unfamiliar, a switch is a piece of assistive technology that I use to control my various Macs by way of wiggling my eyebrows to operate an on-screen keyboard. Let’s get all the technical stuff out of the way before I go on about anything else.

The gun firing scheme was created by an absolute fucking genius, Bill Binko, from ATMakers.org. The really hard part was finding something to safely, firmly hold the gun in place during the firing. The good folks at Ransom International were kind enough to send us a Ransom Rest, basically a sort of vice specifically designed for holding guns in place for precision aiming. The Rest is used in ballistics testing, it’s been used on MythBusters, it’s a well-respected tool. Also, I didn’t get just any Rest, I got the very first Rest, created by the late Chuck Ransom. He was the only person to ever use said Rest, it was kept in a glass case at the home-office with a little plaque bearing Chuck Ransom’s name. Well, by now it’s back in its case, and my name is being added to the plaque. Very unnecessary, and very nice. I was also given a bullet from a totally kind smith at Ground Zero Reloading; I fired this round first. All that taken care of, Bill created a little piece robotics for pulling the trigger, it was a little robotic arm attached to a chain attached to the trigger. The arm was controlled over wi-fi via a hand-coded web interface; I pointed Safari toward the robot’s IP address, got a camera view over the gun barrel and two buttons to arm then fire the gun. A Glock 17 doesn’t need cocked, the “arm” button was simply there for safety purposes, just so everybody was absolutely 250% certain the gun wouldn’t go off accidentally. Bill didn’t know my level of gun awareness… better safe than having me blow off Bill’s fingers! Using a web interface is ideal for this sort of project, the gun could be fired from any platform. I used a MacBook running macOS High Sierra, but I could have used anything.

Gun Interface

At any rate, that, in a nutshell, is how I fired a gun with a switch. Of course, most people want to know the why

I’m an ultra-liberal, anti-National Rifle Association, anti-all things Trumpian. I think our antiquated gun laws are disgusting. It seems that in America, a person’s right to obtain any sort of gun as quickly and easily as possible is more important than the lives of children. The Second Amendment was written during a time of muskets, not AR-15s, Glock 17s, it’s time to completely overhaul our gun laws. Guns are too readily available, our background check system is a joke, we don’t require psychological testing for gun buyers, we allow civilians to own military-grade weapons, we are irresponsible about gun control. I understand guns aren’t our only problem, but they are a problem, a problem that needs addressed. So, these being my firm beliefs, why would I want anywhere near something I’m so against?

The short answer is, I’m not against guns. I’m against our irresponsible gun laws, I’m against our lax gun regulation, I’m against people using guns for ill, but I’m not against guns. I’ve been a fan of Star Wars, Alien, Tarantino films, Predator (though Predators is probably my personal favorite Predator movie), any zombie movie, whatever, forever. As a kid, my mom never censored my fiction, I learned right and wrong, fake and real. I didn’t need censored. Thus, guns as part of fiction, guns as objects have always fascinated me. As real-world pieces of engineering, as props in films and video games, I’ve always loved guns. I mean, when someone cocks a shotgun before they relieve a zombie of its head, that click-click sound is cool. Lately, I really dig the John Wick movies; Keanu Reeves is a top-tier assassin who rains vengeance down upon an underworld that wronged him, using gorgeously engineered firearms. I think you can admire a gun as an object, as something used for fun, and still be strongly against the ways in which people use guns to perpetrate absolutely vile acts of cruelty.

Life isn’t black-and-white, it’s gray. Guns are surrounded in gray. When John Wick throws his empty gun at a guy’s face, draws a fresh one, then puts the guy down permanent-like, it’s so over the top it’s laughable. If you firmly grasp the difference between reality and fiction, it’s possible to see the humor in John Wick, while feeling empathy and disgust when a cop shoots an unarmed black man ten times in the back. You can hold guns in your mind and see them in two totally separate ways. Taking a Glock 17 to a range and blowing holes in paper targets using my assistive technology was spectacularly fun, and I don’t regret it, yet if I had to point said gun at a living being I’d be sick to my stomach. Again, fiction vs. reality comes into play.

I don’t see enjoying guns for their own sake as morally wrong, intent is critical. My personal intent regarding guns is simply fun, and to exercise an aesthete’s taste in fancy weapons. That’s why I wanted to fire a gun with a switch, I like them. I understand their power, their ability to end lives en masse, but I don’t think guns themselves are the problem. The problem is that the gun-lobby has D.C. in a death-grip, we haven’t seen meaningful gun legislation in thirty-some years. You know, cars used to be really fucking dangerous; seatbelts were optional, a fender-bender could become an inferno because of faulty gas tanks, cheap parts and cut-corners were a-okay! It took legislation to make cars better than coffins-on-wheels. Guns are too potentially deadly to go unregulated, it’s our moral failing as American voters that we have yet to demand that our legislators do the job they aren’t doing.

At any rate, everybody involved in my gun firing quest was super nice. The folks at Reload closed off an entire room for us on a very busy Saturday. The good folks at Ransom International sent us the key piece of hardware that was the foundation for the other pieces of our project. Ground Zero Reloading took the time to craft me my first round. Then, of course, Bill Binko, the genius who not only solved the puzzle, but also crafted most of the pieces. Absolutely everyone who took part in this project has my thank you!

It’s a little fatey that I should fire a Glock 17… Way back when DVDs were a thing, one night Sara brought out the boxed set of this BBC show by Simon Pegg, Spaced. The show pretty much encapsulates everything I love (it also made me fall even harder for Sara), it’s like, Simon Pegg in Sandbox Mode. Spaced was basically just practice for his eventual films. Anyway, watch episode 2 and you’ll get it about the Glock 17.

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