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Erik WenzelOctober 25, 20198min71920

When I was a child, my grandfather was a pro at passing along words of wisdom. He was full of one off tidbits that were usually off color and good for a laugh. Of all of the wonderful euphemisms and sage advice that he passed along, his favorite by far was, “Son, you get what you pay for.” I have found this to be true in many occasions, but every once in a rare while, I have found exceptions to this rule. The exception that I am going to reveal comes in the form of a new scope manufacturer, Acme Machine.

The world of optics is, much like all technology advancing at a rapid pace. Not 10 years ago, a decent piece of glass for your rifle would set you back a pretty penny. First focal plane? How about you sell a kidney? Illuminated reticle? That liver will suffice in trade! Locking turrets would, for the average guy on a state budget, take a boat load of overtime to attain. Ladies and gentlemen,  those days are long gone. You can have all of those phenomenal perks for the ridiculous price of $339 as of this posting.

Usually when things seem too good to be true, they are. However,  I am proud to say that when it comes to the Acme Machine line of scopes, this was not the case. I had the chance to test a few different variations of the Acme Machine scopes, and honestly they were very good. The glass clarity was quite good, I would put it in the same quality tier as offerings from Vortex, Bushnell and entry level Burris. I was able to put quite a few rounds through it in different lighting conditions, and the scope handled everything from bright daylight to dusk in exemplary form.

 

The first scope that I will cover is the offering in 1-8x. Several things stood out for me as exceptional. The turrets were delightfully tactile, and i was pleasantly surprised with the audible response I received when turning the dials. The most apparent place that companies cut corners usually comes by way of the turrets, and these were crisp. Another pricy feature this scope brings to the table is the ability to lock the illumination turret. In addition, this scope also tracked very well. While performing a box drill at 50 yards this scope was right on the money, with a complete return to zero from whence I started. This was no easy task, as I chose a rifle that has put some optics to the test. My Bren 805 has a very large bolt carrier group, which equates to a very large reciprocating mass. This has, in my experience, changed zero on lesser scopes with ease. The Acme Machine 1-8x however handled it like a boss.

The reticle on the 1-8x was useful. At 1x, being in the first focal plane, I was able to use it in the fashion of a red dot. This made target transitions a breeze, while still providing for the capability to easily take the shots out to 300+ yards. When it’s time to crank up the magnification, the power ring was stiff, but not unusable. The reticle at 8x was a smidge busy, but as was mentioned earlier, it was usable. In the world of Christmas tree reticles and ballistic drop calculators built in, I wish the horse shoe segments were smaller, and the cross hair stadia slimmer. This is one of the very few things about this scope that I would change if given the chance or opportunity.

Alright, so the scope has very good glass, tracks well, is first focal plane, is illuminated, has nice audible and tactile turrets, and has a modest price. Whats the catch you ask? There is a very small list of things that I would change, and they are as follows. At 1X magnification, it is almost as if the scope is showing you a sight picture at .75X instead of true 1X. I found the sight picture to be closer to true 1x at around the 1.5x mark. Not a big deal to me, but when I was practicing both eyes open shooting, I made sure that the power ring was at 1.5X. The second and to me most glaring insufficiency when it came to the scope came by way of the anti reflective coating, or lack there of on the glass. This manifested itself in a few interesting ways. When turning the illumination on, it was almost as if the scope was reflecting light from the diode, and the resulting effect was a large halo around the exterior of the sight picture. The scope also reflected light off of the ocular lens at the back of the scope. Anytime I got a direct light source from about 4 o clock to 7 o clock, I would inevitably catch the light directly in my eye. This was, to me, mildly annoying at worst.

So the question remains, would I pitch the Acme Machine 1-8x to my grandfather as a viable option in the low power variable scope realm? I absolutely would. For me, the few cons are drastically outweighed by the pros. I think that this is an excellent example of technology finally being applied to the firearms market, and I would offer it as a competitive option for a midrange carbine. Long gone are the days of exorbitant prices for decent rifle glass, and I am happy to say good riddance to them and welcome to the era of new exciting options. Acme Machine scopes definitely get a solid nod of approval from me.

-Malone


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Brian KovacsAugust 8, 201918min302223

You probably remember the expression, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Apparently it is for many Arizona Department of Corrections staff members as they continue to flee the department in record numbers. Many are choosing to retire or are leaving for other jobs or agencies. Is it surprising why so many people are choosing to leave? The department has been plagued with multiple scandals over the years, culminating with demands from a variety of organizations and public figures that Director Charles Ryan step down or be fired. Four department administrators recently “retired” from state service after the media released stories regarding department security deficiencies and malfeasance. Curiously, Director Ryan has not stepped down nor has he been terminated. Supposedly an unbiased, thorough investigation has begun regarding the Lewis prison security issues, and other questionable department practices.

Despite the department’s efforts at damage control, including the recent rescission of some department policies that were damaging to staff morale, employees continue to leave. A recent ten percent pay increase was negligible, and has had little, if any effect on staff recruitment or retention. In an attempt to increase staffing levels, the department has resorted to having the legislature statutorily reduce the minimum age requirement to eighteen for hiring corrections officers.

According to insiders, the department culture has not changed. Some say the department has weaponized its Administrative Investigations Unit to intimidate and silence staff members. Some staff members have received letters sent from AIU on department letterhead to their personal addresses warning them about their social media use. There are certain time and place restrictions on First Amendment rights, but that practice seems unsettling and Orwellian, and should be concerning to most. Management continues to mistreat their employees, sometimes using more subtle or surreptitious tactics because of increased public scrutiny. Employees have been denied transfers, use of their earned sick and annual leave, and assigned to unfavorable work areas as forms of retaliation and management abuse.

Working conditions in the state prison system have not improved; they have worsened in some institutions, according to sources. There have been a number of department safety issues mentioned in various publications and television news stories. There are problems with security doors not locking, giving inmates the opportunity to assault corrections staff at will. High-risk inmates are being placed in less restrictive prison environments without being properly vetted. Staffing shortages have resulted in department managers requiring staff to manage an inordinate number of inmates and liabilities. Sanitation issues exist that increase the risk of illness and disease to staff and inmates. Medical issues continue to be problematic for staff. When inmates do not receive required medical care or medication it can create health issues for inmates, and staff safety issues because of the potential for inmate retaliation. The situation becomes particularly dangerous when prisoners with mental health illnesses have not received prescribed psychotropic medications.

I am going to provide some recent examples of hazardous working conditions and dangerous security issues at the Arizona State Prison-Eyman complex in Florence, Arizona. Special Management Unit One is a so-called “lockdown” unit in the prison vernacular, and used to be considered a maximum security unit. It currently houses maximum and lower custody inmates. The sanitation in that unit is reportedly so horrid that an infestation of mice has developed. Inmates are allegedly trapping and killing them, and throwing them into the cell blocks where they are sometimes left for days. Although rare, another concern is the potential for a Hantavirus outbreak. Miscellaneous garbage is strewn about in cell blocks and officer control rooms throughout the prison, and roach infestation is widespread.

The Meadows Unit is a medium security sex offender prison also located in Eyman complex in Florence, Arizona. According to sources, a bed bug infestation has existed in that unit since approximately October 2017, and there is documentation of the problem dating back to January 2018. The bed bug problem still exists despite efforts to eradicate the parasites. Employees are concerned with the possibility of the parasites infesting their clothing, personal vehicles, and homes, thereby placing their own family members at risk. Rest assured that any evidence of the aforementioned conditions in those prisons will be eliminated prior to any facility tours attended by prison visitors. Multiple resources will be used to sanitize, organize, and put on a disingenuous display for the attendees. A DOC tour can be likened to a tour of North Korea in terms of institutional access and public transparency.

Cook Unit is another medium security sex offender prison located in Eyman complex in Florence, Arizona. Both Cook and Meadows units continue to operate by usually using one staff member to supervise one to two housing units for sometimes an entire shift ranging from 8-12 hours. Each housing unit can accommodate approximately 200 inmates. That means that one officer is expected to supervise approximately 200-400 inmates, and some inmates are being left unsupervised at times. Does that sound reasonable and safe to you? The department seems more focused on ensuring that posts are staffed with less emphasis on inmate accountability and staff safety.

Meadows Unit recently had an incident where a lone staff member had a medical emergency while working in a housing unit with approximately 160 inmates. The officer was locked in a secured control room but fell and struck his head on a concrete floor. He lay bleeding in a semi-conscious state without a backup officer present to immediately render aid. Luckily for him, an inmate reportedly went to an adjacent housing unit and notified an officer of the situation. That incident could have had a worse outcome, and demonstrates the risk to staff when understaffing occurs in those work areas.

Some sources say that an increase in attempted suicides and two recent inmate deaths at Special Management Unit One can be attributed in part to low staffing levels. On May 16, 2019, at approximately 2:00 A.M. an inmate was found dead in his cell. The deceased was reportedly discovered hanging from his cell door approximately four hours after death. Questions arose regarding staffing levels and whether the security checks were completed in a timely manner. Interestingly, the department video surveillance footage leading up to that time, and the corrections log book for that area have gone missing.

In the early afternoon of June 16, 2019, an inmate attempted to commit suicide using a homemade noose that he fashioned from a bedsheet. According to sources, he took at least six minutes or more to construct it while in a visible area of a cell block that has a video surveillance camera. He placed the noose around his neck and tied the other end of it to a safety railing on a second floor tier. He then jumped over the railing, and hanged himself. Two officers walked into the cell block as he jumped and were able to save his life. Sources said the area where the incident occurred is understaffed with only one control room officer to monitor two control rooms in an area that houses up to 96 inmates. That incident clearly underscores the danger of those prison areas where inmates are allowed to roam freely within their cell blocks during daytime hours with little or no supervision.

In the late afternoon of July 20, 2019, an inmate was found dead in his cell in an area of the prison designated for increased health and welfare security inspections. The inmate was reportedly transported to Special Management Unit One in the early morning hours that day and was taken to the unit’s medical facility. He was described as possibly being under the influence of methamphetamine and heroin. The medical facility released the inmate from their care and he was escorted to a watch cell. He was found dead in his cell later that day from a possible drug overdose. Sources indicated that one correctional officer was assigned to watch three cell blocks that day. The three cell blocks accommodated up to 24 special security watches, in total (including several suicide watches). The same officer was also required to perform other duties such as escorting inmates, feeding and clothing inmates, paperwork, etc.

Special Management Unit One is reportedly having security issues where inmates have successfully opened a locked cell door. They gained unauthorized access into a cell block and allegedly terrorized other inmates that were locked in other cells. That activity occurred multiple times in an area monitored by surveillance cameras. The Arizona Department of Corrections allegedly knew about it since July 24, 2019 but never informed corrections officers about the problem, and did not move those offending inmates from that area. Insiders said Director Ryan toured Special Management Unit One on July 26, 2019 but it is unclear if the visit was related to the cell door security issue.

ABC News affiliate, ABC15 in Phoenix, Arizona, recently reported that eight current and former Arizona Department of Corrections officers are suing the State of Arizona. They are suing for safety issues that led to inmate assaults, resulting in them suffering grievous personal injuries. According to the ABC15 report, a lawyer representing the State of Arizona argued for the case to be thrown out in the 9th District U.S. Court of Appeals because of qualified immunity. A 2008 United States Supreme Court case Pearson v. Callahan interpreted qualified immunity in part, as follows: “Qualified immunity balances two important interests–the need to hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.” The lawyer representing the State of Arizona, Nicholas Acedo, stated, “None [of the corrections officers] allege that they were tricked into accepting their jobs or that on the day of their respective assaults, they protested the unit they were assigned to or the task they were assigned.” According to the ABC15 news report, Mr. Acedo added that the plaintiffs were previously aware of the alleged understaffing and broken cell door locks. Department lawyers tried using a similar legal argument when an educator that worked for the Arizona Department of Corrections was viciously stabbed and raped at Meadows Unit at the Eyman prison complex in Florence, Arizona on January 30, 2014.

The department lawyers said the victim was issued a [two-way] radio and knew the inherent risks working around an inmate population. That teacher had no defensive weapon available at that time, and was left alone in an isolated building with no one to check on her. I don’t know about you, but I’m outraged and disgusted by remarks such as those made by the department’s attorneys. I believe they are insensitive, and place blame on the victims for the crimes committed against them. Is Mr. Acedo suggesting the Arizona Department of Corrections did not exercise power irresponsibly when it required department employees to work in areas the department knew were understaffed and had dangerous security issues? The department can’t have it both ways. It puts tremendous pressure on its staff to perform well in understaffed prison environments with ever-increasing dangers and workloads, under threat of disciplinary action if their expectations are not met. But if something goes wrong then it’s the staff’s fault for knowingly working in an environment they knew was understaffed and unsafe.

Perhaps I’m being obtuse. Am I missing something here Mr. Acedo? Yes, there are inherent dangers when you work in a law enforcement or corrections capacity, or any high-risk profession for that matter, but that’s not what I am referring to here. I am referring to known risks that could have been negated if handled properly. These are foreseeable, dangerous threats that are either preventable or created entirely by the ineptitude of department leadership; they are typically fueled by poor decision-making, and influenced heavily by political considerations. Apparently the Arizona Department of Corrections didn’t read or disregarded the news release dated Thursday, May 2, 2019 from the Arizona House Republican Caucus endorsed by 31 Arizona State Representatives. That statement reads, “Any policy that undermines public safety and jeopardizes the security of corrections officers is completely unacceptable, and we are deeply troubled by reports regarding Lewis Prison. We strongly urge the Department of Corrections to immediately take the necessary steps to address the issue, and we are encouraged that Governor Ducey has tasked former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justices Rebecca Berch and Ruth McGregor with investigating the matter. We look forward to their report and recommendations, and we stand ready to take any legislative action that may be needed.” The Arizona Department of Corrections cannot be allowed to undermine public safety or jeopardize the security of corrections staff while using department policy to diminish its responsibility or shield itself from liability.

Many state corrections employees have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, and retaliation by the Arizona Department of Corrections management for speaking out against the present department culture. The current department management culture doesn’t encourage or condone individualists. Management discourages free-thinking and prefers to hire and mold robotic thinkers. The department has had five decades to create a tractable employee culture that is less likely to influence positive change within the agency. That attitude seems to be most prevalent with the old guard managers who do not want to disrupt the status quo. Considering the existing conditions within the Arizona Department of Corrections, it is not surprising that more employees have not spoken out regarding safety issues, or questioned management decisions, or their lack of regard for employee safety.

The Arizona Department of Corrections is clearly in need of significant department reforms. Recent news stories have highlighted the department’s security deficiencies, management bullying and ineptitude, as well as compromised employee and inmate safety. Unfortunately, the department culture will not change without continued public pressure and outside agency intervention. The department has demonstrated that it cannot be trusted to police itself. Safeguards need to be adopted to ensure the agency upholds the duties, and responsibilities that the public has entrusted it with.


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Steve MercadoMay 4, 20194min102521
I just read Richard Mehner’s painfully long and dry FOP Department puff piece. His words are so damaging to his own union that a response is really unnecessary, however, I can’t resist. He portrays the media that is covering this unfolding story as vultures that are “exaggerating, sensationalizing and disparaging” your industry. Based on all available documentation, video footage, and eyewitness accounts, I believe the evidence regarding the security issues at Lewis complex is irrefutable. His e-mail is an attempt to mitigate the serious security issues that led to many assaults on staff, and the death of Inmate Andrew McCormick on June 6, 2018.
He seemed more troubled about the Department’s public image, and his desire to remain relevant with promises of a pay raise, than acknowledging the Department’s failures so that this never happens again. The buck stops with the Department Director, Charles Ryan, and his executive staff. There is ample evidence his office knew about the security deficiencies for years. I grow tired of top-level managers and their sycophants shifting the onus to line staff while they shirk their responsibility, and accountability.
It is very simple. You don’t purchase prison doors and locks that have engineering issues, and are capable of being tampered with and/or disabled. It’s obvious that prison doors and locks should be of a robust design to prevent that. If there are engineering flaws with security equipment, it should be replaced immediately because lives depend on it. Why should the officers have to work harder to compensate for faulty equipment that the administration purchased, knew was defective, and failed to permanently fix?
He also mentioned the leaked surveillance video of the vicious assaults on corrections staff at Lewis complex. He felt the video footage has compromised a potential criminal case against the inmates that assaulted those officers. The video footage is damning evidence, and it is doubtful it would adversely affect a conviction based on all available evidence.
Mr. Mehner also stated, “The social media attacks on Director Ryan and the Department reflect poorly on all the hard work that you do every day. We must stop feeding into the negative campaign and offer fixes on this and every aspect of our profession.” I find that statement insulting to the intelligence of all Department staff that have been following these events. The media is exposing nonfeasance and malfeasance at the highest levels of the corrections department. Many staff members understand the dynamic and are very supportive of their efforts. That does not reflect on all members of the Department. It reflects on Director Ryan, the Executive Staff, and anyone else involved in this scandal.

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Architekt JessApril 17, 20191min43890

The XTech Tactical MAG47 is made in the USA, And offers Stainless Steel lugs, Feed-lips and Spring.

Talking Guns was asked to test these new mags out in a few different AK47 platforms to get an idea of their Fit, Form and Function.

In every instance there was not one notable issue, the positive feel when the MAG47 locks into the gun far exceeds the feeling of standard metal magazines.

The feeding was perfect no matter what the speed of shooting. Next time we will run full auto weapons to really stress these mags to the max.

Overall we were very pleased with the XTech MAG47 line, they are tough, durable, and lightweight magazines.

Check us out for more torture testing that we are going to do on this new line of magazines from XTech Tactical.

www.talkingguns.net
www.xtechtactical.com

 


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Magnus ErikssonApril 4, 20198min42190

By Magnus Eriksson

 

The intent with this column is to discuss general legal principles to make you aware of some commonly encountered realities and myths in regarding self-defense laws.  Before we get any further:  DO NOT FIRE WARNING SHOTS!!! You will be charged with (a) crime(s), potentially very serious ones.  Here in Arizona, a gun friendly state, you will GO TO PRISON if convicted of the LEAST serious crime you will have committed by firing warning shots.  It is called Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon, designated as a dangerous offense, which is committed simply by discharging a firearm within city limits.   You could potentially be charged with Aggravated Assault (referred to as battery in many states) with a Deadly Weapon-a dangerous offense with a prison sentence to the tune of half a decade to a decade and a half to follow upon conviction. Not to mention attempted murder, which will land you in prison for couple of decades or more.  I go to jails and prisons all the time to visit clients, but I am free to leave after the visit.  Believe me, you do not want to spend any time in any jail, detention center or prison for following bad advise in good faith.  Other states may treat warning shots somewhat differently, but I doubt that they are condoned anywhere in the US.

Secondly, please familiarize yourself with the self-defense and weapons laws in your state.  The devil is in the details as it were and even a well intended mistake or misunderstanding could result in a living and legal nightmare.  Here in Arizona, and I suspect in other states with similar requirements, perhaps the best way to learn the details of this part of the law is to take a Concealed Weapons class.  These classes offer more detail on this area of the law than most law school curriculums.  Of course, consulting an attorney familiar with the specific laws in your state is highly recommended.

Self-defense is an affirmative defense, meaning one admits to an action that normally would be a crime, but one did it out of necessity and therefore was justified in taking the otherwise illegal action.  The reasoning would sound something like this; “Yes officer, I shot the person, because if I hadn’t, he would have killed or seriously injured me with the gun he pointed at me.”  Generally, the law permits a victim of an attack to use “reasonable force” in order to protect herself by communicating the following general principles.

A victim of an attack, can use that amount of force, which a reasonable and prudent person would use, under the same circumstances up to and including deadly force in order to avoid imminent (serious) injury or death.

A person must be engaged in a lawful activity in order to be justified in the use of force.  For instance, a person who is packaging heroin for sale on the street is not justified in using deadly force when “the wholesaler” of that heroin comes to steal the drugs back at gunpoint. Many jurisdictions allow force to be used in the defense of a third person under the same reasonableness standard.  Here in Arizona, the law allows the use of deadly force in the defense of another who is being sexually assaulted; against an arsonist who is setting fire to an occupied structure, armed robbery, kidnapping, or any other scenario where the third party is threatened with imminent death or serious bodily injury.

Some states have a Retreat Requirement before self-defense can be successfully claimed.  Usually, this requirement applies unless it is not practicable to accomplish.   Keep in mind, some retreat requirement states require retreat if attacked, even in one’s own home.  The opposite of the Retreat Requirement is the Stand Your Ground principle.  Stand Your Ground laws simply get rid of any retreat requirement.  In one recent highly publicized case in a large south-eastern state, much was said about this principle.  Ironically, the principle was not invoked in that trial at all.  Contrary to some claims, the SYG laws do not legalize murder.  Remember the actions taken while using force must be reasonable.  Murder is not reasonable.

In many states the so-called Castle doctrine is law.  The Castle Doctrine presumes that ones’ home is ones’ castle and that if attacked there, there is no retreat requirement.  In some states use of force in this scenario is presumed justified. Please, note that this doctrine does not cover inviting someone over and upon tiring of their presence the invitees may legally be murdered.  That is not reasonable.  The doctrine only applies if a person threatens you with imminent deadly force in your home.  This doctrine extends to ones’ car in certain jurisdictions in cases of car jacking.  At the risk of sounding flippant, this is not a license to murder people who walk by your car minding their own business and posing no imminent threat to you or anyone else in the car.

The Disparity of Force doctrine allows use of up to deadly force in cases such as a wheel chair bound victim attacked by someone not physically challenged, a group of people attacking one lone person, a weak and sickly victim attacked by a master Mixed Martial Arts master etc.

You may still think that all this is clear as mud!  Not to worry, the whole concept is complex because it is highly dependent on all the specific facts of a situation.  Unfortunately, politics to a greater or lesser degree is always a factor in who gets charged and why and strange things happen as a result sometimes.  The best advice is to speak softly, carry a big stick be courteous and alert and aware of the surroundings.  If you are attacked and can get away without fighting, do it even it the law doesn’t require it (tactically sound but perhaps philosophically un-American).  If you can’t get away, fight to live and never quit!!!  If you are then charged with a crime or sued wrongly, continue to fight and never give in.


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Brian KovacsMarch 11, 20196min330156

By Frank Drebin

Has the Governor’s Office and the Arizona State Legislature turned their backs on the rank and file employees of the Arizona Department of Corrections? It seems as though they have. The Department has not had a pay raise in approximately twelve years. That was during Governor Janet Napolitano’s administration. Think about that. Twelve years without a pay raise. Who does that? That pay raise was initially five percent but was reduced to 2.25 percent. It would take a raise of approximately 38 percent just to bring the Department to a competitive level with other agencies. Inflation continues to erode their paychecks, morale, and confidence that the State of Arizona will do anything to correct the problem.
There was much talk regarding a recent legislative bill to obtain a 10 percent pay raise for state corrections employees but that appears to have been shelved at this point. A 10 percent raise would not begin to compensate employees for what they’ve lost to inflation over 12 years. It would at least be a starting point and a gesture that the State of Arizona hasn’t completely forgotten the men and women that put their lives on the line daily to protect the citizens of this state. What I don’t understand is why this is happening. Why is there such tentative behavior to properly compensate employees of an agency that is in the death throes of failure. It certainly can’t be a monetary issue.
During his State of the State address in January 2019, the Arizona Governor called for increasing the Arizona Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as “the Rainy Day Fund,” to a balance of one billion dollars. He spoke of using the fund to protect teacher pay raises, to prevent budget gimmicks, band-aids, and potential future budget cuts. He also spoke of preventing tax increases, budget standoffs, and government shutdowns. We should not forget that Governor Ducey initially offered the teachers a two percent pay increase,and actually held a press conference to tout that as a success. Many teachers eventually risked everything and walked off the job for approximately one month to draw attention to their plight. They ultimately prevailed with a 20 percent raise with many stipulations. He was not championing their cause; he was politically vulnerable and had to act.
He also recently vetoed a measure that was backed by Republican lawmakers that would have cut Arizona tax rates to offset higher revenue the state expects to get because of a federal tax overhaul. It would have protected state taxpayers and effectively reduced state income tax rates by .11 percent. That is tantamount to a tax increase for most Arizonans, but the Governor believes that money should go to the “Rainy Day Fund,” not to Arizona taxpayers. The state has a surplus of approximately one billion dollars, excluding the windfall from the aforementioned vetoed tax cut measure. I also must mention the underhanded  $32.00 vehicle registration fee that was imposed by the Governor and legislature to pay for Highway Patrol operations rather than using gas taxes. Did you notice there was no mention of this fee during the election cycle? They didn’t raise taxes because it’s not a tax. It’s a FEE. Don’t euphemisms give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside? I feel much better referring to a tax as a “Public Safety Fee.”
The Arizona Department of Corrections is in a state of crisis. The prison population is increasing while staffing continues to decline due to uncompetitive pay, attrition, poor morale, and inadequate working conditions. A recent landmark lawsuit against the state concerning inmate health care and conditions of confinement created additional workloads that the present system is ill-prepared to handle. Staff were already working long hours with burdensome workloads, and the additional stress is pushing many to a breaking point.
An entitlement culture developed within the inmate population as a consequence of the lawsuit and also because of Department officials willing to go to extreme measures to accommodate inmates. Officer assaults are on the rise but the Department continues to under-staff work areas while propagandizing that staff, inmates, and the public are safe. The primary issue is fair, competitive compensation. Until that issue is addressed the Arizona Department of Corrections will continue to hemorrhage corrections staff, and increase spending on overtime and training academies. More disturbingly, it will also continue to place staff and the public at risk. One thing is certain: They are running out of time.

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Erik WenzelMarch 9, 20196min47940

By Jim Malone

Have you ever fallen in love with something at first sight? I surely have, and when it comes to firearms I have found that sentiment to apply in exactly the same manner. The first time that I laid eyes on my CZ Bren 805, I fell in love.  When I shot it, my love was validated. Conversely, there are some times where you have an inherent dislike for things…No reason in particular, you just don’t like somethings face. The topic of this piece was not one of love, but more in line with the latter, at least at first.

The first time I looked at the sig p320, I was very much underwhelmed. I found the trigger to be less than awe inspiring, the aesthetics rather bland and borderline bulbous, and while the fit and finish was acceptable it left me wishing it were more than what it was. I had always found Sig Sauer pistols at the very least aesthetically pleasing, so to me the p320 was a total flop. As time went on the idea of a p320 faded into obscurity. My wife was the one to bring the idea back to the forefront, but the p320 that she presented was not the disappointment of the pistol I remembered.

The Sig P320 VTAC was striking. From the X series grip frame, the angular slide cuts, to the radiused slide, this pistol reeked of svelte. I found the grip to be very comfortable in my man sized meat paws, and I found the flat faced trigger to be an absolute joy to depress. I really appreciated the detail that went into the anti-glare ridges cut into the slide itself. That got me looking at the slide in more detail. There are two large lightening cuts on the side of the slide, and to further reduce weight Sig actually milled the slide down across the whole top. This paired nicely with the interesting sights from vtac. They are an extended height affair, with both a fiber optic set of green three dots and a lower set of tritium vials for low light use. I really enjoyed these sights, and they will be staying on the pistol instead of the Trijicon sights that I usually adorn my pistols with.

On the frame I saw several things that deserve mentioning. Firstly, the flat trigger is amazing. The weight is about 5 pounds, but it feels lighter than that. Paired with the awesome grip angle and just right grip texture, this pistol is quite the shooter. I found the controls very easy to use and intuitively placed. The magazine release was crisp and very positive, when depressed it virtually launches the empty magazines from the frame.

Off to the range I went, and the anticipation was palpable. I brought my Glock 34, old faithful as I call her, to bring what I consider a benchmark pistol to compare it to. Long story short I was both severely befuddled and extremely impressed at the same time. The VTAC is a tack driver. What befuddled me was that despite the thousands of rounds through old faithful, the VTAC held virtually the same size groups from magazine one.

From 15 yards, I was able to measure out one 17 round magazine in a group that measured just a hair over 4 inches with controlled quick paced fire. From the same 15 yards as fast as I could squeeze the trigger the VTAC produced a group that was about 8 inches centered on the target. The groups that I shot were imperceptible from the groups shot with my trusty 34, perhaps a bit better even.  The recoil impulse was extremely manageable.  The only way I can describe it with the justice it deserves would be to say it runs like a sewing machine, precisely and extremely linear.

What started as a hate affair turned into a tale of adoration in regards to the P320 VTAC. If you’re looking for a handsome, smooth pistol that begs to be pushed farther quickly, this is at the very least a solid contender. I believe that soon it will be the new old faithful. For those of you wondering if it is worth the $700 price tag I would say buy with confidence, you’re getting a steal.

 


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Architekt JessFebruary 25, 20197min59161

By: Architekt Jess

The RIGHT to bear arms

 

Read the title again. The RIGHT to bear arms. The founding fathers did not give us this right, and I think people overlook this too often. Our founders simply acknowledged that this God-given (or natural) right exists, and wanted to make sure it was noted whilst standing up a new nation. No man can decide if another has the right to defend themselves. Self-defense, and the defense of one’s family or of innocents is a right so old, it’s primal. The fact that governments are attempting to control or limit citizens’ ability to protect themselves is cause alone to overthrow the government. Imagine how terrifying the world could become if you were at the mercy of the government to protect you, or worse, a government that is bent on total control. Many countries live in this nightmare today because they let their government legislate their rights into oblivion.

 

In a day and age of relative peace (at least from a tyrannical government) I think we as a nation have lost track of the very real dangers of a government that has acquired too much power. Power corrupts, and left unchecked only grows in power and corruption. I see on social and mainstream media, these calls for common sense gun laws, or laws allowing the government near absolute power in certain scenarios, in-trade for security. I also see it being embraced by the ignorant, and spread through celebrity platforms to the masses. I think the newer generations of Americans are all too willing to trade freedom for security, and this is absolutely terrifying. There is this notion that the government (if they ever become too corrupt) will have this immediate and sweeping take-over of the country, and if they aren’t doing that, then they aren’t doing anything corrupt. But that’s not how it will happen. A smart government (world or otherwise) will chip away at your rights, slowly, in exchange for security. They know that a population that is scared or unable to defend themselves, will embrace every infringement on rights and freedoms the government can dish out, as long as they think they are safe.

 

How do you create a society that cannot defend itself? You remove their ability to defend themselves, their self-worth, and their self-reliance through targeted propaganda. Mass media is used to portray the warrior class as unsavory and obsolete. The once admirable traits of the enemy (the classic masculine American male) are turned into the taboo. Now the American male- a strong sportsman, trained in weapons, living off the land, rooted in family values and honor- becomes toxic. There it is, a phrase that I know for a fact you have seen if you haven’t been living under a rock, “Toxic Masculinity”. Next, you get your media outlets to peddle this image as outdated, ignorant and immoral. Once that idea is out there, you rely on the leftists to run with it, and why not? Most of them do not exhibit these honorable traits, so they love the idea that they may not be the weak creatures they were traditionally thought to be. The Beta has become the new Alpha. With nearly all of the tech industry being controlled by the left, it’s hard to fight the wildfire spread of the disinformation after that, but that discussion is for another day. Once the movement against the American Alpha gains enough traction you sit back and watch their numbers dwindle over time. You watch each generation learn less life skills and become less familiar with weapon systems and self-defense. The end result is entire generations who are reliant on the government, with no survival skills or experience in self-defense. Now get them to go out and vote, and make sure to use every celebrity that supports your agenda in the press… The press that you own. This is how the government disarms a population -this is how we are being disarmed.

 

So what’s next then? How far will we let it go before we put our foot down as a nation? I honestly think it’ll go a lot further. We are not the generations of old who didn’t rely on the government to survive at all. All anyone has known for a few generations now is a massive government with their proverbial fingers in everything. It’s easy to accept something you are born into, and it’s hard identify how truly broken the system is when it’s all you have known. Government was meant to be limited, taxes were to be temporary, and freedom was to be paramount in the American way. But now if you go out and start talking like that, you are the crazy veteran or the conspiracy theorist… That just shows how successful they have been in the degradation of the fundamentals this nation was stood up upon. I think the government will continue to chip away slowly and steadily at our rights (all of them) until we can’t move in any direction. With a population that knows only comfort, and will do nearly anything to stay comfortable, it is going to take a catastrophic amount of infringement on rights before we fight back. I just hope by the time we as a nation reach that point, that it won’t be too late, we won’t be too disarmed, and the government won’t have too much control over us. We cannot continue down this path and still expect to live free and we most certainly cannot give up any more rights to defend ourselves. If you are not prepared to take a stand, be prepared to kneel.


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Brian KovacsFebruary 6, 20199min89483

By Frank Drebin

What has happened to the corrections system in Arizona? It seems to have shifted its focus from punishment to rehabilitation. Rehabilitation and successful reintegration into society for worthy inmates is certainly a desirable result from incarceration, however, without a punitive component there is no deterrent effect. There are countless studies by researchers and mental health professionals condemning a punitive-based system and endless data to support their arguments. One thing I’ve noticed about many of the studies is the lack of concern for the victims, victims’ families, and others affected by the offenders’ crimes. Where is the deterrent effect in our prisons? For some inmates their quality of life is better in prison than when they were out. All of their basic needs are met without work requirements. They have time to recreate often. They have access to cable television, video games, board games, music, movies, prison athletic events, educational and vocational opportunities, visitation with family and friends, etc. When some inmates come back to prison it is reminiscent of a homecoming event. An experienced corrections officer that has been in the trenches and has no agenda will most likely tell you the system is broken and is getting increasingly worse with every passing year. He doesn’t need an “empty suit” spewing statistics and mitigating issues that the officer knows are problematic for corrections personnel and society at large. The problems are complex to solve because the system is broken on so many levels. Previous prison administrators and politicians have kicked the can down the road for years, unable or unwilling to fix them. I believe the most notable areas of concern are staffing, safety and administrative issues, working conditions, and infrastructure. Many of those problem areas overlap but I will briefly present some of them.

Staffing issues continue to plague most corrections departments. Recruiting and retention is usually affected by low pay, poor morale, poor working conditions, and supervisory issues. Some departments have poor vetting processes and have lowered entry standards because of high turnover rates. The result is many employees being hired that have criminal histories, integrity issues, work ethic problems, issues involving personal and professional conduct, and lack of maturity. The Arizona Departments of Corrections is hiring teenagers to staff prison control rooms to bolster staffing levels and reduce staffing costs. The employees have not attended a correctional academy. They’ve had very little training and are responsible for controlling critical security areas of the prisons.

Staff safety is a concern in many correctional institutions primarily because of low staffing levels, a growing prison population, and recent spurious reclassification efforts. Those inmate reclassifications were devised to eliminate maximum custody levels and facilitate court-ordered inmate programs. Inmates previously considered actual or potential threats to staff or other inmates were somehow deemed safe to walk freely, or under escort without the use of mechanical restraints. Housing units on medium-custody prison yards are routinely understaffed unless a major incident occurs. Staffing levels and safety concerns are then typically temporarily addressed until public scrutiny and media exposure fades.

Administrative issues have been problematic for staff and institutional efficiency for years. There seems to be a disconnect between many upper-level managers and lower-level employees in many departments. There have been many different management and training systems introduced over the years. They are always presented with enthusiasm and touted as great achievements by upper-level management. Many employees see the presentations as nothing more than empty rhetoric. Despite all of the data, charts, and graphs presented, they feel they are just more management gimmicks that will fade away just like the others before them. The bottom line is that many employees are still disengaged, lack commitment, and feel unsatisfied with their jobs. They see myriad management issues, including: cronyism, micro-management, poor communication, no transparency, incompetence, lack of leadership, harassment, bullying, retaliation, flawed promotional systems, and poor supervisory training and supervision. An abundance of managers appear to be uninterested in finding solutions or solving existing problems within the correctional system. They seem to be satisfied with the status quo and are more interested with their own career development than assisting staff, and truly caring about staff needs. They are just putting in time at their current assignment and avoid or create controversy until they can move on to the next promotion or undertaking. That mentality creates divisiveness, and a lack of trust and confidence in management that affects the agency mission.

Working conditions are an important area of concern because studies have indicated that pay is important to a point but many employees value a supportive, happy workplace over monetary rewards. Prisons are dismal environments to work in. The hours are long, and employees have many restrictions concerning what they can bring into a prison setting, including personal items and food. Many prison environments are unsanitary, and health hazards exist in certain facilities. The work is labor-intensive in some units with burdensome workloads expected to be completed within unrealistic time frames. The work is often done with insufficient tools to properly perform the job. Department policies and post orders sometimes conflict with the work environment. For example, one corrections officer is assigned to an area to oversee inmate movement and activities that require two officers. Some employees are subjected to mandatory workplace rotations, and frequent changes in their staffing assignments to accommodate employee shortages. The system fosters a work-life culture that is not supportive of family life. Hard-working, productive staff members typically receive more physically demanding assignments that require more responsibility. Staff  members that exhibit bad behavior or incompetence are usually rewarded with easier assignments or more favorable work-site locations. Many managers simply want to get the daily job done with as little controversy as possible. They are also mindful of department efforts to reduce high employee turnover. Rather than severely punish or terminate recalcitrant or poor-performing employees, they are often moved elsewhere to become a burden for other staff members.

The inmate population is another source of stress for staff members. A recent landmark lawsuit against the state regarding health care issues and conditions of confinement has cowed prison administrators. That court decision emboldened inmates and led to the cultivation of an entitlement culture within the inmate population. Inmates now have more out-of-cell time for recreation, educational classes, and job opportunities. Health care, including mental health care needs were ostensibly improved. Inmates receive more visitation time, increased commissary, and other privileges, including the playing of video games on large screen monitors, and movie nights in the medium-custody facilities. Staff are subjected to more scrutiny by management concerning their interactions with inmates. It has created apathy and a reactive rather than proactive mentality among staff members. They are concerned that increased inmate interactions will lead to accusations of impropriety or potential legal entanglements.

Infrastructure is a concern because many institutional buildings are in a state of disrepair, and pose potential hazards to staff and inmates. Some departments have high-mileage vehicle fleets that are poorly maintained and need to be replaced. Technological updates need to be implemented. We are in the information age , and yet many reports, accountability logs, and journals are still being hand-written. Isn’t it time for some sort of a change? Sweeping these issues under the carpet only endangers staff and more importantly the public.