Is Armor-piercing ammunition needed?

In his March 15 column, Representative Bob Goodlatte explains his opposition to a move by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to ban production and sale of M855 ammunition for the popular AR-15 rifle. He claims to oppose it as an unlawful attempt by the Obama administration to deprive Americans of their Second Amendment rights.

He omits two pertinent facts: (1) The M855 bullet is a projectile that can penetrate the bulletproof armor commonly used by policemen. (2) Alternative ammunition for the AR-15 rifle is available. These omissions follow from his reading of the Second Amendment in absolute terms, which he says allow no choice of what to follow and what to ignore. Under his reading, the two facts seem irrelevant.

There are intelligent, responsible ways of considering such facts while complying with the Amendment, as typified by the AR-15 rifle itself. It is a civilian version of the Army M-16 rifle, a fully automatic weapon. Review of civilian usage indicates no plausible need for the automatic feature. The AR-15 is semi-automatic; it has been redesigned to discourage attempts at conversion to automatic. Does this deprive Americans of their rights?

The relevant question concerning the M855: Is there a plausible civilian need for the ability to penetrate a policeman’s bulletproof attire?

As nuclear weapons developed rapidly in the 1950s, those in the program sometimes said with dry humor that we’d soon see an atomic hand grenade. Based on Mr. Goodlatte’s Second Amendment logic, I would now add that such a development should, and would, allow wide civilian ownership of these hand grenades. No, I don’t believe there ever will be an atomic hand grenade. Unbiased people, however, will get my point.

The Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Board (Letter, March 21, 2015), commends Mr. Goodlatte for opposing the ATF move. The Board sees victory because the ATF is dropping the proposed ban for now. With more victories like this, we may see yet more mayhem unless the nation finds it preferable to revisit the matter of the Second Amendment – a most unlikely option.

This letter was published by the Waynesboro News Virginian on March 23, 2015, under the headline “Is AR-15 Assault Rifle Needed?”  This title is inflammatory and goes beyond the intent of the letter. I promptly notified the newspaper with the following message:

“I must hasten to correct the impression created by the headline above my Letter to the Editor of March 23: “Is AR-15 assault rifle needed?”

“I did not supply the headline, and it does not reflect the content of the letter. In fact, the letter refers to the AR-15 as “popular,” and cites it as an example of intelligent, responsible consideration of pertinent facts while complying with the Second Amendment. What I questioned was the need for one specific type of ammunition, M855.

“I regret the resentment that this error has undoubtedly aroused.”

The editor-in-chief assures me that the problem will be fixed.  Meanwhile, I have titled this posting with what would have been a more accurate heading.

 

ENAMEL AND METAL ARTS: XIII

Design with Nature: …and MORE Birds

This is one of a series of postings about enameling and art metalwork. It is based primarily on my work in the 1980s. I am not a master of these arts, but I hope this fact will be an advantage in communicating the basics, in simple terms, to readers who are not already familiar with them. The series is not intended to instruct in procedures, but solely to impart an appreciation of the art forms involved. 

*        *          *

Birds provide striking models for enameling, and their brilliance of color is well suited to the medium. I found that they were popular among the visitors to our gallery.

Following are a few enamel pieces that I would like to put on the record, even though there was not enough space for them in the earlier posting about birds.

The first of these are reasonably realistic:

WLesser Flamingo Africa
(A grouping of the Lesser Flamingo in Africa)

WMiscBird-11          WMisc-08a

…even including, below, the clumsy result of my very first attempt at enameling, in which the best feature is probably the ruby background. I am somewhat proud that I hammered out the setting, starting with heavy copper wire, circular in cross-section, into a channel wire that was U-shaped in cross-section.

WMiscA1-04

The next three include a cartoon, titled “Partners,” and some close-up views of a peacock feather:

CPartners-10

PPcock-06 (3)        PPcockEarr-05

Finally, the following abstract images can more or less easily be related to their origins as birds:

 ABlue Comet 2          AMiscEarr-05a

ACrosWngs-08a      AFreeform Champleve

Of the last group of four pictures, three show champlevé pieces.  The fourth (upper right) and all of the preceding pictures in this post show cloisonné pieces.  The picture of the flamingo grouping is a special variety, concave cloisonné, in which the enamel does not fill the entire cell, and its surface in cross-section is U-shaped between the wires.

ENAMEL AND METAL ARTS: XII

Design with Nature: Flowers and Butterflies

This is one of a series of postings about enameling and art metalwork. It is based primarily on my work in the 1980s. I am not a master of these arts, but I hope this fact will be an advantage in communicating the basics, in simple terms, to readers who are not already familiar with them. The series is not intended to instruct in procedures, but solely to impart an appreciation of the art forms involved.

*        *          *

For enamels based on flowers and butterflies, my design concepts were narrow and specialized, and I produced relatively few pieces.

In flowers, my principal interest was in presenting subtle gradations of delicate colors. I found these most often in orchids. Shown here: a pin, two pendants, and earrings showing orchids and a leaf bud.

Orch3Pin-02     Orch4Pnd-01    Orchid-02

OrchEarryy-01     Orch2Earr-03    Leafbud 300

I never produced an enamel piece showing the complete body of a butterfly. My interest was in the minute patterns and colors that could best be seen with a magnifying glass. These usually gave the appearance of an abstract design, but only the first two are frankly abstract.

            BflyAbstr3 5 copy            BflyAbstr 1 Scanned-01

The rest of the pieces show the tiny patterns with as much realism as I could achieve.

 BflyBtns-02

Bfly earr 06 (3)         BflyBtn

BtrflyPnd1-03           BtrflyEar-03

The leaf bud earrings were produced by the champlevé technique; all other pieces are cloisonné.

ENAMEL AND METAL ARTS: XI

Design with Nature: Fish and Shellfish

This is one of a series of postings about enameling and art metalwork. It is based primarily on my work in the 1980s. I am not a master of these arts, but I hope this fact will be an advantage in communicating the basics, in simple terms, to readers who are not already familiar with them. The series is not intended to instruct in procedures, but solely to impart an appreciation of the art forms involved.

*        *          *

This image of a fossil fish, six inches square, is one of the larger enamel pieces in this series. The base is a steel panel that had previously been coated with enamel in an industrial process.

 XI. FossilFish

Relatively simple techniques were used to produce the piece.

Sifting fine-grained enamel onto the wetted surface produced the major areas of different colors; the piece was fired after each color. Masks cut from absorbent paper, wetted and placed on the surface, controlled the boundaries of the areas.

A technique known as sgraffito was used to form the linear features such as ribs and cracks. A wooden stylus scratched through the coating of dried enamel prior to firing.

The image is reminiscent of the scorpion fish presented in an earlier posting of this series. That piece is presented here again because it is an outstanding example of enamel design based on nature, and specifically on a fish.

 XI.  ScorpFsh  Copy

As previously noted, the source of the image was a photograph of a living fish in deep ocean waters. The bone structure was visible through the transparent flesh.

The next two pendants show an angel fish in shallow tropical waters above a reef. Silver wires mark the part of the image formed by the cloisonné technique. Other features, including the fish, employed the basse-taille (low relief) technique. Thin sheets of silver were embossed, put in position, and covered with sufficient transparent enamel to build a smoothly rounded surface.

XI. Angelfish 2                XI. Angelfish 1

Seashells are a rich source of design for enamels of all sizes. I found them particularly useful for small pieces such as cufflinks, earrings, and small pendants.

               XI. CowrieEarr Grn                XI. Cowrie Aqua Earr

Shown here are cowry designs in several colors departing from nature…

XI. Cowrie Lilac Set              XI. Cowrie CffLnks

…and a design based on an iridescent, multicolored abalone shell. All used the basse-taille technique with low-relief designs etched out of fine silver by nitric acid.

XI. Abalone-02a

The next two pieces represent the champlevé technique, in which the design is expressed by alternating areas of silver and enamel at the surface. The enamel fills pockets etched out of the fine silver by nitric acid.

XI. DoveShell joined copy2                    XI. Unident Shell

The image of a conch shell appears on the next piece, a heavy copper sheet about five by six inches in size.  This was a learning piece for the Grisaille technique.  I know of no other way that such smooth transitions among multiple shades of a color (gray in this case) can be produced with opaque enamels.

XI. Conch Grisaille

On a thickly enameled black base, successive layers of white are built up. Where the darkest gray is wanted, the fewest white layers are applied. Where the lightest gray is wanted, the largest number of white layers is applied.

The piece is then high-fired (at temperatures above the normal range of 1400 to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit). All the white enamel disappears. A normal firing then restores the image. In the restored image, edges of layers cannot be seen. Transitions between different shades are smooth and gradual.

Some grisaille pieces from many centuries ago were colored by applying a top layer of transparent colored enamel. This is comparable to colorizing black and white photos by applying transparent colored ink. In part II of this series, transparent enamels have colorized the grisaille image of the Healing Fragrance piece.