AR-15 Ammunition And Barrel Twist Rate

Herschel Smith · 19 Feb 2017 · 7 Comments

There are a lot of articles and discussion forum threads on barrel twist rate for AR-15s.  So why am I writing one?  Well, some of the information on the web is very wrong.  Additionally, this closes out comment threads we've had here touching on this topic, EMail exchanges I've had with readers, and personal conversations I've had with shooters and friends about this subject.  It's natural to put this down in case anyone else can benefit from the information.  Or you may not benefit at…… [read more]

Counterinsurgency And Stability Operations In Baltimore

BY Herschel Smith
16 hours, 14 minutes ago

Via reader David Dietz, news from Baltimore:

Five days ago, Det. Sean Suiter, a married father of five and an 18-year veteran with the Baltimore Police, was patrolling the streets of West Baltimore around 5pm last Wednesday when he saw suspicious activity. Suiter approached a man and was shot point blank in the head, in a summary execution. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition where he later died of his injuries.

In response, Baltimore Police reacted with ‘fire and fury’ turning the neighborhood where Suiter was shot into an “open-air prison”, shutting down city streets and enabling checkpoints for citizens while officers in tactical gear went door to door, according to Baltimore Brew. Residents were prohibited from entering their own neighborhood unless they showed proper identification, these extreme measures have been in place for 4-5 days.

“They’ve been to my house three times asking, ‘Did you hear anything? Do you know anything,’” said Edward Stanley, a local resident, who had to show a yellow slip before entering the neighborhood.

Baltimore Brew said, the neighborhood was tuned into “open-air prison”, as the complete lockdown was in attempt to collect evidence and search for the shooter.

Police initially said they needed to cordon off the area to try to capture the shooter. Police have said Suiter was in the 900 block of Bennett Place, investigating a previous homicide, when he was shot on Wednesday. So far, no arrests have been announced in the case. This morning, homicide detective Mike Newton told The Brew that the lockdown was necessary to collect evidence.

One community group took pictures of a checkpoint in West Baltimore.

Another twitter account describes how ‘the police declared marital law’, as one police officer with an assault rifle guards a corner.

This is what the U.S. Marine Corps did in Fallujah in 2007.  I’ve rehearsed this too many times already, but once more for my newer readers won’t hurt anything.  I watched prior to Daniel’s deployment as 80-100 fighters per month crossed the Syrian and Jordanian borders into Iraq, right up to his deployment.  We know that from the Sinjar papers.  They came through little towns like Al Qaim.

Ramadi was a hot spot for them, and not only were there U.S. forces, but competing groups made it a very dangerous place to be.  In response, the foreign fighters migrated to Fallujah right about the time for his deployment early in 2007.  Then 2/6 deployed, and Fallujah was so in lock step with the foreign fighters that the children would walk around groups of U.S. Marines (as instructed by the fighters) carrying black balloons so that the foreign fighters would have targets for mortar fire.

In response, the Marines locked down Fallujah.  When I say locked down, I mean they locked it down in every way.  Vehicle traffic was forbidden.  Concrete barriers were put up, and there were two ways into and out of the city.   Military age males (MAMs) were given full biometric screening (fingerprints, iris scans, name, age, place of residence, etc.), and the shooting started.  The Marines hunted the foreign fighters down room to room, house to house, and literally visited every domicile in the city.

As the fighters would try to infiltrate across the Euphrates River, the Marines would shoot them.  My son was aboard a helicopter shooting an M2 at times, when he wasn’t carrying a SAW or M4 room-to-room.  It was important to know everything about everyone, all of the time, with cameras everywhere, biometric data available at the click of a mouse, and with full control over means of ingress and egress.

They didn’t drive the foreign fighters out of Fallujah.  They found and killed them all.  This kind of tactical approach is highly effective, and the Marines were masters of it.  The Baltimore police want control over the city.  By control, I mean complete control, with knowledge of everyone, information on their comings and goings and their whereabouts at all times, updates on their intentions and predilections, and full freedom to maneuver or respond as necessary to meet the perceived threat.

They learned this from the U.S. military.  Expect to see additional elements of this COIN / stability operations in Baltimore, like UAVs or drones to help them “see” the terrain.  Expect JTTF and robust Fusion center activity, and expect to see the U.S. justice system to go right along with everything that happens.

It’s where we are.  It’s the state to which we’ve been driven.  America has created third world countries in large cities like Baltimore, Chicago, L.A., Atlanta, Houston, and St. Louis, by means of handouts and fatherless families.  Opening the borders hasn’t helped.  The result is third world hell holes that scare even the police, but given that the police are the largest gang in America, they will respond in kind.

If You Can’t Trust Mental Illness Or Domestic Abuse As A Predictor Of Violence, What Is The Gun Controller To Do?

BY Herschel Smith
1 day, 16 hours ago

NBC News:

Experts say it is difficult to know what to do in those situations, but Dr. James Fox, an expert on gun violence and author of “Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder,” said it’s dangerous to assume that the mentally ill tend to commit these shootings.

“There’s not really a correlation,” said Fox, who maintains a database on mass shootings. “We like to think that these people are different from the rest of us. We want a simple explanation and if we just say they’re mentally ill, case closed. Because of how fearful dangerous and deadly their actions are, we really want to distance ourselves from it and relegate it to illness.”

Of course, he’s telling us things my readers already know.  Or said another way, he’s trying to teach his granny to suck eggs.

USA Today:

Appearing on the PBS NewsHour the day after the shooting, Deborah Epstein, co-director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at the Georgetown University Law Center, claimed there is a strong correlation between domestic violence and mass shootings.  “If you look at all the mass shootings that have occurred on U.S. soil,” said Epstein, “the vast majority of them have been committed by people who have perpetrated domestic violence against an intimate partner, a series of intimate partners, or are in the process of dealing with domestic violence.”

In a one-week follow-up story about the church shooting, a headline in the San Antonio Express-News read, “Are mass killings and domestic violence linked? It depends who you ask.” You’d think such a determination would be a matter of fact, not opinion. Unfortunately, in the media version of the children’s game of telephone, the message is easily misinterpreted as it gets repeated from one news source to another.

“There is an obvious link between mass shootings and domestic violence,” suggested Susan Higginbotham, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She at least cited her evidence: “A study last year by Everytown for Gun Safety, which used FBI data and media reports to analyze mass shootings from January 2009 to December 2016, showed that 54% of the perpetrators of these horrific mass killings had a history of domestic or family violence.”

Higginbotham was only partially correct, misconstruing the most important point. The Everytown study did indeed find that 54% of mass shootings involved intimate partners or family members as victims. In this majority, however, the domestic violence was the mass shooting of family members, and not necessarily a history of previous domestic violence.

Everytown’s case summaries of 156 shootings from 2009 through 2016 (in which four or more victims are killed), reveal 85 incidents in which a gunman murdered at least some current or former intimate partners or family members. Of these, 41% were preceded by other acts of domestic violence. Among the entire pool of mass shootings, only 25% revealed any indication of prior domestic violence.

Even if a majority of mass shootings were preceded by violence against intimate partners or family, that still would hardly serve as a reliable predictor of mass murder. There are, unfortunately, at least 10 million incidents of domestic violence every year, according to estimates reported by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. By contrast, there are, on average, about 22 mass shootings annually with at least four fatalities. Were we to predict mass murder on this basis of domestic violence, we would be wrong well more than 99% of the time.

Just in case you missed it, the author, James Alan Fox, the Lipman Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University, just completely demolished the Everytown argument.  It is history.  They should bow their heads and hide in shame.  Everytown is a fake, a fraud and a sham.  Their arguments are flimflam and claptrap.

So what is a controller to do when she runs out of ostensibly legitimate excuses?  Why, just go ahead and admit that you want the state to have a monopoly on violence, that you’re controllers, statists and collectivists, and an armed citizenry is an impediment to your statists dreams.

Go ahead and admit it.

The Siren Song Of Caseless Ammunition

BY Herschel Smith
1 day, 17 hours ago

TFB:

Previously, we discussed trying to lighten the soldier’s load by making the cartridge case out of different materials, including aluminum and compositing the case out of polymer and metal. Yet, wouldn’t the lightest possible case configuration be… Having no case at all? That’s the thinking behind one of the most ambitious ammunition configurations there is, the case-less round.

Of course, it’s true that before the metallic cartridge casewas invented, essentially all ammunition was caseless, but today the term “caseless” refers to ammunition that is self-contained, but with a body made of combustible propellant that directly contributes to sending the projectile out of the gun’s barrel. This concept is as elegant as it is simple; after all, making every part of the round work at killing the enemy can only be a good idea, right? Well, it’s not so simple as that, because economically producing caseless ammunition suitable for automatic weapons has proven to be an incredibly technically complex challenge. For starters, there’s a fundamental contradiction to the concept: Gunpropellants need to expose a certain amount of surface area to igniting flame in order to work properly and have the correct burn rate, but a caseless round needs its propellant to be consolidated into a single solid chunk which is durable enough for storage, shipping, and field use. This requires some kind of “disintegrator” charge – which may be provided by the primer – that breaks up the consolidated propellant during ignition, increasing its surface area. Also, caseless ammunition lacks any protective barrier between the propellant and the chamber, which may be very hot after a string of fire. This lack of a protective envelope reduces the threshold at which ammunition cooks off inside the weapon, a serious concern for a military small arm. Finally, caseless ammunition also cannot gain the benefit of disposable breech sealing that comes built-in to the modern metallic cartridge, so sealing must be accomplished some other way. All of these problems are difficult at low production levels, and impossible at the volumes required for a modern military round.

In fact, these challenges are so great that it’s unlikely that the concept will become feasible within the next few decades. However, if the considerable technical challenges are somehow surmounted, caseless ammunition offers the maximum reduction in ammunitionweight possible with conventional projectiles, while also facilitating extremely high rates of fire, due to the elimination of the extraction and ejection phases of the cycle.

From an engineering standpoint, it’s an awful idea.  Just terrible.  Even if something can be done – and I doubt this can ever be achieved – there is an engineer’s adage (I made it up and have used it extensively mentoring my young engineers) that comes to mind.

Margin is your friend.  Court her and be jealous for her.  Don’t cut corners, give yourself room to degrade, corrode, erode, design below your limits, and give yourself a margin of safety.  The larger the better.  Sure, too large won’t work because it is the enemy of functionality, creates physical interferences, causes components to be too heavy, and creates unnecessary expense.

But the other side is that lack of safety margin kills people.  It costs money, time, broken structures, systems and components, and it ruins companies.  My suggestion to the companies trying to do this is simple: this is a sweet, sweet siren song sung by an enchanting lass, but the cost of making all of that money and being famous may be your reputation, your company or even your life.

Ignore that song.  Get back to work designing better firearms and ammunition.  Forget caseless.

Financial Woes For Remington

BY Herschel Smith
1 day, 17 hours ago

Philly.com:

Remington Outdoor, the second-largest U.S. gunmaker has suffered a “rapid” and “sharp” deterioration in sales and a similar drop in profits since January, and faces “continued softness in consumer demand for firearms,” credit analysts at Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings said in a report today.

S&P as a result has cut the company’s corporate credit rating — already at a junk-bond-level CCC+ — two full notches, to CCC-, a move likely to make the company’s high-yield debt less attractive to investors and lenders, and force Remington to pay more in interest. The company could face a change in control, bankruptcy, or default on its debt by next year.

A backlog of unsold, unwanted firearms will force Remington to operate at a loss and “pressure the company’s sales and profitability at least through early 2018, resulting in insufficient cash flow for debt service and fixed charges,” unless Remington gives up cash to pay for ongoing operations, S&P adds.

S&P expects “a heightened risk of a restructuring” of Remington’s $575 million senior secured loan and asset-based lending facility, which it is supposed to pay back in 2019.

If Remington defaults on its payments, based on the company’s current value, S&P expects first-lien creditors may receive around 35 cents back from every dollar they have lent or invested. Lower-rated creditors would get back less, or nothing.

Default is not yet “a virtual certainty,” the report added.

And yet I know firearms manufacturers who can’t keep up with the demand.  I currently have one on backorder that no one is able to find, anywhere.  As they say, if you make things that people want, at a high quality, for a good price, the people will come.  If not, they won’t.

Detroit Police Department, Or Reno 911!?

BY Herschel Smith
4 days, 16 hours ago

News from Detroit:

DETROIT (WJBK) – An internal investigation has been launched at the Detroit Police Department after two different precincts got into a turf war as they converged on an east side neighborhood.

Neighbors who live on Andover on Detroit’s east side will be the first to tell you this area is known for constant drug activity.

“Definitely a drug problem in our neighbor for years,” said one resident, ” but I don’t think anyone can stop it.”

On Thursday Detroit police certainly tried — but maybe too hard.

Sources say it started when two special ops officers from the 12th Precinct were operating a “push off” on Andover near Seven Mile. That is when two undercover officers pretend to be dope dealers, waiting for eager customers to approach, and then arrest potential buyers and seize their vehicles.

But this time, instead of customers, special ops officers from the 11th Precinct showed up. Not realizing they were fellow officers, they ordered the other undercover officers to the ground.

FOX 2 is told the rest of the special ops team from the 12th Precinct showed up, and officers began raiding a house in the 19300 block of Andover. But instead of fighting crime, officers from both precincts began fighting with each other.

Sources say guns were drawn and punches were thrown while the homeowner stood and watched.

The department’s top cops were notified along with Internal Affairs. Each officer involved is now under investigation as the department tried to determine what went wrong.

“You’ve gotta  have to have more communication, I guess,” said the resident. “I don’t understand what happened about that – communicate.”

FOX 2 is told one of the units had body camera video that detailed the entire incident. That is now part of the internal investigation and we are working to get our hands on it.

Other than wondering why the hell a police department has a so-called “special ops” team, the only thing that came to mind on this came from my oldest son Joshua when we texted about this.

It Is A Privilege That We Allow Individuals To Hold Onto Something That Causes Harm And Death

BY Herschel Smith
4 days, 17 hours ago

News From Boston:

BOSTON – Allowing the use of silencers and the attorney general’s authority to regulate firearms were hot topics at a Public Safety Committee hearing Thursday that saw lawmakers and gun rights advocates tangle over the Second Amendment.

More than 100 people piled into a Statehouse hearing room for the hearing on more than 50 bills dealing with firearms. Gun control activists congregated on one side of the room, many wearing orange T-shirts with “Moms Demand Action” or “Stop Gun Violence” on them. The other side of the room featured gun rights advocates, some of whom wore shirts bearing various slogans.

“We have some folks in this room who believe it is a privilege and we have some folks in this room who believe it is a constitutional right” to own a firearm, National Rifle Association spokesman John Hohenwarter said. “I think that’s where the fight lies.”

Hohenwarter and other gun rights supporters keyed in on a statement Rep. Marjorie Decker, a Cambridge Democrat, made at the hearing as she was testifying in support of various gun control measures and against bills she said would erode Massachusetts’ status as the state with the lowest rate of gun deaths.

“It is a privilege that we allow individuals to hold onto something that causes harm and death,” Decker said. “It is a privilege to have a car license, it is a privilege to have a gun license.”

Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League based in Northboro, said Decker’s comment illustrated frustrations lawful gun owners feel in Massachusetts.

“One of the problems that we face here in Massachusetts is that the Second Amendment is barely recognized in the state as a whole and certainly not as a civil right. I could not have asked for a better witness to that than the previous legislator that actually described our civil rights as a privilege,” Wallace said. “I am aghast that an elected official would actually say that … but that’s not unusual.”

One issue that elicited testimony in favor and in opposition on Thursday was removing the state ban on suppressors, or silencers, which attach to the barrel of a gun and reduce the sound of a bullet being fired.

Sen. Michael Moore, D-Worcester, the co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and Sen. Donald Humason each filed bills (S 1340/S 1317) to remove the ban on the use of suppressors. Massachusetts is one of 10 states that bans gun suppressors for hunting and one of eight states that bans them for consumers.

“I see them as a tool to continue firearm safety education without having to damage your ears,” Amanda Deveno, a firearm safety instructor and GOAL member, told the committee. “It also makes it easier for me as an instructor on the line to communicate properly with my students.”

Deveno’s argument did not go over well with John Rosenthal, the founder of the nonprofit Stop Handgun Violence.

Rosenthal said that having the Committee on Public Safety approve a bill deregulating silencers “is like the FDA commissioner saying we should deregulate arsenic.”

American Suppressor Association President and Executive Director Knox Williams said the opposition to the suppressors bill “is pretty boilerplate, based on common misconceptions from people who have never taken the time to go out and hear a suppressed gunshot.” He said a gunshot from a gun with a suppressor attached is still as loud as a jackhammer.

Also at issue Thursday was the authority of the attorney general to regulate the sale of firearms. Last summer, Attorney General Maura Healey drew the ire of Second Amendment advocates and sportsmen when she heightened her office’s enforcement of an assault weapons ban that had been on the books for years by cracking down on copycat assault weapons.

Humason, a Westfield Republican, filed S 1326 to remove the regulatory authority for the attorney general from consumer protection laws, Humason and Warren Republican Rep. Todd Smola filed S 1322/H 1310 to strip the attorney general of the office’s authority to regulate weapons and to repeal previously issued regulations, and Spencer Democrat Sen. Anne Gobi filed S 1316 to do away with the term “copies and duplicates” in the definition of assault weapon.

Rep. David Linsky said the bills were “filed in retaliation” to Healey’s actions and urged the committee not to advance the legislation.

“The attorney general has the authority to promulgate and enforce rules on all items sold to consumers in Massachusetts, including firearms. Attorney General Healey acted within her constitutional authority as the consumer advocate to stop the sale of copycat assault weapons and protect the residents of the commonwealth from these illegal weapons,” Linsky, a Natick Democrat, said. “Stripping the attorney general of her authority to regulate firearm sales would set a troubling precedent and leave our residents vulnerable to the whims of the powerful gun lobby.”

The theme of federal inaction ran through Thursday’s hearing, with multiple representatives and gun control advocates arguing that Massachusetts cannot rely on the federal government to set rules for firearms.

“If Congress is not moved to act in the wake of events like Newtown or Las Vegas, we cannot continue to sit around and be shocked or wring our hands at their inaction. States must become the agents of their own protection,” said Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, D-Jamaica Plain.

Methinks that Decker has too elevated an opinion of herself.  “Animal Farm” suddenly came to mind, or perhaps Nazi Germany, or the Soviet Union or Communist China.  And the American revolution as the repair for all of this.

The very purpose for weapons to begin with.  Perhaps Decker knows that and fears it.

Why would anyone remain in that awful state anyway?  Say, isn’t Smith & Wesson still ensconced there?  Why, pray tell?

Somebody’s Got A New Fully Automatic SBR

BY Herschel Smith
4 days, 17 hours ago

News from Arizona:

A Sahuarita motorcycle officer was been disciplined after losing a SWAT rifle while on patrol in May. The fully automatic rifle with a 10-inch barrel has not been recovered.

The officer was on a call in Madera Highlands about noon May 25 when a fellow officer noticed the rifle rack on his motorcycle was empty.

The officer retraced his steps but was unable to find the rifle. Around the same time, other Sahuarita officers heard a Pima County Sheriff’s deputy being dispatched to a call about a man removing a rifle from the street near Sahuarita Road and Country Club Drive, according to the reports.

The officer told his supervisors he had just been in that area making a traffic stop, and at that time he said the rifle was mounted on his motorcycle’s rifle rack.

A witness reported a man in a newer model black “dually”-style Dodge pickup had picked up the rifle. The truck was also hauling a trailer with a tractor on it. Officers spent several weeks looking for the vehicle.

Although the truck had a company named on its side, when the company was called, the wife of the owner said her husband was a contractor who hadn’t been associated with the company in years and now drives a red SUV for work.

“(The) investigation included multiple stakeouts to locate the pickup, but it has not been located,” according to documents from the Sahuarita Police Department. “The rifle has been reported as lost or stolen and its whereabouts are still unknown at this time.”

The lock on the rifle rack was in “proper operational order,” but the rack’s bracketing had been “bent/flared out” from its original design, according to records.

The officer received “documented counseling” for losing the rifle, according to a Sept. 6 memo released this week.

“Documented counseling.”

The Red State Of South Carolina Has Its Share Of Gun Controllers Too

BY Herschel Smith
4 days, 17 hours ago

The Hill:

The mayor of Columbia, S.C., is planning to propose a ban on bump stocks and trigger cranks on guns in the city.

“I believe in responsible gun ownership, and I believe in common sense,” Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin (D) said in a statement, according to ABC News.

“That’s why I’ve decided to do what our federal and state governments are either unable or unwilling to do.”

And next up, Tim Scott:

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is among the sponsors of bipartisan legislation to ensure federal agencies and state governments accurately report relevant criminal history to the FBI’s database of prohibited gun buyers.

The Republican senator is one of more than half a dozen sponsors of the “Fix NICS Act,” which would penalize federal agencies that fail to properly report required records. It also rewards states that comply by providing them with federal grant preferences.

You can blame Nikki Haley for Tim Scott.  He a republican, but may as well be a democrat.  Ah hell, there’s essentially no difference anyway.  Nevermind.

Senators Said To Be “Close” To Deal On New Gun Control

BY Herschel Smith
5 days, 16 hours ago

The Hill:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on Wednesday that senators are nearing a bipartisan deal on gun legislation following a number of high-profile mass shootings.

Murphy’s office pointed The Hill to comments made last week by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who said that he would talk to Democrats about strengthening background checks – an initiative that gained some bipartisan momentum earlier this month after a gunman opened fire on a church in southern Texas, killing 26 people.

Cornyn has been a driving force in the GOP for strengthening background checks since the Nov. 5 shooting. He told reporters last week that he would work with Democrats to close gaps in the system, and that he had spoke to Murphy, as well as Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) about the matter.

Oh nice.  That means that despite the fact that it had nothing to do with it, they intend to make person-to-person transfers a felony.  Can’t give that deer rifle to your grandson anymore, gentlemen.  FedGov may come after you.

Here’s a note to Murphy and Cornyn.  Go to hell.

Here’s a quick observation.  Prepare for noncompliance.

Uranium One, Shep Smith And Jonah Goldberg

BY Herschel Smith
5 days, 16 hours ago

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle going on over the accusations of treason against the purveyors of the deal that sent ownership of Uranium to Vladimir Putin.  Jonah Goldberg is up first.

My real objection is to the way people on late-night shout shows and talk radio blithely and irresponsibly throw around claims that our national security was gravely damaged, or insinuate that treason has been committed. It’s neither of those things. Sebastian Gorka’s repeated invocation of the Rosenbergs is dangerous, demagogic, and dippy.

As Shep notes, the uranium the Russians bought can only be sold . . . in America to American facilities. We weren’t giving ammunition to an enemy (an enemy usually only for the purposes of the Uranium One story, by the way) to kill us with nuclear weapons. Russia already has vastly more Uranium than we do. The U.S. has 1 percent of the global reserves of uranium. Russia has 9 percent. So when you hear radio talkers screaming about how Hillary Clinton gave the Russians TWENTY PERCENT!!!!!! of America’s precious uranium supply, they’re talking about one-fifth of one percent of a fairly common metal (Australia has 29 percent of the known uranium reserves).

In fact, one way you can tell if a commodity is rare is by looking at its price. Gold today is at a bit under $1,300 per ounce. Rhodium, mostly used in things like catalytic converters is around $1,400 per ounce. Platinum (which I always thought until this morning was more expensive than gold) is around $1,000 bucks per ounce. Uranium? It sells for less than $25 bucks – per pound.

To underscore his derision, he embeds a video by Shep Smith who relies mainly on MSM reporting and then displays his own derision for the scandal.

So let’s take a shallow dive into the facts – a deep dive will likely lose most readers.  We are no longer enriching weapons-grade Uranium or Plutonium (or creating Tritium, but I’ll get to that in a moment).  Even the Reliable Replacement Warhead program doesn’t do that.  Despite this conflated and rambling entry at Global Security, the program to date consists mainly of calculations performed to demonstrate that what we have will still work despite decay.

At some point in the future the piper will come playing and he must be paid.  We can only kick the can down the road for so long.  Before that happens, if we have any sense at all, we will have begun a new weapons program.  When that happens, the price and availability of raw material matters.  What Jonah cited is yellowcake, not weapons grade material.

This material must be enriched a great deal to fissile isotopes like U-235 (not fissionable, like U-238) or Pu-239.  That requires industrial and reactor operations (separation and transmutation).  We don’t get a pound of weapons grade material for every pound of yellowcake removed from the earth.  In fact, we don’t get very many at all.

Furthermore, this enrichment must occur just to be able to operate commercial nuclear reactors, and I consider their operation vital to national security (try living in America without the electricity supplied by commercial nuclear power).  Most fuel assemblies loaded into commercial nuclear reactors today are enriched to 4% – 5% by weight U-235.  Fuel assemblies aren’t light.  Each one typically contains just below half a metric ton of enriched Uranium (0.45 – 0.5 MTU).  Hundreds get loaded into commercial nuclear reactors every year.  For this enrichment to occur to make operational feasible, we must have many more pounds of yellowcake than what we get out as fissile or fissionable material in commercial nuclear reactors.

There is no indication that Putin would stop with his current level of ownership, or that he wouldn’t find some way to abscond with the raw material via nefarious means.  Moreover, with any ownership, one can begin to control pricing and certainly stands to make a handsome profit.  Why else would Putin want ownership?

Andy McCarthy seems to admit some level of accuracy to what Goldberg says by replying that “when Jonah says, “The Uranium One story is crap,” I take him to be talking about the story as it is being related by a number of commentators, as if it involved a major national-security crisis. (Note that Jonah is careful to acknowledge that an investigation of the Uranium One transaction might be warranted.) It is true that hyperbole about national security and treason is not helping people’s understanding of what this is about. Uranium One has never primarily been a national-security controversy. It is a corruption controversy with some national-security aspects, which are related to domestic energy supply, not nuclear weapons.”

He’s wrong, and it’s almost a waste of time and air to say that Goldberg and Smith are wrong since they are such lightweights on the matter.  We need a reliable and inexpensive source of raw nuclear material for nuclear security, and we also need universities to continue to have and fund nuclear engineering programs.  Without commercial nuclear power, there will be no nuclear engineers, and without nuclear engineers there will be no nuclear weapons program.  Without nuclear engineers and reactors, there will be no Tritium for weapons, which is created by activation of Lithium, because we won’t be able to create the high neutron flux necessary to make enough Tritium.  In order to have these reactors to create the Tritium, we need enriched nuclear fuel.

This is all vital to our national security.  There is no further discussion necessary over this question.  Better said, there isn’t even a question about it.  This isn’t primarily about a scandal, and secondarily about appurtenant national security issues.  This is about a scandal that runs so far, deep and wide that certain people would sell out the national security of nation for small payoffs.

Here’s a suggestion for Andy McCarthy.  Stay in your own lane.  Here’s a note to Shep Smith.  You’re a good mouthpiece for your progressive buddies, but some of us know you to be a buffoon and clown, just a talking head who uses unction and a suit to convince people you’re something other than a carnival actor.

Here’s a note for Jonah.  All it takes is a little understanding of nuclear science – and I have more than a little understanding – and human nature to know that this is more serious than you indicate in your silly commentary.  The next time you decide to play the court jester over some issue, stop and reconsider if you’re tempted to couple yourself to a buffoon like Shep.

If you want to comment on engineering, then go get a degree in engineering.  You are unqualified by training, experience or education to make decisions like this on technical matters and issues of national security.  It’s like watching a first grader challenge Alvin Plantinga to a debate on concepts of rationality and epistemic warrant.  Or watching my granddaughter try to field strip a 1911.  When you couple yourself to moronic prose and moronic people, you play the moron.

God help us all when people like Shep Smith and Jonah Goldberg are the “experts” on national security.



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