Category Archives: Guns

Shooting Irons!

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

The National Interest has produced a list of the five best revolvers, and I have to say it’s a little baffling.  Here is the list, with my comments:

Ruger LCR  The Ruger LCR was introduced in the mid-2000s as a lightweight, concealable self-defense weapon. Just 13.5 ounces and 6.5 inches long, the LCR fits easily into a pocket, hip or ankle holster. Like most small revolvers, it has a five-round cylinder.

Really?  The LCR was designed to meet a need already admirably met by a bunch of other guns, like the Colt and Smith & Wesson snubbies.  It’s just a more affordable version of guns that have been around for decades, and I can’t see how that qualifies the LCR for this list.

Smith & Wesson 686  One of the most popular revolvers in production, the Smith & Wesson 686 revolver is a medium (“L frame”) revolver chambered in the powerful .357 Magnum caliber. The 686 is designed to handle the heavier magnum round while pairing it with a heavier barrel and a six-round cylinder.

Again, not sure about this selection.  Don’t get me wrong; the 686 is a damn fine piece.  For quite a few years my woods-bumming rig included a S&W 586, the blued-steel version of the 686, and I liked it a lot.  I carried it for a long time until I went in for .45s in a big way, leading to my purchase of my current favorite, the big Smith 25-5 in .45 Colt.  But top five?  I’m not sure the good but pedestrian 686 fits.  If a Smith & Wesson piece belongs in the top five, it would have to be the famous .44 First Model Hand Ejector, better known as the Triple Lock.  No less than Elmer Keith called it the finest double-action handgun ever made, and good examples still command huge prices today.

Ruger GP100  Sturm Ruger’s answer to the Smith & Wesson 686, the Ruger GP100 was introduced in the early 1990s. The GP100 was the successor to Ruger’s Security Six and Speed Six pistols, but uses a large frame very similar to the 686’s L frame.

My comments on the 686 also apply here.  The GP100 is a fine piece, but really just a generic .357 double action.  There is a piece from Ruger that really does belong on this list, though, and it is:

Ruger Blackhawk  Sturm Ruger’s other line of popular revolvers has a distinctly Old West flavor to it. The Ruger Blackhawk line of pistols look similar to the old Western Colt Single Action Army revolvers of the nineteenth century, but with a host of modern features to keep them viable in the twenty-first.

Now here’s a piece I can recommend for the top five without reservation.  Bill Ruger hit a home run with the Blackhawk; a traditionally styled single-action with modern lockwork and metallurgy, a fine-handling firearm that, for the first time, combined the best of both the 19th and 20th centuries.

Taurus Model 85 Ultra-Lite  Although the semiautomatic pistol market has a large number of foreign competitors, Taurus is the only major overseas player in the revolver market. Among the Brazilian company’s many offerings, the most popular is the Model 85 Ultra-Lite. The Model 85 is a good choice as a home-defense handgun or concealed-carry piece, in the same class as the Ruger LCR.

Ann-Margaret had the right idea, although a lousy stance.

Yes, the Taurus is a decent, well-priced sidearm in the same class as the LCR, but as with the LCR, there is nothing that stands out  with the Taurus; its inclusion on the National Interest’s list is nothing less than baffling.

Here, for the entertainment and edification of all True Believers, is my list of the top five revolvers, in no particular order:

  1. Colt Single Action Army
  2. S&W 1st Model Hand Ejector
  3. Ruger Blackhawk
  4. N-Frame Smith & Wesson
  5. Colt Python

Feel free to offer suggestions.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Housekeeping note:  I’m finishing up this Silicon Valley project on this coming Friday. Mrs. Animal and I are taking the scenic route home to Colorado, so I’ll put up some gratuitous totty posts Monday through Wednesday of next week.  Expect travel reports on Thursday, probably with photos.

Moving on:  How Many Guns Are Too Many?  Several answers are possible.  Excerpt:

Guns are not “basically all the same,” and now that I am an instructor, a competitive shooter and a vocal 2nd Amendment supporter, my views on firearms — and the amounts that one should or should not have — are much different than they used to be. It seems that Americans’ views may have changed a bit, as well. A 2017 Harvard/Northwestern University joint study estimated that our country’s 319 million citizens currently own about 265 million guns. And while in 1994, the “typical gun-owning household” owned 4.2 guns, in 2015, The Washington Post revealed that this average number of firearms owned has nearly doubled to 8.1 guns per household. And that trend has only gone up since! (On a side note: How many of you are now thinking: “I guess I am not a typical gun-owning household!”?)

From 1911s and guns just for show to shotguns and ARs and guns on the go, there are so many different firearms out there … and just as many different reasons to have them. So when a friend recently posed the question: “How many firearms is considered ‘too many?,’” it reminded me of how far I’ve come. And it got me thinking about possible answers to this intriguing topic.

I’ve been asked this question a number of times.  As with many things, the manner in which the question is asked affects the answer.

Some people are genuinely curious, and my answer then is “I do not accept the premise that there is such a thing as too many guns.  If you ask how many I want to own, the answer is ‘all the ones I have now, the ones I still want, and maybe a few more.'”

Some people are fellow gun aficionados, and are more likely to ask how many more I want, likewise knowing as I do that there is no such thing as too many.  To them my answer may be fairly detailed, going into such things as how I have 12 and 16 gauge examples of both the pre-64 Winchester Model 12 and the Browning Auto-5 but still need 20-gauge examples of each.

Some people ask in an aggressive and petulant demand for justification of my hobby.  My answer to them is “fuck off.”

Your mileage may vary.  But it’s an interesting discussion point all the same.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Eh heh heh heh.  Check this out:  Federal Investigators Couldn’t Illegally Buy Guns Through Legitimate Websites Despite 72 Attempts.  Excerpt:

Federal agents posing as criminals were unable to purchase any firearms from legitimate online marketplaces despite dozens of attempts over a two-year period.

Between July 2015 and November 2017 investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), following up on a congressional request, tried to make the illegal private gun purchases through a number of online forums and market places. They made 72 attempts over that time but couldn’t complete a single sale using legitimate sites.

In 29 attempts the gun sellers refused the sale after being asked to illegally ship the gun to the buyer. Twenty-seven sellers refused after being told the potential buyer was a felon, domestic abuser, or otherwise prohibited from buying a firearm. Eleven sellers attempted to scam the investigators after finding out they were prohibited from buying firearms with two successfully obtaining money from investigators but never sending the promised firearm. Another five attempts to illegally purchase firearms were ended when the investigators’ accounts were shut down due to suspicious activity.

“Tests performed on the Surface Web demonstrated that private sellers GAO contacted on gun forums and other classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to an individual who appeared to be prohibited from possessing a firearm,” Seto J. Bagdoyan and Wayne McElrath of the GAO’s Forensic Audits and Investigative Service section said in a report on the investigation released in November.

The investigation specifically targeted online sales by private sellers who do not have a federal firearms license and, in most states, aren’t required to perform background checks on potential buyers. The investigators wanted to see if private sellers on otherwise legitimate online gun forums and marketplaces would break federal law by knowingly selling firearms to somebody who isn’t allowed to buy them.

And nobody did.  Big surprise.

Automatic.

It’s important for the pro-gun community not to draw too big a conclusion from this, though.  The sample size is too small to be really meaningful, even if it did wind up the way the pro-Second Amendment community would like.

Instead, rely on the tens of thousands of good, solid statistical reasons for the pro-Second Amendment position:  The sterling record of CCW permit holders, the millions of cases every year where armed citizens deterred criminals, the hundreds of millions of guns in the possession of tens of millions of gun owners who have never, ever been involved in a crime.

What is interesting about this incident is the hole it blows in the “rampant illegal online sales” narrative.  Imperial investigators tried to fulfill the scenario and failed.  That makes it worth repeating.

Rule Five Loony Brits Friday

It’s difficult to get a firearm of any kind in the once and former Great Britain now, but that’s not enough for British gun-banners; now they want to go after BB guns.  Yes, really.  Excerpt:

Just as many American children are hoping that Santa Claus leaves them a BB or pellet gun under the Christmas tree, the Government of the United Kingdom is moving forward with plans to deliver a lump of coal to British subjects. According to a press release from the UK’s Home Office, the government has contacted stakeholders as part of a review into the air gun laws in England and Wales.

Making clear that their intent to further restrict air gun ownership in those regions, the review asked stakeholders for their views on: 

  • the storage and safe-keeping of air weapons, including possible requirements for increased security e.g. trigger locks or locked cabinets   
  • whether further measures are needed on manufacturing standards to prevent accidental discharge of air weapons or to prevent modification of air weapons post-sale in order to increase their power; and   
  • evidence from Scotland and Northern Ireland, where air weapons are subject to a licensing regime

In England and Wales, most air long-guns that produce less than 12 ft/lbs of muzzle energy are not considered firearms and ownership is largely unrestricted. Long-guns that produce greater than 12 ft/lbs of muzzle energy are classed as “air rifles,” are considered firearms, and require a certificate. Air pistols that produce greater than 6 ft/lbs of muzzle energy are prohibited. UK law also prohibits “any air rifle, air gun or air pistol which uses, or is designed or adapted for use with, a self-contained gas cartridge system.”

When I was a little tad, among my air guns was a Crosman semi-auto BB pistol that held 20-30 BBs (going on a dusty old memory here) and was powered by a CO2 cartridge.  Now look  at that last sentence in the excerpt:

UK law also prohibits “any air rifle, air gun or air pistol which uses, or is designed or adapted for use with, a self-contained gas cartridge system.”

What a load of crap.

Britain (I think they no longer deserve the ‘Great’ modifier) is one of those nations that require subjects to state some “need” before being allowed to own a gun.  There are plenty of folks here, many of them in elected office, who would like to see the same policy on the books here.

Fortunately, there are still those in the British Isles that have the sense to oppose this stupidity:

The UK shooting community has expressed concern about the Home Office’s recent interest in airguns. In a message from the British Association for Shooting & Conservation titled “No further airgun restrictions needed,” BASC firearms team manager Paul Dale explained that the organization “will respond in robust terms to this consultation and will be reminding the government that there is already plenty of good law to deal with those who abuse airguns.” Dale also stated, “Our view is that the solution lies in the education of youngsters and their parents and enforcement of existing law.”

Likewise, Liam Stokes of the Countryside Alliance pointed out that the UK has experienced “an enormous fall in air weapon crime over the last 15 years,” and therefore there is “little justification for new and potentially expensive and impractical restrictions.” Stokes went on to note, 

The Countryside Alliance will work to ensure the Government recognises the value of air weapons to hundreds of thousands of people who use them for pest control and sport shooting. Air weapons play a vital role in introducing people to accessible, sociable and healthy shooting sports, something the Government should welcome and encourage.

I’m afraid the odds are stacked against Mr. Stokes.  Here in the States we have the Second Amendment as a bulwark against egregious stupidity of this sort; the Second which the Supreme Court has stated does indeed protect the rights of free citizens to keep and bear arms.

Still – does anyone doubt that Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I would have been amenable to legislation of this sort, were she in the Imperial Mansion instead of President Trump?  We need to stay well informed and well motivated, True Believers, or this kind of idiocy will find its way to our shores.

Animal’s Daily Well Armed News

Like the proverbial blind hog, the Delaware Supreme Court has found an acorn.  Excerpt:

It’s not often that a court captures a debate perfectly in a sentence or two. After all, most debates are complex things that require layers of discussion.

However, the Delaware State Supreme Court just lowered the boom on restrictions that kept lawfully owned and carried firearms out of state parks. In the process, they summed up what we’ve been saying for years regarding firearms and gun control laws.

The Superior Court earlier upheld the ban based on the “important governmental objective of keeping the public safe from the potential harm of firearms in state parks and forests,” The Court did not believe the regulations violated any constitutional rights.

“But that conclusion is based on the questionable notion — unsupported by reference to any evidence – that outlawing possession of firearms in an area makes law-abiding citizens safer because criminals will, for some reason, obey the regulations,” the Supreme Court majority found.

This is it in a nutshell. That’s what we keep telling gun control zealots over and over, and they still persist in pretending that somehow gun laws will somehow keep criminals from using firearms.

It won’t. We know this because of what transpires in places like New York City, where just this past weekend there was a gunfight between groups of men. No police involvement, just bad guys.

The criminals do not follow the rules, so as a result, gun laws only impact the law-abiding.

This finding, frankly, rates a big “no shit” from anyone with any sense, but sometimes one takes one’s little victories where one finds them.

But what’s really interesting about this decision, is that it’s from deep-blue Delaware.  It’s a state court decision and therefore of little national implication, but even in Delaware, judges can see the obvious when it’s laid before them.

Would that translate to a Supreme Court case, thereby setting national precedent?

The thing is this:  If courts start tossing out laws that don’t make sense, then a hell of a lot of laws are going to start falling by the wayside.  Gun laws in general may be overturned on this principle; blue laws in general might be next.

Alas, expecting too much common sense out of government is probably expecting…  too much.

Animal’s Daily Pistol Carbine News

Pistol-caliber carbines are a coming thing, it seems – and have been, for over a hundred years.  The more things change…  Excerpt:

Submachine guns are incredibly potent firearms in close quarters and in the hands of a skilled operator. They have fallen out of favor with modern militaries for two major reasons: their limited effective range, and the rise of the short-barreled assault rifle.

These fully automatic or select-fire pistol-caliber firearms offer the individual soldier increased firepower over a sidearm, with better maneuverability than a full-sized rifle in close combat.

Many firearm manufacturers have capitalized on the strengths of these designs, offering civilian-legal, semi-automatic sub-guns in the form of pistol caliber carbines. This idea is not new—Auto Ordnance developed semi-auto versions of its (in)famous Thompson SMGs in the 1970s.

A decade later, H&K engineered an ATF-approved semi-auto version of the MP-5, and RPB Industries developed the M-10 and M-11 open-bolt versions of the MAC-10 and MAC-11 sub-guns. While most of these pistol-caliber carbines were based on famous SMGs like IMI’s UZI carbine, semi-auto-only variants of lesser-known SMGs like the S&W M-76 (the MK-760) also surfaced on the civilian market.

Interestingly, some designs followed the exact opposite path, like the Beretta CX4. Instead of evolving from a submachine gun, the CX4 began as a semi-auto pistol-caliber carbine, before being developed as a select-fire weapon for the government of India as the Mx4 SMG—with more than 36,000 examples manufactured for that contract alone.

Winchester 92

But this is anything but a new idea.  Not all that long ago the well-equipped guntwist frequently carried a carbine that digested the same fodder as his revolver, such as the above-pictured ’92 Winchester.  It’s a handy combination.  I’ve been looking around some for one of the modern replicas of the 92 in .45 Colt (which the originals were never chambered for) to match my favorite woods-bumming revolvers.  There are some replicas of the 66 and 73 Winchesters available in that chambering, but I prefer the Browning design.  The 92 is slimmer, lighter, handier.

Rossi makes a good replica but it’s worth searching to find an old Interarms import version, rather than the new models on sale today.  Why?  The old Interarms guns are direct copies, which the new versions are burdened with an idiotic crank-type safety atop the bolt.  There is probably some lawyerly reason for this, but in reality a gun with an external hammer should need no other safety, and the only really effective safety is the one between the shooter’s ears.

The new modern guns are doubtless handy, efficient and accurate, as the tests in the linked article would seem to indicate.  But lever guns have one significant advantage – they are legal in jurisdictions where semi-autos are restricted by ignorant pols.  And, in the eyes of yr. obdt. at least, they are nicer to look at.

And besides – if it’s good enough for the Duke, it’s good enough for anyone.

 

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

National concealed-carry reciprocity is headed for a House vote.  But there may be a catch.  Excerpt:

A measure expanding carry protections slammed by gun control advocates is set for a full vote in the House this week but may be merged with other proposals.

The bill, H.R. 38, was marked up by the House Judiciary Committee and is on the weekly schedule for lawmakers to vote on this week, with some 213 signed on to support the move.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans support concealed carry reciprocity. Momentum, common sense, and the facts are on our side,” said the sponsor of the reciprocity bill, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC. “I want to thank Speaker Paul Ryan for his strong support of the Second Amendment, and I urge my colleagues to support this common-sense bill to protect law-abiding citizens.”

Here’s the catch:

One caveat that gun rights advocates warn of with H.R.38 is the likelihood the bill will be amended to include the language of a new “Fix NICS” act, which would add several accountability measures designed to ensure that federal agencies submit the records of criminals, domestic abusers and others prohibited from possessing guns to the FBI-maintained system while giving states incentives to up their own reporting.

“Does the NICS background check system have problems? Yes, it results in tens of thousands of unjustified denials of gun purchases every year. But like many bills in Congress, the fix-NICS doesn’t live up to its name – it will likely do the opposite,” warned U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican who restarted the Second Amendment Caucus earlier this year. “It throws millions of dollars at a faulty program and it will result in more law-abiding citizens being deprived of their right to keep and bear arms.”

I’d love to see national reciprocity pass, but I don’t like the idea of screwing around with adding questionable categories to the NICS database.  I have no issue with denying purchases to, say, convicted felons – they have been tried and convicted, so due process is satisfied.  But there are too many nebulous criteria being proposed, like disabled veterans who have been assigned someone to manage their financial affairs.  The worst suggestion is the addition of people on the “no-fly list” – a list which requires no due process to be included on, and to which there is no recourse if you are put on it by mistake.

Still.  This is grist for the sausage mill; such is the state of affairs in politics, in that you have to give some to get some.  I just hope we aren’t giving away a fundamental natural right for many Americans who do not deserve to lose same.

Rule Five Hawaii Screws Over Gun Owners Friday

Hawaii has legal medical marijuana, but be careful, because if you’re a gun owner, and you legally use marijuana, Hawaii proposes to give  you a good one right up the tailpipe.  Excerpts with my comments follow:

Hawaii is one of 29 states that allow medical use of marijuana, but it is the only state that requires registration of all firearms. If you are familiar with the criteria that bar people from owning guns under federal law, you can probably surmise what the conjunction of these two facts means for patients who use cannabis as a medicine, which Hawaii allows them to do only if they register with the state. This month many of them received a letter from Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, instructing them to turn in their guns.

“Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition,” Ballard says in the November 13 letter, which Leafly obtained this week after Russ Belville noted it in his Marijuana Agenda podcast. “If you currently own or have any firearms, you have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to voluntarily surrender your firearms, permit, and ammunition to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) or otherwise transfer ownership. A medical doctor’s clearance letter is required for any future firearms applications or return of firearms from HPD evidence.”  (Emphasis added by me.)

Voluntarily?  Voluntarily?  Fucking voluntarily?  My ass – the state of Hawaii is using the full force and power of the state government to confiscate the property of law-abiding gun owners.  You know, in direct contrast to every pro-gun control prog who ever bleated “oh, we don’t want to confiscate anyone’s guns!”  Oh, and “oh, registration won’t lead to confiscation!  You’re just being paranoid!”  Well, Hawaii is giving a huge upraised middle finger to those claims – aloha, my middle-aged butt.

As authority for disarming medical marijuana users, Ballard cites Section 134-7(a) of Hawaii’s Revised Statutes, which says “no person who is a fugitive from justice or is a person prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition.” The relevant federal provision prohibits possession of firearms by anyone who is “an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” Since federal law does not recognize any legitimate reason for consuming cannabis, all use is unlawful use, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives makes clear in a boldfaced warning on the form that must be completed by anyone buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer: “The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”

And yet 28 other states, in a rare display of Federalism, have decided not to give a rat’s ass about this particular Imperial restriction, since marijuana is legal within their borders.  And in any case, that restriction applies to new sales of guns; it doesn’t give a state government license to confiscate the property of private, law-abiding citizens.

Most people probably do not realize how casually the federal government strips Americans of their Second Amendment rights, because enforcement of these longstanding rules is spotty and haphazard. Federal law notionally bars gun ownership by all of America’s 38 million or so cannabis consumers, along with millions of other unlawful users of controlled substances, including anyone who takes a medication prescribed for someone else or uses it for a purpose different from the one specified by a doctor (for back pain rather than tooth pain, say). But enforcing that ban is difficult because the FBI and the ATF generally don’t know who the unlawful users are. Hawaii has begun to lick that problem and therefore can give us a sense of what “enforcing the laws that are already on the books,” as the NRA frequently recommends, would look like in practice.

There’s an obvious answer:  The Imperial government should decriminalize, if not completely legalize, marijuana, as I’ve been saying for almost 40 years.  It’s a stupid and senseless use of law-enforcement resources, for one thing; for another, marijuana was in fact legal until the 1930s, and somehow for all that time society as we know it didn’t end.

Then Hawaii’s gun grabbing state government could do the appropriate thing and fuck right off.

Rule Five Stupid Gun Laws Friday

This seems pretty intuitive, but too many folks are lacking this sort of intuition:  Tighter Gun Laws Will Leave Libertarians Better-Armed Than Everyone Else.  Excerpt:

The past week saw yet another invocation by the usual suspects of the supposed need for tighter gun controls. This time, we had a special emphasis from lawmakers on such “innovations” as banning people convicted of domestic abuse from owning firearms—which is to say, restrictions that are already on the books and have been in place for years, but which haven’t had the wished-for effect. Honestly, so many of gun-controllers’ preferred laws have been implemented that they can’t be expected to know that their dreams have already come true. But laws aren’t magic spells that ward off evil; they’re threats of consequences against violators, enforced by imperfect and often incompetent people, and noted or ignored by frequently resistant targets.

Gun controls then, like other restrictions and prohibitions, have their biggest effect on those who agree with them and on the unlucky few scofflaws caught by the powers-that-be, and are otherwise mostly honored in the breach. As a result, gun laws intended to reduce the availability of firearms are likely to leave those who most vigorously disagree with them disproportionately well-armed relative to the rest of society. That raises some interesting prospects in a country as politically polarized and factionalized as the United States.

That gun restrictions are widely disobeyed is a well-documented fact. I’ve written before that Connecticut’s recent “assault weapons” registration law achieved an underwhelming 15 percent compliance rate, and New York’s similar requirement resulted in 5 percent compliance. When California imposed restrictions on such weapons in 1990, at the end of the registration period “only about 7,000 weapons of an estimated 300,000 in private hands in the state have been registered,” The New York Times reported. When New Jersey went a step further that same year and banned the sale and possession of “assault weapons,” disobedience was so widespread that the Times concluded, “More than a year after New Jersey imposed the toughest assault-weapons law in the country, the law is proving difficult if not impossible to enforce.” That’s in states with comparatively strong public support for restrictions on gun ownership.

Read that line above again:  “…difficult if not impossible to enforce.”  That’s gun control legislation in a nutshell.

Imagine yourself in a conversation with a gun-control fanatic.  (If you are in New York, California, Illinois or Massachusetts, you can find one under any flat rock.)

Imagine that gun-control fanatic describing their wet dream of confiscating millions, nay, tens of millions of personally owned firearms.   It makes no difference whatever the particular gun-grabbers pet peeve is – “assault weapons,” handguns, “sniper rifles” (read that to mean any bolt-action, scoped hunting rifle) or whatever.

Ask the gun grabber who they expect to go around to millions of homes and confiscate tens of millions of weapons.  And mention that oh, by the way, if one percent of the approximately 100 million American gun owners resist violently, that’s a million people in armed rebellion.

In no case will you find the gun-grabber willing to volunteer to be part of the confiscation effort.  Problem is, I expect not many among the military or law-enforcement communities will be too willing to do this either.

“Impossible to enforce” is only scratching the surface.

 

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links.

It’s hard to stay upbeat this Monday morning, even given our recognition of the appreciation shown for our Rule Five totty.  It’s hard to be upbeat, given yet another mass shooting – this time in Texas.  Excerpt:

A man opened fire inside of a church in a small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than 20 people and wounding at least 10 others before being killed or killing himself, authorities said.

The exact number of victims in the attack at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs wasn’t immediately known. But a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that more than 20 people were killed and between 10 and 15 others were wounded, though the official stressed that the investigation was in its early stages and the figures could change.

The official said the gunman fled in a vehicle after the attack and was killed, either by a self-inflicted wound or during a confrontation with police. The official was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

Federal law enforcement swarmed the small community 30 miles southeast of San Antonio after the attack to offer assistance, including ATF investigators and members of the FBI’s evidence collection team.

Among those killed was the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, and his wife, Sherri. Sherri Pomeroy wrote in a text message to the AP that she and her husband were out of town in two different states when the attack occurred.

I’m no more religious than a cat, but it seems to me that a small Baptist church in south Texas has to be one of the most peaceful, inoffensive gatherings of people that you’re likely to find.  Why, then, would the shooter, one Devin Patrick Kelley, choose to attack this gathering?

It’s too soon to know.  The usual suspects will, of course, surface to blame anything and anyone but the shooter – guns, politics, religion, whatever their pet peeves may be.  The only person responsible is, of course, the shooter.  But what his motivation was remains to be seen – and that will take some investigative chops to determine, since the shooter was killed by police after a pursuit.

It’s a sad day, again.  Our hearts go out to that small town in Texas.